Sadhguru on Adi Shankaracharya

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Shankara, an intellectual giant, a genius of linguistics, above all, a spiritual light. Pride of India. But we have special pride that he is from the south. A seamless sense of wisdom, knowledge and a shining light for humanity.


Duration: 10 min


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Sadhguru on Adi Shankaracharya

The following is an unedited transcript of Sadhguru's video. For better readability, breaks and highlights have been added by the editors.

Namaskaram to everyone. Shankara, an intellectual giant, a genius of linguistics, above all, a spiritual light. Pride of India. But we have special pride that he is from the south.

A seamless sense of wisdom, knowledge and a shining light for humanity. How do you produce such a man? Obviously, if someone has to show that level of wisdom at a very early age – in that brief span of life, he walked the length and breadth of this nation. We all came flying today, but he walked from the southern tip of India to here and further up, and East and West. Where does this energy, where does this zest and where does this wisdom come from?

Just to take one aspect, he comes from village, today a small town called Kalady. Kalady literally means beneath the feet. This is the fundamental nature of this culture. Bharat means, we always learnt how to be at the feet of the divine. To be kalady always, not a culture of pumped up pomp but a culture of natural piety. With this, just with this one aspect, we could produce great beings. This has been the tradition. This has been the culture of this nation that not by being at the head, but being at the feet, we learnt. By being at the feet, we evolved. By being at the feet we blossomed. By being at the feet, we began shining lights to the rest of the world for a long time.

It’s once again time that we bring back this culture. We bring back this piety, we bring back the sense of humility, which has paid enormous dividends for this culture, that we learn how to bow down. Doesn’t matter, it is a god or a man or a woman or a child or an animal or a tree or a rock – we learn to bow down to everything. This has been our strength. This has been our way. This has been the process and the method of our evolution and realization. This is very important today in the world that all this knowledge, all this wisdom, came not by faith, not by belief, but by realization.

Well, 1,000 years ago or well before Shankara, many have spoken, but the beauty of Shankara is the clarity, the intellectual clarity with which he expressed and the zest with which he spread it across the country. Many have said this before, right from the time of Adiyogi many yogis, many mystics, many sages, many saints have said this, but it is the absolute clarity of intellect and the zest and the energy to be able to bring it to a whole nation, which makes Shankara stand out.

Well, there are many, many aspects to this. But today, one thing that is important in this world is unless the spiritual process in some way, if it does not run parallel to the scientific realizations that have happened and if spiritual process, in some way, does not sync with the fundamental human logic, the future will not take it. In this sense Shankara’s message is significant. This is the future. The future generations of this world will reject everything that will not make logical sense to them. The future generations of the world will reject everything that is not scientifically correct. So in this sense, Shankara becomes very significant.

Maya does not mean it does not exist. Maya means an illusion

There’s a lot of misunderstanding, let me clear at least one for him. I think we owe it to him. A lot of people go about saying, “What is the nonsense he’s talking?” Because he said everything is maya. So the way it is being interpreted is, maya means it doesn’t exist. Maya does not mean it does not exist. Maya means an illusion. Maya means you are not seeing it the way it is. You are seeing it in a way that is good for your survival, but you’re not seeing it the way it is. Today, modern modern physics is telling you, the entire universe is just a network of the one same energy.

When we say maya – here we are with this body which seems to be solid. But every day, every day, because of the food that you eat, the water that you drink, and the air that you breathe, seven percent of this body is being exchanged on a daily basis. That means in two weeks, your entire body is gone, and you have something new in the system. The atomic substance in this body, nearly hundred percent of it is gone in one year’s time. This means every year you have a completely new body in a very fundamental sense, but in your experience it looks like it’s the same thing. This is the maya.

Similarly, with the rest of the existence, the way you’re seeing it, the way you’re perceiving it, the way you are knowing the world through five senses is completely off the mark. This is the illusion.When we say a mirage, if you’re driving on the road in the highway, you will see far away there seems to be water. Well, when you go there, definitely there is no water. This does not mean there was nothing there. There was some radiation which created this illusion. So this is maya. What is one thing, seems to be another thing, this is the maya he was talking about. What you think is me is actually everything. This is the maya. What you think is the other is actually you. What you think is everything is nothing too. That is the maya he’s talking about.

Today modern science, after a long haul has come parallel to what Shankara was talking, and many sages of the past were talking. So this will be the future of this world. There’s a very beautiful story – Mahabharata, all of you will know. I’m going back to Kalady. Because we come from the South, we are at the feet of Bharathmata. And it has paid off very beautifully for us, in so many ways.

You remember the story that every grandmother must have told you that, when Arjuna and Duryodhana went to seek support from Krishna, for the Kurukshetra War, one stood at the head, the other chose to stand at the feet. That made everything, that decided that afternoon when Arjuna stood at the feet, he won the war. This is the significance of this nation. That by bowing down, we rise, we don’t rise by elbowing our way. We rise because we bow down to everything, because our essential nature is this, we are kalady. Shankara comes from the village called Kalady. It is very, very symbolic and important.

And now being in Madhya Pradesh, the heartland of India. Well, Shivrajji is trying to turn this into the spiritual heartland because it’s time, it is time, the spiritual wisdom comes down from the mountains, into the cities, into the towns, into the villages, above all into the hearts and minds of people. Because this is going to be the greatest treasure. This is going to be the future of this nation. And because if we do this one thing, the entire world will seek guidance from this nation. It’s very wonderful today that once again they have reignited the spirit of Shankara in this part of the country, I’m sure it’ll spread to the rest of the world. Thank you very much.

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