Sri Adi Shankaracharya
The Saint Philosopher
Man’s essential nature is happiness and hence it is no wonder that we are constantly yearning for it. However, we often lose our way and pursue happiness in ways that bring us only temporary and transient joy. Many are the great personalities who have walked the earth and through their lives, sought to brighten the path to happiness of all mankind.
About 1200 years ago, there was a grave spiritual emptiness in India. It was a period when darkness had enveloped the core teachings of Sanatana Dharma. The import of the Vedas – revealed by the Rishis of yore – had been cast aside. Many schools of interpretation only led to disunity and confusion among the masses. The spiritual, religious and cultural backbone of the nation lay in complete disarray. It was during this timing of great spiritual crisis that Sri Adi Shankaracharya was born in a small Indian village called Kalady in Kerala.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru writes in “The Discovery of India” ...
“Adi Shankara strove hard to synthesize the diverse currents that were troubling the mind of India of his day, and to build a unity of outlook out of that diversity. In a brief life of 32 years, he did the work of many long lives and left such an impression of his powerful mind and rich personality on India that it is very evident today. He was a curious mixture of a philosopher and a scholar, an agnostic and a mystic, a poet and a saint, and in addition to all this, a practical reformer and an able organizer”
“He functioned on the intellectual, philosophical and religious plane and tried to bring about a greater unity of thought all over the country. He functioned also on the popular plane in many ways, destroying many a dogma and opening the door of his philosophic sanctuary to everyone who was capable of entering it.”
Sri Adi Shankaracharya revived the teachings of Sanatana Dharma and through the great Upanishadic philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, he taught people that the goal of human existence is self-realization. The realization that one’s essential nature is divinity and being with one with God.
Sanatana Dharma is vibrant today largely because of Sri Adi Shankaracharya’s untiring efforts.
Kalady Slips Into Oblivion
During his time, Jagadguru Sri Adi Shankaracharya through his works and unceasing travels and debates rejuvenated Sanatana Dharma. The impact of His short life and compelling teachings spread across India and had a profound effect on its cultural, religious and intellectual psyche.
Within a few centuries, Sri Shankaracharya’s literary genius had thrusted the Advaita Vedanta of the Upanishads to its original pristine position. His lucid style of exposition in his commentaries was supported by the twin pillars of scriptural statements and logic.
The exemplary qualities of dedication to the cause, devotion to the Divine, and his unparalleled energy in unifying the nation and its people became well-known. Accounts of his extraordinary life were penned.
It was well known that Sri Adi Shankaracharya’s remarkable journey started at a village called Kalady. A number of events associated with his childhood had also happened in and around Kalady. However, with the Indian tradition laying greater emphasis on the teachings of great persons, Kalady and the actual location of his birthplace in Kalady remained unknown for many centuries. However, a remarkable change occurred at the cusp of the 19th and 20th century when the 33rd Jagadguru Shankaracharya of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham rediscovered Kalady.