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Vaibhav Lakshmi Vrat Katha

माता-श्री-वैभव-लक्ष्मी-जी-की-व्रत-कथा-Mata-Shri-Vaibhav-Laxmi-Ji-ki-Vrat-Katha
Vaibhav Lakshmi is one of the manifestations of Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) in Hinduism. Goddess Lakshmi has different names as per her eight forms- Dhanya Lakhsmi, Gaja Lakshmi, Adi Lakshmi,Vijaya Lakshmi, Aishwarya Lakshmi, Veera Lakshmi, Dhan Lakshmi and Santan Lakhmi. It is believed that ‘Shri Yantra'(a mystic pictorial of geometrical figures, numbers and words) is Goddess Lakshmi’s favorite and the yantra bestows health, wealth and prosperity to the who adorns it or worships it. Vaibhav Lakshmi Vrat is a popular fast among Indian women, observed for 11 or 21 fridays, in which they consume food or water only at their home and take meals once a day preferably.
Vaibhav LaxshmiThe pooja is performed in the evening when the sun sets. After cleaning the pooja altar, make a rangoli and place uncooked rice on it to form a square. Before starting the pooja, establish a kalash with water, cardomam,edible camphor and saffron. Close it with a lid containing coins. The vaibhavlakshmi yantra or the Ashtalakshmi picture can be placed nearby for worship. The yantra, picture and the kalash can be decorated with sandalwood paste, kumkum and flowers.

Make a thick paste of turmeric powder (around 1 tsp full) with few drops of water to form a small cone similar to a modak. This will be used for the Ganesh pooja.
The vaibhavlakshmi pooja commences with the Ganesh pooja, followed by the Vaibha lakshmi worship, listening or reading the Vaibhavlakshmi legend and bhajans, ending with an aarti. A sweet dish, usually a milk-rice pudding is offered to the Goddess after that. The water in the Kalash and the offering can be consumed and later distributed to others. The rice could be used for cooking and the coins can be utilized for other worship.Varth Katha
Many years ago there was a very big city. Lakhs of people lived there. In ancient times, people really lived the happy social life. They used to meet and sit together and enjoyed themselves. In those days, people used to lead the life completely in different way. People of this city were totally busy engaged in their own personal worldly affairs. The elements of holy devotion, benevolence, sympathy and affection all these virtues were rarely visible in the cultural life of the society. Innumerable vices had spread in the daily-life of the citizens living in that city. Wine and gambling, race and speculation, illegal relations and various guilty misdeeds were done by the people living in that city.
There is always a silver line hidden among the black clouds in the sky. The lightning of the eternal hope spreads into the thousands of dark clouds of disappointments. Inspite of so many vices prevailing in the social life some pious people lived the virtuous life like the lotus in the muddy water of the pond. Among all the virtuous people, Sheela and her husband also lived pious worldly life. Sheela was of religious nature living the contented life. Her husband was a humble fellow having good character.Sheela and her husband lived honestly. They never abused or displeased anyone. They were happy to utilize their time in worshipping God. Their worldly life was ideal and people never got tired while praising them.

Thus she had been passing her life happily. It is said that the end of the misdeeds is quite strange. Who could read the words of fate written by the Goddess of Fortune? A king becomes a poor man, and a poor man becomes a king. By the destiny, in just a moment, such a great change can be done. As a result of misdeeds done, Sheela’s husband got the company of bad friends. It is said that the man is influenced by the company he keeps. Due to the influence of the company of bad friends, Sheela’s husband dreamed to be one of the wealthiest people gaining crores of rupees. As a result he misled his life and became as good as a beggar instead of becoming the wealthy person. He followed evil ways of immorality and began to ruin his life. He indulged in drinking wine, gambling, and race, speculation that had spread in the city-life. His friends were also on the same immoral path. He began to waste his money in the way of immorality. And at last he lost all the savings and also the ornaments of his wife. Once there was a golden time when he was passing his life happily with his wife and they were utilizing the time in worshiping God. Now there was a great change in their life. They became so poor that they could not get food to satisfy their hunger. Moreover Sheela had to suffer much due to the abusive language of her husband.

Sheela was a polite and well-cultured woman. She had suffered a lot because of her husband’s misbehavior. But keeping faith in God she began o bear the sufferings of unhappy life. Unhappiness is followed by happiness and happiness is followed by unhappiness in this worldly life. That is the eternal truth. Having faith in the eternal truth of the happiness and unhappiness, Sheela forgot herself in praying and worshipping God, she was hopeful for future happy life. While she had been passing her unhappy time of her life, one day at noontime someone came knocking at her door. She began to think, ‘who would have come to my place as I am so poor and have nothing with me?’ Still however, inspired by Aryan religious culture of welcoming the guests at the door, she stood up and opened the doors of her house.To her wonder, she saw an old woman standing in front of her. She was a very old woman. Her face was dazzling with the glow of divine light. Her eyes were dripping with the glow of divine light. Her eyes were dripping the nectar of love. Her majestic face was overflowing with the compassion and love. Sheela experienced immense peace in her heart though she was not acquainted with her. She was full of delight. She welcomes her and gave her the only torn mat and requested her to sit with hesitation. The old lady said, ‘Sheela! Don’t you know me?’

Sheela humbly said, ‘Mother, I feel delightful to see you and experience peace in the soul, as if I have been searching you for a long time, but it seems that you are not known to me!’

With a smile the old lady said, ‘why! Did you forget me? Every Friday I used to come to the temple of Goddess Laxmiji , when there had been singing praise of the Goddess. There we happened to meet each other!’

Sheela was full of sorrow, as her husband had gone to the immoral way of life. She had stopped going to the temple of Goddess Laxmiji . She felt ashamed to get associated with others. She tried much to recollect the memory of that old lady. But she was not successful.

After a while, the old lady said to Sheela, ‘How sweet you had been singing prayer of Goddess Laxmiji in the temple amidst the devotees! Now days you are not seen there. Hence I have begun to think the reason for it. At last I have come to see you’. Hearing the kind words of the old lady, Sheela’s heart moved and her eyes were full of tears. She began to sob painfully. The old lady moved near her and began to console her striking lightly on her back with love.
The old lady said to Sheela, ‘My dear, happiness and sorrow are like the heat and shadow of the Sun. Happiness and misery come one after the other. Please have patience and tell me all about your sufferings. You will feel exempted from your pains, and will get the remedy for the same’.

Hearing the consoling words of the lady, Sheela’s heart felt peace and comfort. She said to her, ‘We were very happy in our life and enjoyed ourselves with the bliss in our heart. My husband was also having a good character. By the grace of God, we wee pleased with our financial position. We used to utilize our time in worshipping God. But by our ill luck, my husband was influenced by his bad company. At last he ruined the life by going on the path of immorality: drinking wine, speculation, gambling, race, intoxicating drugs etc. As a result we have become as good as beggars of the footpath’.

The old lady said, ‘Dear, happiness and sorrow come one after the other. Moreover the end of the misdeeds is strange. Every man has to suffer the consequences of his good or bad deeds. Now don’t get worried. You have already suffered all the consequences of your husband’s misdeeds. Now, you will have happy days of your life. You are the devotee of Goddess Laxmiji. Goddess Laxmiji is the incarnation of love and compassion. She is very merciful to her devotees. Hence, have patience and observe the Vrat of the Goddess Laxmiji and your life will be quite easy-going.’

Having heard about the observance of the Vrat of divine Goddess Laxmiji, Sheela’s face glittered with light. She said to the old lady, ‘Mother! Kindly tell me how the Vrat of Laxmiji can be observed. I will certainly observe it.’

The old lady said, ‘The Vrat of Laxmiji is very easy to follow. It is called the ‘Vaibhava Laxmi Vrat’ (Vrat giving wealth) or ‘Vaibhava Laxmi Vrat’ (Vrat giving Luxury). All the hopes of the person who observes the Vrat, will get fulfilled, and she or he becomes happy, wealthy and reputed’. Then she began to describe how to perform the Vrat.

‘Dear, this Vrat is very simple and easy to observe. Many people observe this Vrat by the improper method. Hence they don’t have good result. People believe that the Vrat can be observed only by applying yellow and red turmeric to golden ornaments. But it is not so. Vrat should be performed with proper ceremony according to the religious scriptures or shastras. Then only the observance of the Vrat becomes fruitful. The celebration of the Vrat also should be performed as prescribed by the shastras with proper ceremony’.

‘The Vrat should be observed on Friday every week. One should put on clean clothes after taking bath and should utter silently ‘Jai Ma Laxmi’. One should not speak evil of others. Having washed hands and feet in the evening, one should sit on the wooden seat facing the east direction. One should put a big wooden seat, and then one should put a copper pot on the small heaps of rice arranged on the handkerchief spread on the wooden seat. One should keep gold or a silver ornament or a rupee coin in a small bowl placed on the copper pot. One should light the lamp-stand and the incense stick near the wooden seat.”

“There are many incarnations of Goddess Laxmi.” A person observing the Vrat of Vaibhava Laxmi should devotedly see ‘Shree mystical diagram’ and various complexions or forms of goddess Laxmiji. Then one should sing the prayer of Laxmiji. Afterwards one should apply the ornament or a rupee-coin with the yellow and red turmeric and rice-grain. Then after adorning it with a red flower, one should wave lights keeping sweets or piece of jaggery and should utter ‘Jai Ma Laxmi’. After the rituals one should offer the prasad among the members of the family. That ornament or a rupee-coin should be put to the safe place. The water kept in the copper-bowl should be poured into the pot of basil-plant [tulasi] and the rice grain should be thrown to the birds. In this way one gets his or her desires fulfilled by observing the Vrat according to the prescribed ceremony of the shastras. A Man gets wealthy by the grace of Goddess Laxmiji. An unmarried girl gets married. The married woman maintains the happy state of wifehood and a childless woman gets a child by the influence of observance of the Vrat.

Sheela was pleased to know about the observance of the Vrat from that old lady. She said to her, ‘Mother! You have shown me the ceremony of the Vrat. Now I will surely observe it. But please, tell me how long this Vrat should be done and how it should be celebrated’. The old lady said, ‘People say that this Vrat can be done in one’s own way. But it is not so. This Vaibhava Laxmi Vrat should be done for eleven or twenty-one Friday. On the last Friday, the Vrat should be celebrated offering a coconut and sweet dish of rice. Then on that day the sweets should be given to seven unmarried girls or ladies, and saying…’Jai Ma Vaibhava Laxmi’ they should be given a book of ‘Vaibhava Laxmi Vrat’. Afterwards you should bow down your head to the photograph of Goddess Dhanlaxmi and should pray in the heart! Mother! I have observed the Vaibhava Laxmi Vrat. Please fulfill all our wishes! Kindly give wealth to the poor and give children to the childless woman. Let the married woman enjoy the happy state of wifehood. Let the unmarried girl fulfill her desires. Please have grace on those who observe your Vrat and be kind to them by favoring happiness in their lives’. By praying in this manner, bow down your head to the Dhan Laxmi, incarnation of the Goddess Laxmiji and Keep your hand above (not to touch) the flames of the lamp and apply it to your eyes’. Hearing the ceremony for the observation of Vaibhava Laxmi Vrat, she closed her eyes and decided in her mind to do the Vrat with full faith according to shastras for twenty-one Friday and to celebrate the same with ceremony. When Sheela opened the eyes, she was very much surprised to know that the old lady had disappeared! That old lady was no one else but Laxmiji Herself! As Sheela was the devoted worshipper, Goddess Laxmiji Herself had come in the form of an old lady to show Sheela the path of happiness.

On the very next day it was Friday. After taking bath Sheela began to utter, ‘Jai Ma Laxmi’ with full faith in the Goddess Laxmi. During the day she didn’t defame any one. In the evening having washed her hands and feet, Sheela placed the wooden seat. She put her nose-ornament in the small bowl placed on the copper pot, which was on the heaps of rice arranged on the handkerchief spread on the wooden seat. Sitting in the east, Sheela observed the Vaibhava Laxmi Vrat with proper ceremony as informed by that old lady. Then she offered some sugar to her husband. Immediately there was a great change in her husband’s nature. As usual her husband did not beat her! She was very much happy to see such miraculous change in husband. Then after observing the Vrat with devotion and faith for twenty-one Friday. Sheela celebrated the last Friday. She gave a book of Vaibhava Laxmi Vrat to seven ladies and bowing down her head to the photograph of Goddess Laxmiji, prayed: ‘Mother! I have finished observance of the Vrat today. Kindly fulfill the desires of the unmarried girls and return the happiness of those who observe the Vrat. Be merciful to bless us with bliss of life uttering, “Give wealth to the poor, a child to the childless woman and preserve the happiness of the married woman. Kindly fulfill the desires.” Uttering these words, Sheela kept her hands above the flames of the lamp and applied her hands to her eyes and paid homage to the Goddess. In this way, Sheela could get the result as she had observed the Vrat according to the prescribed ceremony of the shastras. Her husband gave up the immoral way of life and began to earn with great efforts. With the pious power of the Goddess, her husband became wealthy. He got back the ornaments of Sheela mortgaged by him. Hence forward he became a noble man and Sheela regained the peace and happiness in her life as before.

Having seen the pious power of the Vaibhava Laxmi Vrat, other women of the street began to perform the Vrat according to ceremony described by the shastras.

Oh! Goddess Dhan Laxmi! Be merciful to all, as you had been to Sheela. Fulfill the desires of all. Bless all with peace and bliss. Jai Ma Dhan Laxmi! Jai Ma Vaibhava Laxmi!!.

Why people offer Oil to Shani dev ?

Shani-Shingnapur-1
Hindus all across the world are familiar with the act of oil Abhishekam on idols of Shanidev on Saturdays. It is one of the most important rituals for millions of Hindu devotees, who visit Shani temples to pour oil on Shanidev’s murthi.
Lord Shani Deva
In our Hindus society, it is habitual to bath Shani dev in mustard Oil. Many people also raised this question that why people offer oil to Shani dev. There is a short story behind this.
As per Hindu Epic Ramayana, when the bridge was constructed from Rameswaram to Lanka by Ram’s army, Hanumanji had the responsibility of looking after the security of bridge lest the enemy damage it. One day Hanumanji sat under the trees and offering prayer to God Rama. God Shanidev went there and said to Hanumanji, “I am the powerful god Shani dev. I heard you are also so powerful, so I want to test your might with me. Open your eyes and fight with me.”
In response to shanidev, Hanumanji opened his eyes & said “Now I am meditating upon my lord. I request you don’t disturb me in my prayer & leave me alone.” But God Shani dev was stable on picking a fight. At the same time, hanumanji stretched out his tail and started binding it around Shani dev. slowly he tightened the coiled tail. God Shani dev tried to free himself but he could not. Hanumanji moved his tail up & down hitting him against the stone of bridge. Shanidev started bleeding.
When the pain was unbearable, God Shani requested to him, “Release me. I will never do a similar mistake again.” Hanumanji replied, “If you promise me that you shall never afflict Ram’s devotees then I will let you go” In the great pain shanidev promised to Hanumanji, “I will do as you say, I will never interfere in the destiny of those devoted to you & Ram.”
When shanidev became free, He asked to Hanuman, “Could you give me some oil to relieve my wretched pain.” Then Hanuman gave the oil to Shanidev, after the spread of oil on his body, his pain was relieved immediately.
Since then it is customary to offer oil to Shanidev. It is symbolic of soothing his pain. He feels satisfied and this makes him benevolent towards the devotee.

Version 2:

When Lord Ram was constructing the bridge to Lanka to cross the ocean with his army, Lord Hanuman had the liability to look after the bridge in case the enemies damage it. One day, when Lord Hanuman was praying to Lord Ram sitting under a tree, Shani Dev arrived there and said that he is the most powerful God. He added that he had heard Lord Hanumaan to be very powerful, so he wanted to test his might with Lord Hanuman. He asked Lord Hanuman to open his eyes and fight with him.

In reply, Lord Hanuman opened his eyes and warned Shani Dev not to disturb him when he is meditating on his Lord and leave him alone. But, Shani Dev was resolute to pick a fight. Hence, Lord Hanuman extended his tail and bind it around Shani Dev. He tightened his tail and Shani Dev felt the stiff hold around him. Shani Dev tried get free from that tight hold, but he was not able to. Lord Hanuman waved his tail up and down that was hitting Shani Dev on the stones. He started bleeding.

Hanuman and Shani Dev

When the pain became intolerable, Shani Dev requested Lord Hanumaan to release him. He also added that he would never do a same mistake again. Hanuman asked Shani Dev to promise him that he shall never cause problems to Ram’s devotees. Shani Dev promised that he will do the same. He would never hinder in the destiny of Lord Ram’s and Hanumaan’s devotees. Hanuman then loosened his tail’s hold and freed Shani Dev.

After Shani Dev became free, he requested Lord Hanuman to give him some oil to ease his miserable pain. Lord Hanuman offered him some mustard oil. After that oil massage on his body, the pain was calmed instantly. Since then, it is traditional to offer mustard oil to Shani Dev. It soothes his body pain. He feels pleased and this makes him kind towards the Lord Ram’s devotees.

There is a spiritual analysis of the relation amid Lord Hanuman and Shani Dev.

Lord Hanuman is a symbol of selflessness, whereas Shani Dev is a symbol of ego and pride. Hence, to contradict the Karm born out of selfishness, one must be kind and unselfish like Lord Hanuman.This is true for those people who experience the evil effects of Saadhe Saatee, which is a seven and half year’s period when Shani (i.e. Saturn) is believed to trouble the three signs. One is in which the Moon is located in the natal chart of that person and the other two houses around it.

Ear Piercing


In India, Hindu infants of both genders get their ears pierced as early as 12 days after birth or before their first birth day or third or fifth year (depending on region and local custom).

According to Legends The shape of the ear resembles the holy symbol ‘Aum’. It is believed that piercing the ear is just dotting the Aum. The ear is pierced by a priest during a holy ceremony (Karnavedha).

ear-piercing

Karnavedha:

Karnavedha or the practice of wearing earrings is one of the Hindu Sanskars (sacraments) performed for a child. Karnavedha is a Vedic rite of passage. Common between male and females, it is intended to open the inner ears of the child for receiving sacred sounds. This rite has deep mystical and symbolic significance. It is believed that merely hearing sacred sounds has merit in that it cleanses sin and nurtures the spirit.

According Dharma sindhu, it must be done on the 10th, 12th or 16th day after birth of the child. If it is not possible to do on these days, it must be done on 6th or 7th month after birth. Even if this is not possible, it must be done on odd years and not on even years of the child. At least by the time of upanayana, one must have this done. The men must have the ear stud permanently after Upanayana (thread ceremony).

The continuous pressure in the ear lobe perhaps helps in keeping active that part of the brain responsible for memory. It must be mentioned here that piercing the ear at the bottom part of the ear lobe is the recommended

Since earliest times, wearing ear ornaments by married Indian women has been considered auspicious. Besides, earrings were considered to be a symbol of woman’s wealth and her status in society. Elongated ear lobes were considered a sign of beauty and wealth – the longer the lobe, the greater the woman’s wealth. By appending ornaments to almost every part of the ear, the woman also ensured a continuous state of mental and physical well being.

According to Acupressure Therapy, the meridians connecting the brain pass though this area. This is said to help in the quick development of the brain. Hence, the earlier the ears of the child are pierced, better the results will be. In certain Indian communities, even a boy’s ears are pierced.

Recent studies have identified the ear as a microcosm of the entire body. Some even say the point of vision in acupuncture is situated in the center of the lobe. Hence the practice of wearing earrings is thought to have some therapeutic value. Besides, in certain places, ear piercing was believed to be good for the eyes. It also sharpened the mind and drew off ‘bad humors’.

Ear Ring

An earring can be described as a piece of jewelery that is worn on the ear.

According to Legends Ancient Prakrit and Sanskrit literature describe girls wearing fresh flowers in their ears. A range of floral earrings of gold, silver or precious stones that have been popular over the centuries in India suggest that the forms of flowers were translated into precious jewelry. A type of flower known as the karnphul, i.e., ‘ear-flowers’ is considered particularly auspicious. Karn Phools are an large, round metal flower-form earring, with a central stud at the back being the equivalent of a flower stem.

Scholars believe that the choice of the flower as the inspiring shape for earrings is not without significance. Flowers are considered natural erotic stimulants, by virtue of their association with Kama, the God of love, besides these are considered a concise symbol of nature, condensing into a brief span of time the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth. In addition, flowers also reflects gentleness, youth, spiritual perfection and innocence, qualities which are but the fundamental attributes of feminine character.

Soura-piercing-style

Ekadashi Vrat

ekadashi-011
Ekadashi is the eleventh lunar day of the shukla month which is considered spiritual beneficial day for the devotees. On this day, devotees observe rigorous fast and have only fruits, vegetables and milk products. Consuming beans and grains are not allowed on the day of Ekadasi, as on this day these two foods are believed to be contaminated by sin. The procedure of fast starts from sunrise and last till the next day of Ekadashi.

According to Hindu mythological story once Lord Vishnu was in deep Yoga Nidra and during that time, a demon named Murdanav, came and challenged him for a fight. A damsel appeared from Lord Vishnu’s yoga nidra – Ekadash Indri the eleventh sense. As soon as Murdanav saw the damsel, he got so attracted that he wanted to marry her. But, the damsel put a condition that he would have to fight with her and in the tough fight the demon got killed by the damsel. Lord Vishnu was so happy from the damsel that he granted her a boon and named her as Ekadashi. Goddess Ekadashi wanted people to observe fast on the day of Ekadashi and Lord Vishnu granted her the boon. And the devotees who keep fast would get Moksha (salvation).

Ekadashi Parana is the process of breaking the rigorous fast before the sunrise of Dwadashi is over. According to myths the most preferred time to break the fast is Pratahkal. Ekadasi ocaasion is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and devotees worship him to get themselves blessed. People observe fast on this day to progess and walk on the path of sadhana and devotion. It is said that one who keep fast on the day of Ekadashi is considered to be happy, gains peace of mind and attains moksha. Ekadashi which comes in Krishna Paksha of Hindu month – Kartik is known as Rama Ekadashi. Those devotees who observe rigorous fast on this day get freed from the sins and attain the spiritual peace. Happy Ekadashi to all out there and hope you enjoy it with gifts, hugs, love, sweets and lots of blessings from Lord Vishnu.

Ekadashi is considered to be the favourite day of Krsna, when devotees refrain from material activities. The Sanskrit word Ekadasi literally means eleven. Ekadashi is the eleventh of the fifteen-day lunar month. In one of the lunar months (called the light month) the moon grows from new moon to full moon and in the following lunar month (called dark month) it diminishes from full moon to no-moon. Thus every calendar (solar) month there are two Ekadasis, the light Ekadasi that occurs on the eleventh day of the waxing moon, and the dark Ekadasi that occurs on the eleventh day of the waning moon. It is recommended that all Vaisnavas should fast on this day of Ekadasi. Such austerity will be greatly beneficial for their devotional life.
Since there are 12 months in a year, with two Ekadasis in each month, there are 24 Ekadasis in each year. Each Ekadasi has a name, that are Utpanna, Mokshada, Saphala, Putrada, Shat-tila, Jaya, Vijaya, Amalaki, Papamocani, Kamada, Varuthini, Mohini, Apara, Nirjala, Yogini, Padma (Devashayani), Kamika, Putrada, Aja, Parivartini, Indira, Papankusha, Rama, and Haribodhini (Devotthani). Occasionally there are two extra Ekadasis that happen in a lunar leap year, which are Padmini and Parama.

Devotees fast on this day, observe vigil the whole night and do Japa, Hari Kirtan and meditation. Some do not take even a drop of water. Those who are unable to fast completely can take some light fruit and milk.

No rice should be taken on Ekadashi days. This is very important. The sweat that fell down from the head of Brahma assumed the form of a demon and said to the Lord, “O Lord! now give me an abode to dwell.”

Brahma replied, “O demon! go and dwell in the rice particles eaten by men on Ekadashi day and become worms in their stomach.”

For this reason rice is prohibited on Ekadashi. If one observes the Ekadashi fast regularly, Lord Hari is propitiated. All sins are destroyed. The mind is purified. Devotion gradually develops. Love for God becomes intense. Orthodox people in South India observe complete fasting and vigil even on ordinary Ekadashi days. For the devotees of Lord Vishnu, every Ekadashi is a very sacred day.

It is said that even if one mistakenly misses the observance of an Ekadasi, he or she may make up for it by observing it the very next day on Dvadasi, and then break one’s fast from grain on the next day, Trayodasi. One may also observe the special fast on Nirjala Ekadasi. This is also called Bhima Ekadasi. This is because the Pandava brother known as Bhima was so strong and had such a voracious appetite that he could not observe Ekadasis twice a month. He could not fast because he was too hungry. So Lord Krishna told him to merely observe one Ekadasi a year, which is the Nirjala Ekadasi. Nir jala means no water. So he had to observe at least one Ekadasi a year, and on that day he had to abstain from not only beans and grains, but from all foods, even water. So devotees who miss an Ekadasi day often observe a complete fast from all food and liquids on the Nirjala Ekadasi, which is usually sometime in June, and thus make up for whatever was missed. However, this is a very potent Ekadasi, so a complete fast on this day gives one who observes this many pious credits.


Once there was a demon, Mura, who oppressed the gods. The gods approached Lord Hari for protection. Hari sent Yoga Maya to kill the demon. Yoga Maya carried out the behests of the Lord successfully.Then the Lord said to Yoga Maya, “Those who observe Ekadashi will be freed from all sins, and you will be called by the name Ekadashi.”

King Ambarisha was a great votary of Lord Hari. He practised the Ekadashi Vrata for a year. Ambarisha obtained His Grace. On one occasion he fasted for three consecutive days. He was about to break the fast when Rishi Durvasa appeared as his guest. The king received him with due respect and requested him to take his meals. The Rishi agreed and went to bathe in the river. The king waited patiently for a long time, but the Rishi did not return. Time was running out; if the king did not eat anything before the day ended his Vrata would not bear fruit. And if he ate, he would be showing disregard to the Rishi. As a compromise the king took a little water to serve both the conditions.

When Durvasa returned from his bath, he knew exactly what had happened, and was angry. He tore a hair from his tuft and charged it to kill Ambarisha. The king was unmoved. The discus of Lord Vishnu destroyed the power of the hair of Durvasa. It now followed the Rishi wherever he went and tried to destroy him.

Rishi Durvasa went to Brahma and Shiva for help, but to no avail. He went to Lord Hari who said to him, “I am dependent on My devotees. My heart is in the possession of My devotees. Go thou, therefore, to Ambarisha; beg his pardon and thou shalt be saved.”

Ambarisha thereupon prayed to the charged hair to desist from its course, and saved the Rishi. Durvasa thanked him from the bottom of his heart.

Padma Purana 14th chapter – “Kriya-sagara-sara”

Once the great sage Jaimini Rishi said to his spiritual master, “O Gurudeva! Previously, by your mercy, you described to me the history of the Ganga River , the benefits of worshiping Vishnu, the giving of grains in charity, the giving of water in charity, and the magnanimity of drinking water that has been used to wash the feet of the brahmanas. O best of sages, Sri Gurudeva, now, with great enthusiasm, I desire to hear of the benefits of fasting on Ekadasi and of the appearance of Ekadasi.”

“O Gurudeva! When did Ekadasi take birth and from whom did she appear? What are the rules of fasting on the day of Ekadasi? Please describe the benefits of following this vow and when it should be followed. Who is the utmost worshipable presiding deity of Sri Ekadasi? What are the faults in not observing Ekadasi properly? Please bestow your mercy upon me and tell about these subjects, as you are the only personality able to do so.”

