Friday, July 24, 2020

Be Cautious - External Form may be Deceptive

Kannada Article by: Subrahmanya Somayaji

English Rendering by: Yashaswini MR

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On his way to the banks of river Ganga for bathing, Shankara Bhagavatpaada along with his disciples once encountered a Chandaala (keeper of a crematorium) and his four dogs. Repulsed by his filthy attire, Shankara ordered - "Oh chandaala !! Move away." However the Chandaala laughed it away. A surprised Shankara bade him for the second time. These were the words that came out of Chandaala - "Oh Yati ! Are you still not out of your delusion? What are you driving away? If it is the body you addressed, then it can't move as it is inert. If it is the aatma (soul) you addressed, then it is sarvaantaryaami (omnipresent). From where should it move and to where?"  What a fascinating question! The ultimate truth of one's life came from the mouth of a chandaala! At once Shankara exclaimed - "Indeed you have spoken the truth! Only a Brahmajna (the enlightened) can speak such stirring words. I venerate a Brahmajnaani as my guru (spiritual teacher), be it a Brahmin or a Chandaala." So saying, Shankara prostrated before him. Then lord Vishweshwara with the four vedas, disguised as the Chandaala and his four dogs, revealed his identity and gave his darshan to Shankara. This story is a mystic anecdote in the biography of the Acharya.

Maha Chaitanya (Supreme energy) beaming in the origin of Cosmos, the cause behind the existence of everything is Brahman. The radios and the fans stop working when there is a power cut. Likewise life goes on as long as there is a supply of energy from the Lord. When that stops, everything comes to a standstill - The words echoed by Sriranga Mahaguru are noteworthy here. In the state of Advaitha everything is filled with Brahman. How is it possible for Brahman to move from one point to another when it is spanning the entire creation? This ultimate knowledge was tested by Lord himself in the guise of a Chandaala. Shankara surrendered himself to this truth and as a consequence composed the Maneeshaa Panchaka --guidelines in a set of five stotras and offered it to the Lord. This incident holds a mirror to Bhagavatpaada's intellectual honesty. He did not hesitate to consider even a Chandaala as his guru for he had reminded him of the eternal truth. Only the Brahman radiating internally in the form of Satya (eternal truth) is valuable and not the external form and the attire of the one who experiences this Truth - this is the lesson from this excerpt.

Shankara Bhagavatpaada's primary goal was also the establishment of this very philosophy. Thus his life was filled with many such anecdotes, all of which are elucidations of this eternal truth. Let us not forget that they are relevant for all time to come.

Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs.