Shankara Jayanti, the birthday of Shri Adi Shankaracharya is celebrated on Vaishakha Shuddha Panchami. Wise attributes cultural unity, and continuation of Sanatana Dharma over the recent millennium and a half to Adi Shankaracharya and his impactful efforts during his thirty-two years of life. Seekers acknowledge and offer salutations by saying ‘Namami Bhagavatpadam Shankaram Loka Shankaram’.
The breadth and depth of Adi Shankaracharya’s contributions can make students of all ages awe-inspired. By offering commentaries on ‘Prasthanatrayam’ (Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, and Brahma Sutras), he clarified the context and simplified the teachings for all. Composing numerous stotrams (hymns) for different purposes, Adi Shankaracharya emphasised the ‘applied’ nature of our shastra knowledge. As students of any age, we need the grace of the ‘learning related’ Gods; and Adi Shankaracharya provided us with Sri Dakshinamurthy Stotram. If we need clarity on ‘who am I’, the answer is given to us through ‘Nirvana Shatkam’, through simple negation of known attributes/dimensions. One gets awakened with the ‘Mohamudgara’ or ‘Bhaja Govindam’ stotram which was given when an old Brahmin was struggling with grammar rules at an advanced age. He was told of the need to worship the ultimate saviour (Bhaja + Govindam). Keeping it simple and straight, it directs the attention of the seeker to the inevitable and the need for ‘Bhaja Govindam’.
‘Grihastis’ (householders) often find themselves short of resources. These shortages can be of different genres, at the material level, or even recognition. Adi Shankaracharya with kindness towards the desperate seekers offered ‘Kanakadhara’ Stotram; Kanaka+Dhara means poured stream of gold. The context of the stotram is, that a poor couple when visited by Adi Shankaracharya for ‘bhiksha’ had nothing to offer. The lady found only a dry gooseberry (amla) and offered it apologetically to the brahmachari. Empathising with the poverty of the couple, Adi Shankaracharya appealed to the mother goddess in the form of Lakshmi and urged her to grace the precincts of the couple. Then there was the pouring-in of golden gooseberries there.
To keep up the Sanatana Dharma and inspire generations, Shri Adi Shankaracharya established mathas in four (NEWS) directions of our country. These are at Badri, Jagannadha Puri, Dwaraka, and Sringeri. The grateful nation included him in Guru Vandana and prayed ‘Sada Shiva Samarambham, Shankaracharya Madhyamam, Asmad Acharya Paryantam, Vande Guru Paramparaam’.
(Dr. S. Ainavolu is a professor at VPSM, Navi Mumbai. Views are personal. Find the full article at: