Sankara was born to Aryamba and Sivaguru in Kalady. He exhibited extraordinary intelligence and mastered all that was taught to him and even composed – Balabodha Sangraha. Even at that young age, Sankara wanted to embrace sanyasa. However his mother did not give him permission, but someday he hoped that his desire would be granted. One day when he was taking a dip in the river, a crocodile caught hold of his leg and started pulling him into the river. He cried out to his mother who was on the banks of the river for help, but she was helpless. At that moment, Sankara cried out and told his mother that now he was in the jaws of death and nothing could be done. He pleaded with her to atleast grant him permission to take on the sanyasa robes at this crucial juncture. The desperate mother agreed. Sankara loudly chanted “sanyastoham…sanyastoham…sanyastoham” (I have renounced). Miraculously the crocodile released its hold on his legs!
Sankara came out of the waters, and he requested her to give him permission to go in search of his Guru, now that she had allowed him to take sanyas. The mother agreed to let him go with a promise from him that he will be there by her side at the time of her death. Sankara promised her that he would be there at the time of her death.
Just before Sankara left, he had a vision of Lord Achyutha who directed him to go to the ascetic Sri Govindapadacharya, the disciple of the great Sri Gaudapadacharya of the Mandukya Karika fame at Omkaranath. Sankara composed tha Achyutha Ashtakam in praise of the Lord during this time.
Sankara walked Northward. As he was travelling, he came across a place where he saw something astonishing. A huge cobra had spread its hood like an umbrella over a frog to protect it from the scorching heat of the sun. Creatures who are inimical by nature were in harmony and peace with each other at this place! He concluded that it must be because of a great tapasvi’s presence somewhere around. It was the place where Maharshi Rishyasringa had performed tapas. Sankara immediately decided that if ever in future he established a math it would be at this sacred place. Years later, he established the Sringeri Math over here.
Walking ahead, Sankara came to the banks of river Narmada. Sri Govindapadacharya lived in a cave very close by. He searched for the Mahatma and finally found him in meditation in a cave. Coming out of his meditation, yet with closed eyes, the Acharya asked him (Sankara) who he was. Sankara composed a beautiful hymn, known as Dasa Sloki expressing his perfect identity with the Supreme Reality. Sri Govindapadacharya opened his eyes and saw in front of him a young realized soul prostrating at his feet. The Master was filled with joy. Sri Govindapadacharya accepted Sankara as his disciple. The young ascetic stayed there with his Guru for three years and mastered all the scriptures.
Once during the rainy season, when Sri Govindapadacharya was meditating in the cave, there was sudden flash-floods in the river Narmada. The waters kept rising and rising and threatened to enter the cave, and disturb the Master who was in deep samadhi. At that time, Sankara placed his kamandalu at the entrance of the cave saying that it would absorb the waters into itself. As the waters rose and reached the kamandalu, the flash-flood immediately subsided and in a couple of minutes everything was back to normal. The other disciples were wonderstruck at Sankara’s feat and narrated it to the Master later on. Supremely happy at his disciple devotion and extraordinary achievement, Sri Govindapadacharya blessed him saying, “just as you contained the flood waters in the kamandalu, similarly you should write commentaries on the scriptures which will carry the essence of all the Vedas. This will bestow upon you eternal glory”. Sankara prostrated at his Master’s feet. To test the student’s calibre, Govindapadacharya asked Sankara to write a commentary on Vishnu Sahasranama – his first ever commentary. The teacher was extremely pleased with Sankara’s work.
Sankara was sent to Kashi to invoke Lord Vishwanatha’s grace and wait for further instructions. Lord Vishwanatha blessed him and directed him to write commentaries on all the sacred scriptures. Many disciples reached him to pursue their vedantic studies. His disciples reverentially addressed him as SANKARACHARYA.
Sankaracharya then decided to go to Badarikashram. It is here that he wrote the commentaries on the Brahma Sutras, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Geeta which are known as Prasthana Traya. Later Bhagavan Veda Vyasa blessed Sankara with an extension of another sixteen years (he was sixteen years at that time). Sankara extensively travelled from place to place across the length and breadth of the country to establish the supremacy of Advaita Philosophy and adorned the Sarvagnya Peeta – the Throne of Omniscience. He composed beautiful Hymns on all the principle deities and authored books on the fundamentals of Advaita Philosophy. He organised the Dashanami Sampradaya for the monastic order and unified the Sanmatha tradition of worship. In spite of the various different traditions, customs and rituals followed by the people, Sankaracharya with his lofty vision and zealous missionary successfully brought about integration amongst the people – indeed, a UNIFIED CULTURAL REVIVAL in BHARAT! NATIONAL INTEGRATION through SPIRITUALITY!!
“Jaya Jaya Sankara! Hara Hara Sankara! Hara Hara Sankara! Jaya Jaya Sankara!!”
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Bharatiya Katha Vaibhava – 2 : https://www.zorbabooks.com/store/children/bharatiya-katha-vaibhav-2/