Shankara the Teacher

Shankara, the great yogi-philosopher of India who revivified the ancient doctrine of the Upanishads when it was in danger from Buddhist scepticism on the one hand and from the refined materialism of ritualists on the other, is the reputed author of more than 400 works. They can be roughly divided into three classes: commentaries on authoritative texts (there are about 70 of these); about 110 independent treatises which do not follow a text; and some 220 poems, philosophical or devotional. Perhaps a quarter of this great body of works has been translated into English. It is important to note that Shankara regarded himself as a commentator, and never claimed to be an original thinker as did, for instance, the Buddha. Dr Nakamura’s history of early Vedanta has shown that most of the supposed innovations in Shankara’s work go back long before him. Shankara claimed to transmit the teaching of the …

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Arjuna reinforces his refusal to fight in the Bhagavad Gita

The Smile Arjuna reinforces his refusal, or rather inability, to fight by gilding it with moral sentiments. He presents himself as seeing things from a higher standpoint; from that elevation, he condemns what he had till now wanted to do, but suddenly finds he does not want to do. He had been enthusiastic about the righteousness of the battle, and boasted about what he would do in it. In reliance on his skill and bravery, others had joined his side. Compassion for the members of his family on the other side had not worried him then, any more than it worries his brother Bhīma now. But here he is: I.38 Even if they, blinded as they are by greed, do not see The sin of conflict within the family And the crime of striking at a friend, 39 Yet we should know enough to draw back from this wickedness, When …

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