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Defending Sri Caitanya

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I can hardly be expected to read and respond to all of that mass 'copy and pasteing', nor do I have an ounce of respect for such tactics (think for yourself, don't just parrot!).

Thnking for yourself won't reveal the absolute truth. Sukadeva was Srimate Radhika's parrot. No problem repeating in the same way.




From what I have had time to read over so far seems to be alot of Puranas and other secondary (or even sect specific) scripture, which first off must be rejected if contadicts Shruti, and second of all are alegorical tales not to be taken literaly, all characters are simply plot devices to deliver Vedic truths through simple stories (for simple people). Besides that there seem to be alot of "quotes" without verse number referances and I doubt the poster ever actualy opened up the scriptures and read them for himself, again he's just a 'copy and paste' parrot with no real understandig of Shruti.

I will get to what I can get to in my responses (I do have better things to do than argue with brainwashed people). However I have quoted the most authoratative of all Vedic literature, the major Upanishads, (in other threads) in support of Advaita (and will post more soon) ,that I studied and found myself without having to 'copy and paste' from a propaganda site, that no one has yet to explain how the Shruti can say this and them self still concider Vedanta to be anything but Advaitic.

Srila Rupa Goswami says in his Bhakti-rsamrta-sindhu 1.2.101 :


sruti-smrti-puranadi-pancaratra-vidhim vina

atyantiki harer bhaktir utpatayaiva kalpate


"Devotional service of the Lord that ignores the authorized Vedic literature like the Upanisads, Puranas and Narada-pancaratra is simply an unnecessary disturbance in society."


Rejecting the puranic literatues means you don't also accept the Srimad Bhagavatam, which was Srila Vyasadeva's own commentary on all the sruti, he compiled. Unless you don't accept him either. Then what can be done?

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Shastra is meant to revel the identity of the Supreme Lord, not obscure it.




sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto

mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca

vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo

vedanta-krd veda-vid eva caham




sarvasya--of all living beings; ca--and; aham--I; hrdi--in the heart; sannivistah--being situated; mattah--from Me; smrtih--remembrance; jnanam--knowledge; apohanam ca--and forgetfulness; vedaih--by the Vedas; ca--also; sarvaih--all; aham--I am; eva--certainly; vedyah--knowable; vedanta-krt--the compiler of the Vedanta; veda-vit--the knower of the Vedas; eva--certainly; ca--and; aham--I.



I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas I am to be known; indeed I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.



The Supreme Lord is situated as Paramatma in everyone's heart, and it is from Him that all activities are initiated. The living entity forgets everything of his past life, but he has to act according to the direction of the Supreme Lord, who is witness to all his work. Therefore he begins his work according to his past deeds. Required knowledge is supplied to him, and remembrance is given to him, and he forgets, also, about his past life. Thus, the Lord is not only all-pervading; He is also localized in every individual heart. He awards the different fruitive results. He is not only worshipable as the impersonal Brahman, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the localized Paramatma, but as the form of the incarnation of the Vedas as well. The Vedas give the right direction to the people so that they can properly mold their lives and come back to Godhead, back to home. The Vedas offer knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, and Krsna in His incarnation as Vyasadeva is the compiler of the Vedanta-sutra. The commentation on the Vedanta-sutra by Vyasadeva in the Srimad-Bhagavatam gives the real understanding of Vedanta-sutra. The Supreme Lord is so full that for the deliverance of the conditioned soul He is the supplier and digester of foodstuff, the witness of his activity, the giver of knowledge in the form of Vedas and as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, the teacher of the Bhagavad-gita. He is worshipable by the conditioned soul. Thus God is all-good; God is all-merciful.

Antah-pravistah sasta jananam. The living entity forgets as soon as he quits his present body, but he begins his work again, initiated by the Supreme Lord. Although he forgets, the Lord gives him the intelligence to renew his work where he ended in his last life. So not only does a living entity enjoy or suffer in this world according to the dictation from the Supreme Lord situated locally in the heart, but he receives the opportunity to understand Vedas from Him. If one is serious to understand the Vedic knowledge, then Krsna gives the required intelligence. Why does He present the Vedic knowledge for understanding? Because a living entity individually needs to understand Krsna. Vedic literature confirms this: yo 'sau sarvair vedair giyate. In all Vedic literature, beginning from the four Vedas, Vedanta-sutra and the Upanisads and Puranas, the glories of the Supreme Lord are celebrated. By performing Vedic rituals, discussing the Vedic philosophy and worshiping the Lord in devotional service, He is attained. Therefore the purpose of the Vedas is to understand Krsna. The Vedas give us direction to understand Krsna and the process of understanding. The ultimate goal is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Vedanta-sutra confirms this in the following words: tat tu samanvayat. One can attain perfection by understanding Vedic literature, and one can understand his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead by performing the different processes. Thus one can approach Him and at the end attain the supreme goal, who is no other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this verse, however, the purpose of the Vedas, the understanding of the Vedas and the goal of the Vedas are clearly defined.


His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Bg. As It is 15.15

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Originally Posted by anadi:

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu attacked or denounced too the Maya-vada philosophy


Reply by Kalkin714,

And he was wrong.

It is not wrong to attack or denounce someone else's position. if the act of denouncing other beliefs is incorrect, then Shankara himself stands guilty of the act for denouncing Mimamsa, Buddhism and a bunch of tother systems.


After the time of Shankara, there came some excellent writers in the Advaita line lke Vachaspati Mishra, Chitshuka, Harsha, etc., who in the words of Dr BNK Sharma (a Dvaitin) took Advaita to matchless heights of brilliance. This is coming from someone who is from an anti-advaita system. He also admits that the languid grace of the Advaita writers was never really matched by the other schools.


Quite naturally, people who attempted to start new schools and scholars belonging to rival schools shaped their systems by denouncing Advaita. But the kind of success seen by the Advaitins was not repeated with the later rivals. Even to this day, the Advaitins are the majority spread all over India, marking the failure of the Vaishnava schools (who are mostly confined to small pockets) in successfuly routing the giant. It should also be noted that these Vaihsnava schools differ within themselves on several points.


The credit not only belongs to Shankara but to all the other great scholars who came up in that line.



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Sri Sankaracarya


"The Mayavadis say that the world created by maya is false, and that actually there is no living entity but only one spiritual effulgence. They further say that God is imaginary, that people think of God only because of ignorance, and that when the Supreme Absolute Truth is befooled by the external energy, maya, He becomes a jiva, or living entity. Upon hearing all these nonsensical ideas from the nondevotee, a devotee is greatly afflicted, as if his heart and soul were broken."


Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya lila 2:99


"....Vedanta refers to the essence of Vedic knowledge, and it is not a fact that there is nothing more than Sankaracarya's Sariraka-bhasya. There are other Vedanta commentaries, written by Vaisnava acaryas, none of whom follow Sri Sankaracarya or accept the imaginative commentary of his school. Their commentaries are based on the philosophy of duality. Monist philosophers like Sankaracarya and his followers want to establish that God and the living entity are one, and instead of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead they present themselves as God. They want to be worshiped as God by others. Such persons do not accept the philosophies of the Vaisnava acaryas, which are known as suddhadvaita (purified monism), suddha-dvaita (purified dualism), visistadvaita (specific monism), dvaitadvaita (monism and dualism) and acintya-bhedabheda (inconceivable oneness and difference). Mayavadis do not discuss these philosophies, for they are firmly convinced of their own philosophy of kevaladvaita, exclusive monism. Accepting this system of philosophy as the pure understanding of the Vedanta-sutra, they believe that Krsna has a body made of material elements and that the activities of loving service to Krsna are sentimentality. They are known as Mayavadis because according to their opinion Krsna has a body made of maya, and the loving service of the Lord executed by devotees is also maya. They consider such devotional service to be an aspect of fruitive activities (karma-kanda). According to their view, bhakti consists of mental speculation or sometimes meditation. This is the difference between the Mayavadi and Vaisnava philosophies."


Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 7:101


"One class of transcendentalists is called impersonalistic, Mayavadi. They are generally known as Vedantists, led by Sankaracarya. And there is another class of transcendentalists, called Vaisnavas, like Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Visnu-svami. Both the Sankara-sampradaya and the Vaisnava-sampradaya have accepted Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sankaracarya is supposed to be an impersonalist who preached impersonalism, impersonal Brahman, but it is a fact that he is a covered personalist. In his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita he wrote, "Narayana, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is beyond this cosmic manifestation." And then again he confirmed, "That Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, is Krsna. He has come as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva." He particularly mentioned the names of His father and mother. So Krsna is accepted as the Supreme Personality of Godhead by all transcendentalists. There is no doubt about it."


Sri Isopanisad, Introduction


"When Sri Visnusvami, one of the four acaryas of the Vaisnava cult, presented his thesis on the subject matter of suddhadvaita-vada, immediately the Mayavadis took advantage of this philosophy and tried to establish their advaita-vada or kevaladvaita-vada. To defeat this kevaladvaita-vada, Sri Ramanujacarya presented his philosophy as visistadvaita-vada, and Sri Madhvacarya presented his philosophy of tattva-vada, both of which are stumbling blocks to the Mayavadis because they defeat their philosophy in scrupulous detail. Students of Vedic philosophy know very well how strongly Sri Ramanujacarya's visistadvaita-vada and Sri Madhvacarya's tattva-vada contest the impersonal Mayavada philosophy. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, however, accepted the direct meaning of the Vedanta philosophy and thus defeated the Mayavada philosophy immediately. He opined in this connection that anyone who follows the principles of the Sariraka-bhasya is doomed. This is confirmed in the Padma Purana....


"My dear wife, hear my explanations of how I have spread ignorance through Mayavada philosophy. Simply by hearing it, even an advanced scholar will fall down. In this philosophy, which is certainly very inauspicious for people in general, I have misrepresented the real meaning of the Vedas and recommended that one give up all activities in order to achieve freedom from karma. In this Mayavada philosophy I have described the jivatma and Paramatma to be one and the same." How the Mayavada philosophy was condemned by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers is described in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila, Second Chapter, verses 94 through 99, where Svarupa-damodara Gosvami says that anyone who is eager to understand the Mayavada philosophy must be considered insane. This especially applies to a Vaisnava who reads the Sariraka-bhasya and considers himself to be one with God. The Mayavadi philosophers have presented their arguments in such attractive, flowery language that hearing Mayavada philosophy may sometimes change the mind of even a maha-bhagavata, or very advanced devotee. An actual Vaisnava cannot tolerate any philosophy that claims God and the living being to be one and the same."


Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 7:110


"Sankara's commentary on Vedanta-sutra, known as Sariraka-bhasya, is very much adored by the impersonalist scholars, but commentaries written on the Vedanta written from the materialistic point of view are completely adverse to the transcendental service of the Lord. Consequently Lord Caitanya said that direct commentaries on the Upanisads and Vedanta-sutra are glorious, but that anyone who follows the indirect path of Sankaracarya's Sariraka-bhasya is certainly doomed.


Lord Caitanya admitted that Sankaracarya was an incarnation of Lord Siva, and it is known that Lord Siva is one of the greatest devotees (a mahajana) of the Bhagavata school. There are twelve great authorities on devotional service, and Lord Siva is one of them. Why, then, did he adopt the process of Mayavadi philosophy? The answer is given in Padma Purana, where Lord Siva states:


mayavadam asac-chastram

pracchannam bauddham ucyate

mayaiva kalpitam devi

kalau brahmana-rupina


"The Mayavadi philosophy is veiled Buddhism." In other words, the voidist philosophy of Buddha is more or less repeated in the Mayavadi philosophy of impersonalism, although the Mayavadi philosophy claims to be directed by the Vedic conclusions. Lord Siva, however, admits that this philosophy is manufactured by him in the age of Kali in order to mislead the atheists. "Actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead has His transcendental body," Lord Siva states. "But I describe the Supreme as impersonal. I also explain the Vedanta-sutra according to the same principles of Mayavadi philosophy."


Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Chapter 19


".... Sankaracarya's belief is personal. Actually he is a covered personalist. He became impersonalist just to drive away Buddhism. All of India was Buddhist voidism. So, although a personalist, he had to keep pace with voidism by expounding impersonalism. There is very little difference between impersonalism and voidism, but because he had to bring Buddhists back to the Vedic cultural form, he adopted impersonalism. From the Padma Purana, it is learned that Sankaracarya is Lord Siva, and who can be a greater devotee than Lord Siva? Lord Siva is considered to be the foremost Vaisnava."


Srila Prabhupada Letter to Damodar, 11-12-70


"According to the Vedic teachings, anyone who does not accept the Vedic way of life, he is called atheist. Therefore, according to Vedantists, Buddhists are called atheist. Actually Buddha philosophy does not accept God, neither soul. They simply philosophize on the material elements, and they want to finish the material exis..., dismantle the material elements. Nirvana. So Caitanya Mahaprabhu has remarked that the Buddhists are honest. They frankly say that "We don't accept your Vedas." But the Shankarites, they are cheaters, because they are accepting Vedas, but on the basis of Buddha philosophy. That is cheating."


Srila Prabhupada Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam, 09-17-72, Los Angeles


Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

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"Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha constitute this second quadruple. They are purely transcendental."



"Purport: Sripada Sankaracarya has misleadingly explained the quadruple form (catur-vyuha) in his interpretation of the forty-second aphorism of Chapter Two of the second khanda of the Vedanta-sutra (utpatty-asambhavat). In verses 41 through 47 of this chapter of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami answers Sripada Sankaracarya's misleading objections to the personal feature of the Absolute Truth.


The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth, is not like a material object that can be known by experimental knowledge or sense perception. In the Narada-pancaratra this fact has been explained by Narayana Himself to Lord Siva. But Sankaracarya, the incarnation of Siva, under the order of Narayana, his master, had to mislead the monists, who favor ultimate extinction. In the conditioned stage of existence, all living entities have four basic defects, of which one is the cheating propensity. Sankaracarya has carried this cheating propensity to the extreme to mislead the monists.


Actually, the quadruple forms explained in the Vedic literature cannot be understood by the speculation of a conditioned soul. The quadruple forms should therefore be accepted just as They are described. The authority of the Vedas is such that even if one does not understand something by his limited perception, he should accept the Vedic injunction and not create interpretations to suit his imperfect understanding. In his Sariraka-bhasya, however, Sankaracarya has increased the misunderstanding of the monists.


The quadruple forms have a spiritual existence that can be realized in vasudeva-sattva (suddha-sattva), or unqualified goodness, which accompanies complete absorption in the understanding of Vasudeva. The quadruple forms, who are full of the six opulences of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, are the enjoyers of the internal potency. Thinking the absolute Personality of Godhead to be poverty-stricken or to have no potency--or, in other words, to be impotent--is simply rascaldom. This rascaldom is the profession of the conditioned soul, and it increases his bewilderment. One who cannot understand the distinctions between the spiritual world and the material world has no qualification to examine or know the situation of the transcendental quadruple forms. In his commentary on Vedanta-sutra 2.2.42-45, His Holiness Sripada Sankaracarya has made a futile attempt to nullify the existence of these quadruple forms in the spiritual world.


