Category: Entertainment

The Legend of Shankara – 12: A small diversion, and a word of caution

Before we continue our story of Adi Shankara, we must necessarily make a small diversion. This blog was supposed to be about the Bhaja Govindam, and I offer my apologies to those readers who would have been expecting this. However, several issues need to be clarified, some pertinent points need elaboration, before we can rejoin the mainstream of the story of Shankara.  I…

The Legend of Shankara – 11: The Manishapanchakam

The sun rose in the sky from the eastern banks of the river Ganga, washing the city of Kashi, which nestled on its western banks, in its golden light. The city was already alive with the sounds of Vedic chants, temple bells, conch shells, cymbals, and drums. The city and its inhabitants had risen early, always, since times immemorial, to take a dip in…

The Legend of Shankara – 10: Shankara goes to Kashi

From Omkareshwar, Shankara proceeded towards Kashi, the city of light, the immortal city, the indestructible city, the city which was supposed to be situated on the trident of Shiva, the immortal ascetic. Kashi was the natural choice, Shankara thought. It was the spiritual heart of India, the node of all metaphysical discourse, the center of learning since times immemorial, the city where the seeker and the sought could…

The Legend of Shankara – 9: Shankara tames the Narmada

The time of the evening sandhya was approaching, and Shankara accompanied his guru Govindapadatowards the cave for his evening meditation. Shankara was now a disciple of Govindapada and had endeared himself to his guru by his diligence, his loyalty, and his steadfastness. His service, and his devotion towards his guru was absolute.  Pleased with his service, Govindapada had lovingly taught the tenets of Advaita to Shankara, had guided him, encouraged him to read esoteric volumes, and had explained arcane…

The Legend of Shankara – 8: Shankara the disciple

Listening to the Atma Shatakam, Sri Govindapada was pleased. He extended one of his feet outside the cave in a symbolic gesture. The young Shankara understood the symbolism, and bent down and touched the feet of his master; thus he was accepted into the tutelage of Sri Govindapada, son of the illustrious Gaudapada. Shankara would spend the next two to three years learning the tenets of advaita or non-dualism from his guru in his…

The Legend of Shankara – 7: Atma Shatakam/Nirvana Shatakam

मनो बुद्ध्यहंकारचित्तानि नाहम्न च श्रोत्र जिह्वे न च घ्राण नेत्रेन च व्योम भूमिर् न तेजो न वायु:चिदानन्द रूप: शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥१॥ I am not the mind (manah), the intellect (budhhi), the ego (ahamkara) or the memory (chitta),I am not my ears (shrotra), my tongue (jihva), my nose (ghrana) or my eyes (netra),I am not this body composed of space (vyom), or earth…

The Legend of Shankara – 6: Who are you?

The afternoon sun had slipped down in the sky, turning the sky saffron, by the time Shankara exited the Omkareshwar temple. He paused near the entrance, looked back, and then looked up at the sky which was growing crimson by the minute. The mighty river Narmada flowed nearby, the sound of her rushing waters loud in the pervasive silence which was slowly descending on the island.…

‘Raabta’ with Naukuchiataal – IV

‘Spicy Tomato’, the pack of chips read, as I extracted a couple from the bag, put them in my mouth, and closed my eyes, enjoying the spicy crunchiness. The laptop lay open in front of me, the cursor blipped expectantly, the keyboard lighted, waiting…. I warmed my hands with the cup of tea which Vaishali had just handed to me;…

‘Raabta’ with Naukuchiataal – III

The Naukuchiatal is a lake of nine corners nestled high up in the mountains. Our destination was further up from the lake, near the Club Mahindra Resort property of that area. The road is narrow, and paved with stones, and can be used by only one vehicle at a time. So, if one finds another vehicle coming from the opposite…

‘Raabta’ with Naukuchiataal – II

I inhaled deeply after a long time, as I saw that familiar sight, had my first glimpse of my friends – the mountains. There was a constricting feeling in my chest, a pang of emotion, a physical pain of happiness at the reunion, as I looked at them. Happiness can be painful, sometimes! The mountains stood in the distance, covered…

‘Raabta’ with Naukuchiataal – I

As the car turned the bend in the road, the dust settled, and the cacophony of the cities was suddenly left behind. Green trees, tall with age, and bent with the continuous suction generated by the passing vehicles, stood by the side of the road, and swayed, as if welcoming the travelers; their leaves forming a yellow and green carpet…

The Legend of Shankara – 5: Shankara’s search for a Guru

Thus, the young sanyasin left his village, nestled deep in the dakshinam, the southern part of the country which had for millennia been known as the Jambudwipam. He had said goodbye to his mortal mother, his village Kaladi and the holy river Periyar, and had started his travels towards the heart of the jambudwipam, in the direction of the ancient kingdom of Mahishmati. Towards the east of Mahishmati, he knew, lay the holy city of Omkareshwar,…

The Legend of Shankara 4 : Shankara leaves home

The young Shankara, just a little over eight years old now, but not yet nine, stood in front of his former dwelling; the humble quarters he used to call home. He was dressed in the saffron robes of a renunciant, his head shaved, his forehead marked with the horizontal ‘tilaka’ of Shiva. A small dot of vermilion marked the place on his forehead between…

The Legend of Shankara – 3: Shankara: The Young Renunciant

It had been several years since Shivaguru’s death, and Aryamba was finding it difficult to make ends meet. She could not go out for work in the village, it was forbidden, and Shankara was only eight years old. Besides, all he had time for was his scriptures, and contemplation. He performed his daily religious activities well, which is all that Aryamba expected from him. After all, what could…

The Legend of Shankara – 2: Destiny Intervenes

The young child with skin like molten copper stood still, holding a bunch of straws in his hands, his forehead marked with sandalwood paste. An unstitched loincloth was the only covering upon his body. For a child as young as he was, he stood strangely still and composed, considering the occasion. His face was tranquil, and his eyes glowed with…

The Legend of Shankara – 1: A Prodigy is Born

The tall ascetic stood erect, a trident in his right hand, his matted locks reaching his waist. His hair was wet with the waters of the divine stream that trickled from his head, and washed his feet before making its way earthwards. The ferocious serpent that he wore like an ornament in his neck, hissed and bared its fangs, its…

Sleep-Wake – 3

A feather flutters in the wind close to me, as I walk towards the well. It is white, and blue, and indigo, and iridescent blue. It is a peacock’s feather, shiny, magical, like the one which the dark-skinned God, Krishna wears in his hair. It flutters and shimmers and entices me. I run towards it and pick it up, as…

Sleep-Wake – 2

The wind blows across the open ground, howling, creating small eddies of dust. I kick the stones on the ground, then run after them, barely avoiding slipping on the scales of mica that lie littered across the field. They shine, like scales of fish, and are as slippery, a thing of wonder to a child’s eye. I pick a handful…

Sleep-Wake

Sleep, wake. Sleep, wake. Sleep, wake. That is how life goes, from day to day, day to night, night to day. Life exists in binary; sleep-wake, happy-sad, alive-dead, yin-yang. Sometimes we are asleep even when we are awake, and sometimes we wakeup when we sleep. Both the worlds are real – sleep world and waking world – while we are…

And then I woke up……

(Continued)….. The color of the sky, which had turned from orange to crimson some time back, is indigo now, the color of the ink I have seen my father use in his fountain pen. The ink spills, spreading across the sky, darkening it, blotting out the light, the crimson glow. The chirping of the birds is dying down, the animals…