[Advaita-l] Shankara Jayanti

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Wed Apr 29 16:25:37 CDT 2009

Shankaracharyas' disciples included some who were great scholars in their 
own right.  For instance in his purvashrama Sureshvaracharya was known as 
Mandana Mishra (so it is traditionally believed.  Some historians dispute 
this though others agree.)  Mandana Mishra had already written a work on 
Vedanta called Brahmasiddhi as well as several on Purva Mimamsa before he 
met Shankaracharya and it was only after losing a lengthy and 
comprehensive debate that he became a shishya.  For such people the guru 
is like the drill that polishes a diamond.  By polishing the rough edges, 
what has natural lustre shines even more.

Then there are those for whom the encounter is not evolutionary but 
revolutionary.  They are transformed by the grace of the guru.  One such 
was named Giri.  Not very learned, he tried to follow along with the 
instruction as best as he could and occupied himself in tasks such as 
doing the laundry.  Yet because of his selfless service to his teacher he 
became a great poet and thinker.  Because his works are composed in the 
toTaka meter, he is known to posterity as toTakAcharya.  The two works 
that have come down are toTakAShTaka a short poem in praise of 
Shankaracharya with the refrain "bhava shankaradeshikame sharaNam" (oh 
teacher Shankara be my refuge.) It is especially popular to recite on this 
day.  The other is a longer (179 shloka)  work on Vedanta called 
shrutisArasamuddharaNa.  Verse 178 is also replete with gurubhakti and so 
I reproduce it here along with the English translation of Michael Comans.

yeShAM dhIsUryadIptyA pratihatamagamannAshamekAntato me
dhvAntaM svAntasya heturjananamaraNasantAnadolAdhirUDheH |
yeShAM pAdau prapannAH shrutishamavinayairbhUShitAH shiShyasa~nghAH
sadyo muktAH sthitAstAnyatiparamahitAnyAvadAyurnamAmi || 178 ||

"The darkness of my mind, which was the cause of my being caught up in the 
swing of the ceaseless movement of birth and death, was entirely destroyed 
when it was opposed by the light of the sun in the form of the 
intelligence of my teacher.  Groups of students, endowed with knowlege of 
the shruti, tranquility, and humility, quickly become liberated once they 
come to his feet.  As long as I live I salute that teacher, the very 
greatest among ascetics."

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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