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Kumaaril Bhatt

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Kumaaril Bhatt
557-493 BC = 64 yrs

Gunaakar's disciple was Kaalakaachaarya (599-527 BC - 72 yrs)
Kaalakaachaarya's (599-527 BC = 72 yrs) disciple was Kumaaril Bhatt (557-493 BC = 64 yrs)
Kumaaril Bhatt's (557-493 BC = 64 yrs) disciple was Mandan Mishra (760-840 AD = 80 yrs) who debated with Shankar (c 806-838 AD = 32 yrs)

Kumaaril Bhatt was a Hindu philosopher and Meemaansaa scholar from Aassaam. he is known for his Meemaansaa Shlok Varttikaa. He was a great believer in the validity of Vaidik literature and a great champion of Poorv Meemaansaa. He was of the idea that Ved are unauthored. He was very much concerned of Hindu Vaidik religion and since Buddhism was increasing, he tried to refute it. And his ideas inspired Buddhism to decline. A Buddhist historian Tathaagat reports that Bhatt defeated disciple of Buddha Paalkit, Bhavya, Dharmdaas, Digyag, and others.

According to a legend, Kumaaril went to study Buddhism at Naalandaa University (the largest 4th century AD University in the world) with the aim to refuting Buddhism doctrine in favor of ritualistic Vaidik religion. He was expelled from the University when he protested his Aachaarya Dharmkriti who was ridiculing the Vaidik rituals. In this process he was thrown down from the tower of the University, but fortunately he survived with just an eye injury. Thus he left Naalandaa and settled down in Prayaag. Kumaaril visited many kingdoms to debate with Buddhist monks. It was a tradition in those times that if one won a debate in a King's court, his ideology and philosophy was accepted by the King and his subjects. To save the Vaidik philosophy, Kumaaril defeated many Buddhists to save the country from their supremacy.

So once it so happened, that the defeated Buddhist philosophers challenged him for a stunt, they said - ""If your Ved are the Truth, then nothing will happen to you when you fall from the top of a mountain." Kumaaril Bhatt had utter faith in Ved so he accepted the challenge. He proclaimed, "If the Ved are the Ultimate Truth nothing will happen to me." and he jumped from the mountain. In doing so, there was not a scratch on his body, however, he did lose an eye. This was because he uttered "IF", which signifies that a person who believes the Ved to be the ultimate should not utter "If", and instead should say - "The Ved are the Ultimate Truth and nothing will happen to me." However, the Buddhist monks wanted Bhatt to leave and they proclaimed he had lost.

Kumaaril Bhatt could not tolerate the defeat. He was not sad that he was defeated, but he was sad that he could not protect his own Sanskriti, so he decided to take Samaadhi - immolating himself on the pile of peanut shells, which is said to be the most treacherous death. The account of his life can be found in the works of Paandurang Shaastree Athavale.

One medieval work on the life of Shankaraachaarya which is supposed ti be very accurate, claims that Shankar challenged him on his deathbed. At that time Kumaaril Bhatt could not debate with him, instead he directed him to debate with his student Mandan Mishra in Maahishmatee (known today as Maheshwar which was situated on the bank of Narmadaa a little downstream of Omkareshwar). Read Shankar Defeated Mandan Mishra.

There is something discrepancy in this - Kumaaril Bhatt lived in 6th century BC, Mandan Mishra lived in 8th and 9th century AD - how then Mandan Mishra can be Kumaaril Bhatt's disciple? Besides how Shankar can meet this Mandan Mishra who must have lived in 9th century AD? And then this Mandan Mishra cannot be Kumaaril Bhatt's disciple? Shankar can also not meet Kumaaril Bhatt. It seems that there were two Mandan Mishra.
OR Shankar was in 6th century BC, not in 9th century AD.

Another work on Shankar's life however claims that Shankar implored Bhatt not to commit suicide.
Another contradictory legend however says that Kumaaril Bhatt continued to live on with his two wives and several students, one of whom was Prabhaakar. According to this legend, Kumaaril Bhatt died in Vaaraanasee at the age of 80.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 12/12/12