Srila Vyasadeva, upon hearing this inquiry from Jaimini Rishi, became situated in transcendental bliss. “O brahmana sage Jaimini! The results of following Ekadasi can be perfectly described by the Supreme Lord, Narayana, because Sri Narayana is the only personality capable of describing them in full. But I will give a very brief description in answer to your question.”

“At the beginning of the material creation, the Supreme Lord created the moving and non-moving living entities within this world made of five gross material elements. Simultaneously, for the purpose of punishing the evil human beings, He created a personality whose form was the embodiment of the worst kinds of sin (Papa-purusha). The different limbs of this personality were constructed of various sinful activities. His head was made of the sin of murdering a brahmana, his two eyes were the form of drinking intoxicants, his mouth was made from the sin of stealing gold, his ears were the form of the sin of having illicit connection with the spiritual master’s wife, his nose was of the sin of killing one’s wife, his arms the form of the sin of killing a cow, his neck was made of the sin of stealing accumulated wealth, his chest of the sin of abortion, his lower chest of the sin of having sex with another’s wife, his stomach of the sin of killings one’s relatives, his navel of the sin of killing those who are dependent on him, his waist of the sin of egotistical self-appraisal, his thighs of the sin of offending the guru, his genitals of the sin of selling one’s daughter, his buttocks of the sin of telling confidential matters, his feet of the sin of killing one’s father, and his hair was the form of all sorts of less severe sinful activities. In this way, a horrible personality embodying all sinful activities and vices was created. His bodily color is black, and his eyes are yellow. He inflicts extreme misery upon sinful persons.

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Vishnu, upon seeing this personality of sin began to think to Himself as follows: ‘I am the creator of the miseries and happiness for the living entities. I am their master because I have created this personality of sin, who gives distress to all dishonest, deceitful and sinful persons. Now I must create someone who will control this personality’. At this time Sri Bhagavan created the personality of Yamaraja and the different hellish planetary systems. Those living entities who are very sinful will be sent after death to Yamaraja, who will in turn, according to their sins, send them to an appropritate hellish region to suffer.

“After these adjustments had been made, the Supreme Lord, who is the giver of distress and happiness to the living entities, went to the house of Yamaraja, with the help of Garuda, the king of birds. When Yamaraja saw that Lord Vishnu had arrived, he immediately washed His feet and made an offering unto Him. He then had Him sit upon a golden throne. The Supreme Lord Vishnu became seated upon the throne, whereupon He heard very loud crying sounds from the southern direction. He became surprised by this and inquired of Yamaraja, ‘From where is this loud crying coming?’

“Yamaraja in reply said, ‘O Deva! The different living entities of the earthly planetary systems have fallen to the hellish regions. They are suffering extremely for their misdeeds. The horrible crying is because of suffering from the inflictions of their past bad actions.’

“After hearing this the Supreme Lord Vishnu went to the hellish region to the south. When the inhabitants saw who had come they began to cry even louder. The heart of the Supreme Lord Vishnu became filled with compassion. Lord Vishnu thought to Himself, ‘I have created all this progeny, and it is because of Me that they are suffering.’”

Vyasadeva continued: “O Jaimini, just listen to what the Supreme Lord did next. After the merciful Supreme Lord thought over what He had previously considered, He suddenly manifested from His own form the deity of the lunar day Ekadasi. Afterward, the different sinful living entities began to follow the vow of Ekadasi and were then elevated quickly to the abode of Vaikuntha. O my child Jaimini, therefore the lunar day of Ekadasi is the selfsame form of the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, and the Supersoul within the heart of the living entities. Sri Ekadasi is the utmost pious activity and is situated as the head among all vows.

“Following the ascension of Sri Ekadasi, that personality who is the form of sinful activity gradually saw the influence that she, Ekadasi, had. Thus, he approached Lord Vishnu with doubts in his heart and began offering many prayers, whereupon Lord Vishnu became very pleased and said, ‘I have become very pleased by your nice offerings. What boon is it that you want?’

“The Papa-purusha replied, “I am Your created progeny, and it is through me that you wanted distress given to the living entities who are very sinful. But now, by the influence of Sri Ekadasi, I have become all but destroyed. O Prabhu! After I die all of Your parts and parcels who have accepted material bodies will become liberated and return to the abode of Vaikuntha (the spiritual domain). If this liberation of all living entities takes place, then who will carry on Your activities? There will be no one to enact the pastimes in the earthly planetary systems! O Keshava! If you want these eternal pastimes to carry on, then You please save me from the fear of Ekadasi. No type of pious activity can bind me. But Ekadasi only, being Your own manifested form, can impede me. Out of fear of Sri Ekadasi I have fled and taken shelter of men; animals; insects; hills; trees; moving and non-moving living entities; rivers; oceans; forests; heavenly, earthly and hellish planetary systems; demigods; and the Gandharvas. I cannot find a place where I can be free from the fear of Sri Ekadasi. O my Master! I am a product of Your creation, so therefore very mercifully direct me to a place where I can reside fearlessly.’”

Vyasadeva then said to Jaimini, “After saying this, the embodiment of all sinful activities (Papa-purusha) fell down at the feet of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, who is the destroyer of all miseries and began to cry.

“After this, Lord Vishnu, observing the condition of the Papa-purusha, with laughter began to speak thus: ‘O Papa-purusha, rise up! Don’t lament any longer. Just listen, and I’ll tell you where you can stay on the lunar day of Ekadasi. On the date of Sri Ekadasi, which is the benefactor of the three planetary systems, you can take shelter of foodstuffs in the form of grains. There is no reason to worry about this any more, because My form as Sri Ekadasi will no longer impede you.’ After giving direction to the Papa-purusha, the Supreme Lord Vishnu disappeared and the Papa-purusha returned to the performance of his own activities.

“Therefore, those persons who are serious about the ultimate benefit of the soul will never eat grains on Ekadasi. According to the instructions of Lord Vishnu, every kind of sinful activity that can be found in the material world takes its residence in this place of (grains) foodstuff. Whoever follows Ekadasi is freed from all sins and never enters into the hellish regions. If one doesn’t follow Ekadasi because of illusion, he is still considered the utmost sinner. For every mouthful of grain that is eaten by a resident of the earthly region (on Ekadasi), one receives the effect of killing millions of brahmanas. It is definitely necessary that one give up eating grains on Ekadasi. I very strongly say again and again, ‘On Ekadasi, do not eat grains, do not eat grains, do not eat grains!’ Whether one be a kshatriya, vaishya, shudra, or of any family, he should follow the lunar day of Ekadasi. From this the perfection of varna and ashrama will be attained. Especially since if one (even) by trickery follows Ekadasi, all his sins become destroyed and he very easily attains the supreme goal, the abode of Vaikuntha.”

What are the benefits?


It gives one a taste for renunciation, and thus helps one to give up sense gratification.
** Fasting gives the system a rest: The physiological system may become overworked due to a little overeating or indiscrimination in diet. Fasting gives the system a chance to catch up.
** Fasting helps us practice self-discipline in eating and concentrate more on pleasing God.
** Fasting helps keep the body light and the stomach free so that one can meditate better. The digestive system draws the blood circulation towards the digestive organs. Therefore blood circulation to the head is decreased once food is taken: so we feel sleepy.
** Observing Ekadasi increases spiritual advancement.

Science:

Moon seems to have considerable influence and seems to create some imbalance in our body. So the chances are that, if our body is not pure and balanced with any unwanted stuff, it might surface as a disease, sooner or later.

On the days of ekadasis, the effect of the moon can be felt on the stomach. Avoiding eating grains etc, helps reduce this effect. Hence fasting is recommended.

On Ekadasi day by fasting, body doesn’t have its regular food crunching job. So it can concentrate in cleaning the body system. Whatever impurities the body acquired, KNOWINGLY AND UNKNOWINGLY, (by eating and other means) it can remove it.

Spirituality:
In Brahma-vaivarta Purana it is said that one who observes fasting on Ekadasi is freed from all kinds of reactions to sinful activities and advances in spiritual life.The basic principle is not just to fast, but to increase one’s faith and love for Govinda, Krishna . The real reason of observing fast is to minimize the demands of the body and to engage our time in the service of the Lord by chanting His holy name etc. The best thing to do on Ekadasis is to remember the pastimes of the Lord and hear His holy name constantly.

The Brahma Vaivarta Purana states, “In this world there are only two concrete procedures for attaining liberation and atoning for one’s sins. These two things are- fasting on the Ekadasi days and chanting of the names of Supreme Lord Sri Hari.”

Ekadashi (Sanskrit: एकादशी, Tamil: ஏகாதசி, Bengali: একাদশী Telugu: ఏకాదశి, ekādaśī, “Eleven”), also spelled as Ekadasi, is the eleventh lunar day (tithi) of the shukla (bright) or krishna (dark) paksha (fortnight) of every lunar month in the Hindu calendar (Panchang).

Shanivar Vrat Katha

Shanivaar Vrat

Shanivar (Saturday) is dedicated to Shani Devta (Saturn).The Saturday fast keeps away all the hurdles and misfortunes. Saturn sits in a mirror chariot, yoked with eight black horses. The recitation of Shani Chalisa is also beneficial.

It is believed that those who have the blessing of Lord Hanuman are protected from the wrath of Shani. Therefore many people make it a point to worship Hanuman at home or in temples. Black is the preferred color on Saturday.

Shani, one of the Navagrahas, is worshipped in numerous temples and there are also temples exclusively dedicated to Sani. Devotees who are observing Shanivar Vrat usually visit Shani shrines.

Those devotees who fast on Saturday only take a single meal that too in the evening after prayers. Food prepared usually consists of sesame til or black gram or any other black colored food item. Salt is avoided by many on the day.

Shani is represented as a deity carrying bow and arrows and riding a vulture. Some devotees worship a black iron idol of Sani. Some worship the Peepal Tree and tie thread around its bark. Black colored items like sesame oil and black clothes are also donated on the day.

Shani is so dreaded that many Hindus avoid journeys on Saturday. There are also numerous tales regarding the evil effects of Shani.

But generally it is believed that Lord Hanuman devotees are unharmed by Sani. Legend has it that Lord Hanuman had rescued Shani from Ravana. This happened during the burning of the Lanka episode in the epic Ramayana. Lord Shani had then promised that he would not trouble Lord Hanuman devotees.

 

 

Varth kath – I

Once there was a Brahman. He used to guard against evil spirits at the king’s main gate palace. One day he heard a strange voice and was frightened. He heard this voice for a number of days. He never talked about that mysterious voice to his wife. One day his wife said, “I try to provide you best nutritious meals, still you are losing your health. What is wrong with you?” For some time, he kept mum. His wife insisted that he should reveal his internal feelings to get rid of any * unnecessary strain. The Brahman said, “I hear a strange voice every Saturday. It says that it wants to afflict the king. The duration of affliction will be either seven-and-a-half years or two-and-a-half years or two-and-a-half months or two-and-a-half days or at least for two-and-a-half prahar i.e. seven-and-a-half hours. The king can opt for any period but the affliction is a must.”

The Brahman’s wife smiled and said, “Why didn’t you tell it earlier? The king must be saved even at our cost. You accept two-and-a-half ‘prahars’ affliction for you. The spirit again visited the palace and repeated the same message. The Brahman said, “I offer to take King’s affliction upon myself. You can be upon me for two-and-a-half prahars.” The spirit was pleased at Brahman’s offer. The Brahman went to a riverbank. He wanted to spent that time in meditation. He noticed two water-melons floating on the surface of water. He caught them by their tops and placed them under his thigh.

The king’s princes had been out for hunting for the last two days. They had not returned. The king was in great agony. He sent his messengers in various directions for searching out the princes. Incidentally, a messenger came to the Brahman. To his great surprise, he saw that the Brahman was hiding the heads of the princes under his thigh. He reported the matter to the king. The king was enraged. He ordered that the Brahman be impaled or hanged. The king asked the Brahman what his last desire was. The Brahman said, “Please do not kill me for two-and-a-half prahars.”

The king agreed. As the stipulated time was over arrangements for Brahman’s end were made ready. The Brahman was to be beheaded with a red hot iron spear. As the slaughter man attacked the Brahman, the hot spear got broken into pieces. The slaughter man now took a red hot silver spear. That spear too was broken into pieces before it touched the Brahman’s neck. The slaughter man took out a red hot golden spear and tried to behead the Brahman. The third spear also did have a different fate.

The onlookers were surprised at the sight of such a miracle. Suddenly, the princes too, appeared at the scene. The king embraced the princes and felt sorry for he Brahman. The king said, “O, Brahman! What is this puzzle?” Reveal this mystery to one and all.” The Brahman said, “The Saturn wanted to afflict you. I took your affliction upon me to save you and the kingdom. The Saturn made the water melons appear as human heads. Now could I have killed the princes? I have always been a saviour of this kingdom.” The king said, “1 don’t believe your utterings. I want to see the Saturn myself. If you do not show me, all the members of your family will be crushed in the grinder.” The Brahman began to tremble. He begged for a week’s time. He went to his house. His wife said, “You look pale and horrified. What is the matter?” The Brahman said, “The Saturn wrought the affliction on me. I was saved because I acted according to your advice. Now, if I do not show Saturn to the king, all of us will be crushed under the grinder wheels.”

The Brahman’s wife said, “Have patience. You staked your life for a better cause. God will help us.” The Brahman had a sigh of relief. His wife said, “Ask the king to get up early in the morning on the coming Saturday. Saturn will be riding a black horse under the black mountain. He will be covered with a black blanket, all soaked in oil. The king can have his glimpse.” The Brahman took the king to the black mountain the next Saturday. A black shadow was riding a black horse. The king said, “Who are you?” The Saturn said, “I am Saturn. I afflict the poor as well as the kings alike.”

The king said, “How can we avoid your affliction?” The Saturn said, “The rich should donate a black horse or one-and-a-quarter maunds of gold on Saturday. The middle-income group can donate iron and black blankets. The poor can give oil-touched loaf to a black dog. The still poorer can water a peepal tree, place some gur there and wrap the tree with a piece of kuchcha thread.” The Brahman said, “Do not afflict our king. Your affliction on the king will affect our town. I can stand your afflictions on myself in the future also.”

The Saturn suddenly disappeared alongwith his black horse and the king returned to his palace. He was pleased with the Brahman. The Brahman’s wife felt happy when the husband reported the whole happening to her.

Sonnalige Siddarameshwara

Siddheshwar_temple_Solapur.jpg August 15, 2016 58 kB 800 × 600 Edit Image Delete Permanently URL https://www.wordzz.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Siddheshwar_temple_Solapur.jpg Title

Sonnalige Siddarameshwara

Lord Shiva appeared in the guise of a Jangam Swami and called himself Mallinath from Shrishaila. The place where Mallinath met Siddharam is known as ‘Gurubhet’ which is now in front of the Collector’s Bungalow in Solapur, Maharashtra.This Jangam requested Siddharama to serve him hot fried tender Jowar.Next he demanded curd-rice at the earliest in order to soothen the burning sensation in his stomach.Siddharam ran to his home and asked his mother for curd-rice. On his return to the fields,he searched for him, shouting, “Mallaya, Mallaya” did not find him. There he inquired with the Kawadi Jangams who were on a pilgrimage to Shrishaila. They promised him of showing Mallayya. His quest for Mallayya made him determined to go to Shrishail. At Shrishail he was shown Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga however this linga of black stone did not please him. Then he inquired every object and every people about the whereabouts of Mallayya running over the length and breadth of the vast Shrishail. Siddharama was undergoing a tough time and he began to weep. His tears were collected in the earth in the form of a tank, presently known as ‘Nayan-Kunda’ at Shrishail. When Shivayogi Siddharam reached the brink of a very deep valley ‘Rudrakada’ and peeping down he yelled out “Mallayya, Mallayya!. Lord Mallayya didnt show up and continued to test Siddharam. While Siddharama was about to jump in the valley, Lord Mallinath appeared and caught hold of Siddharam by his hands.He visualized Mallaya telling him to return to Sonnalige and work towards making it the second Srishailam. The Lord pacified him and offered ‘Vajrakundal’ and ‘Yoga Danda’ which possesses the potential to fulfill all wishes. The Lord Mallinath asked Siddharam to return to Sonnalgie to wash out the grief of the entire life on earth. The Lord Mallinath assured him that he himself will appear in the form of Shivalinga in Sonnalgie. Shivayogi Siddharam returned to Sonnalgie; the ruler of that time Nannappa and his wife Chamala Devi gave 5 kosa land as they were told by a vision of Lord Shiva. Shivayogi Siddharam consecrated 68 lingas by the holy hands of Jagadguru Kapilasiddha Panditardhya, within the Panch Crosh of Sonnalgie making Sonnalgie a “Kshetra” (holy place).
Siddarama returned to Sonnalige and involved himself in public works. He was building lakes and temples.

He encouraged people to conduct mass weddings, and do other works, which would benefit mankind. Many people joined him and transformed Sonnalige into a prominent place. Allama and Siddarama came to Kalyana.At Anubhava Mantapa Allama, Siddarama, Chennabasavanna, Basavanna, and others discussed the need for Istalinga. Siddarama accepted Chennabasavanna as his Guru. Chennabasavanna performed the Istalinga initiation for Siddarama.

Shri Siddharameshwar was a hero of the 12th century whose “Karmayoga” on his own native land-Solapur, turned him into a God-figure over the course of time. Great saint Shri Siddarama,who preached the teachings of Shri.Basaweshwara. A young girl, inspired by the teachings of this saint wished to marry him.Shri.Siddaram denied to marry her and gave permission to marry with his Yogadanda. The same marriage function is celebrated every year on the Makar Sankranti for three days on Bhogi, Sankrant and Kinkrant. The Nandi Dhwajas are presumed as Bride and Groom for the marriage. This festival falls around 14th Jan every year. A fare popularly known as Gadda Jatra is arranged for fifteen days during this period.


Siddharama considered as one of the five prophets of Veerashaivism religion. He was a great Kannada poet who was a part Basavanna’s Veerashaiva revolution during the 12th century. Siddharama claims to have written 68,000 vachanas out of which 1379 are in existence.

Sri Adi Sankaracharya’s Life Story

Shankaracharya
Guru – Brahma Guru – Vishnuh, Guru – devo Maheswarah
 Guru – sakshat Param Brahma, Tasmai Sri Gurave namah
 
[The Preceptor is Brahma; He is Vishnu; He is the God Maheswara.
And, He is verily Brahma Himself. Salutation to such a Preceptor.]
shankaracharya_new
Vidyadhiraja, a learned Brahmin lived in Kaipilli house at Kaladi in Kerala. The family home of Vidyadhiraja was Sivapuram.
Sivapuram is a village about 3 miles southeast of Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. There is a Siva temple in this village. This was where Vishnu, in the form of white boar (Varaha) worshipped Siva. The name of the presiding deity – the Siva Lingam – is “Siva-guru-natha”.
Vidyadhiraja’s son was “Sivaguru”, named after the Lord of Sivapuram. Vidyadhiraja got Sivaguru married to Aryamba, who belonged to Melpazhur, twenty miles southeast of Ernakulam in Kerala.
Sivaguru, and his wife, Aryambal, spent their life in pooja and in giving alms to poor and in other good deeds. This childless couple went to Trichur and performed puja for 48 days to Lord Vadakkunathan (Lord Shiva) at Vrishabhachaleswara temple and prayed for a son.
Lord Shiva melted in their devotion and appeared in their dreams and told them “I am extremely happy with your devotion and you will get what you want. But tell me whether you want a number of dull children or a son who is extremely intelligent, who will live for a short period only.” The couple replied the decision could not be theirs as the Lord knows what is good for them.
Lord Dakshinamurthy, pleased with the reply, was born to Aryambal in the Vasanta Ritu or the spring season at noon under the star “Thiruvathirai” (Arudhra). As the Lord had already promised that he will be born to do well to this world, the child was named Sankara. All the visitors stood in awe at the divinity of the child and said “This is not an ordinary child”.
Sivaguru was delighted to find that the dream in which he had a boon from Shiva had indeed come true. He saw that his son was of a divine lineage and bore the marks of an incarnation.
The mark of wheel on the baby Sankara’s head, the impress of the third eye on the forehead and the sign of the Trishul on the shoulders made wise men decide that he was an incarnation of Shiva.

Sankara was an infant prodigy. The superior genius and the extraordinary intelligence were clearly sprouting in him even when he was a child. This wonder of a child had even by his third year finished reading many books, and by only listening to the readings and chanting of the Vedas, the Vedanta, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas learnt them by heart. The most surprising thing about the boy was that he was a Sruthidhara (a person who can repeat in full, all that he hears just once). Whatever he read or heard got indelibly impressed in his memory.

Sivaguru was extremely happy to find his son endowed with super natural powers. He wanted to perform the boy’s Upanayanam in his fifth year, and then to send him to the preceptor’s house for study. But, Sivaguru died before he could have the Upanayanam done.
After the bereavement in the family, Aryamba moved to her father’s house for some days. But she did not forget the last wish of her departed husband. As soon as Sankara reached his fifth year, she returned back to her own home and performed Sankara’s Upanayanam as per the Holy Scriptures. Thereafter, she sent Sankara to the Gurukulam to study.
Sankara’s Guru was charmed by his devotion to learning. The correctness of Sankara’s pronounciation of words and the sharpness of his intellect fascinated everyone.
In a short span of two years, Sankara was proficient in the Upanishads, Puranas, Itihas and Vedas. He also mastered the various philosophical systems like Nyaya, Sankhya, Patanjala and Vaisesika. Indeed he was as well versed as Bruhaspati, the teacher of the Universe.
Once some pupils were arguing about the number of seeds inside a melon. Young Sankara said that the number of seeds inside that melon would correspond to the number of gods who created the universe. When the children cut open the melon, they found only one seed !
In accordance with the Gurukulam rules, Brahmachari Sankara used to go out for alms every day. One day he went to the house of a poor Brahmin for alms. That day they did not even have a handful of rice. The housewife, not knowing what to do, gave Sankara an Amla fruit (Indian Gooseberry). With tears, she told him of their very poor condition. The woman’s terrible poverty deeply moved Sankara. Standing there, he composed and sang a hymn to goddess Mahalakshmi, the great mother who removes poverty and misery.

The hymn, consisting of eighteen verses, known as “Kanakadhaara Stotram” (kanaka – gold; dhaaraa –shower) moved Goddess Mahalakshmi. She appeared before him and said, “My dear child, the members of this poor family, in their past lives, did not perform any meritorious acts. How will I bestow on them, wealth and riches?” Sankara then replied to the Mother, ” Dear Mother, this lady just now gave me an Amla fruit, when she had nothing else.That, by itself is a meritorious act. If you wish to favour me, please free this family from poverty.”

While even very intelligent students took at least twenty years to acquire mastery of all scriptures, Sankara was able to acquire that mastery in just two years with the blessings of his Guru.
Hence, Sankara was permitted to return home long before the expiry of the prescribed term at the Gurukulam.
Sankara as a Brahmachari, now lived at home and devoted himself to learning and teaching. He continued to study various philosophical systems existed at that time.
But it was the serving of his mother that was for him his all-important duty and his greatest discipline. He ensured his mother’s comfort and happiness by attending on her and serving her.
Sankara’s measureless proficiency in studies and uncommon skill in instructing brought him much renown, and within a few days his fame spread on all corners. Even aged scholars in large numbers began to come to him for a deeper study of the scriptures.
Sankara’s early life was marked by several miraculous exploits that single him out for a divine role.

The devout Aryamba used to go for a bath to the river Purna everyday. And on her way back home, she offered worship at the shrine of Kesava who was her family deity.

River Purna was adored as a sacred river. The river was far off from Sankara’s house. Yet, his mother, with great steadfastness, went to the river every day for the holy bath. Once on a hot summer day, Aryamba went to the river as usual, but even after a long time, she did not return home. Sankara went in search of her. As he was walking along the riverbank, he saw her lying unconscious due to exhaustion. In deep misery, he wept profusely and started nursing his mother back to her senses and then slowly led her way back home.
Sankara was ardently devoted to his mother, and no words can portray his feelings on seeing the condition of his mother. All in tears, he sent forth a prayer to God saying, ” Lord, You are indeed omnipotent. If You only wish, anything is possible. I cannot bear to see this suffering of my mother. Be gracious and bring the river closer to our house. Then, there will be no more suffering for my mother.” Day and night he was immersed in this one appeal to the Lord.
The All-merciful Lord responded to the prayers of Sankara. During the night, it rained so heavily that the river changed its course. Breaking through its north bank, the Purna River began to flow by the side of Sankara’s house.
Even today one can see the river has taken an uncharacteristic turn towards the Math shrine in Kaladi.
This miraculous incident was a big news and spread within a few days to all corners of the area. People came in groups to have a sight of this wonder boy.

Rajashekhara, the ruler of Kerala came to hear of Sankara’s divine powers. He himself was a very well read man, including the scriptures. Coming to know of the unprecedented depth of scholarship and the abundance of divine power in a Brahmin boy of seven, the ruler desired to meet him. He sent his chief minister to Sankara, with the gift of an elephant and extended an invitation to meet him at the Palace.

