Adi Shankara was one of India’s foremost theologians and Hindu philosophers who lived between 788 AD and 820 AD. He is credited to having propagated “Advaita Vedanta”. The great philosopher travelled widely across the Indian subcontinent propagating his teachings through debates and discourses with like-minded thinkers. Also as mentioned in Brahma Sutra and Upanishads, he believed in leading monastic life. This was in sharp contrast to what Mimamsa school had propagated at the point in time.
All the initial works of Adi Shankara that are available in the form of poems written in epic style can be seen “Shankara Vijaya”. He is known to have travelled widely across South India spreading his knowledge on “Advaita Vedanta”. During this time he is also believed to have defeated several experienced and well known philosophers in the region. The great philosopher’s commentaries or bhashyas as they were known at the time on the Brahma Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads are considered to be his main works.
Most popular quotes from Adi Shankara:
1. “What is enquiry into the truth? It is the firm conviction that the self is real, and all, other than that, is unreal. Thus one should know oneself to be of the nature of sat-chit-ananda or existence- consciousness-bliss.”
Meaning: The above quote helps us understand the importance of humility and truth. The truth of life is that we are constantly learning and that everything in front of us is real provided we make an effort to understand them. You need to make an effort to understand information and facts that are in front of you to understand the essence of truth.
2. “Reality can be experienced only with the eye of understanding, not just by a scholar. What the moon is like must be seen with one’s own eyes. How can others do it for you?”
Meaning: You don’t have to be a scholar to get a feel of the reality. All you need to do is experience the things that come before you. Only when you experience things first hand you will be able to understand it in a better way.
3. “Knowing that I am different from the body. I need not neglect the body. It is a vehicle that I use to transact with the world. It is the temple which houses the Pure Self within.”
Meaning: There is no point in over-emphasizing or under-emphasizing the body as it will perform its own duties as soul carrier. Your body is merely a vehicle that supports your soul.
4. “Each thing tends to move towards its own nature. I always desire happiness which is my true nature. My nature is never a burden to me. Happiness is never a burden to me, whilst sorrow is.”
Meaning: Irrespective of the person you are, you will have an identity or a personality that is unique to you. The key purpose of your life is to identify your personality and stick to it. There is no meaning in trying to change your personality. Be happy with what you are. You will remain happy that way.