अस्मदाचार्यपर्यन्तां वन्दे गुरुपरम्पराम्॥
asmadācāryaparyantāṁ vande guruparamparām||
I salute the lineage of masters that begins with the ever-auspicious God Śiva, passes through Śaṅkarācārya and extends to my master.
Ādi Śaṅkaracārya Jayanti
On the fifth day (Pañcamī Tithi) of the month Vaiśakha of the Hindu calendar, Śukla Pakṣa (the crescent phase of the moon), the birth date of Ādi Śaṅkarācārya is celebrated.
Ādi Śaṅkarācārya, considered an incarnation of God Śiva, is an extremely important figure both for the bring out the Vedic tradition, Sanātana Dharma, and for reviving and spreading the teachings of Vedanta to the four corners of India. He wrote introductory texts, stotrams, and his great legacy is the commentaries on what are called Prasthāna-traya: Upaniṣads, Bhagavadgītā and Bhramasūtras.
Ādi Śaṅkaracāry was born into a family of Brahmins, in Kaladi, in India’s southernmost state, Kerala. His parents were devotees of Lord Śiva, which is why they named him Śaṅkara.
His father, Śivaguru, left his body when Śaṅkara was only 4 years old. His mother, Aryamba, made sure that Śaṅkarā studied the Vedas traditionally, so at the age of 5, he went to live with the Guru and learn about the scriptures.
At age 8 he returned home with an intense desire to become a renunciate and devote himself to the teachings of the scriptures. However, his mother was not prepared for that.
It is said that one day, while Śaṅkara was bathing in the river near his house, a crocodile bit his foot. As his last wish, he asked his mother for permission to be a renouncer (Sannyāsa). When the mother granted her request, the crocodile released the foot of the boy Śaṅkara, who then became a Sannyāsa.
Śaṅkara left his mother, promising her that he would return in her last days to perform the rituals that children must do to departing parents. Having kept his word, he proceeded towards the river Narmada and on its banks met his Guru Govinda Bhagavatpāda Ācārya, who formally initiated Śaṅkara into Sannyāsa. In the company of his Guru and his teachings, he wrote his commentaries on the Bhagavadgītā, the Upaniṣads and Bhramasūtras. The commentary on the Bhramasūtras, Adhyāsa Bhāṣyam, is considered to be his masterpiece.
The life of Ādi Śaṅkarācārya is full of remarkable encounters, one of them with Veda Vyāsa himself, who wrote the Bhramasūtras and narrated the Mahābhārata.
As it is told, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya should have lived only 16 years, however, Veda Vyāsa, very pleased with Śaṅkara’s deeds, granted him 16 more to continue teaching and spreading the vision of Vedanta. Ādi Śaṅkarācārya played an important role in the establishment and revival of non-dualism, touring the country with his disciples and participating in debates.
At the age of 32, his manifestation on earth came to an end at the foot of the Himālaya. Having established 4 Maṭhas (orders or monasteries) in the four directions of India, led initially by his 4 disciples, his lineage continues to this day. The knowledge he imparted keeps flowing through the tradition from Guru to disciple. For us students of Vedanta, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya is the connecting link between our Guru and Śrī Dakṣiṇāmūrti – Śiva, as the first Guru.
Thanks to Ādi Śaṅkarācārya’s commentaries and his teachings, we can clearly understand what the scriptures have to communicate, so his life and work are an extremely valuable gift to those who seek freedom through knowledge.
Ādi Śaṅkarācārya Jayanti is a very significant celebration for students of Vedanta, as it allows us to show our gratitude for this master’s blessings in the form of his teaching. Our salutations to Ādi Śaṅkarācārya, glorious Guru.
Om sad gurave namaḥ _/\_
Written by Maline Ribeiro