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Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti 2018
Shankaracharya Jayanti Friday 20th April 2018
1230th Birth anniversary of Adi Shankaracharya (Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti)
About Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti:
Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti is observed as the birth anniversary of the great Indian sage and philosopher Adi Shankara. Adi Shankara was born in Kalady in Kerala in the year 788C.E. and he left his physical existence in the world at the young age of 32 in year 820 C.E.
Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti is observed on Shukla Paksha Panchami of Vaishakh month, which occurs in April/May
Adi Shankara, Madhava and Ramanuja, were the three great masters who actively involved in the revival of Hinduism. They formed philosophical doctrines that are still followed by their respective sects.(You are reading Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti)
Know More About Adi Shankaracharya on Special occasion of Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti :
Adi Shankara was an Indian philosopher and theologian who expounded the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. He renounced the worldly pleasures at a very young age. Shankaracharya amalgamated the ideologies of ancient ‘Advaita Vedanta’ and also explained the basic ideas of Upanishads. He advocated the oldest concept of Hinduism which explains the unification of the soul (atma) with the Supreme Soul (Nirguna Brahman).
Though he is best known for popularizing ‘Advaita Vedanta’, one of Shankaracharya’s most important works is his efforts to create the six sub-sects, known as ‘Shanmata.’ ‘Shanmata’, which literally translates to ‘six religions,’ is the worship of six supreme deities. Shankaracharya explained the existence of one Supreme Being (Brahman) and that the six supreme deities are part of one divine power. He also founded ‘Dashanami Sampradaya,’ which talks about leading a monastic life. While Shankaracharya was a firm believer in earliest Hinduism, he damned the ‘Mimamsa school of Hinduism’ which was purely based on ritual practices. Throughout the course of his journey, Shankaracharya discussed his ideas with various other philosophers and fine-tuned his own teachings from time to time. (You are reading Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti)
Shankara, as he was known before becoming a great teacher, was born into a poor Brahmin family at Kaladi, present day Kerala, India. His parents, Sivaguru and Aryamba, offered their prayers to Lord Shiva, requesting the deity to bless them with a child. Their prayers were soon answered in the form of a baby boy. A few theories suggest that Aryamba had a dream in which Lord Shiva himself promised her that he would be taking birth as her child. Hence, many consider Shankara as a recreation of Shiva. Shankara was educated by his mother as he lost his father when he was just seven. Aryamba played a key role in teaching Vedas and Upanishads to a young Shankara. (You are reading Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti)
Throughout the course of his early life, Shankara amazed many with his knowledge intelligence. He started writing his own study of the Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita at a young age. Right from his childhood, he was keen on becoming a monk. Though his idea of becoming a monk was opposed by his mother, Shankara knew exactly what he had to do. Once he accompanied his mother to a nearby river and took a plunge into the river. Suddenly, a crocodile appeared from beneath the river and caught hold of his leg.
Shankara then cried out to his mother, saying that a crocodile was pulling him into the river. When his mother felt helpless, Shankara urged her to allow him to die as a monk. As soon as Aryamba gave her consent, the crocodile spared Shankara’s life and went back into the river. Shankara was miraculously unharmed and went on to become a monk as his mother had already given him the permission to do so. (You are reading Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti)
He then went in search of a guru and according to a few ancient scripts, a young Shankara walked at least 2000 kilometers before meeting Govinda Bhagavatpada. Under Govinda Bhagavatpada’s guidance, Shankara studied ‘Gaudapadiya Karika’, ‘Brahmasutra’, Vedas, and Upanishads. To his teacher’s amazement, Shankara was able to master almost all the ancient scripts in a short time. He even started writing commentaries on major religious scripts.
