Today is Adi Shankaracharya’s Jayanthi. One of the greatest philosophers this land has produced in human history. Shankara touched on the core philosophy of the Upanishads – the substratum of all Creation is Pure Consciousness. Call it Brahman in the Upanishads or Chit in the Yoga Sastra. It is a state of Nothingness, No-thing-ness. Buddhists identify it as Sunyata. In the Pali language, it is Sunnata, according to which the entire creation and we are Its manifestations – the ultimate aim that a person should have. All other objectives are contrary to it, as they are material.
The great Shankara had four disciples, Padmapada (the name derived because he walked on the lotus flower when he was summoned), Suresvara (he accepted the Jnana Marga as the supreme path), Totakacharya (he composed a hymn called Totaka, the distilled essence of the Vedas), and Hastamalaka (Shankara named the dumb boy brought by his father Prabhakara and made him speak. As he said, he could experience Self as perceptibly as amalaka (gooseberry) in his palm, Shankara named him Hastamalaka).
Just before leaving his mortal body, Shankara, sensing the differences among the four disciples, created four mutts: Badrikashram, Jyotirpeeth in the north, Dwaraka’s Shardha Peeth in the west, Govardhan Peetha in Puri in the east, and Sringeri Sharada Peetham in Chikkamagalur district in Karnataka. In time, these mutts have become mere ritualistic centres, parroting the Vedas. The heads are like the Vice-chancellors of universities, merely performing the administrative functions, and safeguarding the rituals that have gone around. The point here is the state of Pure Consciousness cannot be institutionalized.
Being a state of consciousness, it accepts no knowledge. It is an experience in the sense that it is lived, but not an experience amenable to narration, explanation, conceptualization, or theorizing. We call it no-thing-ness because this is what those who live it or have lived name it. Call it anything you like, since it is nameless neti neti (not this, not this). Those who call it God only confuse people with this loaded suitcase word.
Article by Dr. KV Raghupathi
©Dr. KV Raghupathi 2022