Bhavani (Goddess Durga) 🙏🏻

A beautiful hymn written by Adi Shankaracharya and translated into English by Sri Aurobindo! The hymn is written in the praise of Bhavani (Goddess Durga) 🙂

Bhavani

(From a Sanskrit Hymn of Shankracharya):

Father nor mother, daughter nor son are mine,
I obey no master, served am I by none,
Learning or means I have not, wife nor kin;
My refuge thou, Bhavani, thou alone!

Charity I have not learned, Yoga nor trance,
Mantra nor hymn nor Tantra have I known,
Worship nor dedication’s covenants;
My refuge thou, Bhavani, thou alone!

Virtue is not mine nor holy pilgrimage,
Salvation or world’s joy I have never won,
Devotion I have not, Mother, no vows I pledge;
My refuge thou, Bhavani, thou alone!

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SADHANA PANCHKAM

In 5 verses Sankara enumerates 40 items that constitute Vedantic Sadhana .

Ritualism can be a discipline only in the field of the many , Dvaita .

In Advaita there cannot be sadhana in the form of worship , invocation , surrender or sacrifice .

Yet , the student who is entangled in mind-intellect-equipment is still in the level of the ego ( jiva bhav ) .

One is to be shown the path by which one can steadily raise one’s vision into the Yonder , beyond the frontiers of the many

BMI : Body | Mind | Intellect
OET : Objects | Emotions | Thoughts
PFT : Perceiver | Feeler | Thinker

into the One Self , the state of Peace that passeth all understanding .

Adi Sankara in these 5 simple looking verse lovingly lists the ways and means , which can readily be followed by all students of Vedanta seeking direct experience of the Divine , beyond the mind , the Spring of Consciousness .

Any seeker who sincerely follows these pointers will surely not miss one’s way and wander into the labyrinth of futile , self-defeating , negative arguments and false conclusions .

Sankara shows the great path to Truth , the Path that was trodden by the innumerable Masters of the Vedas and the Upanishads .

|| SADHANA FOR REALIZATION | VERSE 1 ||

वेदो नित्यमधीयतां तदुदितं कर्म स्वनुष्ठीयतां
तेनेशस्य विधीयतामपचितिः काम्ये मतिस्त्यज्यताम्‌।
पापौघः परिधूयतां भवसुखे दोषोऽनुसन्धीयतां
आत्मेच्छा व्यवसीयतां निजगृहात्तूर्णं विनिर्गम्यताम्‌ ॥ १ ॥

vedo nityamadhiyatam taduditam karma svanusthiyatam
tenesasya vidhiyatamapacitih kamye matistyajyatam |
papaughah paridhuyatam bhavasukhe doso nusandhiyatam
atmeccha vyavasiyatam nijagrhatturnam vinirgamyatam || 1 ||

|| TRANSLATION 1 ||

01 . Study the Vedas daily .
02 . Perform diligently the duties ( karmas ) ordained by them .
03 . Dedicate all those actions ( karmas ) as worship unto GOD .
04 . Renounce all desires in the mind .
05 . Wash away the hoards of sins in the bosom .
06 . Recognise that the pleasures of sense objects ( samsar ) are riddled with pain .
07 . Seek the Self with consistent endeavour .
08 . Escape from the bondage of ” home ” .

|| TRANSLATION 2 ||

01 . Study the scriptures ( Vedas ) daily .
02 . Perform diligently the duties ( sva dharma ) ordered by the scriptures .
03 . Dedicate all the actions thus performed ( as above ) to GOD ( ishvarArpanna buddhi ) .
04 . Gradually give up performance of selfish actions .
05 . Filter sinful adhArmic likes and dislikes .
06 . Recognize the inherent defects of material pursuits .
07 . Seek moksha with consistent endeavour .
08 . Get out from the bondage of activity ( specified to the ones which end up entangling us ) .

|| SADHANA FOR REALIZATION | VERSE 2 ||

सङ्गः सत्सु विधीयतां भगवतो भक्तिर्दृढाऽऽधीयतां
शान्त्यादिः परिचीयतां दृढतरं कर्माशु सन्त्यज्यताम्‌।
सद्विद्वानुपसृप्यतां प्रतिदिनं तत्पादुका सेव्यतां
ब्रह्मैकाक्षरमर्थ्यतां श्रुतिशिरोवाक्यं समाकर्ण्यताम्‌ ॥ २ ॥

sangah satsu vidhiyatam bhagavato bhaktirdrḍha dhiyatam
santyadih pariciyatam drḍhataram karmasu santyajyatam |
sadvidvanupasrpyatam pratidinam tatpaduka sevyatam
brahmaikaksaramarthyatam srutisirovakyam samakarnyatam || 2 ||

|| TRANSLATION 1 ||

09 . Seek companionship with Those of Wisdom .
10 . Be established in firm devotion to GOD .
11 . Cultivate the virtues such as Shanti etc .
12 . Eschew all desire ridden actions .
13 . Take shelter at a Perfect Master ( Sat Guru ) .
14 . Everyday serve The Teacher .
15 . Worship OM the Immutable .
16 . Listen in depth to the Upanishadic declarations .

|| TRANSLATION 2 ||

09 . Seek companionship with Those of Wisdom .
10 . Be established in firm devotion to GOD and perform upasanas .
11 . Gain mind control , sense control , withdrawal , forbearance , faith and focus .
12 . Give up karma and upasanas when they are not required any longer for spiritual growth .
13 . Seek Knowledge from a Sat Guru .
14 . Serve The Teacher .
15 . Ask for Brahma Vidya .
16 . Listen in depth to the Upanishadic declarations .

