I apologize for long and belated reply.
As for Kanchi, its claims and records are bogus.
1. The Illustrated Weekly of India, "The Weekly Cover Story" - K. P.
Sunil, September 13, 1987.
2 a. The Truth about the Kumbhakonam Math, - Sri R. Krishnaswamy
Aiyar and Sri K. R. Venkatraman, Sri Ramakrishna Press, Madurai,
b. Kanchi Kamakoti Math - a Myth - Sri Varanasi Raj Gopal Sarma,
Ganga Tunga Prakashan, Varanasi, 1987.
LC Call No.: BL1243.76.C62 K367 1987
What does all this have to do with this thread? This looks like an Inter-Hindu math disagreement between Brahmins of different maths in their usual cat-fight and that you are one one side. That is your prerogative but I believe you are needlessly taking a dump on this thread. This is like Deobandi saying Barelvi are munafiq.
If you think Sringeri Math is right it is enough for you to say that. No need to post the entire Ramayana and Mahabharata to support your personal opinion.
What does all this have to do with this thread?
I'll explain. There is one, Sri Kota Venkatachalem, who is proposing more ancient dates for Buddha than the ones suggested by the colonial historians. Now, the colonial historians have given Buddha the date of 500 BCE. Kota Venkatachalem is proposing 1800 BCE. He thinks he has to refute the dates given by the colonial historians. To do this, he uses many logics.
One such logic is: He shows (what is already well known) that Buddha was not a contemporary of Kumarilla Bhatta or Adi Shankara. Kumarilla Bhatta and Adi Shankara are generally accepted as belonging to 800 CE both by traditionalists and colonial/commie historians. AFAIK, only Kanchi Mutt differs on this and gives a more ancient date of 500 BCE. Kota Venkatachalem accepts this date based on Kanchi Mutt's records. Based on this date, he argued that Buddha must be older than 500 BCE because Buddha was more ancient figure than Adi Shankara. It is universally accepted that Buddha is more ancient figure than Adi Shankara and Kumarilla Bhatta. No controversy there. But, the fly in the ointment in the logic used by Kota Venkatachalem is that he relies on the records of Kanchi to establish the dates of Adi Shankara and Kumarilla Bhatta.
My point is that Kanchi records are bogus. Basing the dates on this bogus records will yield wrong dates for Adi Shankara and Kumarilla Bhatta. Using these wrong dates to counter the obviously fraudulent dates given by colonial historians for Buddha is funny and ironic. One set of fraudulent dates are being countered by another set of fraudulent dates.
According to tradition, there are 4 mutts established by Adi Shankara. The Dashanami order of sanyasis also accept the authority of these 4 mutts only(and not Kanchi or anyother). The 4 mutts are:
a) East - Puri - Govardhan Mutt.
b) South - Sringeri - Sharada Mutt.
c) West - Dwarka - Kalika Mutt.
d) North - Badri - Jyothir Mutt.
Of these four mutts, the Jyothir Math had long been vacant, till it was revived in 1940 CE. So, it does not have many ancient records. And Dwaraka and Puri maths have patchy histories, with periods when there were no presiding Sankaracaryas.
The historical records of these 3 mutts are, therefore, not reliable to know the dates of Adi Shankara.
So, that leaves Sringeri which has had an unbroken succession of mathadhipatis. The records of Sringeri are corroborated by the Vijayanagara records. Vijayanagara records give details of various years in which grants were given and who the pitadhipathi was at that time. These details corroborate the records of Sringeri. Further, Sringeri records are corroborated by other royalties and third party records.
Kota Venkatachalem depends on Kanchi records and ignores Sringeri records for dating Adi Shankara. Sringeri records give 800 CE date for Adi Shankara while Kanchi mutt claims 500 BCE.
The problem is Kanchi's records are not corroborated by any third party records. There are only and only Kanchi's claims. Very tall claims but simply no corroboration. Kanchi mutt claims to be in existence from 500 BCE, yet there are no records in history from any independent sources to attest of such an existence. There is no mention of Kanchi mutt in the entire history(except in the last 200 yrs). The other(original) 4 mutts and their existence can be attested by other sources from 800 CE onwards.
In fact, there is no evidence that any peetham existed in Kanchi before 1800 CE.
Then, the list of Acharyas provided by Kanchi is also full of defects. I read that the information is self-contradictory or contradicted by other third-party historical records.
By all these points, Kota Venkatachalem's dates for Adi Shankara are fraudulent( or at best, dubious).
This looks like an Inter-Hindu math disagreement between Brahmins of different maths in their usual cat-fight and that you are one one side. That is your prerogative but I believe you are needlessly taking a dump on this thread. This is like Deobandi saying Barelvi are munafiq.
If you think Sringeri Math is right it is enough for you to say that. No need to post the entire Ramayana and Mahabharata to support your personal opinion.
