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Year of Birth of Adi Shankaracharya – 509 BC, 44 BC, 788 AD

In which year was Adi Shankaracharya born? Majority of the people would say Adi Shankara was born in 788 AD at Kaladi in Kerala and died in 820 AD. But the three monasteries among the four set up by Shankaracharya – Dwaraka, Puri and Kanchi – will say it is 509 BC. The fourth Sringeri monastery will say 44 BC. In nutshell, a common birth date of Shankara has not been agreed upon by researchers and the mutts.

A good amount of research has been done to know the birth year of Adi Shankara but there is no common agreement. This is the reason why many people might have come across different birth dates of Adi Shankaracharya.

But why has majority of the scholars agreed upon 788 AD as the birth year? Shankaracharya in his ‘Brahma Sutra Bhasya’ mentions about the city of Pataliputra. It is believed that the city of Pataliputra was destroyed in 750 AD. In the same Bhasya, Shankara mentions about King Purnavarma. Hiuen Tsang, Chinese pilgrim, mentions about Purnavarma as a Buddhist king during 590 AD.

But the most important evidence pointed out by those who support 788 AD was published in ‘The Indian Antiquary’ journal in June 1882 by K.B.Pathak. He mentioned about three manuscript leaves written in Devanagari script which mentions the date and year of birth and date and year of death of Shankaracharya.

Later in The Indian Antiquary magazine volume XXVI in 1897, one P Sundaram Pillai writes about the shlokas in the three manuscript leaves. The year of Shankara’s birth is Vibhava Varsha, Kali year 3889 and his death, the full moon in Vaishakha Kali year 3921. This corresponds to the period of 788 – 820 AD.

But these findings were rejected by several scholars and they formulated new dates. But majority of the researchers agreed to this date.

A recent article in the Sringeri Mutt website also suggests that the birth date of Adi Shankaracharya is 788 AD.

Interestingly, when there is a difference of opinion on the birth year, there is unanimity in the fact that Shankara lived only for 32 years. Those who argue Shankara was born in 509 BC believe that he died in 477 BC.

But why did Adi Shankaracharya – who wrote monumental literary works on Vedanta and Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) – not mention his birth year? Was it done purposefully?

Adi Shankaracharya teaches us to rise above birth and death. He continuously talks about the Supreme Soul or Brahman, which has no birth or death. Again, Brahman is above Time. After all what is time, it is a creation of human beings.

If Shankaracharya were to mention about his birth and foresee his death, he would have been negating his own teachings and Supreme Truth.

Which great ancient seer of Santana Dharma has mentioned his/her birth date? None. Time is important for we modern day human beings and scholars. For us, everything depends on the illusionary time.

Is the teaching of Shankaracharya going to change by exactly pin pointing his date of birth?

The right approach is to study the teachings of Shankara, think about it and form your own opinion and cut out a path to understand Brahman.

Comments

  1. good article and info.

    cheers

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  2. 509 BC is the correct one.
    Surprising masses are misguided by western indologist and there indian alliance who always try to create confusion in the minds of common people. The right person who can tell the exact date is shankaracharya peth who date it 509 BC although the date don't make any difference to the divine teaching of him. But date makes a huge difference for the corrupt indologist who always try to create confusions in an attempt to promote their own agenda to conversions.

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  3. 509 b.c to 488 b.c seems to be correct, after reading the detailed discussion on this topic by the greatest of great saints- kanchi mahaswamy , in his 'theivathin kural' volume 5.

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  4. I am a regular reader of the articles of Sri Abilash. You are doing a great work for revitalizing the Sanatana Dharma. May God always help you.

    With regard to the time, I would like to make a few suggestion.

    You had mentioned that time was created by man. I think it is not correct. Time is one of the things that even Gods could not control and create. Of all measures, Time is the most supreme. That is why Lord Krishna says in Bhagawat Gita "in measures I am the Time".

    When all the living beings go to sleep, including the Creator Lord Brahma and the Supreme Lord Vishnu, Time goes on and on. Lord Vishnu sleeps during the Vishnu Nights and hence He cannot control Time. It is the Time that again wakes up the Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma. When that Time arrives, Lord Brahma starts His creation.

    I think the above details could be useful to all. If you have any details to share, pl send to my email id:

    aumtemple@gmail.com

    LOKA SAMASTA SUKINO BAVANTHU !!

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  5. Thanks for the wonderful thoughts on time.

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  6. adi shankaracharya born 44 bc eshwarnama year sunday march 25 th arudra nakshitra kataka lagnam. thithi is vishaka sudha panchami

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  7. It is a known secret that God is not bound to any dimension. It is not correct to say time is supreme..

    He is alone supreme..

