Sankara Bhagavadpada was instrumental in reviving our culture more than 1200 years back. Unfortunately, Sankaracarya has become synonymous with terse, logical and complex philosophy of Advaita; or with Brahmanism a word coined by western philosophers, and a notion that he is relevant only to a particular caste; or with the ascetic way of life that promotes escapism. This book tries to present Acarya Sankara as a prodigy discovering his mission; as a person who learnt from many persons and situations, after coming in direct contact with the masses and classes of the society; as a prophet who had the foresight to select the eligible persons for his mission; as a forerunner who included all persons at every stage of growth in his teachings; as a synthesiser of hand, heart and head, and most of all, as an inspiration for scaling that peak which lies within each one of us.
Born in Sirsi, North Karnataka in 1949, Raghunandan Trikannad completed his B.Tech. in Chemical Engineering from Regional Engineering College Warangal, Andhra Pradesh. He was introduced to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Swami Vivekananda in his teens. During his professional studies, he came in contact with Swami Ranganathananda, the President Ramakrishna Math at Secunderabad (and later the thirteenth President of Ramakrishna Order, Belur, West Bengal), who inspired him to take to life spiritual. He joined Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari in 1976, and shouldered the responsibilities as its Zonal Organiser, Organising Secretary and Joint General Secretary. Since 1989 he is Secretary of Ramarpan Educational Society.
Who was Sankara?
Was Sankara really born? Where was he born? When was he born? As we bow down to his Eternal spirit, these questions have no relevance. What is of importance to us is that Sankara WAS, Sankara IS and Sankara WILL BE. Deep as the ocean, lofty as Himalayas, expansive as Sky, ancient yet young, profound in wisdom but silent, beyond this phenomenal world, yet One with it—not even the thousand tongued Ananta can adequately describe the manifestation of Divinity that Sankara was.
The age was ripe for one to appear to fulfill the prophecy: "I will come whenever virtue subsides". It was the South that was to receive the blessings and the home of the pious Nambidini couple Sivaguru and Arya Devi in the cozy village of Kalady became the chosen place for the manifestation. The events that marked Sankara’s short life can easily be summed up. But, who can comment on the wonderful commentary that he was of Truth, of Self-existent Knowledge and of Life Eternal. For thirty- two years this star of unusual effulgence lit up our sky before it disappeared in the folds of Time.
In his own inimitable style, Sri Raghunandan has recapitulated the events in Sankara’s life, each one revealing the grandeur of the Advaita philosophy of which Sankara was a living example.
This world of fleeting sensual pleasures could not hold him even as a young child. Like the renowned Nachiketa, he too left the beaten track of worldly enjoyments and took to the lonely path of renunciation and contemplation to reach the most difficult of destinations, the citadel of Truth. It is to Sankara’s everlasting glory that even at that age, following the Upanisadic teachings and techniques of intricate analysis, reasoning, negation and ‘self’-annihilation, he could realise the truth within him and attain oneness with it. No wonder, that this child monk of unsurpassed grace and wisdom brought a new dignity to the order of Sanyasis.
The depth of understanding and the rare brilliance of erudition with which Sankara examined and studied various doctrines and philosophies by itself became an act of polishing and purifying them and when commented by this embodiment of Truth, who was none other than the incomparable Dakshinamurthy, they revealed a new meaning and significance. Truth confined in texts, expressed through rituals, idolized in temples, practised by priests, propagated by teachers, lived in daily life by common people, all of them acquired a new ethereal glow at his divine touch. The words of transcendental wisdom that emanated from this knower of Brahman — the most powerful vibrations of Advaita, ruthlessly demolished the parasitic growth of perversions and superstitions on the ancient Sanatana Dharma into which now flowed the life giving sap of Truth again bringing it to blossom. Sankara did not stop with intellectual exercises alone, he entered the temples, rectified the mistakes in their rituals and ceremonies, transforming them again into centers of power and faith. The idols therein literally came to life at his call, when in absolute identification of the Eternal All pervading self, he breathed unto them the essence of his own eternal life. The glories he sang of the temple deities are marvels of transcendental poetical beauty.
All these have been brought out in a simple touching manner by the author transporting us into the presence of Sankara and his disciples, enlivening each of these incidents. We become one of them as our doubts also get cleared through dialogues of Acarya. Mystical incidents have been logically scrutinized and straightened out so that the reader can effortlessly visualise and absorb the significance of them even from this far-off time.