I am inclined to believe Sringeri Math because its records are attested by other parties while even the existence of any mutt named Kanchi before 1800 is doubtful. Kanchi(Kumbakonnam)'s claims of great antiquity bear no corroborative records from any other sources(except the holy forgeries of Kanchi. Eg: list of Acharyas dating back to 500 BCE).
Also, the oldest inscription found in Kumbhakonam math(Kanchi mutt before it was shifted to Kanchi) is 1821 CE. I am not one of those who insists on taking archeological evidence as the be all and end all. I am quite ambivalent about archeological evidence. But, if you say your mutt is as old as 500 BCE and the oldest inscription is just 1821 CE, then that is a big problem(as far as I am concerned).
Having said all that, I understand that you can accuse me of taking sides in a dispute. You can say that all this is my personal opinion based on my bias. Fine. I will even acknowledge my bias. In fact, I think anyone who is trying to make conclusions(or judgements) based on disparate data points must first acknowledge his own bias, so that he himself and other people are aware of it. Being aware of a bias does not necessarily neutralize it, but definitely moderates its impact because others can be more careful. By working under the cloak of feigned neutrality, people allow the inherent human biases to make a greater impact on judgements or conclusions. It is highly misleading when the role of bias is unacknowledged or outright rejected by claiming impartiality. This applies in any field.
Anyway, the pertinent point here is that the same charges that can be made against me(of being partisan and biased), can be made against Kota Venkatachalem, who is also taking sides in the dispute by accepting the records of Kanchi while ignoring Sringeri's records.
Let me clarify that I am not against Kanchi mutt's pro-Hindu activities. I am clarifying because there is a chance that some may arrive at that conclusion because of what I said about Kanchi mutt's records. As far as I am concerned, anyone who works for Hinduism is to be supported. I am more concerned about the work rather than the brands. Brands are useless if they don't do the requisite work. And I don't mean any disrespect to the peetadhipatis of Kanchi mutt. I have heard glowing tributes of Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswati. He seems to have played a very prominent role in protecting the interests of Hinduism. I appreciate that effort.
My irritation in this matter is that I think an unnecessary historical controversy is being created where none exists.
In fact, this is a classic illustration of how historical controversies start. Such controversies can start by two ways:
a) Misinformation:Unintentional, disorganized, caused by ignorance/inadvertent mistake.
b) Disinformation:Intentional, organized, definite motive.
Disinformation is, generally, more organized, planned and passionate. There may be a definite motive in spreading a disinfo. There may be a group of players who spread the disinfo with a definite agenda. So even if the contrary proof is shown, the disinfo campaign will persist. On the other hand, misinfo is mostly unintentional, disorganized, and is more open to correction when the mistakes are pointed out. It is generally, caused by ignorance or an inadvertent mistake. Disinfo campaigns target the ignorant or misinformed people. So, once these people are convinced, then the disinfo is spread via misinfo also. A disinfo campaign backed by powerful players can be very effective, far-reaching and long-lasting. It is nothing more than propaganda.
While, it may be possible to identify an unintentional mistake, it is far more difficult to identify an intentional fudging of the records. This difficulty rises exponentially as the time passes by. So, it becomes more and more difficult to spot an inaccurate information (misinfo or disinfo) in historical records. More the antiquity of records, more difficult it is to differentiate between accurate info from false info.
People in history are similar to the contemporary people. And their records are also similar to contemporary records. Some are honest, some are not. Some are well-informed, some are not. Some distort(or even lie) with a specific agenda, some are truthful. This is true today, it was true in the past(history) and it will will be true in future. This is the main reason, there are so many conflicting claims in Indian History( or for that matter any history with long timelines). Given the long timelines, many people/groups have indulged in disinformation(to further their agendas) in the past(just as some people/groups do in present and no doubt, some will continue to do in the future). And then, there are those who spread the false info mistaking it for the correct info(misinfo). Such people are also useful to those who are interested in spreading the disinfo. Disinfo campaigns, generally, target those who are less knowledgeable. Once these people are convinced(or duped) into believing the false info, they can then spread the false info believing it to be true.
Also, there may be multiple parties interested in spreading a certain false info (about past, present or future). All these parties can come together and work with each other to fulfill their common agenda/interests. It is not necessary that these parties be allies or friends. As long as, these parties have common interests/agenda in spreading the same false info, they can cooperate to that limited extent. This happens now, this must have happened in the past, and this will happen in the future.
Given, all these factors, it is very difficult for a historian to know which one is a fraudulent historical record and which is the authentic one.
One simple way is to assume that the oldest is most authentic. Another method is to assume that the data point that is accepted by most records must be closer to truth. Both of these are great assumptions not backed by practical experience. The above methods gives incentives to the forgeries(or propagandas) that have survived in time or have spread widely. If a particular propaganda or forgery has powerful backing, it could have (in its time or later) destroyed or suppressed the other records which expose its fallacies. In fact, the survival of this record may be directly attributed to its falsity rather than authenticity. Yet, the authentic records may also survive such periods due to many factors.
