Monday, December 04, 2006

Brief account of Gaudapadacharya and Govinda Bhagavatpadacharya - 02

Hare Krishna Dear Friends,

The following details have been gathered from the book “Adi Sankara – His Life and Times” compiled by Sri. T.M.P.Mahadevan. The book covers the series of lectures by Kanchi Mahasvami on Adi Sankara.

We will continue from where we stopped previously.

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One day there came along a comely Brahmin boy. Hearing that at Chidambaram Patanjali was expounding the Maha-bhasya he was coming to the South from Kashmir. On seeing him, the Brahma-raksas (Gauda) felt very happy. It thought “What a beautiful form. Today I have obtained a delicious meal.” It put on the disguise of a Brahmin and stood before the boy. It asked the usual question in grammar, but to Gauda’s surprise, the boy answered it correctly. At once Gauda Brahma-Raksas became greatly pleased and said to the boy: “All these days no suitable student came. You are the proper disciple. Whatever knowledge my teacher imparted to me I shall impart to you. Be seated here. Where do you want to go?” The boy said: “I am on my way to Chidambaram in order to learn grammar from Patanjali.” On hearing this Gauda remarked: “The story of Chidambaram is all over. What you intend to learn at Chidambaram I shall teach you here. The Maha-bhashya remains with me. Sit down here.”

Who can be at peace accepting a Brahma-raksas as a teacher? Gauda strictly gave orders to the boy saying: “You should not leave this tree as long as I continue to teach you. You should not sleep. I shall complete the teaching as soon as possible.” What was to be done? The boy who had come to learn grammar sat there itself on the tree. He thought he should take down in writing all the lessons he would be listening to. At that time there was neither ink-pot nor pen and there was no time to fetch an iron quill to write with. The teacher had ordered that he should not leave the tree. The boy made and incision into his thigh and blood was coming out; he broke off a twig from a branch of the tree, and dipped the twig in the blood and wrote on the leaves of the tree all that was taught. The Brahma-raksas was teaching non-stop both night and day. Without food and without sleep the boy wrote down what was being taught to him for nine days. He tied up the leaves on which he had written, into a bundle. It is the script that was written on those leaves that is being studied even now as the Maha-bhashya.

Who was that disciple? His name was Chandra Sharma. This story is to be found in a work called Patanjali-vijaya written by Ramabhadra Dikshita who lived about two-hundred years ago. Who was Chandra Sharma? Patanjali who pronounced a curse on Gauda thought to himself: “Which student will go to him with the required ability to learn the commentary on grammar and absolve him from the curse? It is only I that has to go to him. Only then he will be released from the curse.” Thinking thus he became Chandra Sharma.

It was this Chandra Sharma that in his later Ashrama became the preceptor of Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada, bearing the name Govinda Bhagavatpada. He was an incarnation of Adi Shesha. He had assumed many disguises. He serves as the bed for Hari. He becomes the anklet for Paramashiva (Well, Adi Shesha serves as Vishnu’s bed will be known to all of us. But how is that he is the anklet [Noopura] of Lord Shiva? I came to know of this account recently while listening to the discourses on Ramayana by Harikatha exponent, Late Sri Balakrishna Shastri. Once when Lord Shiva was dancing Ananda Tandava, the golden anklet he was wearing maintained the taalam for the dance. But after sometime, the anklet broke, then Lord Vishnu, who was watching the dance along with all the other Devas, told Adi Shesha to wriggle amidst the feet of Shiva, not disturbing his dance and twine around his feet, serve as his anklet and maintain the taalam again. Thus Adi Shesha became the anklet of Lord Shiva.) He it is that supports the earth. He is Lakshmana, son of Sumitra. He is Balarama and also son of Atri (Patanjali).

Chandra Sharma after assuming sanyasa lived on the banks of Narmada awaiting the arrival of Sri Sankaracharya in order to bless him. How did Chandra Sharma receive the lessons in grammar for many days without sleep or food? Well, in a previous incarnation, i.e. as Lakshmana he had the experience of spending fourteen years without a wink of sleep (guarding Sri Rama and Sita Devi). It would seem as though he had habituated himself to sleeplessness in order that now as Chandra Sharma he could dispense with sleep.

Sanskrit is the language of the gods. Since it is the language of the Girvanas (gods), it is called Girvani. The term samskruta means what has been sanctified or purified (samyak krutam iti samskrutam). It is that which has been purified through nine vyakaranas (grammatical texts). The old name for this language is deva-vak or deva-bhasha. It is stated that all should speak in Sanskrit (technically, Samskrutam is correct word). Mlecha-bhasha is the language which has unclear words; all other languages are but variants of Sanskrit. There are many languages which have not been purified through grammar. Even children should Sanskrit.

One who wrote commentary on Sanskrit grammar is the Sage Patanjali. Gaudapada went to Patanjali as a disciple and because of a curse he became a Brahma-raksas. To him went Chandra Sharma. Gaudapada, who had been awaiting the arrival of a competent disciple in accordance with the injunction of his teacher, taught grammar to Chandra Sharma. Chandra Sharma wrote what he learnt on leaves plucked from the sacred fig tree.

The lessons in grammar were over and for Gauda the life as Brahma-raksas came to an end. He thought thus: “Hereafter I shall acquire a sense of detachment. I should meditate on the Self. For that I should go in search of a preceptor.” He began to search for one who was a liberated sage even at birth. He came to know that one such preceptor was Shukacharya. Shuka was born as a knower of Brahman. He did not make any effort; he did not perform sacrifices etc.

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We will continue the next day.



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