When the minister in all humility told Sankara of the king’s desire, Sankara said, “Dear Sir, of what use is an elephant to me? I live only on alms, my clothing is very simple, and my daily round of duties consist of prayers, study of Vedas, teaching, and the service to the Guru. O minister, please carry this reply of mine to the King. Also, please inform him that a Ruler’s primary duty is to ensure that all the Citizens duly perform their duties and lead righteous lives.” With these words he declined the invitation to meet the King.
Sankara’s turning down the invitation of the Ruler did not make him angry. On the other hand, being a learned King, Rajashekhara became even more drawn towards the Wonder boy.
Accompanied by the ministers, the ruler himself arrived at Kaladi one day to meet Sankara in his own place. He saw Sankara, and all round him were seated Brahmin scholars engaged in scriptural study. Sankara cordially welcomed the king showing him the respects due to royalty. In years he was but a boy, in demeanor and conduct he was one of the eminent and wise.
The monarch’s object in coming to Kaladi was to test and measure Sankara’s scholarship. After a brief discussion with Sankara on the scriptures, the ruler realized that the boy was a prodigy, distinguished by intellectual sharpness and extraordinary skill. The king had no doubt that Sankara was endowed with divine powers. Both king and the boy merged into a discussion of scriptural themes for a long while, much to their delight of the scholars around.
The monarch then paid obeisance and laid gold coins at the feet of Sankara, He requested Sankara to accept the gift. But Sankara told the royal King: “Noble King, I am a Brahmana and a Brahmachari. These gold coins are of no use to me. The income from our property is quite sufficient to meet my and my mother’s expenses. There is no want in our home.”
Sankara’s spirit of renunciation and disinclination to receive gifts greatly astonished the king. Holding together his palms in reverence he said, “I salute you; such sentiments are indeed becoming of you and you only. I consider myself blessed indeed. But how can I take back the gift I have intended and set apart for you? Please distribute the money yourself to worthy recipients”.
Without a moment’s delay, Sankara replied smiling, ” You indeed are the monarch of the land. You should be able to know the deserving and the undeserving than a Brahmachari devoted to scriptural studies. While learning and teaching is the duty of a Brahmin, ruler’s duty is to handle wealth and feed the needy. It is for you to distribute this wealth to the deserving.”
The monarch saluted Sankara’s genius and bent his head in reverence. He ordered the distribution of the gold coins among the Brahmins assembled there.
This incident of Sankara’s refusing to accept the preferred money made a deep impression on the ruler’s mind. He understood that Sankara was not merely a scholar well versed in all the scriptures, but the boy was superhuman, possessed of powers that were of divine nature. And he was so much drawn to this boy-marvel that from then on, he visited Sankara’s house regularly to benefit from his holy company.
Rajashekhara was the author of books like Balabharatha and Balaramayana. He read out these dramas in Sanskrit to Sankara and had the corrections made according to his suggestions.
Sankara’s divine quality soon spread all round. And many people came to see him even from far off places. Many scholars wanted to hear an exposition of the scripture from Sankara.
One day a few astrologers arrived at Sankara’s home. After discussing the contents of the scriptures in various ways, the astrologers expressed a desire to look into the horoscope of Sankara. On examining the horoscope, they said that death might overtake him in his eighth or sixteenth or thirty second year.
On hearing this, Aryamba was deeply distressed.
Aryamba was so sad after hearing the astrologers and informed Sankara about it. Sankara had just then entered on his eighth year. It may not be time to leave the world, but Sankara realised that it was time to leave his mother. He knew that there was no possibility of attaining the knowledge of Truth without resorting to monk hood. And in the absence of knowledge of Truth, there was no possibility of achieving liberation from the bondage of life.
Sankara sensed an opportunity now, to talk to his mother.
“The Lord had told you, before I was born, that I would live only for a short period. So why do you worry? You cannot change the Divine Order. So, be brave”.
“In your earlier births, you gave birth to so many children. What is your connection with them now?”
Sankara continued: “After rains, one sees a lot of bubbles on the surface of water. Some bubbles are attached to each other for sometime. Afterwards, they vanish one by one, and merge with the water….We are also like those bubbles. We have to leave one day”.
Aryamba was amazed with her son’s speech! But she did not want to understand anything Sankara said. “ Is this the way to talk to your Mother? Your father is no more; you will go away; then what will I do? Please pray that I should die. If you do, I am sure it will happen. I will go to your father……though I cannot see you married and enjoy my grand children….” She was sobbing.
Sankara did not continue further. But his desire to embrace Sanyasa became stronger and stronger. He was quite determined. One day he found a suitable opportunity to speak to his mother about it and told her of his intention of becoming a monk.
Aryamba started weeping and wailing. Embracing him, she said, ” My dear child, is it right for you to speak such a thing? You are such a tender sapling now. If you become a monk and walk out of home, who is there to look after me? Who will take me to places of pilgrimage? Who will perform my funeral rites when I die? No, no, my dear, as long I am alive, I shall not let you become a Sanyasin.”
Sankara remained quiet. Here was a command from the mother not to embrace Sanyasa. There seemed to be no way out of the situation.
Sankara prayed with an earnest heart to the Lord requesting him to make it possible for him to take Sanyasa. He was confidant that the petty desires of men and women including his Mother, cannot stand against the divine will.
Sankara was very clear that he would embrace Sanyasa only with the permission of his mother. And, he was biding his time.
One day, early in the morning, Sankara asked his mother to accompany him to the Purna river for a bath, now that the river was very close to their house.

While Sankara was having bath, all of a sudden, everyone heard a loud shout: “ Ahhhhhh……………Help! “.

It was Sankara who was shouting.
Aryamba turned to him and shouted back: “ What happened, Sankara? “
“ Ahhhhh…. My leg…… Somebody is pulling it…… Ahhhhhhh………Help me!”
Aryamba saw a crocodile, which was pulling her son’s leg. She also shouted for help. But the crocodile continued to pull him down to deeper waters. Between the pull-up and pull-down, Sankara said, ” Mother, saving me is only in your hands now”.
All mothers would do anything, including giving their life, at a situation like this, to save their child. Aryamba was no exception. “Tell me son, what can I do? How do I save you?”
“Give me permission for my rebirth, I will be saved” – Sankara.
“The crocodile will any way eat my son, why does he need my permission to die and be born again?” thought Aryamba. “ Son, I don’t understand what you are saying. I will do anything to save you”.
“Amma, rebirth or Punar janma need not happen only after death. If I totally change the path of my life…… I mean, I change over to the life of a Sanyasin, that also means rebirth. So, I will be saved from death. If you give me permission to become a Sanyasin, then I will change over my life. Then there is a chance that I will survive…… Amma, why don’t we test? In any case, I am going to be swallowed by this crocodile.”
The crocodile had pulled him further. Was there any option for Aryamba? “I gave birth to this child after a lot of prayers. Is this the way to lose my child? Is this the time to think? Is there any hope of saving my child? “, she went through these thoughts.
And finally, she said: “My son, so be it. You become a monk, or whoever you want. As long as you are safe and living anywhere in this world, I give you permission.” She said the above words with great difficulty, sobbing with tears rolling down her eyes, and then fainted.
Sankara chanted the mantras to become a Sanyasin. He thus took Apath-sanyasa (the adoption of Sanyasa when death is near) at once.
Immediately, the crocodile let him go unharmed. Sankara came out of the water as a “nominal” Sanyasin. Why nominal? Because one could be formally initiated into the sacred order of Sanyasa only through a Guru. Till then, Sankara would be only a “nominal” Sanyasin.
Immediately after Sankara came out of the water, a Gandharvan appeared from the water where the crocodile was, and spoke to Sankara: “ Years ago, I was into bad habits and was enjoying in a riverbed when Maharishi Durvasa passed by. I ignored him totally and he became very angry and cursed me to be a crocodile. He also said that the only way for me to get back to be a Gandharvan was to hold the Lotus feet of Lord Shiva when he visited this river sometime in future. Because of this act today, I am free of my curse and you, from the mundane life.” After saying this, the Gandharvan disappeared.
By then, Aryamba got back her consciousness. With her motherly affection, she told Sankara: “Come, my son, let us go home”.
Sankara said:
“ Home? Just a few minutes ago you told me that I can embrace Sanyasa……. You know that Sanyasins have no home. How can I go with you?”
Till then, Aryamba thought that she only had a bad dream. But was this for real? She felt as if the weight of the sky had descended on her head. Weeping and sobbing, she said, ” What is this that you say my boy! You are but a child, how indeed can you renounce home now? How can I renounce my own son born out of so much of prayers?”
Sankara did not loosen his resolve. He quietly said:
” Who do you think saved me from becoming a prey to the crocodile? That very God will look after everything”.
” I am the one born of your womb. I know how much you sacrificed to have me as your son. I will never forget that you opted for ONE intelligent son rather than many children. I know you have nobody except me to love you in this world.”
“What have you achieved other than sadness and sorrow in your life? Before I was born, you were sad for a long time because you had no children. Then you suffered for 9 months, bearing me inside you. Then you were sad because your son was going to live only for a short while. Later, you were very sad losing your husband. Leaving me in Gurukulam, you suffered because you were all alone. For how long do you want to continue this suffering?”
“Like how I have to perform my duties to my mother, I have my duties to the World at large. I cannot postpone it to a period ‘after you’. I did not ask for Sanyas only for me. If you renounce me rather than worry about me, you will also find peace. The sadness and sorrow will not be there any longer for you. The peace and fulfillment you will get in this sacrifice cannot be obtained through any other means, including having me with you, or by accumulating more wealth.”
“Please do not grieve. The whole world will be my home hereafter. All those who will initiate me into the sacred lore will be my fathers. All women who give me bhiksha (alms) will be my mothers. By realizing the Atman, I will gain peace and that peace will be my spouse. All my disciples will be my sons”.
Disappointed and depressed, Aryamba said: “You are my only son. You have a duty to perform the rites of your father and forefathers. Who will do my final rites?”
Sankara said: “As per the sastras, if one lives the life of the Sanyasin as specified without violation, it is said that his forefathers to twenty one generations would get Moksha.”
“ However, I promise you that during your last moments, when you think of me, I shall, wherever I may be at that time, know of it. And I shall reach you. Before life ebbs out of you, I shall help you to have a vision of your chosen deity. That indeed will be the essence of all pilgrimages for you.”
The circumstances which attended Sankara’s birth now came to Aryamba’s memory and she saw that all these happenings were but inevitable. In a voice choked with emotion, she said, “So be it my son, I bless you by heart and soul that you attain your desired goal.”
It was now clear that Sankara’s earnest prayers had reached the Lord. By the grace of the Lord, Aryamba’s entire being was filled with an ineffable joy. She would no longer hinder her son’s ascending to the absolute Brahman. Sankara then prostrated at the feet of his mother. It is said in the Sastras that even a Sanyasin shall prostrate before his mother.

After receiving her blessings on his head, Sankara walked out to have a view of the family deity Sri Keshava. And the sun just rose to view on the eastern horizon.

An eight year old boy full of dispassion towards worldly pleasures and having cast off mother’s affectionate shelter now went about in the eternal quest of the human soul, the search for the ultimate truth.
Those who saw this shaven-headed boy clad in a Sanyasi’s robe with staff and water bowl (kamandala) in hand, could not take their eyes off from him but gazed on in speechless wonder. Loving mothers, who saw him, shed silent tears thinking of his mother.
Sankara was not affected by anything he heard or saw. Inquisitive glances, compassionate sighs, eager queries, nothing affected him. He was indifferent to everything except the Spirit and Reality.

Meditating with a one-pointed mind on the All-pervading Supreme Energy, the soul behind all creation, he walked on. He would cover long distances on foot, ask for Biksha (alms) and accept the food, take rest, and walk on.

Thus, in the quest of the Unknown, he passed through many villages and populated human habitations, towns and cities, crossed many fields and meadows, wild animal infested forests, hills, rivers and rivulets and trod along many unknown paths.
Sankara finally reached Omkarnath by the river Narmada. There he learnt that a great Yogi had been living in an ecstatic trance for many years in a cave. Sankara’s heart was filled with indescribable ecstasy.
Advancing a short distance, Sankara met a few old monks who lived near the caves at Omkarnath and he enquired them of Govinda Bagavatpada.
This boy at an age, when others of his years were still playing with toys and battling with the alphabets, had come alone and on foot, all the way from home in far off South, in search of a Guru!
An old monk told Sankara, ” Child, The holy Yogi Govinda Bagavatpada lives in that cave. He has been in trance for a long time. We have been waiting here, and have grown old in waiting. Blessed indeed are you child! Commendable is your Guru Bhakti. “
At Narmada, Sankara got a positive response from the old monk when he asked if he could have a Dharshan of the Sage inside the cave. Immediately, Sankara prostrated before the caves. He was waiting for instructions to enter the caves.

With tears welling up from within and flowing down his tender cheeks, he stood with folded hands and started praying.

All of a sudden, he heard a voice, loud and clear, from inside the cave, “Who is there?”
Sankara’s heart was flooded with an inexpressible sublime bliss driven by a powerful urge of devotional emotion. He started answering:
“The person who has come here is neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air, nor ether, nor a sense-organ, nor the aggregate of all these (meaning, ‘I am not a human being’) because all these are transient, variable by nature.
The existence of the Self is proved by the experience of sublation in deep meditation. I am that One, Auspicious and Pure, which alone remains.”
Sankara introduced himself in ten verses, known as Dasa Sloki, each ending with the words “Siva: kevaloham” (I am of the form of Pure Auspiciousness).
Sankara also gave out these very verses to His disciples before leaving this world, when they asked Him to instruct them on the ideas to be contemplated and meditated upon.
Sankara prostrated before the great Sage, Govinda Bagavatpada, and said:
”You are verily the sage Patanjali, the personification of Yoga Shastra. You are born of the great serpent king, Adi Seshan. Like the drums of Mahadeva, you sound and resound supreme wisdom. Your glory is infinite. You have perfection, having imbibed the total knowledge from Sri Gaudapada, the disciple of ShukaDeva, the son of VedaVyasa. I beseech you to accept me as your pupil and bestow on me the knowledge of Brahman. Please grant the prayer of this humble seeker by showing him how to find the Final Truth.”
Govinda Bagavatpada was protecting the wealth of Gnana and had been waiting to hand it over to the owner. And he knew the time had come for the handing over.
At an auspicious moment, Sankara was formally accepted as a disciple by Govinda Bagavatpada, who initiated him into the Paramahamsa order of Sanyasa (sam.nyAsa), the highest kind of renunciation.
Sankara now becomes Sri Sankara.
Govinda Bagavatpada started to instruct the discipline of Yoga to Sri Sankara. The course of studies started with Hatha Yoga in the first year. Hatha yoga prepares the body for the spiritual path via physical and breathing exercises, and asceticism. Hatha yoga is the most superficial component of yoga. It prepares and conditions the body so that the mind can practice meditation more or less without obstacles.
Sri Sankara easily mastered the techniques of Hatha Yoga before the year was out.
Govinda Bagavatpada then taught Raja Yoga, the science of disciplining the mind.
Raja Yoga is the king of all Yogas. It concerns directly with the mind. In this Yoga there is no struggling with Prana or physical body. The Yogi sits at ease, watches his mind and silences the bubbling thoughts. He stills the mind and restrains the thought-waves and enters into the thoughtless state.
Sri Sankara mastered this discipline in the second year. As a result, he became gifted with psychic powers like telepathy, clairvoyance, movement in space unseen and above all, death at will.
In the third year, Govinda Bagavatpada initiated his disciple into the high discipline of Gnana Yoga, the Realization of Ultimate Reality through Knowledge.
Gnana Yoga is the road to perfection since it helps the Yogi perceive Truth in its entirety without any trappings or maskings. It consists of :
1. Developing correct awareness of the mind, the body and the Atman or Self.
2. Purification of the body and the mind through self-discipline
3. Acquiring true awareness of the world around and beyond. Knowledge of Sat (Truth) and Asat (Falsehood)
4. Practicing elimination of thought process.
By practicing Gnana Yoga, Sri Sankara
– became free from all illusions and delusions;
– was remarkably clear-minded and fearless;
– was not stained by any longings, high or low;
– was qualified to make the bold leap into the Impersonal ‘beyond’;
– lost all sense of individuality in the ocean of Infinity.
Govinda Bagavatpada made Sri Sankara undergo the duly regulated scheme of Sravana-Manana-Nidhidh-yasana. This consists of:
– Hearing the spiritual truths and secrets from the mouth of the Guru;
– Investigating and discussing it ;
– Constant contemplation on it.
The Guru established Sri Sankara firmly in the higher planes of spiritual striving and truth-experiencing.
Govinda Bagavatpada found that Sri Sankara’s spiritual practice and education completed and he had reached the last rung of the ladder. He needed no more training and no further instruction. He had become firmly established in Self-Knowledge.
But Sri Sankara, the man of true illumination, never gave a thought to these acquired powers. He would, if at all, make use of them only for doing good to humanity. The so-called miracles emanated from a sense of passion on his part.
Govinda Bagavatpada felt that his part in the training of Sri Sankara to function as an Acharya had been completed and that it was time for his departure from the world. He addressed Sri Sankara in a calm and collected voice:
“My son, you are born with a divine mandate to re-establish the Vedic religion. There is a purpose in your birth. Your task is not to merely swim safely across the turbulent waters of life and death. You have already done that as naturally as a fish swimming in water. Now, you have to help others to do the swimming across. See reflections of Rama, Krishna and Vyasa in yourself. Now my task is done. I have passed on to you, the treasure of Gnana which I inherited from my Guru. You are destined to accomplish much more.
You are not just an individual, but a whole institution in yourself; not just an isolated star but an entire Solar System.”
Sri Sankara acknowledged His Guru’s orders with silent consent.
On an auspicious day selected for the purpose, Govinda Bagavatpada smilingly cast off his aged body in Samadhi. The disciples performed the last rites on the banks of Narmada in devotion befitting the prince of Yogis.
Sri Sankara, along with a few other Sanyasins proceeded to Varanasi as his Guru had ordained.
Varanasi lies between two holy rivers, Varana to the North and Asi River which joins the Ganga in the south. It is also known as Kasi because it is beleived that Supreme brilliance shines here, and lights the way to Heaven (Kaas – to shine).
With the holy Ganga on one side, Sri Sankara was having the Darshan of Lord Vishwanatha and Mother Visalakshi every day.

Soon, He got easily `discovered’. Earnest seekers and scholars flocked to Him in increasing numbers. He began teaching them of the Ultimate Truth. Within a very short time, his vast learning, unusual gifts of exposition, astounding intellectual keenness and charming personality became the talk of the town. Scholars and monks belonging to diverse philosophical sects and owing allegiance to various systems of thought like Jaina and Buddha approached Sri Sankara and had their doubts cleared on the Ultimate Truth.

Thus, His life task of re- establishing the pure Vedic faith in the whole of India had its auspicious beginning in Varanasi.
Many scholars, to establish the superiority of their view points, would enter into debate with Sri Sankara. He lent them patient hearing and with comfortable ease disarmed them all by his irrefutable reasoning.
In the presence of the genius of the boy-Sanyasin, others aspiring for victory were humbled and they felt blessed realising the Truth.
One day, a brahmin youth named Sanandana from South India arrived at Varanasi. For many years, he had been in search of a Guru who would put him on the sure path to Ultimate Knowledge. He heard of Sri Sankara’s supernatural power and uncommon genius and developed a high regard for Him and courageously requested him to be his Guru. Sankara surveyed the youth, and after putting a few queries, gave him permission to stay with him.
After sometime, Sanandana begged Sri Sankara to initiate him into Sanyasa, which, Sri Sankara obliged. Thus, Sanandana became the first Sanyasi disciple to Sri Sankara.
Sri Sankara thus became Guru Sri Sankaracharya.

Sanandana, as a boy, had developed a religious turn of mind, and went to a hill called Ahobala in the south to realise God. He had engaged himself in the worship of Lord Narasimha, the lion headed and human bodied incarnation of Lord Narayana.

One day, a hunter came to him and asked him, “Why are you living alone in this uninhabited forest?” He told the hunter that he was looking for a creature with a lion’s face and a human body. He asked the hunter to help him find it. The hunter returned after a while with an image of Narasimha wrapped in green leaves.
Sanandana prostrated before this image and prayed. Lord Narasimha appeared before Sanandana, asking him, “Dear child, ask for a boon.” Sanandana asked for ‘Abhaya’, (fearlessness) and “It is also my wish that whenever I remember you, you shall appear and help me out of my difficulty.” “Be it so,” said the Lord and disappeared.
Sanandana was highly devoted to his Guru. He constantly stayed by the side of Sankaracharya, serving his Guru. Endowed with a superior intelligence and a deep knowledge of the scriptures, he was able to win the complete confidence of his Guru and soon became his favourite.
The other disciples, human as they were, looked on Sanandana with a jealousy. This did not escape Acharya’s eye. And in a strange manner he made everyone understand and concede the superiority of Sanandana.

One day Sanandana had reached the other side of the river on some errand. He had crossed the river by means of a bridge close by. Desiring to give to all, an exhibition of his unequalled Guru Bhakti, Acharya cried out in a loud voice, “O Sanandana, come to me at once!”

This fright-filled call of his Guru disturbed Sanandana a great deal. He felt for sure that his master was in some danger and was in need of immediate help. But he saw that getting to the opposite bank of the river by walking over the bridge would mean wastage of time. The call of his Guru was a distress signal and had to be responded to, immediately. He was in no mood to calculate and count the pros and cons of his action. And so he answered his Guru’s call by simply getting into the river and walked.
The water was cold and the current was strong enough to sweep away even an elephant. But in Sanandana’s mind, there was no river to be crossed, no cold to be borne, no danger to be faced. Only the call of the Guru sounded in his ears and only the need to be near his Guru, as quickly as possible, was in his mind. He was utterly oblivious of every other consideration.
The onlookers were sure that he would sink in the water and perish. They raised shouts of alarm and waved at him, warning him. Sanandana was deaf and blind to everything.
And then, a miracle happened. He did not sink. At every step of his foot, bloomed a lotus and supported him, and he crossed the river walking on the bed of lotuses. Sanandana ran breathless and stood before Acharya for his commands.
The other disciples stood amazed at this supernatural happening and were dumbfounded. Then, pointing to Sanandana, Acharya addressed his other disciples, “You have now witnessed what immense grace the Goddess Bhagavati has on Sanandana. Henceforth we will call him Padmapada, the lotus-footed “.

Padmapada, with a sense of humility and a spirit of dedication, bowed again and again at the holy feet of Sri Sankaracharya.

One day, Sri Sankaracharya, accompanied by his disciples was proceeding to the Ganga for a bath. On the way, He saw a pathetic sight. A young woman, who was the picture of total grief, was crying loudly and soliciting help. A dead body, possibly of her husband, lay on the ground, its head resting on her lap. She wanted proper performance of the funeral rites of her departed husband. She had been sitting with a corpse in such a way that the narrow path leading to the river was totally blocked.
Sri Sankaracharya requested the woman to move the corpse to one side of the pathway, so that He could proceed to the river.
The women could not pay attention to Sri Sankaracharya’s words. On being repeatedly requested by Him to move the body to one side of the pathway, the woman responded by telling him, “Why, Great Soul, why do you not yourself ask the corpse to move aside?”
The Guru responded to her in a voice choked with compassion, “Mother, I understand your grief. However, can a corpse ever move of its own accord?”
The woman then fixed her gaze on Sri Sankaracharya and spoke, “You best of Monks, you say that it is the one and only Brahman who is the sole authority of the universe and Shakti is indifferent. Is this not so? When Brahman is present everywhere, why should not the corpse move? Brahman is present there too.”
The Guru stood astounded and began to think over what she said. And, all of a sudden, both the women and the corpse disappeard!
He experienced the sportive play of the Great goddess, Mahamaya, who is Shakti or the ‘Prime Energy’. It was because of her glance that earth and heaven throbbed. Prostrating, The Guru began to sing in praise of the Goddess Tiripurasundari, the sole refuge of the universe:

“Oh Goddess Supreme! Mother Bhavani! I have surrendered myself to You. In debate and in danger, in error and in alien lands, in water and in fire, on hills, among foes and in forests, please protect me everywhere. You alone are my only security”….. (Bhavani ashtakam)

Sri Sankaracharya understood that the Goddess Supreme, who was worshipped by the Lord Himself, had made him realise her magnanimous glory and grace. She was the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer of this universe and it was She again who bestowed material abundance.
He had already experienced that the individual Soul (Jiva ) and the Infinite Soul (Brahman) were identical. He now understood that the Brahman was just a witness, a mere spectator and no more. The authorship of the universe was that of Shakti, The Prime Energy.
Sri Sankaracharya understood that by remaining immersed in deep meditation would not help him to accomplish his life’s purpose.
He would have to work out a practical application to life and labour on earth, of his experience of the Absolute Reality. Only then, would he become the meaningful living embodiment.

When Mother Bhavani played Her leela in the life of Sankara, would Mahadeva, the consort of Bhavani, be left behind?

On another day, when Sri Sankaracharya with his disciples was going to bath in the holy Ganga, saw a Chandala (an untouchable and worker at the cremation ground, at the very bottom of the social scale and devoid of any culture, a very primitive of men, extremely ugly and terrifying in appearance). He had four fat dogs held in leash, and was approaching in a drunken manner from the opposite direction.

Finding no other way of avoiding a confrontation with him, Sri Sankaracharya addressed him and said, “Oh, you Chandala, step aside with your dogs, and let us go”.

The Chandala did not appear to have listened to his words and did not bother, but continued to advance. Sri Sankaracharya in a somewhat excited voice cried out again, “Stop, fellow, stop. Leave a passage free for us”.
The terrible looking Chandala burst out: “Whom are you asking to move aside, Sir? Are you demanding the self to do so or the body to do so? The Self is omnipresent, non-active, ever pure by nature. Instead, if you ask the physical body to move aside, you know that the body is inert matter, how can it move aside at all?
“Moreover, in what respect is your body distinct and different from any other body? You say that you are firmly established and rooted in the Supreme Truth and there is One, non-dual entity, `One without a Second’.”
“I see that your claim is false, you are indulging in plain talk. Is there any difference between a Chandala and a Brahmin from the viewpoint of the knower of the Truth? Is the sun reflected in the water of Ganga any different from the sun reflected in a dirty water pool? Is this your knowledge of the all-ness and the Absolute Reality? “
Hearing these words of the Chandala, charged with wisdom, Sri Sankaracharya was both amazed and ashamed. He clearly perceived that this was the play of the Divine. He remembered what Krishna had said in Gita (Chapter 5):
Vidya vignaya sampanne 
brahmane gavi hastini
suni chaiva sva-pake cha
panditah sama darsinah
Wise men, by virtue of their true knowledge, see with equal vision, a learned and gentle Brahmin, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater (untouchable).
Immediately, Sri Sankaracharya folded his palms in adoration and spoke prayerfully, “He who perceives all beings with an awareness of “sameness” and acts with that perception of sameness in all, he indeed is my Guru. You Chandala are my Guru. I bow down at your holy feet a million times”.
All of a sudden the Chandala and his dogs disappeared. But Sri Sankaracharya saw the Divine form of the Lord and Father of the Universe, Sri Mahadeva, radiant and shining. The Lord stood before him in all glory holding in His hands the four Vedas. These eternal scriptures were what Sri Sankaracharya had seen as dogs before. He bowed down at the feet of the Great Lord and burst into a hymn of praise:
“I reflect on the One Great God, who is the enemy of passion, the Lord of all beings, the annihilator of sin, the great lord, springing from whose matted locks the waters of the Ganga flow.”
I take refuge in Him who is without birth, the eternal, cause of all causes, the all auspicious one, from whom the universe gets expression, the Being beyond the three Gunas (qualities), who is beyond all darkness, the One without beginning and end, the Supreme, the Purifier in whom there is no duality.
“Salutation to You, O Lord, salutation to You, who is of the form of the Universe; Salutations to You again and again, who is of the form of knowledge and Bliss; Salutations to You over and over again, who is reachable by the Vedic Knowledge; Salutations to You again and again.” …… (Manisha panchakam)
The essence of Manisha panchakam is that atman shines forth equally in a Brahmin and an untouchable.
It contains five slokas. In the first four, the non-duality as specified in the four Vedas is glorified. The fifth sloka glorifies the Pranava Mantra, ‘OM’, which includes the four Vedas.

Pleased by this hymn, Lord Mahadeva placed his hand on Sankara’s head and said: “Child, I am pleased and gratified. I wish that you work towards the re-establishment of Vaidika Dharma on earth, the Spiritual Discipline described in the Vedas. You must give out a flawless meaning of Vedanta and blow up the other theories that lead men to duality and darkness. You must write out a commentary on the Brahma Sutra of Vyasa and firmly establish that knowledge of Brahman. You have to preach the Vedic faith in such a way as to make it available to all”. Mahadeva then disappeared from view.

