At the request of Col. Olcott I have permitted the following paper to be published with materials collected by me for a paper read to the Students’ Literary and Scientific Society, in 1871. I had intended to rewrite the life of Sankaracharaya, with some additions and alterations, but as present pressing engagements do not leave me sufficient leisure for such an effort, I have thought it advisable to consent to my original Essay being utilized by Col. Olcott according to his own discretion.—K. T. T.


[I.]

I might well plead the multitudinous engagements of a busy professional and literary life, as an excuse for not complying with the request to briefly notice in the Theosophist the incidents of Sankaracharaya’s illustrious career. But I am, first and last, a Hindu, and my sympathies and humble co-operation are pledged in advance to every legitimate attempt to elucidate the history of India or better the intellectual or physical condition of my countrymen. From the earliest time the study of philosophy and metaphysics has been prized and encouraged in this country, and high above all other names in its history are written those of our people who have aimed to help men to clearer thinking upon the subjects embraced in those categories, whether by their writings, discourses or example. The life which forms my present theme is the life of one of the greatest men who have appeared in India. Whether we consider his natural abilities, his unselfish devotion to the cause of religion, or the influence he has exerted upon his countrymen, this splendid ascetic stands facile princeps.

So enchanting, in fact, are all his surroundings, that it is no wonder that the admiration of an astonished people should have euhemerized him into an incarnation of the Deity. Our ignoble human nature seems ever so conscious of its own weakness and imperfection, as to be prone to deify whomsoever exemplifies its higher aspirations; as though the keeping of him on the human plane made other men seem meaner and more little by contrast.

Sankaracharaya’s biographers apotheosised their hero, as Alexander’s and Cicero’s and those of Apollonius, Jesus and Mahomet did theirs. They made his advent presaged by a heavenly vision—of Mahadeva, to his father, Sivaguru—and his career attended by miracles which no theory of interior, or psychical, development can cover. A lenient posterity may well pass over these pious embellishments as the fruit of an exuberant partiality, for after all these have been stripped away, the true grandeur of the pandit, philosopher, and mystic is only the more plainly revealed to us.

We are, unfortunately, without the necessary data to enable us to precisely fix the epoch in which this great teacher flourished. Some ascribe it to the second century before, others would bring him down to the tenth after, Christ. Most modern scholars agree in locating him in the eighth century of the Christian era; and, since we have for this opinion the concurrent authority of Wilson, Colebrooke, Rammohan Roy, Yajnesvar Shastri, and Professor Jayanarayan Tarkapanchanam, the Bengali editor of Anandagiri’s Sankara Vijaya, and it is less important, after all, to know when he taught than what he taught and did, we may as well accept that decision without debate. No more certainly can his birth-place be determined. As seven cities competed for the honor of having produced a Homer, so five biographers ascribe his nativity to as many different localities. Sringeri is commonly believed to have been the favored town;1 but a passage from the Sivarahanja, quoted in the Kayicharitra, would indicate a town in the Kerala district, named Sasalagrama;2 Anandagiri’s Life of Sankara names Chidambarapura;3 Madhev puts forward Kalati;4 and lastly, Yajnesvar Shastri, in his Aryavidya Sudhakara, tells us that Sankara first saw the light at Kalpi.5

Taking no notice of the portents and wonders said to have occurred in the animal and vegetable kingdoms at his birth—such as the fraternizing together of beasts ordinarily hostile to each other, the uncommon pellucidity of the streams, the preternatural shedding of fragrance by trees and plants, nor of the joy of the Upanishads or the glad paeans of the whole celestial host, we find our hero displaying a most wonderful precocity. In his first year he acquired the Sanskrit alphabet and his own language; at two, learned to read; at three, studied the Kavyas and Puranas—and understood many portions of them by intuition.6 Anandagiri, less circumstantial, merely states that Sankara became conversant with Prakrit Magadha and Sanskrit languages even in saisava, in infancy.