Sankaracarya says (sutra 42) that devotees think the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vasudeva, Sri Krsna, to be one, to be free from material qualities and to have a transcendental body full of bliss and eternal existence. He is the ultimate goal of the devotees, who believe that the Supreme Personality of Godhead expands Himself into four other eternal transcendental forms--Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. From Vasudeva, who is the primary expansion, come Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha in that order. Another name of Vasudeva is Paramatma, another name of Sankarsana is jiva (the living entity), another name of Pradyumna is mind, and another name of Aniruddha is ahankara (false ego). Among these expansions, Vasudeva is considered the origin of material nature. Therefore Sankaracarya says that Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha must be creations of that original cause.


Great souls assert that Narayana, who is known as Paramatma, the Supersoul, is beyond material nature, and this is in accordance with the statements of the Vedic literature. Mayavadis also agree that Narayana can expand Himself in various forms. Sankara says that he does not attempt to argue that portion of the devotees' understanding, but he must protest the idea that Sankarsana is produced from Vasudeva, Pradyumna is produced from Sankarsana, and Aniruddha is produced from Pradyumna, for if Sankarsana is understood to represent the living entities created from the body of Vasudeva, the living entities would have to be noneternal. The living entities are supposed to be freed from material contamination by engaging in prolonged temple worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, reading Vedic literature and performing yoga and pious activities to attain the Supreme Lord. But if the living entities had been created from material nature at a certain point, they would be noneternal and would have no chance to be liberated and associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When a cause is nullified, its results are nullified. In the second chapter of the Vedanta-sutra's second khanda, Acarya Vedavyasa has also refuted the conception that the living beings were ever born (natma sruter nityatvac ca tabhyah). Because there is no creation for the living entities, they must be eternal.


Sankaracarya says (sutra 43) that devotees think that Pradyumna, who is considered to represent the senses, has sprung from Sankarsana, who is considered to represent the living entities. But we cannot actually experience that a person can produce senses. Devotees also say that from Pradyumna has sprung Aniruddha, who is considered to represent the ego. But Sankaracarya says that unless the devotees can show how ego and the means of knowledge can generate from a person, such an explanation of the Vedanta-sutra cannot be accepted, for no other philosophers accept the sutras in that way.


Sankaracarya also says (sutra 44) that he cannot accept the devotees' idea that Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are equally as powerful as the absolute Personality of Godhead, full in the six opulences of knowledge, wealth, strength, fame, beauty and renunciation, and free from the flaw of generation at a certain point. Even if They are full expansions, the flaw of generation remains. Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, being distinct individual persons, cannot be one. Therefore if They are accepted as absolute, full and equal, there would have to be many Personalities of Godhead. But there is no need to accept that there are many Personalities of Godhead, because acceptance of one omnipotent God is sufficient for all purposes. The acceptance of more than one God is contradictory to the conclusion that Lord Vasudeva, the absolute Personality of Godhead, is one without a second. Even if we agree to accept that the quadruple forms of Godhead are all identical, we cannot avoid the incongruous flaw of noneternity. Unless we accept that there are some differences among the personalities, there is no meaning to the idea that Sankarsana is an expansion of Vasudeva, Pradyumna is an expansion of Sankarsana, and Aniruddha is an expansion of Pradyumna. There must be a distinction between cause and effect. For example, a pot is distinct from the earth from which it is made, and therefore we can ascertain that the earth is the cause and the pot is the effect. Without such distinctions, there is no meaning to cause and effect. Furthermore, the followers of the Pancaratric principles do not accept any differences in knowledge and qualities between Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. The devotees accept all these expansions to be one, but why should they restrict oneness to these quadruple expansions? Certainly we should not do so, for all living entities, from Brahma to the insignificant ant, are expansions of Vasudeva, as accepted in all the srutis and smrtis.


Sankaracarya also says (sutra 45) that the devotees who follow the Pancaratra state that God's qualities and God Himself, as the owner of the qualities, are the same. But how can the Bhagavata school state that the six opulences--wisdom, wealth, strength, fame, beauty and renunciation--are identical with Lord Vasudeva? This is impossible.


In his Laghu-bhagavatamrta (Purva 5.165-193), Srila Rupa Gosvami has refuted the charges directed against the devotees by Sripada Sankaracarya regarding their explanation of the quadruple forms Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. He says that these four expansions of Narayana are present in the spiritual sky, where They are famous as Mahavastha. Among Them, Vasudeva is worshiped within the heart by meditation because He is the predominating Deity of the heart, as explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.3.23).


Sankarsana, the second expansion, is Vasudeva's personal expansion for pastimes, and since He is the reservoir of all living entities, He is sometimes called jiva. The beauty of Sankarsana is more than that of innumerable full moons radiating light beams. He is worshipable as the principle of ego. He has invested Anantadeva with all the potencies of sustenance. For the dissolution of the creation, He also exhibits Himself as the Supersoul in Rudra, irreligiosity, sarpa (the snake), antaka (death) and the demons.


Pradyumna, the third manifestation, appears from Sankarsana. Those who are especially intelligent worship this Pradyumna expansion of Sankarsana as the principle of the intelligence. The goddess of fortune always chants the glories of Pradyumna in the place known as Ilavrta-varsa, and she always serves Him with great devotion. His complexion appears sometimes golden and sometimes bluish like new monsoon clouds in the sky. He is the origin of the creation of the material world, and He has invested His creative principle in Cupid. It is by His direction only that all men and demigods and other living entities function with energy for regeneration.


Aniruddha, the fourth of the quadruple expansions, is worshiped by great sages and psychologists as the principle of the mind. His complexion is similar to the bluish hue of a blue cloud. He engages in the maintenance of the cosmic manifestation and is the Supersoul of Dharma (the deity of religiosity), the Manus (the progenitors of mankind) and the devatas (demigods). The Moksa-dharma Vedic scripture indicates that Pradyumna is the Deity of the total mind, whereas Aniruddha is the Deity of the total ego, but previous statements regarding the quadruple forms are confirmed in the Pancaratra tantras in all respects.


......How the Mayavadis have misrepresented the pancaratrika-vidhi will be shown below.


(1) In commenting on Vedanta-sutra 2.2.42, Sripada Sankaracarya has claimed that Sankarsana is a jiva, an ordinary living entity, but there is no evidence in any Vedic scripture that devotees of the Lord have ever said that Sankarsana is an ordinary living entity. He is an infallible plenary expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the Visnu category, and He is beyond the creation of material nature. He is the original source of the living entities. The Upanisads declare, nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam: "He is the supreme living entity among all the living entities." Therefore He is vibhu-caitanya, the greatest. He is directly the cause of the cosmic manifestation and the infinitesimal living beings. He is the infinite living entity, and ordinary living entities are infinitesimal. Therefore He is never to be considered an ordinary living being, for that would be against the conclusion of the authorized scriptures. The living entities are also beyond the limitations of birth and death. This is the version of the Vedas, and it is accepted by those who follow scriptural injunctions and who have actually descended in the disciplic succession.


(2) In answer to Sankaracarya's commentary on Vedanta-sutra 2.2.43, it must be said that the original Visnu of all the Visnu categories, which are distributed in several ways, is Mula-sankarsana. Mula means "the original." Sankarsana is also Visnu, but from Him all other Visnus expand. This is confirmed in the Brahma-samhita, wherein it is said that just as a flame transferred from another flame acts like the original, so the Visnus who emanate from Mulasankarsana are as good as the original Visnu. One should worship that Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda, who thus expands Himself.


(3) In reply to the commentary of Sankaracarya on the forty-fourth aphorism, it may be said that no pure devotees strictly following the principles of Pancaratra will ever accept the statement that all the expansions of Visnu are different identities, for this idea is completely false. Even Sripada Sankaracarya, in his commentary on the forty-second aphorism, has accepted that the Personality of Godhead can automatically expand Himself variously. Therefore his commentary on the forty-second aphorism and his commentary on the forty-fourth aphorism are contradictory. It is a defect of Mayavada commentaries that they make one statement in one place and a contradictory statement in another place as a tactic to refute the Bhagavata school. Thus Mayavadi commentators do not even follow regulative principles. It should be noted that the Bhagavata school accepts the quadruple forms of Narayana, but that does not mean that it accepts many Gods. Devotees know perfectly well that the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is one without a second. They are never pantheists, worshipers of many Gods, for this is against the injunction of the Vedas. Devotees completely believe, with strong faith, that Narayana is transcendental and has inconceivable proprietorship of various transcendental potencies. We therefore recommend that scholars consult the Laghu-bhagavatamrta of Srila Rupa Gosvami, where these ideas are explicitly stated. Sripada Sankaracarya has tried to prove that Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha expand through cause and effect. He has compared Them with earth and earthen pots. That is completely ignorant, however, for there is no such thing as cause and effect in Their expansions (nanyad yat sad-asat-param). The Kurma Purana also confirms, deha-dehi-vibhedo 'yam nesvare vidyate kvacit: "There is no difference between body and soul in the Supreme Personality of Godhead." Cause and effect are material. For example, it is seen that a father's body is the cause of a son's body, but the soul is neither cause nor effect. On the spiritual platform there are none of the differences we find in cause and effect. Since all the forms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are spiritually supreme, They are equally controllers of material nature. Standing on the fourth dimension, They are predominating figures on the transcendental platform. There is no trace of material contamination in Their expansions because material laws cannot influence Them. There is no such rule as cause and effect outside of the material world. Therefore the understanding of cause and effect cannot approach the full, transcendental, complete expansions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Vedic literature proves this:


om purnam adah purnam idam

purnat purnam udacyate

purnasya purnam adaya

purnam evavasisyate


"The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the complete whole is also complete by itself. Because He is the complete whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance." (Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad 5.1) It is most apparent that nondevotees violate the rules and regulations of devotional service to equate the whole cosmic manifestation, which is the external feature of Visnu, with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the controller of maya, or with His quadruple expansions. The equalization of maya and spirit, or maya and the Lord, is a sign of atheism. The cosmic creation, which manifests life in forms from Brahma to the ant, is the external feature of the Supreme Lord. It comprises one fourth of the Lord's energy, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (ekamsena sthito jagat). The cosmic manifestation of the illusory energy is material nature, and everything within material nature is made of matter. Therefore, one should not try to compare the expansions of material nature to the catur-vyuha, the quadruple expansions of the Personality of Godhead, but unfortunately the Mayavadi school unreasonably attempts to do this.


(4) To answer Sankaracarya's commentary on Vedanta-sutra 2.2.45, the substance of the transcendental qualities and their spiritual nature is described in the Laghu-bhagavatamrta (Purva 5.208-214) as follows: "Some say that transcendence must be void of all qualities because qualities are manifested only in matter. According to them, all qualities are like temporary, flickering mirages. But this is not acceptable. Since the Supreme Personality of Godhead is absolute, His qualities are nondifferent from Him. His form, name, qualities and everything else pertaining to Him are as spiritual as He is. Every qualitative expansion of the absolute Personality of Godhead is identical with Him. Since the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, is the reservoir of all pleasure, all the transcendental qualities that expand from Him are also reservoirs of pleasure. This is confirmed in the scripture known as Brahma-tarka, which states that the Supreme Lord Hari is qualified by Himself, and therefore Visnu and His pure devotees and their transcendental qualities cannot be different from their persons. In the Visnu Purana Lord Visnu is worshiped in the following words: 'Let the Supreme Personality of Godhead be merciful toward us. His existence is never infected by material qualities.' In the same Visnu Purana it is also said that all the qualities attributed to the Supreme Lord, such as knowledge, opulence, beauty, strength and influence, are known to be nondifferent from Him. This is also confirmed in the Padma Purana, which explains that whenever the Supreme Lord is described as having no qualities, this should be understood to indicate that He is devoid of material qualities. In the First Chapter of Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.16.29) it is said: 'O Dharma, protector of religious principles, all noble and sublime qualities are eternally manifested in the person of Krsna, and devotees and transcendentalists who aspire to become faithful also desire to possess such transcendental qualities.' " It is therefore to be understood that Lord Sri Krsna, the transcendental form of absolute bliss, is the fountainhead of all pleasurable transcendental qualities and inconceivable potencies. In this connection we may recommend references to Srimad-Bhagavatam, Third Canto, Chapter Twenty-Six, verses 21, 25, 27 and 28.


Sripada Ramanujacarya has also refuted the arguments of Sankara in his own commentary on the Vedanta-sutra, which is known as the Sri-bhasya: "Sripada Sankaracarya has tried to equate the Pancaratras with the philosophy of the atheist Kapila, and thus he has tried to prove that the Pancaratras contradict the Vedic injunctions. The Pancaratras state that the personality of jiva called Sankarsana has emerged from Vasudeva, the supreme cause of all causes, that Pradyumna, the mind, has come from Sankarsana, and that Aniruddha, the ego, has come from Pradyumna. But one cannot say that the living entity (jiva) takes birth or is created, for such a statement is against the injunction of the Vedas. As stated in the Katha Upanisad (2.18), living entities, as individual spiritual souls, can have neither birth nor death. All Vedic literature declares that the living entities are eternal. Therefore when it is said that Sankarsana is jiva, this indicates that He is the predominating Deity of the living entities. Similarly, Pradyumna is the predominating Deity of the mind, and Aniruddha is the predominating Deity of the ego.


"It has been said that Pradyumna, the mind, was produced from Sankarsana. But if Sankarsana were a living entity, this could not be accepted, because a living entity cannot be the cause of the mind. The Vedic injunctions state that everything--including life, mind and the senses--comes from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is impossible for the mind to be produced by a living entity, for the Vedas state that everything comes from the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Lord.


"Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha have all the potent features of the absolute Personality of Godhead, according to the revealed scriptures, which contain undeniable facts that no one can refute. Therefore these quadruple forms are never to be considered ordinary living beings. Each of Them is a plenary expansion of the Absolute Godhead, and thus each is identical with the Supreme Lord in knowledge, opulence, energy, influence, prowess and potencies. The evidence of Pancaratra cannot be neglected. Only untrained persons who have not genuinely studied the Pancaratras think that the Pancaratras contradict the srutis regarding the birth or beginning of the living entity. In this connection, we must accept the verdict of Srimad-Bhagavatam, which says: 'The absolute Personality of Godhead, who is known as Vasudeva and who is very affectionate toward His surrendered devotees, expands Himself in quadruple forms who are subordinate to Him and at the same time identical with Him in all respects.' The Pauskara-samhita states: 'The scriptures that recommend that brahmanas worship the quadruple forms of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are called agamas [authorized works of Vedic literature].' In all Vaisnava literature it is said that worshiping these quadruple forms is as good as worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vasudeva, who in His different expansions, complete in six opulences, can accept offerings from His devotees of the results of their prescribed duties. Worshiping the expansions for pastimes, such as Nrsimha, Rama, Sesa and Kurma, promotes one to the worship of the Sankarsana quadruple. From that position one is raised to the platform of worshiping Vasudeva, the Supreme Brahman. In the Pauskara-samhita it is said: 'If one fully worships according to the regulative principles, one can attain the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva.' It is to be accepted that Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are as good as Lord Vasudeva, for They all have inconceivable power and can accept transcendental forms like Vasudeva. Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are never born, but They can manifest Themselves in various incarnations before the eyes of pure devotees. This is the conclusion of all Vedic literature. That the Lord can manifest Himself before His devotees by His inconceivable power is not against the teaching of the Pancaratra. Since Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are actually the predominating Deities of all living entities, the total mind and the total ego, the descriptions of Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha as jiva, mind and ego are never contradictory to the statements of the scriptures. These names identify these Deities, just as the terms 'sky' and 'light' sometimes identify the Absolute Brahman.


"The scriptures completely deny the birth or production of the living entity. In the Parama-samhita it is described that material nature, which is used for others' purposes, is factually inert and always subject to transformation. The field of material nature is the arena of the activities of fruitive actors, and since the material field is externally related with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is also eternal. In every samhita, the jiva (living entity) has been accepted as eternal, and in the Pancaratra the birth of the jiva is completely denied. Anything that is produced must also be annihilated. Therefore if we accept the birth of the living entity, we also have to accept his annihilation. But since the Vedic literature says that the living entity is eternal, one should not think the living being to be produced at a certain time. In the beginning of the Parama-samhita it is definitely stated that the face of material nature is constantly changeable. Therefore 'beginning,' 'annihilation' and all such terms are applicable only in the material nature.


"Considering all these points, one should understand that Sankaracarya's statement that Sankarsana is born as a jiva is completely against the Vedic statements. His assertions are completely refuted by the above arguments. In this connection the commentary of Sridhara Svami on Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.1.34) is very helpful."


For a detailed refutation of Sankaracarya's arguments to prove Sankarsana an ordinary living being, one may refer to Srimat Sudarsanacarya's commentary on Sri-bhasya, which is known as the Sruta-prakasika."


Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi lila 5:41


Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.

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Spiritual Leaders - Gaudiya-Vaisnava Acaryas (gurus)




The Incarnation of Lord Shiva

By Jeffrey Wallace

Originally published in The Clarion Call

Ours is an age of inquiry into the secrets of the cosmos and life itself. As intelligent people, we yearn to know what is beyond. We study the nature of things ion this world to further our understanding of who we are and where we came from. We fill our library shelves with volumes of books so that future generations may share in the wealth of our discoveries. We do all these things in the name of science and the advancement of knowledge, But we are not the first people to inquire about the mysteries of life. In fact, many great civilizations before ours have penetrated deep into the unknown. One such era in bygone days was that of Shankaracarya, who pioneered a paradigm of enlightened thought, the dawning of advaita vedanta.


During the eight century A.D., when Shankaracarya appeared in India, the authority of the vedas which guide humanity toward progressive immortality, had been greatly minimized by the pervading influence of Buddhist thought. At the time, most of India's philosophers, in pursuance of the teaching of Buddha's sunyarada philosophy of negative existence or prakrirt nirvana, had renounced the vedic conception of isvara (the Absolute Truth) and jiva (the eternal spark of the same). Under the patronage of powerful emperors like Ashoka (243 B.C.), Buddhism had spread throughout the length and breadth of India. By dint of his vast learning and his ability to defeat opposing philosophies in philosophical debate, Shankaracarya, however, was able to reestablish the prestige of the Vedic literature's such as the Upanisads and the Vedanta.


Wherever Shankaracarya traveled in India he was victorious and opposing philosophies bowed. Shankaracarya established his doctrine, advaita-vedanta, nondualistic Vedanta, by reconciling the philosophy of the Buddhists. He agreed with the Buddhist concept that corporal existence is unreal or asat -- but he disagreed with their conception of prakriti nirvana.


Shankaracarya presented brahman, spiritual substance as a positive alternative to the illusory plane of matter. His philosophy in a nutshell is contained in the verse, brahma satyam jagan-mithya -- brahman or spirit is truth, whereas jagat or the material world, is false. In other words, Shankaracarya's philosophy was a compromise between theism and atheism. It is said that Shankaracarya, according to the necessity of time, place, and circumstance, took the position between theism and atheism because the wholesale conversion of Buddhists to the path of full-fledged theism would not have been possible.


Professors of philosophy in India refer to a verse from the Padma Purana (Uttara khanda 25.7) that reveals the hidden identity of Shankaracarya:


mayavadam asac-chastram

pracchannam bauddham ucyate

mayaiva vihitam devi

kalau brahmana-murtina

"The Mayavada philosophy, Siva informed his wife Parvati, is covered Buddhism. In the form of a brahmana in the kali-yuga, I teach this imagined philosophy." Shankaracarya is thus widely accepted as an incarnation of Shiva.


From a purport by: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Since Lord Siva does not incarnate himself unless there is some special reason, it is very difficult for an ordinary person to contact him. However, Lord Siva does descend on a special occasion when he is ordered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this regard, it is stated in the Padma Purana that Lord Siva appeared as a brahmana in the age of Kali to preach the Mayavada philosophy, which is nothing but a type of Buddhist philosophy.


Lord Siva, speaking to Parvati-devi, foretold that he would spread the Mayavada philosophy in the guise of a sannyasi brahmana just to eradicate Buddhist philosophy. This sannyasi was Sripada Sankaracarya. In order to overcome the effects of Buddhist philosophy and spread Vedanta philosophy, Sripada Sankaracarya had to make some compromise with the Buddhist philosophy, and as such he preached the philosophy of monism, for it was required at that time. S.B. 4.24.17

© A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami


A Brief Biography


In the small village of Kaladi, in the southern province of India, Sri Shankaracharya advented himself as the son of a Vedic brahmana named Shivaguru and his wife Arya. Even in childhood it was apparent that Shankara, as his father named him, was a great personality. At his birth astrologers predicted that the boy would become a powerful scholar who would be like an elephant in a banana plantation in the matter of destroying false religions and spurious doctrines. As a student Shankara quickly gained proficiency in the Sanskrit language. He had a prodigious memory; anything his teachers said stuck in his mind forever. What the average student learned in twelve years Shankara learned in one.


When Shankara was three years old his father passed away. Life was difficult for mother and son, but by the grace of God they lived peacefully according to their means. Shankara continued his studies until his eighth year when he decided to take sannyasa and live a life of renunciation. One day Shankara said to his mother, "The life of a man on earth is so full of misery that he sometimes wishes that he had never been born. The dullest among men knows that the body is destined to die at the appointed time. What the yogi alone knows is that in the cycle of samsara one is born and dies again and again a million times. In the cycle of samsara he sometimes plays the role of a son, a father, a husband, a daughter, a mother, or a wife in an unending succession. Therefore true and lasting happiness can be achieved only by transcending birth and death through renunciation, which is the gateway to self-realization. My dear mother, please permit me to embrace that state and strive to realize myself. Allow me to accept sannyasa."


"Don't speak like that again," replied his affectionate mother. "I wish to see you marry and become a good husband for a good woman. Please do not speak of taking sannyasa again."


A few days later while Shankara was bathing in the river a crocodile caught hold of his leg. Seeing the hopeless position of her son the mother began to cry piteously. It appeared that the crocodile might devour her son | alive. "Mother!" said the boy, "there may be a | way that I can be saved. It is said by the wise men of our country ! that if one agrees to accept sannyasa when ' one's life is in danger, one will get out of that danger. Therefore permit me to renounce the world."


Prepared to do anything to save the life of her son, the poor woman consented to his request. Shankara then raised his hands and pronounced the words sannyas o'ham "I have renounced." When this was done the crocodile immediately let go of Shankaracharya's leg and his life was spared. As he come out of the water he and his mother embraced. "My dear mother, you have always been my provider. Now I am going out into the world and henceforth whoever feeds me is my mother, whoever teaches me is my father. My pupils are my children, peace is my bride, and solitude my bliss. Such are the rigors of my undertaking."