    Love

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  8. adi shankararacharya was born 45 bc year sunday may 10

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  9. EXACT DOB OF SHANKARA IS AS PROCLAIMED BY MAJORITY OF MUTTS IS 3/04/509BC WHICH EXACTLY TALLIES WITH THE DATE ASSIGNED BY CITSUKACHARYA A LIFE TIME COMPANION OF SHANKARA.ADDED TO THIS MATTER SHRI GAUDAPADACHARYA MUTT OF WHICH GOVINDA BHAGAVATPADA THE SECOND YATHI IN THIS PEETHAM ALSO CLAIMS 509BC AS SHANKARA DOB AND ATTACHES 120YEARS ADDED TO ASSIGN THE DATE OF PARAMAGURU GAUDAPADA .SUCH OF THOSE SCHOLARS WHO HAVE BEEN CLAIMING THE BYGONE RIVER SARASWATHI AS A MYTH PREVIOUSLY NOW ADMIT THAT THE EXISTENCE OF RIVER SARASWATHI AS A HARD CORE TRUTH.ANY TIME OR GIVEN TIME BY ERUDITE SCHOLARS MAY BE CHANGED IN DUE COURSE.BUT HARD CORE TRUTHS REMAIN THE SAME .SO LET THEM BEAT THE DRUM .WE SHALL KEEP MUM.FOR ALL TIMES SHANKARA REMAINS .....THE SUNDAY APRIL 3 509BC ONLY

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  10. Well written article. However it leaves in doubt the DOB of Adi Sankara. There are slokas which the Kataoyadi code and give us the year counted in Yudhishtra era. This is calculated to correspond to 3102 BCE. So one can ascertain from the slokas that the DOB of Sankara is 509BCE.
    It is strange that Sringeri Mutt is prepared to accept 44BCE and not stck to the earlier version of AD.
    Jai Jai Sankara
    Dr.R.Krishnan

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  11. on17/03/2011 krishnan said in your blog that......SHRINGERI PEETHAM IS READY TO ACCEPT 44BC AS SHANKARA DATE.BUT PLS NOTE SHRINGERI IS ALENATED IN THE MATTER OF DATE OF SHANKARA.IT WAS PREVIOUSLY UP TO 1910 CLAIMING 44 BC DATE. BUT IN 1960 ONWARDS IT IS STICKING TO SAY 788AD....820 AD. WHY SO DUBIOUS.ALL THE SHANKARITE PEETAMS EXCEPT SHRINGERI ARE OF ONE SINGLE VIEW THAT IS 509 BC. EVEN GAUDAPADACHARYA PEETHAM OF WHICH GOVINDA BHAGAVATPADA IS SECOND YATI AND THE MUTT HAVING LINEAGE OF 77 PONTIFFS ALSO ASSIGNS SHANKARA ITS SHISHYA BANDHU A DATE ASSIGNED BY KANCHI KAMAKOTI PEETHAM AS PERFECT. HENCE THERE IS NOTHING STRANGE IN ASSIGNING DIFFERENT DATES AT DIFFERENT TIMES BY SHRINGERI. FURTHER THE DOUBT REMAINS TO SAY WHICH ONE IS THE ORIGINAL SHRINGERI.IS KUDLI SHRINGERI OR SHRINGERI WHICH CLAIMS 788 AS DOB OF ADI SHANKAR. FURTHER RESEARCHED MATERIAL MAY EXPOSE IN THE MATTER

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  12. Mr KRISHNAN SAID THAT IT IS STRANGE THAT SHRINGERI IS READY TO CHANGE SHANKARA DATE TO 44 BC INSTEAD OF 788 AD. BUT I AM REQUESTING Dr.KRISHNAN UNDER WHAT AUTHORITY HE IS GIVING THE STATEMENT? DOES SHRINGERI PEETHAM ready to accept 44bc date? if no nothing strange.

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  13. REGARDING DATE OF SHANKARA ONE DR.W.R.ANTARKAR DID 55 YEARS OF DEVOTED RESEARCH AND WRITTEN RESEARCH THESIES IN WHICH HE DOUBTED THE VERY EXISTENCE AND CREDIBILITY OF THE INSCRIPTION CERTIFIED BY PHATAK AND BHANDARKAR CLAIMING THAT NEITHER THAT WAS SHOWN ANYWHERE NOR WAS IT MADE AVALABLE TO EXAMINE THE SAME.PHATAK AND BHANDARKAR JOINTLY CLAIMED THAT INSCRIPTION FOR THEMSELVES ONLY AND SUCCESSFULLY WITH THE HELP OF SOME OTHER SCHOLARS ATTRIBUTED 788 AD AS DATE OF SHANKARA WHAT A FUN.WHEN MAJORITY PEETHAMS CLAIMING 509BC AND THE SHRINGERI PEETHAM WAS CLAIMING 44 BC. PATHAK AND BHANDARKAR PUBLISHED their papers IN 1881 . AFTER ABOUT 70YEARS+ SHRINGERI STARTED TO ASSIGN 788 AD TO SHANKARA.pls note those were the days of british whose intentional windng up of indian history was well accepted by our indian historians. indian history should have been recorded by indians only .I HERE BY URGE THAT RE ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCING / THE HISTORY BE WRITTEN IN INDEPENDENT INDIA AND BRUSH ASIDE CUNNINGHAM REPORT.THE TRUE HISTORY DATES WILL BE WELL VISIBLE AS THE CASE HAPPENED IN THE CASE OF BYGONE RIVER SARASWATHI WHICH WAS CONSIDERED AS A MYTH NOW ACCEPTED AS EXISTENCE OF A HARDCORE TRUTH .

