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The famous 13th century Sri Vaishnava Acharya Vedanta Desikan was childhood friends with the Advaita philosopher Vidyaranya, who served as the Shankaracharya of Sringeri and chief advisor of the Vijayanagara emperor. Now Vidyaranya once offered to Vedanta Desikan to convince the Vijayanagara to financially support Vedanta Desikan. But Vedanta Desikan refused, composing a poem known as the Vairagya Panchakam in order to explain to Vidyaranya that he didn’t care about money.

This much I’ve known for a while, but I recently found out an additional detail about the aftermath of this incident. Here is what the Sri Vaishnava Acharya Dvitiya Brahmatantra Svatantra Jeeyar says in this excerpt from the Vedanta Desika Divya Charitram:

[Vidyaranya] came to know that Sri Desika was begging alms and sent him a letter stating that he would recommend Sri Desika to the king and also make the king very obedient to him. Henceforth he need not suffer like this.... After some days, once again he sent an appeal to Swami but by way of reply to that letter Swami wrote five verses known as “Vairagya Panchakam”[.]... Vidyaranya was moved by this and became an ardent admirer of Swami. The five important Samskaras were done to him by our Swami and he became a disciple.

I’m interested in the part in bold. This is a reference to Samashrayanam, aka Pancha Samskaram, the initiation ritual for the Pancharatra Agamas. Sri Vaishnavas perform Samashrayanam because it enables one to do Sharanagati or complete surrender to Vishnu. My question is, do any other works mention Vedanta Desikan performing Samashrayanam for Vidyaranya?

Do any Sri Vaishnava works or Advaita works shed light on this?

  • Does that mean Vidyaranya abandoned the Smartha Sampradaya? Or simply did Pancha Samskara from the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya but retained his Advaitin views? – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Sep 8 '18 at 15:13
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    @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury I have a feeling he just did Samashrayanam and then continued being an Advaitin. He may not have been interested in Sharanagati and all that, he may have just wanted the privilege of getting Samashrayanam from Vedanta Desikan. – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 8 '18 at 15:15
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    Why the downvotes? – Keshav Srinivasan Sep 10 '18 at 8:33
  • Given the myriad other reasons to doubt the authenticity of the work and the absence of this anecdote from the various guru paramparas / biographied of Desika, I think this is bogus. – hashable Sep 30 '18 at 8:22

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