Adi Shankara

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Adi Shankara
Raja Ravi Varma - Sankaracharya.jpg
Adi Shankara with Disciples, by Raja Ravi Varma (1904)
Born Shankara
788 CE[1]
Kaladi, Chera Kingdom
present day Kerala, India
Died 820 CE[1] (aged 32)
Kedarnath, Pala Empire
present day Uttarakhand, India
Titles/honours Expounded Advaita Vedanta, Hindu Revivalism, founded Dashanami Sampradaya, Shanmata
Guru Govinda Bhagavatpada
Philosophy Advaita Vedanta

Adi Shankara (pronounced [aːd̪i ɕəŋkəɾə]; early 8th century CE[2][note 1]) – also known as (Adi) Shankaracharya and Shankara Bhagavatpada, spelled variously as Sankaracharya, (Ādi) Śaṅkarācārya, Śaṅkara Bhagavatpāda, Śaṅkara Bhagavatpādācārya – was one of the most revered Hindu philosophers and theologians[5] from India who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta.[1][6]

His works in Sanskrit establish the doctrine of advaita, the unity of the ātman and Nirguna Brahman "brahman without attributes".[7] His works elaborate on ideas found in the Upanishads. He wrote copious commentaries on the Vedic canon (Brahma Sutras, principal upanishads and Bhagavad Gita) in support of his thesis.

The main opponent in his work is the Mīmāṃsā school of thought, though he also offers arguments against the views of some other schools like Samkhya and certain schools of Buddhism.[7][8][9]

Shankara travelled across the Indian subcontinent to propagate his philosophy through discourses and debates with other thinkers. He established the importance of monastic life as sanctioned in the Upanishads and Brahma Sutra, in a time when the Mīmāṃsā school established strict ritualism and ridiculed monasticism. He is reputed to have founded four mathas ("monasteries"), which helped in the historical development, revival and spread of Advaita Vedanta of which he is known as the greatest revivalist.[6] Adi Shankara is believed to be the organiser of the Dashanami monastic order and the founder of the Shanmata tradition of worship.

Biography

Sources

Traditional accounts of Adi Shankara's life can be found in the Śankara Vijaya, which are poetic works that contain a mix of biographical and legendary material, written in the epic style. The most important among these biographies are the Mādhavīya Śaṅkara Vijayaṃ (of Mādhava, c. 14th century), the Cidvilāsīya Śaṅkara Vijayaṃ (of Cidvilāsa, c. between the 15th and 17th centuries), and the Keraļīya Śaṅkara Vijayaṃ (of the Kerala region, extant from c. the 17th century).[10][11]

Birth

Dates

Several different dates have been proposed for Shankara:

  • 788–820 CE: This is the mainstream scholarly opinion, placing Shankara in mid to late 8th century CE. These dates are based on records at the Śṛṅgeri Śāradā Pīṭha, which is the only matha to have maintained a relatively unbroken record of its Acharyas; starting with the third Acharya, one can with reasonable confidence date the others from the 8th century to the present.[12] The Sringeri records state that Shankara was born in the 14th year of the reign of "VikramAditya", but it is unclear as to which king this name refers. Though some researchers identify the name with Chandragupta II (4th century CE), modern scholarship accepts the VikramAditya as being from the Chalukya dynasty of Badami, most likely Vikramaditya II (733–746 CE),[13] which would place him in the middle of the 8th century.[12] Max Müller, Macdonnel, Pathok, Deussen and Radhakrishnan all accept the dates 788–820 CE.[3] The date 788–820 is also among those considered acceptable by Swami Tapasyananda, though he raises a number of questions.[14][15]
  • 509–477 BCE: This dating, more than a millennium ahead of all others, is based on records of the heads of the Shankara Maṭhas at Dvaraka Pitha and Govardhana matha and the fifth Peetham at Kanchi.[4] However, the succession of acharyas at these two mathas were often disrupted by geopolitical realities and these records are not considered as reliable as the Sringeri chronology. Also, such an early date would be in conflict with much else in Indian chronology. According to these revisionist models, these are the actual dates, and it is other collateral dates, such as the date of Gautama Buddha (which serves as an anchor for modern academic history of India), that need to be moved back. However, such an early date is not consistent with the fact that Shankara quotes the Buddhist logician Dharmakirti, who finds mention in Xuanzang (7th century).[12] Also, his near-contemporary Kumārila Bhaṭṭa is usually dated c. 8th century CE. Most scholars feel that due to invasions and other discontinuities, the records of the Dwaraka and Govardhana mathas are not as reliable as those of Sringeri.[12] Thus, while considerable debate exists, the pre-Christian Era dates are usually discounted, and the most likely period for Shankara is during the 8th century CE.
  • 44–12 BCE: the commentator Anandagiri believed he was born at Chidambaram in 44 BCE and died in 12 BCE.[3]
  • 6th century CE: Telang placed him in this century. Sir R G Bandarkar believed he was born in 680 CE.[3]
  • 805–897: A D Venkiteswara not only places Shankara later than most, but also had the opinion that it would not have been possible for him to have achieved all the works apportioned to him, and has him live ninety two years.[3]

