Rajapalayam: MAY 13-15, 2012

Sri Adi Shankaracharya: His Greatness and His Instructions

Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji arrived at Rajapalayam on 13th May 2012 to one of the grandest of receptions. The Jagadguru was led to Sri Rama Mandiram in a large procession that was similar to the one seen during the Adda Pallaki Utsava of the Sringeri Navaratri Celebrations.

Gurubhaktamani Sri P R Ramasubrahmanya Raja and family performed Dhuli Pada Puja to the Jagadguru. After the Veda Ghosha, Prarthana and Samarpanam of Swagata Patrikas in Sanskrit and Tamil, the Jagadguru blessed the devotees with an Anugraha Bhashanam.

The Jagadguru said that Sri Adi Shankaracharya was indeed Lord Shiva incarnate for reviving Sanatana Dharma at a time when doctrines such as those of the Buddhists had clouded the faith of the people in the Karma Kanda of the Vedas and the Advaita Siddhanta of the Upanishads. People were not performing even the basic Karma of Sandhyavandanam – न सन्ध्यादीनि कर्माणि न्यासं वा कदाचन. No one wished to even hear the word “Yaga”, let alone performing it. श्रुते पिदधति श्रोत्रे क्रतुरित्यक्षरद्वये. It was at such a juncture that Kumarila Bhattapada revived the Karma Kanda and Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada expounded the Advaita Siddhanta.

Sri Adi Shankaracharya does not deem everything to be illusory for everyone. Karma, Bhakti and Upasana are all necessary for Jnana – प्राक्ब्रह्मात्मैकतत्वविज्ञानात् सर्वव्यवहाराणामेव प्रामाण्यसिद्धेः – All these are unnecessary only for a Brahma Jnani

The non-dual philosophy of the Upanishads does not decry the Karma enjoined in the Vedas.

There are numerous statements in the Vedas that instruct man to perform Karmas. So if one decries Karma, would not one be attributing falsehood to these statements in the Vedas. Sri Adi Shankaracharya Himself says that one has to accept the authority of the Vedas in totality and not associate authority with only select statements in the Vedas –

न हि वेदवाक्येषु कस्यचित्प्रामाण्यं कस्यचिदप्रामाण्यं इति सम्भवति प्रमाणत्वाविशेषात्

So it is a misunderstanding if one believes that Sri Adi Shankaracharya has given no role for Karma, Bhakti and Upasana. They are all required until the dawn of Brahma Jnana.

In fact, the first instructions of Sri Adi Shankaracharya in His Upadesha Panchakam are to study the Vedas and perform the Karmas enjoined therein – वेदो नित्यमधीयताम् , तदुदितं कर्म स्वनुष्ठीयताम् . Sri Adi Shankaracharya has used the Upasarga (prefix) – सु in the word स्वनुष्ठीयताम् to mean श्रद्धया अनुष्ठीयताम् – perform the Karmas with great Shraddha (faith). Only the last instruction of the Upadesha Panchakam states – अथ परब्रह्मात्मना स्थीयताम् – Remain in the state of Brahman. This is because nothing needs to be done in such a state. Nothing can be done in such a state of Self-realization for there is no distinction as “this” is the doer of the action and “that” is the action that needs to be performed. When such a distinction no more exists and one revels in the state of non-duality. That is why the Upanishads declare –

आत्मानं चेद्विजानीयात् अहमस्मीति पूरुषः ।
किमिच्छन् कस्य कामाय शरीरमनुसञ्ज्वरेत् ॥

Some ignorant people without understanding the philosophy of Sri Bhagavatpadal spread the idea that the Acharya has termed everything as illusory. Consequently some people believe this wrong notion and even develop a sense of indifference towards the Acharya. However one has to properly understand the philosophy.

Besides writing sophisticated commentaries to describe the abstruse philosophy of Advaita, Sri Adi Shankaracharya has given a number of instructions that are applicable to all and for all times to come. Take for instance four simple instructions –

गेयं गीतानामसहस्रं ध्येयं श्रीपतिरूपमजस्रम् ।
ज्ञेयं सज्जनसङ््गे चित्तं देयं दीनजनाय च वित्तम् ॥

Chant the names of the Lord, remember the Lord’s form, be in the company of Satpurushas and donate to the needy.

