D More than a thousand years had elapsed since The Buddha had appeared and preached his messages of compassion and the supremacy of ethics. He spoke of Dharma and Sangha but not of God. In the course of centuries following Buddha, the Buddhists evolved rigorous logic to defend their thought and rid themselves of what they thought as superstitions. Their logic did not feel necessity of God.
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Starting on his journey, Shankara decided to go to Prayag with a view to win over Kumarila, the staunch upholder of the ritualistic interpretation of the Vedas. Having reached Prayag, he came to know that Kumarila was about to enter into a fire, as an act of expiation for betraying his teacher from whom he had the tenets of Buddhism.
Sri Shankara rushed to the place where Kumarila was, only to see him already standing in the oven of husk. Kumarila explained how he was not in a position to break his vow of expiation and therefore could not undertake the Vartika work. He further expressed his conviction about Sri Shankara being born to protect the doctrine of Advaita and how he had become sinless on seeing Sri Shankara.
Sin can never affect you. I can save you by extinguishing the fire and you may write the Vartika. He added that if Shankara could defeat Mandana Mishra, whose actual name was Vishwaroopa and famous as the great exponent of the ritualistic interpretation of the Vedas, it would clear all obstacles in the mission that Shankara had undertaken. Sri Shankara could then make Mandana his own disciple and get the Vartika written.
Shankara then imparted to Kumarila the knowledge of Brahman, and Kumarila hearing the Upadesham of Shankara realised his oneness with Brahman, dispelling his sense of individuality. Mandana, who disliked Sanyasins, entered into a violent wordy duel with Shankara.
Mandana fixed the next day for the debate and requested Jaimini and Vyasa to be the judges. It is He who appears as the entire world owing to ignorance, just as a shell appears as silver. When the illusion gets dispelled, the silver dissolves into the substratum, the shell. Similarly, when ignorance is erased the whole world dissolves into its substratum Brahman, which is the same as Atman. This is the supreme knowledge, as also Moksha liberation from births and deaths ; and the Upanishads are the authority for this proposition.
The debate went on for several days. Ubhaya Bharati accepted that the cogent arguments of Shankara had overcome the contentions of Mandana and gave her verdict subjecting Mandana to defeat. Mandana adopted Sanyasa in accordance with the wager. Mandana, however, still had some questions regarding the aphorisms of Jaimini and their relation to the Absolute Truth, as propounded by Sri Shankara. You have saved all with the single statement — Tat tvam asi, and explained the great soul indicated in the Upanishads, the crest-jewel of the Vedas, as indestructible and one without a second.
Though you are an embodiment of divinity, I have a desire to debate with you. For seventeen days a protracted debate continued. Finding Sri Shankara invincible in Vedic lore, philosophies and other Sastras, Ubhaya Bharati struck on the idea of questioning him on Kama Sastra, the science and art of love between the sexes, knowing that Sri Shankara was a celibate from boyhood.
Sri Shankara and his disciples, all masters of Yogic powers, traveled along the skies, and located a dead body, that of king Amaruka.
Padmapada gave his full consent but quoted a precedent of a Yogi Matsyendra as a possible pit fall. All fruits are non-existent for one who has realised the world as a mere appearance. A true knower is free from any sense of good and evil. So even if I indulge in the enjoyment of sex love, no evil will result from it. However in order that the world may not be misled by the action of a Sanyasin like me, I will gain the experience of sex life through the body of this dead Amaruka, which I am going to enliven by temporarily identifying myself with that body.
He also gathered the knowledge of love. The expiry of the stipulated period was reminded by his disciples who came as musicians to the palace.
Sri Shankara withdrew his subtle body from the body of the King. By the grace of Narasimha, the fire got extinguished and Sri Shankara emerged from the cave. You took all the trouble to master the science of sex love just to conform to the ways of the world.
That we have met with defeat at your hands is not a matter of shame for us, just like moon and stars do not go into disrepute when the sun suppresses their light. I must now go to my heavenly abode. Permit me. I shall in future be instituting temples of worship for you in Rishyasringagiri Sringeri and other places. I beseech you, to manifest yourself in all those temples, receiving the adoration of devotees and bestowing boons on them. Mandana became a follower of Shankara having extinguished all worldly desires and ambitions.
Shankara having thus brought the celebrated Mandana into his own fold started again on his mission. Lord Shiva had declared that his desire would be fulfilled if he could perform a sacrifice offering in fire the head of a King or an all knowing person.
Sages like Dadhichi gladly gave to others their impermanent physical body. Be gracious enough to give me your head. This body is perishable. If it perishes for the good of another, what greater glory there can be? But you should take away my head in absolute secrecy when my disciples are away and I shall sit in a lonely place for you to take off my head.
Madhava Vidyaranya brings out in superb verses, the picture of the sage at this juncture. With his neck and back bone steady, his palms lying supine on the knees, his face calm, his eyes half open and fixed as though on the nose tip, he sat there in the state of the Supreme Bliss, completely oblivious of his surroundings.
He had attained Siddhi in the Narasimha mantra. The consciousness of Narasimha took possession of him and he became an embodiment of ferocity, leapt into the sky, came down, caught hold of the Kapalika, and tore open his chest with his nails as Narasimha did to Hiranyakashipu. The other disciples hearing the sound and commotion, rushed to the place to find the Acharya in Samadhi and the corpse of Kapalika lying nearby.
With the aspect of Narasimha in the form of Padmapada still roaring, Sri Shankara came out of Samadhi and saw before him the formidable Narasimha. Padmapada was thus brought back to his normal state from the super-consciousness of Narasimha.
Shankara Digvijaya – Part 3
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