Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lord Sankara Vs Adi Sankara

Hello readers,

We hear lot of arguments in our homes, office etc., most of them are rubbish which needs to be trashed. However when we hear an argument between a Chandala (the low caste) and a Sanyasi (highly learned Jnani) what will be the result? We definitely get enlightened by listening to them.

Adi Sankara along with his Sishyas at Varanasi (Kasi) after taking bath at River Ganges (Ganga) was on his way towards Kasi Viswanatha Temple saw a Chandala (dog eater) coming towards them. Lord Siva is said to have come in the disguise of that Chandala. Sankara then uttered “Gacha Gacha” i.e. Move away, Move away.

Now the Chandala posed a few questions to Acharya who was dazed and was taken aback upon hearing his highly enlightened question. Sankara then replied his questions more philosophically. The answers are in the form of a small treatise by Adi Sankara is what is known as “Maneesha Panchakam”.

The word Maneesha meaning “conviction” appear in last line of all the five verse. Adisankara firmly tells and conveys in this sloka that a realized Brahma Jnanai is indeed Guru to him irrespective whether he is a low-caste chandala or a highly learned brahmana. Finally Acharya concludes such a realized person is none other Brahman himself whose feet are fit to be worshipped by Indira. That is the firm conviction of the Acharya.

To get that conviction please read on the complete dialogues….

Happy Realization!

Om Tat Sat!

A.V. Devan
Lord Sankara Vs Adi Sankara

Adi Sankara – Brief Biography

In a village called Kaladi in Kerala there was a devout couple by name Sivaguru and Aryambal. They were issue less for long and went to Trichur Vadakunnathan (Lord Shiva) Temple and performed puja for 48 days and with the grace of Shiva they were blessed with a son who was born in the “Thiruvathirai” Star. The Child was named Sankara means one who gives prosperity. It was a divine call in the form of Crocodile which helped Sankara to adopt Sanyasa at an early age so as to propagate the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. He was given Sanyas by his Guru Govinda Bagavatpada who taught Vedas and Advaita Vedanta to Sankara. He advised Sri Sankara to go out in the world and spread this truth throughout the country. Sankara later travelled the length and breadth of the country visiting holy cities and temples and established firmly the advaita philosophy. Sankara was also known as Shanmata Stapakacharya i.e. one who established the Worship of all the six main deities i.e. Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, Ganesha, Surya and Skanda.

Adisankara also established Peethams or Religious Seats to spread the message of Advaita at Sringeri (Sri Sharada Peetham), Puri (Govardhan Peetham) , Dwaraka (Kalika Peetham), Badrinath (Jyotir Peetham) and at Kanchipuram (Sri Kamakoti Peetham), Adi Sankara’s works includes Bhasya or Commentary on Brahma Sutra, Bhagavad Gita and ten major Upanishads. He had written Prakarana Grantha or Philosophical Treatise like Upadesha Sahasri, Viveka Chudamani etc. Sankara had also written many Stotras or devotional hymns like Soundarya Lahari, Bhaja Govindam, Annapurna ashtakam, Mahishasuramardhini, Subramanya Bujangam etc. Sankara though lived in this mortal world only for 32 year his contribution to the society is of immense by protecting the Vedic Culture and lifted the spirits of humanity which is thriving even today. He is Sankara himself who came to protect the Hindu Religion which is based on the Vedas.

Advaita Philosophy

Advaita Vedanta is based on Scriptures (Sastra), Reason (Yukti) and Experience (Anubhava) and aided by Spiritual Practices (karmas). This philosophy provides a clear-cut way of life to be followed. Starting from childhood, when learning has to start, the philosophy has to be realised in practice throughout one's life, even up to death. This is the reason why this philosophy is called an experiential philosophy. The underlying tenet being "That thou art", meaning that ultimately there is no difference between the experiencer and the experienced (the world) as well as the universal spirit (Brahman). Among the followers of Advaita, as well those of other doctrines, there are believed to have appeared Jivanmuktas, ones liberated while alive. These individuals (commonly called Mahatmas, great souls, among Hindus) are those who realised the oneness of their self and the universal spirit called Brahman.

