Adi Shankara (Life And Philosophy)

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Item Code: IHL020
Author: Swami Gyanananda Saraswati
Edition: 2006
Pages: 512
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.8 Inch X 5.8 Inch
Weight 770 gm
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Back of the Book

Swami the founder and chairman of the Jagadguru Shankaracharya has carried out a detailed and intensive research on Adya Jagadguru Shankaracharya and has established exact date of birth of Adya Shankaracharya and his life and works by placing the same in proper chronological swami ji has ascertained that Adi Jagadguru Shankaracharya was born on 2631 Yuddhsithir Samvat 2593 Kali Samvat 509 B.C.

Swamiji systematically campaigns for purging the sacred stream of the holy ganges from pollution by motivating a large number of people with active involvement and co-operation of educational institutions governments employees non governmental organizations religious heads etc. under the banner of Rakshat Gangama Andolan.

Swami Gyananand Saraswati had organized national level conferences on life and philosophy of Adi Shankara at various places such as Varanasi Ujjaini Somnath, Delhi, and Mumbai etc. He remains ever engaged in finding our various important dates of historical personnel on the basis of traditional Indian literature and Jyotisha.



The life and message of Adi Jagadguru Shankaracharya is the full expression of duty towards the nation. Born in Kerala province of southern India 2514 years ago Adi Jagadguru Shankaracharya in a short life span of 32 years, 6 months and 10 days delivered his message of giving highest priority to duty towards the nation. That is why divine consciousness of Acharya Shankara is continuously inspiring us for promoting national pride with a feeling of unity and love. In the context of world peace and national integration Adya Shankaracharya is an illumination ray which will always remain relevant for human life. Giving highest priority to Rashtradharma and establishing nation hood to the country by establishing four shines mutts in four concerns of the country for maintaining national unity and integration Shankara is of the view that moral teachings of religious teachers and through royal punishment. It means a religious teacher who is giving sermon should first ser example by his good moral conduct and the king who makes provisions of punishment should be ready to undergo punishment in case he commits a crime. Thus the religious teacher and the king should observe good moral conduct and restrain their desires. Only then the welfare of the nation is possible.

Shankara directed the heads of the Mutts established by him saying don’t remain always in the Mutts visit the different parts of the country and while visiting different parts of the country assess yourselves and the situation of the country. The rulers of India should take inspiration from the philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya and should establish the national values which can protect spiritual, religious, social, historical and territorial unity of the country. In fact Shankara has enlightened the people entrapped in the quagmire of narrowness, weakness dissension regionalism and hypocrisy. India finds a place in the world due to his peerless scholarship and organizational skills. By uniting 72 sects as Vedic, Buddhist Shaiva Jaina, Kapalika Pancharatrika etc. into a thread Adi Shankaracharya restored social historical territorial spiritual integrity of a divided destroyed and lackluster country intact.

Lord Krishna established unity among different ideologies through Gita and unity of Nation in the form of large empire of Dharma Raja Yudhisthira. Acharya Shankara did not make any political personality as the symbol of unity of nation. But established unity in every aspect of national life and strengthened the cultural unity of the nation by cultivating the tradition of unity. That is why despite differences India always aspires for internal unity. The advaitavada of Shankara is the source of peace and welfare of human beings. Untiring efforts of shankara saved India from going to the path of rigid ritualism and atheistic stupidity. Acharya Shankara emancipated India form this.

Adi Shankara had done immense good to the nation. To forget his goodness is a national crime. Birth anniversary of Adi Shankara is a national festival for us. His character and personality is a valuable symbol for the persons following the path of nation building and welfare.

In the history of Vedic religion advent of Shankara is the beginning of a new age. Acharya Shankara was born when this holy nation India was sinking under the weight of anti religious sects and when the entire. Nation was in the grip of devils indulging in misconduct and malpractices and utterly lethargy. Shankara spread the light of religion when its flame was about to extinguish in the storm of vanity. Vedic religion has started spreading in every nook and corner of the country. The echo of these great statements of the Upanishads started reverberating in the country. These teaching of Gita god popularized among the masses in its true sense and they came to know about the importance of knowledge. The age of social and religious lethargy ended. Feeling of nationalism started spreading in the country and the new era has begun in the history of Rashtradharma. To protect the national values dear to Shankara and to present the events and sketch of his life to the student and the people of India Srimad Adya Jagadguru Shankaracharya Vaidic Shodha Samsthan Varanasi made this humble effort of presenting the book entitled Adi Shankara Life and philosophy. It is believed that this bunch of flowers will spread its fragrance in the horizon of Vedic Santana Culture in such and restless world may live in peace harmony and social unity and may get insight into pilgrimages of places of worship cow and cow progeny. Indian life style national ethos inner consciousness and may develop feeling that the whole world is one’s own family.

