SANKARNATH, PANDIT (1789-1858), astrologer and diplomat, belonging to the village of Karivallur, in north Kerala, was a celebrated scholar of ancient lore. His reputation especially as an astrologer spread far beyond the confines of his native Kerala and he was in 1816 invited by Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra to become his spiritual adviser. From Kangra, he came to Lahore as Maharaja Ranjit Singh`s counsellor and astrologer. It is said that besides the Maharaja and his courtiers, even the English consulted him on matters of diplomacy.
He was held in high esteem by Lord William Bentinck, the governor general, and Sir Claude Wade and other English officials. In recognition of his services, the Maharaja granted him a jagir worth 3,000 rupees per annum. At the time of the intrusion of Muhammad Akbar Khan into the frontier area, Sankarnath accompanied the Maharaja`s armies despatched to punish him. He was wounded in one of the encounters with the Afghans. Sankarnath had a large number of disciples at Lahore where he performed numerous penances and yajnas.
He stayed in the Punajb for nine years and left in 1827 to join the Maharaja of Travancore who gave him appointment as chief justice of the Sadar Court. In 1834, he returned to Lahore where he resumed his old position at the court. He continued to serve until 1844 when he rejoined Travancore service. He died in 1858 after having served as Faujdari Commissioner for several years.
1. The Tribune. Chandigarh, 9 August 1981