Anecdotes

Once Aryamba was shocked to find a large cobra coiled around the neck of Shankara. While she was watching, it turned to a garland.


 It is said that Shankara could read, write, and speak Sanskrit at the age of one. Once some children were arguing about the number of seeds inside a melon. Young Shankara said that the number of seeds inside that melon would correspond to the number of gods who created the universe. When the children cut open the melon, they found only one seed !!


One day when Shankara was returning from his mid day bath in the Ganga, he found a Chandala in his path. The chandalas are the untouchable castes, even the shadow of whom is supposed to pollute the brahmin. Shankara urged the man to move aside. Whereupon the chandala questioned Shankara. ” You preach that the atman and the Brahman are the same, the only imperishable truth and that all distinctions are barriers in the realization of that supreme truth. So am I to move my body, which is a transient state of being or my atman which is eternal? How come you have such distinctions as brahmin and chandala still in your mind when you argue that the imperishable atman is the same in all people? You preach the Brahman and identify with the bodily differences amongst people.” Shankara immediately realized that he had been provided a great lesson on walking the talk and prostrated himself before the chandala, stating that anybody who has the consciousness fixed in the Self like this was his guru.


Once Shankara along with other disciples of Govinda were meditating in a cave. Due to a massive flood, the level of the water in Narmada river rose to the entrance of the cave. Shankara put a small bowl in front of the cave and chanted a mantra which forced all the water into the bowl and the flood subsided. At this point, Govinda remembered the prophecy of Baadaraayana that the best commentary on brahma suutras would be written by a person who tames the river and asked Shankara to write commentaries on the Prasthana Traya (triple canon) : the Brahmasutras, Bhagavad Gita and the major Upanishads.