"Be blessed my son. Your life is now in the care of the Supreme Benefactor." With this heartfelt exchange between mother and son, Shankara departed.


Wearing a simple cloth, carrying a water pot, and traveling only on foot with a staff in his hand, the young Shankara roamed across the countryside for many months. One day while resting in the shade of a banyan tree Shankara noticed several frogs sitting peacefully next to a cobra. Seeing this curious site he remembered the lessons of his previous teachers that coexistence between natural enemies was possible only in the vicinity of a great sage or an enlightened guru.


Upon inquiring from the people of the local village, Shankara learned of a saintly person named Govindapada who lived nearby in a cave. He decided to go there immediately. Offering prostrated obeisances in front of the cave Shankara recited a delightful hymn in praise of the great guru. "My obeisances to you, revered Govindapada, who are the abode of all knowledge. Your fame has spread far and wide because you have traveled inward into yourself to the very core of your being. You are the most realized person on earth, since you had the good fortune to become the disciple of Gaudapada, the disciple of Sukadeva, who was the self-realized son of Vyasadeva, the compiler of Vedic literature. Thus you have a most remarkable line of spiritual preceptors. Please accept this unworthy sannyasi as your disciple and make me heir to the knowledge of self-realization."


Govindapada was pleased to accept this little sannyasi as his disciple and he imparted the four sutras to him that Shankara would later preach throughout the world:

1. prajnnam brahma

Brahman is pure consciousness


2. ayamatma brahma

Soul is brahman


3. tat tvam asi

You are that consciousness


4. aham brahmasmi

I am brahman

Shankara stayed with his guru for a long time, until one day Govindapada, understanding that the young Shankara was an incarnation of Shiva, said, "Now listen to my wish. Proceed to the holy city of Banaras immediately and start instructing the people on how they can understand their real self. That which is taught by the Buddhist philosophers does not reveal the nature of the atma or self. It is your mission to bring the people to the path of theism. Banaras has many well-known scholars in all systems of philosophy. You must hold discussions with them and guide them along the lines of correct thinking. It is most urgent! Please do not delay even one minute." Taking the order of his guru, Shankara started for Banaras.


When Shankara entered among the learned circles of Banaras he was barely twelve years old. Indeed, his tender age accompanied by his extensive knowledge and deep realization astounded all who came to see him. As destined by providence, Shankara soon attracted many disciples who sat before him in rapt attention to his every word on transcendence. From that time onward Shankara became known as acharya or Shankaracharya.


At Banaras Shankaracharya turned the tide of atheism. He compiled commentaries on the Brahma Sutra, Bhagavad-gita, and the principle Upanishads, all of which explained the nondual substance, brahman, as the ultimate reality. Among his followers, his commentary on the Brahma Sutra, known as Sarfraka-bhasya, is considered the most important. Shankaracharya comments on the nature of brahman as that which is beyond the senses, impersonal, formless, eternal, and unchangeable, as the summum bonum of the Absolute Truth. According to Shankaracharya, that which is known as the atma or soul is but a covered portion or illusioned portion of the Supreme Brahman. That illusion, says Shankaracharya, is due to the veil of maya, which is created out of ignorance or forgetfulness of the true self. The idea that the Absolute Truth can be covered by maya was later challenged successfully by Sri Ramanuja. Those who followed the teachings of Shankaracharya then became known to many as Mayavadis, or philosophers of illusion.


Shankaracharya's theory of illusion states that although the Absolute Truth is never transformed, we think that it is transformed, which is an illusion. Shankaracharya did not believe in the transformation of energy of the Absolute. Acceptance of the transformation of energy would have necessitated the acceptance of the Personality of the Absolute Truth or the personal existence of God -- full-fledged theism. According to Shankaracharya we ourselves are God. When the veil of ignorance is removed one will realize his complete identity as being nondifferent from the Supreme Brahman or God.


Shankaracharya held that the questions about the origin of the universe and the nature of illusion were unanswerable and inexplicable. Shankaracharya's conviction was that the spiritual substance, brahman. is supra-mundane -- separate from the gross and subtle bodies of mind and intelligence in this world. Shankaracharya further stressed that mukti, or liberation from the cycle of birth and death, is possible only when the living being renounces his relationship with the material world. Shankaracharya says that the concepts of "I" and "Mine" -- I am an individual and these are my possessions: wife, children, property, etc. are the causes of bondage to material existence and must be given up. Thus the bulk of his followers were and continue to be celibate students.


To support his conclusions of adwaita-vedanta, nondualism, Shankaracharya interpreted the Vedas to suit his means. In other words, the Vedas have their direct and indirect meanings. Shankaracharya, using grammatical jugglery of suffixes, prefixes and affixes, gave an imaginary or indirect interpretation of his own. Thus Shankaracharya, positioning himself between the theist and the atheist, sometimes appears to have been the friend of both. The great acharya adopted this stand to lay the foundation for future theistic evolution. The contribution of Shankaracharya in the development of theistic thought, from the atheistic or neo-theistic concepts of the Buddhists' praknti nirvana to those of the sublime transcendental substantive brahman, has made India and generations of future theists forever grateful.


Accompanied by a group of disciples Shankaracharya traveled throughout India. To the north he traveled as far as the ashram of Badrinatha in the Himalayas. There he established a monastery for meditation and Vedic studies. Similar monasteries were established during his travels to Puri, in the east, Dwaraka in the west, and Shringeri in the south. All of these institutions established by Shankaracharya still exist twelve centuries later.


On one of his journeys in southern India, Shankaracharya chanced to debate with a famous scholar of Mahismati named Mandana Mishra, ' the jewel among scholars.' Many learned persons gathered for the debate and Bharati, the good wife of the scholar, was chosen to be the judge and moderator. At the outset of the debate Bharati placed a garland of flowers around the neck of each of the two contestants. She proclaimed that at the end of the discussion whoever was wearing the garland which had not withered would he the winner.


Mandana, who had never known defeat, opened the debate by stating, "I accept the authority of the Vedas. Their main teaching is that merit can be acquired by the performance of the prescribed rituals in the prescribed manner. One who performs these rituals will go to heaven and dwell in the company of Indra and the celestial damsels. When the merit is exhausted. he will return to earth so that he can acquire more pious credits for a longer stay in the world of the gods. The Vedas also contain related commandments as a prerequisite to the performance of the rites," The audience, consisting of many of Mandana's admirers and disciples, applauded his statement.


Shankaracharya then responded, 1 also accept the authority of the Vedas. Their main purpose, however. is this: brahman alone is real; the phenomenal world is an illusion; and the individual soul is identical with brahman. The parts of the Vedas containing descriptions and injunctions pertaining to ritual are subordinate to the major part that deals with the knowledge of the self and the ways of its acquisition. Rituals can only lead to karma -- both good and bad, which prevents one from attaining self-realization. The only goal of the Vedas is brahman ."


Both scholars showed profound knowledge of the Vedas in various ways, and the discussion continued unabated for eighteen days. On the last day it was seen that the garland of Mandana Mishra had begun to wither and the garland of Shankaracharya remained ever-fresh. Bharati then declared Shankaracharya the winner. Now Mandana Mishra would have to renounce his connection with the world and become the disciple of Shankaracharya.


In a final attempt to save her husband, Bharati said, "Oh Great acharya, you are certainly victorious in the debate with my husband and he will have to become your disciple. However, 1, the wife of Mandana Mishra, am his better half. Before your victory is complete you will have to defeat me also." Shankaracharya was somewhat surprised, but he accepted the challenge.