Childhood

The birthplace of Adi Shankara at Kalady
Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthampa Mandapam, Kalady, Kerala

Shankara was born in Kaladi in present day central Kerala, India. According to lore, it was after his parents, who had been childless for many years, prayed at the Vadakkunnathan temple, Thrissur, that Shiva appeared to both husband and wife in their dreams, and offered them a choice: a mediocre son who would live a long life, or an extraordinary son who would not live long. Both the parents chose the latter; thus a son was born to them. He was named Shankara (Sanskrit, "bestower of happiness"), in honour of Shiva (one of whose epithets is Shankara).[16] His father died while Shankara was very young. Shankara's upanayanam, the initiation into student-life, had to be delayed due to the death of his father, and was then performed by his mother.[17] As a child, Shankara showed remarkable scholarship, mastering the four Vedas by the age of eight.[18]

Sannyasa

At the age of 8, Shankara was inclined towards sannyasa, but it was only after much persuasion that his mother finally gave her consent. According to legend, he received her consent in a very interesting manner too. While bathing in the river Poorna one day, a crocodile caught hold of his leg and appeared to be about to devour him. Shankara appealed to his mother, who had arrived at Poorna, asking for permission to become a sanyasi at least in these last moments of his life. His mother finally gave consent, only to have the crocodile let go of young Shankara. A crocodile had never been found in Poorna ever since.[19] Shankara then left Kerala and travelled towards North India in search of a guru. On the banks of the Narmada River, he met Govinda Bhagavatpada the disciple of Gaudapada at Omkareshwar. When Govinda Bhagavatpada asked Shankara's identity, he replied with an extempore verse that brought out the Advaita Vedanta philosophy. Govinda Bhagavatapada was impressed and took Shankara as his disciple.[20]

The guru instructed Shankara to write a commentary on the Brahma Sutras and propagate the Advaita philosophy. Shankara travelled to Kashi, where a young man named Sanandana, hailing from Chola territory in South India, became his first disciple. According to legend, while on his way to the Vishwanath Temple, an untouchable accompanied by four dogs came in the way of Sankara. When asked to move aside by Shankara's disciples, the untouchable replied: "Do you wish that I move my ever lasting Ātman ("the Self"), or this body made of flesh?" Realizing that the untouchable was none other than god Shiva himself, and his dogs the four Vedas, Shankara prostrated himself before him, composing five shlokas known as Manisha Panchakam.[21][22]

At Badari he wrote his famous Bhashyas ("commentaries") and Prakarana granthas ("philosophical treatises").[23][24]

Meeting with Mandana Mishra

Sharada Peeth (Sarvajnapeetha) temple, now in Pakistan-administered Kashmir
Main article: Maṇḍana Miśra

One of the most famous debates of Adi Shankara was with the ritualist Maṇḍana Miśra. Maṇḍana Miśra held the view that the life of a householder was far superior to that of a monk. This view was widely shared and respected throughout India at that time.[25] Thus it would have been important for Adi Shankara to debate with him. Madana Mishra's guru was the famous Mīmāṃsā philosopher, Kumārila Bhaṭṭa. Shankara sought a debate with Kumārila Bhaṭṭa and met him in Prayag where he had buried himself in a slow burning pyre to repent for sins committed against his guru: Kumārila Bhaṭṭa had learned Buddhist philosophy from his Buddhist guru under false pretenses, in order to be able to refute it. Learning anything without the knowledge of one's guru while still under his authority constitutes a sin according to the Vedas.[26] Kumārila Bhaṭṭa thus asked Adi Shankara to proceed to Mahiṣmati to meet Maṇḍana Miśra and debate with him instead.(Mahishmati is on the banks of the holy river – Narmada, in Madhya Pradesh. Mahishmati is now known as Mandala. Mandala finds mention in Pauranic literature as the capital of Sahasrabahu Kartyaveer Arjun who had obstructed the river by his thousand arms by his frolicking, at his capital Mahishmati),

