This work, Kamakottam, Nayanmars and Adi Sankara consists of two parts and an appendix. In the first part, the greatness of Kanchi and Kamakottam, from very early times in Tamil Literature to the period of Tevaram, has been dealt with. The city of Kanchi is ancient and gives nurturance to followers o all faiths. It is noted for the boundless learning of its scholars and is the abode of all sacred deities. The temple of Kamakshi is the centre of importance here. Silappadikaram also speaks of Kanchi eulogisingly. Later Thirunavukkarasar, Sambandhar, Sundarar and Manickavasagar speaks of several praiseworthy aspects of Kanchi and Sekkilar nods approvingly of Kanchi. The ethereal presence of Kamakshi in Kanchi becomes clear from several of the inscriptions of South India.
Part II of this book deals with the life of Adi Sankara Adi Sankara constructed the temple of Kamakshi of Kanchi on the pattern of parividyasarana. He also replaced the tantric mode of worship prevailing there by the vedic mode. Later , Sri Sankara, having travelled all over India, reached Kanchi of his own accord, spent his last days there worshiping Kamesvari on the banks of the River Kampa and attained Siddhi there. The appendix illustrates several facets and postures of Sri Sankara sculptures.
This book is a product of deep research and contemplation. Its author Dr. V.A. Devasenapathy, began his research work in Saivism with special reference to Tamil Source in 1935 under the guidance of Professor S.S. Suryanarayana Sastri. After a brief stint as Lecturer in Pachaiyappa’s College, Dr. V.A. Devasenapathy joined the Department of Philosophy, University of Madras and later became the Director of Dr. Radhakrishnan Institute for Advanced Study in Philosophy. His publicatios include: Saiva Siddhanta with Special Reference to the Sivagana Siddhiyar and Human Bondage and Divine Grace.
The present monograph entitled Kamakottam, Nayanmars, and Adi Sankara represents the research work carried on by me during the years 1971-72. At first I was diffident to publish this work. I, however, circulated cyclostyled copies to scholars for favour of suggestions and constructive criticisms. Dr Jean Filliozat of the French Institute of Indian Studies, Pondicherry, a great Indologist, wrote to me encouraging me to publish this work. Dr K. K. Pillay, M.A., D. Phil. (Oxon), D. Litt., Director, Institute of Traditional Cultures, Madras, was kind enough to suggest its publication as a special Bulletin of the Institute.
I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Dr K. K. Pillay for sponsoring the publication of this work as a special Bulletin of the Institute of Traditional Cultures and for his kindness in having written a Foreword to this work. To Prof. T. P. Meenakshisundaram, Former Vice-Chancellor, Madurai University, I offer my profound respects for having acceded to my request to write an Introduction to this work. I have great pleasure in thanking Dr N. Veezhinathan, Reader in Sanskrit, University of Madras, for the valuable help he gave me in gathering material for this work.
I am thankful to Dr R. Balasubramanian and to Dr T. P. Ramachandran of the Centre for Advanced Study in Philosophy, University of Madras, for the valuable help they rendered in the preparation and printing of this work.
I have great pleasure in thanking Messrs Avvai Achukkoodam for the neat execution of this work. I offer this work at the Lotus-Feet of Goddess Kamaksi-Kamakoti—the Sakti of the great Sankarite Institution for the southern region at Kanci. May Goddess Kamaksi accept this and bless us all.
The present publication is a revised edition of the original monograph published in the year 1975 as a special 'Bulletin of the Institute of Traditional Cultures, University of Madras.
It is a matter of great joy to me that the present work is being brought out during the Birth Centenary Celebrations of His Holiness The Sage of Kanci of the Kama- koti-pitha,
I offer my profound thanks to Dr N. Veezhinathan, Professor and Head of the Department of Sanskrit, University of Madras for his invaluable help in connection with the revision, printing and publication of this work.
I express my grateful thanks to the authorities of the University of Madras for sponsoring the publication of this work under its auspices.
