Sunday, October 24, 2010



Sri Sri Shankara was born in Kaladi in Kerala in 788 A.D and preached Advaita (non dualism) philosophy. Though he lived for only thirty-two years, his achievements are unparalleled.

Here are some of his views about BRAHMAN {Supreme Being}

Brahma Satyam. Jagat Mithya. Jivo Brahmaiva Na Parah.

God is real. World is not. The individual is none other than God.

Brahma Satyam. Jagat Mithya.

According to Sri Sri Shankara, there is only one Absolute Brahman and He alone is true (Satya). The materialistic world we live in is not real (Asat), or it is only vyavaharika satya. What does vyavaharika satya mean? Let us suppose we dream of winning a brand new car in a lottery and driving it, though we experience the drive once we are awake there is no car. Did we not experience the car drive in the dream is it not true? Yes, it was true, if so then where is the car? This is vyavaharika satya. Sri Sri Shankara says that appearance of this world is due to Maya—the illusory power of Brahman—, which is neither Sat, nor Asat.

As for the “falseness” of this world - first let us make it clear that Advaita does not claim that this world is false. It only says that it is illusory. Let us pause a minute here and go over the rope and snake analogy. A man sees a coiled rope in insufficient light and thinks it to be a snake, and is therefore afraid. Later, when he sees it again with the help of a light source, he recognizes it as a rope, and realizes he was in error when he thought it to be a snake. However, till he realizes that this object of perception is not a snake, he harbors the illusion that it was a snake i.e. he was under the influence of his own ignorance about the true identity of the thing, and was therefore under mithyatva. The same snake is later, at the moment of realization, understood to be a rope. Similarly, we humans’ think this world has an independent reality, and assumes that the pleasures, joys, frustrations and miseries we experiences here are somehow real. It is this that is mithya.

Jivo Brahmaiva Na Parah.

Sri Sri Sankara equates every individual soul to none other than Brahman. We the Jivatmas (Living Beings) are parted from Brahman and have been in this world ones our moral coils are shed we once again merge with Brahman. We may be identified in many name but we all end up merging with the Supreme. This analogy may help understand better. If we hold a glass tumbler and ask any one if it empty, they say it is empty but no it has air inside it. Is the air inside the tumble different from the air outside? What happens if the glass tumbler is broken? Will not the air which was inside the glass tumbler get mixed with the air outside? Like wise the glass tumbler is our body and the atma is the air in it, one the body is broken (is dead) the atma merges with Paramatma. And the same can be said to the water that is taken out of the ocean by cupping our palm. Is the water in the cupped palm called ocean? No but once it is poured back into the ocean it is ocean. Likewise individual souls {Jivatma} will merge into Supreme Soul {Paramatma} in death.

Sarvam Vishnu Mayam Jagat.

The entire world is filled with Vishnu.

Sri Sri Sankara having said that entire world is filled with Vishnu he introduces Panchayatana Puja.

At the time of Sri Sri Sankara, sectarian worship was very much in vogue. Each school claimed supremacy of their Ishta Devata and philosophy, and was not tolerant of other schools. The primary schools in existence where the sects of Ganapatya, Saura, Vaishnava, Shaiva and Shakta. A lot of time was spent fighting about the supremacy among these schools. This kind of fighting was not very productive, since it went against the ultimate Advaita teaching of vedanta.

The Panchayatana puja, traditionally practiced among Smartas was established by Sri Sri Shankara, enabling to worship Ishta devata with an Advaita buddhi, while including all the other major sectarian devatas. The Ishta devata to be placed in the center, with the other remaining deities placed around it.

Person generally sits facing East, while placing the devatas in the following order:

Center North East South East South West North West
Ganapati Vishnu Shiva Surya Durga
Surya Shiva Ganapati Vishnu Durga
Vishnu Shiva Ganapati Surya Durga
Shiva Vishnu Surya Ganapati Durga
Durga Vishnu Shiva Ganapati Surya

Jnanat eva tu kaivalyam.

Knowledge alone can give salvation. It is the knowledge of understanding Brahman, which is the only means to attain Moksha.

Aham Brahmasmi I am Brahman

Tat Twam Asi That Thou Art

Ayam Atmane Brahma Self is Brahman

Prajnanam Brahma Consciousness is Brahman

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