Sri Sankaracharya

For all living creatures, a human birth is indeed rare; much more difficult it is to attain full manhood; rarer than this is a Spiritual attitude in life.

(Taken from Viveka-Chudamani by Sri Sankaracharya)

Sri Sankaracharya,
also called Adi Shankara  (8th century approx.) was a philosopher and Spiritual Master. Shankara advocated philosophy of Advaita, or non-dualism, regarding man and God as aspects of the same unified consciousness. His philosophy sought to avoid dogma and ritualism and restore the greatness and importance of the Vedas, placing particular emphasis on the Upanishads.  Shankara’s teachings contributed to a renaissance in Hinduism at a time when Buddhism and Jainism were gaining popularity. He is considered the founder of the Dasanami sannyasin, an order of Hindu renunciants.


Shankara wrote commentaries on many Indian scriptures including the Brahmasutras and many of the principal Upanishads (namely Isha, Aitareya, Katha, Kena, Chandogya, Taittiriiya, Prashna, Brhadaaranyaka, Manduukya and Mundaka). There is a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita attributed to him also. He also wrote many famous philosophical works:

  • Upadeshasaahasri (Thousand Teachings)
  • Viveka-Chudamani (Crest Jewel of Discrimination)
  • Atma-Bodha (Awakening of Atman)
  • Drig-Drishya-Viveka (Discrimination Between the Seer and Seen)
  • Aparokshhanubhuti (Not Invisible Realization)
  • Yoga Sutra Bhashya Vivarna (a subcommentary on the sage Vyasa’s Commentary of Yoga Sutras).

A few of Shankara’s sayings:

“Just as a piece of rope is imagined to be a snake in the darkness so is Atman (soul) determined to be the body by an ignorant person.”

“Neither by yoga, nor philosophy, nor by work, nor by learning but by the realization of one’s identity with Brahman is liberation possible, and by no other means.” 

“A father has his sons and others to free him from his debts; but he has none but himself to remove his bondage.”