To Dr Jayadevan, Director, Publications Division of the University of Madras, I am greatly indebted for the keen interest he has evinced in the publication of this work.
I have great pleasure in thanking M/s. Avvai Achukkoodam for the neat execution of this work.
I have been called upon to introduce the book "Kamakottam, Nayanmars and Adi Sankara' - a well documented treatise by my good friend Dr V. A. Devasenapati, Professor of Philosophy in the Centre of Advanced Study in Philosophy, University of Madras. I am a worshipper of God as the Mother - Kamaksi of Kama- kottam, and I have been initiated into the mysteries of the worship of Kamaksi, the ocean of Karuna, Meru Chakra and Sri Vidya by an old priest of Kamaksi Temple. It is thus always my good fortune to be commanded to do what is nearest to my heart.
This work consists of two parts. The first part deals with the greatness of Kanci and Kamakottam from very early times in Tamil literature and elsewhere coming down to the end of the age of the Nayanmars, The city is one of the seven great holy cities of India. A sangam work refers to the festivals worshipped by, many sects. Saint Appar refers to the boundless Ocean of learning in this city. Kanci is one of the ancient Universities of India equally great in the history of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.
The original name is Kanci, which in Tamil means a tree of the agricultural and urban tract, it being a well- known custom to name a city after the trees therein. In Sanskrit it means a jewel belt worn near the navel - here the navel of the earth, the city being considered to be its centre. This was pronounced with a short a by the Telugus as Kanji, and this in due course became by the hardening of the nasal, Kacci, which is the name found in Manimekalai and later works.
Manimekalai, the heroine therein, meets the Buddhist priest who is identified by some as the great Dharmapala, Kanci was known to Patanjali of the Mahabhasya fame and also to ancient China.
The Centre of Kanci is the Temple of Kamaksi, called in Tamil Kamakkottam and in Sanskrit Kamakoti - pitha. Kottam in Cilappatikaram means a temple. In Tontaimantalam its division is known as Kottam probably because each one of them had a temple. Kamakottam is the name of the temple of the Goddess. At Kanci this Kamakottam lies between the two rivers Kampa and Vegavati. The river Kampa now remains in the form of a tank in Ekamresvara temple.
The inscriptions show that originally ther were separate temples for the Goddess, and these called Kamakottam in silpa sastras and inscriptions grow later as separate institutions. But at Kanci there are no separate temples for Parvati or the Mother in any of the many Siva temples, Kamakottam of Kamaksi being the only such temple there. The puranic story of Manmatha conquering Siva with the grace of the Mother explains this fact by stating that at the request of Manmatha the Mother withdrew her sakti from every temple and at the request of Brahma allowed the Parvati temples to grow except at Kanci, the place where Manmatha became victorious.
An old verse quoted by Adiyarkkunallar refers to Sattan, who guards the Kamakkottam and with whose centu the Chola Karikal Valavan made the Meru whirl round. This temple of Sattan is within the temple of Kamaksi, Because of the story already referred to, the sakti temples elsewhere were also known as Kamakkottam as proved by the inscriptions and the poems of Appar and Sambandar. Appar speaks elsewhere of the Kamakotti as the Mother Goddess impressing on Lord's Siva's body by her embrace, thus referring to the story of Kamaksi of Kanci. The lady of Kamakottam is thus called Kamakotti, Sambandar calls Parvati elsewhere as Kamakkodi, which the author suggests should be Kamakoti.
Kamakkottam has been held in great reverence even by non-Hindus, as is proved by a Jain inscription of Sattamangalam that one who violates the terms of the endowment would incur the sin of destroying the Kama- kottam. There is the Bilakasa, the Sri-Cakra, the goddess Syamala and the temple of Kalvar or Adi Varahamurti inside the Kamakotti temple. Kancipurana gives the story of Kamaksi performing the 32 kinds of Dharma-s or aram. As a result, there is the Dharmastamba in the Kamaksi temple. Saint Sundarar asks a rhetorical question of Siva: "whilst the Goddess (your wife) peforms thirty-two dharmas why should you beg"'? The names Dharmini and Dharmavardhini are thus explained.
