Swami Shankaracharya (June 2007)
Shankaracharya’s name stands out very prominently in so far as Hindu religion is concerned. Before the advent of Shankaracharya, Buddhism had a strong hold in India. Shankaracharya propagated the Hindu-Veda Dharma or Vedanta. Hence he was known as the World Teacher or Jagad Guru.
Shankara was born in very poor family 1400 year ago in South India in a village of Kerala. His father died during his childhood. The mother had to take care of him. She was religious, disciplined and highly educated.
At the age of five, Shankara was sent to Guru to study Sanskrit, Hindu philosophy and religion. Shankara showed wonderful intelligence in his boyhood. When he was 16, he became master of all the philosophies, Sanskrit Literature, grammar and religion. Thereafter he was known as Swami Shankaracharya.
Swami Shankaracharya was commissioned by his Guru to write a commentary on ‘Brahma Sutras’ and propagate ‘Advaita Vedanta’. He proceeded to preach the Vedanta throughout India. According to the Vedanta, every person, every creature and everything is regarded as the form of Brahman (God). The Universe and everything found in the Universe is the manifestation of God. Everything we see is Brahman. Due to illusion of false knowledge (Maya), we feel that there are differences in the Universe.
As there were no means of transport in those days, Swami Shankaracharya traveled throughout the county on foot and spread the teachings of the Hindu Dharma once again all over India. Shankara established four great Mathas in the four corners of the country. They are as follows:
- Jagannath Puri in the east
- Dwarika Puri in the west
- Rameshwar Puri (Sringeri) in the south
- Badrinath Puri in the north
The spiritual head of each of the four mathas is still called a “Shankaracharya”. In this way, Shankaracharya, through Religion and Devotion, brought about oneness throughout the vast country of India.
Shankaracharya propagated the Hindu Veda Dharma (Vedanta) for sixteen years. He died at the age of 32 years. No other person appears to have done so much in the filed of religion at such a young age.