Having studied the Itihasa, the Puranas, the Mahabharat, the Smritis and the Shastras, Sankara, in his seventh year, returned from his preceptor to his own home. Madhav narrates that the mother of his hero being, one day, overpowered by the debility resulting from the austerities she had practised before his birth to propitiate the gods and make them grant her prayer for a son, as well as by the torrid heat of the sun, fainted; whereupon Sankara, finding her in the swoon, not only brought her back to consciousness but drew the river up, as well, a circumstance which of course spread his fame as a thaumaturgist far and wide! The Kings of Kerala vainly offering him presents of gold and elephants, through his own minister, came himself to pay reverence, and disclosing his longing for a son like himself, was made happy by the sage, who taught the king privately the rites to be performed in such cases. I must not lose the opportunity to point, in passing, to the two things implied in this biographical scrap), viz., that,7 it was believed that the birth of progeny may be brought about by the recitation of mantrams and the performance of ceremonial rites, and8 that the secret is never publicly taught, but privately conveyed from adept to disciple. I shall not dwell upon these facts but leave them to be disposed of as they will by our new friends, the Theosophists, for whom the mystical side of nature offers most enticements.

About this same time the great sage Agastya, visiting him with other sages, prophesied to his mother that he would die at the age of thirty-two. Feeling that this world is all a passing show, this boy of eight years determined to embrace the life of a holy Sannyasi, but his mother objected, her motherly pride doubtless craving a son to her son who should inherit his own greatness of soul and mind. The lad’s determination was not to be shaken, however, and the maternal consent was obtained, as the biographers tell us by the working of a prodigy.9 Bathing in the river, one day, his foot was caught by an alligator. He wailed so loud that his mother ran to the spot, and, being told that the alligator would not leave go his hold until she had agreed to her son’s becoming an ascetic, felt coerced into giving her consent. Sankaracharaya thereupon came out of the river, and confiding her to the care of relatives and friends, and telling her he would come back to her whenever she should need his presence, he went away and took up the career for which he had so strong a natural bent.

As if drawn by some irresistible magnetic attraction towards a certain spot, Sankara travelled for several days, through forests, over hills, by towns, and across rivers, yet all the while unconscious of all, and oblivious to the men and beasts that went by him on his way, he arrived at the cave in a hill on the banks of the Nerbudda, where Govind Yati had fixed his hermitage. After the usual preliminaries the sage accepted the lad as a pupil and taught him the Brahma out of the four great sentences—Knowledge is Brahma; This soul is Brahma; Thou art that; and I am Brahma.10

It is related by Madhav that, immediately after he had entered upon this discipleship, Sankara performed,—one day, when his guru was immersed in contemplation, or, as we should say Dharana,—the prodigy of quelling a furious tempest of rain accompanied by awful thunder and lightning, by pronouncing certain mystic verses. Hearing, upon returning to consciousness of external things, what his illustrious pupil had done, Govind Natha was overjoyed, as this very event had been foretold to him by Vyasa at a sacrifice celebrated, long before, by the sage Atri. Bestowing his benediction upon Sankara, he bade him go to Holy Benares and receive there the blessing of the Deity.

‘On thy glorious work,
Then enter, and begin to save mankind’ (Madhav V. 53-61)

Thus admonished, Sankara proceeded to Benares where after a residence for some time, he is said to have received his first pupil, Sanandana—the same who afterwards became celebrated as his greatest favorite under the title of Padmapada. I confess to a doubt of the accuracy of this date, though I quote the circumstance from Madhav’s book, for it does seem impossible that Sankara should have begun to get pupils at such a very tender age as, upon Madhav’s own showing, he must have reached at the time. However, be this as it may, Padmapada was duly enrolled as a disciple at Benares, and there most of the others also joined him.

In his twelfth year Sankara removed to Badari, on the banks of the Ganges, where he composed his masterpiece, the commentary on the Brahma Sutras. Here also, he wrote the commentary on the Upanishads, on the Bhagavadgita, on the Urisimhatapaniya (so called by Madhav), and on the Sanatsujatiya, besides other works. He then taught his great commentary to his numerous pupils, but always reserving his greatest powers of instruction for Padmapada. This excited envy in the breasts of the other pupils, to dispel which Sankara, once standing on one shore of the river which flowed by his residence, called to Padmapada to come over to him directly from the opposite bank. The latter obeyed, and dauntlessly walked over on the surface of the waters, which sent up a lotus at each step he took. It was on this occasion that the name Padmapada was given him by Sankara, as he warmly embraced him in recognition of his enthusiastic devotion.

While teaching his pupils the youthful teacher did not fail of adversaries among the learned men who held tenets different to his own, but he always came off victor. He drew, says Madhav, from the arsenal of a vast Vedic learning, the weapons with which to combat his powerful assailants. We are treated to the description of an eight days’ debate between himself and Vyasa, who appeared under the guise of an aged Brahmin but whose identity was intuitively recognized at least by Padmapada. The biographer tells us that the spirit, in his assumed guise of the living Brahmin, propounded a thousand objections to Sankara’s great Bhashya on the Brahma Sutras, which were all triumphantly answered, and in the end, gave the latter an extension of sixteen years of life over and above the set term of sixteen that he was to have lived, and after bidding him undertake a refutation of all the other philosophic systems in vogue, blessed him and then disappeared.

After this, Sankara set out for Prayaga in search of Bhatta Kumarila,whom he wished to ask to write vartikas on his Bhashya, but found that he was upon the point of self-cremation in disgust with the world. Vainly entreating him to reconsider his determination, Sankara nevertheless was permitted to explain his commentaries, which Kumarila praised unstintingly; and after the latter had accomplished his act of self-immolation, proceeded on to Mahishmati, the city where, as Kumarila had informed him, he would find Mandana Misra who would undertake the work Sankara had requested him to perform. Arrived at the place, he was directed to the sage’s house by parrots miraculously endowed with human speech and able to discuss most recondite questions of philosophy! He found the house but found it closed, so that to obtain entrance he had to raise him self up into the air and alight, a deus ex machina, in Mandana’s hall. An animated and, at first, even acrimonious discussion ensued between the host and his unexpected and unwelcome guest, the two finally deciding to make the wife of Mandana Misra umpire between them. But she, having other matters to attend to, gave each a garland, stipulating that he should be deemed vanquished whose garland withered. I will not attempt in such time and space as I now command, to even epitomise this wonderful debate, but refer the reader to Madhav (VII. 34) for particulars, adding that they will richly repay study. Sankara won, and in winning, under the terms of the debate, claimed his antagonist as a disciple and required him to abandon the domestic life and become an ascetic. He consented, and the wife—who was an incarnation of Sarasvati, as we are told—started for the other world. But before she had quite departed she was prevailed upon by Sankara to tarry while he should hold debate with her also. Then commenced the second discussion, but the ready answers of the former to all questions put to him foiled Sarasvati, as she may now be called, until she struck into a path to which Sankara was a total stranger. She asked him a question on the science of love. He was of course, unable to answer it at once, being a Sannyasi and a celibate all his life; so he craved a respite of one month, which being granted, he left Mahishmati. The sequel will be told in my next paper.


[II.]

The question of Saraswati as to the true nature of Love must be answered though he were ten times a Yogi or Samyasi, so Sankara journeyed on to find the means of learning the truth. As he was going out with his pupils, they met the corpse of a certain king named Amaraka (of Amritapura, to the west of Mandana Misra’s city, according to Anandagiri11 lying at the foot of a tree in the forest surrounded by males and females mourning his death. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Sankara entrusted his own body to the charge of his pupils, and caused his soul to enter the corpse of the king. The supposed restuscitation which followed delighted the people, and king Sankara was taken in triumph from the forest of death to the throne of royalty.12

There, king Sankara, standing as it were in the shoes of Amaraka, and, indeed Amaraka himself so far as the eye could discern, and passing as such, learned practically all that pertained to the science and art of Love, and fitted himself to answer the query of the cunning wife of Mandana. He also studied the theory of the subject in Vatsyanana, and made progress enough to write an original treatise upon it himself.13 Meanwhile, however, the ministers of the State, finding their resuscitated rajah a far wiser and better man than ever before, suspected that there had been some transmigration of souls, and so, to prevent the return of this intruder to his own body, secretly issued an order that all the corpses in the city should be burnt; but they took good care that the order should not come to the knowledge of the king.14

