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Kameshwara Suri


[Smt. Rajita R] NamaskaraH, would you happen to have any biographical information on Kaameshvara-surin the author of the Arunamodini, a commentary on the Saundaryalahari. Is he in any way related to Rameshvara-surin, the student of Bhaskararaya? I was informed that there is another commentary on the text by a certain Rama surin. Is this rama surin in anyway related to the Rameshvara surin? In northern India two commentaries by Mallabhatta and Vishvambhara are followed. Do they find any mention in the southern tradition? dhayavadaH

shrImAtre namaH

Kameshwara sUri has written a short description of himself in the introduction to maNivallari, his work on devImAna system. I cannot recollect the same in entirety however. Kameshwara Suri, known popularly as Kameshwara Pandita belonged to Kona Seema i.e. the East Godavari belt of Andhra Desha. His father was Sri gaMgAdhara paNDita of kauNDiya gotra, a scholar in pUrva mImAmsA, deeply devoted to shrI mallikArjuna and bhrAmarI of shrIshaila. His Guru was one vighneshwarAchArya belonging to the lineage of shankara (he does not seem to be a Yati, and is hence probably a follower of shAnkara darshana). He seems to have no association with rAmeshwara or bhAskara. First reason for this assumption would be due absence of bhAskara's or rAmeshwara's names in his two works aruNAmodini or maNivallari. Someone belonging to bhAskara's lineage would try to use his name to gain extra validity for their writing, like most others belonging to his lineage. In fact, Rameshwara forgets to mention his own Guru at every place and sings praises only of his paramaguru bhAskara to such an extent that people often assume him to be a shiShya of bhAskara whereas he in reality is bhAskara's prashiShya. Secondly, he specifically mentions his Guru's name as vighneshwara and claims to belong to shAnkara sampradAya. bhAskara, though immensely respectful of both shankarAchArya and shrI puruShottama bhArati (of shringeri shAradA peetham, who he respectfully refers to as yatishekhara and abhinava shankara) never claims to belong to shAnkara sampradAya. Also, having personally interacted with several disciples of both umAnandanAtha and rAmeshwara's lineage, both of which have well documented lists of guru paramparA, Kameshwara and Vighneshwara find no mention in these lists. The same holds true for rAma sUri as well, who finds no mention in any of these lineages. Considering the hype created around bhAskara and his lineage by his followers, it would be rather hard to believe that a commentary like that of rAma sUri's would be left unpublicized if it belonged to bhAskara's lineage. Of the thirty-three known commentaries on soundaryalahari, about seventeen are accessible. I had made some notes based on rAma sUri's commentary (there is one by rAma sUri, there is one by rAmAnanda and another by rAmachandra, but I think the one I read was from rAma sUri) but what was available was a partial manuscript. In the south, we always find in the list of 33, names of malla bhaTTA and vishwambhara mentioned but have not really seen these with any upAsakas. Sri Sitaram Kaviraj of Benares mentioned of vishwambhara's commentary once and that prayogasAra (published today with most commentaries of Soundaryalahari but with horrific, incorrect Yantras and bijas) was originally a part of his commentary.

mahAmahopAdhyAya gopinath kavirAj seems to think of Kameshwara sUri as aligned more towards bhAskara because of his differences with lakShmIdhara in interpretation of certain verses. Though this is not indicative of his belonging to bhAskara's shishya parampara, it would still be incorrect as he really does not contradict lakShmIdharAchArya. In fact, most `scholars' who rely on `authentic translation of texts by the professors of Western Universities' go overboard in displaying their lack of understanding by making funny quotations (Douglas Renfrew is one such name I can think of):

- Lakshmidhara's lineage is extinct [wrong, it is not his mistake that his followers do not run websites or conduct seminars. Andhra Desha has some great upAsakas who belong to the lineage – popularly called lolla sampradAya. Moreover, samayAchAra is not for mandAdhikArins]

- Samayachara was his creation [wrong, vashishtha, shuka, sanaka samhitas are available, at least in parts. Not just lakShmIdhara, but even vidyAraNya quotes from these texts vide sadAchAradIpikA. They probably never gained much publicity as the practitioners of samayAchara were few and also because of the complexity of these texts. In fact, one chapter in shuka samhita is the essence of a dozen of bAdarayaNa's sUtras. If his sayings were nonsensical, scholars like bhAskara – who does not even spare amritAnanda yogi – would not fail to criticize him.

- Sriyantra described by Lakshmidhara is incorrect [wrong, please visit Sri Kamakshi temple in Kanchi. Also, Tantraraja describes this variation of Sriyantra as well, vide manorama. Douglas seems to forget the absence of bahiryAga in both stages of samayAchAra, pUrva and uttara (uttara rAhitya as some like to call)]

Arguments such as the above are nothing but childish. Moreover, in the age of kali most are `shishnodaraparAyaNAH' and hence probably the great weight on Kaula path.

Coming back to the topic, bhAskara does not seem to share such feelings of anguish against lakShmIdhara with any of his modern followers. In fact, having not written a commentary of Saundaryalahari, the chief hymn of Srividya doctrine, is an ode to the genius of lakShmIdhara. Be it in setubandha or ratnaloka, he respectfully refers to lakshmidhara with the suffix `AchArya' and even tries to clarify lakshmidhara's statements, interpreting them to suit his own philosophy. So, I see no reason why Gopinathji's assumption should be true.

shrIkriShNaH sharaNam mama