|| SADHANA FOR REALIZATION | VERSE 3 ||

वाक्यार्थश्च विचार्यतां श्रुतिशिरः पक्षः समाश्रीयतां
दुस्तर्कात्सुविरम्यतां श्रुतिमतस्तर्कोऽनुसन्धीयताम्‌।
ब्रह्मास्मीति विभाव्यतामहरहर्गर्वः परित्यज्यतां
देहेऽहंमतिरुझ्यतां बुधजनैर्वादः परित्यज्यताम्‌ ॥ ३ ॥

vakyarthasca vicaryatam srutisirah paksah samasriyatam
dustarkatsuviramyatam srutimatastarko nusandhiyatam |
brahmasmiti vibhavyatamaharahargarvah parityajyatam
dehe hammatirujhyatam budhajanairvadah parityajyatam || 3 ||

|| TRANSLATION 1 ||

17 . Reflect ever upon the meaning of the Upanishadic commandments .
18 . Take refuge in the TRUTH OF BRAHMAN .
19 . Avoid perverse arguments .
20 . Follow the discriminative rationale of Sruti ( Upanishads ) .
21 . Always be absorbed in the attitude ( bhav ) — ” I AM BRAHMAN ” .
22 . Renounce pride .
23 . Give up the delusory misconception — ” I am the body ” .
24 . Give up totally the tendency to argue with Those of Wisdom .

|| TRANSLATION 2 ||

17 . Analyze the meanings of Upanishadic commandments .
18 . Perform such analyses by sticking to scriptures .
19 . Get away from logic based system ( logic is good when it corroborates scripture , in the sense dont try to substitute it ) .
20 . Dwell upon the discriminative rationale of shruti ( basically , develop viveka ) .
21 . Constantly remain steeped in the fact that you are BRAHMAN .
22 . Renounce pride , vanity , arrogance .
23 . Give up the delusionary misconception — ” I am the body ” .
24 . Do not argue with Those of Wisdom .

|| SADHANA FOR REALIZATION | VERSE 4 ||

क्षुद्व्याधिश्च चिकित्स्यतां प्रतिदिनं भिक्षौषधं भुज्यतां
स्वाद्वन्नं न तु याच्यतां विधिवशात्प्राप्तेन सन्तुष्यताम्‌।
शीतोष्णादि विषह्यतां न तु वृथा वाक्यं समुच्चार्यतां
औदासीन्यमभीप्स्यतां जनकृपानैष्ठुर्यमुत्सृज्यताम्‌ ॥ ४ ॥

ksudvyadhisca cikitsyatam pratidinam bhiksausadham bhujyatam
svadvannam na tu yacyatam vidhivasatpraptena santusyatam |
sitosnadi visahyatam na tu vrtha vakyam samuccaryatam
audasinyamabhipsyatam janakrpanaisthuryamutsrjyatam || 4 ||

|| TRANSLATION 1 ||

25 . In hunger diseases get treated .
26 . Daily take the medicine of Bhiksha — food .
27 . Beg no delicious food .
28 . Live contentedly upon whatever comes to your lot as ordained by GOD .
29 . Endure all the pairs of opposites : heat cold , and the like .
30 . Avoid wasteful talks .
31 . Be indifferent .
32 . Save yourself from the meshes of other peoples’ kindness .

|| TRANSLATION 2 ||

25 . Consider hunger as a disease .
26 . Treat hunger , the disease , by taking bhiksha food .
27 . Beg no delicious food .
28 . Live contentedly with whatever comes your way as prasadam .
29 . Endure all pains of opposites — heat cold , likes dislikes , pleasure pain .
30 . Avoid wasteful talk .
31 . Be indifferent and avoid groupism .
32 . Do not get attached to either someone’s love or criticism .

|| SADHANA FOR REALIZATION | VERSE 5 ||

एकान्ते सुखमास्यतां परतरे चेतः समाधीयतां
पूर्णात्मा सुसमीक्ष्यतां जगदिदं तद्बाधितं दृश्यताम्‌।
प्राक्कर्म प्रविलाप्यतां चितिबलान्नाप्युत्तरैः श्लिष्यतां
प्रारब्धं त्विह भुज्यतामथ परब्रह्मात्मना स्थीयताम् ‌॥ ५ ॥

ekante sukhamasyatam paratare cetah samadhiyatam
purnatma susamiksyatam jagadidam tadvadhitam drsyatam |
prakkarma pravilapyatam citibalannapyuttaraih slisyatam
prarabdham tviha bhujyatamatha parabrahmatmana sthiyatam || 5 ||

|| TRANSLATION 1 ||

33 . In solitude live joyously .
34 . Quieten your mind in The Supreme .
35 . Realise and see the All-pervading Self everywhere .
36 . Recognise that the finite Universe is a projection of Self .
37 . Conquer the effects of the deeds done , by the present right action .
38 . Through wisdom become detached from future actions ( Agami ) .
39 . Experience and exhaust ” Prarabdha ” the fruits of past actions .
40 . Thereafter live absorbed in the bhav — ” I AM BRAHMAN ” !

|| TRANSLATION 2 ||

33 . In solitude also , live joyously .
34 . Quieten your mind in GOD .
35 . Realize and see the Self in everything , everywhere .
36 . Recognize the Universe as a finite projection of the Self .
37 . Destroy the effects of deeds done , through the strength of knowledge .
38 . Through wisdom , become detached from Agami karma ( give up doership and enjoyership ) .
39 . Experience and exhaust the prarabdh , fruits of past actions .
40 . Thereafter , live eternally as BRAHMAN .

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Quotes of Adi Shankaracharya from various sources

Quotes of Adi Shankaracharya from various sources:

Forgive me
Oh, Shiva
my three great sins!

I came on a pilgrimage to Kashi forgetting
that you are omnipresent.

In thinking about you
I forgot that You are beyond thought.

In praying to You
I forgot that You are beyond words.

Realizing everything to be Brahman itself, the wise man should then dwell in eternal bliss with his mind full of the essence of pure consciousness.

Just as it is water alone that appears as waves and tides, so does the self alone appear as many universes.