In the meantime the pupils of Sankara who had charge of his body, finding that the limit of time fixed by him for his return had already been passed, grew very uneasy. While the others were given up to their grief, Padmapada suggested a plan which was unanimously adopted, and they started out to discover the whereabouts of their preceptor. The stories of Madhav and Anandagiri do not agree as to this quest of the pupils after their master, the former making them wander from province to province, while the latter tells us that Sankara’s body was deposited in the outskirts of the king’s own city. In fact, Madhav himself elsewhere describes the circumstances of Sankara’s soul not finding the body in the appointed place, then animating it on the funeral pyre, and Sankara’s then returning with his pupils to Mandana as a work of but short duration:—but we are interrupting the sequence of our narrative. Padmapada’s plan was for them to first discover the whereabouts of their master, and then, gaining access to his presence under the disguise of singers, express to him their sorrow at his absence and recall him to his own body and to the prosecution of his labors. Arrived at King Amaraka’s city, they heard the story of the preternatural resuscitation, and satisfied that they were on the right tract, carried out their affectionate plot. Their music not only held their audience spell-bound, but reached the inner consciousness of Sankara, in his borrowed body. He dismissed the singers, retransferred himself to his own body, and left the empty rajah to die once more, and this time effectually. He found his own body already amid the flames but having his armour of proof against fire it was uninjured, and he rejoined his devoted pupils, singing the praises of Nrisemha. Returning to the residence of Mandana, Saraswati was answered and Mandana Misra converted to Vedantism.

Travelling southwards, Sankara published his works in Maharashtra, and took up his residence at Srisaila, where a strange proposal was made to him. A Kapalika called on him and besought him to give him his head, which he said he wanted to offer up as a sacrifice as he had been promised by Mahadeva a residence in Kailasa in his human body, if he offered up the head of either a king or an omniscient person. Sankara agreed on condition that the Kapalika should come for it without the knowledge of his pupils, who might interfere. This was done, but before the decapitation could be effected, Padamapada learnt the thing through his interior consciousness, and assuming the form of a Man-lion fell upon the Kapalika, and rent him joint by joint. He had then to be appeased and brought back to himself.

The next miracle attributed to Sankara was the bringing back to life at Gokarna, of a child greatly beloved by its, parents. (Madhav xii, 24). To Srivali—where he got a new pupil in the person of Hastamalaka, a lad supposed to be an idiot, but in fact something very different—and Sringagiri, he then went. At the latter place Mandana Misra, who had taken the name of Sureshvar (see p. 251 of Anandagiri, whose account leaves it a matter of doubt as to the identity of Mandana with Sureshvar) wrote at Sankara’s command an independent tractice on the Brahma, which surprised the other pupils and equally pleased the master.

At this time Sanhara learning in some supernatural way15 of his mother’s being at the point of death, hastened to her side, and at her request for spiritual counsel, instructed her, or rather attempted to instruct her, in the formless Brahma. She could not comprehend his teaching, but he tranquilized her mind until the moment of her dissolution. His relatives refused to aid him in performing the usual funeral ceremonies on the ground that he, being an ascetic, was not competent to perform the offices in question. Hereupon he produced a fire from his right hand, wherewith he burned the corpse. (Madhav 29-56).

At this time, Padmapada who had been absent on a pilgrimage returned, and told Sankara how a commentary on the Bhashya which he had composed and deposited with his uncle when he went on his pilgrimage, was destroyed by that person as it contained a refutation of the doctrines he held. To the great joy of Padamapada, Sankara dictated the whole from memory, as he had once read it himself, and from his dictation Padamapada rewrote it. Rajasekhar, also, who had lost his dramas, had them dictated to him in the same manner.

And now accompanied by his pupils and by king Sudhanvan, Sankara started on his tour of intellectual conquest. The redargutio philosophiarum, which Vyasa had suggested to him, and for which his original lease of life had been extended, now commenced. He first directed his steps towards the Setu—the Bridge—then passing through the countries of the Pandyas, the Cholas, and the Dravidas, he went to Kanchi where he erected a temple and established the system of the adoration of Devi. Having then favoured with a visit the people called Andhras, and having looked in at the seat of Venkatchalesa, he proceeded to the country of the Vidarbhas. On hearing that Sankara wished to go into the Karnata country, the king of the Vidarbhas warned him of the mischievous character of the people generally, and of their envy and hatred of Sankara particularly. Sankara went into that country nevertheless, and the first person of note he came across was a Kapalika named Krakacha, whose exposition of his own doctrines so disgusted all who heard it that Sudhanvan caused him with all his followers to be ignominiously driven away. They went breathing vengeance and returned armed in hundreds. They were however destroyed by king Sudhanvan—all but the first Kapalika Krakacha, who came up to Sankara, and addressed him saying, “Now taste the fruit of thy deeds.” He then prayed to Bhairava and as soon as he appeared, asked him to destroy the destroyer of his followers. But Bhairava killed Krakacha himself, exclaiming, “Dust thou offend even me?”

