Monday, November 27, 2006

Advaita Guru-parampara

Hare Krishna Friends,

In order to instruct us in the disciplines that are necessary for removing sorrows and in order to enable the light of the Self to shine in its plenitude, there is required the line of succession of preceptors. A preceptor hands down to his successor the ability to continue the aforesaid mission. It is the series of preceptors who succeed one another in this manner that is called as Acharya-parampara or Guru-parampara. We should be grateful for this succession. The preceptors have preserved for us the wealth consisting of the path which leads to the gaining of the light of the Self. If we meditate on all the preceptors who have come in this succession line till today, we shall receive a profusion of grace. Therefore knowledge of Guru-parampara is of utmost importance. We have the following two main Guru-Parampara shlokas in the Advaita tradition:

sadashiva samarambhaam sankaracharya madhyamaam
asmadacharya paryantam vande guru paramparam

narayanam padmabhuvam vasishtam shaktim cha tatputra parasharam cha
vyasam shukam gaudapadam mahantam govinda yogindramathasya shishyam
sri sankaracharyam athasya padmapadam cha hastamalakam cha shishyam
tam totakam vartika kaaram anyan asmad gurun santatamanatosmi

In the first verse, starting with Sadashiva (Dakshinamurthy, the first guru), with Sankaracharya in the middle and finally all the Acharyas coming in Sankara lineage are saluted.

The second verse traces the lineage from Sriman Narayana (notice how even here Advaita is stressing the non-difference between Shiva and Vishnu). The Gurus mentioned in the second verse are as follows:

Padmabhuva (Brahmaji)
Gaudapada (Paramaguru of Sankaracharya)
Govinda Bhagavatpada (Guru of Sankaracharya)
Padmapada, Hastamalaka, Totaka, Sureshvara (vartika kaara)

Till Shuka, the succession was from father to son (Putra-parampara). Shuka was a Jnani even at birth. From him started the succession from preceptor to preceptor (Sishya-parampara). From the Puranas and other sources, we learn about the Acharyas till Shuka. The traditions regarding to the great gurus starting with Gaudapada are recorded in the Sankara-vijaya texts (biography of Sankara) and few other sources. There are five main Sankara-vijaya texts:

Madhaviya Sankara-vijaya (written by Sri Vidyaranya…remember the first quiz conducted by Hariram???)
Anandagirya Sankara-vijaya
Chidvilasiya Sankara-vijaya
Keraliya Sankara-vijaya
Vyasachariya Sankara-vijaya

It has been mentioned previously that His Holiness Pujyasri Chandrashekara Saraswathi Mahasvami used to deliver discourses at many instances. It was not mere speech, but a message from the heart each day. In one such occasion the Master delivered a series of discourses on the life and message of Adi Sankara, in Tamil. Sri T.M.P Mahadevan, professor of Philosophy and sincere disciple of the Mahasvami has translated these series of speeches into English and published as the book “Adi Sankara – His Life and Times” under the banner of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

Most of us know the life history of Adi Sankara, but may not know the details of his Guru and Paramaguru. I thought of sharing the particulars pertaining to Gaudapada and Govinda Bhagavatpada from the above mentioned book. The message of Advaita is beautifully interwoven between the stories. The Mahasvami raises some questions in between the stories (that can rise as doubts to the common man) and clearly answers those with appropriate quotes in his own characteristic style.

We will start with the same in the next email.



Post a Comment

<< Home