Friday, January 21, 2011




Sri Adi Sankaracharya



Dinayaminyau Saayam Praathah
Sisiravasanthau Punaraayaathah
Kaalah Kreedathi Gachchhathyaayuh
Thadapi Na Munchathyaasaavaayuh
(... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam, Govindam…)


Ø  Day and night, dawn and dusk, winter and spring come and depart again and again.
Ø   It is all the play of time all the time.
Ø   Life ebbs away.
Ø   Yet, one does not give up the gusts of desires.


One of the fundamental laws of economics says that –wants are infinite. As each want is satisfied, another takes its place…

Life thus goes on as an endless stream of wants and desires. The whole science of economics is built on the foundation of this law.

Over five thousand years ago – Lord Krishna said, that Desire is at the root of all of our efforts, much the same in Gita.

Over 2600 years ago, Buddha said, desire is the root cause of all suffering.

Over 1200 years ago Adi Sankara is saying the same thing in this and many other verses.

Can we avoid desires altogether? No. it is neither feasible, while in this body nor even required.

Know their nature; Stay in control; Stay as their master; not as their slave.

When Sun rises in the east, day starts; when sun sets in the west, night starts; days and nights are thus passing away one after the other incessantly.

One period starts winter; another period starts spring time; they too are coming and passing away incessantly.

Some wise men call it Kaala pravaha..the endless flow of time.

Some wise men call it the Kaala chakra..the wheel of time.

In the wheel of time, days and nights, winters and springs are passing away and coming back again and again. In the endless flow of time, your life time is passing away..almost unnoticed..and we do not know what awaits us on the other side of death.

Are we conscious of that, which can carry us through these life tides successfully?


kathito vaiyaakaranasyaishhah
upadesho bhuudvidyaanipunaih
… Here ends the dwadasa manjarika by Adi Sankara… The 13th sloka states the same…This bouquet of twelve verses was imparted to a grammarian by the all-knowing Shankara, adored as the bhagavadpada.

But, most people do not count this verse. We will also continue the next verse as verse.13.

(Attributed to Padma pada)

Kaa Te Kaantaa Dhanagatachintaa
Vaatula Kim Tava Naasti Niyantaa
Trijagati Sajjanasangatirekaa
Bhawati Bhavaarnavatarane Naukaa
(... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam, Govindam..)


Ø Where is your wife?
Ø Where is your worry pertaining to your wealth?
Ø O, the distracted one!
Ø Is there not an ordainer of rules, the one who can guide you?
Ø In the three worlds, the association (the close proximity and friendship) of the good alone can serve you as the boat to cross this vast sea of change (birth, death and life).


There are many things that we worry about in life.

But, of all of them, the ancient sages had zeroed on two, which rock most people’s life – they called them as Kamini and Kanchanam. i.e., Woman and wealth.

Both of them tend to raise the lust of man and send him out of his common sense. Both tend to distract him endlessly from normal life.

The greatest warriors of all time like Ravana and Duryodhana perished due to their lust for woman. Both Eastern and western classics depict countless wars and huge destruction of life – only because of some man’s desire for one woman or  his lust for more wealth and kingdom. Even a world war has one of these two at its roots. From emperors to the common man, all tend to become the slaves of woman and wealth.

But, woman and wealth are needed! You can’t avoid them altogether. Where is this world without the woman? Likewise, Sankara himself had earlier told us – earn money, but by your righteous labour and then spend it on your happiness. So woman and wealth are not the real problem. The problem lies in the man’s own mind.

It is his own endless lust and passion for woman and wealth, that creates his problems and his distractions. India had built up a beautiful Kama Sasthra, on the physical relationship with woman – on how to extract the maximum joy even out of that physical relationship. 

But, at the same time, the average Indian must start his life with Brahmacharya, wherein he not only studies all sciences and arts (including Kama Sasthra), but also on how to keep absolute control over his senses (his passions, desires etc). The latter makes him the master and then he is free to play with life, in all righteous ways, without getting wounded by it. Even Adi Sankara himself found that he had to know the Kama Sasthra, to complete his education.

Thus, the twin factors of Kamini and Kanchanam (lust for sex and money) are so powerful influences that, you always need the company of some one who guides you in the right path.

That factor is – Sajjana Sangathyam, the proximity and friendship of the good persons. Here, Adi Sankara makes it very clear, what Sathsang means. It clearly means the friendship and proximity of the good and the righteous. Mere friendship is not enough. Mere proximity is not enough. 
It must involve both. Distant friendships are no good. Proximity without friendship also is no good.

Find the good and righteous persons. Latch on to them. Listen to them. Follow them. They are the boat which will sail you through the turbulent sea of life.

They may not tell you very sweet things. They will tell you the right things.  They will lead you on the right path.

Tell me your friend; I will tell you what you are. If you are in the company of the righteous, you are automatically righteous – and let me assure you, much more joyous also than others.


