[Advaita-l] Shuka and Gaudapada

abhishek sm abhishek046 at gmail.com
Mon Feb 27 07:44:44 CST 2012

Many thanks for providing this story. I have one question. From where
is it that Kanchi Swamiji extracted this story? I ask this as there is
no mention of such a story in the Digvijayas. Is there any scriptural
evidence which accredits this information?

Abhishek Madhyastha

On 2/26/12, shyam Subramanian <shyam_md at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Pranams.
> An old message of Shri Chittaji from the advaitin list may be of interest as
> it is relevant to this thread.
> Am reproducing it here.
> Om Sri Gurubhyo Namah
> Om Mata Annapurneshwari
> Om Namah Shivaya
> I had posted two messages in another group related to the Guru Sampradaya of
> Advaita. I thought it might interest some members who may not be aware of
> the
> historical background of the Gurus in the tradition of Advaita. Here is the
> first of the two messages.
> Advaita Vedanta is anadi sampradaya. In this chaturyuga, it was first
> revealed
> by the Rishi Narayana, one of the twin avataras of Lord Vishnu. The Guru
> Sampradaya starting from Narayana and leading up to Shankara is as follows:
> Narayana
> Padmabhuva
> Vashishta
> Sakti
> Parasara
> Vyasa
> Suka
> Gaudapada
> Govindapada
> Shankara
> From Narayana to Suka, the succession was from father to son. Hence it is
> called
> Putra-Parampara. From Suka to Shankara, the succession was from preceptor to
> disciple, and is called Sishya-Parampara.
> The lives of the sages from Narayana to Suka are fairly well-known for they
> have
> been narrated at length in the Puranas. The life of Sri Shankaracharya is
> also
> well-known. But there is very little known about the lives of Gaudapada and
> Govindapada except for the brief glimpses we get of them in the Shankara
> Vijayas. Here we shall try to throw a little more light on the biographies
> of
> these two great personages.
> Grammar came out of the damaru of Lord Shiva when He was dancing the Cosmic
> Dance of Lord Nataraja. Among the gods who watched that dance were Panini
> and
> Adisesha. Out of the fourteen sounds that were produced by Lord Nataraja's
> damaru, came the fourteen sutras that Panini committed to memory and wrote
> as
> the Vyakarana Sutras. Since these sutras were produced by Lord Nataraja's
> damaru, they are called the Maheshwara Sutras. Because the number of
> chapters in
> the book were eight, it also came to be called the Ashtadhyayi.
> It is said that nobody can understand Panini's Grammar without the aid of a
> commentary. In order to give to mankind a bhashya on Panini's Ashtadhyayi,
> Adisesha, who was also witness to that Cosmic Dance, incarnated on earth as
> Patanjali and wrote the Great Commentary, the Maha Bhashya. It is said that
> only
> Adisesha who has a thousand heads with thousand tongues could have produced
> such
> a great bhashya.
> After Patanjali composed the Mahabhashya, the news spread throughout the
> length
> and breadth of Aryavarta. Students flocked to Chidambaram, where Patanjali
> was
> living at that time, to learn the Mahabhashya. A thousand students went to
> him
> seeking instruction. Patanjali taught them in the thousand-pillared hall in
> the
> Tempe of Nataraja at Chidambaram.
> Before starting to teach, Patanjali thought that he could not clear the
> doubts
> raised by all the 1000 students with only one mouth. So, he assumed the form
> of
> Adisesha with a thousand heads and thousand tongues, so that he could teach
> and
> clear the doubts of each of those students. But since it is not possible for
> a
> mortal to face Adisesha's poisonous breath, which can reduce a man to ashes
> if
> he were to inhale even a small part of it, Adisesha sat behind a screen and
> taught the students. Before he began the great teaching, he put forth two
> conditions to the students:
> i) That nobody shall leave the hall without taking permission, and if any
> did
> so, he would become a brahma-rakshasa.
> ii) That nobody shall try to look behind the screen
> Having put these conditions, Adisesha began to teach with one thousand
> mouths
> from behind the screen. After some time, one of the students got a doubt,
> "How
> does the teacher, being one, instruct so many of us at the same time?"
> Slowly,
> he parted the curtain to look in and see the teacher. At once, the sight of
> Adisesha and the poisonous fumes that emanated from his tongues reduced all
> the
> students into a heap of ashes. The number of those who were destroyed was
> nine
> hundred and ninety nine. One student, who was particularly dull-witted and
> couldn't understand the teaching well, had gone out for a while. He was the
> sole
> survivor of the 1000 students.
