The Ephemeral Nature of Life

Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji arrived at the Sringeri Shankara Math, Moti Nagar on the evening of November 24th to a reverential welcome. After the Swagata Patrika was read out, the Jagadguru began His Anugraha Bhashanam speaking about the ephemeral nature of life.

The Jagadguru said that life can end in an instant. No one knows how many days one is going to live. Many feel that they will live for long. However no one knows what is going to happen tomorrow. Hence our forefathers have said:

क्षणशः कणशश्चैव विद्यामर्थं च साधयेत् ।
गृहीत इव केशेषु मृत्युना धर्ममाचरेत् ॥

One must not procrastinate when it comes to adhering to Dharma. Who knows if he or she will live to see tomorrow? Who knows when death is going to come? Death spares none, be he a scholar or an ordinary person. Even great personalities are not here with us because of death.

Sri Nilakantha Dikshita says:

येनाचान्ताः सलिलनिधयः येन सृष्टा प्रतिद्यौः
शस्त्राण्यस्त्राण्यपि कबिलतान्येकया यस्य यष्ट्या ।
कस्तादृक्षः प्रभवतु जनो देवभूदेववर्गे
कालः कीटानिव कबलयामास तानप्ययत्नम् ॥

येनाचान्ताः सलिलनिधयः – refers to Sage Agastya who consumed the entire ocean. येन सृष्टा प्रतिद्यौः – refers to Sage Vishwamitra who created a second heaven for Trishanku. शस्त्राण्यस्त्राण्यपि कबिलतान्येकया यस्य यष्ट्या – refers to Sage Vasishta who consumed all the Astras and Shastras deployed by Vishwamitra by merely lifting his Brahma Danda. Who are we in front of such personages whose prowess and ability was immense? Even such great personages were consumed effortless by Death as though Death was merely devouring small life-forms.

Importance of a Human Birth

Hence no one must feel that his life is permanent. One must realize the temporal nature of life and engage in good deeds. We have no guarantee that we will get a human life immediately after this lifetime. This human life of ours has been acquired by expending a lot of merit (Punyam). The human body is compared to a boat that has been bought by the money called Punyam. The boat of the human body is to be used to cross the ocean of Samsara before it develops a cracks and sinks i.e. before the human body dies:

महता पुण्यपण्येन क्रीतेयं कायनौस्त्वया ।
पारं दु:खोदधेर्गन्तुं तर यावन्न भिद्यते ॥

If one has done only Papam, he would not get birth as a human. If only Punyam has been done in the past, one will be born as a Deva. The Shastras say that those who have done both Punyam and Papam are born with a human body:

शुभैराप्नोति देवत्वं निषिद्धैर्नारकीं तनुम् ।
उभाभ्यां पुण्यपापाभ्यां मानुष्यं लभतेऽवशः ॥

Life in this human body acquires importance as it is only as a human can one can adhere to Dharma. All the parts of the human body along with faculties. It is man who is blessed with buddhi or intellect. Buddhi is – युक्तायुक्तविवेकज्ञानम् – the ability to differentiate between what is appropriate for oneself and what is not. We have been blessed with a body which has the inherent ability to differentiate between right and wrong and determine the that path leads to one’s welfare. If we merely use the body for material pursuits, it is a huge blunder. Hence in order to make life meaningful, one has to adhere to Dharma.

It is only by adherence to Dharma that you become a great person; not by acquisition of wealth, power, a strong physique, or a mass of followers. Seek something only if it is indeed going to help you in adhering to Dharma. Sri Adi Shankaracharya states – यो हि इष्टादिलक्षणं कर्म आचरति, तमाचक्षते लोकाः, धर्मं चरत्येष महात्मा – a person who adheres to Dharma laid down in the Shastras can be termed a Mahatma. Bhagavan Himself states that when one performs His Svadharma, he attains the highest good – स्वे स्वे कर्मण्यभिरतः संसिद्धिं लभते नरः.

Keep Your Ego in Check

Sri Adi Shankaracharya has emphasized that one has to keep one’s ego – or Ahankara – in check. It is said that:

प्रातर्य एव जगतीतलचक्रवर्ती सायं स एव विपिने जटिलस्तपस्वी
He who was the emperor of the land in the morning, himself becomes an ascetic in the forest by evening.

This is used to illustrate that one who in great power and wealth can become a mendicant in no time. We too have seen with our own eyes many wealthy and haughty people becoming ordinary citizens. Such is the temporal nature of possessions and power. One must never let ego run amok in the mind. Similarly, scholarship does not entitle one to special benefits if you commit a mistake. That is why everyone must remember what the great Acharya said – हरति निमेषात् कालः सर्वम् – that all these can be snatched away in an instant by time. At another place, Sri Shankaracharya says – कामं क्रोधं लोभं मोहं त्यक्त्वा आत्मानं भावय कोऽहम् – Give up lust, anger, greed, delusion and strive to know the Self.

Thus the Acharya did not stop with penning His Bhashyas on the abstruse aspects of Vedanta. He provided a number of instructions in His other works that are applicable to all of mankind. Indeed, this is why He is revered as a Jagadguru – one who has shown the path of welfare to the entire world. If anyone turns his back on these instructions, it is their choice. Who can stop one who digs a pit and plots his own downfall? Hence it is left to each one of us to grasp the teachings of the Jagadguru and better our lives.

At the end of the Anugraha Bhashanam, the Jagadguru had special words of praise for Sri Taloor Suryanarayana Rao and Sri Kompella Peraiyya Shastri who had taken efforts to establish a Sringeri Shankara Math in Moti Nagar and effected the construction of the temples for Goddess Sharada and Sri Adi Shankara. The Jagadguru also mentioned that while He was unable to be present for the Prathishta of the temples, He is present today by the grace of Goddess Sharada.


Anugraha Bhashanam at Moti Nagar




On the morning of November 25th, the Jagadguru worshipped Goddess Sharada and Sri Adi Shankara. The Jagadguru then performed the Kumbhabhisheka.

Later, in the early evening, the Jagadguru blessed the assembled gathering of devotees and started for the Sringeri Shankara Math in Nallakunta (Hyderabad).