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by Swami Shankaratilaka
THE REFORMER OF THE PARAMAHAMSA MONK ORDER & ORTHODOX VEDIC DHARMA
Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Deva Maheshwara
Guru Sakshath Parambrahma, Tasmai Shri Gurave Namaha||
Adi Shankaracharya the founder of the Advaita philosophy begins his Gurustotram or Verses to the Guru with the above Sanskrit Sloka and the meaning of this shloka is.
Guru/Master is the creator Brahma, Guru is the preserver Vishnu, Guru is the destroyer Shiva, Guru is directly the supreme spirit and I offer my salutations to this Guru.
Adi Shankara was born in 788 CE in Kalady, Kerala to father Kaippilly Sivaguru Nambudiri and mother Aryambya Antharjanam . Shankara Jayanthi falls on the 5th day of Hindu month Vaisakh. May – June in the Gregorian Calendar. On this day his works are read with meditation and special pooja to Adi Shankaracharya, one of the greatest philospher. He is considered as the incarnation of Lord Shiva/Shankara.
When Shankaracharya was a young child he yearned to be a Sanyasi and was detached from all worldly matters. His thirst for spiritual knowledge made him renounce the world and master the vedas, puranas and the epics. In his pursuit to spread his philosophy he traveled all over India and established four mathas/religious institutions in the four corners of India. The mathas established by Ādi Śankara are:
Uttarāmnāya matha, or northern matha at Joshimath
Pūrvāmnāya matha or eastern matha, the Govardhana matha, at Puri
Dakshināmnāya matha, or the Sringeri Sharada Peetham, the southern matha, at Sringeri
Paśchimāmnāya matha, or the Dwaraka Pitha, the western matha, at Dwarka.
The heads of these above four institutions are considered the principal Shankaracharyas. Govinda Bhagvatapada became his Guru and under his guidance he learnt all forms of Yoga and Brahma. He was known as Adi Shankaracharya, the person who would be responsible to spread the Brahma Sutras all over the world.
Adi Shankara is believed to be the founder of the Dashanami monastic order and the Shanmata tradition of worship. He has written many commentaries on the Vedic Canon (Brahma Sutra, Principal Upanishads and Bhagavad gita) in support of his thesis. 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 in Uttaranchal.
I salute again and again Bhagavan Shankara who incarnated as Shankara Bhagavatpada and Bhagavan Keshava who incarnated as Badarayana, and gave to the world the Vedanta Sutras and the Bhashya (Commentary) there on.
I salute Shankara Bhagavatpada, the incarnation of grace, the bestower of blessedness on the world and the repository of all the wisdom that is contained in Sruti (Revelated Scriptures), Smriti (The tradition) and the Puranas (The Symbols).
SHANKARACHARYA’S ESSENTIAL TEACHINGS
(1) Just as a piece of rope is imagined to be a snake (in the semi-darkness) and a oyster to be a piece of silver, so is the Atman determined to bethe body y an ignorant person.
(2) Just as the stump of a tree is mistaken for human figure and a mirage for water, so is the Atman determined to be the body an ignorant person.
(3) The illusion of Samsara is due solely to an illusory notion ans is nor absolute reality.
(4) Atman is verily one and without parts, whereas the body consist of many parts; and yet the people see the two as one! What else can be called ignorance but this?
(5) Action cannot destroy ignorance, for it is not in conflict with ignorance. Knowledge alone destroys ignorance, as ligth destroys darkness.
(6) It is only because of ignorance that the Self appears to be finite. When ignorance is destroyed, the Self, which does nod admit of any multiplicity whatsoever, truly reveals itself by itself, like the Sun when the cloud is removed.
(7) Avidya or nescience, indescribable and beginningless, is called the cause, which is an upadhi superimposed on Atman (Tje real Self).
(8) As the movement that belongs to water is attributed, trough ignorance, to the moon reflected in itm so also agency, enjoyment and other limitations which belong to the mind are falsely attributed to Atman (The real Self). Just as the trees are thougth to be moving in direction opposite to that of moving boat by a man in it, so transmigratory existence is considered to belong to the Self.
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