Mahratta Kings of Tanjavur – The Principal Disciples (Mukhya Sishyas) of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Srimatha …3

Rajah Pratapsingh (1740-1763 C.E) came to know that the Jagadguru Sankaracharya had to abdandon their main Matha at Kanchi, travelled upto Travancore and returned to the forests of Odayarpalayam zamin, which was on the borders of Thanjavur territories where Golden idol Sri Bangaru Kamakshi was safely placed.

He sent his brother-in-law and commander-in- Chief Mallari Gade Rao and one of his ministers Dabir Panth requesting the Acharya to come over to his territory for His residence. Later, the Sankaracharya Swami reached Thanjavur. The Raja assured Him full security and requested the Acharya to make Thanjavur his abode. The Achaya after a brief stay in the fort preferred to shift to the banks of Cauvery in Kumbakonam.

The Rajah built a grand matha for him and a temple for his deities. 36 villages were endowed for its maintenance. Since then the Kanchi Acharya came to live permanently in Tanjore kingdom.

King Pratap Singh also made several endowments for performing nitya puja to the Adhishtanam of Sri Paramasivendra Saraswati Swamy, the 57th Acharya of Sri Kamakoti Peetha, the Preceptor of Sri Sadasiva Brahmendra.

The modi records of Tanjore kingdom contain details about monetary contributions and other offerings during Vyasa pooja and special occasions to Sri Kanchi Peetha from 1768 C.E.

A permanent ‘madhyasta’ seat had been held in the Royal Darbar by a representative of the Srimatha. The annual tribute and special offerings from the Tanjore palace were submitted through the madhyasta of Srimatha.

Arrangements were also made for the regular collection of “Sankaracharya Sambhavana” from all communities of the Tanjore country. This alongwith the land revenue and paddy collection from almost all villages of the country was remitted to the Matha directly by the revenue officials of the respective Taluk.

Apart from these, Mohini and Tasdik allowances were also given to the Matha in respect of the imams resumed during the occupation of Arcot Nawab.

The 1817 C.E records of Col.Mackinzie contain a direct reference about the said usurption of inam villages granted to the Matha, by the earlier kings, by the foreign powers who occupied Tanjore kingdom later. All these would show that the Matha was always revered and held in high esteem by all the Kings of Tanjore Mahratta Raje.

The modi records also mention about frequent exchange of rare manuscripts and books between the Sankaracharya Matha and Tanjore Saraswati Mahal Libraries.

Many old palm leaf manuscripts of the Vyasachala, Anandagiri and Govindanatha Sankaravijayams, Sivarahasyam (procured from Varanasi) etc. were also carefully preserved in the Tanjore palace library by the Kings.

King Tulaja’s relations with Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Srimatha

After Rajah Pratapsingh, his Son Tulaja and after him Serfoji extended all facilities to Mutt. He arranged for shifting of Sri Swarna Kamakshi image to Tanjore fort, from Tiruvarur. He also made several endorsements for the nitya naimittika puja of the deity.

Anandagiri”s Sankaravijayam was translated in Telugu by Andhra Kalidasa, Tulaja’s Court Poet. Govindanatha yati’s Sankaracharya Charita was written on the request made by Deepambika, King Sahaji’s mother.

Serfoji Raja and Kanchi Sankara Mutt

Serfoji attended the Mahamagam festival at Kumbhakonam with all his family members in royal splendour. After holy bath in the Mahamaga Tank, the Rajah visited the Kamakoti pitam Jagadguru Shankaracharya, residing at Kumbakonam and performed padapuja and offered serveral valuable presents to Sri Chandramouleeswara Swamy.

During his visit to the Mutt on the Mahamagam day King Serfoji performed ‘Kanakabhishekam’ (showering of gold coins) to the Sankaracharya. This was the third Kanakabhishekam performed to the Jagadguru Acharyas of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetha, by Their principal disciples, the Mahratta Rajas of Tanjore.

The Swami blessed the King with Holy mantrakshata, valuable shawl and one Gowri Shankar Rudrakshamala studded with rare gems and the most mertitorious title of ‘Siva Puja Dhurandhara’. Serfoji’s son Sivaji II also performed Kanakabhishekams to the Kanchi Acharyas in 1832, 1842 and 1850 C.E.


1. The modi documents translated in to tamil and preserved in the Saraswati Mahal Library, Tanjore. (11 bound volumes )

2. Modi Palakani – Articles published the Journals of the Saraswati Mahal Library, Tanjore.

3. Note Books (48 nos.) containing hints in Tamil pertaining to Modi documents.

4.Administration and Social Life under the Mahratta Rulers of Tanjore by K.M.Venkataramaiah (1984)

5. Mahratti Modi manuscript compilations published by the Tamil University, Tanjore.

6.Inscriptions of the Tanjore Mahrattas by Mr.Rasu.


“One of the records is 31/C Item 60 subsection 5 from the Modi records from the Sarasvati Mahal Library, Tanjavur. There is a petition where a number of people had made a complaint to the then king of Tanjavur about the alleged misdeeds of some Karyastha of the Matha. This interesting document belongs to the time of Sri Mahadevendra Sarasvati who ascended the Kamakoti Pitha in the year 1851 during the time of the last king Sivaji of Tanjavur; and in this the petitioners in their introductory paragraphs give a brief but interesting account of the Matha. It is stated in the petition as follows:

“The Mutt of Sri Sankaracharya Svamy at Kumbhakonam was a small mutt6 when it was at Kanchipuram. Raja Prataph Singh brought the Sankaracharya from Kanchi and built a Mutt at Dabir Agraharam, granted Mohini lands, offered him his first honour and respect, etc., etc.