Part two deals with Adi Sankara's connection with Kanci and Kamakottam. The most authoritative story of Sankara by Anandagiri refers to Sankara consecrating Kamaksi and Sri-Cakra at Kanci, establishing the Kama- koti-pitha there and directing Suresvara to be incharge of that and thereafter himself attaining siddhi there. This position is strengthened by reference to other works. Sankara's samadhis elsewhere are proved to be memorials rather than samadhis in the real sense of the word.
Sankara established the matha for the southern region (amnaya) at Kanci. An institution for a region consists of three factors - a sakti, a devata and ksetra. And the texts that deal with these three factors are known as mathamnaya texts. All the Mathamnaya texts except that published by Vani Vilas Press speak of the Sakti of the southern region as Goddess Kamaksi. The Vani Vilas edition speaks of Sarada as Sakti, but Sarada is not the Sakti of Siva but of Brahma, The Devata is Kalvar or Adi Varahamurti which is present in the niche at the Kamaksi temple. Though the ksetra is Ramesvaram, yet, since the abode of both sakti and devata is Kanci and since Sankara spent his last days at Kanci, he established the institution for the southern region there.
It is thus clear that Adi Sankara is intimately connected with Kanci and Kamakoti. The sculptures in and around Kanci are replete with representations of Sankara as Ekadanda Sannyasi without regard to the deity to which the temples are dedicated. The author after an elaborate and careful analysis conclusively proves that the sannyasin with an Ekadanda bearing the marks of the conch and the axe cannot be a Vaisnavite or a Lakulisa Saivite, who carries only a silver staff, but can be only Adi Sankara.
The learned author of an important book - Devi Kamaksi in Kanci - a book exhibiting deep research which I myself praised though not agreeing with all the conclusions therein - eonclusions which Dr. Devasenapati attacks in the present work has unfortunately made a passing remark that the Kumbakonam Mutt is now (1960) laying claim to Kanci-Kamakoti-pitha. Dr Devasenapati, quoting from the Mackenzie report, Mody records of the Madras Central Record Office, the Sarasvathi Mahal Library and the archives of the Mutt itself, High Court judgement, letters written by Srngeri Mutt, Firmans of the Nawabs and East India Company and inscriptions, conclusively proves that the position taken up once .by the Srngeri Mutt that the Kumbakonam Mutt could not claim the Kamakoti-prtha had been dismissed by the High Court, that even in the beginning of the 18th century the Mutt had been at Kancipuram, that on account of disturbed conditions the Mutt was transferred to Tanjore and to Kumbakonam during the period of King Pratapa Simha of Tanjore who was a great devotee of Sri Candra- sekharendra Sarasvati the fourth, that even after moving to Kumbakonam the acaryas were known as Kanci Kama- koti-pithadhipatis, that they were having control over Kamaksi Temple and performing Kumbhabhisekam, that the authorities of the S:rngeri Mutt themselves have accepted the Kamakotipitha. that in the Manual of Puduk- kottai edited by the author of the book Devi Kamaksi in Kanci and in his article on copper-plate grant of Kamakosi- pitha and in the Proceeding of the Indian Historical Records Commission, he has referred to the old records referring to the Kamakosi-pitha and its acaryas who were permitted by foreign rulers to continue their procession unmolested by others without paying tolls, etc.
The author after all these exhaustive researches concludes and I agree - "It is heartening to see that Sri Sankara has been followed by a line of Advaitic Preceptors in that great Institution. May Goddess Kamaksi, the Sakti of the Kamakoti-Pitha, protect us all-Her children."
It will be thus seen that the author has given us an interesting, useful, and significant book, and he deserves our congratulations.
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