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BHARATI (Eighth-ninth centuries)


Bharati, also known as Ubhaya-Bharati, was the wife of the great philosopher Mandana Mishra. She acted as umpire in a contest between the Advaita philosopher Sankaracharya and her husband. The contest began with the stipulation that, whoever would be defeated would renounce the world. When she realised that her husband was likely to lose the contest, she prepared to leave the house, for it was not fitting for a married woman to live without her husband. At this Sankaracharya begged her to stay. For 17 days the contest continued. Then to discomfit Sankaracharya, a bachelor, Bharati resolved to ask questions on the Kama Sutra. Sankaracharya requested that they put off the discussion for a month. It is said that in this time, he entered the body of the dead king Amuruka and experienced love with his queens. After the stipulated time he resumed the discussion with Bharati, who was satisfied with his answers, and Sankaracharya in turn was impressed by Bharati’s scholarship and wisdom. Later he built a temple at Sringeri and dedicated it to her.
 
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