Sankara Digvijayam : Kukud Matha

(A Sankarite institution in Narmada-theeram)

After successfully persuading His mother to permit Him to enter the ascetic order in order to save himself from the peril of being devoured by a crocodile which had caught hold of his foot, while bathing in the Curna, one day, and thereby delivering Himself from its clutches and thereof from worldly bonds as well, Sankaracharya travelled northwards in search of a proper preceptor.

In course of months, He reached the southern bank of the Narmada. In a cave on the river bank, He came in contact with Govinda Bhagavatpada, Who initiated Sankaracharya in the Mahavakyas and imparted to Him the Atmavidya during the course of Sankarachaya’s stay with the preceptor. It is believed that this event took place at a place near the Omkareshwar kshetra in Madhyapradesh. Some biographies give the place of meeting the preceptor as at Badri kshetra and some as at Varanasi.

Another interesting piece of information is found in the Hindi book ‘Narmada-parikrama (published at Allahabad).

According to this publication, the spot where Sankaracharya met His great preceptor is located on the southern bank of the river Narmada, near Kukud matha.

The relevant passage is as follows:-

” कुकुड्मठ: बोन्दर गाँम से करीब ६ मील श्री नर्मदा जी के दक्षिण तट में मचरार (गोमती) नदी – के किनारे डिंडीरी की सड़क के पास कुकुड़े मठ का स्थान है । इस स्थान में श्रीमान् स्वामी शंकराचार्यजी निर्मित रणमुक्तेश्वरनाथ का बहुत प्राचीन मन्दिर है । आजकल बहुजोर्ण दश में है …. लोक कहते हैं कि प्रतिदिन रात्रि को लाल आँखों वाला सर्प भगवान् शंकर की मूर्ति खे लिपट जाता है, और प्रातःकाल जला जाता है I”

[ Kukud Matha : About 6 miles away from the village of Bondar, on the bank of the Narmadā, near the river Macrar (Gomati), there is the spot of Kukud Math very near the Dinderi road….. Here is the very ancient temple of Ranamuktesvara constructed by Swami Sri Sankaracaryaji. It is now in a decadent condition. . . . . People say that every night a serpent with red eyes coils round the Sivalinga (in the temple) and goes away in the morning].

These details and the information found in the biographical sketches get confirmed by local tradition.

Many Biographies of Sri Sankara Bhagavadpada such as the Patanjali charitam, Prachina Sankara vijaya, Gururatnamalika, Madhaviya Sankaravijaya, Bhagavatpadabhyudayam etc., state that Sankaracharya’s preceptor Govinda Bhagavatpada was an avatara of Patanjali who in turn was none other than Adisesa, the thousand-headed serpent Couch of Visnu, in Human form.

On the basis the indication found in the above mentioned works and the popular traditional information about the serpent coming to Rina-muktesvara temple at Kukud Matha (as per the Narmada-Parikrama), some indologists fix the spot where Sankara met Govinda Bhagavatpapa as at the latter’s cave situated on the South bank of the Narmada near Kukud Matha.

The suffix “Matha” in the name of the village also suggests that Sankara Bhagavadpada, founder of several institutions, all over India, perhaps established the first one near the sacred place of His preceptor’s cave.

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