JAGAD GURU SRI ADI SANKARACHARYA
shareeram suruupam tatha va kalatram
yashaschaaru citram dhanam merutulyam |
manashcenna lagnam guroranghripadme
tatah kim tatah kim tatah kim tatah kim ||
One might have a handsome body, beautiful wife, fame and riches like unto Mount Meru; but if one’s mind is not centred upon the lotus feet of the Guru, what then?
Adi Shankara is believed to be an early 8th-century Indian philosopher who taught Advaita Vedanta. He believed in Advait, i.e. that their soul is not different from Brahman. He says; "One who believes that the Brahman is one, and he is another, does not know Brahman."
His place of birth and time are unclear. He is considered to be born either in Kerala - southern Indian or in a village named Kaladi Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu during the reign of "Vikramaditya." Shankaracharya was very young when his father died. Under his mother’s guidance, he got the upanayana ceremony/thread marriage. Since early childhood, he showed a keen interest in Sannyasa. After getting approval from his mother, he left home for education.
At a Saivite sanctuary in a north-central state of India, became the disciple of the guru Govinda Bhagavatpada. Along the river Narmada in Omkareshwar he studied under the Guru Govinda bhagavadpada’s guidance. Along with Veda adhyayana, Upanishads, bhrahmasutra; Shankaracharya authored several key works in his youth, while he was studying with his teacher. Sankaracharya studied Gaudapadiya Karika with his teacher Govinda. Sankarabhagavadpada met the scholars of the Mimamsa school of Hinduism namely Kumarila and Prabhakara, as well as Mandana and various Buddhists, in Shastrarth. The main difference between Hinduism and Buddhism as explained by Sankaracharya is that Hinduism asserts that soul exists, ie. "Atman exists", while Buddhism proclaims "no Soul, no Self".
Sankaracharya travelled immensely for restoring the study of Vedas. During his travel to various pilgrimages; he participated in public debates, installed Sri Chakras yantras and lingas, punyakshetras-temples for worship, as well as the founding of religious centres in north, east, west and south India and emphasised the importance of leading an ascetic life. He was reforming the Vedanta tradition of Hinduism, making it India's most important tradition for more than a thousand year. Identified with Advaita Vedanta tradition both Dasanami sampradaya and Smartha sampradaya were founded by Adi Sankaracharya. He established four mathas or peetam that are located in four corners of India, namely Govardhana matha, Sringeri Sarada peetham, Dwaraka peetham, Jyotirmath to spread Advaita Vedanta. Adi Shankaracharya had many disciples of them, Padmapadacharya, Sureshwaracharya, Hastamlakacharya, Tothakacharya looked after the amnaya matha’s and even authored their literature on Shankara and Advaita Vedanta.
Panchayatana –the regular worship of the five deities– Ganesha, Surya, Vishnu, Shiva and Devi was introduced by Shankaracharya and to see the one Brahman, the invisible Supreme Being in all those forms
Even till date, we listen to the musical compositions of his stotras and slokas. They are the treasure for one and all and to those on the Spiritual path serves as guidelines. Among the innumerable works of Sankaracharya, the elaborate description of the Brahma Sutras, Upanishad principles, Bhagavad Gita, are the most excellent works. Upadesasahasri, Apastamba Dharma-s?tras, the Dakshinamurti Stotra, the Bhajagovinda Stotra, the Sivanandalahari, Soundaryalahari, Kanakadharastotram, the Dasa-shloki are few more works of Sankaracharya.
Shankarabhagavatpada cautioned that the Anvaya- interpretation or theme of any treatise could be correctly understood if one attempts to understand Shadvidalingas; lingas indicate the key concept from the texts. He also explains that one must accept only meanings that are supporting the context. Acharya, Adi Shankara also affirms that when one’s mind is pure by practising the virtues of Yama and Niyam alone is Self-knowledge realised. Sankaracharya guides us that, on the path towards self, rituals and yajnas serves as a means to prepare the mind. He emphasises to be devoid of anger - Akrodha and practising Brahmacharya are vital requirements on the path to self-knowledge.
Adi Sankara left this physical body at a very young age and was last seen by his disciples behind the Kedarnath temple, walking on the Himalayas. Divine guru, philosopher, Acharya, Sri Sankarabhagavadpada though died at the age of thirty-two years; whose every walk of life was to help humans to tread the spiritual path as well as preserve traditions. His efforts and dedication in such a short span of living will stay close to our hearts and alive by practising. Let’s preserve by exercising the tradition laid by Acharya and pass on to the generations to come for it’s not only for our wellbeing and as gratitude to the Jagadguru, but it’s our duty as dharmic beings.
Mano Budhihi ahamkaara Chittani Na aham, na cha shrotra jihve na cha ghraana netre
Na Cha Vyoma Bhumir Na Tejo Na Vayuhu, Chitt aananda rupah shivoham shivoham
I am not the mind, intellect, ego, neither the five senses nor the five elements.
I am pure Consciousness. I am Bliss; I am Shiva, I am Shiva