Adi Shankara Jayanti (birth anniversary) is observed on the 5th day during waxing of moon in the month of Vaisakha (April – May). It is the birth anniversary day of Adi Shankara. In 2021, the date of Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti is May 17. Scholars differ regarding the period in which Adi Shankara lived but his birthday is celebrated annually on the same day – on the 5th day of the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) of Vaisakha.
Adi Shankara Jayanti (Birth of Shankara) is observed as the birth anniversary of the Indian Guru and philosopher Adi Shankara. Adi Shankara was born in Kalady which is situated in Kerala during 788 C.E. and he disappeared at young age of 32 in year 820 C.E.
Adi Shankara’s parents were passionate worshippers of Lord Shiva. He is also believed to be an avatar of Lord Shiva who had granted the couple’s prayer for a child. Shankara wanted to be a Sanyasi (renunciate), but his mother Aryambal denied this choice. One day, he went to take a bath in the river, and got caught by a crocodile. He called up to his mother in a sorrowful cry. Despite trying several times, his mother could not rescue him from the crocodile.
Adi Sankara pleaded and asked permission for sanyasa (the renunciate life) one last time, in view that he might be saved. Very hesitantly, she agreed and Sankara recited the mantras to assume the state of sanyasa. By surprise and the effect of the powerful mantras, he was freed by the crocodile without getting hurt. Then, he renounced the world and went on his life path.
Shankara journeyed all over India in between the age of 16 and 32. He travelled and conveyed messages of the Vedas to the people. His scriptures showcase at their very core this divine knowledge, “Brahman, Pure Consciousness, is the Absolute Reality”. Shankar’s teachings still continue to touch the hearts of the people all across the globe.
Shankara has emphasised the value of the company of the good to persons on the spiritual path, for it leads man to immortality.
From Good company to No-company,
From No-Company to No-Desire,
From No-Desire to Un-moving Truth,
From Un-moving Truth to Eternal Liberation.
Evil company is easily secured; good company has to be sought and struggled for. To fall is quite easy; to climb requires strength of will. Therefore, man is tempted to choose the easier path. The objective world is an image, a reflection. When you take a shave standing before a mirror, you do not apply the razor to the image. You apply it to the actual face. God is reflected in the mirror (the objective world). You can see His image in man and beast and bird, in plant and tree an grass, in every cell and atom, but man is enamoured of the mirror and of the reflections, not knowing the original which is imaged therein. How can God shine in a heart that darkened by bad thoughts and intentions?
Adi Shankara’s Advaita
Adi Shankara, at the age of five, after the performance of his Upanayana (spiritual initiation) ceremony, approached his preceptor and within three years was able to master the four Vedas and the six Shastras. Through earnestness, anything can be accomplished. From his studies, Shankara realised that Ekatvam (oneness) is the essence of all knowledge. This is the doctrine of Advaita. “Ekameva Advitheeyam Brahma” (The Absolute is one alone, not two). There is no second, but there is the appearance of an enormous multiplicity. How, then, can oneness be claimed? Here is an example. You have the number one and the number nine. Of the two numbers which is the bigger? The natural answer will be nine. But this is not so. One is really the bigger number 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 ….. up to nine, make up nine. Hence, the Vedas declare: “Ekoham bahushyam” (I am One; I willed to be many). Only the one exists. But it has assumed numerous forms. Shankara declared that Anekatvam (the many) is subsumed by the one this is the unity in diversity. There may be many stalks of sugarcane, but the juice from all of them has the same sweetness. Beings are many, but the breath is the same. Nations are many, but the earth is one. In this manner, Shankara proclaimed to the world the unity that underlies the apparent diversity. He used the analogy of the same sweet juice that is present in all sugarcane stalks.
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