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and Susai Anthony
Shankara, whose name often appears as Shankaracharya (acharya means ―religious teacher‖), was no retiring monk; he was a peripatetic, wandering all of India. Born in Malabar in the far south of India, he traveled incessantly, meeting innumerable people, arguing, reasoning, convincing, and infecting others with his tremendous vitality. Shankara's World Shankara was the disciple of guru Gaudapada — the Guru of Govinda — and expressed the guru's philosophy that the Brahman of the Upanishads was the only reality. The world itself was but a temporary illusion, a trifle. In fact, Shankara denounced the entire visible cosmos as an illusion superimposed on true being by man's deceitful senses and unenlightened mind. Any person trying to understand the ultimate nature of reality could not help but see the insignificance of this world of space and time. Shankara possessed a far-reaching intellect. He wrote commentaries on the Vedanta Sutra, the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita. He thought that only the path of knowledge, which culminated in knowing the Brahman, could lead to liberation; the paths of work and devotion were secondary. Further, he initiated a tradition of renunciative yogis, who sought the full realization of the Brahman in a state of being, consciousness, and bliss. Shankara's Impact In subsequent centuries, a number of important thinkers took different interpretations of the earliest Vedanta. Whereas Shankara leaned toward a monistic view of the identity of Brahman and atman, Ramanuja (1077– 1157 C.E.) took up a qualified or modified monism. Madhva (1199–1278 C.E.) rejected monism altogether in favor of out-and-out dualistic theism. Renuka NarayananPosted: Apr 19, 2004 at 0000 hrs IST
April 24, this Saturday (Vaisakha Shukla Panchami), is Adi Sankara‟s birthday. The Government of Karnataka has declared it „Philosopher‟s Day‟ to honour this long-ago thinker-activist‟s contribution to the history of thought. He founded his first matham at Sringeri on the green banks of the river Tunga, where he spent 12 of his 32 years. Sankara was moved to found his peetham there because he saw a cobra spreading its hood to give shade to a frog in labour. Surely a place where such compassion existed between natural enemies was holy ground. The first head of this first matham was none other than Suresvaracharya or Mandana Mishra, the eminent north Indian scholar whom Sankara had won over to his cause of bringing „Bharatavarshe‟ into unity of thought. Sankara taught that reasoning is a part of religion. It becomes fruitful when harmonised with belief in God, and both are applied to our spiritual growth. When we introspect, we solitary beings realise our connectedness to each other and to that One Power that animates us all. All differences melt away, as told in the Upanishads, and we can work together for the welfare of all. In a land riven into regional kingdoms, Sankara set up mathams in its four zones: Badrinath in the north, Dwarka in the west, Puri out east and Sringeri, in the south (the Kanchi matham is believed to have been his last rest). To integrate them, he switched around regional pujaris. It‟s appealing to modern minds that Sankara understood human nature and did not impose one set way of approaching God. Instead, for those who loved to use their intellect, he taught jnana marga, in which study and contemplation led you to understand the dazzling infinity of God. To the actionoriented, he taught karma yoga, the path of achieving selfhood through selfless service and practical caring. For those with a mystic bent, he taught bhakti marga, the path of total surrender to Divine Love, which let one evolve to a stage of loving just everybody, because the Beloved was present in all
came again and this time the manifestation was in the South. He saw the material world as part of God. …his whole life’s work is nothing but that. The writings of this boy of sixteen are the wonders of the modern world. all the varied presentations are needed to suit his varying capacity. Only knowledge can free and save us but with knowledge must go virtue.(this is the message. Swami Vivekananda . He unified all the conflicting descriptions of Brahman and showed that there is only one infinite Reality. it was a starting point from which to rise into lightness of being. “I will come whenever virtue subsides. In a brief 32 years he did the work of many long lives”. He showed too that as man can only travel slowly on the upward road. By solid reasoning he extracted from the Vedas the truths of Vedanta. When these three great gifts are ours. Books cannot teach God. The greatest teacher of the Vedanta philosophy was Sankaracharya. and so was the boy…The greatest teacher of the Vedanta philosophy was Shankaracharya. By solid reasoning he extracted from the Vedas the truths of Vedanta. To hold to the books and at the same time open the way to freedom is Shankara’s great achievement. the throbbing of the beauty of the Vedas and the Upanishads. their action is negative. Swami Vivekananda India has to live. all the varied presentations are needed to suit his varying capacity.. by the way. not separate. He was no escapist retiring into his shell or into a corner of the forest seeking his own individual perfection and oblivious of what happened to others. of Krishna‟s Raas Lila). the marvelous boy Shankaracharya arose. and on them built up the wonderful system of Gyana that is taught in his commentaries. and the spirit of the Lord descended again.he strove hard to synthesise the diverse currents that were troubling the mind of the India of his day and to build a unity of outlook out of that diversity. Nehru said of him: “Adi Sankara (CE 788-820) was a man of amazing energy and vast activity. and on them built up the wonderful system of Jnana that is taught in this commentaries. No wonder that in The Discovery of India. but they can destroy ignorance. He who declared. He showed that as man can only travel slowly on the upward road. and up rose that young Brahmin of whom it has been declared that at the age of sixteen he had completed all his writings. However. Shankara taught that three things were the great gifts of God :  human body  thirst after God and  a teacher who can show up the light. we may know that our redemption is at hand.. He unified all the conflicting descriptions of Brahman and showed that therei s only one Infinite Reality.
