[Advaita-l] Shankaracharyas' grhastha followers

jaldhar at braincells.com jaldhar at braincells.com
Wed Apr 26 01:01:10 EDT 2023

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On Sat, 22 Apr 2023, Avik M via Advaita-l wrote:

> Did Adi Shankaracharya have many lay followers during his time?

By lay followers I assume you mean non-sannyasis in other words grhasthas 
is this correct?  In the digvijaya genre of works, some 
kings etc. are shown as followers of Shankaracharya but it is 
not clear how much of that accurately reflects historical 
reality.  Shankaracharya primararily addresses sannyasis in his major 
works, only in the Gitabhashya is there extensive discussion of what kind 
of Vedantic practice a grhastha can do.  The answer is karmayoga which is 
the diligent performance of ones' svadharma without worldly motive but 
purely as duty and a sacrifice to Bhagavan.  So potentially all the lakhs 
of astikas of that era may have been karmayogis but we can't really say 
for sure.

The first prominent Advaitin I can think of who was a grhastha is the 
great Vachaspati Mishra but he flourished atleast two generations after 
Shankaracharya.  And even he lived a very ascetic lifestyle.  (The story 
behind why his tika on brahamasutrabhashya is called Bhamati is that it 
was the name of his wife who was grieved because their celibate life ment 
they had no children.  Vachaspati assured her memory would live on due to 
his book.)

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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