Picture this: you are all of twelve. Finished your conventional studies. You are fluent in Sanskrit, by hearted the Vedas, renounced family and then set out from a small village in southern India, all by walking, travelling northwards in search of your Guru !
If that sounds amazing and out of this world, brace as we dig deep into the details of this amazing journey of a little boy in search of his Guru. This is none other than Adiguru Shankara Bhagavadpada’s meeting with his Guru Govinda Bhagavadpada.
This meeting was unique in many respects. The Madhaviya Shankara Vijayam describes Shankara’s meeting Govinda Bhagavatpada in eloquent verses, rich in meaning (Verse 5.91):
Deer skin and bark of wood hanging from trees indicated the abode of sages. Sri Shankara went to the middle of this forest, relished the cool breeze and having been relieved of the fatigue caused by his arduous trekking on foot, saw the abode of the sage, Sri Govinda Bhagavatpada.
Age was not a factor as the disciple already knew who his Guru was: Shankara sang eulogies to the great sage recalling the latter’s previous birth as Patanjali, portrayed as in Verses 96-97:
Having learnt all Vidyas from Adisesha in the nether world, you came to this world to give it the Yoga Sutras and Mahabhashyam (Bhashyam on Panini Sutras of grammar).
“You have attained the highest spiritual realization through the instruction received from the great Gaudapada, a disciple of Suka, the son of Vyasa. I salute thee, the repository of all virtues and have come praying for instruction in the truth of the Supreme Brahman.”
When Sri Shankara was thus praying, Sri Govinda Bhagavatpada deeply immersed in Samadhi, intuitively learnt about the greatness of the visitor, got out of his supreme consciousness and asked, ‘Who are you?’
To this, Shankara replied in terms indicative of his great spiritual attainment:
To repeat Shankara’s own words elucidated in ten verses (known as Dasa Shloki), each with a refrain “only one remains, and that Shiva I am”, the first and last verses are reproduced below.
I am neither the earth nor water nor fire, nor air, nor sky, nor any other properties. I am not the senses and even the mind. I am Shiva the unbroken essence of consciousness.
Hearing these words rich with the spirit of non-dualistic consciousness, the sage was delighted and replied, ‘Through the power of Samadhi I see that you are the Lord Shiva descended on earth in human form:
To conclude: this was a meeting of great souls at a different level altogether. Disciple who knew who his Guru was from his previous birth and Guru who could see through his disciple’s mortal frame to unravel the divinity within!
Justifiably, as Vidyaranya begins his exposition with the immortal words:
The One sitting under the banyan tree, Lord Dakshinamurti (Shiva), the Teacher of the Supreme Truth, left his place of meditation. He is now moving about in the form of Shankaracharya, imparting his precious advice of knowledge to the world caught in the boundless dense forests of ignorance and threatened seriously by the approaching flames of the forest fires of family bondage.
Such meetings of Guru-Shishya are rare and written by the Heavens. As an event pregnant with meaning for all ages, it shall continue to inspire generations and serve as a beacon of inspiration and motivation for all seekers aspiring for spiritual greatness.
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