The self always shines as unconditioned for the wise and always as conditioned for the ignorant.

The distinction between the self and the not-self (body) is unnecessary for the wise.

Samadhi, whose other name is knowledge, is the forgetfulness of all mental activity by first making thought changeless and then identifying the consciousness with Brahman.

The sun shines on the earthen pot but as the sun is not destroyed when the earthen pot is destroyed; in the same way the soul gives light to body and the soul is also not destroyed when the body is dead.

Our own sense organs are our enemies but if won over, they turn to be friends.

He is truly rich who is fully contented.

He has won the world who has won his mind.

Youth, wealth and age are instable like the drops of water on lotus leaves.

The annihilation of ignorance is salvation.

The charity at right time is precious.

Truth is that which helps the living beings.

One’s own pure mind is the greatest pilgrimage.

That is knowledge that helps in getting united to the Brahman

Oh Lord, even after realising that the Truth that
There is no real difference between Jiva and Brahman,
I beg to state that I am Yours and not that You are mine.
The wave belongs to the ocean, not the ocean to the waves.

When the same God resides in you, in me and in others, how can you become intolerant and get angry with someone.

He is the knower of the self to whom the ideas of “me” and “mine” have become quite meaningless.

External attachment is attachment to sense objects. Internal attachment is self-identification with the ego and the modifications of the mind. The dispassionate man, absorbingly devoted to Brahman, is alone able to renounce both…He who has known the reality of Brahman cannot continue to feel attachment to this world.

He who feels attachment has not known Brahman. He remains deluded and sense bound.

Like an image in a dream the world is troubled by love, hatred and other poisons. So long as the dream lasts, the image appears to be real; but on awaking it vanishes.

In consequence of possessing diverse attributes, the Supreme Existence appears manifold, but when the attributes are annihilated, unity is restored.

In consequence of those diverse attributes, a variety of names and conditions are supposed proper to the spirit, just as a variety of tastes and colors are attributed to water.

When a great soul has found perfect tranquillity by freeing his mind from all distracting thoughts and completely realizing Brahman, then he no longer needs sacred places, moral disciplines, set hours, postures, directions, or objects for his meditation. His knowledge of the Atman depends upon no special circumstances or conditions.

Adi Shankaracharya’s concept of Advaita or absolute monism:

The Supreme Spirit or the Brahman is alone real and the individual self is only the Supreme Self and no other. Brahman is supreme intelligence, devoid of attributes, form, changes or limitations. It is self-luminous and all pervading and is without a second. The empirical world is unreal, an illusion born of ignorance. The jiva continues in Samsara only as long as it retains attachment due to ignorance or Maya. If it casts off the veil of Maya through knowledge or Jnana it will realize its identity with the Brahman and get merged into it.

Say not that It is one, as there can be no second, nothing other than That. There is neither uniqueness nor commonality, neither entity nor non-entity; this secondless One is neither void nor plenum. How can I convey this Supreme Wisdom? (Source: Main Currents in Indian Culture – By S. Natarajan)

Silence is the first door to spiritual eminence. (Adi Shankaracharya in Vivekachudamani)

As ritual practices continue it becomes a fad to make the ritual performances glamorous and gradually more advanced and elaborate practices are introduced. At this stage, these ritualistic practices are no longer a means either of channeling devotional feelings or of fueling spiritual unfoldment. They become social events, a form of entertainment. And a way to display social status. These practices become cultural activities. But even before they degenerate into cultural activities, these ritual practices have little or no spiritual value. (Source: The Tradition of the Himalayan Masters Pandit Rajmani, Ph.D. Tigunait)

Spirituality declines when it falls into the hands of people who are weak and without control over their senses. (Shankaracharya in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita (IV.2))

Bhajagovindam Quotes:

The company of the good weans one away from false attachments; when attachment is lost, delusion ends; when delusion ends; the mind becomes unwavering and steady. An unwavering and steady mind is merited for Jeevan Mukti (liberation even in this life).

Don’t identify with wealth, relatives, your youth or your physical beauty – all those can be lost in a second. Knowing that all those are maya, may you realize Brahman.

One may have bathed in the holy Ganges or even in the Ganga Sagar; he may have performed many charities and observed many vows; yet unless one has understood the Brahman (Truth), he will not gain Moksha even after a hundred lives.

Who can disturb the peace and happiness of a man, if he has the true spirit of renunciation and has controlled his desires, even if he be the poorest, sleeping only in the temple halls or under trees or on the bare ground and just with a deer skin to cover.

(Bhajagovindam is a devotional composition in Sanskrit by Adi Shankaracharya.)

Adi Shankaracharya quotes on Advaita Vedanta:

Mind, nor intellect, nor ego, feeling;
Sky nor earth nor metals am I.
I am He, I am He, Blessed spirit, I am He!

Who is your wife? Who is your son? Strange is this samsara. Of whom are you? Where have you come from? Brother, ponder over these truths.
Adi Shankaracharya Quotes on Bhagavad GitaFrom a clear knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita all the goals of human existence become fulfilled.

Bhagavad Gita is the manifest quintessence of all the teachings of the Vedic scriptures.

There are many who go with matted locks, many who have clean shaven heads, many whose hairs have been plucked out; some are clothed in saffron, yet others in various colors – all just for a livelihood. Seeing truth revealed before them, still the foolish ones see it not.

Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda. Oh fool! Rules of Grammar will not save you at the time of your death.
Adi Shankaracharya Teachings on Guru in Bhajagovindam

Trust yourself wholly to the lotus feet of the Guru,
Freed from the shackles of samsara,
With your senses and mind controlled in this manner,
You will see God residing in your heart

Please note: That which helps in realizing the Brahman in you is the real Guru. Guru can be a human or living or non-living being. It can be even a combination of any of these.
Adi Shankaracharya Quotes on Brahman

Before knowing Brahman, every being – himself being Brahman – is really already identical with the Totality. But ignorance superimposes on every being the idea that he is not Brahman, that he is not the Totality!

We should abandon the idea that we are not Brahman! Not to be the Whole – This is the idea which is due to ignorance! This idea is removed by the Knowledge of Brahman. But the Knowledge of Brahman cannot create nor annihilate a real entity!

We are nothing but Atman – nothing but Brahman, who is always the same, homogeneous, one and without a second, immutable, unborn, free from decay, immortal, inaccessible to fear! Therefore the expression, “He is merged in Brahman”, is only a figurative expression, merely indicating the rupture – which is the result of the Knowledge – of the uninterrupted chain of reincarnations for the man who, until then, had maintained an opposite view.

(Source: The commentary on the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad by Adi Shankaracharya)

Four Prerequisites for the Seeker of Moksha – according to Adi Shankaracharya

Adi Shankaracharya talks in Brahma Sutra Bhasya about four requirements that is needed in advance to the seeker of Moksha. They are:

Discrimination between the eternal and the non-eternal.Dispassion for the enjoyment of the fruits of actions either here or in the other world.Possession of control of mind and senses, turning away from things of senses, and developing forbearance concentration and faith.Desire for liberation.

(Source: Life and Teachings of Adi Shankaracharya – P. George Victor – Andhra University Philosophical Studies, No.1 Page 128 – 129)

Adi Shankara Thoughts – How To Remove Ignorance?

Outward ritual cannot destroy ignorance, because they are mutually contradictory. Knowledge attained through self realization alone destroys ignorance. Knowledge cannot spring up by any other means than inquiry. ‘Who am I?’ How was the universe born? Who is the maker? What is the material cause? This is the kind of inquiry one should do.

When the mind is purified like a mirror, knowledge is revealed in it. Care should therefore be taken to purify the mind.

Action cannot destroy ignorance, for it is not in conflict with ignorance. Knowledge alone destroys ignorance, as light destroy darkness.

Just as a jar is all earth, so is also the body, all consciousness. The division, therefore, into Self and non-Self is made by the ignorant to no purpose.

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Adi Shankara

Adi Shankara – The Person Who Saved Vedic Dharma in India

Also known as Adi Shankaracharya, Adi Sankara is why the Vedic Dharma in India exists today. During his days, the forces that opposed Vedic religion was greater and in more numbers than they are today. There was a chaos in matter of religion and philosophy in India. Religions and sects such as Charvakas, Lokayathikas, Kapalikas, Shaktas, Sankhyas, Buddhas and Madhyamikas were competing. Not only them, there were about 72 sects in total and there was a conflict between them. Superstition and bigotry prevailed during the times.

Some of those threats are:

Greece, Turkey, and other Middle Eastern countries were invading India. Sanatana Dharma was starting to get corrupted. Preachers who were not complete followers of Vedas started to preach their own religious methods and their own ways of rituals. Vedas were difficult for even the intellectuals of those times to understand because of the complexity of the language. Since many did not know Sanskrit, people were ignorant about the religion. Vamachara of Tantric started to gain popularity, and it led to cruel practices such as Nara Bali. Buddhist and Jain religion launched right then. They were based on spoken language, so most of the people could understand it. Moreover, they picked these two because Sanatana Dharma was getting more and more corrupted. Other Hindu kings like Asoka and Harsha were attracted to Buddhism and Jainism rather than Sanatana Dharma.

During such heavy threats, Adi Shankara single-handedly restored the Vedic Dharma and Advaita Vedanta to its pristine form in India, and that too in a very short period of time.

Interesting Facts About Adi Shankaracharya:

By the age of sixteen, he mastered the Vedas. He understood Buddhism and ancient Vedic tradition, then he transformed the extant ideas, especially of the Vedanta tradition of Hinduism. He worked to make it the most important tradition in India that has lasted now for more than thousand years.He understood the importance of monastic life, and he sanctioned it as per the Upanishads and Brahma Sutra. He traveled across India and other parts of South Asia to spread the Hindu philosophy, not in a sense of preaching, but rather through discourses and debates with other thinkers. He founded four monasteries, Shankaracharya peethas, also called mathas, in four corner of India to keep up with his spiritual teachings:
Sarada Peetham at Sringeri Kalika Peetham at DwarakaJyotih Peetham,
Badarikashrama
Goardhana Peetham in Jaggannath, Puri.
He is regarded to be the greatest teacher and reformer of Smarta. He was the one who introduced Panchayatana form of worship – the worship of five deities in a simultaneous manner – Ganesha, Surya, Vishnu, Shiva and Devi. He explained that these were all different forms of the one Brahman, the Supreme being.He wrote many books – bhasya, prakarana grantha, stotra

Adi Shankracharya succeeded at doing all these at just the age of 32. He is, in fact, a profound philosopher, an able propagandist, a matchless preacher, a gifted poet, a great religious reformer.

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WHO AM I

WHO AM I:

I am other than the body & the mind
I am free from sorrow, attachment, malice & fear
I am changeless, without form & the source of all

I am eternal, devoid of conditions & stainless
I am imperishable, limitless & free from nescience
I am individual, unattached & non-dual
I am infinite, without attributes & pure

I am beyond all conceptions, beliefs & thought
I am Knowledge, the known & the Knower
I am Oneness
I am the Absolute Consciousness of the Self

I am full of Supreme Bliss
I am the Supreme Self (Parama Atma)
I alone am the Supreme Reality Alone

Verily,
I am that SUPREME BRAHMAN

THAT I AM

– Jagadguru Sri Adi Shankracharya

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JAGADGURU SRI ADI SHANKRACHARYA

Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya, the greatest philosopher that India has ever produced was a religious reformer, a poet, a mystic and a devotee of the 8th century A.D. His thoughts and ideas have been a constant source of knowledge for the followers of Advaita philosophy, or non-dualism. His works are subjected to research by many Indian and foreign scholars even today.