Soon after, as per the wishes of Mahadeva, Acharya was explaining to his disciples, the commentary on the Brahma Sutras when an aged Brahmin entered the place. The lesson was stopped as the venerable old man stepped in and everyone there got up and with great reverence, requested him to take a seat.
Without taking the offered seat, the old man queried: “I hear that a certain Sanyasi here gives detailed explanation on the Brahma sutras. Can you tell me where he is? “
The disciples answered: ” This is our Guru Sankaracharya, who has all the scriptures stored in his memory and they are all at his finger tips. He has written a commentary on the Brahma sutras which has silenced all critics. He is now teaching us that valuable treasure”.
Then the old man took a seat and made a request to the Acharya: ” They call you the commentator on the Brahma sutra composed by Veda Vyasa. Well, I want to see if your commentary agrees with my interpretation. Please tell me the meaning of the first section of the third chapter”.
Everyone was stunned by the authority of the old man’s poser of the question.
With great humility, Acharya said: “To all masters who know the meaning of the sutras, I offer my salutations. I have no such egoistic feeling that I am a great Comprehensor of the sutras. I shall try to answer all your questions”.
With these words, Acharya started giving out a correct explanation of the sutra that the old man had asked. Acharya found in the old man a very powerful contestant. Hardly had the Acharya put forth a point with his unmatched brilliance, the old man cut short with what struck everyone as an unassailable objection.
With great steadiness Acharya met the old man’s objections with replies, strikingly sensible and impressively rational. But the old man would not be silenced. He would put forth another argument, only to draw out a more powerful counter-argument from Sri Sankaracharya.
Indeed this battle of wits went on and on. In this volley of dialogue, the whole of the Brahma sutras, the four Vedas, many scriptures, various philosophies, all came in for analysis, elucidation, research and summing up.
The combatants were far removed in age from each other, but so alike in wisdom and learning. The astoundingly deep scholarship, the astonishing power of memory, the limitless sweep of intellect, the rare depths of introspection, and the powerful skill in debate made the disciples dazed and dumbfounded as the entertaining warfare went on.
The Himalayan debate raged for several days. Padmapada, who had followed this clash of high talent with keen understanding, approached the Acharya in private and asked him, “Master, who other than VedaVyasa can possibly possess all this superior scholarship, this sharp intellect and this great skill of debate? Is it possible that he is Vedavyasa in the disguise of an old man and we stand outwitted as to his real identity?”
The next day, Acharya addressed the old man: “Great soul, we have been eager to know who you are. All of us believe that you are indeed Vedavyasa. If our feeling is right, please accept our salutations”.
The spontaneity and sincerity of Acharya’s words touched the Brahmin deeply and he told the Acharya that his inference was correct and that he was indeed Vedavyasa.
Acharya and all the disciples prostrated before Sri Vedavyasa. Placing his hand on Acharya’s bowed head, the greatest of the sages blessed the young Sanyasin.
The poet in Acharya immediately came into play and took shape as a beautiful hymn. He said:

“O Great Sage Krishna-dvaipayana, my life has become blessed by the sight of your holy feet. You have performed mighty deeds for the benefit of the mankind. Your services, like your name, will live for all times to come. You are the compiler of the eighteen Puranas. You have classified the Vedas into four parts. You know the past, the present and the future. There is nothing on earth that you do not know. You are the milky ocean, and out of it has come the Mahabharata, like the moon. You have done infinite good to the world. I salute you as the foremost of the Gurus”.

Sri Vedavyasa felt delighted about Acharya’s discovery of his identity and Acharya’s understanding of him(Sri Vedavyasa). Taking the seat offered by Acharya, he said: “Wise boy, your erudition has quite charmed me. You are divinely gifted, with attributes unequalled on earth or in heaven. There is no one on earth who could have answered even one of my queries. You answered them all to my complete satisfaction. Among the spiritual teachers, you are a class apart.”
“Hearing that you have written a commentary on my sutras, I came to see you. I am convinced that you are indeed worthy of the big task of commenting on my sutra. Like the Sun in its dazzling glory of brilliance, you too will remove the darkness of ignorance in the world by spreading the glory of Advaita.”
“I now request you to continue your noble work. You have to write commentaries on Sruti and the Smriti”.
“I have already accomplished that work as well”, said Sri Sankaracharya and produced the other parts of his works to Sri Vedavyasa. He was quite amazed to see the works of the young Acharya, and went through all his commentaries on Sruti and Smriti with absorbing interest, and then said: “All this is very well done indeed! It is all as it should be. I am very delighted”.
At this time, when everyone’s mood was ecstatic, Acharya threw a bombshell. He made a submission to Sri Vedavyasa Bhagavan: “Sir, I have completed all the work that you expected of me. Kindly give me the permission to terminate my physical existence in your very presence here and now”.
Sri Vedavyasa was astonished. Padmapada and other disciples were bewildered. There was silence all around.
When Sri Sankaracharya wanted to terminate his life in front of Sri Vyasa, Vyasa Bhagavan said: ” No Sankara, contrary to what you think, your task is not yet finished. Much remains to be done yet. You have to meet and vanquish in debate all the renowned scholars in the land of Bharata and bring them round to your point of view of scriptural truth. You alone can do it. I have come here to grant you a boon of extended life-span. My dear boy, destiny had fixed your span of life at eight years first. But you took Sanyasa and by the grace of Lord Shiva, your life was extended by eight more years. It is the gracious dispensation of the Supreme lord that you live for another sixteen years in this body.”
“Your first task now is to vanquish Kumarila Bhatta. Then, you have to travel across the vast Bharata, traversing the holy land from end to end, in order to confront, conceive and convert all those who contradict your views. Your foremost work will be to harmonize the different schools of thought. You will also have to hoist aloft the flag of Advaita, establish Vedanta on a sound basis and proclaim the glory of the Brahman to all. On your shoulders rests not the destiny of an individual, but a whole nation’s spiritual welfare.”
Acharya bowed down in approval, and Sri Vedavyasa left that place. The minds of all the disciples were freed from the dark. There was no fear of their Acharya’s quitting the world early. They were overjoyed and happy at the extension of his life-span.
Acharya became very eager to carry out the instructions of Sri Vyasa. His first task was to conquer Kumarila. Acharya came to know that Kumarila was a holy soul, who had vanquished in debate various philosophers and propagandists of anti-Vedic schools. Acharya also came to know that the aged scholar, Kumarila Bhatta now lived in Prayaga.
Kumarila was born in the Chola country in South India in a Brahmin family. Since the boyhood, he was devoted to the Vedas. He belonged to the Meemamsa School of thoughts.
Mimamsa means “investigation, inquiry, discussion.” In this philosophy, Vedas are ultimate and God does not exist. So, there is no ‘aham brahma asmi’.
Kumarila believed that In order to refute any school of thought, one should master that philosophy to have a thorough knowledge of its theory and practice. In order to combat Buddhism, he had to master its philosophy and know all the intricacies of its workings and beliefs. So he entered a Buddhist school as a disciple, concealing his identity, and became a Buddhist pupil to learn Buddhist doctrines.
One day, the Buddhist teacher started abusing and ridiculing the Vedas. Kumarila felt extremely agonized to hear this condemnation of the Vedas. He did not let the tirade against the Vedas go unchallenged. He entered into an argument with his teacher. Then began a long debate, a philosophical duel and a battle of keen wits, between the teacher and pupil.
Kumarila effectively smashed the successive positions and attitudes of his teacher. The Teacher found himself more and more powerless to contend against his own pupil, who overwhelmed and confounded him with unanswerable refutations and forthright arguments. Kumarila was easily able to establish the Supreme authority and the unbeaten superiority of the Vedas.
Then, Kumarila made a strong and severe remark against his teacher’s philosophy. The Teacher became very angry and as atonement for the sin committed by Kumarila, he ordered Kumarila to be thrown down the roof of building and lose his life.
The disciples, who were waiting for an opportunity to pounce on Kumarila, outran the teacher and pushed Kumarila down from the top. Kumarila quickly composed himself into Yogic steadiness, and uttered: “If the Vedas are true, may my life be protected”.
Ultimately, Kumarila did not lose his life, but lost an eye. Why? While his strong belief in Vedas saved his life, his slight doubt, ‘if’, caused the damage. He should have said: “Vedas are true; may my life be protected”.
Kumarila realised that absolute Faith would have saved him absolutely and that a very miniscule, subconscious doubt caused him dearly.
Kumarila avenged his folly by spreading Vedic faith vigourously. He was victorious in his campaign of resuscitating the Vedic faith. Wherever he went, he demonstrated by argument, how the Vedas contained the true faith and how they were not man-made, but trans-human.
Kumarila Bhatta conquered the Jains as much as he conquered the Buddhists. He was a man of great initiative and power and proved much more than a match to many well-known religionists of that day. He was also a noted writer and wrote with authority on the Meemamsa philosophy.
Sri Sankaracharya set out to meet this Kumarila Bhatta, at Prayaga. Prayaga is now Triveni in Alahabad where the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the subterranean Saraswathi merge.
He desired to visit and worship at the many holy spots on the banks of the sacred Yamuna, and so moved along the Yamuna towards the direction of Prayaga. On the way he touched Kurukshetra, the site of the epic Mahabharata battle where the Gita was born.

He reached Brindavan, the playground of Sri Krishna’s boyhood. Acharya went to see many spots associated with Krishna’s boyhood and visited the famous temples in the region. At the shrine of Lord Krishna, he was moved by his divine love for the Supreme Guru of Gita, and reverentially offered a sweet hymn at the feet of Krishna

When Acharya reached Prayaga, a shocking news reached his ears. Kumarila Bhatta had entered the husk-fire for the purpose of burning himself to slow death. This was an act of atonement for the sin he committed, for Guru Droh – cheating his Guru. Many years ago, in order to learn Buddhist philosophy, he cheated on his Buddhist Teacher disguising as his disciple and learnt the Buddhist philosophy.

Acharya’s chief objective in coming to Prayaga was to have a discussion with Kumarila. When he heard of Kumarila’s resolve to pay for his sin with slow burning, the Acharya went to the place where Kumarila was already in the husk-fire.
Even while Kumarila was burning slowly, Sri Sankaracharya explained to him, the Advaidic philosophy as against Meemamsa.
Advaita believes in Vedic Karma, which cleanses the soul. Then through Bhakthi, one realises god and becomes one with Brahman. Upanishads teach how to reach that state through Gnana. Karma, Bhakthi, Yoga, Gnana – is the sequence, as per Advaita.
Meemamsa does not accept Upanishads. According the Meemamsa, Karma takes one straight to Moksha. No God and No Bhakthi required.
Advaita literally means ‘non-dualism’, ‘only one’. Advaita bases itself upon the Upanishads, the Brahma-sutras and the Bhagavad-gita. Advaita asserts that the real, essential identity of the individual self (Jivatma), is nothing other than Brahman Himself (Paramatma). The teaching follows from upanishadic statements like tat tvam asi and aham brahmAsmi.
Brahman alone is Truth, the universe is an illusion, and the seemingly bound soul, Jivatma, is none but the Brahman.
In essence, Jivatma and Paramatma are one and the same, `One, and there is NO Second’.
This knowledge non-duality of the individual soul and the Brahman, the Supreme soul, is experienced in the deepest state of super-consciousness. The attainment of this state of experience is extremely difficult and is a very rare privilege for ordinary mortals like us.
However, in our practical day to day work and behavior, it is possible in a partial way, to understand that ‘Brahman is all’, as a result of prolonged and steady practice.
Sri Sankaracharya explained the above Advida principles to Kumarila with examples:
“In darkness, a rope is mistaken for a snake. But when examined with a light, we will find that the supposed snake is only a rope. The ‘superimposed’ snake disappears when light (knowledge) is thrown on it. Even for an illusion, there must be a basis in reality. The basis in this example is the rope. All illusions are superimposed on truth; and conversely, what remains after the illusion is removed, is the truth.”
“When a person wakes up from a dream, everything seen and felt in the dream disappears. What remains is only the dreamer. It means that we project ourselves into the objects of our dream. When we get up and the dream goes away, we realise that there is nothing outside us.”
“The reflection in a mirror has no substance; it is only an appearance of what already exists.“
“When we realise, with the aid of gnana, that God is the only ultimate Truth and everything else is illusion, then, other emotions like anger, desire, hatred, pain, grief etc. will not affect us. “
When Acharya finished his explanations on Advata, Kumarila was getting burnt severely. However, he said: “O greatest of the monks, I am convinced about Advaita. I am willing to propagate Advaita now. But as you see, I am nearing death and so I cannot do that. But, there is a disciple of mine, named Mandanamishra who lives in Mahishmati town. He is the right person to be conquered.”
Kumarila’s end came soon after. With a heavy heart, Acharya and his disciples left Prayaga to meet Mandanamishra.

Mandana’s wife Ubhayabharati, was the sister of Kumarila Bhatta. She was also known as Saarasavaani. She had mastered a number of philosophical systems. Though gifted beyond measure and united in wedlock to a person very well to do in life, Ubhayabharati considered the performance of her household tasks the foremost duty. She was an ideal Wife to a perfect Husband.

The service to husband, with the knowledge that he is God in person, is one of the finest gifts to the world civilization by Indian culture. Equally, placing the wife on the pedestal of unshakable glory is the Indian tradition. The number of Goddesses outnumbering the (male) Gods is proof enough for this fact.
Mandana and Ubhayabharati were a couple ‘made for each other’. Ubhayabharati was the incarnation of Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of learning.
When Mandana suggested Ubhayabharati to be the judge of the debate, Acharya agreed immediately.
Ubhayabharati came forward to do her duty without any fear or favor. With no pride and with no airs of any kind, but with modesty and bashfulness, she occupied the judge’s seat.
The condition of the debate was made known to all: If Mandana got defeated, he would take Sanyas from the Acharya. If Mandana won, Acharya would forego Sanyas and get into worldly life. Not just that, the vanquished would accept the Victor’s views and propagate his faith.
Ubhayabharati knew that announcing a winner from two great scholars was not going to be easy. She then put garlands of flowers on the necks of both and then declared, “He whose garland fades first will be the vanquished in the debate. Please proceed with the debate comfortably”.
The arguments became keener and complex, and the refutations and denials also became correspondingly stronger and bolder. Both the contestants raised more and more intricate questions. There was a downpour of assertions and objections from either side. Quotations from the scriptures were marshaled with marvelous skill by both, and exploited to lend support to their case.
The debate was carried on for seventeen days. On the eighteenth day however, Mandana appeared to be shaken and agitated. The brilliant scholar perspired all over. The garland round his neck was gradually losing its freshness and began to wither, while Acharya’s garland shone with added luster. Ubhayabharati noted this and felt much distressed as a loving wife she was. Setting aside sentiments, she stood on the needle-point of honesty and in concluding the debate, publicly announced, “My husband has lost the debate”. The crowd was dumbfounded.
Ubhayabharati’s moral courage was of unequalled excellence and all were thrilled by her utter impartiality and unqualified objectivity.
Mandana gracefully owned his defeat. He had no more of mental conflict, no more of any intellectual strain or emotional stress. He then bowed down to the feet of the Acharya and said: ” Venerable monk, I have no more doubts, no misgivings, no mental reservations any longer. With a full heart and a clean conscience I implore you to bestow on me the privilege of being your disciple. If you graciously consider me worthy of manhood, competent to enter a life of total renunciation, do kindly initiate me into the monastic order”.
Ubhayabharati had remained a witness for sometime. Her sentiments and emotion now overtook everything else. Not wanting to part ways with her Husband, she addressed the Acharya and told him: “Sir, my husband’s defeat is not yet complete. In the scriptures, it is said, that the wife is a half of the man’s soul. I agree that you have defeated him. You must however defeat me, the other half of my husband, and then you may make him your disciple. I have a strong urge to debate with you”.
Here was a situation for which Acharya was totally unprepared. Ubhayabharati’s offer to debate with him took him by surprise. He thought for a while and said: “Mother, scholars of standing never desire to debate with the ladies”.
She replied rather sharply: “Why do you entertain a belittling attitude towards women? You know that the great sage Yagvavalkya did engage in a debate with Gargi. The royal sage Janaka also entered into a debate with a woman Gnani, Sulabha. Why should you not debate with me, when I solicit you to the debate? If you do not agree to a debate, then you must accept your defeat”.
Acharya saw that there was no escaping from this gentle but firm lady. In the interest of his mission, which was not for personal glory, he felt compelled to agree to a debate with the arbiter who had acted as a judge so impartially. No time was lost and the debate between the homeless wanderer and a home-keeping housewife began in full swing.
Ubhayabharati identified herself with her husband’s philosophy and argued hotly. Gradually the debate entered the subtle and complex fields. Her mode of debating, the magnitude of her scholarship, her powers of analysis, her deep grasping power and remarkable self- confidence filled Acharya with amazement. Finding her an adversary, with talent as brilliant as his own, Acharya proceeded cautiously on. To the hundreds of questions that Ubhayabharati raised on all aspects of philosophy, Acharya gave highly original and convincing answers. This again went on for seventeen days.
The audience began to think that the debate would never come to an end. It was not long before Ubhayabharati understood quite well that she could never score a victory over the monk in the field of Veda and Advaita.
On the eighteenth day, she sprang a surprise on the Acharya.
Ubhayabharati’s only intention at that moment was not to lose her husband. So, she was prepared to ask and argue on any subject to win the debate. She did not realise that she was asking uncomfortable questions to a Sanyasin, who had never experienced the worldly pleasures, that too in front of her husband. She asked:
“What are the signs and qualities of romantic passion? How many types are there in erotic science? In what parts of the body has erotic passion its centers? By what physical acts does the passion find expression and by what acts does it subside? How does passion rise and fall in man’s and woman’s body in the bright fortnight when the moon waxes and the dark fortnight when it wanes?”
Acharya was taken aback and remained silent for a while. Then he said: “Mother, please question me in the scriptures. And I shall answer you. How is it that you put such types of questions to a celibate monk?”
Pat came the reply from Ubhayabharati, “Why greatest of the monks, is not the science of erotic also a proper science? You are a monk and may say that you have renounced everything. But you have not yet renounced the desire to be a winner in debates. If you are a perfect monk, you must really be a master of the senses and a conqueror of the passion. Why should a mere discussion on the subject of erotic cause a ruffle in your mind?”
Acharya kept quiet. She continued: “The conquest of passions like lust and anger is the result of knowledge. If a mere discussion on erotic is going to cause undulation to your mind, then you are not established in the knowledge of Reality. Hence you are unworthy to be my husband’s Guru”.
Strong words were these, coming from Ubhayabharati. She would not part with her husband so easily.
Acharya listened and sat still with downcast eyes for long. He was in an awful predicament. If he answered the questions, people would tag him as a ‘fake sanyasin’. Even the word ‘Sanyasin’ would become corrupted. If he did not answer, he would lose the debate and become a ‘Grihastha’ – to lead the same life about which he could not answer. It was indeed a dilemma. Never before in his life, had he faced such an embarrassing situation.
Mother Sarada was making her divinity evident. This was all her wonderful play, play of Parasakti, without whom even the Shiva, Vishnu and others lose their very existence and meaning. Glory to Sri Sarada, Sri Rajarajeshwari, Sri Kamakshi, Sri Mahalakshmi, Sri TiripuraSundari!

The Acharya got over the feeling of surprise at these inconvenient questions and got ready to meet the challenging situation. With no anger or bitterness, but with a smiling countenance he said: “Mother, I am a celibate, a monk. The primary discipline for a monk, based on the scriptures, is total renunciation of lust and of all lustful inclinations and preoccupations. I am not bound by the desire to score victories in debate as you incorrectly pointed out. I am not here to score points over others. I am just carrying on my mission of Lokasangraha, of which this debate is a small part.”

Acharya said: “If I choose to reply to your questions by a word of mouth, I shall be tarnishing the ideal of monasticism. Therefore, I shall enter another physical frame and then shall answer your questions by writing a book for the purpose. Do you agree to this arrangement?”
Ubhayabharati gladly agreed to Acharya’s plan and gave a month’s time for him to revert. She postponed the inevitable by a month!
For the first time since she posed the ‘inconvenient’ questions, Ubhayabharati raised her head and looked at Sri Sankarachrya. The ever peaceful Acharya looked into her eyes. The looks that had created only ‘bhakthi’ everywhere all the while thus far, created a sense of fear in Ubhayabharati.
Acharya left the city of Mahishmati and proceeded towards peace, into a thick forest, with his disciples. All of a sudden, they saw a man sleeping under a tree. “He must be a very brave man, all alone in a forest like this, and sleeping without any worries. Was there no danger?” the thought went through everyone’s mind.
There was no more danger for him since he was already dead. Acharya found out that he was the King Amaraka, who came to the woods on a hunting expedition and had met with a sudden death.
Tragic as the king’s death was, Acharya saw in it an opportunity. He took Padmapada into confidence and said: “Look Padmapada, here is a golden chance for me, I shall immediately enter the king’s body, live as Amaraka for a while, find the answers to all of Ubhayabharati’s queries and come back. Till then, please keep my body….” – he did not feel good saying “my body” – “Please keep my body in a lonely cave. The Atma does not get affected by this act of mine. My body will also remain pure”.
Padmapada was not sure. Very worried, he tried to dissuade the Acharya. “Do not worry, Padmapada. You may now think that this role of a married-man would get me a bad name as a Sanyasin. At a later date, I will be playing another role, which will be worse than this. You must be prepared and be brave.”
Achrya continued: “Guard this seemingly dead body of mine inside the cave very carefully. After a month, I shall re-enter this body and be my old self again”.

Acharya used his Yogic power of Parakaya Pravesha (entering another’s body), and entered into the king’s body.

When the King returned back to his palace, his behaviour was totally different. He attended to the people’s needs; worked on their problems and solved them; he gave alms to the poor; he went to temples; he was very keen in poetry, and so on. He was no longer ‘a bad King’, but became a good ruler.
Acharya, while residing in the king’s body, called in scholars versed in the science of erotics and made a thorough study of the writings on sex by sage Vatsyayana and pursued all the commentaries on them to gain complete mastery over the subject. He also perfected in the practicalities of the science of Kamakala. It was then possible for the mastermind of the Acharya to produce an authoritative book on erotics in which all the questions of Ubhayabharati were more than answered. Padmapada came in disguise and had an interview with king Amaraka and obtained the book from him.
In the meantime, the learned ministers became suspicious of the king. How could such a bad personality turn so good overnight? They ultimately found out about the Parakaya Pravesha. Since they were very happy about the way the King ruled, they wanted him to continue without getting back to his original body. They thought that if the original body of the soul was destroyed, then they would be blessed with this King for ever.
They traced the body of Acharya in the caves. The ministers immediately ordered their men to burn the body of the Sanyasin. Padmapada and others went to the king in disguise and informed him through statements, which had two meanings. The Acharya, who was in the body of the king, immediately understood the inner meaning.
Acharya’s soul left the King’s body leaving the King dead and was searching for its original body. In the meanwhile, the body of the Acharya was set to fire by the men of the ministers.
And, the body of the Acharya started burning.
When the soul of Acharya reached the body, the right hand was already burnt out. Acharya got up from the pyre. At the request of Padmapadha, Acharya sang out a hymn in praise of Lord Lakshmi Narasimha, known as the Lakshmi Narasimha Stotra.
Each stanza ends with “mama dehi karAvalambam”, meaning, ‘O Lakshminrsimha, provide me the support of (Your) hands’.

The burning hand was rescued immediately by the grace of the Lord Lakshmi Narasimha, who was quick to shower his blessings on this Prahlada-like devotee. The Acharya then thanked the Lord and returned to the city of Mahishmati to confront Ubhayabharati.

Mandana was eagerly awaiting Acharya’s return since mentally he had already taken to the discipleship of the Acharya. Mandana was unique among the Acharya’s disciples. Others had approached the Guru in the traditional way, with homage and reverence and had begged for and received his mercy. Mandana alone had fought his way to Guru’s grace.
Mandana and Ubhayabharati gave a very warm welcome to Acharya. The Acharya greeted Ubhayabharati and said, ” Mother Bharati, here is the promised book, please accept this as the answer to all your queries”.
Ubhayabharati went through the book very carefully from beginning to end and was greatly pleased with its excellence. The book was a treatise, also on the branch of astrological science, dealing with the conception, evolution and reproduction of the human species under certain categorical conditions laid down by the ancient Rishis. It also expounded certain principles regarding the structure of the human organism, its mental and moral qualities, aesthetic, physical and psychological tendencies, interrelation of the sexes, and attraction and repulsion of persons born under various stars. The treatise is known as Amarakam.
Ubhayabharati told the Acharya, “Great one, now your victory is complete indeed. My husband will now become your disciple and a monk. And I shall return to my eternal abode of Satyaloka, ending my incarnation as Ubhayabharati”.
Acharya bowed before her and praised her glories and said, “Adored mother Bharati, you have descended on earth to impart divine knowledge. I know that you are none other than Devi Saraswati. If you depart from the earth now, all the knowledge will disappear from the world. Therefore please stay on for some time”.
Saraswati offered to grant him a boon. Acharya requested her to go along with him until he consecrated Her divine grace at some congenial place. Saraswati granted his prayers under a condition that he should not look back during the course of the journey to know if she was following. If he turned back, she would stop at that spot itself.
Acharya accepted that condition. He then initiated Mandana into monk-hood in the appropriate manner. He gave up the name Mandana, and took on a new name Sureshvaracharya.
The long travel towards the south bagan. Acharya and his disciples walked along, followed by Saraswati Devi. When they reached a sandy tract very near the confluence of Tunga and Badra rivers, Saraswati’s anklets got stuck in the sand and the tiny bells in the anklets ceased to tinkle. Till then, the Acharya was sure that she was following by hearing the tinkling of the bells.

Since the sound of the bells stopped, Acharya turned back. And LO! She stopped there. Then Acharya consecrated her as Sarada, in that spot, in the standing pose.

Acharya then set out on what was virtually a Digvijaya – a campaign of world conquest in the cultural and spiritual field of India, covering all parts.

After that Acharya arrived at Srisailam (in Andra Pradesh). He visited the shrine of Sri Mallikarjuna and Devi Bhramarambika.
He sang a prayer in praise of Mahadeva. Seeing the radiant and loving face of the goddess, Acharya burst out into a hymn in praise of Mother Bhramarambika. Acharya also established a Srichakra in the sanctum sanctorum of Sri Devi.
Srisailam was the stronghold of the dreaded Kapalikas. The Kapalikas were a sect of fanatics who in excess of their religious zeal, had got into perverted ways far removed from culture or true spirituality. They killed human beings and offered the flesh to the God and also eat it.

The Kapalikas would not subscribe to the basic doctrines of spiritual effort. With their wonted fury and thoroughness, they declared a war on the Acharya and his philosophy.

But the Acharya floored them by the soundness and the force of Advatic philosophy.
Their king Krakacha was exteremy upset with Acharya. He engaged Ugrabhairava, the chief of Kapalikas in Srisailam for the purpose of doing away with the life of the Acharya.
Ugrabhairava was an expert in deceiving others. One day, he approached the Acharya in the guise of a seeker and bowing at his feet asked for discipleship under him. Acharya, though all- knowing, granted his prayer. And thus, Ugrabhairava got into the privileged group of Acharya’s disciples. His behavior and devoted service fascinated everyone and he soon became a favorite with all.
One day, when Acharya was meditating, Ugrabhairava approached him and fell at his feet and shed tears. When Acharya asked him what the matter was, he said:
“My lord, I know what really you are. You are a great soul, a being like Shiva, compassionate and helpful. You are the embodiment of endless virtues. I beg you to fulfill just one desire of mine, thereby rendering my human birth useful”.
Acharya said: “Good man, speak out your desire. I shall satisfy your wish”.
Ugrabhairava said: “I have been, so far in my life practicing several spiritual disciplines to be worthy of inhabiting the abode of Lord Shiva. The Lord became extremely pleased with my penance and granted me a boon. The boon is that my desire will be fulfilled if I do a Homa or a fire sacrifice to Rudra, and the head of a True Sanyasin is to be sacrificed. Since the time the boon was granted, I have been going around from place to place making great efforts to procure the head of such a Sanyasin, but with no purpose. Now you certainly are omniscient. If you agree to favour me, my human birth will be rendered effective”.
The senseless pleading of Ugrabhairava made the Acharya give him many a wholesome advice on the philosophy of true knowledge. But the Acharya’s words fell on deaf ears.
Ugrabhairava continued weeping and said, “Lord, You know that I am not competent enough to receive the knowledge of Advaita and contain it. I am aged and have not many more days to live. It is now on you to take pity on me. It is said that Dadhichi, a great sage attained undying glory by making a gift of his body to Indra. You too, by throwing away this ephemeral frame of yours for my good, will achieve lasting fame”.
Acharya came to feel that it was quite in the fitness of things that his ephemeral frame went to the fulfillment of a meritorious act. Moreover, everything depended on the will of the Lord and wisdom lay in letting things happen according to divine dispensation and direction. He at once spoke out of his readiness to Ugrabhairava.
Ugrabhairava said, “Master, I shall have the sacrifice done in such a way that your disciples will not come to know of it. In the forest nearby, there is an uninhabited shrine of Bhairava. I shall have all the arrangements made there. At midnight, on the coming Amavasya, (darkest night of the New Moon), you may come there. No one will be able to know anything of this”.

Acharya approved of the plan. On the appointed day, The Acharya went to the place of sacrifice. Ugrabhairava was waiting there. The Acharya asked Ugrabhairava if he was ready and then sat in Padmasana position, closed his eyes and started meditating thus allowing him to cut his head off with a sword.

A very happy Ugrabhairava took his sword out, thinking “I am going to remove the greatest enemy of my religion from this world. I will get all the benefits for doing this service to my religion” and threw the sword on Acharya.

Meanwile on that Amavasya night, when the Acharya quietly walked out to the place of sacrifice, Padmapada was sleeping along with the other disciples. He had a very bad dream. In the dream, he saw someone severing the head of his Guru, Sri Sankaracharya. He was so shocked that he woke up and did not know what to do. Padmapada immediately remembered the boon he received from Lord Narasimha.
[Lord Narasimha appeared before Sanandana, asking him, “Dear child, ask for a boon.” Sanandana asked for ‘Abhaya’, (fearlessness) and “It is also my wish that whenever I remember you, you shall appear and help me out of my difficulty.” ” Be it so”, said the Lord……… ]
As soon as Padmapada remembered the Lord, He not only appeared before Padmapada, but entered Padmapada’s body, jumped up from the bed and rushed towards the spot where the Acharya was to be sacrificed.
He saw Ugrabhairava raising the sword and throwing it on Acharya. Just at that moment, Padmapada, the Narasimha possessed, snatched the sword in a flash. Then he roared like a lion and tore open the heart of Ugrabhairava with his sharp nails and killed him, as he did with Hiranyakashipu. The thunderous roar reverberated across Srisailam.
Acharya opened his eyes after hearing that noise. Oh! What a fantastic sight! “Isn’t this, Lord Lakshmi Narasimha? Is it not Hiranya’s body around his neck like a garland?” Acharya wiped his eyes to see the sight more clearly. But he saw Padmapada in the place of the Lord, and the body of Ugrabhairava lying down with blood stains all over.
By then Padmapada had fallen unconscious. When he regained his consciousness, he confessed that he did not know what actually happened. He only remembered the bad dream and that he had invoked his beloved deity. The presence of mind of Padmapada thus saved the life of Sri Sankaracharya.
While at Srisailam, Sri Sankaracharya composed some exquisite verses in praise of Lord Mallikarjuna. Sample this composition, known as Sivanandalahari:
“What can I offer you, Eswara? (Eswara is also Aiswaryava, the one having everything). You have everything, so what can I give you?…. Ok, I will give you my heart….. Oh, he is coming to me even to take that…. Look at him. I thought he was very rich… he has no riches! He has an old bull, he is wearing elephant skin, has a snake around his neck! He says he drinks poison and that is his food! He is asking me, ‘you gave me your heart, what can I give you in return?’ Lord, give me the attitude that will make me think of your lotus feet all the time in pure bhakti.”
“I bow before Lord Mallikarjuna, who helps everyone to get over, as if through a bridge, the great ocean of Samskara, and who always resides on the Srisailam hill.”
From Srisailam, Acharya and his disiples went to Ahobila to pay respects to the Lord Narasimha who saved Acharya’s life. There, he composed the famous Lakshmi Narasimha Pancharatnam.
It is interesting to note that while Padmapada, the Sishya, learnt Advaita, Bhakti Gnana and everything else from his Guru Sri Sankaracharya, the Guru got the Narasimha bhakti from his Sishya, Padmapada.
The successive Sankaracharyas of the lineage of Adi Sankara have continued to worship Narasimha. In addition to worshipping Maha-Tripurasundari and Sri Chandra-mouleshwara as the main deities, Lakshmi Narasimha Upasana has also been traditionally followed by the Acharyas.
Sri Sankaracharya’s Dig vijayam continued towards south. In Karnataka, along with his disciples, he visited a Vaishnavaite temple. The authorities stopped Sri Sankaracharya from entering the temple, a la Rameswaram, saying that Saivaites were not allowed entry there!
At Sriveli, where the Acharya had camped, there lived a poor Brahmin who visited the Acharya with his young deaf and dumb son. With tears in his eyes, he told Acharya:

“With great difficulty, I got his Upanayana ceremony performed. But the boy does not speak a word. Till now he has not even learnt the alphabets and there is no question at all of his reading the Vedas and other scriptures. Never once has he called out to his father or mother. He does not express his feeling of hunger and thirst. You are the ocean of compassion. Please bestow your grace on him and make him normal”.

Acharya looked at the boy and asked him: “Dear child, Who are you? Where are you going? What is your name? “
The boy looked straight into the Acharya’s eyes and spoke out immediately in a very sweet voice and also in a verse:
“I am not a human being; I am not God; nor Yaksha; Neither Brahmin nor Kshatriya nor trader nor an untouchable. I am not a Brahmachari, nor a householder nor a forest-dweller nor a Sanyasin. I am that ever Self-aware entity.”……………
The boy, who had been dumb right from birth, answering the Acharya’s questions with a verse revelatory of the nature of the Self, was something beyond comprehension. The verse was reminiscent of Acharya’s own verse when His Guru, Govinda Bagavatpada asked him “Who are you?”.
The boy’s father did not understand what the boy had said. He was so happy that he did not bother to understand. He was so proud that his son had started talking! He prostrated before the Acharya after thanking Him and took his son back home.
After reaching home, the father invited everyone in the town very proudly, to meet his son, who could now hear and talk. But the innocent boy could neither hear nor talk. “Oh! May be, the Sanyasin’s mantra worked only for a few hours”, he thought. He took his son again to the Acharya.
In front of Acharya, the boy spoke again, fluently. What a miracle! “Your son is not for you, leave him with me” said the Acharya. The parents agreed. That their son was with them when he was mute and not with them when he became alright, went through their mind. But they returned home with a sense of satisfaction.
The Acharya initiated the boy into the discipline of Sanyasa. He was named Hastamalaka.
The verse that came out first from the boy when he started to talk, was known as Hastamalakiyam.
Normally, a Sishya writes commentaries and explanations to his Guru’s works. Here, Sri Sankaracharya wrote a commentary for Hastamalakiyam, His Sishya’s verse. What an ego-less spirit!
Acharya, along with his disciples was walking along the Tungabadra river during a hot summar day, when he watched a marvelous sight!

A pregnant frog was struggling in the blazing sun to be delivered of its offspring. A cobra, the natural enemy of frogs, raised its hood to provide the frog with shelter and protection from the ravages of the tropical sun.

The Acharya was greatly moved by the sight of the venomous snake protecting its arch rival. If there was paradise on earth, it was there, where the cobra and the frog lived in mutual amity and peace. Even natural animosities did not exist, he thought.
Called Sringa Giri (meaning Peak Mount, now Sringeri), the place had also been the sacred abode of sage Rishyashringa.
Both the rivers Tunga and Badra were flowing there. A popular saying about the river Tunga was, `Tunga Pana Ganga Snana’. That is, drinking the water of this sacred river had the same effect as taking a dip in the holy Ganges.
The place was expressive of the lofty spiritual atmosphere prevailing there.
Since Sri Sankaracharya had consecrated Sarada Devi in that same place, He decided to establish his first monastery or Peetham there.
Acharya started the task of building up the spiritual lives of everyone there by expositions of his commentaries and other scriptures by his religious instruction and spiritual discourses.
Gradually a fine temple and a Peetham were built.
Sarada Parameshwari, the chief deity here, is much more than just an aspect of Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. She is Tripurasundari, the triple form of Lakshmi-Saraswati-Gauri. She is the supreme queen Rajarajeshwari.
The Acharya also established various other deities like Bhadrakali, Hanuman, Ganesha and Bhairava for the protection of the place.
Thus, Acharya established the Sringeri math, the first of the Peethams, with a stability lasting over hundreds of decades for the infinite good of the world.
The establishment of the Sringeri math by the Acharya is, in many ways, a very significant event in the spiritual history of the world, especially of India.
Staying in Sringeri, the Acharya wrote many books full of instructions with the spirit of renunciation.
A youth called Giri, who did not know much of reading or writing, had devoted himself to the service of Acharya. In addition to taking care of Acharya, Giri was always ready to look after the needs of the other disciples. Within a short time, Giri became a favorite of all, particularly with the Acharya.
The disciples of the Acharya were all vastly learned. They were worthy disciples of the great Acharya in exposition of the scriptures and debating skill. From that point of view, Giri was no where equal to the other disciples. But incomparable was his devotion to his Guru.
When the Acharya gave his disciples lessons on the scriptures, Giri would sit near the Acharya respectfully and listening attentively to all that was said.
One day Sri Sankaracharya was sitting quietly. It was the hour of teaching of scriptures. The disciples had assembled. But Acharya did not start. Padmapada said: “We are waiting eagerly for you to start the teachings”.
Acharya said: “Please wait, let Giri also join “. Padmapada was surprised. He said: “Giri is a wonderful boy, alright. Can he understand anything of the scriptures? In intelligence, this Sringa Giri and Sishya Giri are same (meaning, he‘s like an inanimate object, not capable of understanding Upanishads)”.
Giri, after washing the garments of his Guru in the river nearby, was walking back. Suddenly, he started singing and dancing! Magnificent verses, full of rhythm flowed out of his mouth.
This famous hymn composed by Giri in praise of Sri Sankaracharya is called Totakashtakam. This is a beautiful poem in the Totaka metre (Totaka Vritham has twelve syllables in each line). Even great composers could not easily comprehend Totaka metre!
Everyone was surprised to hear these verses in pure Sanskrit and full of deep meaning.
Padmapada, though ashamed, praised Giri for having done a wonderful work on Acharya. He prostrated before the Acharya, feeling sorry for whatever he had said of Giri.

On an auspicious day, the Acharya initiated Giri into Sanyasa. He was given the name of Totakacharya.

It was a similar incident on another day. Sri Sankaracharya was meditating, though it was the hour of teaching. The disciples felt that He was engaged in a conversation with someone, in his meditation! Looking at His face, they were worried.

Meanwile at Kaladi, Aryamba was very sick and was remembering her son.
By telepathy, the Acharya heard her call. He immediately meditated and requested Sri Krishna to appear in front of His mother.
His disciples knew something was happening, and kept quiet. “My mother is thinking of me on her death-bed. I have promised her that at the moment of her death I shall be present at her feet. I have to go to my mother without any delay”. The Acharya exercised his Yogic powers and reached his mother in Kalady.
Aryamba was more or less unconscious. Like all mothers, she was reminiscing her days with her child Sankara. She wished to see him for one last time. She heard her son’s voice and opened her eyes slowly. What a surprise! She was lying in the lap of her Sankara!
“Sticking to my life has not gone waste”, she thought. “I have seen my son, I have felt him also; now I can hear his sweet voice as well”.
“Amma, Amma, can you see me? I am your Sankara. I have come all the way to see you, Amma.”

“Sankara! How can I not recognize you? You told me that you would come to me during my last days, when I think of you. I can think of you only if I have forgotten you, Sankara! But now, I did not want to disturb you. So I was removing you from my mind! Oh! I am unable to do that, Sankara. Why did you leave all your work and come to me?” Aryamba wanted to say these words, but was not in a position to do so.

But Acharya realised what she wanted to say. “Amma, I have also lived the life of what you imagined! I was a King, Amma. For a full month, I was a King! But, I am happier as a Sanyasin. Happiness is inside, and one cannot look for it, outside”.

Aryamba was not in a position to listen or understand. As per her wish, Acharya invoked Lord Shiva. The Lord sent his messengers to bring Aryamba to Shiva Loka. But Aryamba was frightened at the sight of the terrible-looking messengers, who were adorned with snakes and tridents. She said, “Sankara! How terrible they look! I will not go with them”.

Acharya then meditated on Narayana, and the Lord, holding the conch, discuss, mace and lotus in his hands, appeared before Aryamba, Very happy at this sight of her beloved deity, Aryamba blessed her son profusely.

By then, the messengers of Sri Vishnu had also appeared there in a beautiful flying chariot. It was as if Aryamba’s house had been transformed into Vaikuntha. Then the messengers took her soul up on the flying chariot to Vishnu Loka. Aryamba thus reached the lotus feet of the Lord.

The Acharya considered himself blessed at being able to be present near her in her last moment and provide for her salvation by making possible, the sight of her cherished God.
Mean wile Acharya Written Maathru Panchakam about Mother.
In Our Shastras, MOTHER has been assigned a place even above that of Gods. A Sanyasi who has renounced the world, is permitted to lay Prostrate before his mother.
There is no Mantra superior to Gayathri, and no God above the Mother.
Acharya’s devotion to his mother had arisen from the Brahman consciousness, mingled with Bhakti.
He remembered his promise to his mother and started preparing for her funeral rites. All the villagers had assembled by then. The Acharya said, “I will perform her funeral rites. Even though it is not proper for a monk, it is my duty and desire that I shall perform her final rites”.
The villagers called him a cheat and a hypocrite. They said, “You, being a monk, have no relationship with anyone. You have no right to perform the funeral rites of your mother. We will never allow you to do that”.
The illiterate villagers would not accept the point made by the Universal Teacher, Jagatguru Sri Sankaracharya.
They left the place in anger and banned anyone from helping the Acharya in performing the funeral rites. The Acharya was left alone with the body of his other.
Acharya was and is, the Guru for the entire universe. It seems, even Gnanis, who have corrected the ways of life of many of their opponents, are made to face their failures in some way or the other, in their own life time! Does this resemble the current situation?
The Acharya carried his mother’s body with great difficulty. No Mantras, no cries, no traditions, no water, no fire….. Everything was Sankara, Sankara, Sankara…..
How far could He carry? Only till the garden yard behind the house. And placed her body there. He looked up. He got His voice back: “ Hey Agni Bhagwan! Till now, as per household Dharma, I have not offered you ghee or wood. But now I am offering you the more sacred body of my mother. Please take her!” The fire engulfed her body immediately. Her body went back to the place where it belonged.
King Rajashekhara, who had met Acharya when the Acharya was eight years old, heard about His visit to Kaladi. There had been a significant deterioration of social life and the king was thinking of a social reform. The arrival of the Acharya provided the right opportunity for him. He decided to institute social reform under the Acharya’s instructions and guidance.
The King met the Acharya and briefed him about his plan. Agreeing to the king’s suggestion, the Acharya said: “Very well, I shall draft a brief code. You should discuss its good and bad points with the scholars here and then institute it. This will be conducive to the welfare of the people”.
Soon, a book incorporating sixty four edicts was written. The king was very happy and read it many times. The book was given the title, Sankara Smriti, ‘the code of Sankara’.
The king convened a meeting of scholars to discuss the merits and demerits of the code. The Acharya also attended the meeting. The scholars said that the principles put forth by the Acharya were against the scriptures and were harmful to the society. During the debate that followed, the scholars were gradually silenced by the super-human scholarship and divine brilliance of the Acharya. But they refused to admit defeat.
They took recourse to a novel idea to have their way. At two places, separated by nearly fifty miles, they arranged for two meetings on the same day and at the same time. The delegates at both the meetings separately informed the king that they were challenging the Acharya for a debate. If he could defeat them in debate, they would accept his code.
The Acharya agreed.
On the appointed day, at a meeting held under the chairmanship of the king, the Acharya silenced all the Scholars by giving proper replies to the hundreds of questions raised by them. It was clearly established that the code formulated by him was in conformity with the scriptures including the Vedas and Puranas.
The Scholars were astonished at the numerous quotations from the scriptures cited by the Acharya, who could easily retain in memory whatever he had once heard or read, correctly reproducing it ever afterwards. They were compelled to admit defeat, but they still hoped that the deliberation of the other meeting would be favorable to them. For, the Acharya was engaged in debate with them and had no chance of being present at the other meeting.
Meanwhile, Acharya multiplied himself by his divine powers and at the appointed hour was present at the other meeting also. Answering all the queries of the Scholars and clarifying all doubts, he silenced them. Though they admitted their defeat, they were happy that the Acharya had lost since he could not have been present at the other meeting.
But when the both the meetings came to be known, all were surprised. Bowing down before the young Acharya of such supernatural powers, the Scholars accepted the code laid down by the Acharya and agreed to implement it in the society.
King Rajashekhara became an ardent admirer and follower of the Acharya. One day Acharya asked the King how his literary works were progressing and if he had written any new books. The king sighed and said: “No sir, I have given it up now. It is a sad story. The three plays that I read out to you long ago, have been destroyed by fire. I have been so grieved by this that I never felt like writing any new plays”.
Sympathising with him for this loss, the Acharys said: “I understand your feelings. Long time ago, you had read out the plays to me. I liked them so much that I still remember the contents of all the three books, from beginning till end. I shall dictate from my memory and you may have them written down and thus recover the texts”.
The king and his men took down the Acharya’s dictation of the three plays. Reading the books, the king found that the Acharya had dictated the very same words that he had written. He bowed down at the Acharya’s feet again and again.
It was Ekadasi, the auspicious day of the month of Vrishchikam when Lord Krishna imparted the Gita to Arjuna. The Acharya wanted to get back to Sringeri and He invoked his super natural powers to fly in space.

While above Guruvayur, he saw the Siveli procession of the Lord Krishna on the northern side of the Nadapandal of the temple. He felt sorry for the crowd that did not know about the Brahman in the self, and were rushing to see an image outside of the self! THUD! The next second, He came crashing down in front of the Lord!

The Acharya soon recovered and saw the Lord in all his royalty. Realising the cause of his fall, the Acharya prostrated before the Lord and begged for forgiveness. The Lord told him that temple worship, repetition of Lord’s name and listening to religious discourses were ways of expressing devotion and were dear to him.
The small opening in the roof over the North- West courtyard in the Guruvayur Temple is in commemoration of this event.
The Acharya chanted 8 slokas in praise of Govinda, known as Govinda Ashtakam.
He formulated the elaborate puja routines at the temple. He said that on Ekadesi day, there should be a grand festival with dawn to dusk worship. Even today, the system of daily rites at the temple is practiced in accordance with the directions given by Sri Sankaracharya.
He also ordained the Guruvayurappans and Krishnans of the future to be at least a squirrel during the Campaign for Dharma!
While at at Sringeri, the Acharya had requested Sureshwara to write the Vartika (explanatory notes) on the commentary of Brahma sutra Bhashya.
Padmapada and the other disciples knew that Sureshwara was an expert in the Mimamsa system and a ‘convert’ to Advaita. . They thought that he would establish the superiority of the Mimamsa system and distort the significance of Acharya’s commentaries. Also, Sureshwara took up sanyas after being a grihasta while all other disciples were brahmacharis. As a result of these issues, there was an uncomfortable atmosphere (politics).
The Acharya noticed this and asked Sureshwara to discontinue the work and instead, write on Advaita Vedanta. He requested Padmapada to write the explanatory notes, what He had given to Sureshwara earlier.
Sureshwara wrote an authoritative philosophical work on the Brahman and the self. Acharya was delighted to read it. Sureshwara’s deep knowledge of Advaita, profound scholarship, wonderful style of writing, his capacity to use sentences appropriate to the meaning, his demolition of the views of the opponents with irrefutable logic, and the great force with which he established his conclusions impressed the Acharya very much.
The other disciples also appreciated the work. No one, including Padmapada had any doubts about Sureshwara’s scholarship or his devotion to Advaita Vedanta.
Padmapada had not completed his work and he read out to the Acharya whatever he had written till then. The Acharya praised the efforts and named the collection of notes as Vijayadindima and blessed him to complete the work.
Meanwhile, the incident of stopping Sureshwara’s work had made Padmapada feel very guilty. As an atonement for his sin, he, along with a few other disciples set out for Holy Rameswaram, after getting the blessings from his Guru. By then, he had more or less completed Vijayadindima.
On the way, he visited his maternal uncle in Srirangam. Padmapada told his uncle about his Guru and engaged in a discussion of the scriptures with him. The uncle was himself vastly learned and was the follower of the Dvaita or dualistic school.
Padmapada’s reasoning and logic were so good that his uncle was not able to hold on to his own for long. The Uncle requested Padmapada to leave his book, Vijayadindima with him so that he would read and understand Advaita fully. He promised to give it back to Padmapada on his return from Rameswaram.
Padmapada along with the other disciples left for Rameswaram.
The wicked Uncle did not have the intellectual power to refute the views put down in the book through debate. He realised that the publication of this would mean a strong attack on Dvaita and he decided to destroy the book. He wanted to set fire to the book, but did not want Padmapada to know about it. Wicked people could only think of wicked ways! He kept the Vijayadindima inside his house and set fire to the house! Vijayadindima was totally destroyed.
On his return, Padmapada heard about the fire and the destruction of Vijayadindima. He felt shocked. His guilt feeling had escalated and he left that place to get back to the Acharya.
Padmapada narrated to the Acharya about his trip and the destruction of Vijayadindima. The Acharya, comforting his disciple, said: “Do not indulge in futile grief. No one can escape the bitter consequences of past karmas. It is much better to patiently bear the pain that cannot be cured. There is nothing to grieve over the destruction of your works. You had read out to me the explanatory notes on the first five sutras. I still remember them fully. I will dictate from my memory and you may take it down”.
Padmapada wrote the notes on the five sutras from Acharya’s dictation. (Pancha Paadika)
His mind was then calm and the mental and physical exhaustion were totally removed. He was purified in spirit and in body.
Acharya and His four distinguished disciples, Sureshwara, Padmapada, Hastamalaka and Totakacharya and a number of His devotees continued the Digvijaya yatra towards the south.
The entourage reached Chidambaram.

Chidambaram is associated with Nataraja, or Shiva in his Ananda Tandava pose (the Cosmic Dance of bliss).

The idol of Nataraja is enshrined in the Chit sabha. Behind this idol, is a black screen, which is considered to cover the Akash Linga. There is no Linga, but we are made to believe that there is an invisible Linga, with golden vilva garlands. This is to stress the belief that there is everything in nothing. Shiva is worshipped in the “formless form” of the Chidambara Rahasiyam ( Secret of Chidambaram). There are five silver plated steps to reach the Chit Sabha, representing the Panchakshara mantram – Na-ma-si-va-ya.
The Acharya worshiped Lord Shiva there. He was supposed to have learnt the secret of shri-yantra and shri-chakra meditation in this temple. While He was meditating, He saw in his Gnanadrishti, a saguna-nirguna spadika linga to be installed by Him there at a later date. (The Saguna Brahman is as it were, the Ocean of Forms; and that which is free from illusion is called Nirguna Brahman.)
Acharya then visited another great temple at Thiruvidaimarudur, in Thanjore district.
The name of the Linga at Thiruvidaimarudur is “Mahalingam”. It is believed that this lingam here is in between two other lingams-Mallikarjuna and Putarjuna, and hence it is also known by the name Madhyarjuna.
Acharya won over many scholars in Thiruvidaimarudur debating on Advaita philosophy. At the end of the debate, the Acharya asked them to enter the temple. As they reached the Sanctum Santorum of the temple, there was a loud voice saying “Satyam is Advaita”. This was repeated thrice, and there was a hand that came out of the Linga and conformed the truth. The scholars acknowledged the principle of Advaita and accepted Sri Sankaracharya as their Guru.

Sri Sankaracharya then visited Thiruvanaikaval, near Tiruchirapalli.

The temple is named after the elephant which is believed to have worshipped Lord Shiva here. Installed under an ancient Jambu tree, the linga is partially submerged by water and meant to represent God incarnate as water.

In this temple, the Goddess Akhilandeswari was having fierce power and people who went to have her darshan could not stand her fierceness. The Acharya created two sets of earrings called Tatankam and he presented these to the Goddess. The fierceness of the deity reduced.
The Acharya worshiped Sri JampuKeswarar and Sri Akhilandeswari. Then He went to Srirangam, nearby.
Srirangam has not less than 22 gopurams, one of which is 236 feet high stupendous thirteen tierd Rajagopuram, the tallest in India. The temple lies on an islet, formed by the twin rivers Kaveri and Kollidam.
It is believed that Sri Sankaracharya installed at this temple, a Yantra called Janakarshana Yantra to attract pilgrims.
Sri Sankaracharya stayed and prayed at Srirangam for some days and conducted Advaita discourses before He moved on further south.
Sri Sankaracharya and His disciples reached Madurai, after visiting many temples along their way from Srirangam.
The sprawling Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple in Madurai is being considered as one of the world’s wonders. The Acharya worshiped Meenakshi and composed Meenakshi Pancharatnam and Meenakshi stotram here. ……
From Madurai, Sri Sankaracharya and the group left for Thiruvananthapuram. On the way, they visited temples and met people and propagated the Advaita philosophy.
Sree Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvanantahpuram is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is a very inspiring structure that has a 100 feet high ‘gopuram’.

The Acharya stayed at Thiruvananthapuram, worshiped the Lord and met various scholars and discussed Advaita philosophy with them.

He then left for the southern tip of India. But on the way, the Acharya fell ill.
Those who have traveled with our Acharyas know well that they ignore their health and continue their journey. May be, it has been the tradition since Adi Sankaracharya days.
Sri Sankaracharya continued his Yatra and reached Kanyakumari, the southern tip of India. The Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean merge there.
A virgin. That’s the literal translation of Kanyakumari.
The temple, which overlooks the shoreline, is dedicated to Devi Kanya. She wears an exceptionally brilliant diamond on her nose ring and it shines out to the sea.
Acharya prostrated before the Devi and worshiped her.

From Kanyakumari, Acharya traveled north towards Tiruchendur. On the way, he stopped by Suchindram Temple. The temple was dedicated to a deity who was the representation of the combined forces of Siva, Vishnu and Brahma. (one of the few temples in India where the Trinities are worshipped ).

The Acharya, His disciples and the devotees then managed to reach Tiruchendur. The Acharya was still unwell.
Tiruchendur is one of the six Arupadai veedu shrines of Murugan. It is located on the seashore in the southern tip of India near Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari. While the other five padaiveedu shrines are situated on hills, this is situated on the seashore, bounded on the north and the east by the sea.

