Sri Adi Sankara caught by the crocodile


Sri Adi Sankara

Sri Adi Sankara

Sri Adi Sankara Bhagavadpada was a legendary Acharya, unrivalled in the India of the past and present, in terms of the impact he exercised on this theory and practice of Sanatana Dharma. He was born in Veliyanad, near Kaladi, Kerala, but traveled across India several times preaching his philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, and was immensely influential within the short span of 32 years that he spent on earth.

Sri Adi Sankara was born to Aryambal and Sivaguru Nambudiri, after they prayed to Siva in the Vadakkunathan Temple. Sankara lost his father while he was very young and continued to take care of his mother. Sincerely, Sankara learnt the Vedas and recited them thoroughly by the age of eight. He was also extremely inclined towards Sanyasa from such a young age. But his mother would never allow him to speak about it. One day, while taking a bath in the river, a crocodile got hold of Sankara, and he cried out to his mother for help. She came running to him, but was unable to free him from the clutches of the crocodile. Sankara then begged his mother to give him the permission to adopt Sanyasa, so that he atleast died as a Sanyasi, because it was obvious that he was going to die in the clutches of that crocodile. Very reluctantly, Aryambal agreed and Sankara recited the mantras and adopted Sanyasa. Suddenly, by the impact of the mantras, the crocodile let go of Sankara without hurting him. Alas, Aryambal’s sorrows knew no bound. Even though she was happy that her son escaped death, she was grieving because he was no longer her son, as he had adopted Sanyasa. Sankara consoled her by saying that he will come back when she breathes her last to perform her last rites. The place where the crocodile caught Sankara is still present at Kaladi and is called the Crocodile Ghat.

Sankara, traveling northward found his guru, Sri Govinda Bhagavadpada. When he was asked to identify himself, he extemporaneously composed the beautiful and profound Atma Shatakam, sometimes also referred to as the Nirvana Shatakam.

Later, he performed deep penance and realized the truth of Vedanta. He traveled across the ancient Indian subcontinent preaching the truth, and produced highly profound works in Sanskrit. A few of his famous works were Viveka Chudamani – the independent philosophical treatise, Bhaja Govindam, Kanaka Dhaara Stotram, Soundaryalahari, Sivanandalahari, Atma Shatakam and Bhavani Ashtakam, besides his Sanskrit commentaries on the ten major Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita. He also established the great Sankara Mathas across India.

When his mother was dying, he knew it telepathically, and he returned to Kaladi to perform her last rites and support her when she died. But he was ostracized and condemned for coming back to his mother, by the Brahmins who were required to light the pyre for burning the body of Aryambal. Sankara explained that the idea of a Sanyasi renouncing his relations is to reinforce his strength in the path of Sanyasa and should not be blindly misinterpreted as abandonment of one’s relatives, in times of their need. When the Brahmins refused to light the pyre, he used his powers to light the pyre and cremated his mother’s body in the correct manner.

There are so many incidents worth mentioning from the life of Adi Sankara, and they will be covered in future posts. But, for those interested in getting glimpses of other stories in the life of Adi Sankara, please visit: http://www.kamakoti.org/miscl/adi.html

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  1. #1 by srevalsan on January 5, 2009 - 2:16 pm

    Aryadevi ( Aryamba )

    AD : 748
    Aryadevi Antherjanam Hailing from Pazhoor Mana , was married to Brahmasree Sivasarman Nambudiri Of Shasalam (later famous as Kalady )

    To them with the blessings of Lord Siva ( Vadkkumnathan temple Trissiva peroor – Vrish Mookaachalam ) a child was born and named SANKARA

    Later he became Sankara Acharya the famous ADVAITHA philosopher

    Sree Sankara is the epitome of our Hindu tradition and Philosophy. He is the ACHARYA who showed his teachings by Acharanam (Practicing).

    The exceptional love of that loving son to his beloved mother is Clearly , so touchingly visible in every corner of his childhood life to grown up intellectual .

    The aged couple had a long waiting to get blessed with the son . But then the mishap the cruel destiny left her widowed at an early age of little Sankara .

    She gained a son but husband departed .

    The caring mother inducted in due course her little one to Gurukulam where he excelled even his master too quickly .

    One day that poor mother had seen his only son in dream wearing saffron befitting a saint . The Gurukulam in the very next morning found that poor mother running in , carrying little Sankara in deep embrace Showering him in kisses amidst her pouring tears .

    Another day the mother took along little Sankara for her daily Bath In River Poorna (Periyar).

    She was particular to have her routine river dip bath and have Darshan of her Sree Krishna – The ancestral deity of the family just within home garden . The river was flowing 3 km to south . The widowed mother that day was too tired of the walk and she could not make it . She fell half the way . Little Sankara felt so helpless . He ran to the Lotus feet’s of his Aapath Bandhavan , His Kula deva Krishna – where else . The merciful lord cannot stand the tears of the little child out of the love for his fainted beloved mother . He blessed him “Unni – Kalady Varayunnidathu Nadi Gathy Aavum “(Means -my boy – the river will flow where through your little feet marks (in local language malayalam as well as in Tamil feet = KALADY) ) . Instantly the innocent child marked with his feet before the blessed Lord . The blessing worked , the mighty river Poorna took its new course through the home garden of Sankara . That day onwards Shasalam became Kalady and blessed Lord , Lord of Kalady ( Thri Kalady appan )

    Sankara made reinstallation of his beloved deity to the present holy shrine on that Thiruvonam star of month Tualm (*Libra ) . He marked the occasion with his famous “ÄTCHUTHAASHTAKAM” . As per Keralite Tanthric tradition Prathishta is allowed only in Utarayanam and not Dakshinayanam . But Sankara raised to the need of the hour and made the Puna Prathishta in Dakshinayanam itself .

    The Place where Kalady was thus born from Shasalam became the Kalady Kadvu (Ghat ) and Aarattu Kadavu of Thri Kalady appan .

    Thus of course the name KALADY signifies the love of an innocent little boy toward his beloved Mother and blessings of his Merciful Krishna .

    Now the old mother do not have to walk the 3 Km’s for her routine river bath .

    Days passed by But for little Sankara he had to grow up seek the truth and accomplish his missions . His destined platform was as a Sanyasin (saint) . But he had to get it consented from mother . Whenever he begins the topic he cannot continue seeing the worried looks of his very beloved mother . One day a dog happens to touch Sankara . As per his community custom he had to take a dip bath . He took his mother along and went into the Ghat just east of the Ghat wherein river was diverted and blessed Kalady was born . A crocodile all on a sudden caught hold of little Sankara . The mother was terrified shocked before the cries of drowning son in the mouth of the crocodile . Then scholarly Sankara suggested to his mother Sanyasam is a re birth , if you permit me for that I can get a new life . Mother happily agreed and that Sankara was released . The crocodile is believed to be Lord Shiva in disguise .

    The world gained a philosopher but that poor mother had to give away her only son .

    But the son agreed to his mother he will be back when his mother need her son the most .

    Then set out on his mission . The saga of his victorious philosophical mission took him to the thrown of Omni-Knowledge (Sarvagya Peetham) . He established four mutts in four distinct destinations of India to spread his ideals , and cleanseth the society like running river cleans its banks . He had done so many Sub Mutts established temples for worship , hymens , done Upanishad Brahmasutra and Bhagavd Gita Bhashyam . The fame ear through ear kept on reaching the happy ears of his beloved mother .

    As time passed the mother started to feel that its time for her to go , but before that she longed to see the face of her little Sankara .

    JAGADGURU FROM THE THROWN OF OMNI-KNOWLEDGE FLEW BACK TO THE DEATH BED OF HIS MOTHER AT KALADY AS HER SANKARA .

    The mother found her intellectual scholar son beside her as her little Sankara , soothing her with his caring touch of her unattended hair and slowly massaging her forehead . Taking her feeble arms in hand his loving call “AMMMEEE” reached her ears . She did not want to loose that sight , the voice . She expressed to his son her worry , her dilemma . After these long , long waiting how could I leave everything and go . I want to live with you my son my dear one she demanded .

