Viswakarma and Sankara Acharya controversy.
Viswakarma emanated or emerged from Vedas as supreme God. Study by Saket Ponmana
1. Vishwakarma is visualized as Ultimate reality (later developed as Brahman) in the Rig Veda, from whose navel all visible things Hiranyagarbha emanate. The same imagery is seen in Yajurveda purusha sukta, in which the divine smith Tvashtar emerging from Vishwakarma.. In the later puranic period this concept paved the way to the imagery of Padmanabha and Sadasiva.
2. In the Vedic period the term first appeared as an epithet of Indra, Surya, and Agni. In that time the later developed creator concept of Brahma might have been intertwined with the concept of Vastospati and Bṛhaspati, or Brahmanaspathi In the last phase of vedic period and during the growth of monotheism, this realistic God concept becoming more abstract and one can see Vishwakarma [the invisible creative power] emerged as the supreme god who was perceived as a hotar, the unborn [Aja] creator and name giver of all other gods who have lot of faces, eyes and feet on every side; and who helps Tvashtar,[the visible creative power of viswakarma in producing all the Heavenly, Earthly and other Celestial realms and preserves them through the exercise of his arms and wings. He sacrificed himself to himself for the evolution of this visible world, thus he is Purusha or Narayana His attributes like Vachaspathy connect him with Brahaspathi (the Guru of Gods). Again, Yajurveda pictured him as the Prajapatiand in the Atharva veda he is mentioned as Pashupati. Shwethashwatharopanishad described him as Rudrasiva, the one who is dwelling in all living forms.
3. Later in the post vedic and brahmanic period, the term Vishwakarma is appeared both as the Rsi and the Silpi. In yajurveda the term is seen as one of names of pancha risis. Though the term is an epithet of suryanarayana, one of the seven rays of Surya is also known as Viswakarma. Bhuvana Vishwakarma (Atharva/Angirasa Gothra) is a vedic Rsi who was the author of Rg 10-81,82 suktha, (Prabasa Vishwakarma) was probably a silpi and the son of Prabhas, the eighth hermit of the legendary Astam vasu and Yogasiddha, sister of Brihaspati. He is said to have revealed the Sthapatya Veda / Vastu Shastra or fourth Upa-veda, and presides over the sixty-four mechanical arts.
4. The Purusha sukta of the Rg Veda holds a singularly important place in the understanding and evolution of Indian forms for it is there for the first time that Purusha or ultimate reality was depicted in an anthropomorphic form in classical sacred literature and it set the trend for the depiction of the infinite and the eternal in the finite and the temporal. The oral enunciation of the Purusha in the Veda then inspired to embark on a glorious journey of creating a variety of richly enduring forms of our gods and goddesses, celestial and divine beings, forms that have endured and have become the basis of our religious activities and aesthetic contemplation. While maintaining a human form the Indian shilpi broke out of the limitations of the anatomic human to manifest the many beautiful and spiritual realms of the human mind thereby making the anthropomorphic forms divine and fit not just for religious worship but for contemplation.
II. Viswakarma itself is considered as primordial and omnipresent.
Excerpts from Creativity's Global Correspondents 1999 edited by Morris I. Stein, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus, Psychology New York University:
1. According to Hindu tradition, all the arts and crafts are of divine origin, having being revealed and handed down to certain individuals by “the miraculous genius” (Zimmer, 1962, p.3) Lord Visvakarma—the creative archetypal power. The Primordial Creator and Supreme Patron of Arts, Crafts, Science and Creativity is Lord Viswakarma (Sharma, 1989). He is at once the Great Architect of the Universe, Spirit of the Creative Process, and a symbol of Total Centered Consciousness. He is also known as Viswakarmaya: Creative Power of the Whole Universe. The obvious meaning of the word Visvakarman is “all-maker” (viswa means ‘all’ and karman means ‘maker’) Visvakarma the “All Creating” thought to be the Vulcan of the Greeks and Romans (Wilkins, 1882), appears as an independent Hindu deity as early as last book of Rig-Veda. Later in the Brahmans he is “expressly identified with the creator Prajapati” (Hastings, 1960, III, 606,b). As the highest of the gods, he is synonymous with Brahma of the Hindu trinity, said to have originated in the primeval waters, as the Golden Germ, the World WombEgg (Hiranyagarbha) containing all the other gods in the world. Like Brahma, Visvakarma, the Creator, is one of the many names which may be applied to almost any of the gods at the will of the worshipper. Wise and mighty in act, Viswakarma orders all things, and men desire the attainment of good in the world