Teachings of Sri Sankara

The greatest philosopher of all times and the greatest Hindu of his time. While one tradition has it that Siva was the family deity of Sri Sankara. "The truest vision of the Supreme came, perhaps, here." Even as a boy he attended the Vedic school. He renounced the world before his mind could be contaminated by its veil and embraced monasticism, dedicating his life to God-realization. He would formally initiate under a Guru, Govinda Bhagavatpada to Sannyasa and show the way to the Supreme. He demonstrated that a knower of Nirguna Brahman (God without form) is not devoid of devotion to Saguna Brahman (God with form, e.g. Shiva). He wrote commentaries on the ten Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras. Sankara traveled all over the length and breadth of the Indian sub-continent and established monasteries, the Sringeri Math in the South, the Sarada Math in the West, the Jyotirmath in the North and the Govardhana Math in the East. He also assigned to each Math one Veda. Rig Veda went to Govardhana Math, Yajur Veda to Sringeri Math, Sama Veda to Sarada Math and Atharva Veda to Jyotir Math. He revolutionized Vedic worship and transformed them into means of Self-realization. He reformed and re-instituted the worship of the five Deities, Ganapati, Siva, Narayana, Sun and Sakti and demonstrated the ideas of image worship too had a place in the Vedanta philosophy. The whole object of worship is by constant struggle to become perfect, to become divine, to reach God and be God. The monks of Ramakrishna Order are linked to Sri Sankara. Sri Sankara passed away at age of 32. "I salute again and again Bhagavan Sankara who incarnated as Sankara Bhagavatpada and Bhagavan Kesava who incarnated as Badarayana, and gave to the world the Vedanta Sutras and the Bhashya thereon." "I salute Sankara Bhagavatpada, the incarnation of grace, the bestower of blessedness on the world and the repository of all the wisdom that is contained in Sruti, Smriti and the Puranas." - Swami Sri Sivananda "He who declared, 'I will come whenever virtue subsides', came again and this time the manifestation was in the South, and up rose that young Brahmin of whom it has been declared that at the age of sixteen he had completed all his writings, the marvelous boy Sankaracharya arose'". - Swami Vivekananda Just as a piece of rope is imagined to be a snake in the semi-darkness and an oyster to be a piece of silver, so is the Atman (Soul) determined to be the body by an ignorant person. The illusion of Samsara is not an absolute reality. Atman is One without parts, whereas the body has many parts, yet people see these two as One! What else can be called ignorance but this? Knowledge destroys ignorance, as light destroys darkness. When ignorance is destroyed, the Self truly reveals, like the Sun when the clouds are removed. The destruction of ignorance is liberation. Darkness cannot remove darkness. Wisdom being incompatible with ignorance, puts it to flight. The ignorant long for results and engage in action with the idea of doer ship and enjoyment. The ignorant are deluded and think, 'I act', 'I cause others to act', 'I enjoy' and so on. Maya is the power of the Lord. She is made up of three Gunas, Tamas (inertia), Rajas (action) and Sattva (purity). Maya or illusion can be destroyed by the realization of the pure Brahman, the One without the second. The mind is the cause of bondage. All beings are by nature Pure Consciousness Itself. It is due to ignorance that they appear to be different from It. A real teacher is he who is well-versed in the Vedas and various scriptures, sinless, un-smitten by desire and the best among the knower of Brahman. He is reservoir of mercy and friend of all people. Worshiping such a teacher (Guru) with devotion and approaching him when he is pleased, with prostration, humility and service, the disciple should ask him what he has got to know. "Fear not, O learned one, there is no death for you; there is a means of crossing, this sea of relative existence; that very way by which sages have gone beyond it, I shall show you." Neither by Yoga, nor by work, nor by learning, but by the realization of the One's identity with Brahman is liberation possible. Liberate from perishable things, then calmness, self-control, forbearance and relinquishment enjoined in the scriptures. Unbroken meditation on Truth thus leads to Supreme Nirvikalpa samadhi and enjoy the bliss of Nirvana. My refuge is neither my mother, nor my father, nor sons, nor brothers, nor others. My supreme refuge shall be the foot placed by my master on my head. As long as a man earns money, his relations are attached to him. But when his aging body falters nearing the time of dissolution, none, not even his nearest kin, will care even to ask him how he fares. The childhood passes lost in play, the youth is spent in the attachment to the sweetheart, the old man broods over his sorrows, but alas, none yearns for the Supreme Lord! When youth goes, of what good is passion; when the water dries up, what is the use of a lake; when money is exhausted, where are the kinsmen; and when the real Truth is known, what charm has this world? Lust at the sight of a young woman springs from ignorance and delusion. Reason points inwardly, time and again, that bodies are only the combinations of flesh, blood and fat. He who yields to lust for momentary pleasure, leaves his body a prey to disease. Yet, though death is the only final ending, none forswears his sinfulness. O fool, abandon the desire for amassing wealth; cultivate good thoughts in your mind. Riches bring grief; indeed no joy abides in them. Never boast your wealth, friends and youth. Time may steal away all these in the twinkling of an eye. Try to realize Brahman soon and merge in It. As the water on the lotus leaf is extremely unsteady, even so is the life fickle in the extreme. The whole human kind is prey to grief, ego and disease. Cherish your Guru's lotus feet and free yourself without delay. Curb your senses and see the Lord within your heart. As a lighted lamp does not need another lamp to manifest its light, so the Atman, being Consciousness itself, does not need another instrument to illumine itself. The Soul regains fearlessness by realizing that It is not a Jiva (human body) but the Supreme Soul. The tangible Universe is verily Atman. He is the knower of the Self to whom the ideas 'me' and 'mine' have become quite meaningless. The Self is always the same in all beings and free from old age, death and fear. The Self is pure which the mind and speech do not reach. The pervading Self is the same in waking, dream and deep sleep. One's actions come to an end when the Self is seen. There is no ignorance in Self, as It is the nature of eternal Knowledge. The Self should be regarded as Brahman. The intense desire for the realization of the Atman after renouncing all others, is alone the means for the attainment of the Atman. Realize that to be Brahman which is Existence, Knowledge and Bliss Absolute, which is non-dual and infinite, eternal and One and which fills all that exists. After realization, the attainment of which leaves nothing more to be attained, the pure blessedness, and the Knowledge after which nothing needs to be known. When seen, there is nothing more to be seen. Having become after which one is not born again in the world of becoming. Deities like Brahma and Indra taste only a particle of the unlimited bliss of Brahman. Brahman permeates everything. By which everything is illumined, including Sun and the Moon. The Supreme Brahman pervades the entire Universe outwardly and shines of Itself, as the fire that permeates a red-hot iron ball both inwardly and outwardly shines of Itself. There exists nothing that is not Brahman. People perform all their actions in and through Brahman, but they are ignorant of this. Yourself, therefore, are Brahman. Not being a Brahman is a mere illusion. From illusion springs separation wherein all sorrows have root. For the wise who realize everything as Brahman, what is there to meditate or not to meditate, what to speak or not to speak, what to do or not to do? Those who give up the highest and purest Brahmic consciousness live in vain and though human, are like unto beasts. Having turned the visible into the invisible, one should realize everything to be Brahman Itself. The wise man should then dwell in eternal bliss with his mind full of the essence of pure consciousness. The ever-existent Brahman shining in the depth of the heart cannot be realized by the external senses, but by the light of that gracious awakening which comes from the word of a seer-teacher; 'You indeed are this Brahman, not the phenomenal universe that appears around'.