Shri Adi Shankaracharya: His Life – Part 4

Shri Adi Shankaracharya with his disciples
(Source: Photos in this post have been taken from the Shankara Digvijayam drama presented by students of the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus, SSSIHL, on January 14, 2013)


Shankara’s Journey to Kashi

With the permission of the two preceptors, Shankara set out for Kashi. No modern means of transport were available in those days. Shankara had to walk all the way to Kashi. The 16 year old lad gathered his disciples and left for Kashi. On the way he saw a Pandit sitting under a tree and cramming the rules of grammar. At that moment, he began composing the famous hymn – Bhaja Govindam. “You dull-witted fellow! Why do you immerse yourself in the rules of grammar? They will not save you when death knocks at the door. Instead, worship the Lord! At the time of death nothing and nobody will follow the departing soul when it leaves the body. Only the remembrance of the name of the Lord will keep you company at all times.” Shankara advised the Pandit to chant the name of the Lord instead of cramming the rules of grammar. 

Shankaracharya expounding the Bhaja Govindam to the scholar at Kashi

After teaching him this lesson, Shankara proceeded to Kashi with his disciples. Shankara’s teachings were spreading far and wide. The people of Kashi arranged for a grand assembly of scholars in the holy city. Many scholars had gathered. Wearing shawls and Rudrakshas the scholars had gathered there in all their style and pomp. Nothing was lacking in terms of ostentation at that assembly. Shankara entered in a simple way, wearing a dhoti covering up to his knees and a towel over his shoulder. On seeing him, the Pandits seemed to feel that it was all a joke. Some Pandits remarked, “He does not even wear a Rudraksha Maala. A Pandit should have an imposing figure. What is it that this child can tell us?” They addressed him thus, “We have come to know that you are proficient in all the Vedas and Shastras, an authority on grammar and logic and a great exponent of the Advaita doctrine.” 

Shankaracharya propounding the Advaita Siddhanta at Kashi

At the assembly, Shankara pointed out the transitory nature of material wealth and exhorting all to give up worldly desires, he said, “Do not have this thirst for money. Give up all worldly desires. The true wealth is nothing but the consequences of your past Karma. The greatest happiness of all is to be contented with what we have.” He declared that Pandits should be equal minded and should give up the desire for wealth, which is the result of one’s actions. God is so loving and compassionate that he gave two hands and just one stomach. If you work hard with your hands you will be able to fill your stomach. “Give up this thirst for money. Develop the thirst for God”, declared Shankara in strident terms. Then he gave a superb exposition of the metaphysics of Advaita. All the Pandits and their disciples were astonished at the performance of the young Shankara. They realised that here was one who was not only a great teacher but one who practiced what he taught. This unity in thought, word and deed is the mark of greatness. The mind should be pure. Out of this purity truth shall arise. Shankara was the very embodiment of unity and purity in thought, speech and action. Many Pandits got up and plied Shankara with questions. He answered them all with perfect ease. He declared that Advaita means oneness of the spirit and awareness of this oneness is true Jnana (wisdom). Spiritual wisdom alone is true wisdom. He declared that the scholars of the day did not have this realisation.


Shankaracharya making a point to a scholar

Shankara pointed out that though names and forms may be many, the Self is one only. That Self resides in everyone’s heart. In everyone, the five elements are the same irrespective of form, colour, creed or anything else. Everyone is an embodiment of the Atma. This is what the scriptures declare, “Tat Twam Asi” (That Thou Art). “Aham Brahmasmi” (I am Brahman).

What is Brahman? Brahman is ever expansive. It is vast. There was a farmer. He wanted to expand his small piece of land and become a Zamindar. His friends came and said, “You want a lot of land but you don’t have money to buy so much land. We have an idea for you which will help you to buy as much land as you want.” Since his heart was filled with this desire for more land the farmer listened to his friends with great attention. Ears are attentive when they want to listen to bad things but they are not attentive to hear good things. They told the farmer to go to Himachal Pradesh to get the land that he wanted. He went and met the King of Himachal Pradesh. He said to the king, “I want a lot of land”. The King said, “You have come from so far, I will definitely give you land. In the morning you start at a point and return back to your starting point by 7 pm in the evening. All the land that you cover will be yours.” The farmer was very happy. He thought, if I have breakfast and go, I will not be able to walk for long. So he started empty stomach in order to cover maximum possible land. Desire makes everyone suffer. He ran almost 100 acres. He was just around 20 yards from his starting position where he died because of thirst. The people gathered there said to the king, “O king! This man had come from far away to get lots of land but now he needs only 6 feet by 4 feet of land”. There must be a ceiling on desires. Since our desires are limitless we are prone to so much danger. 