QO? the eve of his departure from Britain, an English friend had asked Swami Vivekananda as to whether he would like his motherland now, after four years’ experience of luxurious, glorious, and powerful West. Swamiji had responded in his inimitable manner: "India I loved before I came away. Now the very dust of India has become holy to me, the very air is now sacred; it is now a holy land, the place of pilgrimage, the Tirtha." It was given to Swami Vivekananda to restore the glory and grandeur of our country in the eyes of the West, which saw only blind superstitious faith, poverty and callousness, and a total lack of civilization! While describing Hinduism, he took his listeners beyond the normally accepted religion, and in its place introduced Vedanta as the future of all religions! The reason for this bold declaration is that, Vedanta deals with the inner growth of human beings. Sankara Bhagavadpada was instrumental in reviving our culture more than a thousand and two hundred years back. Sankaracarya for some, has become synonymous with terse, logical and complex philosophy of Advaita; or with Brahmanism—a word coined by Western philosophers, and a notion that he is relevant to only a particular caste; or with the ascetic way of life that promotes escapism. This book tries to present Acarya Sankara as a prodigy discovering his mission; as a person who learnt from many persons and situations, after coming in direct contact with the masses and classes of the society; as a prophet who had the foresight to select the eligible persons for his mission; as a forerunner who included all persons at every stage of growth in his teachings; and as a synthesizer of hand, heart and head; and most of all as an inspiration for scaling that Peak which lies within each one of us. Sister Nivedita observes that "In devotion he was like Saint Fransis of Assisi; in intellect he was like Abelard; in dynamism and freedom, he was like Martin Luther; in imagination and efficiency, he was like Ignatius Loyola. In fact, he was all these characteristics united and exemplified in one person."
Intellect ruled the elite during Sankara’s time and Sanskrit was a preferred language. And he used it very effectively to describe the Truth and how to see it. Truth is always simple, and to understand it one has to be simple. Our intellect which is attached to complexity imagines that the Truth has to be complex else it cannot be the Truth! Many persons have expressed this fact through their life and teachings. The author learnt this from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by ‘M’, the dialogues of Paramahansa with his disciples and devotees; and also from the writings and discourses of Swami Ranganathananda, Swami Chinmayananda, and Swami Akhandananda Saraswati, on Upanisads and Prakarana Granthas of Adi Sankaracarya. He was inspired by his visits to Ramanashramam at Tiruvannamalai (Tamil Nadu)—where peace and silence are almost physical, he had glimpses of the Self.
The Foreword by Dr. M. Lakshmikumari, President Vivekananda Kendra Vedic Vision Foundation Kodungallur Kerala, has added value to the book. Author gratefully acknowledges the encouragement and support from Sri Lakshmi Niwasji Jhunjhunwala, Chairman Emeritus LNJ Bhilwara Group and Chairman Ramarpan Educational Society.
This book is a verbal tribute to Sri Sankara Bhagavadpada, who has done so much for our great culture and to the ancient spiritual tradition that continues and will continue to be relevant to human growth from millennia to eternity.
Te have been many complete men who are alert, sensitive, understanding, responsible, and spontaneous individuals who care, and whom we can emulate and start our pilgrimage towards fulfillment of human life, in the past and also in the present guiding us through their exemplary lives. Two such men stand tall over many and who have been the beacons of our grand culture. Krsna Dvaipayana who came to be known as Veda Vyasa for not only editing our four Vedas, but also for protecting and preserving their sonic as well as verbal quality; for writing Vedanta or Brahma Sutras, Mahabharata and Srimadbhagavatam. It was he who revived our great culture more than five millennia back when factions representing different ideas were at loggerheads. Going around the vast country he lovingly corrected the stray, and organised the kings to establish peace and prosperity. However, as always, the law of Entropy prevailed and our culture or the values for which it stood, fell.
Four thousand years after Krsna Dvaipayana Vyasa, only eight years old Sankara—who was to be called later as Adi Sankaracarya, realised his responsibility of contributing his share for the revival of our culture. In him we find an efficient performer of actions that are socially and individually healthy. He possessed an extremely alert, analytic and open mind ready to learn and experiment with new ideas. Action is the basis of life. It was given to Sankara to bring out the Song of the Lord— Srimadbhagavadgita out of Mahabharata of Veda Vyasa and to establish its present status of a Sastra. He experimented with the ideas contained in Srimadbhagavaagita in all his activities. He went around our large undivided country thrice to be with diverse people, learn from them and also mend their ways towards more fulfilling life.
Sankara was bestowed with a sensitive heart that could accommodate the whole universe. No one was a stranger to him, as he had become the friend of the universe after befriending his Self! His Stotras are the hearty outpourings of his infinite love on the deities which are nothing but the human qualities with form. They give a glimpse into his ecstasy, as Sankara had that sensitivity to behold beauty and bliss in every situation and location. He inspired the society to be the proud custodian of a grand culture which accepts every faith as a true individual and unique perspective. He was ready to sacrifice his very life even if it could benefit one individual as he lived that love for love’s sake.
Sankaracarya clarified the essential truth contained in the Upanisads—the foundations of our culture through his commentaries based on his experiential understanding. He further demonstrated that the truth can and is to be lived and not just discussed or debated. His Prakarana Granthas are verbal documents which offer practical hints to the seekers at all stages of their pilgrimage to fulfillment. All his writings declare his mastery over language.
Sankara Bhagavadpada emanated his power and taught through his life, by demonstrating to mankind that life has a meaning and purpose; that there is an indestructible Reality of an incomparable beauty, a life of perfect peace and bliss within the heart of all beings. His life is an inspiration to all those who value life and its interdependence with all creation.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Item Code: NAT109 Author: Raghunandan Trikannad Cover: HARDCOVER Edition: 2019 Publisher: Ocean Books Pvt. Ltd ISBN: 9788184305616 Language: ENGLISH Size: 8.50 X 5.50 inch Pages: 238 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.4 Kg