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Sri Adi Shankaracharya
One of the greatest philosophers of India, Adi Shankaracharya founded Advaita Vedanta, which is one of the sub-schools of Vedanta. Adi Shankaracharya whole-heartedly believed in the concept of
the Vedas but at the same time advocated against the rituals and religious practices that were over exaggerated. On a closer introspection of the life history of Sri Sankaracharya, we find that
he also started the monastic order known as DASHANAMI and the SHANMATA convention of worship.
Born in a simple Brahmin family approximately in the 8th century A.D in Kaladi, Kerala, he was named as Shankara and is considered to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva. It is said that Shankaracharya's mother Aryamba had a vision that the Lord himself told her, that he would incarnate in the form of her first-born child. As a child Shankaracharya was attacked by a crocodile. As soon as he recited the mantra, the crocodile left him. Shankaracharya began his life as an ascetic from then on. He proceeded towards further down south of India in search of a Guru.
One fine day on the banks of River Narmada he met a man named Govinda Bhagavatpada. Since Shankaracharya was much learned about the Vedas and the Puranas, GOVINDA BHAGAVATPADA agreed to be his Guru for attaining spiritual knowledge. Under his guidance Shankaracharya gained expertise in different forms of Yoga that included Hatha, Raja and Jnana yoga. He then received the knowledge of Brahma. Thereafter he was known as Adi Shankaracharya whose sole purpose of life was to spread the teachings of Brahma Sutras all over the world.
Adi Sankaracharya believed in the philosophy of "non-dualism". He believed in the fact that every individual has a divine existence, which can be identified with the Supreme cosmic power. Though bodies are diverse, the soul is one. The moment someone believes that the concept of life is finite; they are discarding an entirely higher and different dimension of life and knowledge. Self-realization is the key to attain Moksha and connect with God. Though he died young, he left an invaluable treasure of spiritual knowledge for future generations.
Advaita states that the universe is one essential reality, and that all aspects of the universe are an appearance of that one reality, there is the no difference between Atman (soul) and Brahman (the Absolute). The nondualism concepts developed in the Vedic, post-Vedic Hindu and the Buddhist traditions. The oldest teaching of nondualism in India is found as Advaita in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, as well as in other pre-Buddhist Upanishads. In China and Tibet the Zen and Dzogchen traditions refer to nondualism. In Hinduism nondualism is mostly associated with the Advaita Vedanta tradition of Adi Shankaracharya. Popular teachers are Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadtta Maharaj or Sri H.W.L. Poonja and his disciples Gangaji and Mooji.