Shankaracharya debating with a scholar

Adi Shankara exhorted the Pandits to purify their hearts and follow the dictates of the conscience. Shankara made it clear that creeds may vary but God is one. Shankara called upon the Pandits to be content with moderate incomes and not hanker after riches. Vast knowledge and petty desires don’t go together. It is natural to have desire for money. But students also have desire for passport and visa! Students want to go abroad to America, Switzerland and so on. Students! What is not present in Bharat is not present anywhere else. Bharat is the master of the world. Bharat is the land of the spiritual path, sacrifice and merit. In spite of all the education, if your values are not strong what is the use? It is better to have a small piece of fertile land than have hundreds of acres of barren land. We eat Indian food and our education is Indian. Then what is the use of going out of India. Leave these thoughts and serve your motherland. There are so many needy people in this country, help them. You go abroad and if you don’t find any job you are ready to even wash dishes but you are not ready to wash your own cup at home after having tea. You are shy of doing it. Why should you be shy? Rama had said, “For the simple reason that my mother is not beautiful, I cannot call another woman as my mother”. The motherland should always be respected. Students should realise how a young lad born in Kaladi brought greatness to Kerala and Bharat. 

Students should cultivate human values like love, compassion, righteousness and truth and become truly human. Goodness is ‘Godliness’. We have to develop human values. We are humans but there is no humanity left in people today. Every student should strive to lead an ideal life like Shankara. Students should bring happiness to their parents, serve society. In this context, in Bhaja Govindam Shankara commends renunciation of all worldly attachments. People may feel that Swami is telling the students these unworldly teachings. This does not worry Me, because what I am saying is the Truth. Is renunciation acquired so easily? No. People who have been listening for years have not changed to the slightest extent. To imagine that a single discourse is going to make a big change, is fanciful. Only a fortunate few experience such transformation. If real renunciation is promoted in anyone, there can be no greater blessing than that. Nearness to God will inspire the spirit of renunciation even without one being conscious of it. In that renunciation lies fulfillment. And one’s life is redeemed. Only the spirit of sacrifice can lead to detachment. Intelligence, money and blood must never be kept stagnant, they must always circulate. This is the true spirit of sacrifice. As you come closer and closer to Divinity you will understand the secrets of life. Unknowingly your hearts will be filled with detachment. Always follow the principle of ‘Help Ever, Hurt Never’.


4 comments:

  1. OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM
    OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM OMSAIRAM

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  2. Thaks for all these posts Swami. At this moment I badly need such recomforting messages at a time my life is taking a turning point. It's so hard but Iknow I have your shoulder to cry on and lean upon.
    Thank you Swami, Thank you Jesus

    Shekar

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sai Ram Brother Shekar,

      Baba is always there "with you, around you, above you, below you," so march on without fear. He is Jesus carrying you, just as the poem "Footprints" describes. We pray for you, too. After years of waiting, he has recently brought me around full-circle. Make surrender to Him your goal. After all, He and You are One and the Same. And "Life is a Game."

      Delete
  3. Aum Sri Sai Ram Aum Sri Sai Ram
    Aum Sri Sai Ram Aum Sri Sai Ram
    Aum Sri Sai Ram Aum Sri Sai Ram
    Aum Sri Sai Ram Aum Sri Sai Ram
    Aum Sri Sai Ram Aum Sri Sai Ram
    Aum Sri Sai Ram Aum Sri Sai Ram
    Aum Sri Sai Ram Aum Sri Sai Ram
    Aum Sri Sai Ram Aum Sri Sai Ram
    Aum Sri Sai Ram Aum Sri Sai Ram
    Aum Sri Sai Ram Aum Sri Sai Ram

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