Addressing Shankaracharya, Bharati said, "I can not admit that you are the master of all learning unless you can prove that you have a good understanding of sex education also. Now, tell me, what are the various forms and expressions of love? What is the nature of sexual love? What is the effect of the waxing and waning moons on sex urge in men and women? You must answer all these questions."


Being a celibate monk and only sixteen years old, it appeared as though Shankaracharya had been bewildered by-his opponent. He then asked for forty days additional time since he was not prepared to speak on the subject immediately. Bharati granted the request and Shankaracharya and his disciples left the assembly. Through the powers of mystic yoga Shankaracharya entered into trance. He left his body and entered the body of a sensuous king named Amaruka. In the body of the king Shankaracharya experienced erotic love and acquired knowledge of all its intricacies. Before the forty days had ended Shankaracharya re-entered his own body and returned to debate with Bharati.


After a brief discussion, Bharati conceded that Shankaracharya was the undisputed winner. Shankaracharya was now the leading spiritual master in India. Day and night for sixteen continuous years Shankaracharya preached the adwaita-vedanta. In his thirty-second year while on pilgrimage in the Himalayas, Shankaracharya left this mortal world for the eternal abode.


During his life Shankaracharya had composed a number of beautiful verses known as "Bhaja Govindam,Worship Govinda." A mystery surrounds these prayers in that Shankaracharya taught consistently throughout his commentaries that brahman is the supreme goal. Yet in his prayers he says, "Just worship Govinda."


Many commentators on the life of Shankaracharya consider that his being an incarnation of Shiva means that Shankaracharya was in fact the greatest devotee of Godhead, but due to the necessity of the time he could not directly advocate devotion as the highest attainment.


Before departing from this world Sri Shankaracharya spoke these last words:


bhaja govindam, bhaja govindam

bhaja govindam mudhamate

samprapte sannihite kale

na hi na hi rakshati dukrinyakarane

'Worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Oh you fools and rascals, just worship Govinda. Your rules of grammar and word jugglery will not help you at the time of death."

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Shankar Acharya (788 - 820)


Shankaracarya is a renowned Vedic philosopher. There are many devotional works and philosophical texts attributed to him. He is said to have established a religious order and four pilgrimage sites in the four corners of India.


Shankaracarya is said to have lived in the eighth and ninth centuries (788 - 820) of the Christian era. He was a south Indian, born in a small village in the state of Kerala. His father apparently died when he was still young, thus his mother raised him predominantly.


Shankaracarya desired to renounce the world from a very young age. He did so, making his way to Varanasi, where he taught and gradually began to acquire disciples. He lived in the Himalayan town of Badrinath for four years, one of the sites where he established his four mathas or hermitages. The others were founded in Puri, Dwarka and Kanchi in the south. After composing his major works in Badrinath, Shankaracarya returned to Varanasi where he continued to teach.


He is recognized as the greatest contributor towards a philosophical school known as advaita or non-dualism. According to this school, there is only one supreme spirit.


Of the numerous texts that are attributed to Shankara, the Brahma Sutra is the one that was definitely produced by him. There are three other texts that most believe are his own words: commentaries on the Brhadaranyaka and Taittiriya Upanishad and a text called the Thousand Teaching, Upadeshasahasri. He is also said to have written a commentary on the Bhagavad - gita, among other things. Shankaracarya was categorically opposed to Buddhism and is said to have been largely responsible for its ultimate demise in India, with his assertion that the Buddha was a avatar of Vishnu.


Shankaracarya's basic theology was that ignorance and maya (illusion) are caused by the superimposition of the non-self on to the self. He believed that this prevented people from seeing their true nature or the subjectivity of the self and its connection to the supreme spirit. He believed that in order to realize one's relationship with the supreme spirit one has to develop to ability to discriminate. He is credited with having re-established the relationship between the supreme spirit and the jeeva.


He developed a method of reading texts that aided the understanding of his philosophy in the light of his advaita or non-dualist view. It involved listening to the text, thinking and then reflecting deeply.


Shankaracarya remains as one of the great philosophical thinkers in Vedic history. He transformed the orthodox position of his age with a radical belief system, known as advaita or non-dualism, where the soul and the supreme spirit are understood to be the same. Because of the time and the place he did not reveal everything to his followers but revealed as mush as could be comprehended. Remember there was a large atheistic population and he had to cut throught it. His teachings have revealed his devotion to Govinda as the following story suggests.

Shankar Acharya was walking along a path in Varanasi, one day, accompanied by his disciples. He heard the sound of grammatical rules being recited by an old scholar. Taking pity on the scholar, he went up to him and advised him not to waste his time on grammar at his age but to turn his mind to God in worship and adoration. The Hymn to Govinda was composed on the spot. Besides the refrain of the song beginning with the words "Bhaja Govindam" , Shankara is stated to have sung twelve verses, hence the hymn bears the title "Dvadasamanjarika-Stotra" (A hymn which is twelve blossoms - verses). The fourteen disciples who were with the Acharya, are believed to have added one verse each. These fourteen verses are together called "Chaturdasa-manjarika-Stotra" (A hymn which is a bunch of fourteen blossoms - verses).




bhajagovindam bhajagovindam

govindam bhajamuudhamate

sampraapte sannihite kaale

nahi nahi rakshati dukrijnkarane


Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda, Worship Govinda. Oh fool! Rules of Grammar will not save you at the time of your death.



mudha jahiihi dhanaagamatrishhnaam

kuru sadbuddhim manasi vitrishhnaam

yallabhase nijakarmopaattam

vittam tena vinodaya chittam


Oh fool! Give up your thrist to amass wealth, devote your mind to thoughts to the Real. Be content with what comes through actions already performed in the past.




naariistanabhara naabhiidesham

drishhtvaa maagaamohaavesham

etanmaamsaavasaadi vikaaram

manasi vichintaya vaaram vaaram


Do not get drowned in delusion by going wild with passions and lust by seeing a woman's navel and chest. Bodies are flesh, fat and blood. Do not fail to remember this again and again in your mind.




naliniidalagata jalamatitaralam


viddhi vyaadhyabhimaanagrastam

lokam shokahatam cha samastam

Uncertain is the life of man as rain drops on a lotus leaf. Know that the whole world remains a prey to disease, ego and grief.




yaavadvittopaarjana saktah

staavannija parivaaro raktah

pashchaajjiivati jarjara dehe

vaartaam koapi na prichchhati gehe

So long as a man is fit and able to support his family, see the affection all those around him show. But no one at home cares to even have a word with him when his body totters due to old age.




yaavatpavano nivasati dehe

taavatprichchhati kushalam gehe

gatavati vaayau dehaapaaye

bhaaryaa bibhyati tasminkaaye


When one is alive, his family members enquire kindly about his welfare. But when the soul departs from the body, even his wife runs away in fear of the corpse.







pare brahmani koapi na saktah


Childhood is lost in play. Youth is lost by attachment to woman. Old age passes away by thinking over many past things. Alas! hardly is there anyone who yearns to be lost in Parabrahman.




kaate kaantaa kaste putrah

samsaaro.ayamatiiva vichitrah

kasya tvam kah kuta aayaatah

tattvam chintaya tadiha bhraatah


Who is your wife? Who is your son? Strange is this samsara. Of whom are you? Where have you come from? Brother, ponder over these truths.




satsangatve nissngatvam

nissangatve nirmohatvam

nirmohatve nishchalatattvam

nishcalatattve jiivanmuktih


From Satsanga comes non-attachment, from non-attachment comes freedom from delusion, which leads to self-settledness. From self-settledness comes Jivan Mukti.




vayasigate kah kaamavikaarah

shushhke niire kah kaasaarah

kshiinevitte kah parivaarah

gyaate tattve kah samsaarah


What good is lust when youth has fled? What use is a lake which has no water? Where are the relatives when wealth is gone? Where is samsara when the Truth is known?




