Who is Adi Şankara?December 13, 2020
Adi Shankara (b. AD 788 – AD 820), Indian philosopher, mystic and theologian. Advaita Vedanta, a sub-branch of the Indian philosopher Vedanta known as Śaṅkara Bhagavatpādācārya and Ādi Śaṅkarācārya, is one of the most famous representatives of the teachings in history.
He traveled across India from one end to the other, went to different parts of South Asia, and tried to spread the philosophy he belonged to through his sermons and discussions with other thinkers. The four monasteries he founded facilitated the spread of Advaita Vedanta. It is believed that Adi Shankara organized the Daşanami monastic order and was the founder of the Shanmata worship tradition.
Traditional records on Adi Shankara are located at Shankara Vijayams. The life of the philosopher is depicted in a poetic way in this collection, which is a mixture of biographical and legendary material. The most important biographers among these are Mādhavīya Śaṅkara Vijayaṃ, dated to the 14th century, Cidvilāsīya Śakara Vijaya, written between the 15th and 17th centuries, and Keraļīya Śakara Vijaya, dated after the 17th century.
Adi Shankara was born in the Nambodiri Brahmin community near Kaladi, near the current city of Kerala, or in Aryamba. According to the story, his family got together with Şankara after long years without children, after prayers at Vadakkunnathan temple. His father, Şankara, passed away when he was a young child. It was said that Şankara had not yet turned three years old when his father passed away. He began his student life at the age of five, and at the age of eight he mastered the Hindu scriptures, four Vedas.
Şankara, who tended to be a wandering monk (sannyasa) at an early age, achieved this request only after his mother’s persuasion and consent. He left Kerala and set out for Northern India in search of the guru (the equivalent of the master in Indian spirituality). On the banks of the Narmada River, he met Govinda Bhagavatpada, one of the followers of Gaudapada. When Govinda, who asks Shankara, responds to Bhagavatpada with a stanza taken from the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, influences Govinda and becomes his disciple.
He trains his guru, Shankara, to write commentary on the Brahma Sutras and to give up the Advaita philosophy. Shankara, who is traveling to Kashi, meets the young Sananda, who will be his first disciple there. According to legend, an untouchable with four dogs around him appears on the way of Shankara to Vishwanath Temple with his students. “Do you want me to move my eternal Atman or this body of skin?” he asks. Realizing that the untouchable is a manifestation of the god Shiva, and the four dogs are four Vedas, Shankara bows respectfully before the untouchable and writes Manisha Panchakam. In Badari he wrote his famous Bhashya (commentaries) and Prakarana granthas (philosophical treatises).
Shankara Advaita was the most famous ascetics and spokesperson of the Vedanta philosophy school. He argued that all reality arose from a single source, which he called Brahma. The universe that appears as multiplicity and difference is nothing more than an illusion. Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads and Brahma Sutra interpretations are among the texts that Advaita Vedanta school still gives importance to today.