Biography of Sri Sankaracharya: Part 2

Shankara now became a wondering monk. However, he promised his mother that he would return to perform her funeral rites.

Shankara was in search of a Guru. He wanted to have a Guru who had realized Brahman. In search of his Guru Shankara proceeded north and reached the banks of Narmada after passing through many hermitages. There he found the hermitage of Govinda Bhagavatpada. Seeing Govinda deeply absorbed in meditation, Shankara’s heart was filled with joy. He folded his hands respectfully, approached the old man, prostrated before him and said, “I bow down before my Guru, Govinda.” When Govinda Guru opened his and saw the boy-ascetic with a bright and radiant face, he was very happy. Govinda asked Shankara who he was. Shankara replied: “O revered Guru! I am neither fire nor air nor earth nor water , none of these, but the Immortal Atma that is hidden in all names and forms.” Having initiated him and invested him with the robe of a Sannyasin, Govinda taught him the philosophy of Advaita. It was with the help of Guru Govinda that Shankara experienced Brahman or the experience of the infinite. Now the entire world appeared to be full of Brahman to him.

In the light of the truth he had realized, Shankara’s Guru asked him to write commentaries on the three basic texts, namely the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Brahmasutras. Thus the rest of Sankara’s life was devoted to the propagation of Vedanta. After visiting many pilgrim centers, Shankara came to Kashi. Now he was fifteen years of age. It was at Kashi that he started to spread the Advaita philosophy, and started writing the commentaries on the Brahma sutras, the Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita. During his stay at Kashi, he wrote the famous Bhaja Govindam.

<<Part 1: Childhood                        Part 3: Travelling over India >>