Onward went Sankara to the Western ocean, and to Gokarna, where he vanquished Nilakantha, a philosopher who thought himself perfectly invincible. Sankara thence went into the Saurashtra country and published his Bhashya there. Then he went to Dvaravati or Dvarka and thence to Ujjayini where he challenged and conquered Bhattabhaskar. Thence he went “conquering and to conquer” into the countries of the Balhikas, Bharatas, Surasenas, Kurus, Daradas, Panchalas, and so forth. In the country of the Kamarupas, Sankara encountered and defeated Abbinavagupta, a doctor of the Sakta school. Having, however, more worldly wisdom than philosophy or love of truth, and finding that he could not compete with Sankara, that personage got his pupils to hide his works for a period, and passed himself off as belonging to Sankara’s school, all the while maturing a plot of which the sequel will be presently narrated.


[III.]

The north thus disposed of, and accepting the respect and veneration of the Videhas, the Kosalas, the Angas and the Bangas, Sankara went into the country of the Gandas. It was then that the nefarious designs of the discomfited doctor of the Sakta School—mentioned in my last—culminated. Sankara suddenly caught the disease, called Bhagandara16 which had been sent upon him by the necromantic spells of Abhinavagupta, who had performed a special sacrifice to accomplish his malicious plot. The greatest physicians attended on Sankara, but in vain. Meanwhile the patient himself behaved stoically or rather vedantically. But at last when the disease could not be cured, he prayed to Mahadeva to send down the Ashvinikumars, who were accordingly sent down disguised as Brahmans. But they pronounced the disease to be beyond their powers of cure as it was caused by the act of another. On this communication the anger of Padmapada once more came to the relief of the Vadantism of Sankara. For, though dissuaded by Sankara himself, he muttered some mystic incantations which transfirred the disease to Abhinavagupta himself who died of it.17,18

About this time Sankara heard of a temple in Kashmir, which none but an all-knowing person could open, which had been opened on its northern, eastern and western sides, but which had continued closed till then on its southern side. Sankara accordingly went up to the temple, but the controversialists there would not allow him to enter before they examined him. He was examined accordingly, and was found, as one may say, not wanting. He then entered, but as he was going to take his seat on the stool within, the Goddess of the temple—Sarasvati—said, “Your omniscience has been already more than sufficiently proved; but omniscience is not enough to entitle you to take your seat on this stool. Continence is also necessary. Bethink yourself of your acts, and say whether you can claim it under these circumstances.” Sankara replied:—“This body is perfectly pure. It cannot be tarnished by the sins of another body.” This was, of course, a clincher, and Sankara took his seat on the coveted stool!19

He thence went to the hermitage of Risjasringa, and, after staying there for some time, to Badari. There he taught his Bhashya to some persons who were studying in the Patamjala School of philosophy. Thence he proceeded to Kedara—where he prayed to Mahadeva to send down warm water for his benumbed pupils. That was, of course, done; and Madhav says, the river still flows with hot water in that part of the country.20

He had now arrived at the close of his thirty-second years and his term of life being over, all the Gods, and all the Siddhas, and all the Sages, came down in divine vehicles to escort him up to heaven. As soon as Sankara made up his mind his vehicle appeared for him, and then “with his praises sung by the principal deities, headed by Indra and Upendra, and worshipped with heavenly flowers, supported by the arm of the Lotus-born God, he mounted his excellent Bull, and exhibiting his knots of hair with their ornament, the moon, he started for his own residence, hearing the word ‘victory! uttered by the sages.” 21

