Gokama is an ancient and sacred place consecrated to Lord Shiva, where King Ravana once performed great tapas. It is mentioned in the Mahabharata and certain of the Puranas, and the poet Kalidas had also spoken of it with great reverence. Shri Shankara, accompanied by his disciples, stayed there at the temple of Shiva for three days. He passed the nights in devotion and the days m instructing his disciples in the philosophy of Advaita. It was here that he composed the “beautiful and famous hymn which is quoted “by Madhava Acharya in his “Shankara Dig Vijaya”.

From here Shri Shankara went on to another holy place called Mukambika. There is a tradition that on the way there he met a Brahmin couple in deep mourning carrying the dead body of their infant son. The heart of the holy Acharya was touched by the misery of this helpless couple. He took the supposedly dead child in his arms and embraced it with affection. Thereupon the child opened his eyes and smiled, and was restored to the overjoyed parents.

Near Mukambika lived a Brahmin called Prabhakara. He was wealthy but grieved over the fact that his thirteen year old son, who neither spoke nor showed an interest in anything, was commonly regarded as a cretin. The Brahmin brought his son to the holy Acharya and asked his advice. Shri Shankara blessed the child and said: ”My son, who are you? ‘Whose disciple are you? What is your aim in life?” The boy spoke for the first time, and the song which flowed from his lips is known as the hymn of Hastamalaka. He was in fact a perfect Brahmajnani. He acknowledged Shri Shankara as his Guru and humbly asked to be taken into his service. Shri Shankara agreed and the child, now known as Hastamalaka Acharya, was thereafter one of his closest followers. He was later appointed head of the Sharadapitha Monastery.

On arrival at Shringeri the disciples, encouraged by their Guru, began to put up small straw huts and to build a temple dedicated to Sharada Devi. These were the beginnings of what later came to be the Shringeri monastery in which the mode of worship laid down by Shri Shankara has remained the same to this day. Shringeri is situated on the bank of the river Tanga in what is now the state of Mysore. The truth of Adwaita is still propagated there according to the ancient tradition and the elected Shankara Acharya is always a man of piety and great learning. Many centuries ago the monastery was generously endowed by the Vijayanagara kings and it is nowadays assisted by grants from Mysore State.

A disciple called Anandagiri, not the learned monk of the same name who later wrote glosses on the holy Acharya’s commentaries, was thought to be a dull student although he was wholly devoted to the service of his Guru and listened attentively to his words. One day he was busying himself elsewhere at a time when Shri Shankara was preparing to instruct his disciples. The holy Acharya waited for him to come and some of the other disciples felt impatient that their instruction should be delayed just because the dullard was not there. Shri Shankara read their thoughts and rewarded Anandagiri’s personal devotion and service by conferring on him great intellectual acumen through his spiritual power. Anandagiri was given the name of Trotaka Acharya and was later placed in charge of Jyotir monastery in the Himalayas.

While at Shringeri, Shri Shankara’s thoughts turned towards making his commentaries more widely known, and he invited Shri Sureshvara to compose a gloss on them.. Although pleading that he was not competent to undertake this task, Shri Sureshvara fell in with the “behest of his Guru. His Vartika on the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and the Taittiriya Upanishad are now acknowledged as classics, as also is his treatise on Advaita Vedanta known as Naishkarmyasiddhi. His genius can also be recognised in the Manasollasa, a short commentary on Shri Shankara’s Dakshinamurti Stotra. Several important works on Dharma Shastra are also attributed to Shri Sureshvara but he must have written these before he became a disciple of Shri Shankaracharya.

Index for The Life of Shri Shankara:

Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 9
Section 10

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