Once he had a clear understanding of the ancient Hindu scripts, he started traveling across India, propagating ‘Advaita Vedanta’ and ‘Dashanami Sampradaya.’ During the course of his journey, Shankara’s teachings were challenged by many philosophers and thinkers. He was even involved in a number of debates pertaining to Hinduism and its beliefs, but Shankara managed to astound all his doubters with his intelligence and clarity. He then went about propagating his ideas and was soon accepted as a guru by many.(You are reading Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti)
Shankara came to be known as Shankaracharya among his disciples. Though he had several disciples, four of them would go on to complete great heights to be later considered as Shankaracharya’s main disciples. They were also entrusted with the responsibility of heading the four monasteries (mathas) founded by Shankaracharya. Here are Shankara’s four disciples:
- Padmapada– Padmapada was born Sanandana and later went on to become one of the most devoted followers of Adi Shankaracharya. According to the ancient texts, Sanandana was once drying his master’s clothes on the banks of Ganges. When Shankaracharya asked for his clothes from the other side of the river, Sanandana started crossing the mighty Ganges, holding his master’s clothes close to his chest. To the amazement of the onlookers, many lotuses emerged from the river and supported Sanandana’s weight, saving him from drowning. After crossing the river, Sanandana handed the clothes over to Shankaracharya who then bestowed him with the name ‘Padmapada’ which literally means ‘the one with lotus feet.’ Padmapada founded ‘Thekke Matham’, a monastery in Thrissur, Kerala.
- Totakacharya– Totakacharya was born Giri and became a disciple of Adi Shankaracharya at a very young age. Giri was considered a fool by Shankaracharya’s other disciples. He was hardly interested in learning but was completely devoted to his master. Once, when Shankaracharya held on to his teachings as he waited patiently for Giri to join the rest of his disciples, Padmapada urged his master to go ahead as he thought teaching anything to Giri was a sheer waste of time. Shankaracharya then decided to reward Giri for his devotion and mentally transferred all his knowledge to Giri. Giri then went on to compose a poem named ‘Totakashtakam’ and came to be known as Totakacharya. Totakacharya founded a monastery named ‘Vadakke Modam’ in Thrissur.
- Hasta Malaka– When Shankaracharya visited a village near Kollur (Karnataka), a Brahmin named Prabhakara came forward, along with his son, to meet him. Prabhakara told him that his son is a lunatic and that he is good for nothing. Shankaracharya looked at his son and asked him a few questions. The boy then replied in verses which explained Advaita philosophy. Amazed by his knowledge, Shankaracharya named him Hasta Malaka and accepted him as his disciple. Hasta Malaka founded ‘Idayil Matham’ in Thrissur.
- Sureshvara– Sureshvara was born Mandana Misra and was leading the life of an average householder. Misra was a brilliant exponent of ‘Karma Mimamsa’ and was considered Shankaracharya’s contemporary. When Shankaracharya finally met the famous Mandana Misra, he challenged him to a debate. After a furious debate which went on for months, Mandana Misra finally accepted defeat and agreed to become Shankaracharya’s disciple. He came to be known as Sureshvara and founded ‘Naduvil Matham’ in Thrissur.
At the age of 32, Adi Shankaracharya retired to the Himalayas and is believed to have entered a cave near Kedarnath. He was never seen again and the cave that he entered is considered as his final resting place.
Adi Shankaracharya is renowned for his spectacular commentaries on ancient texts. His review of ‘Brahma Sutra’ is known as ‘Brahmasutrabhasya’, and it is the oldest surviving commentary on ‘Brahma Sutra’. It is also considered as his best work. He also wrote commentaries on Bhagavad Gita, and the ten principal Upanishads. Adi Shankaracharya is also well-known for his ‘stotras’ (poems). He composed many poems, praising gods and goddesses. The ones dedicated to Krishna and Shiva are considered most important among his ‘stotras’. He also composed the famous ‘Upadesasahasri’ which literally translates to ‘a thousand teachings.’ ‘Upadesasahasri’ is one of his most important philosophical works.
Adi Shankaracharya’s philosophy was simple and straightforward. He advocated the existence of the soul and the Supreme Soul. He believed that the Supreme Soul alone is real and unchanging while the soul is a changing entity and that it does not have absolute existence.
Influence on Hinduism
Adi Shankaracharya became a key figure in restoring trust in the Vedas and Upanishads. Smartism, a subsect of Hinduism, was formed based on his teachings. He is also credited with making Hindus understand the existence of one Supreme Being. He explained that all other deities are just different forms of the Supreme Being. The monasteries founded by Shankaracharya had a great influence in reforming Hinduism.