This clearly shows that the Matha was shifted from Kanchipuram to Tanjavur during the time of the reign of Raja Pratap Simha of Tanjavur. We have fortunately enough of original documentary evidence of the Tanjavur Maratha rulers themselves to substantiate the above.

There is an order issued by King Pratap Simha of the Tanjavur Maratha Rulers preserved in the Madras Central Record office as Record No. C-37/38-43 of the Tanjavur Palace Records.

This is in Hemadipant Modi script. In this order the king had stipulated that the sambhavana to the Acharya of the Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Pitha should be paid at some uniform specified rates. The Acharya is mentioned as-

“Srimad Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharya Srimad Pujya Sankara Bhagavad

Padacharyanam Adhishthane Simhasane Abhishiktanam Sri Chandrasekhara Sarasvatinam Pujyayoh Sripadayoh.”

In describing the Birudavali of the Acharya the king used the following phrases:

“Srimad Sakala Bhumandalalankara Trayastrimsat Kotidevata Sevita Sri Kamakshi Devisanata Sakshatkara Paramadhisthana, Satyavrata Namankita, Kanchi Divyakshetre Saradamatha Sthitanam”, …

From the above, it will be very clearly seen that the Birudavali of the Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Pitha which is existing today was used in full in 1748 A.D. by King Pratap Simha of Tanjavur. There are a number of other Modi records of the same king and his successors, which go to reveal the great esteem and regard in which the Acharyas were held by Maratha Rulers of Tanjavur.

The question as to why the Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Pitha shifted its headquarters from Kanchipuram to Kumbhakonam arises for consideration.

That the Pitha was established by Adi Sankara at Kanchipuram and that it has been continuing in an unbroken line of great Acharyas is clear from the other evidence already shown here. As to why and when the Pitha shifted its headquarters to Kumbhakonam, we have clear evidence in another important public record.

This is about a court case belonging to the times of 64th Acharya of the Pitha. In the year 1844 A.D., the authorities of Sri Sringeri Matha filed a civil suit in the Trichi District Sadar Amin Court that the right for the Tatanka Pratishtha of Goddess Akhilandesvari belonged only to that Matha. Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Pitha was made the first defendant in the above civil suit.

The plaint of the plaintiff, the answer of the first defendant, the reply of the plaintiff for this and the defendant’s rejoinder, the evidence presented by both sides and the judgment, are all now available to us in print. Ultimately the court decided that the documents submitted on behalf of the Sringeri Matha were not reliable and that the oral evidence adduced on their behalf was self-contradictory and the suit was dismissed with costs.

This suit bears the number O. S. 95/1844. This was taken in appeal No. 109/1846 and in special appeal petition No. 106/1848 to higher courts and in both the appeals the Sringeri Matha’s claims were disallowed with costs to this defendant. This one record is more than enough to give us a graphic insight into the affairs of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Pitha about 120 years ago.

This record contains an important point of reference. In this rejoinder of the Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Pitha, para 20, the reasons for the shift of the Matha from Kanchipuram to Kumbhakonam are clearly given.

The following is a free translation of the relevant passage:

“The plaintiff in column 20 of his reply states that if it is true that the Kamakoti Pitha was established at Kanchipuram by Sankara and if Sankara’s disciple was installed there, the first defendant should still be residing there only and the reason for his residence at Kumbhakonam has not been stated in the defendant’s answer. It is not stated in any authoritative text that the Kamakoti Pithadhipati must necessarily live only at Kanchipuram and should not take up his residence in any other place.

The first defendant’s disciples and other staff of the Matha are still living in the Kanchipuram Matha and are still carrying on the daily Puja to the Sarvajna Pitha there. The first defendant’s Parama guru (that is Guru’s Guru) wanted to reside on the banks of the river Cauvery and hence came to reside in Kumbhakonam. He brought along with him the Yogalinga Chandramaulisvara Svami, consecrated by Suresvaracharya. The local Rajahs and other disciples afforded every facility and convenience to him and hence he used to alternate his residence between Kumbhakonam and Kanchipuram, etc., etc”.

The above clearly gives the reason as to why Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Pitha was shifted to Kumbhakonam.

This record belongs to the time of the 64th Acharya, Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati V. He was the head of the Pitha from 1814 to 1851 A.D. His Parama Guru was the 62nd Acharya, Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati IV who adorned the Pitha from 1746 to 1783 A.D.

It was this Acharya, who shifted his headquarters from Kanchipuram to Kumbhakonam in order to carry out his meditation and worship on the peaceful banks of the river Cauvery. He attained Siddhi in 1783 A.D. in Kumbhakonam itself.

The traditional accounts of the shift of the Matha from Kanchipuram to Kumbhakonam assign it to the period of King Pratapa Simha, one of the Tanjavur Maratha Rulers who was a great devotee of the Acharya.

This has been clearly corroborated by the Modi document of 1750 A.D. mentioned above. This king ruled between 1740 and 1768 A.D. This traditional account of the shift of the Matha, is fully borne out by the statement made in the court documents mentioned above. It is thus clear that in the latter half of the 18th century, the Matha was shifted from Kanchipuram to Kumbhakonam.”

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