The present book is in three parts. Parts one deals with the date of Shankara and sketchy description of major events of life of Shankara. Part two carries twelve papers written and published by various illustrious scholars on the most important concepts doctrines and ideas of Advaita Vedanta arranged in thematic sequence. Part three carries a number of Quotable Quotes of various respectable personalities on Shankara. We hope that this book will be welcomed by people both as a narrative and as a scholarly presentation of Advantic thought.

Expressing my gratitude to all those who have contributed through their hard work money and knowledge in bringing out this publication I pay my respects to Bharata Mata.


A sweeping remark is often made that Indians do not have sense of history. The remark is made precisely on account of non- availability of decided dates of luminaries both in the arena of literature as well as kings and kingdoms. The date of Adi Shankara is also one such undecided issue as per observations of several scholars. (In our write up the word "Adi Shankara" stands to signify the first Shankaracharya also known in tradition as Shankara Bhagavatpada who wrote bhashyas on the Upanishads, Shrimad Bhagavadgita and the Brahmasutras and established several peethas in various directions and places and introduced a mode of worship, namely, panchayatana puja paddhati throughout the Bharathavarsha and also known as Shanmatasthapanacharya.) It is also quite interesting to note that various scholars have shown several evidences to fix his date in between 6th century B.C. and 8th century A.D. There are even some stray theories which fix the date of Adi Shankara much prior to 6th century B.C. and much later to 8th century AD. However giving any amount of credence to those theories would land us in greater unsolvable problems. Therefore it is the mystery of 13 hundred years (From early 6th century B.C. to first quarter of 9th century A.D.) which has to be resolved by giving due consideration to all the theories. It may also be further be noted that there are some theories held by some scholars which propose one or the other date in between these two upper and lower limits. For example there is a very strong theory advocating for the date somewhere in the first century B.C., 4th century A.D. as well as 7th century A.D.

If the contention of scholars that Indians do not have sense of history is true how so many theories based on some or the other evidence could come into existence? To make a counter sweeping remark it appears to us that more or less every author of Samskrit literature has left some or the other evidence to arrive at his date. It all depends upon us how far we will be able to catch the points thus left back and put them in the proper perspective of Indian history. If one stops with the attitude that Indians do not have the sense of history then he will arrive at only such conclusions which may appear to be meaningless for several other scholars. What we require is thorough investigation into all possible evidences and to put them in such an order of priority in which violations/disagreements will be minimum to any position held by any other person. Infact, all the discussions in various adhikaranas in the Purva Mimamsa and Uttara Mimamsa follow the above said principle of investigation. That is our tradition. There are mutually contradictory statements in the Vedas quite a few in number and the writers of Purva and Uttara Mimamsa have reconciled the statements in such a way that least violation is caused to any of the Vedic statements. To achieve this objective they have applied thousands and thousands of logical formulas based on sound reasoning and well established basic theories which will cause mind-boggling experience to the reader. We may not go into those details which may turn to be irrelevant for us for the present purpose, but we underscore the fact that though violation is caused to some or the other text, to whatever extent that be, the total text has been explained in a meaningful way reconciling the contradictory statements. This is not a mean achievement. This exercise requires an open mindedness, thorough understanding of the basic problem as well as the details, sense of objectivity, lack of showing any prejudice to any theory and an attitude of making every position meaningful within its context.

From this broader perspective let us examine the sweeping remark that Indians do not have sense of history once again. If the above sweeping remark is true then why the following activities have been taken up by the Indians?

1. Writing of scores of Puranas which carry discussion on various genealogies (Vamsha) and detailed accounts of ruling of various kings (Vamshanucharita?)
2. Scores of works giving details of imperial accounts of a particular region such as Kalhana's Rajatarangini.
3. Hundreds and thousands of chronograms giving the birth or death date or both of hundreds of writers and kings mentioning the day in the traditional cyclic years along with traditional details of month, date and the birth, death star. For example, Shankara's birth date and time is recorded to be in the year 2593 of Kali era in the cyclic year of Nandana on the 5th day of cyclic Vaishakha month at 12 noon in the star of Punarvasu.
4. The invention and use of 'letter-numbers' and 'word-numbers' which is India specific and is unheard of in any other civilizations.
5. The entire branch of literature called Vijayas giving the details of life of various great individuals. For example, there are more than half a dozen Shankara Vijayas which give minute life details of Adi Shankara. It is to be noted that all these texts called Shankara Vijayas show near unanimity in giving detailed account of life of Adi Shankara.
6. Hundreds and thousands of epigraphs written on stones, metal plates, wood, and various other materials. For example emperor Ashoka's inscriptions.
7. Hundreds and thousands of danapatras and endowment records preserved in the temples, mathas, palaces, revenue offices, and individual house holds.
8. Giving references to various kings, cities, historical events, mountains, rivers and other signs of identity in the works of various writers. For example Adi Shankara's mention of coronation of Poornavarman and names of the cities such as Srughna and Pataliputra.
9. Giving references by name of various prior and contemporary writers of one's own field or in the other fields.
10. Summerization and Khandana or Mandana of the philosophical and other positions held by various authors of one's own field and of other fields.
11. Various literary writings giving the details of Peetadipathi's and Matadhipati's.