Lord Sankara Vs Adi Sankara

On a hot summer noon once Jagadguru Adi Sankaracharya at Varanasi along with his disciples went to the sacred river Ganga to perform the mid-day rituals. After completing the rituals they were on their way proceeding towards the temple of Lord Viswanath. On their way the Great Acharya of Advaita saw a Chandala (an outcaste) along with his wife surrounded by four dogs came in front of them. Since they have already taken bath and were proceeding towards the temple the Acharya uttered the Chandala “Gacha Gacha” i.e. move away move away. Now the Chandala encountered Jagad Guru Adi Sankara by cross questioning “By asking to Move Away do you want the body which is made of food to move away from another body which is also made up of food? Or do you want consciousness to move away from consciousness?” These innocent looking remarks led to an unexpected questioning from the Chandala and caused Sankara to give out to the world an immortal poem called “Maneesha Panchakam” which elaborated the Vedantic ideas and brought into focus that even a person belonging to a low caste could rekindle the light of wisdom in the greatest among the great teachers. Sri Sankara’s encounter and the dialogue with the outcaste on the streets of Varanasi were of immense and eternal significance. The Chandala posed two questions to Sankara and Sankara replied in five verses. These five verses have been collectively given the name “Maneesha Panchakam”. The word “Maneesha” means “Conviction” and Panchakam means five verses. The word “Maneesha” appears in the last line in all the five verses.

Maneesha Panchakam in essence captures the Mahavakyas of all the four Vedas.

Prajanam BrahmaConsciouness is Brahman – Aitareya Upanishad – Rig Veda
Aham Brahmasmi I am Brahman – Brhadaranyaka Upanishad – Yajur Veda
Tat Tvam AsiYou are that – Chandogya Upanishad – Sama Veda
Ayam Atma BrahmaThis Self is Brahman – Mandukya Upanishad – Atharva Veda

Maneesha Panchakam

Chandala’s Questions

O Great among the twice born! What is that you want to move away by saying, “Move Away, Move Away”? Do you want the body made up of food to move away from another body made up of food? Or do you want consciousness to move away from consciousness?

Is there any difference between the reflection of the Sun in the waters of the Ganga and its reflection in the water in a gutter in the quarters of the outcastes? Is there any difference between the space in a Gold Pot and in a Mud Pot? What is this illusion of difference in the form, “This is a Brahmana and this is an Outcaste? in the indwelling self which is the ripple-free ocean of bliss and pure consciousness?

Sankara’s Answers

Verse 1

If a person has attained the firm knowledge that he is not an object of perception, but is that pure consciousness which shines clearly in the states of waking, dream and deep sleep and which as the witness of the whole universe dwells in all bodies from that of creator Brahma to that of an ant, then He is my Guru irrespective of whether he is an outcaste or a Brahmana. This is my conviction.

Verse 2

“I am Brahman (Pure Consciousness). It is pure consciousness that appears as this Universe. All this is only something conjured up by me because of avidya (nescience) which is composed of the three gunas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas). One who has attained this definite realization about Brahman which is bliss itself, eternal, supreme and pure, is my Guru, whether he is an outcaste or a Brahmana. This is my conviction.

Verse 3

Having come to the definite conclusion, under the instructions of his Guru, that the entire Universe is always perishable, he who, with a calm and pure mind constantly meditates on Brahman and who has burnt his past and future sins in the fire of knowledge, submits his present body to the operation of his praarabdha karma. This is my conviction.

Verse 4

The Self or Pure Consciousness is experienced clearly within by animals, men and gods as ‘I’. It is by the reflection of this pure consciousness that the mind, senses and body which are all insentient appear to be sentient. External objects are perceived only because of this consciousness. This Self is however, concealed by the very mind, senses and body which are illumined by it, just as the sun is concealed by clouds. The yogi who with a calm mind always meditates on this Self is my Guru. This is my conviction.

Verse 5

The Self, which is Brahman, is the eternal ocean of supreme bliss. A minute fraction of that bliss is enough to satisfy Indra and other Gods. By meditating on the Self with a perfectly calm mind the sage experiences fulfillment. The person whose mind has become identified with this Self is not a mere knower of Brahman, but Brahman himself. Such a person, whoever he may be, is one whose feet are fit to be worshipped by Indra himself. This is my definite conviction.
After hearing the above replies Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati who were in the disguise of Chandala showed their real form to Adi Sankara blessed him and disappeared miraculously. It is said the Lords came there to test the depth of Sri Sankara’s spiritual understanding.

Lets worship the Lotus feet of Sankara to realize and experience the Brahman within ourself and attain the state of Jivan Muktas.

Jaya Jaya Sankara!!
Hara Hara Sankara!!


Adi Sankaracharya’s Maneesha Panchakam – Translated by S.N. Sastri (Vedanta Spiritual Library) (
An encounter between the Holy and the lowly – Adi Sankara’s Maneesha Panchakam – T.N. Sethuraman –
Manisha Panchakam – Wikipedia

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