Shankara – Came at the Right Time
Bhagavadpada Acharya Shankara was not only a great thinker and the noblest of Advaitic philosophers, but he was essentially an inspired champion of Hinduism. He was one of the most vigorous missionaries in our country. Such a powerful leader was needed at that time when Hinduism had been almost smothered. And consequently the decadent Hindu society came to be disunited and broken up into numberless sects and denominations. And each of them was championing a different viewpoint and engaged in mutual quarrels and endless argumentation. Each Pundit, as it were, had his own followers, his own philosophy, his own interpretation; each one was a vehement and powerful opponent of all other views. This intellectual disintegration, especially in the scriptural field, was never before so serious and so dangerously calamitous as in the times of Shankara.
The age which saw the advent of Shankara was a dark period of unrest and strife. The country was divided into a number of principalities which had very little in common between them. India was going through great intellectual, spiritual and social turmoil. Vedic religion had become mere performance of elaborate rituals.
Shankara – A Tireless Revolutionary
It was into such a chaotic intellectual atmosphere that Shankara brought his life-giving philosophy of the Non-dual Brahman of the Upanishads. It can be very well understood what a colossal work it must have been for any one man to undertake in those days when modern conveniences of mechanical transport and instruments of propaganda were unknown.
The genius in Shankara did solve the problem, and by the time he placed at rest his mortal coil, he had whipped the false ideologies beyond the shores of our country and had reintegrated the philosophical thoughts in the then Aryavarta (India of ancient times). After centuries of wandering, no doubt richer for her various experiences but tired and fatigued, Bharat came back to her own native thoughts.
Shankara – The Greatest Vedantin
He brought into his work his literary dexterity – both in prose and poetry. In his hands, under the heat of his fervent ideals, the great Sanskrit language became almost plastic. He could mold it into any shape and into any form.
From masculine prose to soft feminine songs, from marching militant verses to dancing songful words, be he in the halls of the Upanishad commentaries or in the temple of the Brahma-sutra expositions, in the amphitheater of his Bhagavad-geeta discourses, or in the open flowery fields of his devotional songs, his was a pen that danced to the rhythm of his heart and to the swing of his thoughts.
Shankara – A Vigorous Missionary
Pen alone would not have won the war of culture for our country. He showed himself to be great organizer, a farsighted diplomat, a courageous hero and a tireless servant of the country. Selfless and unassuming, this mighty angel strode up and down the length and breadth of the country, serving his motherland and teaching his countrymen to live up to the dignity and glory of Bharat.
Such a vast programme can neither be accomplished by an individual nor sustained without institutions of great discipline and perfect organisation. Establishing the mutts, opening temples, organizing halls of education, and even prescribing certain ecclesiastical codes, this mighty master left nothing undone in maintaining what he achieved.
Shankara – As we Know Him Today
Today, there is throughout the country a great enthusiasm in Shankara; the signs of revival are everywhere around us. On Sri Shankara Jayanti day, we find celebrations everywhere. Unfortunately none of the thundering platforms successfully brings out the personality of this great master from Kalady.
A lot is known of Adi Shankara, but very few know of ‘The Shankara’. The more we learn to adore him, not as a divine incarnation but as a sincere man inspired to serve the country and reconquer the nation from its slavery to alien ideologies, the more we shall successfully pay our tribute to our own culture.
An exquisite thinker, a brilliant intellect, a personality scintillating with the vision of Truth, a heart throbbing with industrious faith and ardent desire to serve the nation, sweetly emotional and relentlessly logical, in Shankara the Upanishads discovered the fittest spiritual general.