where “he, the One Being, dwells beyond the seven Rishis” (sages). He is the maker of the region Sutala, whereby his will, as in the greek Elysion, “neither mental nor bodily pains, nor fatigue, nor weariness, nor discomfiture, nor diseases afflict the inhabitance” (in Cox, 1870 p.166). In the two hymns in the Rig-Veda he is described as “the one all-seeing god, who, when producing heaven and earth, blows them forth (or shapes them) with his arms and wings; the father, generator, disposer, who knows all worlds, gives the gods their names, and is beyond the comprehension of mortals.” In the Mahabharata I.2592, consequent on the development made by the Hindus in the arts of civilization, Visvakarma is described as “the Lord of the arts, executor of the thousand handicrafts, the carpenter of the gods, the fashioner of all ornaments, the most eminent of artisans on whose craft men subsist and whom, as a great and immortal god, they continually worship.” He revealed the fourth Upaveda (class of writings subordinate to the Vedas) in various treatises on sixty-four mechanical arts, for the improvement of such as exercise them; and he is inspector of all manual labors and mechanical arts. His name is of some celebrity in mythological legends. Visvakarma, the Maker of All, is said to have built the homes of Brahma and Yama, the underwater palace of Varuna, the celestial Chariot, Pushpaka.
III. There is no doubt that Visvakarma is considered as Brahmin and all followers of Viswakarma are also brahmins. How to prove otherwise, I have no idea.
The theory of Chaturvarnya is an old form of division of labour and better management evolved during Dwapara yuga. I am not sure if it was inscribed into Bhagavat Gita at a later stage as pollution of Charturvarnya happened when the administrative class started corrupting the rulers (Kings / Rajas) of various eras for the benefit of themselves and not for the benefit of humanity and as such distortion of vedic scriptures could have happened.
Satyameva Jayate mantra from Munkakopanishad is applicable to all facts of life and therefore, we cannot distort the facts.
IV. History of Kerala and Sankaracharya.
1. One of the greatest philosophers of India, Adi Shankaracharya founded the Advaita Vedanta, which is one of the sub-schools of
Vedanta. Adi Shankaracharya whole-heartedly believed in the concept of the Vedas but at the same time advocated against the rituals and religious practices that were over exaggerated. On a closer
introspection of the life history of Sri Sankaracharya, we find that he also started the monastic order known as Dashanami and the Shanmata convention of worship. Given here is Adi Shankaracharya
biography, which will give you valuable insight into the life of this great poet and philosopher.
Born in a simple Brahmin family approximately in the 8th century A.D in Kaladi, Kerala, he was named as Shankara and is considered to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva. It is said that Shankaracharya's mother Aryamba had a vision that Lord himself told her that he would incarnate in the form of her first-born child. Right from childhood he showed a penchant towards spiritual knowledge. He could easily recite the Puranas and the Epics and mastered the Vedas during his early years in Gurukul. Adi Shankara's teachings were thoroughly adopted by his disciples later on.
2. Now we have to analyze if Adi Shankaracharya was born in a Viswakarma Tvashta Brahmin family.
2.1 It is a fact that since 788 (believed to be the year of Sri Sankar's birth) nobody located Sri Sankara's birth place till the beginning of 20th century. Which is more than a millennium.
Kalady, the Adi Shankara Janma Bhumi Kstetram or birth place of Sri Sankara remained obscure till the beginning of 20th century (1905). Jagadguru Sri Sachidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharathi Swamigal, the 33rd Peetathipathi of the illustrious Sringeri guru parampara with the help of Sri Moolam Thirunal Ramavarma Maharaja of Thiruvitamcore located Kalady.
His Holiness built two temples one for Goddess Sharadamba and one for Sri Sankara. The Kumabhishekam was performed on the auspicious Magha shukla dwadasi in the year 1910 (21-02-1910). Then after Kalady grew into prominence as a great international pilgrim center.
2.2 Funeral of Sri Sankara's mother: Kerala Nambudiri Brahmin's not participated because of 'aytham' (untouchability):
Because of 'aytham' Sankara encountered serious difficulties in performing the funeral rites of his mother. Usually, Sannyasis do not
perform any of the rites or ceremonies which are enjoined on the householders. The Nambudiri Brahmins were all against Sankara. Two of Sankara's relatives helped him irrespective of the threat
from from Nambudiri Brahmins. Those two families were outcasted from Brahmin family (not sure if they are Nambudiri Brahmins or Viswakarma Brahmins).
