Posterity owes much to the legacy of faith bequeathed by
Adi Sankara. He came at a time when other systems of
religions and faiths prevailed in preference to the Vedas and is responsible for establishing Vaidika Dharma in Indian
thought and philosophy, pointed out Sri Goda Venkateswara
Sastrigal in a discourse.
Born in Kaladi, a remote place in South India, he showed
spiritual leanings from early childhood. He took the vow of
sanyasa at the age of eight and proceeded to the banks of the Narmada in search of a preceptor. Though believed to be an incarnation of Siva, he thus emphasises the importance of imbibing spiritual thought through a Guru. He got instruction from his Guru Govindapada.
The crux of Adi Sankara’s extensive commentaries on the
basic philosophical texts such as the Upanishads, the
Bhagavad Gita, etc, is that one who has taken human birth
has to ponder on the truth of one’s existence constantly. This atma vichara will enable one to look inwards for the light of knowledge deep within. The Upanishads discuss the
knowledge about Brahman and the Self, sometimes as
revelations of the rishis of yore steeped in meditation.
These have come down as various vidyas — Sandilya Vidya,
Upakosala Vidya, Panchagni Vidya, Madhu Vidya, etc. The
essence of these can be summed thus: “This universe has
come forth from Brahman. In Brahman it lives and has its
being. Assuredly all is Brahman. Let a man, freed from the
taint of passion, worship Brahman alone who also resides in
the lotus of one’s heart.” This Brahma Jnana is not easily
attainable. Steadfast determination is necessary. The
ultimate benefit of Brahma Jnana is the attainment of
Moksha, the highest Purushartha.