was placed in charge of the Mutt in the South. Stories of him narrating his work on the commentaries (Bhashyas) on the Vedas to Ved Vyas. he saw a strange sight while meditating. who hailed from the Northern regions of India. His humility when challenged about his lack of knowledge. It is a well-known fact that he decided to lead a life of a Sanyasi when just a child. One of the most important incidents of Shankaracharya’s life was the meeting of a ‘Chandala’. When his disciple Sanandana was ready to cross the river Ganga on his bidding. At Shringeri. on the bank of the river Tunga. Shankaracharya blessed him with lotuses under his feet so that he would not drown. Instead he respectfully asked her for permission to debate with her after acquiring such knowledge. His respect towards women is also very evident through his actions and works. The various Shree Mutts which he and his disciples established all over India still tread the path that he laid years ago. Shankaracharya knew the disdain that the others had for Totakacharya and to teach them a lesson in humility. a person who had renounced the world and the customs of a householder. resistant to all forms of temptations. he gathered all the waters into his water vessel to save them. He had the course of the river Purna changed to flow close to his house so that his mother would not find it difficult to go for a bath. His zeal and tireless energy towards fulfilling his life’s mission of reviving and re-establishing the age-old wisdom of Hindu Philosophy and his ability to embrace death cheerfully at the young age of 32 years only show him to worthy of being called an avatar of Lord Shiva. having full awareness of body and soul and the entity beyond it. When this ‘Chandala’ brought his attention to the fact that the soul was more important that the body. mouthing a new hymn in the metre known as Totaka. It was only such a person who was complete in all respects . the light of knowledge shone on Totakacharya’s face and he arrived with the water. After a month he came back and won the debate against Ubhaya Bharati. Sri Sri Vidyaranya. .dutiful as a son and student. While coming back. kind towards the weak and poor. a low caste person. Totakacharya. who had gone to wash the Guru’s clothes. wife of Mandana Mishra announced that he could not win a debate with her because he had no knowledge of a family life. An interesting facet of his personality is the love and kindness he showed to animals and humans. Similarly at a place in Gokarna. The fact that he established his Ashrams in such places shows his love towards tolerance and ‘ahimsa’ – non violence. At Mookhambika( Karnataka) he came to the rescue of a mute child. When his ailing mother called out to him on her deathbed. Shankara immediately composed the ‘Minisha Panchakam’. even if he was a ‘Chandala’. He wanted people from all regions of the country and from all walks of life to benefit from the religious teachings of the Vedas and Upanishads. 2012 | 64 Views | 6 Responses 1200 years after Jagadguru Shankaracharya’s advent to this earth. When just a child. All the other disciples were humbled and never made fun of him again. he did not argue with her. Sri Sureshwaracharya. But he was highly devoted to Shankaracharya and took care of his daily needs with love. show him to be an extraordinary person. In his divine work ‘Soundarya Lahiri’ he has described the Divine Mother in exquisite terms on both aspects – her powers (Shakti) and her beauty (Soundarya). Adi Shankara the divine boy who went on to revive Hinduism by rescuing it from the clutches of ritualism. all the other followers made fun of him behind his back for his lack of erudition. When Ubhaya Bharati. He called this place Ashoke (a place where there was no sadness ‘AShok’) and established another SriMutt through his disciple. His far-sightedness in keeping the country conjoined is visible when one realizes the pattern of establishing four major Sri Mutts in the four quadrants of our country. a ‘Stotra’ which emphasized that he who opened his eyes to the true nature of the soul was his Guru. Among the four Mutts two of them in the East and West were set up on the sea shore. subjugating the much respected ritualist Mandana Mishra in a debate and making him his disciple and finally ascending the throne of Sharadapitha are the stuff legends are made of. one of Shankaracharya’s shishyas was a rustic. He saw a cobra shielding a pregnant frog which was about to deliver. he decided to bless Totakacharya. He realized that the child was actually a great soul and he accepted him as his disciple and renamed him Hastamalaka. he is known to have created the ‘Kanakadhara Stotra’ to help an old woman come out of extreme poverty. in Varanasi. He had transcended the differences of caste and creed and realized Brahman. Shankara reached her and performed the last rites even though he was a Sanyasi. He deserved the title of Jagadguru for this feat of his. still lives in our hearts and minds. Karnataka. his collecting the waters of the river Reva into his ‘kamandala’. who could have such a profound respect of the masses. When he saw the river Reva flooded and people running helter-skelter to look for shelter. while Totakacharya from the South was sent to Badrinath in the North. The extraordinary sight of two natural enemies displaying such a friendship moved him and he decided to establish his first SriMutt there. people still remember him with the same fervor as they did when he was alive. while the Maths in the North and South were set up in the mountain regions. it is said that once when the Jagadguru was teaching others. He valued humility and service just as much as he valued knowledge and wisdom. He entered the body of King Amaruka and viewed all aspects of a family life with detachment. Without such an unblemished character it would have been difficult for him to enjoin the whole country towards reviving Hinduism in totality. humble despite being the most knowledgeable. while meditating he saw a tigress feeding an orphan baby fawn.Shankara's Greatness as a Human Being By: Rati Hegde on Apr 24.
26 April. 2012 is the birth anniversary of Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya th .
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