Adi Shankaracharya’s Teaching

Shankaracharya’s TeachingDuring February, in 2010, my KrsnaGuru had organized a trip to Kollur, Udupi and Sringeri with a few of his students. It was a group of women and He was (is) the “Only Man” accompanying all his ‘Goddesses’. As I was very much in my early stages of Spiritual I was living in my own world of ‘I’. I wanted everything to be done in the way I believed it had to be done.

The journey was an amazing one and we drove down to our destination over three wonderful days. Given that each one of us have fantastic egos, it was not so easy for Krsna to make everyone happy at the same time. However, he is wonderful in making sure that everyone is satisfied and their desires are fulfilled.

Given that I was the youngest amongst them, I had this idea of being the most unique and wanted to distance myself from the rest. But I would still be party to everything that was done. We first began our darshan from Kollur, Udupi and to Sringeri. Every temple that we went to, we had the most amazing darshan and experienced the Gods as we stood there. My KrsnaGuru would take us around, sharing insights and the spiritual significance of that particular temple and the Gods.

At Sringeri we went to the Sharadamba Temple, a temple dedicated to Goddess Saraswati. As per the legend, Adi Shankaracharya selected this place to live and teach his disciples. One day while he was walking on the banks of River Tunga, he saw a cobra with a raised hood providing shelter from the hot Sun to a frog which was about to spawn or give birth. He was moved to see that the sanctity of the place had allowed these natural enemies to go beyond their inherent nature or natural instincts. It was because of this he chose that place to live and teach his disciples and even established his very first Math there.

While everyone in our group scattered throughout the temple premises, I stood watching the fishes in the river. My KrsnaGuru came and stood beside me and started to narrate a story. Krsna said that one day while Shankaracharya was sitting on the river bank and teaching his disciples, the disciples were praising Shankara for his knowledge and told him that they would also like to get the Knowledge about the Self and become like their Guru. Then Shankara asked one of his students to bring a sieve and told the student to go and fill water in that sieve from the river. Now the disciple has to obey the Guru’s command, so he went to the river and dipped the sieve in the river bringing it back to Shankaracharya. Every time, Shankaracharya would send him back to perform the task again and again. The disciple, finally frustrated says to his Guru, “You know that the water cannot be filled in the sieve then why are you making me to do this again and again?”

Shankaracharya then told his disciples that everyone is full of this Knowledge about the Self. It is what you believe in about yourself and how you look at it since you are covered with ignorance due to mind, body and senses. To explain this further, Shankaracharya took the sieve from his disciple and threw it into the river. He then said, “Now the sieve is filled with water, which is the Self or Brahma. One needs to know that the Self is everything and is in everybody.” He implied that each of his disciples are full of this Self and one needs to immerse oneself into the ‘Self or Brahma’ just like the sieve in the river. All the disciplines were pleased with the explanation imparted by Shankaracharya and again started to praise him about the Knowledge he holds.

Now Shankaracharya again asked one of his disciple to go to the river and bring water in his hand. The student goes and fills water in his hand but by the time he reaches Shankaracharya all the water has spilled on the ground. Now the disciple tells his Guru that there is no water left. Shankaracharya opens his palm and asks his disciple to pour whatever water is remaining in his palm. When the disciple tilts his hand, a few drops from his finger dropped into his Guru’s palm.

Now Shankaracharya tells his disciples that he has only those many drops of Knowledge within him. Though he is an incarnation of Lord Shiva, all that knowledge he has is as much as his hand can hold. This is a lesson that teaches that even though he is Knowledge incarnate he does not show his ego about the Knowledge he carries and never says, “I Know”, which is Ego. Only the great Divine Beings can demonstrate this level of humility. Shankaracharya is a great proponent of the doctrine ‘Advaita Vedanta’ and has composed the two most wonderful ‘Bhaja Govindam’ to propagate devotion to Lord Vishnu emphasizing the path of Bhakthi (devotion) for those on the path of Spirituality and ‘Soundarya Lahari’ meaning ‘Waves of Beauty’ which eulogizes the Beauty, Grace, Prowess, Power and Munificence of Goddess Parvati consort of Lord Shiva.

I was imparted this knowledge by my KrsnaGuru who at that moment took the form of Shankaracharya, at the exact place where he imparted this lesson to his disciples. I was speechless, in tears, and my voice choked with great reverence to my Guru. Even to-date I remember this wonderful experience – how he conferred on me this profound knowledge. The lesson I learnt is that having no knowledge while full of ego, thinking that I know everything in this world, is the petty, human attitude I carried. I understand that being the Master of this Universe my KrsnaGuru has never once acknowledged that he has Knowledge or knows everything. He has always demonstrated his humility. This lesson only gets deeper as I continue to evolve in my journey. Even today the struggle still remains to overcome the Mind, Body, Senses and Ego. I only pray with my heartfelt venerations and reverence to my KrsnaGuru that I overcome these kanchukas and tendencies and go beyond the modes of material nature and attain Prema to Thy Lotus Feet.

With the grace of my Master I have been able to pen this most wonderful experience in a string of words. Thank you for reading and do watch out for my next write-up about ‘Association of Music to Krsna ’.

Image Credit: WiseShree

Shree Krsna

Rajashree was the name given by my parents, but when I was named Shree by my Guru, I exulted. From a complete rajasic persona I was transformed into a devotee whose name appends Krsna's! Journeying through the wilderness of worldly life, I was lead by the kind words of expression by the divine hands to pen these profound supreme truth and greatness about my preceptor. This humble story is my deepest expression and reverence of love for my Master and my offering at his lotus feet.