Though he lived around twelve hundred years back, India and the world feel the impact of life and work of this spiritual genius even today.

The Lord in the Bhagawad Gita had given assurance to Arjuna that

“Yada Yada hi dharmasya

glanir bhavati bharata

Abhyutthanam adharmas

yatadatmanam srijamyaham”

Translated as – Whenever and wherever there comes a decline in any religious practice, O descendant of Bharata (India), and an overriding rise of irreligion – at that time I descend Myself.

As per this promise, Shankaracharya appeared on the Indian landscape during the times when impiety, immorality and religious bedlam swept over the nation. Further during the 8th Century A.D. foreign invasion had taken a toll on Hinduism and other religions like Jainism and Buddhism were widely spreading their philosophies. Atheism was becoming the vogue and the general creed of the people. Hinduism was broken up into innumerable denominations and sects each intolerant of and opposed to one another. In short the religious coherence in the land was lost and the purity and spirit of the religion was corroded beyond measure. This religious decadence and disharmony had to be arrested and this could be done only by a divine personality. Shankara came on to the scene and carried out this mighty and stupendous task of regenerating the religion. He brought about spiritual coherence and religious harmony in the country.

Shankara advocated the famous Advaita philosophy, or non-dualism. This philosophy regards God and man as aspects of the same unified consciousness. Shankara’s philosophy resisted dogma and ritualism and restored the substance and magnitude of the Vedas, placing special focus on the Upanishads. Shankara’s teachings contributed to the Hindu renaissance when Buddhism and Jainism were earning immense popularity. He is considered the founder of the Dasanami Sanyasins, an order of Hindu renunciants.

Shankara is the foremost among the master-minds and the giant souls which Mother Bharat (India) has produced. He was a great metaphysician, a pragmatic philosopher, an infallible logician, a vibrant personality and a stupendous ethical and spiritual force. He was a Yogi, Jnani and Bhakt of the highest stature. He was a Karma Yogi of no mean order.

Early Age:

Shankara was born in the year 788 A.D. to a Nambudiri Brahmin family. Shankara was born to Kaippilly Sivaguru and Aryamba Antharjanam near Kaladi, Kerala. As per the lore, after being childless for many years, his parents prayed at the Vadakkunnathan temple, Thrissur and thus Shankara was born under the star Thiruvathira.

Shankara’s father Sivaguru died when Shankara was seven years old. Shankara’s Upanayanaṃ or thread ceremony was performed in his seventh year, after the death of his father. Shankara had none to look after his education. However, his mother was an extraordinary woman who took special care to educate her son in all the Shastras.

Shankara exhibited extraordinary intelligence in his boyhood. He showed remarkable erudition and mastered the four Vedas by the age of eight. Eventually, Shankara conquered the knowledge of all the theologies and philosophies. He started writing commentaries on the Bhagavad-Gita, the Upanishads and the Brahma Sutras by the tender age of sixteen.

Renunciation:

When Shankara reached adulthood his mother began consulting various astrologers who could help finding a suitable girl for Shankara’s marriage. But Shankara had a firm resolve to renounce everything and attain Sanyasa.

Though from a very young age, Shankara was inclined towards Sanyasa, it was only after much persuasion that his mother finally gave her consent.

An interesting episode took place which compelled Shankara’s mother to allow her son for choosing Sanyasa as his path of life. One day, Shankara and his mother went to take a bath in the river. Shankara plunged into the river and felt that a crocodile was lugging him by the feet. Shankara’s predicted the end of his life and shouted out to his mother asking permission to let him die peacefully as a Sanyasi. He begged for Apath-Sanyasa (the adoption of Sanyasa when death is near).

The mother immediately allowed him to take Sanyasa. Shankara took Apath-Sanyasa at once. However, the crocodile let him go unharmed. Shankara came out of the water as a nominal Sanyasi.

Before leaving home and starting off his life as Sanyasi, Shankara assured his mother that he would fulfill his duties as a son and return to serve her at the death-bed and perform her funeral rites. He then proceeded to find out a guru who can get him formally initiated into the holy order of Sanyasins.

In search of a Guru:

From Kerala, he travelled towards north as his mind and soul were continually longing for a guru. He met Govinda Bhagavatpada, the disciple of Gaudapada, on the banks of the Narmada River. During Shankara’s first meeting with Govinda Pada at an ashram in Badrinath in the Himalayas, he prostrated at the teacher’s feet. When Govinda Bhagavatpada asked Shankara’s personal identity, he replied with an extempore verse that unveiled the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta.

Shankara answered his revered guru that neither is he fire nor air. Neither is he earth nor water. He is the Immortal Atma (Self) that is veiled in all forms and names. Shankara concluded by saying that he is the son of Sivaguru, a Brahmin residing in Kerala. After his father’s demise, he was brought up by his mother. He has studied the Vedas and the Shastra and has taken Apath-Sanyasa. He thereby asked his Guru to formally initiate him in the holy order of Sanyasa.

Govinda Pada became extremely pleased and impressed with the truthful narration given by Shankara. The guru then initiated him, invested him with the robe of a Sanyasi and took him as his disciple. Govinda Pada imparted the knowledge of Advaita philosophy to his disciple which he had inherited from his Guru Gaudapada. After Shankara finished learning all the philosophical tenets from Govinda Pada, the guru asked him to proceed towards Kashi. It was during his Kashi stay that he wrote all his famous commentaries on the BrahmaSutras, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita, and successfully met all the criticisms leveled against them. He then began to spread his philosophy. Shankara had the greatest esteem for Govinda Bhagavatpada and his Param Guru or teacher’s teacher, Gaudapada.

Contribution to Society:

Shankara wrote Bhashyas or commentaries on the BrahmaSutras, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita. Specifically,he was instructed by his guru GovindaPada to propagate Advaita philosophy. Therefore he wrote the commentary on the BrahmaSutras. The Bhashya on the BrahmaSutras is called BhasyaSariraka. Shankara wrote commentaries on Sanatsujatiya and SahasranamaAdhyaya.