    The learned son pulled all his intellect to convince mother , that time is something which do not leave us with many choices . “Sambhavamy Yuge Yuge “. But he assured her he can get her to her “Pazhoor Mahadevar Shiva” – the lord who blessed his birth and took her to Shaiva Lokam where the mother had darshan of Lord Visweswran Siva ” . The mother was very happy but told his son not there ofcource . Then Shakthi Lokam where the mother had darshan of Mother of the Universe , and was immensely happy . But again she told not there too my son not there too . I am comfortable with my own Vishnu – Krishna – where else than this Kalady Kannan . Reciting Vishnu Bhujangam the son gave his beloved mother the darshan of Vishnu – the Krishna – her beloved Kalady appan .

    The mother really was consoled happy , and contented . She had great appreciation for her son , a respect even for such miraculous blessing of Darshan of all the Moorthys . it , she knew had been a gain which is not available even to many Hrishis who do Tapasya the whole life .

    She clubbed her hands in prayer towards her son , when the son instantly took her trembling palms into his shivering hands . His deep sentiments towards the beloved mother poured out in reply in FIVE TOUCHING stanzas , later known as “Maathru Panchakam “.

    Oh my mother ! If I have done the very same feet for you again , again and again for THOUSAND more births , ANY son will not be able to redeem the debt

    the debt of the sufferings of dis_taste , vomiting ,anaemic feebling and the numerous troubles of carrying pregnancy leave apart the terrific pain and pangs of delivery the debt then of an year long trouble of suffering in getting along in the urinated , stool ridden bed of mine , till and the long sleepless nights caring the crying me the debt no son can redeem doing the same thing a thousand birth

    SHE TOO WAS GIVEN SAYOOJYA IN HER DEAR THRI KALADY APPAN -KRISHNAN, WITH SANKARA RECITING VISHNU BHUJANGAM .

    JUST TWO OUT OF TEN FAMILIES IN KALADY COOPERATED , THE NON COOPERATING FAMILIES ARE ALL EXTINCT . The body of mother was carried to the pyre by members of two families of KALADY . “Pookkad” carried head side of the body and Edamana the leg side . They got renamed as “Tala Ettum Pilly “( Head lifting Person ) and later as Kappilly ( Leg meaning Kal in malayalam ) . (Traditionally the Land documents of both the families contains both the names even today ) .

    HE DULY CREMATES HIS BELOVED MOTHERS BODY. THEN APARA KRIYAS DONE IN NEARBY GHAT IN POORNA.The Ghat just east of Muthala Kadvu . Thus there are 3 historical ghats in chronological order lying there from west to east .It has another beauty , first one where Kalady was born , the river was rerouted , is the blessing of Krishna – Vishnu ie Kalady Kadavu ( Aaraatu Kadvu of Thri Kalady Appan ) . The second one Crocodile Ghat wherein Lord Siva took disguise of Crocodile and the life of Sankara took another turn to Sanyasam – blessing of Shiva . The 3rd one (Now amidst two Sree Sringeri Mutt shrines wherein mother of Sankara Aryadevi antherjanam had her due apara Kriyas .

    THE MORTAL REMAINS WERE PLACED BELOW ‘UTHAMA VRIKSHAM (An ‘Asoka’ Tree) , AND KAPPILLY NAMBUDIRIS AS FAMILY MEMBERS CONTINUED DAILY ‘ DEEPAM ‘ (AS PER NAMBUDIRI TRADITION TILL YEAR END BALI WHICH NEVER HAPPENED) . THIS LAMP OF RESPECT CONTINUED UNSTINCTED FOR CENTURIES TOGATHER WHEN OUTSIDE WORLD HESITATED TO ACCEPT HOLY KALADY AS BIRTH PLACE OF JAGAD GURU ADI SHANKARA BHGAVAD PAADA AACHAARYA . THE ACTIVITY OF LAMP PLACING BY KAPPILLY ANTHERJANAM WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN IDENTIFYING THE SPOT A CENTURY BACK BY SPECIAL ENVOY OF SREE SREE SRINGERI MUTT (Sri.Nadukavery Srinivasa Shastrikal ) , WHICH WAS OTHERWISE IMPOSSIBLE , WHETHER THE HOLLY MUTT ACCEPTS THE FACT OR NOT . Wonderfully the marble plaque on the new Mandap built reads “the black stone lamp post which was there from the time of cremation helped in identifying the spot ” . !!! Thekkemadhom came to Kalady at least a decade after the incident and the post with clear encryption of “Thekkemadhom Vaka “( written in local language malayalam Meaning “by Thekkemadhom “and with its Official mudra engraved on it – For own properties of Thekkemadhom they mark “Narasimham Vaka ” ) was donated still centuries later”!!!

