[Advaita-l] Excerpts from Sri Sankara Digvijaya - 10

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 19 22:43:59 EST 2017

 (Continued from previous post)
The Kapalika’s request
A Kapalika, an observer of Tantra, performed austerities to get a boon from Shiva, which would enable him to attain
to Kailasa with his human frame. Lord Shiva had declared that his desire would be fulfilled if he could perform a
sacrifice offering in fire the head of a King or an all knowing person. The Kapalika approached Shankara, narrated to him
his ambition and said, ‘You are a man of renunciation without attachment to the body; you live only for the good of others.
Sages like Dadhichi gladly gave to others their impermanent physical body. Be gracious enough to give me your head.’
So saying the Kapalika prostrated. Sri Shankara who was full of mercy to suppliants said, ‘Gladly shall I give you my head.
This body is perishable. If it perishes for the good of another, what greater glory there can be? But you should take
away my head in absolute secrecy when my disciples are away and I shall sit in a lonely place for you to take off my head.’
Accordingly, the Kapalika came at the fixed time and Sri Shankara sat in intense meditation, ready to sacrifice his body.
Madhava Vidyaranya brings out in superb verses, the picture of the sage at this juncture.
आसीनमुच्चीकृत पूर्वगात्रं सिद्धासने शेषितबोधमात्रम् ।
चिन्मात्रविन्यस्त हृषीकवर्गं समाधि विस्मारित विश्वसर्गम् ॥
‘Sri Shankara withdrew his senses into the mind and the mind into the spirit. With his neck and back bone steady,
his palms lying supine on the knees, his face calm, his eyes half open and fixed as though on the nose tip, he sat there
in the state of the Supreme Bliss, completely oblivious of his surroundings.’
Just as the Kapalika was approaching the Acharya with his sword lifted up, the whole plot flashed in the mind of
Padmapada owing to his deep meditation. Padmapada’s whole personality flared up like a burning mass of fire.
He had attained Siddhi in the Narasimha mantra. The consciousness of Narasimha took possession of him and he became
an embodiment of ferocity, leapt into the sky, came down, caught hold of the Kapalika, and tore open his chest with
his nails as Narasimha did to Hiranyakashipu. The other disciples hearing the sound and commotion, rushed to the place
to find the Acharya in Samadhi and the corpse of Kapalika lying nearby. With the aspect of Narasimha in the form of
Padmapada still roaring, Sri Shankara came out of Samadhi and saw before him the formidable Narasimha. Sri Shankara
sang hymns to pacify Narasimha –
त्वमेव सर्गस्थितिहेतुरस्य त्वमेव नेता नृहरेऽखिलस्य ।
त्वमेव चिन्त्यो हृदयेऽनवद्यें त्वामेव चिन्मात्रमहं प्रपद्ये ॥
Sri Shankara also mentioned that the Kapalika had in fact been graced with freedom from rebirths by dying at the hands of
the Lord. Padmapada was thus brought back to his normal state from the super-consciousness of Narasimha. Thus Sri Shankara
had once again brought out Padmapada’s austere devotion and had also indirectly paved way for the Kapalika’s goodwill.
(To be Continued)

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