|"S" for Adi Shankaracharya|
There is much written about Adi Shankaracharya, his life and teaching and yet each writing is inadequate to cover the efforts of this great being in restoring the glory to India in line with its true culture and philosophy. Probably one life time is not enough to understand the great character and work of Shri Adi Shankracharya. We owe our existence and cultural identity to this great character that lived only for 32 years but did work that is remembered even today after more than 1000 years.
Sometime around 5th to 8th century A.D., great chaos pervaded all through India in the matter of religion and philosophy. Numerable religious sects arose during this period. Sect after sect, such as Charvakas, Lokayathikas, Kapalikas, Shaktas, Sankhyas, Buddhas and Madhyamikas sprang up. There were ideological differences amongst sects. Chaos and confusion reigned supreme. There was superstition and bigotry. Darkness prevailed over the once happy land of Rishis, sages and Yogis. The once glorious land of the Aryans was in a miserable state. Such were the conditions in the time that just preceded the birth of Shankaracharya.The birth and life of Shankarachrya is weaved in fantasy, stories and magic but each event of his life teaches us the importance of right virtues and demonstrates how life ought to be lived. There are many incidences in his life which cannot be understood in right spirit by our small intellect and hence we tend to get confused. But what we need to remember is the fact that he worked for uplifting humanity towards the highest spiritual ideals of life.
The existence of Vedic Dharma in India today is due to Shankara. The forces opposed to Vedic religion were more numerous and powerful at the time of Shankara than they are today. There was total confusion regarding the true ideals of Vedic Dharma. Still, single-handedly, within a very short time, Shankara overpowered all such forces and restored the Vedic Dharma and Advaita Vedanta to its pristine purity. The weapon he used was pure knowledge and spirituality. The menace to Dharma arose from obstacles that were more internal than external, more mental than physical. The seeds of Adharma (unrighteousness) were then working in the minds of almost everyone. Hence the evil had to be combated purely by the weapon of knowledge and self-purification.
All are no doubt aware of the very important position assigned to Shankaracharya in the history of Indian philosophy. It can be affirmed, without any fear of contradiction, that India would have ceased to be India several centuries ago and would never have survived the murderous sword, the devastating plunder and the religious intolerance of the successive invaders, if Shankara had not lived the life he lived and taught the lessons he taught.
What would I like to learn from Shri Adi Shankaracharya?