After debating for over fifteen days, with Maṇḍana Miśra's wife Ubhaya Bhāratī acting as referee, Maṇḍana Miśra accepted defeat.[27] Ubhaya Bhāratī then challenged Adi Shankara to have a debate with her in order to 'complete' the victory. She asked him questions related to sexual congress between man and woman – a subject in which Shankaracharya had no knowledge, since he was a true celibate and sannyasi. Sri Shankracharya asked for a "recess" of 15 days. As per legend, he used the art of "para-kaya pravesa" (the spirit leaving one's own body and entering another's) and exited his own body, which he asked his disciples to look after, and psychically entered the dead body of a king. The story goes that from the King's two wives, he acquired all knowledge of "art of love". The queens, thrilled at the keen intellect and robust love-making of the "revived" King, deduced that he was not their husband, as of old. The story continues that they sent their factotums to "look for the lifeless body of a young sadhu and to cremate it immediately" so that their "king" (Shankracharya in the king's body) would continue to live with them. Just as the retainers piled Shankracharaya's lifeless corpse upon a pyre and were about to set fire to it, Shankara entered his own body and regained consciousness. Finally, he answered all questions put to him by Ubhaya Bhāratī; and she allowed Maṇḍana Miśra to accept sannyasa with the monastic name Sureśvarācārya, as per the agreed-upon rules of the debate.[28]

Philosophical tour

Adi Shankara then travelled with his disciples to Maharashtra and Srisailam. In Srisailam, he composed Shivanandalahari, a devotional hymn in praise of Shiva. The Madhaviya Shankaravijayam says that when Shankara was about to be sacrificed by a Kapalika, the god Narasimha appeared to save Shankara in response to Padmapadacharya's prayer to him. As a result, Adi Shankara composed the Laksmi-Narasimha stotra.[29]

Sarvajna Peetha, on Kodachadri peak, near Kollur where Adi Shankara is believed to have meditated

He then travelled to Gokarṇa, the temple of Hari-Shankara and the Mūkambika temple at Kollur. At Kollur, he accepted as his disciple a boy believed to be dumb by his parents. He gave him the name, Hastāmalakācārya ("one with the amalaka fruit on his palm", i.e., one who has clearly realised the Self). Next, he visited sringeri to establish the Śārada Pīṭham and made Sureśvarācārya his disciple.[30]

After this, Adi Shankara began a Dig-vijaya "tour of conquest" for the propagation of the Advaita philosophy by controverting all philosophies opposed to it. He travelled throughout India, from South India to Kashmir and Nepal, preaching to the local populace and debating philosophy with Hindu, Buddhist and other scholars and monks along the way.

With the Malayali King Sudhanva as companion, Shankara passed through Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Vidarbha. He then started towards Karnataka where he encountered a band of armed Kapalikas. King Sudhanva, with his Nairs, resisted and defeated the Kapalikas. They safely reached Gokarna where Shankara defeated in debate the Shaiva scholar, Neelakanta.

Proceeding to Saurashtra (the ancient Kambhoja) and having visited the shrines of Girnar, Somnath and Prabhasa and explaining the superiority of Vedanta in all these places, he arrived at Dwarka. Bhaṭṭa Bhāskara of Ujjayini, the proponent of Bhedābeda philosophy, was humbled. All the scholars of Ujjayini (also known as Avanti) accepted Adi Shankara's philosophy.

He then defeated the Jainas in philosophical debates at a place called Bahlika. Thereafter, the Acharya established his victory over several philosophers and ascetics in Kamboja (region of North Kashmir), Darada and many regions situated in the desert and crossing mighty peaks, entered Kashmir. Later, he had an encounter with a tantrik, Navagupta at Kamarupa.[31]

Accession to Sarvajnapitha

Idol of Adi Shankara at his Samadhi Mandir, behind Kedarnath Temple, in Kedarnath, India

Adi Shankara visited Sarvajñapīṭha (Sharada Peeth) in Kashmir (now in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir).[32] The Madhaviya Shankaravijayam states this temple had four doors for scholars from the four cardinal directions. The southern door (representing South India) had never been opened, indicating that no scholar from South India had entered the Sarvajna Pitha. Adi Shankara opened the southern door by defeating in debate all the scholars there in all the various scholastic disciplines such as Mīmāṃsā, Vedanta and other branches of Hindu philosophy; he ascended the throne of Transcendent wisdom of that temple.[33]

Towards the end of his life, Adi Shankara travelled to the Himalayan area of Kedarnath-Badrinath and attained videha mukti ("freedom from embodiment"). There is a samadhi mandir dedicated to Adi Shankara behind the Kedarnath temple. However, there are variant traditions on the location of his last days. One tradition, expounded by Keraliya Shankaravijaya, places his place of mahasamadhi (leaving the body) as Vadakkunnathan temple in Thrissur, Kerala.[34] The followers of the Kanchi kamakoti pitha claim that he ascended the Sarvajñapīṭha and attained videha mukti in Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu).