    Sree Sree Sringeri Mutt Continues to Maintain the spot with DUE respect and valour .

    With Entry of Sree Sree Sringeri Mutt accepting Kalady as birth place of Sankara into the holy soil of KALADY has given a new identity to KALADY before the out side world hesitant to accept the area as Birth place of the JAGADGURU . This marked a new turn in the modern day history of KALADY with very many developments bridges colleges University and what not .

    KALADY gained a new look . But the Helpless soul of ARYADEVI the mother of SANKARA had lost under the irrefutable King ship ruling of TRAVANCORE HIGHNESS , the lamp of respects from her family which she had it for CENTUIRIES together when outside world was not any where around to recognize and adore .

    WHEN THE TRAVANCORE HIGHNESS ACQUIRED THE SMRUTHY LAND AREAS USING IRREFUTABLE KING SHIP POWERS FROM KAPPILLY NAMBUDIRIS WITH ALL SUCH SMRUTHI LAND AREA MARKED AND REGISTERED IN THEIR NAME , OF COURCE AWARDING A GRAND COMPENSATION FOR THE 32 ACRES , WHICH THEY NEVER ACCEPTED NOR DISPUTED . ONE CAN SEE THE BLACK STONE LAMP DONATED FOR CONVENIENCE OF DAILY LAMP, MARKED ‘ THRI THEKKE MADHOM VAKA’ WITH MUDRA OF MUTT ENGRAVED IN THE SPOT EVEN TODAY ‘.

    As per Sri Sree Sringeri Mutt on H.H.Nrisimhabhivava Satchidananda swakial (as available in the web page) a century back when his holinesses visited Kalady for the very first time “Reaching Kaladi, the first place he visited was an ashoka tree which stands at the place where the blessed mother was cremated by Sri Shankara. ”

    The ASOKA tree is CUT AWAY and removed , and a Tulsi plant is Replaced by Sri Sringeri Mutt .

    Thekkemadhom was the only Sankara Mutt which respected KALADY as the Holy land of Birth of Sree Sankara -their supreme guru . To facilitate the lamp of respects a Black lamp post was donated by the Mutt , centuries back . This Mutt was having King ship rights in KALADY even after independence till 1952 when their authority to have tax revenue from lands of KALADY as “Sankara Sanketham” was curbed by special enactment of state legislature .But the Legendry Thekke Mutt also got uprooted from Kalady , the Mutt premises now became RIG VEDA patasaala of Sree Sree Sringeri Mutt under a century long lease deed.

    SANKARA RETURNS ENTRUSTING THALAETTUM PILLY (Head lifting) MANA RENAMED ON LIFTING HEAD SIDE OF MOTHERS BODY TO PYRE AND TO KAPPILLY MANA RENAMED AS SUCH ON LIFTING KAL (Leg) PART TO PYRE, WHO ARE THE ONLY ONES SURVIVED WITH REST IN 10 ILLOMS EXTINCT.
    SANKARA WEPT UNDER THE BANIAN TREE BEFORE HIS KAVIL BHADRAKALI FOR THE WHOLE NIGHT AND LEFT KALADY

    AND ABOUT A SCRUPLOUS SCANDAL

    But an important part of his life as projected seems scandalous to him – very untruthful . The Pathetic position pitiable is that acharyas of various Mutts instead of negating a cruel falsified scandal about their own Paramacharyaa they seems to support it.