2.3 Sri Sankara was born during the second period of Chera kingdom 800 - 1102 CE. Much of the history of the region from 6th century to 8th century is obscure. This was the time of Naduvazhis and Desavazhis. During the period of Sri Sankara, he travelled through the length and breadth of India. When he started, the Nambudiri Brahmins were not in absolute power through the local kings (Chera kingdom). But by the time he returned, he realized that Nambudiris changed the social spectrum of Kerala.
2.4 Until 8th century Buddism and Jainism were predominantly existed in Kerala along with Vaishnavism and Shaivite beliefs. Jewish connection was established since 573 BCE. Arabs had trade links with Kerala since 4th Century BCE.
2.5 32 Brahmins family were brought to Kerala from outside by the Chera Kings either to resist the Buddism and Jainism. They wanted to elevate to moksha and found an easy way of bringing Brahmins who could perform rituals to cleanse their papas. Brahmins by preaching punya and papa tricked the Chera Kings, who were Kshetriyas and already been torn by punya and papa by Buddism and Jainism.
2.6 They concocted the legendary story of Prasurama (Parasurama could be a Chera Warrior) who created Kerala by throwing an axe into the sea to recede sea to further west to create a land called Kerala (funny, I wish if the tricks were there during the times of Tsunami).
2.7 Each of the 32 Brahmins family were give each of the 32 grammam which had its own temple and its own set of authorities for religious and secular law and its enforcement. Most of the grammam were localized geographically with their illams (large manorial homes) located within a 16- to 40-kilometer radius of the temple.
2.8 Since Visvakarmas are every where in India, they could have been brought from Tamil Nadu by Chera Kings for building palaces and other constructions. They have followed 'upanayana', their own system of learning vedas and scriptures as descendants of rishis. Traditionally they follow Viswakarma Jayanthi as well.
2.8 What that Nambudiri Brahmins brought to Kerala was Racism. If anybody studies Kerala history can find that the worst of Racism could be found in the land of Gods own Country imbibed by the Nambudiris. The so far peaceful Kerala slowly started transforming to the Caste system imposed by Nambudiri Brahmins. They preached that (this is NOT mentioned in the Rig Veda of 5000 BC) that Brahmins were created from the face of Brahma the creator, the Kshatriyas from the hands, Vaishyas from the thighs and Sudras from the feet. And since Brahmins came from the head, they deserve the highest respect and must control the rest.
[Surprisingly, people in Kerala behave like slaves. Even now the educated people consider the Nambudiris as ambassadors of God. That is the slave mentality of the people. They bend in front of them and do whatever they asks for. What kind of an educated folks are Keralites?]
2.9 Kerala Nambudiris have not considered Sri Sankara as a Nambudiri Brahmin and that is the reason they have not participated in the rites ceremony.
2.10 Sri Sankara had no followers from Kerala Nambudiris. Even now Kerala Nambudiris have their own system of rituals separate from other parts of India.
2.11 None of the Kerala Nambudiris had surname Acharya.
2.12 Since the Nambudiris and the Kshatriya kings controlled power, they could have easily distorted the history.
2.13 During the transition period of Nambudiris corrupting the Rulers (Church and State always intermingled even in present day all over the world) ever since they arrived in Kerala, they could have distorted the history to turn to their own way.
2.14 Nambudiris and even Nairs were in a dilemma as they did not want to accept Sri Sankara as a Tvashta Brahmin. He by that time achieved greater heights in advaida philosophy and they could not win him over in debates. He was given a cold reception when he visited Kerala for his mother's rites. [What a pity. Time will not pardon you Nambudiris - Sathyam eva jayate]. Suppose he was a Nambudiri, he would have given a warm welcome.
2.15 Sri Sankara's theory of dehi and deham and consider all beings alike are not part of Nambudiri theology. He was turned against caste system after two incidents: 1. The incidents that Nambudiris did outcast him during his mother's rituals. 2. he got realization from the incident when the hunter asked him who should move from your way, deham or dehi?
Consider all these facts, it is obvious that Sankaracharya cannot be a Nambudiri Brahmin. Claiming Illams was an easy task for Nambudiris since literally they ruled Kerala through the Chera Kings.
Since there are references that he was a Tvashta Brahmin, He could be a Tvashta Brahmin.