Adi Shankaracharya's Jayanthi on 18th May 2010
The name Adi shankaracharya can be taken as a synonym for sanatana dharman. What we now know as hinduism is actually sanatana dharma. Even our shastras do not mention the name Hinduism. This religion is actually sanatana dharma and the name Hinduism was coined be persians for people living along the sind river and were called sindhus, and in the course of time this got called as hindhus and the religion became to be known as hinduism.
According to shankara vijayam, Lord Dhakshinamurty took avatar as Adi Shankaracharya, Lord Dhakshinamurthy is the primal guru according to vedanta sampardayam. His mode of imparting knowledge was by complete silence. The education he teaches is beyond not cognizable by our logical thinking, this is atma vidhya or hridaya vidhya which is cognizable only by our hearts.
When he looks at this world he is pained to see that his children are livng in a thick jungle called Ajnaya (ignorance) and moreover there is a forest fire which is samsara (family life). He decides that it is high time to disolve his silence and he needs to help his children come out of this forest and fire, and he takes avatar as Adi shankaracharya.
Coming back to Adi shankaracharya, he was born in a beautiful south indian village called Kaladi in kerala. His parents were childless for a long time and prayed to lord shiva, and in both their dreams lord shiva appears and asks them do they want a child with long life or a divine brilliant child with a short life, they choose to have the divine child and Lord shiva blesses them with a baby boy.
Since this child is born with Lord Shiva's blessings, he is named as Shankara. DUring his childhood he goes for collecting bhiksha according to his bhramacharya dharma, one day he comes to the doors of a poor bhramin lady and asks for bhiksha. The poor bhramin lady heart sinks because there is nothing in the house to offer to this boy who has come like little subramaniya. And she finds and offers a small nelli fruit, seeing her plight, Shankara's heart melts and composes and sings the Kanaga Dhara Stotram on Goddess Lakshmi. Pleased by Shankaras Stotram, Lakshmi pours gold coins through the roof.
At the age of eight, shankara wants to take up sanyasa because that is the purpose of his birth, but his widowed mother does not agree to it. One day when taking bath in the river a crocodile gets hold of Shankara's leg and pulls him down the water, His mother is shocked to see this and starts screaming, Shankara tells her that this is by divine intervention and if she agrees for his sanyasa this crocodile will spare him. Shankara's mother with heavy heart allows him to take Sanyasa and the crocodile also releases its hold on him. (According to shastras one should take sanyasa only with the permission of his mother)
Then shankara travels to north india in search of a guru and finally finds him in kasi. At that time there were more than 70 various religions and they were all against the vedas and they wanted to proclaim that there is no god, this was the apt time for the lord to take avatar and save the vedas as he had done during his earlier avatars (macha avatar etc).
Adi shankara wrote commentary for all the vedas and some of the note worthy ones are sivananda lahari, soundarya lahari, viveka choodamani, bhaja govindham, advaitha pancharathnam, vedanta navaneetham etc and countless stotrams; and preached advaitha
philoshophy throughout the country. he won over all the religious leaders in debate and established the sanatana dharma that we follow today. All these festivals that we celebrate are all because of adi shankaracharya, if he had not taken avatar then this whole religion and dharma we see today will not be existing.
It is said that he once had more than 16000 disciples and of them 4 were very prominent (Sureshwaracharya, Thotakacharya. Thotakacharya wrote the famous thotakashtakam)
Then he established 4 muths in various parts of the country and began the linage of shankaracharya monastry, in this linage is the 68th acharya (fondly known as periyava), when the vedas and dharma again began to decline, dhakshinamoorthy once again has taken avatar as chandrasekarendra saraswathi swamigal.
Once Adi shankaracharya had firmly established advaita philosophy and sanatana dharma throughout the country, he attained jeeva samadhi at the age of 32.
In 2010 his jayanthi was celebrated on 18/May/2010, in chennai, india his jayanthi was celebrated in Siva Vishnu temple in Natesan Nagar, chennai. The events included a discourse on Adi Shankara by Dr. Ramakrishnan, Nama Jabam, Thotakashtakam recital and aradhanai (See pictures below).
This marked the beginning of Mahaperiyava jayanthi celebrations, Mahaperiyavas jayanthi falls on 28/May/10. A Week long celebration is planned including a discourse on mahaperiyava by Bhramashri Sundarakumar, Music, Dance, Kootu Prarthanai, Procession, special abhisekam etc.
I will try to post all the happenings to max possible extent.
One thing that i wanted to share from todays discourse is that, there are many things that we can learn from adi shankara and few are listed below.
1. Even though Shankara attained sanyasa, he had performed the last rites to his mother, which is not listed in sanyasa dharma. Here he shows that gratitude we need to show towards our mother who had carried us for 10 months, then had tirelessly performed all services to us inspite of we giving her all the hardships. For those fortunate who have their mothers they should try to make her happy and not leave her in the age old home (even if involves sacrifices). Then for those who are not fortunate enough to have their mothers with them, they should perform ammavasai karma every month and give shartham once a year without fail. Even today in Gaya, after we give all the pindas, there are 16 pindas separately given for mother, one for each sloka and a cause.
2. No matter how learned we are we cannot attain realisation without the grace of a guru, even though sankara was a avatar of lord shiva, he went in search for a guru and get grace. So we must all strive and pray god to bless us with the grace of a guru
3. We must be willing to part with what we consider ours for good deeds, once a kabaligan (a sect of people practicing harsh rituals) wanted adi shankara to give his head for ritual and he was readily willing to give his head, but was saved by his guru.
Learn more about adi shankara from the following links.
There is a discourse on Sankara Vijayam (in tamil) by T.S.Balakrishna Shastrigal at following link.
Hara Hara Shankara, Jaya Jaya Shankara
Hara Hara Shankara, Jaya Jaya Shankara
Bhramasri Notchur Venkataraman's Discourse
Dr Ramakrishna's Discourse