At Tiruchendur, Sri Sankaracharya meditated upon Lord Subramanya (Skanda, Muruga, Kumara, Vadivela, Saravana, Sakthi-velayuda, Soora-samhara) and composed Subrahmanya Bhujangam

In his composition, Acharya said: “Just by looking at your sacred ashes (vibhudhi), all ills will be cured”.
Acharya got cured of his illness when He sang His composition in front of the Lord Shanmuga.
The entourage then left northwards to Rameswaram.
Rameesa or Ram-Eswara (Lord of Rama) Temple in Rameswaram, the Varanasi of the south, is known for one of the twelve Jyothir Lingams.
Acharya had a holy dip at the conjunction of Mahodadhi(Bay of Bengal) and Ratnakara(Arabian Sea) . He had no trouble entering the Sanctum Sanctorum. He performed the Abhishekam to Lord Ramanatha with Ganga water, performed Vilva Puja and meditated on him. He also worshiped Sri Parvathavardhini.
Acharya visited Kothandaramsamy Temple where Vibhishna, Ravana’s brother surrendered to Rama. Then He visited Dhanushkodi and Ramasethu.
Acharya stayed at Ramaeswaram for two months. He established Rameswaram as the main Kshetra for the Sringeri math.
Acharya then started His Yatra towards North India in propagating Advaita philosophy. On His way to Tirupathi, He reached Srikalahasthi.

The temple at Srikalahasthi is dedicated to Siva and represents Vayu (air) of the Pancha Bhootha Stalams (temples celebrating Siva as the embodiment of the primary elements).

The presence of Vayu is evidenced by a continuous flame which flickers though there is no loophole for air to enter the temple. The shrine is 30 feet beneath ground level.
In ancient days, the Lingam is said to have been worshipped by a spider, a cobra and an elephant. The spider worshipped the Lord by spinning a web over the Lingam, the snake by placing a gem atop it, and the elephant by washing the Lingam with water from its trunk. All three beings are said to have attained Moksha, through their devotion to the Lord. Even the name bears their appellations: Sri (spider) Kala (cobra) Hasthi (elephant).
The Acharya worshiped the Lord at Srikalahasthi and left for Tirupathi.
The Acharya had the dharshan of Lord Venkatesa, the Nitya Kalyana Srinivasa. In the idol, He saw Kesava, Narayana, Govinda, Vishnu, Madhusudhana, Trivikrama, Vamana, Sridhara, Rishikesa, Padmanabha and Damodhara. He saw all the Dasavatharams of the Lord. Suddenly. He saw a Lingam on the Lords head. Vishnu carrying Siva on His head! Oh, that was the golden crown, Sri Balaji was wearing. The Acharya worshiped the Lord and meditated on Him.
Sri Sankaracharya established the Dhanakarshana Yantra at this temple to attract riches.
The Acharya wrote all his experiences with Sri Venkatesa in beautiful verses in Sri Vishnu Padadi Kesanta Varnana Stortam.
Sri Sankaracharya, during his Yatra, preached the basics of God-worship. This was a special contribution of the Acharya to the Sanatana Vedic dharma. He said that there could be five basic forms of Brahman: Siva, Vishnu, Surya, Ganesha and Durga. One could practice to worship one of the Gods among the five as the chosen deity, according to his own tastes, Samskaras and qualifications. The other four could be worshipped as auxiliary deities.
The Acharya then proceeded inside Andhra Pradesh. Having travelled through many places in Andhra, the Acharya spread the knowledge of Brahman and Self.
Then, the Acharya arrived at the holy city of Puri in Orissa. He went into the famous Jagannath temple there, only to find the altar there empty.

He learnt that during oppression by Kalayavana ( who was determined to kill all Yadhavas including Krishna), priests of the place had buried the casket containing the wooden image of Lord Jagannath on the banks of Chilka lake. During a period of Buddhist attacks that followed, it got further moved elsewhere. Later, through the support of a King, a large number of Salagrama stones were installed and on that very altar, rites of worship were instituted.

The Acharya was filled with deep sorrow at the sight of the altar without the image of Jagannatha. He plunged into deep meditation on the banks of the lake. Then he told the people: “The casket containing the idols is buried on the eastern banks of the lake under the largest banyan tree. If only that spot is dug up, the casket will be recovered”.
The people dug up the indicated spot and, they found the casket! Everyone there celebrated. In great pomp and show, the casket was brought to Puri. On an auspicious day, amidst great joy and reverence, the image of the Lord was installed in the shrine of Jagannath.
The Acharya also established a math in Puri called Gobardhan Math to propagate Vaidika Dharma.
At the Jagannath temple, Acharya composed Jagannatha Ashtakam.

Acharya travelled westward towards Saurashtra. He reached the Godhavari River near Nasik in Maharashtra. He visited the Triamba-keswara temple.

Triambakeswara has one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. The extraordinary feature of the Jyotirlinga located here is that it has three faces embodying the Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.

Tri means “three,” and Ambak means “eye,”; triambaka means the “three-eyed one”, who is Lord Siva.
Sri Acharya worshiped the Lord and meditated on Triambakheswar. He had detailed discussions with the people around and educated them on bhakti and proper worship.
Acharya then visited Pandharpur.
Pandharpur hosts the Vithoba temple, on the banks of the river. Vithoba is a form of Krishna; Vithoba’s consort is Rukmini.
The name Vithala means “One who stands on a brick”. In the temple, the Lord stands on the small stone-platform. The idol is 3-1/2 ft tall. Below the platform is inverted lotus.
Sri Sankaracharya described the Lord beautifully in His composition, Panduranga Ashtakam. He said the lord was ‘Parabrahma Lingam’.
Sri Acharya continued his journey to Ujjain, another Jyothirlinga Temple.
Ujjain is one of the celebrated Siva Kshetrams in the banks of the river Shipra, in Madhya Pradesh..

The Acharya, with his disciples, went to pay his respects to the deity. He worshipped Mahakaleshwara by composing a charming hymn in his glory. His attitude of overwhelming devotion touched the hearts of everyone. Seeing the unostentatious mode of life of the noble Acharya, the people were very curious to know more about Him and Advaita philosophy.

The Acharya then debated with famous scholars on Advaita philosophy and won them over.
Sri Acharya then continued his Yatra to Somanath.
Somanath is situated in the south coast of Saurashtra, in Gujarat. The temple is a splendorous beauty. The lord here is called Somanathar and Someshwar. This Siva Lingam is one among the Jothirlingams.
After worshipping the Lord Somanatha, Acharya and His disciples proceeded to Dwaraka.

The Acharya established a Peetham at Dwaraka. To provide Shakti to the Peetham, He made the Kalikadevi as the principal Devi and Siddeshwara as the Murthi. The Peetham was called Dwaraka Kalika Peetham.

After establishing the Math at Dwaraka, the Acharya stayed there for some more time and organized the worship-practices. He continued his journey to Rajastan and Sindh. He visited Pushkar in Rajastan, pilgrimage shrine dedicated to Brahma.
He passed through villages and towns and visited many shrines. He was greatly honoured everywhere. Followers of diverse views came to respect and follow Advaita after hearing the Acharya’s exposition of the Vedanta.
The Acharya passed through Purushapura (Peshawar) and Bahlika country (undivided Punjab), and reached the country of Gandhara (which was situated between the Kabul and Peshawar). Buddhism was very predominant there. The Acharya fulfilled the desire of people who sought truth by teaching them the Vedic path and asked them to follow the same.
The Acharya had great debates with Buddhist teachers. He proved that Lord Buddha’s spiritual practice was in accordance with the Vedic injunctions and that Buddha attained unqualified supreme knowledge. He had also preached the Vedic truth and the spiritual practice. It is because they had not properly understood the instructions and the life of Lord Buddha that Buddhists were preaching their theories against the Vedas.
The Acharya established his spiritual victory over Kamboja, on the banks of the Kabul river and many other regions situated north of Kashmir (POK). He crossed deserts, mighty peaks, and rivers and finally entered Kashmir.
Kashmir was an important center of Hindu culture at that time. Eminent scholars from all over India and spiritual aspirants lived there, adding to the glory of the place. Kashmir was also the abode of Sarada, the goddess of learning and fine arts.
Inside the Sarada Devi temple, there was a pedestal known as the Sarvajna Peetham, the seat of omniscience. The pedestal was guarded by famous scholars from all over India, but no one had occupied it. Any scholar who proved that he knew everything, would be allowed to ascend the pedestal. He would have to defeat scholars belonging to the different sects and faiths. The right to ascend the Peetham would be by the common consent of all the scholars.
Sri Acharya went to the place and expressed his desire to debate with the scholars there. Vaisesikas, Sankhya followers of Kapila, Logicians of the Gautama school, Meemamsakas, Buddhists, Jain scholars as well as other learned intellectuals engaged in debates with the Acharya on various subjects.

At the end of the debate, all the scholars unanimously said: “You are a limitless ocean of knowledge and learning. You know all the scriptures and all the branches of learning. We consider ourselves greatly honoured, even to be defeated by you. Please ascend the Peetam”.

Sri Acharya worshipped the Goddess Sarada with a rhythmic Sloka. At this moment, a voice from heaven was heard: ” Dear son Sankara, I am pleased with you. I bestow on you today the title, Sarvajna ( all-knowing). You alone are worthy of sitting upon this Peetham”. It was the divine voice of Sarada, the mother of the universe, reverberating through the temple.
Hearing the divine voice, the Acharya bowed down to the Devi. This unthinkable event also made everyone convinced of the living existence of the Goddess at that place. Taking his seat upon that Peetham, the Acharya satisfied everyone present by explaining the true nature of the great Goddess Parasakthi.
Staying in Kashmir for some days, the Acharya explained Advaita, Brahman and Self to the common public and formally initiated many worthy recipients into the worship of Goddess Sarada on the basis of Advaita Vedanta.

Sri Acharya then continued his Yatra to Srinagar.

In Srinagar, Acharya came to know that Tantrikaswere indulging in the practice of human sacrifice. He engaged the Tantrikas into a debate and explained to them the true significance of spirituality and scriptures and corrected them of their perverted notions. After a lot of discussions, they agreed with the Acharya and gave up the ritual of offering human sacrifice. They even destroyed the stone piece which was the altar for the offering of human sacrifice. The transformation brought by the Acharya was so thorough.
Gopaditya, the King of Kashmir named a hill after the Acharya and called it ‘Sankara Giri’. Nowadays, it is called ‘Takhti Sulaiman Hills’. He constructed a Sankaracharya temple on top of the hill.
Sri Sankaracharya continued His journey towards Kailash. He reached Haridwar.
Haridwar is the gateway to the Himalayas. Legend has it that Bhagiratha brought the Ganges into the earth, and into this point where his ancestors were burnt to ashes by the curse of the sage Kapila. Kapilastaan, a spot in Haridwar is pointed to as Kapila’s hermitage.
Acharya went to many temples and had discussions with the people there. He also laid down the procedures for the worship in many temples.
Acharya then reached Rishikesh. He went to Yagneshwara Mahavishnu Temple. When He went inside the sanctum, he found the pedestal barren and empty. There was no image of any God, and there was no arrangement of any kind for any worship. He found out that long ago, frightened by the troubles caused by bandits, the priests of the temple had concealed the image of Sri Vishnu somewhere in the bottom of the holy Ganga. But later, even in spite of extensive search to recover the idol, they could not locate it.
Acharya remained silent for a moment and then went into meditation. He located the idol in His deep trance. He walked a short distance along the bank of Ganga and pointing to a spot there asked the people to go below the river bed and get the idol out. To the great surprise of all, the image was found intact. On an auspicious day, Sri Sankaracharya got the image re-installed in the Sanctum Sanctorum with all the religious rites. He then resumed his pilgrimage and set off towards the holy Badrinath.

Close to Rishikesh, Acharya visited Lakshman Jhoola, where Vidura underwent his religious austerities. According to legends, Lakshmana, the brother of Lord Rama crossed this river with the help of a hanging bridge made of jute.

Then He reached Vyasashrama and Devaprayaga. At this place, Acharya worshiped at the temples of Ganesa, Sri Rama and Sita, and Hara and Parvati.
Sri Shankaracharya and his disciples arrived at Badrinath. On two sides of the region, Nara and Narayana, the two snow-covered mountain peaks, as white as foam, stood aloft in noble grandeur proclaiming the glory of that ancient past. Close by, the river Alakananda flowed in its own majestic course. Just by the side of the temple of Narayana were hot springs. Acharya and his disciples bathed in the hot springs and went to the shrine of Badrinarayana. But the four-armed idol of Badari Narayana was not to be seen in the shrine. In the place o that idol, they were worshipping a Salagrama stone.
As in another temple, here too, the image was hidden by the forefathers of the priests to save it from the bandits. But later on, in spite of intensive search, the image could not be recovered. Therefore, all along, the Lord has been worshipped in the symbol of the sacred Salagrama stone. Hearing this, Acharya became immersed in deep thought, and remained absorbed in meditation. On returning to normal consciousness, he proceeded towards the Naradakund springs. Acharya started getting down into the waters of the spring. The under-current there would draw anyone into the deep bottom of the river. A number of people had lost their lives by getting into these springs. But Acharya came out holding in his hands, a four armed image of Narayana.
On bringing it out of the water and closely inspecting it, he felt that it did not have any distinctive features to indicate it was a divine idol. He put it back into the water and again dived into the Narayankund and again found an idol but did not find anything distinctive about it. He dived the third time and again found an idol and just when he was about to put it back into the water a voice stopped him, which said: “I am Badrinath and have been consecrated by Brahma once before. Give this divine idol its rightful place”.
The Acharya bowed before the idol, and in accordance with the prescribed modes, did the ceremonial bathing of the image, and with his own holy hands installed the Narayana idol in the shrine. Acahrya composed and recited Shat-Padi stotram here in praise of the Lord.
An installation by Acharya meant the transmission of a powerful spiritual current whose efficacy would remain unimpaired for many a millennium. The Acharya entrusted the responsibility of worshipping the installed deity to a worthy group of his followers, after laying down the procedures for the worship.

Shri Sankaracharya established Joshimath, one of the five Mathams. Located at a distance of 14 kms from Helang enroute to Badri, Acharya got enlightenment at this place and authored Sri Sankara Bhashyam. Acharya constructed a temple for Lord Narasimha and consecrated the temple.

Acharya visited one after another, the shrines of Vishnu Prayaga, Brahmakunda, Vishnukunda, Sivakunda and many other holy places and reached Kedarnath.
Sri Sankaracharya worshipped Lord Siva and formulated the worship protocols of the Lord for the future generations to follow.
On the background to this temple were fully snow-clad peaks. These range of mountains were the beginning of Himalayas, where Acharya identified the Kailas.
Sri Sankaracharya identified the path towards Kailas, the Heaven. He slowly and anxiously started his trek towards the earthly Heaven, Mount Meru, the Kailas.
Sri Sankaracharya reached Kailasa, Siva’s abode, the Heaven.

On Kailasa Peak, in a beautiful garden strewn with various radiant jewels and garlands, scattered with different sorts of trees and creepers, filled with various beautiful flowers, in a pedestal adorned with various pure gems, in front of which were the attendants softly murmuring and conversing, were seated Bhagavan Mahadeva, and his consort, Uma Devi. They were flanked by Brahma, Indra and Vishnu, Jupiter (Guru) and Venus (Shukra) and hosts of Brahmins, Rishis, Siddhas and Gandharvas. The Lord was wearing a crescent moon and holding a trident, one hand giving boons, the other dispelling fear. The Devi was adorned with ornaments and looking very beautiful and peaceful.

Sri Acharya had the darshan of Lord Parameswara and Devi Parvathi. He saw the Lord and Devi together, in Ardhanareeswar form as well.
Acharya adored Devi and Parameswara by singing hymns, “Sivapadadi-kesanta stotram” and “Sivakesadi-padanta stotram”.
It had been a poetic-practice to describe Goddesses starting from head and ending with the lotus feet and male Gods from the feet ending with their head. Sri Acharya was a true and great poet and was truly blessed by Parvathi and Parameswara to enable Him sing such beatutiful hymns.
Uma Devi and Maheswara looked at Acharya, who gave the Universe, the Amrut of Advaita from the Ocean of Vedanta. Immensely pleased with Acharya’s prayers, the Lord blessed Him and presented him with five sphatika (crystal) Lingams and instructed Him to arrange for the worship of the Lingams for the sake of the welfare of the universe. The Lord also gave instructions on the mode of worship of these Lingams. Lord Parameswara also handed over to the Acharya, the palm-leaf manuscript of Soundarya Lahari, which was Siva’s own hymn in praise of the Parasakthi.
Sri Adi Sankaracharya bowed to the Lord and Devi and sang Uma Maheswara Stotram before taking leave of them.
There is a saying, “God gives a boon; but there is a Nandhi in between”. Nandhikeswaran thought that Kailas was being looted, since Acharya was taking away the Pancha Lingams and Soundaryalahiri! He jumped on to Achrya to snatch them away. He got the last 51 stanzas of Soundaryalahiri and started reading them. He got so involved in the beauty of it that he forgot about Acharya, the rest of the Soundaryalahiri and the Pancha Lingams. Sri Sankaracharya returned with the first 49 stanzas and the Lingams.
Acharya was sad that he lost half of Soundaryalahiri. In his prayers, Uma Devi blessed Him to write the balance and complete it Himself!
The five lingams Acharya obtained from Siva, were Mukti-Lingam, Vara-Lingam Moksha-Lingam, Bhoga-Lingam and Yoga-Lingam.

The Mukti-Lingam was consecrated at Badhrinath. The Vara-Lingam was consecrated at Neelakantha Kshetram in Nepal. In Chidambaram in south India, Acharya consecrated the Moksha-Lingam. On an earlier visit to Chidambaram, Acharya saw in his Gnanadrishti, the sphatika lingam At Sringeri, Acharya consecrated the Bhoga-Lingam. Yoga-Lingam was consecrated at Kanchipuram.

Sri Adi Sankaracharya left Kailas and proceeded towards Nepal.
Sri Sankaracharya arrived at Nepal from Kailas, The Nepal king received Him and the disciples with due honour and respect. Blessing the king and giving him some advice, the Acharya went to the temple of Sri Pashupatinath.
At the temple, worship of Pashupathinath had been stopped because of Buddhist dominance. Even the holiness of the shrine was affected. Religious opponents had defiled the temple by throwing all rubbish inside.
At the direction of the Acharya, the disciples cleaned the temple and restored the sanctity of the place.
He lived in the temple courtyard for some days and ensured the glory of the temple was restored. He also instituted the rites of worship. He began to give discourses to the people. The Buddhist intruders left Nepal without facing Him.
On an auspicious day, He consecrated the Vara-Lingam in the temple. Soon, entire Nepal witnessed a resurgence of spiritual feeling at the reawakening of the Sanatana Vaidika Dharma. The Acharya instructed the people on the daily duties and the worship of the deities. The king also showed an interest in these auspicious activities. Within a short time, Veda and Vedanta spread all over Nepal. Centers of study on the Vedas and the scriptures were set up in different places of Nepal.

Acharya also defeated the evil powers of the Vamacharis. He was unscathed and overcame hundreds of obstacles and spread the glory of Vedanta all over Nepal.

Sri Sankaracharya returned to Prayag once again. This was the place where He met Kumarila Bhatta. He worshipped the Triveni, the three-river-confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the Saraswati rivers. Staying there for a while, He witnessed the Kumbh Mela. During Kumbh Mela, He saw a lot of Sanyasins of various divisions and sects from all over Bharath assemble there. He met many of them in groups and spoke to them about Sanatana Vaidika Dharma and Advaita philosophy. He listened to them and answered their queries and established a fine rapport with them.
He designed ten divisions for the Sanyasins and established their rituals and rites and protocols. The Dasanamis, as they are called, were given individual names:
– Thirtha
– Aasrama
– Vana
– Aranya
– Giri
– Parvatha
– Saagara
– Saraswati
– Bharati
– Puri
He ensured that all the Sadhus and Sanyasins belonged to one of the above ten groups and at the same time, work together in unison. Thus, Sri Sankaracharya was the originator of the re-engineering process!

After completing the re-engineering process, Sri Sankaracharya proceeded to Kasi, for another visit.

Sri Sankaracharya visited Kasi, the Mokshapuri again and visited the Viswanath temple. He worshipped the Lord and offered His prayers.
Here, Sri Sankaracharya composed and sang “Bhaja Govindam”.
The first verse goes like this…
Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Govindam Bhaja mudhamathe
Samprapthe Sannnihite-kale
Na hi na hi Rakshati Dhukrinkarane
Seek Govinda! Seek Govinda! Seek Govinda! Oh ignoramus, at the time of death, the rules of grammer, which you are trying to cram and master, will not be able to rescue you at all.
His indirect message to the non-believers, materialists and wholly-worldly minded is “All secular knowledge and earthly acquisitions which you acquire now will not help you at the time of death. Only seeking the Lord will give peace”.
In Bajha govindam, Acharya eulogises His Guru, Sri Govinda Bagavatpada, in the name of Lord Govinda.
The Acharya composed Kasi Panchakam and Annapurna Stotram at Kasi.
From Kasi, the Acharya reached Gaya.
Gaya was a great pilgrimage center for offering oblations to forefathers. People came to offer oblations at the lotus feet of Sri Vishnu for the sake of deliverance of their departed ancestors.
At the place where Lord Buddha attained Buddha-hood, there was a temple which housed an image of Buddha. It was a very sacred pilgrimage center for the Buddhists. Earlier, Acharya had declared Lord Buddha to be one of the ten incarnations of Sri Vishnu in his Dasavatara Stotra. According to Acharya, it was only through spiritual practices following the Vedic path that Lord Buddha had attained the state of realization.
The nirvana that he spoke of, was not an empty state of mind but a state full of joy. Nirvana in the Buddhist theory as preached originally by Lord Buddha, and Moksha according to Vedanta, are synonymous. However, the later followers of Buddhism misinterpreted the teachings and gave a different account of Buddha’s doctrine. The Acharya clarified this point and reformed many Buddhist sects.

As a result of the Acharya’s acceptance of Buddha as an incarnation of Sri Narayana, the foundations of the Buddhist religion were weakened. The people of Gaya instituted the worship of Lord Buddha as an incarnation of Sri Vishnu. House-holder Buddhists of different social levels devoted themselves to the worship of Buddha as an incarnation of Sri Vishnu. Within a short time in places around Gaya and also in far away places, people in large numbers found refuge in Vaidika Dharma.

After leaving Gaya, the Acharya explained and preached the Vedic faith in different places of Bengal. Within a short period, the Sanatana Vaidika Dharma came to be instituted at different levels of the society.
At that time, Buddhist and Hindu Tantrikas were very powerful all over Bengal. Very few people knew about the existence of the Vedas. As a result of the Acharya’s initiation, Hindu scriptures began to be read and taught in different parts of Bengal. In some places, the house-holder disciples accompanying the Acharya had images of Siva and Kali installed and encouraged their worship. Scholars were fascinated to hear the exposition of the scriptures and the explanation of the greatness of the Vedas from the Acharya. Sri Sankaracharya was accepted as the visible living incarnation of the Lord by all.
After completing the work of religious reform in Bengal, the Acharya proceeded towards Assam. He faced a major crisis there.

Sri Sankaracharya reached Assam with His disciples and a large number of devotees. The ruler of Assam greeted and received the Acharya with great respect. Blessing the king, the Acharya, accompanied by the king, arrived at the foot of the Kamagiri hill, the seat of the Peetha of Goddess Kamakhya, famed in the Puranas. The Acharya ascended the hill and performed the rites of worship at the shrine of Parasakhti.

The Acharya and his disciples gave instructions in Vedic dharma to the people of Assam.
Those days, all over Assam, the tantriks were predominant. They were accomplished in charms and spells and were skilled in the rites of destruction, mental distraction and bringing the opponent into subjugation.
Sri Sankaracharya worked on these tantriks who practiced black magic and brought them down to give up those practices for mean attainments. Advaita became the only goal of Tantra. He educated them on the practices of Tantra to be followed without desires and in complete devotion to Parasakthi. After reforming the Tantriks, the Acharya initiated them to the Dakshinachara mode of worship of the Goddess. As a result, people became attached to Vedic dharma and got themselves engaged in the worship of the Divine mother.
A few tantriks were opposed to the transformation of their practices brought in by the Acharya. “Who is he to change our tantrik practices?” was the refrain.They believed that Devi Kamakhya was the God of Tantrik practices and wondered how she kept quiet over those changes. They invoked a black magic called “Abhichaara” on the Acharya.
The effect of the black magic affected Acharya’s health slowly. But He did not bother and continued his discourses and meeting people. His condition deteriorated to such an extent that all the disciples were worried.
Padmapada, the ever agile disciple, invoked Sri Lakshmi Narasimha in his prayers and the Lord as promised earlier, appeared before him and told Padmapada how to dispel the black magic spell on the Acharya.
Accordingly, Padmapada, who had studied the tantrik practices, invoked a counter black magic spell. This not only cured Acharya, but also killed those Tantriks who had invoked the Abhichaara.
This news spread like wild fire and everyone came to know about the Acharya and His disciples. They all accepted the supremacy of Advaita system. Sri Sankaracharya again pointed out to them, the deficiencies in their Tantrik worship and suggested remidial measures and reformed their traditions.
The Acharya then toured North Bengal again. He met Murari Mishra and Dharma Gupta, the renowned scholars of Mimamsa philosophy. They learnt that Mandana, the greatest scholar of Mimamsa was accompanying the Acharya as His disciple. And they gave up all hopes of a debate. The Acharya explained to them the points of difference between the conclusions of Vedanta and those of Mimamsa. They realised the correctness of the Acharya’s teaching and became a disciple of Advaita Vedanta.
The Acharya and his disciples arrived at the banks of the Ganga.
One evening, the Acharya was sitting all by himself in meditation at a lonely spot, when he saw a Yogi of great brilliance and radiant presence appear in front of him. The whole place was enveloped in the light that radiated from his being. As soon as that figure of wonderful appearance, covered all over with matted locks came to him, the Acharya left his seat and bowing down at the feet of the serene being with folded hands, requested him to be seated.
The august person cast a pleasant look at the Acharya and blessed him. Then he said in a voice full of grace and charm, “Dearest son, you have completely attained supreme knowledge. Like a boat helping one across a river, you have helped millions across the oceans of ignorance and duality. Indeed you have brought me great joy. I am Gaudapada, your Parama Guru. I have come here to bless you”.

With his palms joined above his head, the Acharya said, “O great Guru, ocean of kindness, since you have glanced upon this servant with favor, your blessings will give me strength. The sight of your holy presence itself is a great fortune”.

Pleased at the words of the Acharya, full of humility, Sri Gaudapada blessed the Acharya. Later in the evening, the Acharya gave an account of His interaction with Parama Guru to his disciples, with great joy.
The Acharya visited Ayodhya, the birth place of Rama. He went to Badrinath and consecrated the sphatika Lingam (Mukti-Lingam) from Kailas, at the Joshi mutt. He visited Kedarnath again and then many places in central Bharat and reached Sringeri.
At Sringeri, Sri Sankaracharya consecrated the sphatika Lingam (Bhoga-Lingam). He reviewed the Mutt establishment and then continued His yatra towards south and reached Thiruvotriyur.
Sri Sankaracharya visited the Tiruvotriyur temple and put an end to the ritual of offering sacrifices at the Amman shrine. He incepted a Sri Chakra and reduced the power of Devi and converted the fierce form of Devi into a graceful, beneficent form.
He also appointed a Kerala Namboodri to perform puja at this shrine. Sri Sankaracharya composed the Tripurasundari Ashtakam here, comprising of 8 slokas.
When Sri Sankaracharya arrived in Mangadu from Tiruvotriyur, the people requested him to help them by putting off the heat emanating from the homa kundams. The Acharya installed and consecrated an Ardha-Meru Sri Chakra in front of the Goddess and thus nullified the heat.
The Sri Chakra has the shape of a koorma (tortoise) as its base. There are three steps over the base. A 16 petal-lotus and a yantra have been installed over the steps. The Sri Chakra has 43 triangles, representing 43 devatas. It is made of eight different herbs.