Mathas

(Vidyashankara temple) at Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Shringeri

Advaita Vedanta is, at least in the west, primarily known as a philosophical system. But it is also a tradition of renunciation. Philosophy and renunciation are closely related:[web 1]

Most of the notable authors in the advaita tradition were members of the sannyasa tradition, and both sides of the tradition share the same values, attitudes and metaphysics.[web 1]

Shankara, himself considered to be an incarnation of Shiva,[web 1] established the Dashanami Sampradaya, organizing a section of the Ekadandi monks under an umbrella grouping of ten names.[web 1] Several other Hindu monastic and Ekadandi traditions remained outside the organisation of the Dasanāmis.[35][36][37]

Adi Sankara organised the Hindu monks of these ten sects or names under four Maṭhas (Sanskrit: मठ) (monasteries), with the headquarters at Dvārakā in the West, Jagannatha Puri in the East, Sringeri in the South and Badrikashrama in the North.[web 1] Each math was headed by one of his four main disciples, who each continues the Vedanta Sampradaya.

According to Pandey, these Mathas were not established by Shankara himself, but were originally ashrams established by Vibhāņdaka and his son Ŗșyaśŗnga.[38] Shankara inherited the ashrams at Dvārakā and Sringeri, and shifted the ashram at Śŗngaverapura to Badarikāśrama, and the ashram at Angadeśa to Jagannātha Purī.[39]

Monks of these ten orders differ in part in their beliefs and practices, and a section of them is not considered to be restricted to specific changes made by Shankara. While the dasanāmis associated with the Sankara maths follow the procedures enumerated by Adi Śankara, some of these orders remained partly or fully independent in their belief and practices; and outside the official control of the Sankara maths.

The advaita sampradaya is not a Saiva sect,[web 1][40] despite the historical links with Shaivism:

Advaitins are non-sectarian, and they advocate worship of Siva and Visnu equally with that of the other deities of Hinduism, like Sakti, Ganapati and others.[web 1]

Nevertheless, contemporary Sankaracaryas have more influence among Saiva communities than among Vaisnava communities.[web 1] The greatest influence of the gurus of the advaita tradition has been among followers of the Smartha Tradition, who integrate the domestic Vedic ritual with devotional aspects of Hinduism.[web 1]

According to Nakamura, these mathas contributed to the influence of Shankara, which was "due to institutional factors".[41] The mathas which he built exist until today, and preserve the teachings and influence of Shankara, "while the writings of other scholars before him came to be forgotten with the passage of time".[42]

The table below gives an overview of the four Amnaya Mathas founded by Adi Shankara, and their details.[web 2]

Shishya
(lineage)
Direction Maṭha Mahāvākya Veda Sampradaya
Padmapāda East Govardhana Pīṭhaṃ Prajñānam brahma (Consciousness is Brahman) Rig Veda Bhogavala
Sureśvara South Sringeri Śārada Pīṭhaṃ Aham brahmāsmi (I am Brahman) Yajur Veda Bhūrivala
Hastāmalakācārya West Dvāraka Pīṭhaṃ Tattvamasi (That thou art) Sama Veda Kitavala
Toṭakācārya North Jyotirmaṭha Pīṭhaṃ Ayamātmā brahma (This Atman is Brahman) Atharva Veda Nandavala

According to the tradition in Kerala, after Sankara's samadhi at Vadakkunnathan Temple, his disciples founded four mathas in Thrissur, namely Naduvil Madhom, Thekke Madhom, Idayil Madhom and Vadakke Madhom.

Philosophy and religious thought

Advaita ("non-dualism") is often called a monistic system of thought. The word "Advaita" essentially refers to the identity of the Self (Atman) and the Whole (Brahman[43]). Advaita Vedanta says the one unchanging entity (Brahman) alone exists, and that changing entities do not have absolute existence, much as the ocean's waves have no existence in separation from the ocean. The key source texts for all schools of Vedānta are the Prasthanatrayi–the canonical texts consisting of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras.

Adi Shankara was the first in the tradition to consolidate the siddhānta ("doctrine") of Advaita Vedanta. He wrote commentaries on the Prasthana Trayi. A famous quote from Vivekacūḍāmaṇi, one of his prakarana granthas that succinctly summarises his philosophy is:

Brahma satyaṃ jagat mithyā, jīvo brahmaiva nāparah

Brahman is the only truth, the spatio-temporal world is an illusion, and there is ultimately no difference between Brahman and Atman(individual self).

