A world without Adi Shankaracharya is impossible to imagine. A world without Adi Shankaracharya is the world without the existence of a great civilization of Indus. We all have heard about the great walk by Adi Shankara in the Indian subcontinent from Kalady in Karnataka to Kedarnath in the Uttarakhand. Shankara on the way to Badri Narayana temple in Badrinath found the Idol of Badri Narayan near a George of Alaknanda river and on the way Shankara won the various conferences with the saints to establish the Sanatana in the way that binds the Bharata in a string of togetherness till today. South India and North India have only AdiShankaracharya common as a cultural identity and Uttarakhand shares the largest part of his interest in the establishment of Dharma. As China and India and a part of Tibbet were developing a great interest in Mahayana Buddhism, Shankara left his house in Kalady at the age of 6, keeping the promise to his mother to take care till her death. Being from a south Indian Brahmin family, he was indulged in Vedanta. There must have been a great quotient and acumen in Shankara that made him so much ambitious to take Sanyasa at an immature age of 6. Just imagine, to have such a liberal family that allows its 6-year kid to accept the path of Brahmacharya to attain a promise of reviving the Sanatana Hinduism in the subcontinent with a pride. Many of us who have learned the biography of Acharya still finds it unimaginable that a boy with less age of 10 finds his guru Govindpada by suddenly singing Atmashatkam.
न च श्रोत्रजिह्वे न च घ्राणनेत्रे ।
न च व्योमभूमिः न तेजो न वायुः
चिदानंदरूपः शिवोऽहं शिवोऽहम् ॥ १॥
न च प्राणसंज्ञो न वै पंचवायुः
न वा सप्तधातुर्न वा पंचकोशः ।
न वाक् पाणिपादौ न चोपस्थपायू
चिदानंदरूपः शिवोऽहं शिवोऽहम् ॥ २॥
न मे द्वेषरागौ न मे लोभमोहौ
मदो नैव मे नैव मात्सर्यभावः ।
न धर्मो न चार्थो न कामो न मोक्षः
चिदानंदरूपः शिवोऽहं शिवोऽहम् ॥ ३॥
न पुण्यं न पापं न सौख्यं न दुःखं
न मंत्रो न तीर्थं न वेदा न यज्ञाः ।
अहं भोजनं नैव भोज्यं न भोक्ता
चिदानंदरूपः शिवोऽहं शिवोऽहम् ॥ ४॥
न मे मृत्युशंका न मे जातिभेदः
पिता नैव मे नैव माता न जन्म ।
न बंधुर्न मित्रं गुरुर्नैव शिष्यः
चिदानंदरूपः शिवोऽहं शिवोऽहम् ॥ ५॥
अहं निर्विकल्पो निराकाररूपो
विभुर्व्याप्य सर्वत्र सर्वेन्द्रियाणाम् ।
सदा मे समत्वं न मुक्तिर्न बन्धः
चिदानंदरूपः शिवोऽहं शिवोऽहम् ॥ ६॥
Shankara’s guts to re-establish the core of Sanatana Dharma in India were so strong that he walked across the pole of this nation twice foot. Shankara stands a valiant walker that stood and walked for a cause. Many of the saints who still follow the footprints of Acharya travel across the nation on the pilgrimage of Chardham that was established by Adi Shankaracharya. Many of the saints claim to be astonished by the energy level that Shankara had in those years when he established the Sanatana dharma over the expanding Buddism and Jainism.
His walks in Uttarakhand were the milestones that has set the civilization and cultural identity across the world. Shankara, not only established the Badrika ashram in Badrinath but also weaved the thread of united India by establishing Jyotirmath in Chamoli which was under the control of Aacharya’s first student Totkacharya. founded in 820 AD, Jyotirmath is the alive model of the revival of Hinduism during the expansionism and invasion period of west Asian civilization. Shankara gave the command of Badrinath temple to the Shrengeri math so that the dependency of the Hinduism can be created between the civilizations. The establishment of other Dhams like Puri, Dwarka, and Rameshwaram was done in the same pattern followed by the Math where the succeeding Shankaracharya was given the power to hold its proceedings.
Shankara left his mortal soul in Kedarnath in the Same year when he established the Jyotirmath in Chamoli. Though the Kedarnath flash flood washed away his renunciation point from the back of the Kedarnath temple, there stood the big boulder called Bheemshila, which protected the main temple from getting destroyed from the massive floods in June 2013.
Adi Shankara can also be called as the father of tourism in Uttarakhand and especially in the area of Kedarkahnda. The char Dham establishment would have been ruined if Shankara had not indulged in the various shastra-artha with numerous maths and lineages of Brahmans in the various regions in India. The hustle of Adi Shankara in weaving the Indian sentiments in a single thread made the Uttarakhand as the major tourist destination in sense of making the region economically independent as far as the survival of the people living in the region is considered.
In the Puranas , region of Uttarakhand has only a minute part to play as most of the devotees opt Himalayan terrains during Vanaprastha or while Sanayasa period. The value of the Kedarkhand is not only due to the establishment of the Math lineage in Badrikasharam but also due to the value and respect that the Sanatana Dharma has for the Adi Shankaracharya. The inspiration of the Atmabodha and Tatvabodha was written by Shankaracharya himself was the gift of his super quotient of the micro and macrocosm in which the Brahman has manifested himself. according to the Vedanta, the Advaita philosophy was the pure discovery of Adi Shankara in which the Brahman was declared as the utmost reality of this manifested and unmanifested material. Hence the Char Dhams of Kedarkahnda is the living example of that truth of Brahman realized and revived by the people of this region.
By Nitin Chandola