Sri Adi Sankaracharya left Mangadu and proceeded to Kanchi.

King Rajasena, the ruler of Kanchi, met Sri Sankaracharya at the outskirts of the city and offered a fitting welcome to Him. The local scholars also expressed their deep respect for the Acharya. Acharya entered the city and worshipped Shri Kamakshi, Sri Ekamranatha and Sri Varadaraja at their respective shrines. Then He stayed at the Muktimandapa, in the temple of Viswesvara on the bank of the Sarvatheertham tank, for some time.
As per the Acharya’s instructions and suggestions, the king remodeled the city of Kanchi in the form of a Srichakra. He reconstructed the temples of Ekamranatha, Kamakshi and Varadaraja in a very short time. The great twin-city was rebuit, Siva-Kanchi with Ekamranatha temple and Vishnu-Kanchi with Varadaraja Perumal temple. The Kamakshi temple was in the center. Possibly, it was done so, so that during the festival times, the idols of Ekamranatha and Varadaraja would go around (pradakshana) Kamakshi! Also, the sanctum of the Kamakshi temple formed the bindu of the Sri Chakra.
After the Kanchi City was remodeled by King Rajasena as per the instructions of Sri Sankaracharya, The Acharya consecrated the Prithivi Lingam, Sri Ekamranatha in Siva-Kanchi and Sri Varadaraja in Vishnu-Kanchi. He also made arrangements for proper form of worship in the temples.
Sri Sankaracharya visited the Temple of Sri Kamakshi. He worshiped her and consecrated a Sri Chakra in front of her.
Upon establishing the Sri Chakra, Sri Sankaracharya morphed her from Ugra Swaroopini to Shanta Swaroopini (form of peace and tranquility). He prayed to Her and received an assurance that she would not leave the temple and wander into the city without his express permission. The curfew worked and people were happy. This was one of the very few curfews imposed by man on the Goddess.
Sri Sankaracharya established a Sarvajna Peetham at Kanchi.

To show the world Acharya’s profound knowledge and exposition, Sri Saraswathi Devi appeared and debated with the Acharya. Once He won, she named Him ‘Saraswathi’!

Sri Sankaracharya then ascended the throne of omniscience, Sarvajna Peetham, before a large assembly of scholars, Pandits, Rulers and Intelligentsia from around Bharat. They looked at His radiance and His simplicity and humility and in one voice, roared: Sarvajna Peetham was established for the Intelligentsia, scholars and the Wise. But, how about the common man? How could Sri Sankaracharya attract the general public, teach them Sanathana Dharma and the way of life? Sri Sankaracharya decided to establish a Peetham to attract all others.
To represent the four Vedas, Sri Acharya established the first four Mathams in the four directions of Bharat. To glorify OM, the Pranava Mantra, which is a part of all the Vedas, He established the Kamakoti Peetham.
Sri Sankaracharya was the first Peetaathipathi – Head – of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. He assumed the Head as “Indra Saraswathi”. While the name Saraswathi was given by Devi Saraswathi herself, the name Indra was given to the Acharya by the Lord Indra himself.
Earlier, Sureswara was down with fever. The Acharya invoked Ashwini Devaas to cure him. They were the official ‘doctors’ of King Indra. They came to cure Sureswara without taking permission of Indra. Indra got wild when he found out that they had gone out without his permission. He invoked ‘Vajrayutham’ (thunderbolt weapon) to kill them. Sri Acharya, with all his powers, stopped the Vajrayutham from nearing the Ashwini Devaas. Hearing the power of Acharya, Indra came down and bowed to the Acharya and gave the title ‘Indra’ to the Acharya.

Sri Sankaracharya consecrated the Yoga Lingam (Sri Chandramouleeswara) obtained from Kailas, at the Kamakoti Peetham with Sri Maha Tripurasunadri as the Sakhti. Since one temple is not enough for Chandramouleeswara, and he belongs to all places. Sri Sankaracharya commanded His successors at Kanchi to take Chandramouleeswara from place to place and worship Him with all the honours.

Sri Sankaracharya instituted the proper form of worship of Sri Maha Tripurasunadri and Sri Chandramouleeswara. All the punnyaathmaas (fortunate ones) watched Sri Acarya’s Bhakthi and his Puja rituals every day. Kanchi city was overwhelmed with Bhakti.
The Govardhana Peetham at Puri was made responsible for the Eastern Bharat. It represented Rig Veda, with Prajnanam Brahma (Supreme knowledge is brahman) as the Maha-vaakya. The Lord was Vishnu Jagannatha and His Sakhti, Vimala. The Thirtha was Mahodhadhi (Bay of Bengal). The title of the head was Vana or Aranya.
The Sarada Peetham at Sringeri was made responsible for the Southern Bharat. It represented Yajur Veda, with Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman) as the Maha-vaakya. The Lord was Chandramouleeswara and His Sakhti, Sarada. The Thirtha was Tungabhadra. The title of the head was Bharati, Saraswati and Puri.
The Kaalika Peetham at Dwaraka was made responsible for the Western Bharat. It represented Saama Veda, with Tat Tvam Asi (You are that Brahman) as the Maha-vaakya. The Lord was Siddhesvara and His Sakhti, Maha Kaali. The Thirtha was Gomati. The title of the head was Tirtha and Asrama.
The Jyotir Peetham at Badrinath was made responsible for the Northern Bharat. It represented Atharva Veda, with Ayam Aatma Brahma (This Self is Brahman) as the Maha-vaakya. The Lord was Narayana and His Sakhti, Puranagiri. The Thirtha was Alakhnanda. The title of the head was Giri and Parvata.
Sri Sankaracharya thus established very firmly, the paths of Bakthi, Karma and Jnana as per the Advaita Vedanta.
In a short span of thirty two years, the Acharya achieved the rarest union of Sage and Saint; of Philosopher and Devotee; of Mystic and Logician; of Original writer and Commentator; of Traditionalist and Innovator; of Establisher and Integrator; of total renunciation and Intense activity, all characterizing the loftiest man born in Bharat.
Sri Acharya was nearing His time to depart from this materialistic world. His actions and behaviour implied that he was very close to leaving His body.
One day Sri Sankaracharya is meditating in front of Sri Kamakshi, Many of His disciples are present and a large number of devotees have gathered.
All are hear the chanting of Upanishads, and the singing His praise by His disciples and devotees. Some group is singing bhajans:
Sri Sankaracharya opens His eyes and looks into Kamakshi’s eyes. She is ready to accept Him for one last time, and forever.
That time inside the Kamakshi Temple, the Sri Chakra was start sparkling. In the center of the Chakra is a Brahmasana Peetham. There the Lord, the Saantha Swaroopa, Kameswara is seated. On His left thigh is seated, the beautiful Kamakshi with blistering eyes.
Sri Sankaracharya slowly moves His lips and there we can hear…Tripurasundari Vedapada Stavam. How wonderfully He describes what He sees! (WHSIWYG – What He Sees Is What You Get).
Sri Sankaracharya is now getting up. He is going to cast off his gross, subtle and casual bodies one after another to attain Paramamukti, the final liberation. He is going to become one with Supreme Brahman, Sat-Chit-Ananda (existence-consciousness-Bliss).
Sri Sankaracharya adjusts his cloth around his head. He has started walking towards Sri Kamakshi in the Sanctum ….step by step.
The Jyoti is walking towards Parabrahmam…..One sees the Ekaroopini, Kamakshi throwing a very bright light…….The smaller Jyoti is slowly moving towards the brighter one.
Sri Sankaracharya jyoti has reached the Sanctum……and is getting merged with the brighter Jyoti of Sri Kamakashi.
His soul lives for ever. There is no death for the Aatma. His body had been dried up in the fire of wisdom.
Sri Sankaracharya’s blessings to you all.

Lord Shiva

lord-shiva
“Om Namah Shivaya”
Shiva means the supreme one, the auspicious one, the pure one and for me the beloved one. Shiva means “the One who is eternally pure” or “the One who can never have any contamination of the imperfection of Rajas and Tamas”Lord Shiva represents the aspect of the Supreme Being that continuously dissolves to recreate in the cyclic process of creation, preservation, dissolution and recreation of the universe. Lord Shiva is absolute which does not have any parents which never takes birth which is all alone without association with any of the creatures or creations enjoying in the Self. God is the only one who is dependable for anybody / anything to surrender to as it is the only perennial Being. Hence God is the Lord of all creatures (lives/souls). For this reason the Lord is hailed as Pashupati (Lord of living beings). Whether it is devas or asuras or humans or other creatures all are pashus.

Lord Siva is popularly known as Shankara. The word Shankara is made up of two words, namely “shanka” and “hara”. Shanka means doubt and hara means dispeller or destroyer. The word “Shankara” thus means He who dispels or destroys doubts. dispels or destroys all doubts. He rules over our disbeliefs and hesitations and establishes firm faith in us through his compelling nature. By dispelling our doubts and establishing faith, He destroys all our bondage.Shankara or Sankara can also mean sankata + hara, that is he who destroys or ends all difficulties. Sincere prayers to Shankara can be very effective. The Lord is easily pleased with pure devotion and responds immediately. Siva is known for his boon giving nature, which at times causes trouble because when he is pleased he can be very generous even to the evil characters.
At the beginning of creation, there was nothing in the universe. There was water everywhere. Lord Vishnu manifested himself in his great form and slept on the water. While Vishnu was sleeping, a lotus flower (padma) sprouted from his navel. It had many petals and its stem shone like a thousand suns. From the cells of the lotus Brahma was born. He began to wonder, There seems to be nothing around except for this lotus. Who am I? Where did I come from? What am I supposed to do? Whose son am I ? Who made me?

Brahma thought he might find the answers to these questions if he explored the lotus a bit. Perhaps he ought to try and find the centre of the lotus. Brahma descended down the stem of the lotus and wandered around for a hundred years. But he could not find the flower’s centre. He then decided that he might as well go back to the cell from where he had been born. But despite wandering around the stem for another hundred years, Brahma could not find the cell. By then he was so tired that he gave up and rested.

Suddenly he heard the words, Brahma, perform tapasya (meditation).Brahma meditated for twelve years. When the twelve years were over, the Vishnu appeared before Brahma. Brahma didn’t know who this person was and he asked,

Who are you? Vishnu didn’t directly answer the question. Instead, he replied, Son, the great Lord Vishnu has created you.

Who are you to call me a son? Demanded Brahma.

Can’t you recognize me? came the reply. I am Vishnu. It is from my body that you have been created. But Brahma was not convinced. He began to fight with Vishnu.

Shiva then assumed the form of a great pillar of fire (light linga) and appeared between the two fighting gods. Seeing this immense shaft of light stunned Brahma and Vishnu and they were quiet for a moment, wondering what such an unknown and mighty force might be.

They then heard an asariri (a disembodied voice) from the sky commanding them to listen. The voice then continued to say that the dispute of the two gods would be settled if one of them was able to ‘see’ the top or the bottom of the pillar of light before them.

At once, it was decided that Brahma would go up (towards the sky) and try to find the head of this pillar of Light (Shiva) and Vishnu would go down (under the earth) to find the foot of Shiva. It was agreed that whoever was able to find the limit (the head or the foot) would be superior to the other. Brahma then assumed the form of a swan and began his journey into the sky. Vishnu on the other hand, assumed the form of Varaha (wild boar) and bored through the earth to descend into the very depths of the world. The two of them went thus on their quest for thousands of years and even still could find no end to the pillar of light (as light has no limit). After proceeding in their quest for so long, the two of them began to tire and realize that they cannot find out end of this filler. This realization began to humble their ego and their arrogance.

Vishnu decided to end his search (becoming humbled) and proceed back to the earth. At the same time, Brahma saw a Ketaki flower slowly wafting downwards from the sky. He stopped the flower on its way down and asked it where it was coming from. On being questioned by the creator, the flower replied that it had been placed at the top of the pillar of fire and had fallen from there. Unable to find the head of the pillar, Brahma decided to end his search and instead use the ketaki flower as evidence of him having reached the head.Both Brahma and Vishnu came back to the earth in the end and when asked, Vishnu replied truthfully that he had been unable to find the feet of the fiery pillar even after a very long search going to the very ends of the universe. Brahma on the other hand lied by saying that he had in fact reached the head of the pillar of fire and that he had brought the ketaki flower from the top as proof of having reached there. This false claim angered Shiva and he revealed his true form & said, We are all three parts of the same entity and have been divided into three. Brahma is the creator. Vishnu is the preserver and I am the destroyer…

We three represent the three fundamental powers of nature which are manifest in the world viz. creation, destruction and maintenance. These powers exist perpetually. Creation is going on all the time. So is destruction and maintenance. All three powers are manifest at all times. We are inseparable.

Brahma that he would have no one to be worship as he was undeserving (as a result of his falsity) and ketaki flower that henceforth she shall not be used in the worship of Me (as she had given false testimony when questioned).

Brahma said to Shiva, Please forgives me!

All right, I forgive you, Shiva agreed. Still Brahma was not fully satisfied. He said to Shiva, You have to prove that you have forgiven me.

What kind of proof do you want? Asked Shiva.

You have to take incarnation in my family, declared Brahma. You have to take birth as my son.
Fine, fine, said Shiva. I shall take incarnation in your family. I will be your son.

Brhama He started meditating. So Brahma prayed to Shiva for five thousand years, but Shiva did not appear at all. One day, Brahma began shedding bitter tears because Shiva had failed to keep his promise. Brahma said, I cannot go on in vain. Even after seeing my tears, Shiva is not coming. I am crying like an infant, but he is deaf to my prayers. I have now decided to commit suicide. Shiva is a liar. He is not going to come. So the best thing is for me to immolate myself. After saying these words, Brahma committed suicide. As soon as he had done so, Shiva came out of Brahmas mouth. While coming out, Shiva was crying and crying, and at the same time Brahma was revived. Brahma was so happy to see his son. When he noticed Shivas tears, Brahma became very concerned. Why are you crying, why are you crying, my child? he asked.

Shiva said that he was crying while taking human incarnation because he was entering into world-ignorance. For this reason Brahma gave him the name Rudra, meaning he who cries pitifully.

At the beginning of every cycle Brahma is enjoined to create the worlds but his mind-born creation had failed and he fell into great sorrow. At that time he heard a voice form the heavens that said,

“Create through the union of Man and Woman.” But he did not have the power to create Woman. Thinking that only through the grace of Shiva would he succeed, he resolved to gain the favor of Mahadeva through strenuous tapa.

Favoring His earnest bhakta, Shiva quickly appeared before him in the form of Ardhanarishwara.

Shiva said:

“My child, oh my fortunate, dear son Pitamaha, I have instantly understood your hearts desire. For the increase of progeny you have until now performed tapa and thereby pleased me. I will grant your wish.”

Speaking thus, Shiva manifested the godess Shivaa from His left side. His soul gladdened to its core.

Brahma said:

Oh Shivaa, Your husband the God of Gods has protected me. Through His blessings I was brought forth to create. Time and time again I have created the Gods and sages from the power of my mind. But they do not follow my wishes and thus my creation has not flourished. Now I wish to create a Maithuni creation that will grow and flourish. But that creation will need the presence of Woman and for that my shakti is insufficient. All shaktis have you alone as their source so Sarveshwari I beseech You, give me the power to create Woman. Oh Jagannmata! I bow to you again and again. And I have one more wish, oh Ambika who dwells within all. Through Ishwara alone does the world moving and still grow and prosper so become the daughter of my son Daksha.

Hearing this prayer of the noble Brahma, Parameshwari Devi said “so be it” and gave Brahma the power to create Woman. Seeing Jagannamayi Shivaa Devi bring forth that shakti from between Her eyebrows, the best of gods, Shiva ocean of mercy laughed and said

” Oh Devi, Parameshthi Brahma has pleased you with his tapa. quickly and lovingly fulfill his request and be born as the daughter of Daksha. ”

After that, Brahma powers of his meditation, he created several sages (rishis). Kardama, Daksha and Marichi were among them. Marichi’s son was Kashyapa. Daksha had sixty daughters and thirteen of them were married to Kashyapa. The children of Kashyapa and these daughters became adityas (gods), daityas (demons), danavas (demons), trees, birds, snakes, mountains and creepers. Thus was the world populated.

Meanwhile, there was water everywhere. In the water, Vishnu created a huge egg (anda). He then himself entered the egg in his huge form.

Twenty-seven of Daksha’s daughters were married to the moon-god Chandra. One of these wives was named Rohini and Chandra loved Rohini more than he loved the other wives. The other wives felt neglected and they complained to their father. Daksha repeatedly warned his son-in-law to devote himself equally to all twenty-seven wives. But Chandra was in no mood to listen. Daksha thereupon cursed Chandra that he would gradually fade away. Chandra didn’t know what to do. He went and sought advice from Brahma and Brahma told him that the only rescourse was to pray to Shiva. Chandra went to Prabhasa tirtha and made a linga on the banks of the river Sarasvati. He prayed to Shiva for six months.

At the end of the tapasya Shiva appeared before Chandra and offered to grant him a boon. Chandra explained what the problem was. Well, said Shiva, Daksha’s curse cannot be entirely ignored. Let us have a compromise. During krishnapaksha you will wane. And during shuklapaksha (the bright part of the lunar fortnight) you will wax. Finally, Shiva put him on his head.


Daksha’s daughter Sati was married to Shiva (Rudra).

But Daksha and Shiva did not like each other. Daksha arranged a yajna (sacrifice) and he did not invite Shiva to attend this sacrifice. Although Sati was not invited either, she went to attend the ceremony. But Daksha insulted her so much that Sati gave up her life in protest.

When Nandi informed Shiva about Sati’s death, he became very furious. He angrily pulled out a locks of hair and dashed it against the mountain, which got divided into two parts. From one part manifested the valiant Veerbharda and from the other part Mahakali.


Veerbhadra and Mahakali were instructed by Shiva to destroy the yagya of Daksha and to kill all the people who were present during the time of Sati’s death, including the deities and the sages.

After getting the instructions from lord Shiva, Veerbhardra marched with a huge army which included the mighty Shivaganas like Dakini, Bhairav and Kapalish etc. Goddess Kali to joined him with her army which consisted of all her nine incarnations like Katyayani etc. As the army marched on numerous auspicious signs were visible.

On the other hand Daksha experienced many inauspicious signs. His left eye, left army and left thigh started throbbing. He saw the vultures flying over his head. He heard the sounds of jackals howling.

Daksha then prayed to lord Vishnu to rescue him from the imminent wrath of lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu preached Daksha and said-“Daksha! Since you have committed the greatest sin by dishonouring Shiva and Sati. Even I can not prevent the calamities which you are certain to face.”As lord Vishnu was preaching Daksha suddenly there was a loud commotion. The army of Veerbhadra had arrived. Daksha was frightened and again prayed to Vishnu to save his life.Lord Vishnu again expressed his helplessness and told him that because of him all the deities too would have to suffer.

A terrible battle was fought between the armies of Veerbhadra and the deities. The deities got defeated and fled away. Daksha ran for his life and hid himself behind the attar where the yagya was being performed. But Veerbhadra pulled him out from there and severed his head. He then threw his head in the agni-kunda.

Brahma, the gods began to pray to Shiva. These prayers pacified Shiva and he asked Virbhadra and Bhadrakali to refrain from causing any further damage.Brahma request Shiva was subsequently pacified and brought the dead gods back to life. The sacrifice was completed.

Meanwhile, there was an asura (demon) named Tara. Tara’s son was Taraka.Taraka wished to defeat the gods. He therefore went to a place named Madhuvana and began to perform very difficult tapasya. The meditation was so difficult that Brahma was pleased. He appeared before Tarakasura and said, I am pleased with your tapasya. What boon do you want?If you are pleased, replied Tarakasura, grant me two boons. The first boon should be that no one created by you should be as strong as me. The second boon should be that I should be killed only by Shiva’s son.Shiva at that point of time had no sons. Sati had died and although she had been reborn as Parvati. She herself was reborn as the daughter of the mountain Himalaya and his wife Menaka.

Brahma granted Tarakasura the two boons. The demon went to a city named Shonitapura and began to live there. All the other demons made Tarakasura their king. Thanks to the boon. Tarakasura was so strong tha the easily defeated the gods. He conquered the three worlds and drove the gods out of heaven. He stole all their belongings and employed the gods as his servants.The despondent gods went to Brahma and asked him to find a solution to the Tarakasura problem. I can’t, said Brahma. It is because of my boon that the demon has become so powerful. Besides, my boon says that Tarakasura can only be killed by Shiva’s son. Shiva has got to have a son. He is now performing tapasya in the Himalaya mountains. Parvati is also in that region. Do something so that these two fall in love with each other and marry.

The gods decided to follow Brahma’s advice. But how could it be ensured that Shiva and Parvati fell in love with each other? The king of the gods was Indra and the god of love was Kandarpa or Kamadeva or Madana.Indra summoned Kandarpa. You have to help us, said Indra. There is no other way out. Shiva is performing tapasya in the Himalayas. Parvati is also in the region. Make sure that the two fall in love. That is your job.Kandarpa went to the place where Shiva was meditating. And as soon as the god of love appeared, the place took on the traits of a spring which was perennial. Flowers bloomed and bees buzzed among the flowers. Cuckoos sang and fragrant breezes started to waft through the forest. Shiva tried to concentrate on his meditation. But he kept getting distracted.While all this was going on, who should arrive there but Parvati? She was so beautiful that Shiva was smitten with love for her. Parvati also seemed to like Shiva.But life is never simple. Shiva was, after all, Shiva. He realized that something was wrong. How could his meditation have been disturbed? How was it that the season seemed to be spring although it had no business to be spring? When Shiva glanced around, his eyes fell on Kandarpa who was hiding. He realized that it was Kandarpa who was responsible for all this mischief.Shiva was angered. He had a third eye in the middle of his forehead. From this third eye flames sprouted and these flames burnt Kandarpa to ashes.Kandarpa’s wife was Rati. When Rati saw that her husband had been burnt to ashes, her grief knew no bounds. At first she lost consciousness. When she recovered, she lamented, Woe is me. What is going to happen to me? My husband, my love, where have you gone?

The gods and Rati sought out Shiva. They explained that it had been no fault of Kandarpa’s. He had been asked to disturb Shiva’s tapasya because of the Tarakasua problem. What would happen to Rati now?
Shiva replied, What has happened has happened. Nothing can be done about kandarpa now. He will eventually be born in the city of Dvaraka as Krishna’s son Pradyumna. Rati will then be reuntied with Kandarpa. But till such time, let her simply wait.

The gods dispersed, still despondent. The matter of Shiva and Parvati’s marriage had not progressed at all.But Parvati had fallen in love with Shiva and she didn’t know what she could do about it. She thought of Shiva all the time.

One day the sage Narada came and told her, Shiva is only pleased with tapasya. Without tapasya, even Brahma and the other gods do not get to see Shiva. Why don’t you perform tapasya?
Parvati decided to do what Narada had asked her to. She asked her parents for permission. Her father agreed with alacrity. Although her mother Menaka was not at all keen that Parvati should perform difficult tapasya, she too eventually agreed.Parvati gave up her jewellery and handsome clothes. She wore deerskin instead. There is a peak in the Himalayas known as Gouriskikhara. It is there that Parvati went for her tapasy. The meditation was very difficult. During the monsson Parvati meditated while seated on the ground. In the winter she mediated under the water. Wild beats dared not harm her. All the gods and sages assembled to see this wonderful tapasya. The gods and the sages also began to pray to Shiva. Lord, can’t you see that Parvati is performing difficult tapasya? They asked. No one has meditated like this before. No one will meditate like this in the future. Please grant her what she wants.
Lord Shiva then himself went to Parvati in the guise of a brahmin. Parvati on seeing a brahmin welcomed her with full honour.Shiva asked Parvati as to why was she doing penance. Parvati told him that she wanted to have Shiva as her husband. Lord Shiva, who was in the guise of a brahmin started cursing Shiva to see how Parvati reacted to it.Parvati replied that inspite of her penance Shiva did not appear, so she has decided to give up her life in burning pyre. After saying like this Parvati requested the Brahmin to go back and she herself entered into the burning pyre but remained unharmed Lord Shiva was very pleased to see her firm resolve and devotion. He again asked her as to what was the purpose behind doing such a tremendous penance.
Parvati told the brahmin; who in reality was Shiva himself that, she wanted to have Shiva as her husband at any cost. She said-“You say that lord Shiva does not possess anything – not even wealth. He does not put on clothes on his body. You also say that he is not fit to be a bridegroom of me. But all of your utterances prove your mean intelligence.”
Parvati continuing with her statements said that Shiva was the most capable deity in all the three world. “There is no sin greater than condemning Shiva.” Said Parvati.As Shiva, who was in the guise of Brahmin was about to say something Parvati said to one of her companion-“This condemner should be killed, if this is not possible then we must leave this place at once.”As she was about to leave that place, lord Shiva revealed his true identity and by holding her hand said- “You have been my wife since time immemorial where are you going?”

Parvati became very pleased and her heart was filled up with extreme joy. She requested him to take to her father regarding their marriage. Lord Shiva agreed. Shiva called the seven great sages (saptarshis) and asked them to go to Himalaya as his messengers. The message was that he wished to marry Himalaya’s daughter Parvati. Himalaya was delighted to see the sages and even more delighted to learn that Shiva wanted to marry Parvati. A date was fixed for the marriage.Under Brahma’s supervision, the marriage ceremony took place and Shiva and Parvati returned to Kailasa.

Shiva and Parvati’s son was Skanada or Kartikeya. When the baby was very small, it got lost in some reeds. Six princesses discovered the baby in the reeds and each wanted to bring up the baby as her son. All of them finally cooperated in bringing up the body. These princesses were the Krittikas and the boy came to be known as Kartikeya.

The gods got to know from Narada that Kartikeya had been brought up by the Krittikas. They came and appointed Kartikeya their general. The army of gods then invaded Tarakasura’s city Shonitapura. A terrible fight raged for ten days. The gods completely decimated the demons and Katikeya killed Tarakasura.After the victory celebrations were over, Kartikeya was restored to his parents.Tarakasura had three sons named Vidyunmali, Tarakaksha and Viryavana. These three began to perform tapasya. For a hundred years they meditated.Brahma was pleased at this difficult tapasya. He appeared before them and said, What boon do you want?