    THE MOST RIDICULOUS FACT IS THAT THOSE WHO SPREAD THE SCANDAL QUOTE
    SANKARA VIJAYAM OF HIS HOLINESSES VIDYARANYA MAHA SWAMIGAL OF SRI SRI SRINGERI
    PEETHAM FOR ITS AUTHENTICITY

    A quotation of scandal as available in various media books and now as abstracted from http://www.namboodiri.com is below

    Thereafter, one day, he had a divine vision that his mother back home was yearning to see him, and he went back. After paying due respects to his dying mother, he explained the Saiva-Vaishnava Swaroopams, which to an extent, rid her of the fear of death. Then, when he started explaining about Parabrahmam, she asked him to talk in simple layman’s terms. This is believed to have prompted him to compose “Siva-Bhujanga-Sthothram” and “Vishnu-Bhujanga-Sthothram”, both in Bhujanga-Prayaatha metre (Vritham).
    Mother was now completely devoid of any fear of death, and asked Sankaran to sing the “Govindaashtakam”, which used to be sung during their temple visits when he was yet a child. He sang it for her. Then he composed the “Krishnaashtaka-Sthothram”, and recited it to her. Lord Vishnu, who was greatly pleased with this Ashtakam, presented himself in full regalia in front of her, and she died watching the Lord.
    The Namboothiris in the neighbourhood refused to help him with the funeral rites (Samskaaram) for the reason that he had come back from “foreign” lands (Paradesam) and had defiled the dead body, and that, after accepting Samnyaasam, he had no right to cremate his mother. They even refused to offer him fire for the cremation.
    He then made a small pyre with twigs,
    cut the dead body into small pieces,
    made fire by friction (Dakshinaagni by Mathhanam), and thus
    performed the cremation.
    There is a story that he cursed the Braahmanans of Kalady that they will be unable to learn the Vedams, and would not have enough food to give the Bhikshus seeking alms, and th at their own cremation ground (Chudukaadu) would be near their homes.

    This is according to “Vyaasaachaleeyam”; “Maadhaveeya-Sankara-Vijayam” places his mother’s death after he defeated Mandanamisran (discussed later). The greatness of Sankaran’s mother is described in verse (Padyam) in Govindaachaaryar’s “Sankara-Charitham”. Contrary to the legend about the curse, there had been learned men in the Kalady area in later times.

    DON’T YOU FEEL THIS IS SCANDELOUS TO THAT LOVING SON . and TOO ILLOGICAL ON CONTEXT
    THE SON WHO FELT ANOTHER 1000 BIRTHS WILL NOT BE SUFFICINT TO REDEEM THE DEBT FOR ANY ONE OF THE PAINS FROM PREGNANCY TO UPBRINGING AFTER SHOWING TRIMOORTHYS AND SHAKTHY TO HIS BELOVED MOTHER AS REFLECTED IN ” (Maathru Panchakam )”

    Sankara Acharya a young boy who traveled the whole Indian landscape on his foot , being unable to carry a long sick old bed ridden mother is un acceptable even on physical terms .
    THIS FAMILIES NAMES & HISTORY AND THE REAL FACTS IN HOLY KALADY PROVES THE SCANDALS PURPORTED TO BE BY MADHVA VIDYARANYA AND HIS SCHOOL FOLLOWERS ASSIGNING SANKARA AS A BUTCHER THAT TOO OF HIS OWN MOTHERS BODY, (PERHAPS MADE INNOCENTLY), TOTALLY WRONG AND IGNORANT IN THIS ASPECT

    Being aware very well of these facts it FALLS the prime responsibilities of various Mutts to Clear Their Param Acharya of such a BLAME
    A Nair Family by the name “AMBATTU in Kalady are believed traditionally to have given fire for cremation , as well as arranged the firewood .

    Source(s):
    The actual Facts of Kalady which any one can trace through ancient Land records and Facts on Ground

  2. #2 by Amarnath Mishra on April 15, 2015 - 4:29 am

    Wow…what a description! But Sankracharyas of today don’t seem to be that kind-hearted; or may be, that is a perception of mine, hearing it from many sources. Whatever it is, Sri Adi Sankaracharya was a pure soul and his life is worth reading.

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