In the form of his eternal commentaries, Sri Shankaracharya has passed onto posterity the fundamentals oflogic and metaphysics. Shankara’s commentaries emphasize on gaining practical knowledge in order to unfold and strengthen devotion towards the Almighty.

A few of these commentaries which are treasures to Hinduism are Vivekachudamani, AtmaBodha, Aparokshanubhuti, AnandaLahari, Atma-AnatmaVivek, Drig-DrishyaVivekaand UpadesaSahasri. These innumerable works are pure and original in verses and are matchless in sweetness, melody and thought.

In his works, Adi Shankara reinvigorated the essence of Vedas amongst the people of India, and his efforts helped Hinduism regain its earlier strength and popularity.

Even though he lived a very short life and renounced his body at thirty-two years, his impact on India and on Hinduism is extremely striking. He re-introduced a finer form of Vedic thought. His traditions and teachings form the basis of the Smartas and have influenced Sant and Mutt lineages.

The Vedanta school stresses mostly on the Upanishads (which are themselves called Vedanta, the apogee of the Vedas), unlike the other schools that gave tremendous stress on ritualistic Brahmanas, or to texts authored by their founders.

It is known that Shankara’s Brahman was Nirvisesha (without attributes), Nirguna (without the Gunas), Nirakara (formless), and Akarta (non-agent). This means he was above all needs and desires. Regarding meditation, Shankara straightaway refuted the system of Yoga and its various disciplines as a direct means of attaining moksha. As per Shankara, moksha could be attained solely through concentration of the mind.

Travels:

Shankara is known as Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharya or the “best of peripatetic teachers.” He undertook a triumphant tour of the entire country vanquishing great scholars and establishing the Absolute Truth. At Badrinath he wrote his famous Bhashyas(commentaries) and Prakarana Granthas (philosophical treatises).

Adi Shankara then traveled to Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh) and Maharashtra with his followers. At Srisailam, he composed a devotional (bhakti) hymn called Shivanandalahari in praise of Lord Shiva. The Madhaviya Shankaravijayam explains that when Adi Shankara was about to be sacrificed by a Kapalika, Lord Narasimha came to rescue Shankara in response to Padmapada’s prayer. Finally, Adi Shankara composed the Laksmi-Narasimhastotra. He then visited the Mookambika temple at Kollur, the Lord Mahabhaleshwara at Gokarṇa, and the Harishankar at Gandhamardhan hills in Orissa. At Kollur, he accepted a young boy as his disciple. The boy was believed to be desereted by his own parents. Shankara named the boy Hastamalakacarya and initiated him to the world of spiritualism. Next, he visited Sringeri (Śṛngeri) to establish the Śarada Piṭham and made Totakacharya his disciple.

After this, Adi Shankara started off his tour of conquest or Dig-vijaya to propagate the philosophy of Advaita and in his teachings he controverted all philosophies opposed to Advaita. He traveled from South India to Kashmir and Nepal. On his way, he greatly promoted and disseminated his ideas to the local masses. He stood for his philosophy and entered into extensive debates with Hindu, Buddhist and other monks and scholars. In his tour, he was accompanied by Malayali King Sudhanva and they extensively traveled throughout Andhra Pradesh, Vidarbha and Tamil Nadu. On their way to Karnataka, they were besieged by a group of armed Kapalikas. However, King Sudhanva and his Nairs confronted and defeated the group and the duo safely reached Gokarna. At Gokarna, Shankara initiated and participated in many impromptu debates. In one such debate with a Shaiva scholar named Neelakanta, he acquired a sweeping victory for his lucid speech acts on Advaita philosophy. Moving towards Saurashtra or ancient Kambhoja and other places in Gujarat including shrines of Girnar, Somnath and Prabhasa and imparting the teachings of Vedanta in all these sites, he arrived at Dwarka. At Ujjayini in Madhya Pradesh, all the established scholars – including Bhaṭṭa Bhaskara, the proponent of Bhedabeda philosophy – accepted with pleasure the Advaita philosophy preached by Adi Shankara. He debated against the Jainas at Bahilka and surpassed them in religious confrontations. Thereafter, he gained victory over many philosophers in Darada (Dabistan), Kamboja (North Kashmir) and from there he got across deserts and the Himalayas and finally reached Kashmir.

Shankaracharya’s thoughts on ‘Brahman’:

‘Brahman’‘Self’ and ‘Atman’ – To quote what the spiritual-master Shankarasaid and preached, “This Atman is self-evident. This Atman or Self is not established by proofs of the existence of the Self. It is not possible to deny this Atman, for it is the very essence of he who denies it. The Atman is the basis of all kinds of knowledge.

The Self is within, the Self is without, the Self is before and the Self is behind. The Self is on the right hand, the Self is on the left, the Self is above and the Self is below.”

In the above phrase Adi Shankara explains the core of no-dualism philosophy, stating that the fundamentals of life – Satyam-Jnanam-Anantam-Brahma – are inseparable attributes. The essence of Brahman is formed by these attributes, in total. Since any type of description requires distinction, to describe a Brahman cannot be made possible under any circumstances. On the other hand, Brahman can be distinguished from no one but Almighty.

The objective world has no sovereign existence rather only the Atman has the one. The world is merely Vyavaharika (phenomenal).

Shankara was the exponent of the Kevala Advait philosophy. His teachings on Kevala can be summed up in the following phrase:

“Brahma Satyam JagatMithya,

JeevoBrahmaiva Na paraha”

Meaning – Brahman alone is real, this world is unreal; there is no difference between the Jivatma and paramatmaie Brahman.

‘Brahman’ and ‘VivartaVada’ – Out of the three major concepts (vaadas) of the Vedanta philosophy, i.e. Arambha, Parinama and Vivarta, the VivartaVada forms the basis behind Shankara’sAdvait philosophy.

The three vaadas support different causes of the existence of this universe. The philosophy of VivartaVada, propagated by Shankara says that Brahman is said to be without change but only appears as the Universe, through the play of maya.

Just as a rope is mistaken for a snake, this world and this body are laid over on Brahman or the Supreme Self. The illusion of the snake automatically vanishes once you derive the knowledge of the rope. Similarly, the illusion of the body and the world vanishes, once you get true knowledge of Brahman.

Establishing Maths:

Adi Shankara founded four mutts to guide the Hindu religion. These are at

Sringeri in Karnataka in the south,Dwaraka in Gujarat in the west,Puri in Orissa in the east, andJoshi Mutt in the north.

He ordered Sureshwaracharya, Hastamalakacharya, Padmapadacharya, and Totakacharya as heads of these mutts.

Even today, the heads of these mutts inherit the title ‘Shankaracharya’ (the learned Shankara) after Adi Shankaracharya. By establishing these Mutts, Shankara comprehended the physical and spiritual harmony of India. Another Mutt known as the Kamakoti Mutt at Kanchi in South India was also established by him.

The Order of the Dasanami Sanyasins:

Adi Shankaracharya was the founder of the Dasanami Sanyasins (Dasanami Sampradaya) of Hindu monasticism and Ṣhaṇmata of Smarta tradition. He brought in the Pancayatana worship tradition. He played an instrumental role in the revival of Hinduism and he achieved this in coordination with Madhva and Ramanuja. Later, three prominent Hinduism factions emerged under their respective leaderships which are in practice even today. All the three leaders have been the most central figures in the recent past of Hindu philosophy.

Shankara organized ten definite orders of Sanyasins under the title ‘Dasanamis’ who lend, at the end of their names, any one of the ten below mentioned suffixes:

Sarasvati,Bharati,Puri (Sringeri Mutt);Tirtha,Asrama (Dwaraka Mutt);Giri,Parvata andSagar (Joshi Mutt);Vana andAranya (Govardhana Mutt).

The highest of all grades is Paramahamsa and it is only through extensive learning of Vedantic study, meditation and Self- realization that one achieves this stature. The Ativarnashramis are above caste and other conventional orders of life. Shankara’s Sanyasins are settled all over the country, till date, preaching and propagating the works of their divine guru.

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BHAGAVAD GITA |6.7-15|SRI ADI SHANKRACHARYA

BHAGAVAD GITA | 6.7-15 | SRI ADI SANKARACHARYA

|| THE YOGA OF MEDITATION ( DHYANA YOGA ) ||

|| VERSE 6.7 ||

jitatmanah prasantasya paramatma samahitah
sitosnasukhaduhkhesu tatha manapamanayoh || 6.7 ||

BG 6.7 | The supreme Self of one who has control over the aggregate of one’s body and organs , and who is tranquil , becomes manifest . One should be equipoised in the midst of cold and heat , happiness and sorrow , as also honour and dishonour .

|| BHASYA || Parama-atma , the supreme Self ; jita-atmanah , of one who has control over the aggregate of one’s body and organs ; prasantasya , who is tranquil , who is a monk with one’s internal organ placid ; samahitah , becomes manifest , ie becomes directly manifest as one’s own Self .

Moreover , one should be equipoised sita-usna-sukha-duhkhesu , in the midst of cold and heat , happiness and sorrow ; tatha , as also ; mana-apamanayoh in honour and dishonour , adoration and despise .

|| VERSE 6.8 ||

jnana-vijnana-trptatma kuta-stho vijitendriyah
yukta ity ucyate yogi sama-lostrasma-kancanah || 6.8 ||

BG 6.8 | One whose mind is satisfied with knowledge and realization , who is unmoved , who has one’s organs under control , is said to be Self-absorbed . The yogi treats equally a lump of earth , a stone and gold .

|| BHASYA || A yogi , jnana-vijnana-trpta-atma , whose mind is satisfied with knowledge and realization — jnana is thorough knowledge of things presented by the scriptures , but vijnana is making those things known from the scriptures a subject of one’s own realization just as they have been presented ; one whose mind ( atma ) has become contented ( trpta ) with those jnana and vijnana is jnana-vijnana-trpta-atma — ; kutasthah , who is unmoved , ie who becomes unshakable ; and vijita-indriyah , who has one’s organs under control ; one who is of this kind , ucyate, is said to be ; yuktah , Self-absorbed . That yogi sama-losta-asma-kancanah , treats equally a lump of earth , a stone and gold .

Further ,

|| VERSE 6.9 ||

suhrn-mitrary-udasina-madhyastha-dvesya-bandhusu
sadhusv api ca papesu sama-buddhir visisyate || 6.9 ||

BG 6.9 | One excels who has sameness of view with regard to a benefactor , a friend , a foe * , a neutral , an arbiter , the hateful * , a relative , good people and even sinners .

|| BHASYA || The first line of the verse beginning with ” benefactor ” , etc , is a single compound word .

Visisyate , one excels , ie one is the best among all those who are established in Yoga — ( a different reading is vimucyate , one becomes free ) ; sama-buddhih , who has sameness of view , ie whose mind is not engaged with the question of who one is and what one does ; with regard to a suhrd , benefactor — one who does some good without consideration of return ; mitram , a friend , one who is affectionate ; arih , a foe ; udasinah , a neutral , who sides with nobody ; madhyasthah , an arbiter , who is a wellwisher of two conflicting parties ; dvesyah , the hateful , who is repulsive to oneself ; bandhuh , a relative ; — to all these as also sadhusu , with regard to good people , who follow the scriptures ; api ca , and even ; papesu , sinners , who perform prohibited actions — with regard to all of them .