Advaita Vedanta is based on śāstra ("scriptures"), yukti ("reason") and anubhava ("experience"), and aided by karmas ("spiritual practices").[44] This philosophy provides a clear-cut way of life to be followed. Starting from childhood, when learning has to start, the philosophy has to be realised in practice throughout one's life, even up to death. This is the reason why this philosophy is called an experiential philosophy-the underlying tenet being "That thou art", meaning that ultimately there is no difference between the experiencer and the experienced (the world) as well as the universal spirit (Brahman). Among the followers of Advaita, as well those of other doctrines, there are believed to have appeared Jivanmuktas, ones liberated while alive. These individuals (commonly called Mahatmas, great souls, among Hindus) are those who realised the oneness of their self and the universal spirit called Brahman.

Adi Shankara's Bhashyas (commentaries) on the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras are his principal works. Although he mostly adhered to traditional means of commenting on the Brahma Sutra, there are a number of original ideas and arguments to establish that the essence of Upanishads is Advaita. He taught that it was only through direct knowledge that one could realise Brahman. "A perception of the fact that the object seen is a rope will remove the fear and sorrow which result from the illusory idea that it is a serpent". Cited from Shankara's "Vivekachuudaamani"/ verse #12/translated by Mohini M Chatterji. This metaphor was borrowed from Yogacara Buddhist thinkers, who used it in a different context.[45]

Adi Shankara's opponents accused him of teaching Buddhism in the garb of Hinduism, because his non-dualistic ideals seemed rather radical to contemporary Hindu philosophy, and so he earned the title "pracchannabauddha". He further praised the Buddha as the "emperor of yogis in the Kali Age."[46] However, although Advaita proposes the theory of Maya, likening the universe to "a trick of a magician", Adi Shankara and his followers see this as a consequence of their basic premise that Brahman alone is real. Their theory of Maya emerges from their belief in experiential reality of the absolute consciousness 'Brahman' (as emphasized in Upanishads), as opposed to Buddhist doctrine of emptiness, which emerges from the Buddhist approach of observing the nature of reality.

Historical and cultural impact

Because of his unification of two seemingly disparate philosophical doctrines, Atman and Brahman, Westerners who know about him perceive him as the "St. Thomas Aquinas of Indian thought"[47] and "the most brilliant personality in the history of Indian thought."[48]

At the time of Adi Shankara's life, Hinduism was increasing in influence in India at the expense of Buddhism and Jainism.[49] Hinduism was divided into innumerable sects, each quarrelling with the others. The followers of Mīmāṃsā and Sankhya philosophy were atheists, insomuch that they did not believe in God as a unified being. Besides these atheists there were numerous theistic sects. There were also those who rejected the Vedas, like the Charvakas.[citation needed]

Adi Shankara held discourses and debates with the leading scholars of all these sects and schools of philosophy to controvert their doctrines. He unified the theistic sects into a common framework of Shanmata system. In his works, Adi Shankara stressed the importance of the Vedas, and his efforts helped Hinduism regain strength and popularity. Many trace the present worldwide prominence of Vedanta to his works. He travelled on foot to various parts of India to restore the study of the Vedas.

Even though he lived for only thirty-two years his impact on India and on Hinduism was striking. He reintroduced a purer form of Vedic thought. His teachings and tradition form the basis of Smartism and have influenced Sant Mat lineages.[50] He is the main figure in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta. He was the founder of the Daśanāmi Sampradāya of Hindu monasticism and Ṣaṇmata of Smarta tradition. He introduced the Pañcāyatana form of worship.

Adi Shankara, along with Madhva and Ramanuja, was instrumental in the revival of Hinduism. These three teachers formed the doctrines that are followed by their respective sects even today. They have been the most important figures in the recent history of Hindu philosophy. In their writings and debates, they provided polemics against the non-Vedantic schools of Sankhya, Vaisheshika etc. Thus they paved the way for Vedanta to be the dominant and most widely followed tradition among the schools of Hindu philosophy. The Vedanta school stresses most on the Upanishads (which are themselves called Vedanta, End or culmination of the Vedas), unlike the other schools that gave importance to the ritualistic Brahmanas, or to texts authored by their founders. The Vedanta schools hold that the Vedas (which include the Upanishads) are unauthored, forming a continuous tradition of wisdom transmitted orally. Thus the concept of apaurusheyatva ("being unauthored") came to be the guiding force behind the Vedanta schools. However, along with stressing the importance of Vedic tradition, Adi Shankara gave equal importance to the personal experience of the student. Logic, grammar, Mīmāṃsā and allied subjects form main areas of study in all the Vedanta schools.

Regarding meditation, Shankara refuted the system of Yoga and its disciplines as a direct means to attain moksha, rebutting the argument that it can be obtained through concentration of the mind. His position is that the mental states discovered through the practices of Yoga can be indirect aids to the gain of knowledge, but cannot themselves give rise to it. According to his philosophy, knowledge of Brahman springs from inquiry into the words of the Upanishads, and the knowledge of Brahman that shruti provides cannot be obtained in any other way.[51] It has to be noted that it is generally considered that for Shankara the Absolute Reality is attributeless and impersonal, while for Madhava and Ramanuja, the Absolute Truth is Vishnu. This has been a subject of debate, interpretation, and controversy since Shankara himself is attributed to composing the popular 8th-century Hindu devotional composition Bhaja Govindam (literal meaning, "Worship Govinda"). This work of Adi Shankara is considered as a good summary of Advaita Vedanta and underscores the view that devotion to God, Govinda, is not only an important part of general spirituality, but the concluding verse drives through the message of Shankara: "Worship Govinda, worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Oh fool! Other than chanting the Lord's names, there is no other way to cross the life's ocean". Bhaja Govindam invokes the almighty in the aspect of Vishnu; it is therefore very popular not only with Sri Adi Shankaracharya's immediate followers, the Smarthas, but also with Vaishnavas and others.

A well known verse, recited in the Smarta tradition, in praise of Adi Shankara is:

श्रुतिस्मृतिपुराणानामालयं करुणालयम्|

नमामि भगवत्पादशंकरं लोकशङ्करम् ||
Śruti smṛti purāṇānāṃālayaṃ karuṇālayaṃ|
Namāmi Bhagavatpādaśaṅkaraṃ lokaśaṅkaraṃ||

I salute the compassionate abode of the Vedas, Smritis and Puranas known as Shankara Bhagavatpada, who makes the world auspicious.

Adi Shankara begins his Gurustotram or Verses to the Guru with the following Sanskrit Sloka, that has become a widely sung Bhajan:

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Deva Maheshwara. Guru Sakshath Parambrahma, Tasmai Shri Gurave Namaha.
“Guru is the creator Brahma, Guru is the preserver Vishnu, Guru is the destroyer Shiva. Guru is directly the supreme spirit — I offer my salutations to this Guru.”

The great Indian Muslim Philosopher Muhammad Iqbal considered him to be one of the greatest thinkers of medieval India and acknowledged influence by him.[52]

Works

For more details on this topic, see Adi Shankara bibliography.

Adi Shankara's works deal with logically establishing the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta as he saw it in the Upanishads. He formulates the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta by validating his arguments on the basis of quotations from the Vedas and other Hindu scriptures. He gives a high priority to svānubhava ("personal experience") of the student. His works are largely polemical in nature. He directs his polemics mostly against the Sankhya, Buddha, Jaina, Vaisheshika and other non-vedantic Hindu philosophies.

Traditionally, his works are classified under Bhāṣya ("commentary"), Prakaraṇa grantha ("philosophical treatise") and Stotra ("devotional hymn"). The commentaries serve to provide a consistent interpretation of the scriptural texts from the perspective of Advaita Vedanta. The philosophical treatises provide various methodologies to the student to understand the doctrine. The devotional hymns are rich in poetry and piety, serving to highlight the relationship between the devotee and the deity.

Adi Shankara wrote Bhashyas on the ten major Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. In his works, he quotes from Shveshvatara, Kaushitakai, Mahanarayana and Jabala Upanishads, among others. Bhashyas on Kaushitaki, Nrisimhatapani and Shveshvatara Upanishads are extant but the authenticity is doubtful.[53] Adi Shankara's is the earliest extant commentary on the Brahma Sutras. However, he mentions older commentaries like those of Dravida, Bhartrprapancha and others.[54]

In his Brahma Sutra Bhashya, Adi Shankara cites the examples of Dharmavyadha, Vidura and others, who were born with the knowledge of Brahman acquired in previous births. He mentions that the effects cannot be prevented from working on account of their present birth. He states that the knowledge that arises out of the study of the Vedas could be had through the Puranas and the Itihasas. In the Taittiriya Upanishad Bhashya 2.2, he says:

Sarveśāṃ cādhikāro vidyāyāṃ ca śreyaḥ kevalayā vidyāyā veti siddhaṃ – It has been established that everyone has the right to the knowledge (of Brahman) and that the supreme goal is attained by that knowledge alone.[55]

Adi Shankara, in order to bring unity among various Hindu sects of those times, wrote five pancharathnam stotras for each of the following prime deities. The deities were Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, Ganesh and Surya. The idea was that if you believed in Lord Shiva, you would chant Shiva pancharathnam stotra by placing Shiva's idol in the center other four Hindu deities surrounding Him, two on each side. Similarly if you believed in Vishnu, you would place Vishnu in the center. Those five stotras are Ganesha pancharathnam and Lalitha pancharathnam.