So, we are back to the problem: given, all these factors, how does the historian know which one is a fraudulent historical record and which is the authentic one?
The simple answer is: There is no way.
So, invariably, all records are clubbed together and given same treatment by the modern historian. That means, because the modern historian is unable to distinguish between the accurate source (i.e acceptable/reliable source) and inaccurate source (i.e. unacceptable/unreliable source), he resorts to treating all sources as more or less equally accurate/inaccurate. So, all the sources are considered equally reliable and equally suspect. That means, the historian thinks all records are equally correct and equally false.
But, what happens when the historical records differ on a particular data point? In fact, the whole reliable/unreliable thingy is redundant if all the records agree on all aspects, isn't it? The reliability/unreliability becomes an issue only when these records give differing picture of the same data point. So, what happens when the historical records differ on a particular data point? How does the historian know which record is giving the correct picture and which one is distorting(if not outright lying)? What does the modern historian do? The problem is not to be underestimated because the historian is unable to know the reliable sources and has clubbed all the sources into the same category of reliability.
Then, how does the historian construct a narrative of history from these differing sources(all of which have been classified as equally reliable/unreliable)?
What the historian does is that he gleans those data points from these divergent records, that he thinks must be true. For example, he reads three different portrayals of a same event from three different sources. Then, he constructs the narrative that he thinks is most plausible. For this, he chooses data points most suitable to his narrative from these three sources. He rejects all other data points as unreliable or irrelevant. It is almost like he thinks he has some kind of superhuman intuitive intellect that can differentiate the truth from untruth and bring the real events to light. Of course, what may seem plausible to one man may seem farfetched to another and vice versa. So, the same records can be used by different historians to produce different narratives.
This method is obviously faulty, even if we assume that the historian himself is unbiased, neutral, fair, and intelligent. Of course, historians are seldom unbiased or neutral.
History has a value only if it is related to present. And there is always politics in the present which will have an impact on how history will be read. This fault is inherent in historical records that speak of their past. That means, just as a modern historian can be biased in presenting the events of past, an ancient historian can also be biased. For example, a 100 yr old document talking about 200 yr old event can be biased or inaccurate just as a modern document talking about the history can be biased or inaccurate because of the bias or ignorance of the historian. Similarly, a 1000 yr old document talking about 1100 yr old event may be biased or inaccurate.
We know that any historian, who presents a narrative that runs contrary to the convenience/interests of those who are presently in power, is ignored or bullied socially and/or politically. This happened now, this must have happened in the past, this is likely to happen in the future as well. Yet, there can also be regimes (in past, present or future) that may have encouraged any honest investigation. There can also be regimes (in past, present or future) that may not care for any history and allow all kinds of narratives to survive and prosper. The point I am trying to make is that there is no formula by which any reader of history can simply come to correct understanding of history.
All this makes it very difficult for people to know history by consulting historical records unless one has some method by which authentic records can be differentiated from the frauds.
This is the only solution. Generally, traditions achieve this purpose. Traditions accept certain sources/records and base the narrative upon those records/sources. All other records/sources are ignored or considered irrelevant. In this regard, the traditions and the methods of modern historian may seem similar. But, there is a vital difference. The traditions accept a particular record(s)/source(s), while a historian accepts a particular data point from different sources. When a particular record(s) is accepted, everything within the record must be accepted. There is no escaping it. On the other hand, a historian gleans different data points from different sources constructing his own narrative. Some of the blanks in the narrative may be filled by his own imagination. The historian does not fully accept any source as reliable, because if he does he would have to simply accept the narrative presented by that source. At the same time, the modern historian does not fully reject all sources either, because if he does he has no other source to construct the narrative(except his vivid imagination). So, he picks and chooses what he thinks is plausible from different sources and rejects the other data points from those sources. In short, we have a customized history presented by the modern historian. In contrast, traditions present history which may be biased in its favour but not completely customized to suit every convenience/sensibility. Unlike, modern day historians, traditions don't pretend to be unbiased. They are unapologetically partisan. So, when we study a tradition we know exactly what their agenda is.
The colonial(EJ) and commie historians want to claim neutrality This feigned neutrality is used as a cloak to spin historical narratives that suit their preferred ideologies. They do this in most absurd manner by arbitrarily choosing what to believe, how much to believe and when to reject. Their convenience is the only criteria. Anything that doesn't fit their convenience gets rejected and anything that fits is accepted. The result of such arbitrariness is theories like 'Sheet Anchor'(or 'Anchor Sheet' or whatever). And this is, then, used as a basis for all other dates.