maa kuru dhana jana yauvana garvam

harati nimeshhaatkaalah sarvam

maayaamayamidamakhilaM hitvaa

brahmapadaM tvaM pravisha viditvaa


Do not boast of wealth, friends, and youth. Each one of these are destroyed within a minute. Free yourself from the illusion of the world of Maya and attain the timeless Truth.




dinayaaminyau saayam praatah

shishiravasantau punaraayaatah

kaalah kriidati gachchhatyaayuh

tadapi na mujncatyaashaavaayuh


Daylight and darkness, dusk and dawn, winter and springtime come and go. Time plays and life ebbs away. But the storm of desire never leaves.





kathito vaiyaakaranasyaishhah

upadesho bhuudvidyaanipunaih



This bouquet of twelve verses was imparted to a grammarian by the all-knowing Shankara, adored as the bhagavadpada.




kaate kaantaa dhana gatachintaa

vaatula kim tava naasti niyantaa

trijagati sajjanasam gatiraikaa

bhavati bhavaarnavatarane naukaa


Oh mad man! Why this engrossment in thoughts of wealth? Is there no one to guide you? There is only one thing in three worlds that can save you from the ocean from samsara. Get into that boat of satsangha quickly.




jatilo mundii lujnchhitakeshah


pashyannapi cana pashyati muudhah

udaranimittam bahukritaveshhah


There are many who go with matted locks, many who have clean shaven heads, many whose hairs have been plucked out; some are clothed in saffron, yet others in various colors --- all just for a livelihood. Seeing truth revealed before them, still the foolish ones see it not.




angam galitam palitam mundam

dashanavihiinam jatam tundam

vriddho yaati grihiitvaa dandam

tadapi na mujncatyaashaapindam


Strength has left the old man's body; his head has become bald, his gums toothless and leaning on crutches. Even then the attachment is strong and he clings firmly to fruitless hope.




agre vahnih prishhthebhaanuh

raatrau chubukasamarpitajaanuh


tadapi na mujncatyaashaapaashah


Behold there lies the man who sits warming up his body with the fire in front and the sun at the back; at night he curls up the body to keep out of the cold; he eats his beggar's food from the bowl of his hand and sleeps beneath the tree. Still in his heart, he is a wretched puppet at the hands of passions.




kurute gangaasaagaragamanam

vrataparipaalanamathavaa daanam

gyaanavihinah sarvamatena

muktim na bhajati janmashatena


One may go to the Ganga, observe fasts, and give away riches in charity! Yet, devoid of jnana, nothing can give mukthi even at the end of a hundred births.




sura mandira taru muula nivaasah

shayyaa bhuutala majinam vaasah

sarva parigraha bhoga tyaagah

kasya sukham na karoti viraagah


Take your residence in a temple or below a tree, wear the deerskin for the dress, and sleep with mother earth as your bed. Give up all attachments and renounce all comforts. Blessed with such vairagya, could any fail to be content?




yogarato vaabhogaratovaa

sangarato vaa sangaviihinah

yasya brahmani ramate chittam

nandati nandati nandatyeva


One may take delight in yoga or bhoga, may have attachment or detachment. But only he whose mind steadily delights in Brahman enjoys bliss, no one else.




bhagavad giitaa kijnchidadhiitaa

gangaa jalalava kanikaapiitaa

sakridapi yena muraari samarchaa

kriyate tasya yamena na charchaa


Let a man read but a little from the Gita, drink just a drop of water from the Ganga, worship Murari just once. He then will have no altercation with Yama.




punarapi jananam punarapi maranam

punarapi jananii jathare shayanam

iha samsaare bahudustaare

kripayaa apaare paahi muraare


Born again, death again, birth again to stay in the mother's womb ! It is indeed hard to cross this boundless ocean of samsara. Oh Murari ! Redeem me through Thy mercy.




rathyaa charpata virachita kanthah

punyaapunya vivarjita panthah

yogii yoganiyojita chitto

ramate baalonmattavadeva


There is no shortage of clothing for a monk so long as there are rags cast off the road. Freed from vice and virtue, onward he wanders. One who lives in communion with God enjoys bliss, pure and uncontaminated, like a child and as someone intoxicated.




kastvam ko.aham kuta aayaatah

kaa me jananii ko me taatah

iti paribhaavaya sarvamasaaram

vishvam tyaktvaa svapna vichaaram


Who are you? Who am I? From where do I come? Who is my mother, who is my father? Ponder thus, look at everything as essenceless and give up the world as an idle dream.




tvayi mayi chaanyatraiko vishhnuh

vyartham kupyasi mayyasahishhnuh

bhava samachittah sarvatra tvam

vaajnchhasyachiraadyadi vishhnutvam


In me, in you and in everything, none but the same Vishnu dwells. Your anger and impatience is meaningless. If you wish to attain the quality of Vishnu soon, have Sama Bhaava always.




shatrau mitre putre bandhau

maa kuru yatnam vigrahasandhau

sarvasminnapi pashyaatmaanam

sarvatrotsrija bhedaagyaanam


Do not waste your efforts to win the love of or to fight against friend and foe, children and relatives. See yourself in everyone and give up all feelings of duality completely.




kaamam krodham lobham moham

tyaktvaa atmaanam bhaavaya ko aham

aatmagyaana vihiinaa muudhaah

te pachyante narakaniguudhaah

Give up lust, anger, infatuation, and greed. Ponder over your real nature. Fools are they who are blind to the Self. Cast into hell they suffer there endlessly.




geyam giitaa naama sahasram

dhyeyam shriipati ruupamajasram

neyam sajjana sange chittam

deyam diinajanaaya cha vittam

Regularly recite from the Gita, meditate on Vishnu in your heart, and chant His thousand glories. Take delight to be with the noble and the holy. Distribute your wealth in charity to the poor and the needy.




sukhatah kriyate raamaabhogah

pashchaaddhanta shariire rogah

yadyapi loke maranam sharanam

tadapi na mujnchati paapaacharanam

He who yields to lust for pleasure leaves his body a prey to disease. Though death brings an end to everything, man does not gives up the sinful path.



arthamanartham bhaavaya nityam

naastitatah sukhaleshah satyam

putraadapi dhana bhaajaam bhiitih

sarvatraishhaa vihiaa riitih


Wealth is not welfare, truly there is no joy in it. Reflect thus at all times. A rich man fears even his own son. This is the way of wealth everywhere.




praanaayaamam pratyaahaaram

nityaanitya vivekavichaaram

jaapyasameta samaadhividhaanam

kurvavadhaanam mahadavadhaanam


Regulate the pranas, remain unaffected by external influences and discriminate between the real and the fleeting. Chant the holy name of God and silence the turbulent mind. Perform these with care, with extreme care.




gurucharanaambuja nirbhara bhakatah

samsaaraadachiraadbhava muktah

sendriyamaanasa niyamaadevam

drakshyasi nija hridayastham devam


Oh devotee of the lotus feet of the Guru! May thou be soon free from Samsara. Through disciplined senses and controlled mind, thou shalt come to experience the indwelling Lord of your heart!




muudhah kashchana vaiyaakarano

dukrijnkaranaadhyayana dhurinah

shriimachchhamkara bhagavachchhishhyai

bodhita aasichchhodhitakaranah


Thus was a silly grammarian lost in rules cleansed of his narrow vision and shown the Light by Shankara's apostles.



bhajagovindam bhajagovindam

govindam bhajamuudhamate


nahi pashyaamo bhavatarane


Worship Govinda, worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Oh fool! Other than chanting the Lord's names, there is no other way to cross the life's ocean.



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