All these above-mentioned activities and several other criteria invented by Indian mind do exhibit the sense of history in the minds of Indian writers' beyond any doubt. But, unfortunately all of us are placed in such a pathetic condition that quite often we were unable to decipher the information thus given to us. There are several reasons for this state of affairs.

1. Our ancestors have used several eras to record the information such as Kali era, Yudhisthira era, Vikrama era etc, and sometimes they have not specified them either.
2. The adoption of cyclic years to record the events and dates also caused some confusion. Never the less the details thus given can be deciphered on the strength of modem almanacs.
3. Holding the same name or epithet by several people at different times. Such as in the lineage of Adi Shankara every successive preceptor is called Shankaracharya till today. Similarly the titles such as Vikramadithya etc. are held to be worn by several kings during the period before Christ as well as after the death of Christ However this problem is universal or greater in the context of European history.

Therefore to comb the difficult jungle of historical data we have to adopt the above said principle of "Least violation of any accepted theory" giving due consideration to every theory because every proposal or theory or giver of information can not be held to be a cheat On the other hand if we start discarding any theory without proper examination we can not arrive at the truth and we will be cheating ourselves by stamping the proposes of theories or givers of information as cheats. Of course it is easy said rather than done. Because, sometimes the accepted theories may present mutually contradictory view points especially in the context of discussion of dates of any author or person. The only logical methodology could be to prioritize the available data and to put in efforts to reconcile the contradicting data.

Adopting this principle we will try to summarize the existing mass of thoughts with regard to the date of Adi Shankara and try to arrive at some reasonable conclusion. In this context we want to discuss the theory of 509 B.C. with all its pros and cons at the first instance. Next we will discuss pros and cons of the theory of 788 AD in detail. In the third place we shall discuss the theories which propose an intermediary date in between the said two limits. Towards end we shall try to conclude the matter as it appeals to our critical mind.



Part I
Date and Events of Life
Date of Shankara  
Introduction 17
Theory 509 B.C. 21
Internal Evidence
1. Poornavarman
2. Srughna & Pataliputra
3. Karshapana
Authors Posterior and Anterior 27
Posterior to Adi Shankara
1. Vachaspati and Udayana
2. The date of Jayanta Bhatta as an additional evidence
3. Problem of Bhaskara
4. Skandaswamy and Hariswamy
Anterior to Adi Shankara
1. Kumarila Bhatta
2. Gaudapada
3. Sarvajnatman
Historical, Epigraphical and
Archeological evidence .
Historical Evidence
1. Shankaracharya Hill in Kashmir
2. Varaguna Pandya and Rajasena
3. Adi Shankara’s Nepal Visit
4. Adi Shankara’s association with Vikramaditya
5. Sudhanvan’s copper plate inscription
6. Adiyarkunallar
7. Inscription belonging to king Butter
8. Inscription of Raja Sarwajit varman of Gujarat
9. Copper plate inscription of king Thiruvirma
deva of Knogudesa
Evidence of Mathamnayas and
Shankara Vijayams .
1. Dwarka Mutt
2. Puri Mutt
3. Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt
4. Badari Mutt
5. Mutt connected to Srigeri Kudali Mutt
6. Sringeri Mutt
7. Shankara Vijayams
Theory 788 A.D. 63
Main Grounds
1. Dinnaga and Dharma Kirti Connection
2. Reference to Sivasoman as
3. Reference to Tirujnanasambandar
a Note on Dravidashishu
4. Absence of mention of Shankaracharya
5. Determining the date of Shankaracharya
Intermediary Dates .
Events of Life 81
Part II
Philosophy of Advaita
Advaita : An overview .
R. Balasubramanian
R. Balasubramanian
Sankara’s Attitude towards the
Pramanas Summed up.

N.K. Devaraja
On Mithyatva.
N. Veezhinathan
The Two Definitions of Brahman in
the Advaita .

T.R.V. Murty
From Empirical Pluralism to
Transcendental Non Dualism

R. Balasubramanian
The Way and the Goal
R. Balasubramanian
Advaita as the foundation of Morality
Srinivasa Rao
Social Dimensions of Advaita Vedanta
R.C. Pradhan
The Place of Advaita in Indian
Philosophy – A Meta Philosophical Approach (1)

T.P. Ramachandran
The Heritage of Sankara
Meeting of Extremes
Sankaracarya’s Philosophy of
Advaita and his Critiwue of other

S.R. Bhatt
Part III
Quotable Quotes on
Adi Shankaracharya
Shankara Stotram
Kanakadhara Stotram
Maneesha Panchakam
Sample Pages

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