Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham
|Vijayendra Saraswati Swamigal|
Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, also called the Kanchi matha or the Kanchi monastery, is a Hindu institution, located in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. It is located near a temple dedicated to goddess Kamakshi (Durga, Kamakoti) of the Shaktism tradition, along with a shrine for the Advaita Vedanta teacher Adi Shankara. Its founding is traditionally attributed to Adi Shankara who it is said lived some of his final years here.
The Kanchi matha shifted south to the temple city of Kumbakonam in mid-18th-century to escape Islamic persecution and atrocities. It returned to Kanchi in the 19th-century when theo-political stability returned during the British colonial rule. The matha is a living tradition, that continues to pursue spiritual scholarship in contemporary times. The Kanchi monastery, along with its sister monasteries across India, has also been an important preserver and source of historic palm leaf manuscripts. The head of the matha is also referred to as a "Sankaracharya". Since February 2018, the institution has been led by Vijayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamigal.
Adi Shankara is traditionally believed in the Kanchi matha tradition to have founded it. According to the Kanchi matha's tradition, their monastery was founded in Kali 2593 (509 BCE) by an ascetic named Adi Shankara.
The successive heads of the Kanchi and all other major Hindu Advaita tradition monasteries have been called Shankaracharya leading to some confusion, discrepancies and scholarly disputes. The chronology stated in Kanchi matha texts recognizes five major Shankaras: Adi, Kripa, Ujjvala, Muka and Abhinava. It is "Abhinava Shankara" that western scholarship recognizes as the Advaita scholar Adi Shankara, states the Kanchi matha tradition.
Scholars such as William Cenkner, Christopher Fuller and David Smith dispute this traditional belief, though they accept that the Kanchi Shankaracharyas are his direct "spiritual descendants".
The matha relocated completely to Kumbakonam in mid-18th century to escape wars and persecution. According to Jonathan Bader and other scholars, the monastic tradition gives "fear of Muslim atrocities" from Nawab of Arcot, Mysore's Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan as the reason, but the details remain unclear. The matha returned to Kanchi in the 19th-century.
The Kamakoti Peetam is named after Kamakshi, referred locally as Kamakoti, or Goddess Durga. Kancheepuram is referred to as Kanchi. The Vyakarana Mahabhashya of Patanjali uses the word 'Kanchi' and it can be thus understood that the word Kanchi also has a Sanskrit base. Under the guidance of Sureshvarachaya, Adi Shankara appointed Sarvajnatman as the third Peetadhipathi.
Chronological list of Shankaracharyas
- Adi Sankara Bhagavatpada (482 BC–477 BC)
- Suresvaracharya (477 BC–407 BC)
- Sarvajnatman (407 BC–367 BC)
- Sathyabodhendra Saraswati (367 BC–268 BC)
- Jnanandendra Saraswati (268 BC–205 BC)
- Suddhanandendra Saraswati (205 BC–124 BC)
- Aanandaghanendra Saraswati (124 BC–55 BC)
- Kaivalyanandayogendra Saraswati (55 BC–28 AD)
- Krpa Sankarendra Saraswati (28 AD–69 AD)
- Sureswara Saraswati (69 AD–127 AD)
- Sivananda Chidghanendra Saraswati (127 AD–172 AD)
- Chandrasekharendra Saraswati (172–235)
- Satchidghanendra Saraswati (235–272)
- Vidyaghanendra Saraswati (272–317)
- Gangadharendra Saraswati (317–329)
- Ujjvala Sankarendra Saraswati (329–367)
- Sadasivendra Saraswati (367–375)
- Shankarananda Saraswati (375–385)
- Martanda Vidyaghanendra Saraswati (385–398)
- Muka Sankarendra Saraswati (398–437)
- Chandrasekharendra Saraswati II (437–447)
- Bodhendra Saraswati (447–481)
- Satchisukhendra Saraswati (481–512)
- Chitsukhendra Saraswati (512–527)
- Satchidanandaghanendra Saraswati (527–548)
- Prajnaghanendra Saraswati (548–565)
- Chidvilasendra Saraswati (565–577)
- Mahadevendra Saraswati I (577–601)
- Purnabhodhendra Saraswati (601–618)
- Bhodhendra Saraswati II (618–655)
- Brahmanandaghanendra Saraswati (655–668)
- Chidanandaghanendra Saraswati (668–672)
- Satchidananda Saraswati (672–692)
- Chandrasekharendra Saraswati III (692–710)
- Chitsukhendra Saraswati (710–737)
- Chitsukhanandendra Saraswati (737–758)
- Vidyaghanendra Saraswati III (758–788)
- Abhinava Sankarendra Saraswati (788–840)
- Satchidvilaasendra Saraswati (840–873)
- Mahadevendra Saraswati II (873–915)
- Gangadharendra Saraswati II (915–950)
- Brahmanandaghanendra Saraswati (950–978)
- Anandaghanendra Saraswati (978–1014)
- Purnabhodhendra Saraswati II (1014–1040)
- Paramasivendra Saraswati I (1040–1061)
- Sandranandabhodhendra Saraswati (1061–1098)
- Chandrasekharendra Saraswati IV (1098–1166)
- Advaitanandabodhendra Saraswati (1166–1200)
- Mahadevendra Saraswati III (1200–1247)
- Chandrachudendra Saraswati I (1247–1297)
- Vidyateerthendra Saraswati (1297–1385)
- Sankaranandendra Saraswati (1385–1417)
- Purnananda Sadasivendra Saraswati (1417–1498)
- Vyasachala Mahadevendra Saraswati (1498–1507)
- Chandrachudhendra Saraswati II (1507–1524)
- Sarvajna Sadasiva Bhodhendra Saraswati (1524–1539)
- Paramasivendra Saraswati II (1539–1586)
- Atma Bodhendra Saraswati (1586–1638)
- Bodhendra Saraswathi (1638–1692)
- Advaitatma Prakasendra Saraswati (1692–1704)
- Mahadevendra Saraswati IV (1704–1746)
- ChandrasekharendraSaraswati V (1746–1783)
- Mahadevendra Saraswati V (1783–1813)
- Chandrasekharendra Saraswati VI (1813–1851)
- Sudarsana Mahadevendra Saraswati (1851–1891)
- Chandrasekharendra Saraswati VII (1891 – 7 February 1907)
- Mahadevendra Saraswathi V (7 February 1907 – 13 February 1907)
- Chandrashekarendra Saraswati (13 February 1907 – 8 January 1994)
- Jayendra Saraswathi (3 January 1994 – 28 February 2018)
- Shankara Vijayendra Saraswati (28 February 2018 – Present)
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