Make us immortal, answered Tarakasura’s sons.
I can’t make you immortal, replied Brahma. I don’t have the power. Ask for something else instead. Very well, then, said Viyunamali, Tarakaksha and Viryavana Grant us the following. Let three forts be made. The first will be of gold, the second of silver and the third of iron. We will live in these forts for a thousand years. At the end of the thousand years, the forts will become one. This combined fort will be called Tripura. And it anyone can then destroy Tripura with only a single arrow, that shall be the death destined for us.This rather unusual boon Brahma granted. Tarakaksha got the golden fort, Viryavana the silver one and Vidyunmali the iron one. Each of the forts was a big as a city and had many palaces and vimanas (spaces vehicles) inside.The demons populated the three forts and began to flourish. The gods did not like this at all. They first went to Brahma, but Brahma said he could not help them. After all, the demons had got Tripura thanks to his boon. The gods then went to Shiva for help. But Shiva said that the demons were doing nothing wrong. As long as that was the case, he did not see why the gods wre so bothered. The gods then went to Vishnu. Vishnu’s suggestion was as follows. If the problem was that the demons were doing nothing wrong, the solution was to persuade them to become sinners.Out of his powers Vishnu created a man. This man’s head was shaven, his clothes were faded and he carried a wooden water-pot in his hands. He covered his mouth with a piece of cloth and approached Vishnu.What are my orders? he asked Vishnu.
Let me explain to you why you have been created, replied Vishnu. I will teach you a religion that is completely against the Vedas. You will then get the impression that there is no svarga (heaven) and no naraka (hell) and that both heaven and hell are on earth. You will not believe that rewards and punishments for deeds committed on earth are meted out after death. Go to Tripura and teach the demons this religion, which they are dislodged from the righteous path. Then we will do something about Tripura.
The being did as he had been asked to. He and four of his disciples went to a forest that was near Tripura and began to preach. They were trained by Vishnu himself. Therefore, their teachings were convincing and they had many converts. Even the sage Narada got confused and was ಕಾಂವೆರ್ತೆದ್
.
In fact, it was Narada who carried news of this wonderful new religion to king Vidyunmati.King, he said, there is a wonderful new teacher with a wonderful new religion. I have never heard before. I have got converted.

Since the great sage Narada had got converted. Vidyunmati also accepted the new religon. And in due course, so did Tarakaksha and Viryavana. The demons gave up revering the Vedas, they stopped worshipping Shiva’s linga.Vishnu and the other gods then went to Shiva and began to pray to him. When Shiva appeared, they told him that the demons had now become evil and should be destroyed. They had even stopped worshipping Shiva’s linga.Shiva agreed to destroy Tripura. Vishvakarma was the architect of the gods. Shiva called Vishvakarma and asked him to make a suitable chariot, bow and arrow. The chariot was made entirely out of gold. Brahma himself became the charioteer and the chariot was speedly driven towards Tripura. The gods accompanied Shiva with diverse weapons.By then a thousand years had passed so that the three forts had become a single Tripura. Shiva instilled a divine weapon known as pashupata into his arrow and shot it at Tripura. The arrow burnt up Tripura into ashes in a split second.While the celebrations were going on, the shaven-heads religious teachers arrived. What are we supposed to do now? they asked.Brahma and Vishnu told them to go and live in the desert. The last of the four eras was kaliyuga and in kaliyuga, evil would reign supreme. When kaliyuga arrived, they were to come back and begin their teaching afresh.Goddess Parvathi once, while bathing, created Ganesha as a pure white being out of the mud of Her Body and placed Him at the entrance of the house. She told Him not to allow anyone to enter while she went inside for a bath. Lord Shiva Himself was returning home quite thirsty and was stopped by Ganesha at the gate. Shiva became angry and cut off Ganesha’s head as He thought Ganesha was an outsider. When Parvathi came to know of this she was sorely grieved. To console her grief Shiva ordered His aids to cut off and bring to Him the head of any creature that might be sleeping with its head facing north. The servants went on their mission and found only an elephant in that position. The sacrifice was thus made and the elephant’s head was brought before Shiva. The Lord then joined the elephant’s head onto the body of Ganesha and Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva combined their powers to bring back life to the dead body.

Shiva accepted Ganesha as his son. He also made Ganesha the lord of all his companions, the ganas.

Shiva and Parvati had two sons, Ganesha and Kartikeya. Both sons wanted to get married. And Shiva and Parvati found it difficult to decide who should be married first. The other one was bound to feel hurt. Both the sons were equally dear to them.They decided to have a test. They called Ganesha and Kartikeya to them and said, We have devised a competition. Both of you have to travel around the world and return here. Whoever returns first will be married first. That should be fair and square.

As soon as these words were out, Kartikeya dashed out on his journey. But Ganesha tarried and pondered. He realized that this was a task that was impossible for him to accomplish. He found it difficult enough to travel a couple of miles.Ganesha found a solution. First, he bathed. Then, he made Shiva and Parvati sit on two seats. He worshipped them and circled them seven times. After he finished circling them. Ganesha said, Now please make arrangements for my wedding.What do you mean, exclaimed Shiva and Parvati. Didn’t you hear what we said? We asked the two of you to travel around the world and come back. You’d better hurry. Kartikeya has already left. If you don’t take care, he will beat you to it.But I have already been round the world seven times, replied Ganesha. Haven’t I circled the two of you seven times? The Vedas say that circling one’s parents is the same thing as circling the world.

If you do not wish to argue that the Vedas are wrong, then you have to agree that I have circled the world seven times.

Shiva and Parvati could not very well argue that the Vedas were wrong. They therefore had to accept Ganesha’s logic. Arrangements were made for his wedding. Vishvarua, the son of Kashyapa, had two daughters named Siddhi and Buddhi. These two were married to Ganesha with a lot of fanfare. Ganesha and Siddhi had a son named Laksha and Ganesha and Buddhi had a son named Labha.Kartikeya returned to Kailasa after traveling around the world and discovered that Ganesha was already married and was already the proud father of two children.

When Kartikeya reached Kailash mountain he made salutations to lord Shiva and Parvati and without saying anything, went to Kraunch mountain to do his penance.

Parvati was very sad. She went to Kraunch mountain to meet Kartikeya accompanied by Shiva. When Kartikeya saw them coming he moved to another place. Lord Shiva and Parvati followed him and ultimately met him.

Bhagiratha was the renowned king forefather of Raghu Vamsa. His forefathers known as Sagaras were burnt down due to a curse. For the upliftment of those ancestors from the cursed state to get to the heavens, he wanted to bring the river Ganga to earth. The idea is that when Ganga waters touch the ash of Sagaras, they would be uplifted from their sin. He did very severe austerities and to get the permission from Indra. He gave permission to bring the Ganaga flowing in the heaven to the earth, however he told, coming down to earth would be the decision of Ganga.

So Bagirata again started his penance and prayed the goddess Ganga. She agreed to come down, but warned him that he should find a person who could withstand the force with which she will descend to earth! He agreed and found out that the refuge would be at Lord shiva. He did the austerities pleasing Lord Shiva. Appreciating his devotion and efforts, Lord agreed to hold the Ganga when she descends to earth. Ganga out of her pride and ignorance thought that the Lord won’t be able to withstand the force! She came down with an intention to gush down the Lord with heavy force. Can the Lord, Who holds the entire world He created, be pushed down by a river? The Lord, who is the creator of the entire universe and who has taken the forms just out of the grace on creatures, arrested her flow in His matted hair! She tried her best to rush out of His matted hair, but in vain. Not a drop of water could escape! Bhagiratha, worried by this (as he would not get Ganga to earth otherwise), prayed to the Lord to show mercy on her. The Gracious Lord allowed the Ganga through a strand of His matted hair. Ganga then flowed humbly, gracefully and giving prosperity on her way to Patala. Thus the ancestors of Bhagiratha were resurrected by the holy water of Ganga.

On day Indra was going towards Kailash Mountain to have a ‘darshan’ of lord Shiva. Sage Vrihaspati was accompanying him.

Lord Shiva came to know about his arrival. He wanted to test his devotion towards him. While both Indra and Vrihaspati were still on their way. Lord Shiva met them on their in the guise of a hermit.

Indra did not recognize Shiva, who was sitting on the way disguised as a hermit. Indra inquired as to who he was and where he live. Lord Shiva sat quietly without saying a word. Indra repeatedly asked the same question, but each time Shiva remained quiet. Indra became furious and tried to attack lord Shiva with his Vajra.

Lord Shiva paralyzed the raised hands of Indra by his divine power. Shiva’s eyes had reddened due to anger which made Indra very frightened sage Vrihaspati was able to recognize the real identity of the hermit as to who he was. He made salutations to lord Shiva and requested him to pardon Indra. Lord Shiva became pleased and diverted the power of his radiant eyes to the ocean. This way Indra’s life was spared by Shiva. Lord Shiva then returned to Kailash mountain. Indra and Sage Vrihaspati to Kailash mountain. Indra and sage Vrihaspati too returned to their respective abodes.

The effulgence, which had been divided by lord Shiva into the Ocean resulted into the manifestation of a small child. This incident happened at the place where river Ganges submerged into the ocean.

The child was crying so ferociously that an environment of fear was created everywhere. The deities and the sages went to lord Brahma to satisfy their curiously. Lord Brahma assured then to find out the reason. He went to the seashore. The sea put the child in his lap and enquired about the name of that child and also about his future.

Meanwhile the child pressed lord Brahma’s neck with such power that tears rolled down from his eyes. For this reason he named the child as Jalandhar. Lord Brahma told the sea that the child will become the mighty ruler of the demons. No deity would be able to kill him except Shiva.

The sea was very pleased by lord Brahma’s predictions. After Lord Brahma returned to his abode, the sea brought that child to his home and brought up that child with great love and care.
Shukracharya, the guru of the asuras, recognized that Jalandhar was very powerful indeed. He crowned him the king of the asuras. Brahma ordered Shukracharya to wed Jalandhar with Tulsi, the daughter of Kalnemi. Tulsi was a very pious lady and an ideal wife. Because of her purity and chastity, Jalandhar was unconquerable.

As time passed, the asuras and the daityas became very strong under the able leadership of Jalandhar. In general, there was an increase of evil among the people. On seeing the headless Rahu, Jalandhar was perplexed and perturbed and asked Guru Shukracharya, the reason for Rahus condition. Then Shukracharya narrated the incidents of Samudra Manthan. Rahu had masqueraded as a devata and partook of the amrit. But even as the nectar reached his throat, Surya and Chandrama told Vishnu about Rahu, and Vishnu beheaded him with his chakra. To Jalandhar, the devatas stealing away the nectar and jewels appeared as the ultimate insult to the daityas. He decided to get the jewels back from the devatas.

Jalandhar sent his emissary by the name of Ghasmar to Indra. Boldly, nay rudely, the emissary entered Indras sabha. Without showing even common courtesy to the members he announced : the devatas should return the precious jewels of samudra manthan or else..

Indra was taken aback. Fear and surprise gripped him. How could Saagar, whose loyalty to the devatas was above board, demand such a thing? After all, the devatas had only taken the jewels, they could have taken away all the evil powers of the asuras and daityas, but they did not. Indra told the emissary Ghasmar that the claim of the devatas over the jewels was rightful and that the jewels will not be returned to Saagar or Jalandhar. Jalandhar seethed with rage when the emissary returned with the details of the events at Indras sabhagraha. Jalandhar gathered all the asuras and the daityas, appointed Shumbh and Nishumbh as the commanders and declared war with the devatas. There was a prolonged battle and both sides incurred heavy casualties. The asuras planned another strategy. The Dronachal parvat was famous for the medicinal plant that grew on it. The daityas thought that if this mountain could be thrown away then the devatas would be cornered. Sure enough, all the asuras got together and flung the Dronachal Parvat into the ocean. All the devatas fled and took shelter in the caves and crevices of the Sumeru parvat. Jalandhars victory was imminent. Guru Brihaspati, and the devatas who were hiding in the mountains then pleaded with Lord Vishnu, for succour from Jalandhar.

Vishnu decided to take immediate action, climbed his vehicle, Garuda, and set forth to the place of battle. But before leaving, Lakshmi intervened, Since Jalandhar is born of samudra, he is my brother. So, please do not kill him.
When Jalandhar saw Vishnu coming to the battleground he entered into a duel with Lord Vishnu. They first fought with arms, and then continued the combat without arms. The duel raged on without any result. Vishnu, too, admitted the prowess of Jalandhar. Then Vishnu told Jalandhar about his relationship with Lakshmi they are both born of Saagar and hence are siblings. Jalandhar, acknowledging the relationship, invited Vishnu and Lakshmi to stay in his palace. Meanwhile, he replaced all devatas’ appointments with asuras. He confiscated all the wealth of the devatas, kinnars, gandharvas, yakshas etc. He was now the supreme ruler of all the loks.

Narad looking for Vishnu, visited Jalandhar’s city. Jalandhar was extremely happy to play host to Narad. He told Jalandhar that his kingdom was no less than that of Kailash with the sole exception that Ma Parvati was with Shiva. Jalandhar then decided to steal Parvati from Shiva. Jalandhar sent Rahu to Kailash with a message for Shiva that he, the ash smeared yogi, with unkempt locks, wearing a garland of skulls, is not a befitting consort for the beautiful Parvati. Therefore, he should send Parvati to Jalandhar who is the king of all the three lokas. The moment Rahu concluded his speech, a very angry Shiva created a dangerous, horrifying human being from his eyebrows. The fearsome human had a face like a lion’s, red eyes, and hair like sharp spikes. This organism decided to eat the headless Rahu. Rahu got scared and pleaded with Shiva to spare him he was a Brahmin and only an emissary of Jalandhar. Shiva caught hold of Rahu and hurled him in the sky and he careened into the earth. When Jalandhar heard of the fate of his emissary he was enraged. He gathered together the huge army of daityas and led them to battle. There were many bad omens when he left his palace but he was determined to fight Shiva.

Meanwhile, Shiva called for Vishnu and asked him why he had not killed Jalandhar. Further, he admonished Vishnu for residing with Lakshmi in the palace of Jalandhar. Vishnu explained the details of the birth of Jalandhar and that his death was ordained in the hands of Shiva. Both Shiva and Vishnu understood that the pious Tulsis devotion to her husband was giving Jalandhar unfailing strength. There was a need to do something about it. By this time Jalandhar with his huge army had reached the gates of Kailash. There was pitched battle among the devatas and daityaas. Whenever the devatas killed the daityas, Guru Shukracharya would restore them to life. Then, Shiva produced a fearsome girl from his mouth. She was Taaljangha. She took away Shukracharya and disappeared. The disappointed daityas started retreating. Then, Jalandhar played a trick. With his maya he created gandharvas and apsaras who started dancing. Shiva quickly forgave him and joined the dancers. This was just what Jalandhar had wanted. While Shiva was dancing, Jalandhar rushed to the side of Parvati with the intention of stealing her and making her his own. But Parvati, anticipating his evil plan, had turned invisible. Parvati called for Vishnu and expressed her anguish over the incident. Vishnu then decided to use the same trick on Jalandhar.

Tulsi was very worried about Jalandhar. She had ominous dreams portending disaster. While she was searching for Jalandhar in the forests, Vishnu took the form of Jalandhar, and stayed with the unsuspecting Tulsi. She believed him but later realized that this Jalandhar did not have the evil qualities that were so conspicuous in her husband. Since she had been deceived, she cursed Vishnu to become a stone and always stay at her feet. Vishnu accepted the curse but exhorted Tulsi to see that while her husband was spreading evil, she, in the capacity of a wife did not stop him. Thus, she became an accomplice. In sheer guilt, realizing the misdeeds of her husband, Tulsi died and fell at the feet of Parvati in atonement of her husbands sins.

After Tulsi Death The Jalandhars demon army trooped attacked Shiva.
Shiva inserted his big toe into the ocean and started to churn the water. From this churning, the terrible weapon known as the sudarshana chakra was created. Jalandhara ready to fight with chakra, but as soon as he starts fighting, the weapon sliced off his head. Jalandhara’s flesh and blood cluttered up the universe. Shiva had all of this sent to Yama, the god of death. Yama constructed a hell (naraka) named maharourava with this flesh and blood. After his death, Jalandhar’s soul united with Shiva.

Lord Vishnu was very much saddened by the death of Vrinda. He took the ashes from the pyre and after applying them on his body started wondering here and there. The deities became very worried to see the condition of lord Vishnu. They went to lord Shiva and requested him to eliminate the false attachment with which Sri Vishnu was suffering. Lord Shiva sent the deities to goddess Parvati, saying that she would ceratainly help in this regard. The deities went to goddess Parvati and prayed to her. She became very pleased and with the assistance of Laxmi and Saraswati, gave some seeds to then. The deities sprayed those seeds on the pyre, on which Vrinda had given up her life. Three holy plants manifested from that pyre-Amla, Tulsi and Malti. Later on Tulsi and Malti attained to the Vishnuloka, by the virtue of their respective penance.

Shiva was once sitting on Mount Mandara. Paravati came up from behind, so that Shiva could not see her, and covered Shiva’s eyes with her two hands. Shiva could not see and everything seemed to be dark to him. Parvati’s hands sweated from the exertion and the sweat fell down on the ground. From this sweat, a dark and fierce creature was born and started to roar.Parvati, said Shiva, What are you up to ? First, you cover up my eyes so that I can’t see. Next, you roar so as to frighten me.Not I, replied Parvati. See for yourself. I wonder where this creature has come from.She removed her hands and Shiva saw the being in front of them. It is our son, said Shiva. It was born from your sweat when you covered my eyes. Since it was born when my eyes were in darkness, let it be called Andhaka.Andhaka was born blind, as Shiva was effectively blind when Andhaka was born.Meanwhile there was an asura named Hiranyanetra. (In other Puranas, this same asura is referred to as Hiranyaksha.) Hiranyanetra had no sons.He therefore began to pray to Shiva so that he might have a son. Shiva told Hiranyanetra that it was impossible for him to have a son. However, if he so desired, he could have their son Andhaka and bring him up as his own son. Hiranyanetra gladly agreed to this.


Hiranyanetra was very strong and powerful. He conquered the three worlds and drove the gods out of heaven. He even took the earth down to the underworld. In desperation, the gods prayed to Vishnu for deliverance.

For Kill this demon demons oppressed the gods and the gods went to Vishnu for deliverance. Vishnu said that the demons were so powerful, that he would first have to worship Shiva if something was to be done about the asuras. Vishnu went to Mount Kailasa and bean to pray to Shiva. He chanted many mantras, but there was no sign of Shiva. Shiva has a thousand names and Vishnu next started to chant these names. Each day he chanted the thousand names and offered a thousand lotus flowers to Shiva.

Shiva decided to test Vishnu. One day, he stole a lotus flower from the thousand that were to be offered. When Vishnu realized that there was one lotus flower less, he gouged out his own eye and offered it in place of the missing lotus flower. Shiva was now pleased and appeared before Vishnu. He offered to grant Vishnu a boon.

You know that the powerful demons have been oppressing the gods, said Vishnu. I need a weapon to fight the demons with. Please give me a weapon.Shiva then gave Vishnu the sudarshana chakra.

Vishnu adopted the form of a boar (varaha) and went down to the underworld in search of Hiranyanetra. When he found the asura, he killed him with his sudarshana chakra. He also killed several other asuras with his boar’s tusks. Then, he lifted up the earth with his tusks and replaced it where it should be. So far as Hiranyanetra’s kingdom was concerned, Vishnu crowned Andhaka king there.

Hiranyanetra had a brother named Hiranyakashipu. This brother prayed to Brahma and obtained a boon that made him virtually impossible to kill. Finally, Vishnu (Narasimha Avathara) kills the Hiranyakashipu, Vishnu crowned his son Prabhlada king.

Andhaka had been crowned king in Hiranyanetra’s kingdom. Prahlada (Hiranyakashipu Son) and Andhaka’s other cousins went to him and said, You are blind. What are you going to do with a kingdom? Give it to us. Our uncle made a mistake in accepting a blind son from Shiva.
Andhaka was very hurt at these nasty words. He went away to the forest and started to perform tapasya. He prayed to Brahma. For millions of years he stood on one leg, with his arms raised high, and prayed. No one since that day has been able to duplicate Andhaka’s wonderful feat of meditation.

He did not eat or drink at all. He chopped off parts of his body and offered it to the sacrificial fire. It came to such a pass that there was no more meat of blood left in his body. It had all been offered to the fire. He was just a skeleton. It was then that Brahma appeared before him and offered a boon.

Prahlada and my other cousins have taken over my kingdom, said Andhaka. Please grant me the boon that I may be able to see. Please also grant me the boon that I may not be killed by gods, demons, or humans, or even by the great Vishnu himself.

Brahma was in a fix. Earlier, many demons had asked for similar boons, but they had generaly not mentioned Vishnu. So that , when the need arose, Vishnu had been able to kill them. But here was an asura who asking for the boon that even Vishnu would not be able to kill him. This would make him virtually immortal.Everything that you have asked for is possible, replied Brahma. But all beings have to die.

Indicate the circumstances under which you will die and the boons will be granted.Since I have to die, said Andhaka, Let it be under the following conditions. If I ever wish to marry a beautiful woman who is like a mother unto me, let that be the hour appointed for my death.

This condition was better than nothing at all and Brahma granted Andhaka the boons. Andhaka returned to his kingdom. When Prahala and the other cousins learnt that Andhaka had become so powerful because of the boons, they not only returned to him his kingdom, but theirs as well.

Remember that Andhaka could now see. The first thing that Andhaka did was to invade heaven. He defeated Indra and the other gods and made they pay taxes to the demons. Next he defeated the snakes (nagas), the gandharvas, the rakshasas, the yakshas (companions of Kubera) and the humans. Thus he began to rule over all the three worlds.

For millions of years Andhaka ruled in this fashion. The religion of the Vedas suffered during this period, since Andhaka paid no attention to it.Once Andhaka went to a visit tot he Mount Mandara. The place was so beautiful that he made up his mind to live there. Three of Andhaka’s generals were named Duryodhana, Vighasa and hasti.

These three were exploring the environment of Mount Mandara when they came upon a cave. An ascetic was meditating inside the cave. He was dressed in the skin of a tiger, wore a garland of skulls, his hair was matted and he wore a crescent moon on his forehead.

There was a beautiful woman near the ascetic. She was more beautiful than any other woman in the three worlds. The three generals concluded that this was the right wife for Andhaka.

When the generals came back to Andhaka and reported on what they had seen, the asura king said, What are you waiting for? Go to the ascestic and ask him for the woman.

Duryodhana, Vighasa and Hasti went back to the ascetic. You are only an ascetic, they said. You don’t deserve such a pretty wife. Our master is the lord of everything and he is immensely rich. He is also handsome because of a boon received from Brahma. Give us this woman so that our master Andhaka may marry her.

Ask your master to come and take the woman himself, replied Shiva, for the ascetic, as you have already guessed, was none other than Shiva. And the beautiful woman was Parvati.

As soon as he heard this, Andhaka grasped his sword and came to fight with Shiva. The door to the cave was guarded by Nandi, and Andhaka first had to fight with him.

Nandi easily defeated the asura and also defeated the asura soldiers who had accompanied their king. But Andhaka returned and again a fight raged with Nandi for so many years. Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and the other gods also came to help in the fight with the demons.

The general Vighasa was a very strong warrior. He opened his mouth wide and swallowed up all the gods, including Vishnu. So far, Shiva himself had not played any part in the fighting. But hearing what Vighasa had done, he ascended his bull and came out to fight. He killed Vighasa and rescued the gods from the asura’s stomach. The asuras had a preceptor named Shukracharya who knew the art of bringing back dead beings to life. So Shukracharya moved around the battlefield, brining back to life any demons that were killed. This was not helping the cause of the gods at all. Shiva’s companions (gangas) captured Shukracharya and brought him to Shiva. Shiva promptly swallowed up Shukracharya. Soon all the demons were taken care of, with the exception of Andhaka. He continued to fight. Vishnu’s mace could do him no harm and he only laughed at Indra’s arrows. Some of the arrows did pierce the asura’s body. But whenever drops of blood from his body onto the ground, asuras who were exactly like him in appearance were created from this blood.As a result, the battlefield was soon populated with thousands and thousands of Andhakas.Shiva created a goddess known as Devi from his own body. Devi was appointed the task of drinking up the blood of the asuras before it could spill onto the ground. Thus aided by Devi, Shiva started to tackle the demons and soon there was only the original Andhaka left. Shiva flung a trident at him.

The trident struck Andhaka on the chest and the asura king fell down dead.When the war was over, Shukracharya prayed to Shiva and was released from Shiva’s stomach.

After coming out, Shukraharya eulogized Lord Shiva. Shiva became pleased with him and showered him with affection just like his own son. After being blessed Shukracharya went and rejoined the army of the demons.

Lord Shiva Family Photos

Lord Shiva with His Family Parvati, Ganesh, Murugan

Lord Shiva with His Family Parvati, Ganesh, Murugan

Shiva Family

Lord Shiva Family

Shiva Family

Shiva Family Photos

Chai: The National Drink of India

Chai (2)In India, guests are known as “emissaries of god,” they drop by any time they want without warning. When they come, you serve. You almost always serve them Chai. Whenever guests would come over to our house, my mom would immediately ask me to make a pot of chai. “Chai” is the Hindi word for “tea” but it usually means the well-known sweetened spiced milk-tea of India.

Chai is ubiquitous in India. It is the perfect drink for India’s hot weather because the hot tea triggers the body’s natural cooling reflexes and actually helps bring your body temperature down. Most Indians drink Chai at least twice a day, once with breakfast and again for an afternoon tea, just like the British. As it turns out, the British foisted tea on Indians not only as a way to sell tea, but also sugar.

Not surprisingly, the tea industry was brought to India by the British. Some of the best tea in the world grows in Darjeeling using tea and techniques for growing that the British East India Company stole from China in the 19th century.

Chai – the drink India can’t live without

It is an accident of history that at the time the British stole tea from China in a great act of industrial espionage, they also had a glut of sugar which they wanted to push as well, leading to Chai.

Chai is served on every street corner and on crowded train stations at all times of the day or night. In Bombay, chai is made so strong that the standard serving is “cutting chai,” a half glass of chai made strong enough that a half serving is plenty. If you want a full glass of chai, ask for a “double cutting chai”.

It is quite a sight to watch a street side vendor pour a cutting chai. They take one full glass of chai and one empty one. The chai is poured back and forth from one glass to another a few times from about 3 feet up and split equally between the two glasses. And amazingly not a single drop is spilled. This also helps to bring the chai down to drinking temperature.

Tea is India’s most popular drink – the country consumes 837,000 tonnes of it every year. The ritual of drinking chai transcends all boundaries, and roadsides are dotted with chai wallahs who serve it boiled up with spices, sugar and milk.

In many regions of the world, the word ‘Chai’ is the word used for tea. In India, however, ‘Chai’ or ‘Masala Chai’ describes a hot beverage which is prepared using specially selected spices and black tea. Before being served, milk or frothed milk is added. Going to India, you will find this delicious drink anywhere – in trains, at bus stations or on markets. Today, Chai is increasingly gaining popularity all over the world and it is a delicious alternative to coffee.

Indian Chai

Indians typically serve tea in their homes several times a day. India is the world’s second largest producer of tea and 70% of it is consumed within India. By April this year, chai will be officially declared the national drink of India.

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Chai, a creamy, soothing South Asian beverage, combines black tea, spices, sugar and milk. Masala is a generic term for “a mixture of spices,” and chai is a generic term for “tea.” (Yes, “chai tea” is redundant—the phrase drives me bonkers!).  Chai is ubiquitous on the Indian subcontinent and in homes across the diaspora. An offering of tea is a sign of welcome and generosity. Every person who visited my childhood home was greeted with a cup of warm, milky, spicy tea.

indian-masala-chai

Many American coffee bars list chai on their menus, but their concoctions tend to be overpriced and under-spiced. And the tea bags, pre-ground spice mixtures, and concentrates found on supermarket shelves are woefully bland. A proper masala chai made is made with loose tea and whole spices, resulting in a pungent and rich brew.

The spices that make up a traditional masala chai usually include some combination of cardamom, ginger, clove, black pepper and cinnamon. However, a cup of masala chai can be made to suit personal taste and preferences. My mother, for example, prefers cloves; my father would rather have fennel seeds. I’ve even known home cooks to empty their entire spice cabinet into their masala chai: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, threads of saffron, bay leaves, white peppercorns, even salt!

Chai (6)

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