Thursday, August 7, 2014

Adi Shankara - an avid traveller





Adi Shankara was not only a philosopher and poet but he was a great explorer. After listening to multiple stories across India where he has left behind his footprints, I started wondering how extensively he has travelled.
From putting Indian philosophy on the  world map, to creating beautiful hymns on God and Goddess, to interpreting Upanishads in the light of Advaitha, to build crystal clear philosophical argumentation, Shankara  has done it all in just 32 years.
I always wonder probably Adi Shankara was the first trekker and Travel Guru of India. Let me tell you how?
Shankara travelled India from internet
I go to Kalady  in Kerala to hear about  wonderful deeds of lad Shankara. It is the birth place of this great seer. I come to Sringeri in Karnataka which still reverberates the name of Shankara. Being very closer to hometown, we  often visited this place and I grew up listening to spiritual tales about sage Shankara. Sharada Peetha in Sringeri, established by Shankara is one of the great seats of learning (Peetha). Advaitha philosophy took shape here, many philosophers emerged from Sringeri spreading the Vedantic lore.

I go to Puri in Orissa, again to see his footprints. He has established another Peetha here. I go to Kashmir there is a hill  named after him. Shankaracharya hill in Srinagar is one of the major attractions. I didn't like the frisking experience and high security before climbing up the hill. There is a temple for Shiva on the top of the hill. I was told it was named after Shankaracharya after visit.
Shankaracharya temple in Srinagar - Image from internet
I go to Badarinath in the Himalayas where there are plenty of places to triumph his visit. It is he who started the tradition of South Indian priest for Badrinath temple and North Indian priest for Rameshwara in South India. What an idea to connect North and South!! I go to Joshimath, again I see his Peetha there.
Badrinath temple in Badri
 There is one more Peetha he has established in Dwaraka in Gujarat. Also, there is Shankaracharya Samadhi in Kedarnath which is supposedly the place where he left his body.

These are the few places I know about his visits. But I am sure there are lot many places where he walked through and left behind a tale.He travelled to spread Advaitha to as far away places as possible.
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I am amazed by the way he has traversed across India- South to North, East to West by walk when absolutely no facilities were there. Remember, he had travelled in 8th century to these places which are considered to be difficult to access even today due to landslides, floods, dense forest and extreme weather. For me, Adi Shankara is a pioneer of trekking and most travelled Indian. Shankara was a barefooted philosopher in the real sense. 

Have you come across any stories about Shankara while travelling ? Pls share.

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