> Patanjali was sad to see what had happened. While he was mulling over what
> to
> do, the lone student who had gone out, not knowing the disaster that had
> occurred within the hall, walked in. Patanjali was overjoyed to see that at
> least one student was alive. Though he was dull-witted, he bestowed his
> grace
> upon that student and said: "May you get to know all that I know. But
> because
> you went out without permission, you will assume the form of a
> brahma-rakshasa.
> Yet, there is a means of salvation for you from this predicament. When you
> come
> to impart the instruction you have received from me to a student who is fit
> to
> receive it, you will be released from this curse."
> The student to whom Patanjali bestowed his grace was Gaudapada. He is known
> as
> Gaudapada because he is from Gauda land (modern Bengal).
> Gaudapada went to the Vindya region and sat on a tree as a brahma-rakshasa.
> The
> Vindyas are in the middle of Aryavarta dividing the north and the south, and
> travelers from the north to the south or from the south to the north
> normally
> passed through the Vindyas. The region of Aryavarta to the north was known
> as
> Gauda-desha and the region to the south was known as Dravida-desha.
> Gauda-desha
> was divided into five sections known as Sarasvata (Kashmir), Kanyakubja
> (Punjab), Gauda (Bengal), Utkara (Orissa) and Maithila (Bihar & Nepal).
> Dravida
> desha was also divided into five sections known as Andhra, Karnataka,
> Maharashtra or Saurashtra, Gurjara, and Dravida. This was the geography of
> Aryavarta before its history was corrupted by the concocted theory of Aryans
> and
> Dravidians. Be that as it may, let us proceed with the story.
> Gaudapada sat upon the tree and waited for brahmanas, for brahmanas are the
> food
> of brahma-rakshsas. Whenever a brahmin approached the tree, Gaudapada jumped
> down and assumed the form of a brahmin himself and asked the traveler a
> question
> on grammar. Those were days before the Mahabhashya had become known to the
> people, and it was very difficult for anyone to know the correct answer to
> the
> subtle question of grammar that Gaudapada put to them. So, the brahmin
> travelers
> replied with a wrong answer, Immediately Gaudapada, the brahma-rakshasa,
> pounced
> upon the traveler and ate him up. This went on for many years and there was
> not
> a single brahmin who could answer the question put by Gaudapada.
> Then one day, after a great number of years had passed, there arrived a
> comely
> brahmin boy. On seeing him, the brahma-rakshasa felt very happy and thought
> that
> he would be a very delicious meal. Gaudapada asked the usual question on
> grammar, and he was surprised when the boy gave the correct answer. At once
> Gaudapada felt elated and pleased and he said: `All these days I have waited
> for
> a suitable student. You are my proper disciple. Whatever knowledge my
> teacher
> imparted to me, I shall impart to you. Where do you want to go?' The boy
> said:
> "I am on my way to Chidambaram in order to learn grammar from Patanjali." On
> hearing this Gaudapada remarked: "The story of Chidambaram is all over. I
> shall
> teach you here. That Mahabhashya remains with me. Sit down here."
> Gaudapada taught the boy for 9 days, continuously, without food or sleep,
> until
> finally the entire Mahabhashya was transmitted from teacher to student. The
> boy
> had no quill and ink to write, so he made an incision on his thigh and with
> a
> twig that he broke from a branch he wrote using the blood that flowed from
> the
> incision as the ink. For 9 days he wrote, with no break, no sleep, no food.
> Finally, after 9 days, he tied up the leaves on which he had written the
> instructions into a bundle.
> After Gaudapada taught the boy, he was released from the curse. He then went
> northward searching for a guru. Having heard that Sukadeva was identified
> with
> the entire universe, he felt a desire to become his sishya and learn from
> him.
> After a long search he met Suka at Badari and was initiated by him into
> Advaita
> Darshana.
> But who was the boy who received the instruction from Gaudapada? His name
> was
> Chandra Sharma. Who was Chandra Sharma? He was none other than Adisesha
> himself.
> After seeing that no mortal man could answer the question put by Gaudapada,
> he
> incarnated himself on earth in the form of Chandra Sharma in order that the
> Mahabhashya may not be lost to mankind. He it was that answered Gaudapada
> and
> set him free from the curse and preserved the Mahabhashya.
> Chandra Sharma went a little distance and lay down and slept. He was very
> tired
> after 9 days and he went into a deep sleep. Meanwhile a goat came along and
> ate
> a portion of the bundle of leaves that he had left on the ground. Chandra
> Sharma
> got up from his sleep and saw that a portion of the bundle was missing. He
> tied
> up the remaining leaves and went to Ujjayini. What remains of the
> Mahabhashya
> today is the portion that was not eaten up by the goat. The missing portion
> is
> called Aja-bhaksita-bhashya (i.e., the portion of the bhashya that was eaten
> by
> the goat).
> On reaching Ujjayini, Chandra Sharma arrived at the house of a Vaishya.
> Being
> tired, he went to sleep on the veranda. He was in deep sleep for many days.
> The
> Vaishya had a daughter. She tried to wake him up, but on failing to do so,
> she
> realized that he was unconscious. Seeing the brilliance on the face of
> Chandra
> Sharma, she wanted to preserve his life. So she smeared his body with cooked
> rice water crushed in buttermilk which was the equivalent of saline in
> ayurveda
> shastra those days. After repeating this for a few days, Chandra Sharma woke
> up.
> He then collected the bundle of leaves and starting reading them. Thereupon
> the
> householder Vaishya stopped him and asked him to marry his daughter. "My
> daughter took great effort to save your life. She wants to marry you."
> Chandra
> Sharma thought within himself: "Is it for this that I received the
> instruction
> in grammar?" He told the householder that he had no intention of marrying.
> The
> householder then took Chandra Sharma to the court of the king to settle the
> matter.
> When the king saw Chandra Sharma, he too wanted to give his daughter in
> marriage
> to him. He called his minister to ask whether such marriage was in
> accordance
> with the shastras. Unfortunately for the king, the minister too saw the
> brilliance on Chandra Sharma's face and wanted him to marry his own
> daughter.
> Thus all the three, the VaishyA, the king and the minister wanted Chandra
> Sharma
> to marry their respective daughters. What was Chandra Sharma to do? He
> married
> all the three and lived with them until he begot a son by each of them. Then
> he
> renounced the world and went in search of a guru.
> After searching in various places, he finally went to Badari and met his old
> guru who had taught him grammar. He learnt that Gaudapada had become a
> sannyasi.
> He too took sannyasa from him. From then on, he was called Govinda
> Bhagavadpada.
> The teachers in the tradition from Suka onwards are known as parivrajakas,
> or
> wandering monks. While Govinda Bhagavadpada was staying at Badari, Vyasa
> came
> there and addressed his thus: "For the purpose of writing a bhashya on the
> Brahma-Sutra composed by me, Ishwara Himself is going to be born as avatara.
> He
> will take sannyasa. In conformity with the tradition in the world, there
> should
> be a teacher to initiate Him. You go to the banks of the Narmada and stay at
> the
> foot of the Ashwatta tree there. As soon as He comes to you, you will
> initiate
> Him." Thus it was that Govinda Bhagavadpada went to Narmada and initiated
> the
> young sannyasi Shankara when he came there seeking a Guru. And thus it was
> that
> He who gave grammar to the world through Panini and Adisesha now became a
> disciple of Adisesha.
> (Adapted from the book 'Adi Shankara - His life and Times' by Sri
> Chandrashekarendra Saraswati Swamigal of Kanchi Math)
> Hari OM
> Shri Gurubhyo namah
> Shyam
> On Feb 26, 2012, at 6:24, abhishek sm <abhishek046 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> In that case, many sages, sanyasins,etc can be regarded as
>> chiranjeevis. Nevertheless, that's not my primary question. My
>> question correlates to how Sri Gaudapada was found and taken up by Sri
>> Shuka. Is there any tale like the ones pertaining to Sri Shankara and
>> his 4 main disciples?
>> On 2/26/12, Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> On Sat, Feb 25, 2012 at 3:15 PM, abhishek sm
>>> <abhishek046 at gmail.com<javascript:_e({}, 'cvml',
>>> 'abhishek046 at gmail.com');>
>>>> wrote:
>>>> Sri Shuka is not one of the 7 chiranjivis. Shuka disappeared(attained
>>>> moksha) in a cave at Shukachari. Please correct your facts.
>>>> BhavatyAh,
>>>> Abhishek Madhyastha
>>> The disappearance at Shukachari is only hagiography. I met someone whose
>>> friend recited Bhagavatam near Vyasa cave and Suka Brahma Rishi appeared.
>>> This is again only hagiography - result of subjective experience or
>>> imagination. We have to go by literary reference if we talk facts and
>>> metaphysical logic. There is no record of Suka's disappearance in
>>> Bhagavatam or Mahabharatha. Regarding number of chiranjeevis,in eka jiva
>>> vada, all jiva bhasas which get liberated are chiranjeevis. They can
>>> incarnate with a form at the sankalpa of Ishwara. I am happy to be
>>> corrected.
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