Adi Sankara the father of Advaita Vedanta or ‘absolute Monism showed us the perfect blend of knowledge and devotion. His plan was to knit India spiritually. When he consecrated the temple at Badrinath, he had Nambudiri Brahmins of Kerala as the priests, known as Ravals. The priests in the Rameswaram temple in Tamil Nadu are from Kashmir or Benaras, Oriya Brahmins at Dwaraka, the Pandas in Puri Jagannath temple hail from Gujarat and other similar facts are noticed in most major temples.
It is Sankara’s great contribution to the Hindu religion that helped in purifying the path of devotion. The popular mind is easily touched by an appeal to the emotions than to the intellect. Sankara was deeply aware of this and this explains his mission. The logical approach and didactic analysis of Vedas and most of our abundant Sanskrit texts in the commentaries of Sankara are unparalleled in world history. Added to this, is his fervent devotional compositions that became the ambrosia for a serious spiritual quest chiselled with love for the Lord.
Hinduism connects humanity. The aphorisms from our Vedopanishad flow like the Ganges and have timeless relevance and significance. Some of the useful sayings are culled out herewith –
- That is Whole and this is Whole, the perfect has come out of the perfect, having taken perfect from the perfect, only perfect remains. Let there be Peace, Peace, Peace.
- May all beings look upon me as a friend. May I look upon all beings with friendship. May we look upon one another as friends.
- We should wish to work for hundred years doing work in freedom without craving the results. Such service with detachment does not attach itself to us.
- Whatever is in this world is created by Brahman as Ishwara. Hence, in the name of the Lord give up everything except that which is being ordained for you and enjoy the same without coveting another’s property.
- Look upon your mother as a Goddess, father as God, teacher as God and your guest also as a God.
- Offerings are to be made with honour, respect, in plenty, with humility and with empathy.
- There are only three gems in this world – water, food and wise sayings. But the fools consider bits of stones as precious gems.
- All the three worlds are native lands for one who has Lakshmi as a mother, Vishnu as father and Vishnu’s devotees as relatives.
- Strong arms and feet, beautiful eyes, sharp ears, attractive face and a pure mind for deep thinking are indeed the gifts of God.
- Never try either to create fight among enemies, friends, sons and relatives. If you wish to have a divine quality conduct yourself well equally.
- There is no charity like food and water, no day like the twelfth day after full moon and new moon, no prayer like Gayatri and no Goddess like a mother.
- Even as fragrance remains inside a flower, oil in sesame, fire in wood, ghee in milk and jaggery in sugarcane, the soul remains in the body. See it with discrimination.
- God, while conferring blessings, does not discriminate between people on the ground of caste, appearance, wealth or age.
- Gods reside in places where women are worshipped. All actions become fruitless if women are not respected.
- The five deities, namely intelligence, self-respect, wealth, brilliance and renown leave a person, the moment he starts uttering “give me” or seeks favours.
- Every creature is born out of its own actions and is also eliminated similarly. Happiness, sorrow, fear and welfare have their origin in one’s own actions.
- Sandalwood has the same scent if moved on the stone repeatedly, sugarcane retains sweetness despite being cut into pieces and great people do not change their innate nature even when facing hazards.
- Bookish knowledge and wealth in the hands of others are not useful when the need for them arises.
- This physical body is the creation of father and mother, but true birth comes only from the preceptor who imparts the nectar of knowledge that makes one eternal.
- Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality. May there be peace, peace, peace.
Image courtesy: Author. (Picture was taken at Adi Sankara Nilayam, Chinmaya International university, Veliyanad).