This does seem too materialistic and non-vedantic. Anandagiri has the following account:—“Once in the city of Kanchi, the place of absolution, as he was seated, he absorbed his gross body into the subtle one and became existent; then destroying the subtle one into the body which is the cause (of the world) became ‘pure intelligence’; and then (assuming the) size of a thumb, and attaining in the world of the Ishvara full happiness (unbroken) like a perfect circle, he became the intelligence which pervades the whole universe. And he still exists in the form of the all-pervading intelligence. The Brahmans of the place, and his pupils, and their pupils reciting the Upanishads, the Gita, and the Brahmasutras, then excavated a ditch in a very clean spot and offering to his body pigment, rice, &c., raised a tomb over it there.”22

And here ends the story of the life of Sankaracharya. As I look back over the narrative thus given by me after Madhav, methinks I hear the genius of nineteenth century scepticism whisper in my ears:—“All this is an absurd fable from first to last; it is the ‘tinsel clink of compliment,’ to one whom a halo of glory surrounds. At the age of two, it is impossible to have learnt what Sankara is said to have learnt; those miracles, which he is reported to have performed, are ‘mere and sheer impossibilities—in a word all Madhav’s narrative is fitter for the pages of a romance than of a work professing to be historical.” Now though I confess that I do believe there is some force in this argument, I must also confess that I am not prepared to give it as much weight as those, who propound it, seem to claim for it. I am perfectly willing to grant that there is a considerable menstruum of poetry in this narrative: but I am not prepared to say that it is as much as may at first sight appear. Even in the skeptical nineteenth century, we have had accounts of historical personages, given as history, which bear in some points a very striking resemblance to Madhav’s account of Sankaracharya. I shall put forward two very good instances in point, which occur to me at this moment. Dr. Thomas Brown, a man who flourished in this nineteenth century, a man whose life has been written by a prosaic Western not guilty of Oriental hyperboles, is said to have been engaged in the fourth year of his age, in comparing the narratives of the evangelists in order to find out any discrepancies that there might be between them. To appreciate the full force of this example, it must be remembered that this critical spirit was brought to bear upon a work, on which in opinion out of the common rut would be downright heresy. This circumstance, I may mention, is recorded in the memoir of Dr. Brown, prefixed to his eloquent lectures on the Philosophy of Mind.23

Mr. John Morley, the present Editor of the Fortnightly Review, has contributed to the pages of that publication a valuable life of Turgot. Here is his deliverance on the precocity of the subject of his memoir. “It has been justly said of him that he passed at once from infancy to manhood, and was in the rank of sages before he had shaken off the dust of the play-ground.”24

If more authority is necessary for refusing to subscribe to the theory that every statement which appears wonderful is, at once, and by reason of its being wonderful, to be put down as totally false, we have the authority of that prince of philosophic historians, Mr. George Grote. “In separating,” says that great authority upon all matters of historic criticism, “between the marvellous and the ordinary, there is no security that we are dividing the fictitious from the real.”25 And not to depend on the ipse dixit even of a Grote, I would refer the sceptic to the wonders of science, which are “truths stranger than fiction,” which yet we see performed before our eyes. Before the fact, what would one have thought of the Electric Telegraph? Before the fact, what was thought of the Railway? I would ask the sceptic to pause here, to consider these matters fully from this point of view, before at once arguing: “these circumstances are wonderful; ergo, they are impossible.” They are not of a piece with the common run of occurrences; I am willing to concede also that they may be much exaggerated. But when I am told that they are wholly false, when I am told that no reasonable man can believe them, then I demur. I rather choose to hold myself in suspense.

I had intended in this paper to say something about the works of Sankaracharya, and about some other matters connected with him. But want of time and the length to which this paper has already extended, have prevented me from incorporating those necessary portions of a biography into the present paper. I hope, however, in an other paper to treat of those matters, as leisure and the materials accessible to me will permit.


Note A.

