I would like to split question into two parts:

1) Ubhaya Bharati was appointed the judge between Adi Shankaracharya and Mandana Mishra. After Mandana accepts defeat from Shankaracharya, why was Ubhaya Bharati allowed to ask question? Example: An umpire in a cricket game cannot play the winner of two opponents. His job is just to give a fair decision. In such a case, why was Ubhaya Bharati allowed to ask a question?

2) Adi Shankaracharya was an expert in Advaita, religion and philosophy. Why was it necessary for Shankaracharya to answer a question related to Kama? Example: An expert in physics need not answer a question related to surgery. Moreover in a seminar of physics, people will not entertain question unrelated to that topic. Hence Shankaracharya could have simply bypassed the question as it was not related to the topic of discussion.

  • This question arises when Kāvyas like ŚaṅkaraVijayas (there are lot of them: ĀnandagirīyaŚaṅkaraVijaya, Cidvilāsīya, Prācīnaśaṅkaravijaya of Ātmabodha, Vyāsācalīya, Mādhavīya, Anantānandagirīya) are thought as history books. There are no available immediate accounts on Śaṅkara's life. These Kāvyas are created centuries after Śaṅkara lived. The arguments stated in this fictitious episode in all these Kāvyas never match Śaṅkara's calibre shown in Prasthāna traya bhaṣyas. Anyhow your examples of umpire and two experts are good. Commented May 15, 2015 at 11:28
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    I agree with Keshav's answer; but one should realize that all of the Sankara Vijayas are not Veda. Many stories in them to make him appear larger than life. Swami Tapasyananda points out in his translation of Madhava-Vidyaranya's work that "There are many obviously mythological elements to it, like reports of conferences held in heavens, appearances of Devas and dead sages among men, traffic between men and gods, thundering miracles, and chronological absurdities...[including] indiscriminate bringing together of writers of very different centuries among those that Sankara met and defeated." Commented May 17, 2015 at 10:00
  • devdutt.com/articles/…
    – Lyric Roy
    Commented Jan 26, 2020 at 7:23
  • I don't understand why was this opinion based Qn entertained?? Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 12:39

2 Answers 2


It's because it was a separate debate. It's true that Mandana Misra's wife Ubhaya Bharati is said to have been the referree of the debate between Adi Shankaracharya and Mandana Misra. But this chapter of the Madhaviya Shankara Digvijaya, the traditional biography of Adi Shankaracharya, describes how after the debate is over, Ubhaya Bharati is resentful of the fact that her husband declared Adi Shankaracharya to be his intellectual superior. So she challenges Adi Shankaracharya to a new debate, and it is during this debate that the subject of Kama is brought up:

Ubhaya Bharati too praised Sri Shankara but then added ‘You cannot claim complete success over my husband until I, his better half, have been defeated by you. Though you are an embodiment of divinity, I have a desire to debate with you.’

Ubhaya Bharati convinced Sri Shankara to agree to a debate. For seventeen days a protracted debate continued. Finding Sri Shankara invincible in Vedic lore, philosophies and other Sastras, Ubhaya Bharati struck on the idea of questioning him on Kama Sastra, the science and art of love between the sexes, knowing that Sri Shankara was a celibate from boyhood. Sri Shankara accepted the challenge but requested a month’s time to resume the discussions.

And then of course we have the famous story of how Adi Shankaracharya goes into the body of a king and learns all about Kama.

So to sum up, only the debate with Mandana Mishra is about Purva Mimamsa vs. Vedanta. The debate with Ubhaya Bharati has a more general scope.

  • @Kesgav Srinivasan where can I find the disscussion and all the details?
    – Yogi
    Commented May 14, 2015 at 11:43
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    @Creator As far as I know, the only source we have on the debates that Adi Shankaracharya had with Mandana Misra and his wife is that chapter of the Madhaviya Shankara Digvijaya I linked to. Commented May 14, 2015 at 13:26
  • @KeshavSrinivasan where in the Digvijaya? Commented May 15, 2015 at 10:32
  • @SwamiVishwananda It's listed as part 3 in the Sringeri Mutt's website: sringeri.net/history/sri-adi-shankaracharya/biography/… If it helps, the Ubhaya Bharati debate occurs right after this line: "ātmāmbā idamēka agraāsīt. brahmavā idaṁ agra āsīt ēkamēva. sadēva saumya idaṁ agra āsīt. ēkamēva advitīyaṁ brahmayca." Commented May 15, 2015 at 14:45
  • @KeshavSrinivasan I don't remember this. I will look it up. Commented May 15, 2015 at 16:04

Ubhaya Bharati was appointed as a judge between Adi Shankaracharya and Pandit Mishra and as a judge she declares his knowledge to be defeated, now as a better half of the man, she demands to defeat her too as a his half in everything. Cause according to sanatan a man and a woman cohabitually complete each other. Thus, she was righteously allowed to debate with him. If it was incorrect he himself would have not debated with her. Why do you think kama is not a part of religion and philosophy? It is not physics scholer answering about surgery, it is more like zoologist answering about botony when debate is on biology as a whole. Howmuch ever people sulk to talk about it, but it is the important part of life and should be done piously, infact vedas do talk about a man and woman relationship of kama, karma and cohabitation and devotion. Adi shankaracharya undoubtedly a great celibate, lacked in this part of human life and thus she deliberately questioned on that. as a fair competent she granted him time to learn about it and he learned it well, Undoubtedly undefeatable this time. Advait vedanta doesn't impose upon leaving behind ur duties about the souls in karmic connection with you but to embress them and still attain the self realisation or advaita. This quote is very famous, 'kamal ki phool ki tarah bano k sansar k keechad mai kheelke, gandagi na chuye' and attain ' I am that I am' (soham ham sa) ki ek din samaz aaye ki mai mai hu, mai meri wife hu, mai patthar hu mai, mai hi samandar hu, mai hi ped hu, fal hu chaya hu, jo kuch bhi nai wo bhi mai hu, mai nar hu mai hi narayan hu, mai jiv hu aur mai hi wo shiv hu. this is what is advait.

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