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  14. The Indian history is full of riddles and puzzles. The most important puzzle is complete disagreement between Sources in Tamilnadu and North Indian sources. The classic case is Sri Adhi Sankara. Even if 788AD OR 504BC is adopted it makes no difference in TamilNadu since Nambudris themselves were of recent origin in 14th CenturyAD who are still doubtful whether they were Choliya Brahmins of Tamilnadu or GSBs of Bengal. The Sangam literature extensively speaks about legend of Parashurama and even mention about Raktha Tharpanam done by him at Sellur after annihilating Arasars for Twentyone generations but never mentions about bringing about Brahmins. Most of the historians neglect the deep contact between Cholas and Bengal kingdoms. The term Gaur means rain, mountain also besides cow. Hence Gowda signifies mountainous place/place where there is heavy rain/place where there are catlle. The first two items are common to Malabar also since in Tamil also Malai means mountain and Mazhai-rain. Hence Malabar is a transliteration of Gauda where surprisingly the topography is also common. Hence Choliya is a mutated form of Gaudia and Transliterated as Malayali which are common terms. Thus Adhi Sankara should have belonged to Himalyan belt only which is confirmed by references in Cambodia. Further there is an interesting article in Tamil art academy with regard to rendering of Tamil version of Soundaryalahiri in Tamil as Abirami Malai by a Gauda Brahmin in Tamil by a diciple of Sri Somasiva preceptor of Kulotungan CholaIII in 14th century AD. The interesting point is that the origin of Soundaryalahiri has been given according to which Sri Pushpadanta wrote the initial verses and Dravida Sishu has been narrated that of Thirugnanasambandar. Thus the position has been made clear that Adhi Sankara never belonged to Kerala and the story has arisen due to intimate contact between Cholas,Bengal and South East Asia. Further during 788AD Perialwar, Nammalvar, Thirumangai Mannan flourished who dont make any mention. As per Veera Rajendra inscription in 1065AD Sankaras philosophy was known as Sareerika Mimamsa and Bhagavatpadiyam and treatise was made by Siddanantha Bhattaraka. The first ever inscription is that of Vijayaganda Gopala a Telugu Choda king in 1275AD. Further from 9th to 13th century AD all the south Indian king favoured only Samayachara of Kalamukhas and there is little evidence for Shakthas though Cholas also extensively supported worship of Sri Durga and Saptha Mathris. Further the rise of Saivism/Vaishnavism was in Kalabra interrugnum since Jainism/Buddhism favoured only Kings and merchants while the Shanmathas gave space to everybody and Cholas never interfered in the worship of Guardian Deities which was done by lower classes only even now. Thus we can safely conclude that as per evidences in Tamilnadu we need not bother about date of Sri Sankara but should pay obeissances to him as extoller of Sanathana Dharma.

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  15. Dear Friends,
    Seems P.N. Oak had written a chapter No. 10 Adya Shankarachrya's Antiquity ....
    See link
    In thi he had mentioned Abhinav Shankarachrya to be born in 788Ad and had undertaken similar pilgrimages and supposed to have lived 52 years. He may have been assumed as adi or Adya S; charya. Can experts throw more light on this?

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  16. does anybody know about shri GAUDAPADACHARYA MUTT? IF NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT IT ..... CONTACT ME. ONLY TRUTHS WILL BE UNVEILED WHICH ONE MAY NOT BELIEVE TO THAT EXTENT. BECAUSE IT IS QUITE DIFFERENT FROM THE HISTORY THAT WAS WRITTEN BY SHANKARA SHISHYAS. kamath355@gmail.com 09964441567 09481214132

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  17. Kanchi was not setup by Sankaracharya

    His intention was to setup 4 monestaries in north, west, east and south.

    East- Puri - Govardhana Peetham
    West - Dwaraka - Kalika Peetham
    North - Uttarakhand - Jyoti Peetham/Jyothirmath
    South - Sringeri - Sarada Peetham

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  18. let me know where his intention of establishing four mutts was expreesd by him? any corroborations? references? it is only after establishing four mutts he stayed away in kanchi till his brahmaikya . hence it should be treated as gurupeetham to all other four mutts. but if this is accepted by other four then the great great jagadguru word gets diminished and it is the very ego that prevents them to accept. each and every guru has got a guru. the very element of the word guru is well neglected acquiring the element by great EGO. PLS NOTE ONE SHOULD BE A SHISHYA THEN A GURU

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  19. Adi Shankara was supposed to have met the Buddha in his lifetime... So 509 BC seems more like it

    ReplyDelete

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