According to Anandagiri, Sankara does not seem to have left his birth-place, before taking the Sannayasa, and when he left the place, he had already got numbers of pupils. He first went from Chidambarapur southward to Madhyarjuna (p. 19) where he converted the people to adualism by a miracle (p. 20). Thence he proceeded to Rameshvar near the Setu, where he stayed for two months defeating the representatives of various sects, that entered into controversies with him (p. 21). Then he went on to Anantasayana where he remained for one month (p. 51). Travelling westwards, he reached the town of Subrahmanya in fifteen days (p. 81). Proceeding thence in a north-westerly direction, he went to the town of Ganavara, and sojourned there for a month (p. 102), thence to Bhavaninagara (p. 122), where be stayed for a month, and held discussions with the sectaries of the neighbouring towns of Kuvalayapur and others (p. 127). From that town he went northward to Ujjayini where be remained for two months (p. 138), thence in a north-westerly direction to the city of Anumalla, (p. 160) where he spent twenty-one days. Going westward next to the town of Arundh (p. 164), and northward from that to Magadhapura (p. 170), he went on first to Indraprastha (p. 174), and then to Yamaprastha, whence, after staying there for a month (p. 178), he proceeded to Prayaga at “the confluence of the Ganges, the Jumna and the Sarasvati” (p. 184). Going eastward thence, in ” half a fortnight,” he reached Kashi (p. 205), and after staying there for some time, he went northward to Badari by the route of Kurukshetra (p. 235). Having next seen Dvaraka and other heaven-like places, he went to Ayodhya, thence to Gaya, and thence to Parvata by the route of Jagannath (p. 235). After a month he proceeded to Ruddhapura, where he saw Kumarila (p. 236) and northward thence to a very famous seat of learning—Vijilabindu—situated towards the south-east of Hastinapura (p. 238). Having there vanquished Mandanamisra, and established a college near Sringapura on the banks of the Tunghbhadra, he stayed there for twelve months (p. 251), after which he proceeded to Ahobala, thence to Vaikalyagiri, and thence to the town of Kanchi, where, within a month of his arrival, he founded Sivakanchi and Vishnukanchi (p. 251). Here his soul left this mortal coil. But before this end, he is said to have authorised five of his principal pupils to found the Shaiva, Vaishanva, Saiva, Sakta, Ganapatya systems of worship (p. 264 et seq.)


Note B.

I must confess that even after a great deal of time and labour spent upon the work, I am as far as ever from being able to comprehend the geography of the tour of Sankaracharya as related by Anandagiri and abstracted in the last note. Many of the names cannot be found noted in our modern maps. The only point worth noting is perhaps this, that Chidambar, which is mentioned by Anandagiri as Sankara’s birth-place, may be Chillumbrun (so-called in the map), a place to the south of Porto Novo. The account of Madhav is somewhat better, but there are difficulties. Thus, though his progress through the countries of the Pandyas, the Cholas, and the Dravidas, to Kanchi, and thence to the country of the Andhras, may be understood, why should he go up as far as the country of the Vidarbhas—identified with Berar—and then return to the Karnatic districts? What follows, however, is not very hard to understand. It may, perhaps, be worth while to mention some of the names which have been identified. The knowledge may not be new to those who have studied the subject, but it may be new to those who have not looked into it as it was to myself. Mahishmati is mentioned in Raghuvansa (VI. 43) as situated on the Narmada. It is also mentioned in Magha (II. 64) as the city of Shishupala, and it is identified in Mr. Garret’s recent dictionary with Chuii Maheshvar. The Pandya country embraces the Tinnevelly and Madura districts; the Chola country is the Coromandel Coast, southward from Godavari and eastward from the hills at Nandidrug (Elphinstone’s India, fifth Edition, p. 239); the Dravida country about Madras up to Bangalore on the west (Elphinstone, p. 231). Kanchi is Conjeveram, south of Madras (Elphinstone, p. 239). The Andhra country is about Waranogol and forms part of Telingana. The country of the Vidarbhas is Berar; that of the Surasenas is Mathura; that of the Kamarupas is the east of Hindustan; that of the Videhas, Mithila; Kosalas, Oude; Angas, north-west of Bengal Proper. Indraprastha is near Delhi. The probable situation of Chidambara has been already stated, that of Sringeri is well-known. Sasalagram, mentioned above, I cannot find. May it not be the “Sallagrama” in the Mysore province; or, perhaps, what is called “Sosilly” in Cassel’s Atlas, also situated in the same province? As to Kalati mentioned by Madhav, I can say nothing at all. I may add here that it appears to me to be very probable that Madhav did not regard Sringeri as Sankara’s birth-place, for in XIV. 29, he makes Sankara leave Sringeri in order to see his mother in her last moments, and is then described as flying through space, while she herself, for aught that appears to the contrary, continued to remain at the town of his birth, where he had left her in charge of relatives.