Some western academics consider only the Upadeśasāhasrī as an authentic work of Shankara among the independent philosophical works. There is a difference of opinion among scholars on the authorship of Viveka Chudamani,[56][57] though it is "so closely interwoven into the spiritual heritage of Shankara that any analysis of his perspective which fails to consider [this work] would be incomplete".[56]

Adi Shankara also wrote commentaries on other scriptural works, such as the Vishnu sahasranāma and the Sānatsujātiya.[58] Like the Bhagavad Gita, both of these are contained in the Mahabhārata.

Film

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Modern scholarship places Shankara in the earlier part of the 8th century CE (c. 700–750).[2] Earlier generations of scholars proposed 788–820 CE.[2] Other proposals are 686–718 CE,[citation needed] 44 BCE,[3] or as early as 509–477 BCE.[4]

References

  1. ^ a b c Sharma 1962, p. vi.
  2. ^ a b c Comans 2000, p. 163.
  3. ^ a b c d e Y. Keshava Menon, The Mind of Adi Shankaracharya 1976 pp 108
  4. ^ a b "(53) Chronological chart of the history of Bharatvarsh since its origination". Encyclopedia of Authentic Hinduism.  This site claims to integrate characters from the epics into a continuous chronology. They present the list of Dwarka and Kanchi Acharyas, along with their putative dates.
  5. ^ Sengaku Mayeda, Shankara, Encyclopedia Britannica
  6. ^ a b Sri Adi Shankaracharya, Sringeri Sharada Peetham, India
  7. ^ Biography of Sri Adi Shankaracharya, Sringeri Sharada Peetham, India
  8. ^ Shyama Kumar Chattopadhyaya (2000) The Philosophy of Sankar's Advaita Vedanta, Sarup & Sons, New Delhi ISBN 81-7625-222-0, ISBN 978-81-7625-222-5
  9. ^ Vidyasankar, S. "The Sankaravijaya literature". Retrieved 2006-08-23. 
  10. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. viii. 
  11. ^ a b c d Vidyasankar, S. "Determining Shankara's Date — An overview of ancient sources and modern literature". Archived from the original on 17 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-26. 
  12. ^ K. A. Nilakantha Sastry, A History of South India, 4th ed., Oxford University Press, Madras, 1976.
  13. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Shankara-Dig-Vijaya. pp. xv–xxiv. 
  14. ^ The dating of 788–820 is accepted in Keay, p. 194.
  15. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. p. 17. 
  16. ^ Y Keshava Menon 1976, The Mind of Adi Shankara pp109
  17. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. pp. 28–29. 
  18. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. pp. 40–50. 
  19. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. pp. 51–56. 
  20. ^ Adi Shankara. "Manisha Panchakam". Archived from the original on 26 August 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-04. 
  21. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. pp. 57–62. 
  22. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. pp. 62–63. 
  23. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. pp. 70–73. 
  24. ^ Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood (1978) Shankara's Crest-Jewel of Discrimination – Timeless Teachings on Nonduality pp4
  25. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. pp. 77–80. 
  26. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. pp. 81–104. . We have broad notes of this debate recorded in the Madhaviya Shankara Vijaya.
  27. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. pp. 117–129. 
  28. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. pp. 130–135. 
  29. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. pp. 136–150. 
  30. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. pp. 160–185. 
  31. ^ "Sharada Temple (Neelum Valley), Sharda, PoK". Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  32. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. pp. 186–195. 
  33. ^ Tapasyananda, Swami (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya. xxv–xxxv. 
  34. ^ Karigoudar Ishwaran, Ascetic Culture
  35. ^ Wendy Sinclair-Brull, Female Ascetics
  36. ^ H.A. Rose, Ibbetson, Denzil Ibbetson Sir, and Maclagan, Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North West Frontier Province, page 857
  37. ^ Pandey 2000, p. 4-5.
  38. ^ Pandey 2000, p. 5.
  39. ^ Nakamura 2004, p. 782-783.
  40. ^ Nakamura 2004, p. 680.
  41. ^ Nakamura 2004, p. 680-681.
  42. ^ Brahman is not to be confused with Brahma, the Creator and one-third of the Trimurti along with Shiva, the Destroyer and Vishnu, the Preserver.
  43. ^ See "Study the Vedas daily. Perform diligently the duties ("karmas") ordained by them" from Sadhana Panchakam of Adi Shankara
  44. ^ Karel Werner, in Karel Werner, ed., The Yogi and the Mystic. Routledge, 1995, page 67.
  45. ^ P. 187 The Rise of a Folk God: Viṭṭhal of Pandharpur By Ramchandra Chintaman Dhere, Anne Feldhaus
  46. ^ Benedict Ashley, O.P.. The Way toward Wisdom. p. 395. ASIN 0268020280. OCLC 609421317. 
  47. ^ N. V. Isaeva (1992). Shankara and Indian Philosophy. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-7914-1281-7. OCLC 24953669. 
  48. ^ "BHAKTI MOVEMENT". karnatakaeducation.org.in. 
  49. ^ Ron Geaves (March 2002). From Totapuri to Maharaji: Reflections on a Lineage (Parampara). 27th Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions, Oxford. 
  50. ^ Anantanand Rambachan, The limits of scripture: Vivekananda's reinterpretation of the Vedas. University of Hawaii Press, 1994, pages 124, 125: [1].
  51. ^ Iqbal, Muhammad. "Bedil in the Light of Bergson". 
  52. ^ Vidyasankar, S. "Sankaracarya". Archived from the original on 16 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-24. 
  53. ^ Mishra, Godavarisha. "A Journey through Vedantic History -Advaita in the Pre-Sankara, Sankara and Post- Sankara Periods" (PDF). Archived from the original on 22 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-24. 
  54. ^ Subbarayan, K. "Sankara, the Jagadguru". Archived from the original on 10 March 2005. Retrieved 2006-07-24. 
  55. ^ a b Shah-Kazemi 2006, p. 4.
  56. ^ Singh 2004, p. 1315.
  57. ^ Johannes Buitenen (1978). The Mahābhārata (vol. 3). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-84665-1
  58. ^ Adi Shankaracharya at the Internet Movie Database
  59. ^ "31st National Film Awards". India International Film Festival, iffi.nic.in. 
  60. ^ "31st National Film Awards (PDF)". Directorate of Film Festivals, dff.nic.in. 