Therefore , to acquire this excellent result —

|| VERSE 6.10 ||

yogi yunjita satatam atmanam rahasi sthitah
ekaki yata-cittatma nirasir aparigrahah || 6.10 ||

BG 6.10 | A yogi should constantly concentrate one’s mind by staying in a solitary place , alone , with mind and body controlled , free from expectations , free from acquisition .

|| BHASYA || A yogi , a meditator ; satatam yunjita , should constantly concentrate ; atmanam , one’s mind ; sthitah , by staying ; rahasi , in a solitary place , in mountain caves etc ; ekaki , alone , without any companion ; yata-citta-atma , with mind and body controlled ; nirasih , without expectations , free from hankering ; and aparigrahah , free from acquisition .

From the use of the qualifying words , ” in a solitary place ” and ” alone ” , it follows that one has to undertake all these after espousing monasticism . And even after renunciation , one should concentrate one’s mind by desisting from all acquisition . This is the meaning . . .

|| VERSE 6.11-12 ||

sucau dese pratisthapya sthiram asanam atmanah
naty-ucchritam nati-nicam cailajina-kusottaram || 6.11 ||

tatraikagram manah krtva yata-cittendriya-kriyah
upavisyasane yunjyad yogam atma-visuddhaye || 6.12 ||

BG 6.11 | Having firmly established in a clean place one’s seat , neither too high nor too low , and made of cloth , skin and kusa-grass , placed successively one below the other . **

BG 6.12 | Sitting on that seat , one should concentrate one’s mind for the purification of the internal organ , making the mind one-pointed and keeping the actions of the mind and senses under control .

|| BHASYA || Pratisthapya , having established ; sthiram , firmly ; sucau, in a clean ; dese , place , which is solitary , either naturally or through improvement ; atmanah , one’s own ; asanam , seat ; na ati ucchritam , neither too high ; na ati nicam , nor even too low ; and that made of caila-ajina-kusa-uttram , cloth , skin , and kusa-grass , placed successively one below the other — the successive arrangement of cloth etc here is in a reverse order to that of the textual reading — .

What follows after thus establishing the seat ?

Upavisya , sitting ; tatra , on that ; asane , seat ; yogam yunjyat , one should concentrate one’s mind .

To what purpose should one concentrate one’s mind ?

In answer the LORD says : atma-visuddhaye , for the purification of the internal organ .

How ?

Krtva , making ; manah , the mind ; ekagram , one-pointed , by withdrawing it from all objects ; and yata-citta-indriya-kriyah , keeping the actions ( kriyah ) of the mind ( citta ) and senses ( indriya ) under control ( yata ) .

The external seat has been spoken of . Now is being stated how the posture of the body should be :

|| VERSE 6.13-14 ||

samam kaya-siro-grivam dharayann acalam sthirah
sampreksya nasikagram svam disas canavalokayan || 6.13 ||

prasantatma vigata-bhir brahmacari-vrate sthitah
manah samyamya mac-citto yukta asita mat-parah || 6.14 ||

BG 6.13 | Holding the body , head and neck erect and still , being steady , looking at the tip of one’s own nose — and not looking around .

BG 6.14 | One should remain seated with a placid mind , free from fear , firm in the vow of celibacy , and with the mind fixed on ME by controlling it through concentration , having ME as the supreme Goal .

|| BHASYA || Dharayan , holding ; kaya-siro-girvam , the body ( torso ) , head and neck ; samam , erect ; and acalam , still — movement is possible for one ( even while ) holding these erect ; therefore it is specified , ” still ” — ; sthirah , being steady , ie remaining steady ; sampreksya , looking svam nasikagram , at tip of one’s own nose — looking at it intently , as it were ; ca , and ; anavalokayan , not looking ; disah , around , ie not glancing now and then in various directions — .

The words ” as it were ” are to be understood because what is intended here is not an injunction for looking at the tip of one’s own nose !

What then ?

It is the fixing the gaze of the eyes by withdrawing it from external objects ; and that is enjoined with a view to concentrating the mind * . If the intention were merely the looking at the tip of the nose , then the mind would remain fixed there itself , not on the Self !

In , ” Making the mind fixed in the Self ” ( 25 ) , the LORD will speak of concentrating the mind verily on the Self . Therefore , owing to the missing word iva ( as it were ) , it is merely the withdrawal of the gaze that is implied by sampreksya ( looking ) .

Further , prasantatma , with a placid mind , with a mind completely at peace ; vigata-bhih , free from fear sthitah , firm ; brahmacari-vrate , in the vow of celibacy . . . ; besides , mat-cittah , with the mind fixed on ME who am the supreme GOD ; samyamya , by controlling ; manah , the mind , ie by stopping the modifications of the mind ; yuktah , through concentration , ie by becoming concentrated ; asita , one should remain seated ; matparah , with ME as the supreme Goal . . . One not only has one’s mind on ME but has ME as one’s Goal .

After that , now is being stated the result of Yoga :

|| VERSE 6.15 ||

yunjann evam sadatmanam yogi niyata-manasah
santim nirvana-paramam mat-samstham adhigacchati || 6.15 ||

BG 6.15 | Concentrating the mind thus forever , the yogi of controlled mind achieves the Peace which culminates in Liberation and which abides in ME .

|| BHASYA || Yunjan , concentrating ; atmanam , the mind ; evam , thus , according to the methods shown above ; sada , for ever ; the yogi , niyata-manasah , of controlled mind ; adhi-gacchati , achieves ; santim , the Peace , the indifference to worldly attachments and possessions ; nirvana-paramam , which culminates in Liberation ; and mat-samstham, which abides in ME .

|| NOTES ||

* Ari ( foe ) is one who does harm behind one’s back .

* Dvesyah is one who is openly hateful .

* What is sought to be presented here as the primary objective is the concentration of mind . If the gaze be directed outward , then it will result in interrupting that concentration . Therefore the purpose is to first fix the gaze of the eyes within .

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