The Jagadguru then explained why Sri Adi Shankaracharya has given these four instructions –

कलेर्दोषनिधे राजन्नस्ति ह्येको महान् गुणः ।
कीर्तनादेव एव यत्सद्यो नरः पापात्प्रमुच्यते ॥

We attribute all issues in the present day by saying “Well, this is Kali Yuga”. Even though Kali Yuga is filled with evils, it has one uniqueness – the mere chanting of the Lord’s name can free one from sins. Such is the greatness of the chanting of the Lord’s names in the Kali Yuga. The same benefit accrues only out of various other means in the other Yugas:

ध्यायन् कृते यजन्यज्ञैः त्रेतायां द्वापरेऽर्चयन् ।
यदाप्नोति तदाप्नोति कलौ सङ्कीर्त्य केशवम् ॥

In Krita Yuga, one has to perform penance and meditation. In the Treta Yuga, one has to perform a number of sacrifices. In Dwapura Yuga, one has to engage in worship. Whatever benefit one reaps out of these, one gets by the mere chanting of the Lord’s name in Kali Yuga. This cannot be dismissed as “Arthavaada” or the mere praise of the practice of the chanting of Divine Names. Some scholars feel that it is indeed mere praise. However such people must realize that, “नाम्नि अर्थवादभ्रमः” – “dismissing the greatness of the Divine name as a mere praise” is classified as a sin. The fact is that the Lord’s Names indeed have such power and the efficacy to bring about your welfare.

Have the Lord’s form in your mind always. Do not harbour unnecessary and prohibited thoughts. Never indulge in useless prattle or worthless action. Instead, spend your time in chanting the Lord’s names and remembering His form. One need not spend any money to chant the Lord’s names or concentrate on His form.

The Jagadguru then pointed out that – संसर्गजा दोषगुणा भवन्ति – man’s character (the good and bad qualities he develops) is determined by the kind of company he has. Hence develop the company of Satpurushas.

Engage in charity without the expectation of anything in return. This is why the Lord has said the word “अनुपकारिणे” in the Gita – दातव्यमिति यद्दानं दीयतेऽनुपकारिणे ।

Thus, Sri Adi Shankaracharya has given such instructions that benefit us. His very name Shankara means one who brings about welfare – शं करोति इति शङ्करः. Hence we must ever remember the Acharya and act according to His instructions.

The Jagadguru then remembered that Gurubhaktamani Ramaswamy Raja had helped conduct the 1957 Chaturmasya of His Guru, Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahaswamiji in Courtralam and his son, Gurubhaktamani Ramasubrahmanya Raja had the fortune of organizing the conduct of the 1964 Coutralam of the Mahaswamiji. The Jagadguru expressed joy that such devotion continues in the family of the Rajas of Rajapalayam and blessed the gathering and performed the Sharada Chandramoulishwara Puja at Sri Rama Mandiram.


At the Veda Pathashala

On the evening of 14th May, the Jagadguru graced the Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Bharati Veda Pathashala and inaugurated the life-like marble statue of His Guru, Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahaswamiji.

In the public function organized during the occasion, Gurubhaktamani Ramasubrahmanya Raja spoke about two striking events. The devotees at Rajapalayam had long desired to get a particular stretch of land near the Pathashala for establishing a branch of the Peetham at Rajapalayam. Even after repeated efforts over many years, there were difficulties in acquiring the land. Sri Raja then said that the day before the Jagadguru’s arrival to Rajapalayam, as if by divine will, the difficulties were overcome, and the land was procured for the purposes of the construction of a branch and the Jagadguru was to lay the foundation for the same after the function ended. The second aspect highlighted by Sri Raja was that at the exact moment the Jagadguru inaugurated the marble statue of His Guru, Sri Mahasannidhanam and the Ashtottara Archana of Sri Mahasannidhanam was being performed, a huge downpour began and cooled the entire environment as if to signify the Grace of the Guru. It is worth mentioning that the downpour persisted for nearly 45 minutes, reducing slowly as the Jagadguru began His Anugraha Bhashanam and stopping completely when the Jagadguru ended His Anugraha Bhashanam.