1. See Pandit K. V. Ramaswami’s sketches, p. 4 and, the Map at the end of the book.

2. Kavicherita, p. 3, line 17.

3. Ph. 9 and 19. it may be added here that I have grave doubts as to the Sankara Vijaya, pubished at Calcutta, being really a work of Anandagiri, the pupil of Sankara.

4. Madhavacharaya. II. 3.

5. P. 226.

6. Madhav IV. 1-3.

7. Madhav V. I. Compare Anandagiri p. 11.

8. Madhav V. 59.

9. Madhav V. 87. None of Madhav’s details are to be found in Anandagiri, where we have but two lines on this subject altogether, p. 17.

10. The originals are प्रज्ञानम् ब्रह्म [prajñānam brahma], यम् आत्मा ब्रह्म [yam ātmā brahma], तत् त्वम् असि [tat tvam asi], अहम् ब्रह्मास्मि [aham brahmāsmi].

11. Anandagiri 244.

12. This incident is too important to pass by without editorial comment. The power of the Yogi to quit his own body and enter and animate that of another person, though affirmed by Patanjali and included among the Siddhis of Krishna, is discredited by Europeanized young Indians. Naturally enough, since, as Western biologists deny a soul to man, it is an unthinkable proposition to them that the Yogi’s soul should be able to enter another’s body. That such an unreasoning infidelity should prevail among the pupils of European schools, is quite reason enough why an effort should be made to revive in India those schools of Psychology in which the Aryan youth were theoretically and practically taught the occult laws of Man and Nature. We, who have at least some trifling acquaintance with modern science, do not hesitate to affirm our belief that this temporary transmigration of souls is possible. We may even go so far as to say that the phenomenon has been experimentally proven to us in New York, among other places. And, since we would be among the last to require so marvellous a statement to be accepted upon any one’s unsupported testimony, we urge our readers to first study Aryan literature, and then get from personal experience the corroborative evidence. The result must inevitably be to satisfy every honest inquirer that Patanjali and Sankaracharya did, and Tyndall, Carpenter and Huxley do not, know the secrets of our being.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]

13. Madhav X. 18.

14. Pandit Ramaswami says that the order was issued by the Queen herself, and in this the pandit is at one with Anandagiri who also makes the Queen suspect the fact (p. 215) and makes no illusion to the ministers.

15. We must take issue with our distinguished contributor upon this point. We do not believe in “supernatural ways,” and we do believe and know that it was not at all difficult for an initiate like Sankara to learn by his interior faculties, of his mother’s state. We have seen too many proofs of this faculty to doubt it.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]

16. A terrible form of ulcerated sore, or fistula.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]

17. Madhav XV1. 22-32.

18. An important point for the student of occult science is here made and should not be overlooked. The law of physics that action and reaction tend to equilibrate each other holds in the realm of the occult. This has been fully explained in “Isis Unveiled” and other works of the kind. A current of Akas directed by a sorcerer at a given object with an evil intent, must either be propelled by such intensity of will as to break through every obstacle and overpower the resistant will of the selected victim, or it will rebound against the sender, and afflict him or her in the same way as it was intended the other should be hurt. So well is this law understood that it has been preserved to us in many popular proverbs, such as the English ones, “curses come home to roost,” “the biter’s bit,” etc., the Italian one, “La bestemia gira, e gira, e gira, e torna adosso a che la tira,” etc. This reversal of a maleficent current upon the sender may be greatly facilitated by the friendly interference of another person who knows the secret of controlling the Akasic currents—if it is permissible for us to coin a new word that will soon be wanted in the Western parlance.—Ed. Theos. [H.P.B.]

19. Madhav XVI. 86.

20. Madhav XVI. 101. According to Anandagiri the prayer for hot water was made to Narayana, p. 235.

21. Madhav XVI. 107.

22. Anandagiri, p. 280.

23. See also the Contemporary Review, June 1872, Robert Leslie Ellis, Pro. Grote.

24Fortnightly Review, August 1869.

25. See, too, the Duke of Somerset’s recent book of Christianity and Scepticism, p. 46, and the Duke of Argyll’s Reign of Law passim.