[Advaita-l] Excerpts from Sri Sankara Digvijaya - 1

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Tue Jul 25 22:18:19 EDT 2017

Excerpts from Sri Sankara Digvijaya
Srinivas Mallapragada
Jagadguru Sri Adi Sankara Bhagavatpada, India’s most celebrated saint-philosopher, the founder Acharya of the
four Āmnāya peethas including the Sringeri Sarada Peetha and the author of numerous scriptural commentaries,
Vedanta texts, stotras and other philosophical and devotional works – needs no introduction. Various facets and
incidents from the great Acharya’s life have been well known for several generations. The basis of this knowledge
has traditionally been through a series of literature known as “Sankara Digvijayas” depicting the Acharya’s life
events in great detail.
Various versions of the Sankara Digvijaya literature have been authored and re-authored by many scholars over
the course of the last few centuries with widely varying details with respect to the dates and incidents in
the Acharya’s life. While these discrepancies have been the subject of many scholarly discussions and debates,
they are of little consequence to a seeker-devotee whose interest is in learning life-transforming lessons from
the teachings of the great Acharya.
So, without paying much attention to the historical validity and veracity of the literal events, we shall,
in the course of the next few issues, examine a few experiences  from the Acharya’s life and attempt to draw
valuable lessons that can help us evolve in our spiritual quest. We will take the version of Sankara Digvijaya
authored by Madhava-Vidyaranya Swami, the Sankaracharya of Sringeri Peetham from 14th century, as our reference.
The first event we will delve into is the encounter of the Acharya with Lord Shiva at Varanasi.
Summoned by his guru Sri Govinda Bhagavatpada to go on a world mission to clarify through teaching and writing,
the spiritual truths revealed by the Vedas, the Acharya arrived at Varanasi. One day, the Acharya, surrounded by
his disciples, walked to the river Ganga when he was approached by Lord Shiva in the guise of a chandala (an outcast)
with his pack of four dogs.
When the Acharya asked the chandala to move away, considering him to be ignorant about the knowledge of the Self,
the chandala responded and held a long conversation with the Acharya about the distinction of Atman and Anatman
and how a sannyasin should see the whole world as Atman. The ensuing conversation led to the Acharya vocalizing
his incredible encounter and the resulting knowledge in 5 famous verses known as the “Maneesha Panchakam”,
the essence of which is “All objects  presented to Consciousness are false and, therefore, unreal; what is left
after this elimination is Pure Consciousness alone; and that Pure Consciousness is the ‘I’. A man established
in such an awareness is, indeed, a Guru to me.” Following this, outcast appeared in front of the Acharya as
Lord Shiva himself and blessed the Acharya.
(To be Continued)

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