Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kedarnath, Uttarakhand on 5th November 2021. He offered prayers at the Kedarnath Temple and inaugurated Shri Adi Shankaracharya Samadhi and unveil the statue of Shri Adi Shankaracharya. The Samadhi has been reconstructed after the destruction in the 2013 floods.
Life of Adi Shankaracharya
Brahm, Pure Consciousness, is the Absolute Reality. The world is unreal. This is the correct understanding of the Sastra is the thundering declaration of Vedanta
The fact that Hinduism is still a dynamic and all-encompassing religion is ample evidence of the works of Adi Shankara. Apart from being a champion of Advaita philosophy, one of his invaluable contributions towards Hinduism was the reorganization and reorganization of the ancient sanyasa order. These sannyasins help in the eternal code of life enshrined in the Vedas, yet flowing as a dynamic force and uniting all humanity.
Lord Adi Shankaracharya is considered an ideal sannyasin. It is generally accepted that he lived about one thousand two hundred years ago, although there are historical sources that indicate that he lived in an earlier period. He was born in Kalady, Kerala and in his short life span of 32 years, his achievements still seem a miracle with our modern vehicles and other facilities. At the young age of eight, burning with the desire for salvation, he left the house in search of his guru.
Adi Shankaracharya From the southern state of Kerala, young Shankara walked about 2000 kms – in the central plains of India, on the banks of the Narmada River, to his guru – Govindapada. He remained there in the service of his Guru for four years. Under the kind guidance of his teacher, the young Shankaracharya mastered all the Vedic scriptures.
At the age of twelve, his master recognized that Shankara was ready to write commentaries on major texts. At the behest of his guru, Shankara wrote commentaries explaining the subtle meanings hidden in the teachings of the scriptures. At the age of sixteen, he gave up his pen after writing all the major texts.
There is a legend about the young disciple during this period of his stay with the Guru. (scroll down to read the legends)
From the age of sixteen to thirty-two, Shankaracharya traveled the length and breadth of ancient India, carrying the life-giving message of the Vedas to the masses. “Brahman, pure consciousness, is the ultimate reality. The world is unreal. This is the correct understanding of the scriptures, the thunder of Vedanta declares
In short, the individual is not separate from Brahman. Thus by saying “Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya, Jivo Brahmava Na Para” he condensed the essence of the vast scriptures.
In those days ancient India was submerged in superstitions and misinterpretations of scriptures. Perverted rituals flourished. The essence of Sanatana Dharma, with its all-encompassing message of love, compassion and the universality of mankind, was completely lost in the indiscriminate performance of these rituals.
Shankaracharya with disciples Shankaracharya challenged various eminent scholars and leaders of various religious sects to vigorous disputes. He supported his interpretations of the scriptures but the eccentric boy sage was able to easily overcome them all and make them understand the wisdom of his teachings. These men of stature then accepted Shankaracharya as their guru.
He started practicing under his guidance, and this change in his life also brought about a change in the lives of his innumerable followers, who came from all sections of the society.
He established 4 ashrams in the four corners of India and entrusted his four disciples with the task of teaching and propagating Advaita through them.
In Shankara’s time, there were innumerable sects following his narrow philosophy and method of worship. People were completely blind to the underlying common premise of one God. For their benefit, Shankaracharya devised a system of worship of six sects, which brought forth the main deities – Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, Muruka, Ganesha and Surya. He also prepared the rituals and rites to be followed in most of the major temples of India.
Apart from his immense intellectual and organizational abilities, Shankaracharya was an outstanding poet who had a love for God in his heart.
He composed 72 devotional and meditative hymns like Soundarya Lahiri, Sivananda Lahiri, Nirvana Shalkam, Manisha Panchakam. He also wrote 18 commentaries on major scriptures including the Brahma Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita and 12 major Upanishads. He also wrote 23 books on the fundamentals of Advaita Vedanta philosophy, which explain the principles of Advaita Brahman. These include Vivek Chudamani, Self-realization, Vaka Vritti, Upadesa Sahasri etc.
Sri Shankar, considered an incarnation of Lord Shiva, lived a short life span of only 32 years. There are many inspiring legends about him.
Char Mathas- Char Dham – Founded by Shankar
During his travels across the length and breadth of India, he established four mathas (ashrams) to unite the scattered and diverse groups of ascetics. In about 700 AD, four mathas were established in four different corners of India. He selected four of his most senior disciples to head each of these mathematics. Each of these maths was entrusted with the task of maintaining and preserving for posterity, one of the four Vedas (the main texts of Hinduism) and a Maha Vakaya. Shankaracharya allocated all the sannyasis in India into ten main groups (the Dasnami sannyas tradition) for different maths.
Historical and literary evidence also exists which proves that the Kanchi Kamakoti Math at Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu was also founded by Shankaracharya.
The monks of Mata Amritanandamayi Math belong to the Puri Sannyasa tradition. According to the tradition laid down by Adi Shankara, the Puri Sannyasa tradition is characterized by formal allegiance to the Sringeri Math.
First Acharya (Teacher) – Sureshvara Follow Bhurivar Sampradaya (custom) Traditional Area (Temple) – Rameshwar Traditional Deva (Lord) – Adi Varaha (Incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the form of a boar) Traditional Goddess (Goddess) – Kamakshi (Sharda) Traditional Vedas – Yajurveda Traditional Upanishads – Kathopanishads Traditional Mahavakya (Statement Revealing the Nature of Absolute Reality) – Aham Brahmasmi Traditional Shrine (Sacred River) – Tungabhadra Traditional gotra (lineage or lineage) – Bhaveshwar Rishi
Legends of Shankaracharya
Before the age of eight, as a young celibate, the young Shankaracharya went to a house to beg for his daily food. The hostess was a kind but very poor lady. She could only give him a small amalaki amla fruit. Shankar was deeply touched by the honesty of this poor lady and he invoked Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) by singing the Kanakdhara Stotra. Legend has it that the goddess showered golden amalaki fruits in the house.
Diversion of River Poorna
Shankar’s mother used to travel long distances to bathe in the Poorna river every day. One day young Shankar found her lying unconscious due to exhaustion. He prayed to God and the next morning the river started flowing from the side of his house.
Guru Gobindpad’s Blessings
The Narmada river was in spate during the rainy season. The water of the flood rose up and was about to enter the cave in which his guru sat deeply immersed in samadhi. His disciples did not dare to disturb him though his life was in danger. Then Shankaracharya placed his kamandal (water pot) at the entrance of the cave saying that it would absorb all the water of the flood. His words came true. The flood waters could not disturb his Guru’s attention. Guru Gobindapada blessed him saying that “Just as you contained the flood waters in your kamandala, so you should write commentaries containing the essence of the Vedanta scriptures. By this work you will attain eternal glory.”
When Shankar spoke about his life of retiring, his mother was reluctant to allow and bless him. But one day when he went to bathe in the river with his mother, a crocodile grabbed his leg and started dragging him. His mother could only stand helpless. Then Shankar called out to his mother to allow her to become a sanyasi at least in the last moments of his life. She agreed and miraculously the crocodile left Shankar’s leg. To console his mother, he promised her that he would come back to her at the time of her death and perform the last rites.
Shankaracharya was somewhere in North India when he came to know about the imminent death of his mother. Traveled through the air to reach him quickly, using his yogic powers. On her request, he gave her divine darshan.
When he tried to arrange for his mother’s body to be cremated, his relatives refused to help him on the grounds that as a monk he was not allowed to perform the last rites. Usually this would have been a serious setback as the cremation involved rituals, which required physical assistance by some. So Shankaracharya performed a miracle. He made a funeral pyre out of banana stalks. After placing the body on the pyre, he took some water and after chanting some mantras, he sprinkled the water on the pyre. Soon the pyre caught fire.Thus he was able to complete the funeral rites without help.
More about Adi Shankaracharya’s statue
Adi Guru Shankaracharya’s 12 feet tall statue at Kedarnath, weighing 35 tonnes, has been made by Mysore based sculptors from Chlorite Schist Stone, which is known to withstand rain, sunshine and harsh climate, said tourism officials. The statue, to be unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 5, has been polished with coconut water to bring out its shine, the officials added.
The unveiling of the statue will be live-streamed at the rest of the 11 Jyotir Lingas, four maths (monastic institutions) and major Shiva Temples, Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said.
In the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, Adi Guru Shankaracharya’s samadhi (final resting place) next to the Kedarnath temple was washed away. Shankaracharya’s new statue has been installed just behind the Kedarnath temple as part of its reconstruction project.
Mysore’s Yogiraj Shilpi, a sculptor rooted in five generation of craftsmanship, completed the work on the new statue with help from his son, Arun. Yogiraj Shilpi was contracted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) after a nationwide search. Yogiraj started making the statue in September 2020 with around 120 tonnes of stone procured for its carving. The sculpture, which weighs around 35 tonnes, depicts Adi Shankaracharya in a sitting position, said officials.
The tourism officials said both the Centre and the state governments were equally committed to the reconstruction of Kedarnath Dham, to be done in phases, for which more than ₹500 crores was sanctioned.
State tourism minister Satpal Maharaj said reconstruction works in Kedarnath would not have been possible without the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We welcome his presence here soon. He will also be inaugurating the second phase of reconstruction works at Shri Kedarnath,” he added
Uttarakhand’s tourism secretary Dilip Jawalkar said, “I would like to thank PM Narendra Modi and Jindal Steel Works for their generous efforts towards rebuilding the monument. We are firm that this establishment will not only manifest the belief of devotees in the teachings of this great sage but will also help in getting further tourist footfall in the state.”
The Kerala born Adi Shankaracharya was an 8th-century Indian mystic and philosopher who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta and made a significant contribution in unifying Hinduism by setting up four mathas (monastic institutions) across India.
Uttarakhand Himalayas hold much significance in the context of Adi Shankaracharya as he is said to have taken samadhi here at Kedarnath. It was in Uttarakhand where he established one of the four mathas at Jyotir Math here in Chamoli district and also established the idol at Badrinath.