The Jagadguru also released three books on the occasion, the details of which are given below.

In His Anugraha Bhashanam, the Jagadguru expressed joy at having inaugurated of the marble statue of His Guru, Praatas-smaraneeya Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahaswamiji in the serene atmosphere of the Pathashala. Gurubhaktamani Ramasubrahmanya Raja has intense devotion towards Mahasannidhanam and has been the recipient of His unbounded compassion.

Sri Adi Shankaracharya has said that three things are extremely rare and can be obtained only by the Grace of the Lord by the fortunate one – a human birth, the intense desire for liberation and the association of Mahapurushas. The Acharya has described a Mahapurusha as –

शान्ता महान्तो निवसन्ति सन्तो वसन्तवल्लोकहितं चरन्तः ।
तीर्णाः स्वयं भीमभवार्णवं जनानहेतुनाऽन्यानपि तारयन्तः ॥

Mahatmas are equipoised, magnanimous and ever striving for the good of others. Even though they are not duty bound, they would constantly take efforts to bring about the welfare of others. All these characteristics were found in Our Guru. He had divine qualities such as Shama (sense control) and Dama (control of the mind). He wished the welfare of all, and that everyone must remain devoid of suffering and stay happy. If He saw someone suffering, He would be deeply moved by it and strove to remove that suffering. He undertook Vijaya Yatras solely for the benefit of mankind. His first Vijaya Yatra was for a period of six years from 1956 to 1962. But for this, the message of Sri Adi Shankaracharya and the greatness of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham would not have spread. Once again, disregarding physical strain, He undertook another four-year Vijaya Yatra from 1964 to 1968.

The association with Satpurushas brings about a transformation in us. The noble qualities in them also start manifesting in us by our continued association with them. The Lord says in the Bhagavad Gita that Jnanis having realized the Self, will bestow Jnana on one who surrenders – उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्त्वदर्शिनः ।

However it is not easy to find such Jnanis. Our Guru was one such rare personage. He was blessed by Our Paramaguru, Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamiji who is well-known to be the equivalent of great Jnanis of yore such as Sri Shuka and Sri Vamadeva. Our Paramaguru was indeed a Parama Jnani and Jivanmukta like Sri Sadashiva Brahmendra.

He wrote a commentary on Sri Adi Shankaracharya’s Vivekachoodamani but had stopped short of completing it. When our Guru requested Him to complete it, He replied – वक्तव्या अत्रैव सङ्गृहीताः । निदिध्यासनमन्तरा नाधुना अन्यत्र चित्तं व्यापृनोति । – “I have said all that needs to be said. The mind does not go anywhere else but wishes to remain in Nididhyasana”. Today, we keep talking about Vedanta but Our Paramaguru brought it to practice. He indeed remained in Nididhyasana that is defined as विजातीयप्रत्ययानन्तरितसजातीयप्रत्ययप्रवाहः (uninterrupted contemplation on the Self).

The Anugraha of such a Mahatma was received by Our Guru. Our Guru, Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahaswamiji received Drishti Deeksha, Sparsha Deeksha and was taught Vedanta personally by the Mahatma. The Mahatma transformed His disciple like Himself. Has not Sri Adi Shankaracharya said –

दृष्टान्तो नैव दृष्टस्त्रिभुवनजठरे सद्गुरोर्ज्ञानदातुः
स्पर्शश्चेत्तत्र कलप्यः स नयति यदहो स्वहृतामश्मसारम् ।
न स्पर्शत्वं तथापि श्रितचरगुणयुगे सद्गुरुः स्वीयशिष्ये
स्वीयं साम्यं विधत्ते भवति निरुपमस्तेवालौकिकोऽपि ॥

That is why Our Guru too had such greatness. He blessed a number of disciples and Ramasubrahmanya Raja is one of such Shishyas.

Our Guru stressed that people must adhere to Svadharma and cultivate divine qualities (daivi sampat) as the Lord has said – दैवी संपद्विमोक्षाय निबन्धायासुरी मता – divine qualities lead to Moksha while demoniac qualities result in bondage. As the Lord says in the Gita – दया भूतेष्वलोलुप्त्वं मार्दवं ह्रीरचापलम् , Our Guru instructed disciples to have compassion towards all beings, to speak softly and pleasingly. One must have shame when it comes to performing an act that is prohibited – अकार्यकरणे ह्रीः and when one hears himself praised by others – स्वगुणश्लाघश्रवणे ह्रीः

Once such a path of good is taken, there cannot be any chance for degradation. मार्गस्थो नावसीदति.