(Attributed to Thotakacharya)

Jatilo Mundee Lunchhitakesah
Kaashaayaambara bahukritaveshah
Pasyannapi Cha Na Pasyati Moodhoh
Udaranimittham Bahukritaveshah
(... Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindan, Govindam..)


Ø one ascetic is with matter locks;
Ø another is with shaven head;
Ø Yet another is with all of his hairs pulled out one by one;
Ø Another one walks with different varieties of Kaashaaya  (ochre)robes;
Ø These do see; and yet they do not see the truth;
Ø they are fools indeed, who, merely for their belly's sake, wear these different disguises .


Thotakacharya is a wholly unassuming disciple of Adi Sankara. To display his true wisdom to other disciples, once Adi Sankara asked him to tell what he had understood of Advaita. In presence of all other highly versatile disciples, Thotaka recites a beautiful treatise called “Srutisara Samuddharanam”, which elaborates Advaita, raises doubts, clarifies them and leads us to an absolute clarity on Advaita philosophy arising from Upanishads.

In the present verse, Thotaka is demolishing the futility of the external changes that ascetics undergo, without undergoing the inner change that is the essence. It is true to his ‘Srutisara…’ style.

When the inner change occurs, when the gush of desires dies down and the mind is under control, you may wear kaashaya clothes naturally. You may shave off your head or let the hair grow in its own way. It doesn’t matter. It is true renunciation.

If the needs of the belly become primary and external appearance is only to aid in satisfying these needs, of what use is the external appearance of renunciation – asks Thotaka.

Janaka was a great King – and yet totally unattached. His kingly appearance hides his unperturbable and calm inner sanctity.

Vasista was the greatest of all sages and he had hundred and one sons through Arundhati. Vasita taught yoga to Lord Rama himself. It is said – his wife Arundhati comes from a very low caste – which itself speaks of the true Advaita followed by Vasista. He mostly lived in the deepest forests.

Dharma vyadha was living a butcher’s life, outside the town. But, he taught yoga to Sage Kausika. All these are eulogized and revered in the ancient epics.

Thus, being a king or being in a forest as ascetic, or being a butcher  is not the criterion. True renunciation is in the inner self.

Even today – we find, some people in kaashyaaya clothes, but not really trying to conquer their inner self. The real wise men are also in Kaashaaya clothes. We need to separate the true wise men from the false ones. This problem existed in Sankara’s days also and even earlier. Today, every time a pseudo Sanyasi is found out, a furore comes out as if all Sanyasis are pseudos.

Wisdom and self control are inner attributes. The real renunciate too goes for shaven head or matted locks and wears kaashaaya – but his attention is on his inner self. The pseudo also wears similar external appearance – but, of what use it is?  He may beg and fill the belly. Or, he may talk big and make name and fame. Yet, he will suffer in his inner self. Such people are big fools. 

How do you find the pseudo? Easy. Does he promise you a bright prosperous future? Does he flourish magical powers? Does he promise you any thing other than liberation from – fear, desires, anger etc? If he does – do not go near him at all. Go first for Sathsang…the friendship and proximity of Good people; from there, your Path becomes easier and clearer. In their company and in the company of a real Guru, you are always in perpetual joy. As simple as that.

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  1. Hi Sir,

    I agree with your commentaries, but i think Shankara is born much much earlier, many sources place him at 509 BC. The confusion comes as there are many shankaracharyas with same name. I believe he belongs to much earlier than 509bc

  2. Thanks for your views. You may be right. The timing of Adi Sankara is not known to us accurately. He may be 500 years prior to Christ also.

    He lived for a short time but accomplished many, many superhuman feats.Can we believe today that over 500 years before Christ, Adi Sankara openly condemned the practice of untouchability and that too, saying that he himself was reprimanded by none other than Lord Shiva for a slight indiscretion in this respect? He was a Great reformer himself.

    He taught advaita - but his stotras on almost every God and Goddess are even today, the best, the most lyrical, and most pleasing to the mind and ears both.

    He was the one to tell that Siva and Vishnu are each other's forms (Sivaya Vishnu Rupaya). If Christianity and Islam had existed in his days, he might as well have included Ehova and Allah in his list and said all are one and the same. There might have been a stotra on them also.

    You can call God by any Name. But, essentially, he exists in yourself. Rather, HE is YOU Yourself. Aham Brahmasmi.

    The less knowledgeable may use any form as God and reach through Bhakti. The slightly more intelligent ones may use prayer (like western religions do). Those who don't accept God - can also reach him through Pure karma Yoga.

    But, the wisest see HIM in themselves - as themselves - through Jnana Yoga and Dhyana Yoga - which are UNIQUE to Hinduism and religions born in India like Buddhism and Jainism. These are unknown to western religions. This is where the true contribution of Hinduism to the world lies. Whether they accept these or not is different. But, Hinduism is the only religion which says - you don't have to blindly BELIEVE God. You can also KNOW and EXPERIENCE GOD personally right now and here in YOURSELF and all over the Universe.