The Hastamalaka Stotra, believed to have been composed by one of Adi Sankara’s disciples, captures the irony and
contradiction in the attempt to pinpoint the essence of Self-Knowledge, pointed out Swami Gautamananda in a
discourse. It is held that Adi Sankara met a fifteen-year-old
boy in a village in South India who had never spoken since
birth. When the boy saw Adi Sankara, he prostrated in front
of him. Adi Sankara instantly recognised the boy’s spiritual
awareness. He asked the boy why he didn’t speak. The boy
asked in return what he should talk about. Is it not a truth
that the ultimate truth cannot be grasped through words?
Wishing to make the greatness of the boy known to all, Adi
Sankara then pursued with another question: ‘Tell me who
you are. Whose son are you? What is your name? From
where have you come?’ The boy replied: ‘I am not man, not
deva, or yaksha, not a brahmin, kshatriya, etc, not a student, nor a householder, nor a forest dweller, nor a mendicant nor a sanyasi. I am of the nature of self-knowledge.’ In twelve stanzas this work captures the essence of the Self and the teachings of Vedanta. The boy became his disciple and later was the head of the Dwaraka Mutt. The Bhagavad Gita supports the views of the Upanishads on the Supreme Self’s unmanifest and unchanging nature. The Isavasya Upanishad states that “The Supreme, tad ekam, is without qualities and attributes, neither existent nor non-existent.”
The Brihadharanyaka says, “Where everything indeed has
become the self itself, whom and by what should one think?
By what can we know the universal knower?” While
instructing the Kshetra Kshetrajna jnana, Krishna airms
that Prakriti, Nature, and Purusha, the Self, are the two sides of the Supreme Being.