[Advaita-l] Excerpts from Sri Sankara Digvijaya - 3

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 7 23:53:16 EDT 2017

 (Continued from previous post)
Excerpts from Shri Shankara Digvijaya – II
Importance of a Guru
Srinivas Mallapragada
In continuation of the Shankara Digvijaya series, we shall examine another episode from Shankara Bhagavatpada’s life
that teaches the way of life to be followed by those who desire to follow the path of the Vedas.
Shri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Nrisimha Bharati Swamigal, the 33rd pontiff of Shringeri Peetham, in his famous
Kamalajadayitashtaka Stotram says :
कल्यादौ पार्वतीशः प्रवरसुरगणप्रार्थितः श्रौतवर्त्म प्राबल्यं नेतुकामो यतिवरवपुषागत्या यां शृङ्गशैले |
Lord Shiva, who was requested by the gods at the beginning of Kali yuga to save the world, decided to do so by reviving
the path shown by the vedas. He incarnated Himself as a  great sannyasin and came to Shringeri.
The words of the Swamigal tell us that Shri Shankara Bhagavatpada is none other than Lord Shiva’s incarnation.
The Shankara Digvijaya also tells us :
शम्भोमूर्तिः चारति भुवने शङ्कराचार्य रूपा |
With the understanding that the great acharya is none other than Lord shiva’s incarnation, let us examine a seemingly
contradictory incident from Bhagavatpada’s life and the lesson it teaches us.
After leaving home at the tender age of 8, Shankara, the young Sanyasin arrived at the hermitage of Shri Govinda Bhagavtpada
and approached the cave in which Shri Govinda Bhagavtpada was residing. He went around the cave 3 times, prostrated at its
entrance and sang the praise of the guru. The great guru immediately recognized that the new disciple is none other than
the Great God Shiva in human form and was delighted to see Shri Shankara.
Then, in observance of the customary rules for establishing the relationship between the teacher and the disciple,
the guru extended his feet through the tiny mouth of the cave which Shri Shankara worshipped with great devotion and
ceremony. Through devoted service of his teacher, Shri Shankara learnt all the Shastras culminating in the knowledge of
Brahman, the goal of the Vedanta Shastra.
>From this episode, it is clear that Shri Shankara Bhagavatpada, being an incarnation of the Omniscient Lord, still chose
to approach a qualified guru, serve him and gain knowledge from him.
On the surface, this seems odd and leads us to the the question “why?”. It is understandable that a relatively ignorant
person would approach someone with an elevated level of knowledge and learn from him, but what is the need for someone
like Shri Shankara Bhagavatpada, an embodiment of that great Lord Dakshinamurthy, who is an abode of all knowledge
including Atma Jnana himself, to serve and learn from a Guru ?
What is the lesson this episode is teaching us ?
Since the scriptures are our only recourse to getting the right answers, let us examine what the scriptures say about
this dilemma.
Our scriptures emphatically declare the supremacy of the Guru and place him on a high pedestal. Guru is considered equal
to the Lord himself as our famous prayer verse indicates :
गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुः गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः | गुरुरेव परं ब्रह्म तस्मै श्री गुरवे नमः ||
Guru gita also says “गुरोः प्रसादतो नान्यत् मुक्तिपदं लभ्यते” – Moksha is not possible by any way other than by Guru’s grace. This message is
well known to all of us from both our scriptures and also from our tradition.
(To be Continued)

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