Adi Shankaracharya founded four monasteries (mathas) – one each at the four cardinal points in India. Here are the four mathas founded by Shankara:
- Sringeri Sharada Peetham– This was the first monastery founded by Adi Shankaracharya. It is located at the southern part of India, along the banks of Tunga. Sureshvara was made the head of this matha as Shankaracharya moved on to establish other mathas. Sringeri Sharada Peetham advocates ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ (I am Brahman) and was formed on the basis of Yajur Veda.
- Dvaraka Pitha– Dvaraka Pitha is located in the western part of India. Hasta Malaka, who came to be known as Hastamalakacharya, was made the head of this matha. Dvaraka Pitha advocates ‘Tattvamasi’ (That thou art) and was formed on the basis of Sama Veda.
- Jyotirmatha Peetham– This monastery is located in the northern part of India. Totakacharya was made the head of this matha which advocates ‘Ayamatma Brahma’ (This Atman is Brahman). Jyotirmatha Peetham was formed on the basis of Atharva Veda.
- Govardhana matha– Govardhana matha is located at the eastern part of India. The matha is a part of the famous Jagannath temple. Padmapada was made the head of this monastery which advocates ‘Prajnanam Brahma’ (Consciousness is Brahman). It was formed on the basis of Rig Veda.
Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti Special Quotes
- Adi Shankaracharya
Adi Shankara is one of the greatest intellectuals, spiritual master and philosopher born on this earth. Learning from renowned masters, Adi Shankaracharya took to the life of Sanyasa at a very tender age and moved throughout India spreading the lofty ideals of Advaita or non-dualism. His eloquence, wisdom and a deep understanding on the ancient Indian scriptures were unparalleled and won him a renowned fame. His thoughts have been inspiring seekers of Truth in an incomparable way.(You are reading Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti special Quotes)
- On the Temporariness of Life
Don’t proud yourself of wealth, people and youth. All these are destroyed by time within the wink of an eye. Therefore, chant the name of Govinda if you have to save yourself during the last moment of your life.(You are reading Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti special Quotes)
- On Equality
Do not treat anybody as your friend or foe, brother or cousin; do not waste your mental energies in the thoughts of friendship or enmity. Be equal to all since all this is pervaded by the one supreme reality.(You are reading Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti special Quotes)
- On the Importance of Human Body
Though it is true that you should not identify yourself with the body, never neglect the body since it is the vehicle that you use to transact with the world. It is the temple of the Self or supreme consciousness housed within.(You are reading Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti special Quotes)
- On Discrimination
To escape oneself from bondage a wise person must exercise the right discrimination between True-Self and the Ego-self. Only this discrimination can fill you with joy and you will discover the Self as Transcendental Being, Consciousness and Bliss.(You are reading Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti special Quotes)
- On Spiritual Life
Even after you realize the Truth, you might still be bound in the impression that you are the agent or entity that experiences the ephemeral world. Undertake the sadhana of constantly identifying yourself with the Supreme, non-dual Self and thereby awaken yourself into the true reality escaping from the mental impression of being the ego.(You are reading Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti special Quotes)
- On What Lies inside us
The treasure you can find inside your inner core which can neither be described in words nor conceived by the mind.(You are reading Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti special Quotes)
- On the True State of Humans
Never identify yourself with the mass of flesh that is your body. You are in fact the True transcendental self that is actually an undifferentiated awareness, which is never affected or altered by time: past, present or future.
- On the Journey Within
Use your power of discrimination to move within yourself. Always seek and desire happiness, which is your true state. Since happiness is your true state, it can never burden you while sorrow which is not your true nature is a real burden.
- On the Crucible of Life
The gold put in furnace loses its impurities and regains its original true nature. In the same way, through meditation, the mind gets rid of the impurities like delusion and attachment and attains the Reality, which is its true eternal state.(You are reading Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti special Quotes)
- On the Bhagavad Gita
Through a sound knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita all the objectives of human life can be realized. We might say the Bhagavad Gita as the quintessence of all the teachings propounded by the Vedic scriptures.
- On the Manifested World
Like different ornaments are made from Gold, all that is manifested in the world of things are imagined on the underlying substratum that is called as Vishnu, the all pervading.(You are reading Shankaracharya Jayanti special Quotes)
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