Sources

Published sources

  • Comans, Michael (2000). The Method of Early Advaita Vedānta: A Study of Gauḍapāda, Śaṅkara, Sureśvara, and Padmapāda. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass 
  • Greaves, Ron (March 2002). From Totapuri to Maharaji: Reflections on a Lineage (Parampara). 27th Spalding Symposium on Indian Religions, Oxford. 
  • Isayeva, Natalia (1993). Shankara and Indian Philosophy. Albany: State University of New York Press (SUNY). 
  • Keay, John (2000). India: A History. New York: Grove Press. ISBN 978-0-8021-3797-5. 
  • Keshava Menon, Y (1976). The Mind of Adi Shankaracharya. India: Jaico. ISBN 978-81-7224-214-5. 
  • Mudgal, S.G. (1975). Advaita of Shankara: A Reappraisal. New Delhi: Motilal Banarasidass. 
  • Nakamura, Hajime (2004). A History of Early Vedanta Philosophy. Part Two. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited 
  • Narayana Sastry, T.S (1916). The Age of Sankara. 
  • Pandey, S.L. (2000). Pre-Sankara Advaita. In: Chattopadhyana (gen.ed.), "History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization. Volume II Part 2: Advaita Vedanta". Delhi: Centre for Studies in Civilizations 
  • Pradhavananda; Isherwood, Christopher (1978). Shankara's Crest-Jewel of Discrimination. USA: Vedanta Press. ISBN 978-0-87481-038-7. 
  • Shah-Kazemi, Reza (2006). Paths to Transcendence: According to Shankara, Ibn Arabi & Meister Eckhart. World Wisdom 
  • Sharma, Chandradhar (1962). Indian Philosophy: A Critical Survey. New York: Barnes & Noble. 
  • Shetty, V. T. Rajshekar (2002). Caste, a nation within the nation: recipe for a bloodless revolution. Books for Change 
  • Singh, N.; Barauh, B. (2004). Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Pali Literature, Volume 1. Global Vision Publishing Ho 
  • Tapasyananda (2002). Sankara-Dig-Vijaya: The Traditional Life of Sri Sankaracharya by Madhava-Vidyaranya. India: Sri Ramakrishna Math. ISBN 978-81-7120-434-2. 

Web-sources

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sankara Acarya Biography – Monastic Tradition
  2. ^ "Adi Shankara's four Amnaya Peethams". Archived from the original on 26 June 2006. Retrieved 2006-08-20. 

Further reading

External links

Preceded by
Bhagawan Govinda Bhagavat Pada
Jagadguru of Sringeri Sharada Peetham
?–820 (videha-mukti)
Succeeded by
Sureshwaracharya