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12.11.16

Shankaracharya

Shankaracharya (Sankara)  (7/8th century)

This great yogi is credited with the writing of many philosophical treatises, concluding ultimately that it was only necessary to praise the Goddess. In his Eight stanzas to Bhavani, Shankara says

No father have I, nor mother, no comrade,
No son, no daughter, no wife, and no grandchild,
No servant or master, no wisdom, no calling:
In Thee is my only haven of refuge,
In Thee, my help and my strength, O Bhavani!

Shankara describes the ascent of the Kundalini in several works, including the Saundarya-lahari:

Thou art diverting Thyself, in secrecy with Thy Lord, in the thousand-petaled lotus [Sahasrara], having pierced through the Earth situated in the Muladhara, the Water in the Manipura [Nabhi], the Fire abiding in the Swadisthana, the air in the heart [Anahat], the Ether above [Vishuddhi], and Manas between the eyebrows [Agnya] and thus broken through the entire Kula path [Sushumna nadi]. (verse 9)

In the Prabodhasudhakara, the need for yoga (union) is described:

He who is immersed in the ocean of Supreme Bliss is full within and without, like a pot immersed for a long time  in a large deep cavity of the river Ganga. (verse 164)

In the Tad Niskala (six stanzas on Nirvana), Shankara emphasises the need for detatchment from the material world when seeking the eternal bliss:

Om. I am neither the mind,
            intelligence, ego, nor citta [seat of memory]
Neither the ears nor the tongue,
            nor the senses of smell and sight;
Neither ether nor air
            nor fire nor water on earth;
I am eternal bliss and awareness
-          I am Shiva! I am Shiva!

He founded four monasteries, one each in east, west, north and south India, and all successive heads of these institutions have also used the name ‘Shankaracharya’.


Bibliography
Saundarya-lahari of Sri Sankaracarya, with text, transliteration, translation and notes, based on Laksmidhara’s Commentary by Swami Tapasyananda (Mylapore: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1987)
Aparokshanubhuti or Self-realization of Sri Sankaracarya: text with word-for-word translation, English rendering and notes by Swami Vimuktananda (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1938)
Self-knowledge: an English translation of Sankaracarya’ Atmabodha with notes, comments and introduction [by] Swami Nikhilananda (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1947)
Prabodhasudhakara: the nectar-ocean of enlightenment [by] Sri Sankaracarya. Translation by Samvid (Madras: Samata Books, 1984)
Vivekacudamani of Sri Sankaracarya: text with English translation, notes and index [by] Swami Madhavananda (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 2nd ed., 1926)
The Bhagavad Gita, with the Commentary of Sri Sankaracharya, translated from the original Sanskrit into English by Alladi Mahadeva Sastry (Mysore, 2nd ed., 1901; reprint: Madras: Samata Books, 1977)
Madhava-Vidyaranya, Sankara-Dig-Vijaya: the traditional life of Sri Sankacharya, translated by Swami Tapasyananda (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 3rd ed., 1986)
Jonathan Bader, Conquest of the Four Quarters - Traditional Accounts of the Life of Sankara (New Delhi, 2000)  
P.George Victor, Life and teachings of Adi Sankaracarya (New Delhi, 2002)
Natalie Isayeva, Shankara and Indian philosophy (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993), esp chapter 3
Sridevi Rao, Adi Sankaracharya - the voice of Vedanta (New Delhi, 2003)
T.S.Rukmani, Shankaracharya (New Delhi, 2000)


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