Legacy of Faith

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.