Needless to say that those dates are bound to be arbitrary. Even then those dates are further adjusted if a detail is inconvenient. This approach is nothing but intellectual dishonesty especially since they claim neutrality.
Instead, the age old method of going by one's traditions to accept or reject a historical record or detail is more honest(even if partisan).
Each group/community has their own traditions. And based on those traditions, every group/community accept or reject certain historical records. Each group/community believes in the primacy of its own traditions. It is natural.
But, all traditions need not be truthful. Some(if not many) traditions may be born around disinfo campaigns or propaganda.
So, traditions can also be authentic or flawed. Some traditions can be considered less authentic than others because their narrative is self-contradictory or patently irrational/false (again, this is a subjective view).
According to Hindu traditions, Puranas are the authentic account of the Indian history. Other sources are useful only to the extent that they clarify the Puranic account. If any historical record(say Buddhist or Jaina) is contradicting Puranas, then it is rejected as a misinformation or disinformation.
I welcome Kota Venkatachalem's work because it insists that we must go back to Puranas for proper Indian history instead of relying on Greek(or other foreign accounts which may be uninformed or propaganda).
I have no problem in accepting the Buddha's date given by Kota Venkatachalem. In fact, I am more than happy to accept it.
But, when I superficially glossed through his work, I checked the dates given by him for Adi Shankara and Kumarilla Bhatta. I find them dubious at best and fraudulent at worst.
Actually, there is no need to bring in the dates of Adi Shankara and Kumarilla Bhatta when you are working on Buddha's dates. I think they are irrelevant to each other.
I'll give an example of what I think Kota Venkatachalem has done by bringing in dates of Adi Shankara and Kumarilla Bhatta while trying to refute Buddha's dates(given by colonial historians):
Lets say, you propose that Sri Rama belonged to 14th century CE based on some bogus info(or interpretation of info). Now, I want to refute your proposal. So, I say that my uncle lived in 14th century and he told me he never met Sri Rama and that proves Sri Rama was older than 14th century. If someone points out that my uncle could not have belonged to 14th century while I belong to 21st century, it does not mean he is agreeing to the original proposal that Sri Rama belonged to 14th century. It only means that he is merely pointing out the mistake in my counter-argument.
Similarly, I do not agree with the dates given for Buddha by the colonial/commie historians. But, at the same time, the dates given by Kota Venkatachalem also seem to be bogus.
I repeat that I heartily welcome Kota Venkatachalem's work because it insists that we must go back to Puranas for proper Indian history. In fact, the Puranas preserve and present ancient oral traditions from guru(teacher) to shishya(disciple). Every Purana starts with a set of people(rishis) asking some questions to Suta pauranika. Suta pauranika then tells them that he heard this narrative from X who was told by Y who learnt it from Z, so on, dating back to the original event or God/Goddess Himself/Herself. These traditions are now preserved in the Puranas. So, there is continuous historical narrative extending to great timelines. This is a unique feature of Puranas unlike any other historical source.
So, we must go back to the Puranas and check what they are saying. That must be done, before anything else is done. Actually, anyone who wants to learn Indian history has no other recourse but the Puranas. Other historical records and archeological evidences can only supplement the Puranas. But, without Puranic account, the other historical records and archeological evidences are useless to construct any coherent narrative or timeline of Indian history. So, invariably, all the historians interested in Indian history must depend on the data presented by Puranas. It is just that these historians only pick the data but do not accept the timelines or narrative given by Puranas. They use the data to spin their own fables convenient to their worldview.
ramana wrote:JohneeG, My thinking is Buddha (~500BCE) is not right for him to be accepted as an avatara. It has to be much older.
Consequently the others also move back.
1) An avatara need not be old or new. Adi Shankara is also considered an avatara of Lord Dakshinamurthy(Shiva). The oldest date given for Adi Shankara by Kanchi is 500 BCE. If that date is not right for an avatara, then? On the other hand, the date accepted for Adi Shankara is 800 CE, which is quite recent date considering Indian historical timelines, even so, He is accepted as an avatara. Even those hindu communities that may not accept Him as an avatara have their own recent historical figures who are revered as avatara. So, date, recent or ancient, has nothing to do with being or not being an avatara.
In fact, Kalki(one of the avatars of Vishnu) is yet to manifest and is supposed to so in future.
2) I agree with you that Buddha's date has to be much older. This is corroborated by many other independent factors. For example, Chinese traditions say that Buddhism came to China much earlier than the current dates given for Buddha by the colonials.
I partially agree with you, when you say that consequently the others also move back. I think not all dates need to move. Only those dates that are derived from or depend on the dates of Buddha will move. Those dates that are independent of the dating of Buddha will remain as they are.
AFAIK, Adi Shankara's date is independent of Buddha's dating. It is directly derivable from Sringeri records which are accepted by the other 3 mutts also and corroborated by the independent records like Vijayanagara and Marathas.