[Advaita-l] On the parakAyapraveSa legend about Sankara

prem d p prem_d_p at yahoo.co.in
Wed Mar 21 13:29:01 CDT 2007

  look at the story from this angle...shankara was without doubt a complete jeevan mukta..atma-jnani.. and as such his actions would not acquire any karma phala...what does this mean...it means that he is non-different from the atma which resides in even the body that he entered... do we think that the atma in us is somehow tainted by our karma or kama?
  so now the question will be asked if shankara was non-different from the atma why did he not explain this to bharati and get out of the situation...well, simply because there was no chance that shankara could convince a non-jnani this truth...hence the need for a demonstration...the parakaya pravesa was, perhaps, not for his sake but for them who were in need of a confirmation....ie. people like us who pray "Lord make me chaste but all in good time...meanwhile let me enjoy my sins a little longer"!
Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:
>Seeing the entire story,on the whole looks ridiculous and devoid of
>truth.what do the protagonists of this story want to establish?They are
>doing more discredit to Sankara than glorifying him.

Not necessarily. For one thing, the legend is indeed found in all the major 
Sankaravijaya texts. Till the advent of Western education with Victorian 
English ideas being introduced to India, nobody has seen fit to criticize 
this legend. It does not seem to have offended any traditional sensibility, 
or else, the authors and/or transmitters of the Sankaravijaya texts would 
have edited it out centuries ago.

Another point is that the story points to various central Indian modes of 
thinking. The married male is considered incomplete without his wife. The 
important role of the woman is highlighted in the story that bhAratI asked 
Sankara additional questions after conceding that her husband's position had 
lost. It also points to the fact that all saMskAra-s, from birth to death, 
including formal sannyAsa, pertain to the physical body only, not to the 
Atman. Finally, it brings a sense of occasion to credit Sankara with the 
extraordinary yogic power to enliven another body.

Please note that in brahmasUtra bhAshya 1.3.33, Sankara himself states that 
mere forceful denial cannot refute that many powers are attainable through 

Best regards,

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