While Moksha cannot be attained easily, one must not stray away from the path. Some people become impatient and ask how long would it take to attain Moksha. They even get frustrated and tend to give up. The Jagadguru said that one should not give up one’s efforts in Sadhana but must persevere. If you start towards Kashi by foot, will you be able to reach Kashi in a few days? You have to undertake efforts and must not give up midway. Hence people must start to follow the path of righteousness and stick to it.

The Jagadguru remembered that the role played by Sri Ramasubrahmanya Raja during the installation of the marble statue of His Guru after His Siddhi at the Adhishtanam in Sringeri.

The Jagadguru then expressed happiness over visiting the Veda Pathashala. Veda is the Pramana (means of knowledge) and Prana (life-force) of Dharma. One whose duty is to study the Vedas must study it. Similarly, one who is eligible to teach the Vedas must teach, and those who can nurture and support the propagation of such Vedic education must do so. The Jagadguru also pointed out that there was a time when Veda Ghosha was being heard in every village and town of the nation. Now, at places such as these, an attempt is being made to revive those days.

The Jagadguru stressed that Aachara (rightful conduct) is very important and is the foremost Dharma – अाचारः प्रथमो धर्मः. The Veda must be studied in accordance to our tradition. Portions of the Vedas that have been studied in the past must not be forgotten. Neither must the Veda be recited by a Vidyarthi by looking at a book and quoted the Shloka that states how the Vedas must not be chanted –

गीथी शीघ्री शिरःकम्पी तथा लिखितपाठकः ।
अनर्थज्ञो अल्पकण्ठश्च षडैते पाठकाधमः ॥

The Jagadguru then spoke about the 3 books released on the occasion. The first one is a Tamil translation of the Bhashyam (commentary) written by Sri Adi Shankaracharya on the Ishavasya Upanishad. Though brief in nature, the commentary is very useful for people who cannot completely study the Bhashyas.

The second book consists of two parts, of which the first explains the meaning of the various titles of the Sringeri Jagadguru (the Birudavali) in Tamil. The second part contains the text and translation of the work, ब्रह्मविदाशीर्वादपद्धतिः – Brahmavid-aasheervaada-paddhatiH, by Jagadguru Sri Vidyaranya, the 12th Acharya of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham. The Jagadguru mentioned that this work beautifully explains that only the qualifications to attain Brahma Jnana, and Brahma Jnana are important for a seeker. He must never have any longing for any kind of worldly desires.

The Jagadguru also spoke of the third released book whose print He had personally initiated. The work titled देशिकाष्टकम् – Deshikashtakam, was written by late Krishnarayapuram Shankara Deekshitar who had great sense control and belonged to the first batch of students (1927-1933) of the Vedanta Pathashala at the Sringeri Shankara Math, Adi Shankara Janmabhoomi Kshetram, Kalady. Sri Shankara Deekshitar had great reverence towards Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada and had penned an octad of verses on the Acharya concisely bringing out the depiction given in the Acharya’s biography Sri Madhaviya Shankara Digvijaya. Sri Deekshitar had written himself wrote descriptive notes for these eight verses in Sanskrit and Tamil, which also have been printed in the book.

The Jagadguru stated that anyone who has even a little inclination towards Vedanta must definitely study these three books. The Jagadguru then blessed the students of the Pathashala and then performed the Bhoomi Puja for constructing a new Sringeri Shankara Math at the land, mentioned earlier by Sri Raja. The Jagadguru also inaugurated the new Kalyana Mandapam of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams at Rajapalayam.

On 15th May, the Jagadguru blessed the residents of Rajapalayam with Mantrakshata. In the late afternoon, the Jagadguru started for Aruppukkottai and en route, had Darshan of Sri Adi Shankaracharya Moorti at the Sringeri Shankara Math at Srivilliputtur and blessed the devotees.


Anugraha Bhashanam at Rajapalayam Pathashala