C. 620-700 AD [TB p. 28]
Also known in the tradition as वार्त्तिकाकार. The founder of the भाट्ट school.
Tradition says he was the अवतार of भगवान कार्तिकेय also known as कुमार. He was born as a ब्राह्मण in प्रयाग. He resolved to rescue Vedic culture from the criticism of the Buddhists who were in ascendency at the time. In order to learn their doctrines, he joined a विहार in disguise and studied under them. While maintaining the outward appearence of a Buddhist, कुमारिल continued his Vedic karma in secret. However, sometimes when criticism of the वेद and धर्म would be get too abusive he would shed a tear and eventually his teachers noticed. In order to protect their doctrines, they resolved to kill कुमारिल by throwing him off the roof of the विहार which was seven stories tall. As he fell, कुमारिल said "if वेद is प्रमाण, I should not suffer from this fall." And he survived except he was hurt in one eye. He got angry and wondered why despite his faith he was still injured. Then a voice from heaven replied, "This is because your faith was not complete. You hesitated and said '_if_' वेद is प्रमाण." [CS pp. 73-77]
The Tibetan works Chos-byun by तारानाथ and Dpag-bsam-ljon-bzan record an alternate story. The Buddhist philosopher धर्मकीर्ति wanted to become familiar with Vedic philosophy and hearing that कुमारिल was its greatest exponent, disguised himself as a slave and entered his service. Once he had learned everything, he left and began debating कुमारिल and his followers, defeating them all and converting them to Buddhism.[AK p. 8]
तारानाथ refers to कुमारिल as Gzon-nu-na-len and says he lived during the reign of the Tibetan king Srong-tsan-Gampo (627-650 AD.) He also says कुमारिल was a rich man who owned a large number of rice fields and 500 male and 500 female slaves, and he was liberally patronized by his king. Unlike other traditions, तारानाथ claims that कुमारिल was a South Indian. [AK p. 11]
आनन्दगिरि in his शंकरदिग्विजय says that कुमारिल was a Northerner, perhaps from Kashmir or Panjab, who debated Jains and Buddhists in the South and that his disciple मण्डन मिश्र was married to his sister सरसवाणी. [AK p. 11]
प्रभाकर मिश्र was also his disciple.
Many years later शंकराचार्य wanted to debate him in order to prove the supremacy of अद्वैत वेदान्त but कुमारिल was preparing to ascend the funeral pyre. When asked why he would perform such a drastic action, he replied that as he had deceived the Buddhists who had taught him, he had to perform a प्रयस्चित्त for the sin of lying to a गुरु. Instead, he recommended that शंकराचार्य debate मण्डन मिश्र instead. [CS pp. 78-79]
His main works are
In each of these, he also comments on the शबर भाष्य but he does not hesitate to depart from it where he thinks it is appropriate.
Three lesser known works are