Works known to be written by Adi Shankara himself are the Brahmasutrabhasya, his commentaries on ten principal Upanishads, his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, and the Upadesasahasri.
49 Facts About Adi Shankara
The authenticity of Adi Shankara being the author of has been questioned and mostly rejected by scholarship.
The central postulation of Adi Shankara's writings is the identity of the Self and Brahman, defending the liberating knowledge of the Self, taking the Upanishads as an independent means of knowledge, against the ritually-oriented Mimamsa school of Hinduism.
Shankara's Advaita shows influences from Mahayana Buddhism, despite Shankara's critiques; and Hindu Vaishnava opponents have even accused Shankara of being a "crypto-Buddhist," a qualification which is rejected by the Advaita Vedanta tradition, highlighting their respective views on Atman, Anatta and Brahman.
Until the 10th century Adi Shankara was overshadowed by his older contemporary Mandana Misra, and there is no mention of him in concurring Hindu, Buddhist or Jain sources until the 11th century.
The popular image Adi Shankara started to take shape in the 14th century, centuries after his death, when Sringeri matha started to receive patronage from the kings of the Vijayanagara Empire and shifted their allegiance from advaitic Agamic Saivism to Brahmanical Advaita orthodoxy.
Hagiographies dating from the 14th-17th centuries deified him as a ruler-renunciate, travelling on a digvijaya across the Indian subcontinent to propagate his philosophy, defeating his opponents in theological debates These hagiographies portray him as founding four mathas, and Adi Shankara came to be regarded as the organiser of the Dashanami monastic order, and the unifier of the Shanmata tradition of worship.
Adi Shankara's existing biographies were all written several centuries after his time and abound in legends and improbable events.
The records of the Sringeri Matha state that Shankara was born in the 14th year of the reign of "Vikramaditya", but it is unclear to which king this name refers.
The popularly-accepted dating places Adi Shankara to be a scholar from the first half of the 8th century CE.
Adi Shankara is highly esteemed in contemporary Advaita Vedanta, and over 300 texts are attributed to his name, including commentaries, original philosophical expositions and poetry.
Adi Shankara is most known for his systematic reviews and commentaries on ancient Indian texts.
Similarly, commentaries on several early and later Upanishads attributed to Adi Shankara are rejected by scholars to be his works, and are likely works of later scholars; these include: Kaushitaki Upanishad, Maitri Upanishad, Kaivalya Upanishad, Paramahamsa Upanishad, Sakatayana Upanishad, Mandala Brahmana Upanishad, Maha Narayana Upanishad, Gopalatapaniya Upanishad.
However, in Brahmasutra-Bhasya, Adi Shankara cites some of these Upanishads as he develops his arguments, but the historical notes left by his companions and disciples, along with major differences in style and the content of the commentaries on later Upanishad have led scholars to conclude that the commentaries on later Upanishads were not Adi Shankara's work.
Adi Shankara is widely credited with commentaries on other scriptural works, such as the Vishnu sahasranama and the Sanatsujatiya, but both these are considered apocryphal by scholars who have expressed doubts.
The central theme of Adi Shankara's writings is the liberating knowledge of the identity of the Self and Brahman.
Adi Shankara "was the person who synthesized the Advaita-vada which had previously existed before him".
Adi Shankara has been described as influenced by Shaivism and Shaktism, but his works and philosophy suggest greater overlap with Vaishnavism, influence of Yoga school of Hinduism, but most distinctly express his Advaitin convictions with a monistic view of spirituality, and his commentaries mark a turn from realism to idealism.
The central theme of Adi Shankara's writings is the identity of the Self and Brahman, One of Adi Shankara's main concerns was explaining the liberating knowledge of the Self, and defending the Upanishads as an independent means of knowledge against the ritually-oriented Mimamsa school of Hinduism.
Adi Shankara recognized the means of knowledge, but his thematic focus was upon metaphysics and soteriology, and he took for granted the pramanas, that is epistemology or "means to gain knowledge, reasoning methods that empower one to gain reliable knowledge".
Merrell-Wolff states that Adi Shankara accepts Vedas and Upanishads as a source of knowledge as he develops his philosophical theses, yet he never rests his case on the ancient texts, rather proves each thesis, point by point using the pramanas of reason and experience.
Stcherbatsky in 1927 criticized Adi Shankara for demanding the use of logic from Madhyamika Buddhists, while himself resorting to revelation as a source of knowledge.
Adi Shankara considered the teachings in the Vedas and Upanishads as apta vacana and a valid source of knowledge.
Adi Shankara suggests the importance of teacher-disciple relationship on combining logic and revelation to attain moksha in his text Upadeshasahasri.
Anantanand Rambachan and others state that Adi Shankara did not rely exclusively on Vedic statements, but used a range of logical methods and reasoning methodology and other pramanas.
Adi Shankara rejected those yoga system variations that suggest complete thought suppression leads to liberation, as well the view that the Shrutis teach liberation as something apart from the knowledge of the oneness of the Self.
Knowledge alone and insights relating to true nature of things, taught Adi Shankara, is what liberates.
Adi Shankara placed great emphasis on the study of the Upanisads, emphasizing them as necessary and sufficient means to gain Self-liberating knowledge.
Prasamkhyana was advocated by Mandana Misra, the older contemporary of Adi Shankara who was the most influential Advaitin until the 10th century.
However, Adi Shankara asserts that Self-knowledge is realized when one's mind is purified by an ethical life that observes Yamas such as Ahimsa and Niyamas.
Rituals and rites such as yajna, asserts Adi Shankara, can help draw and prepare the mind for the journey to Self-knowledge.
Adi Shankara emphasizes the need for ethics such as Akrodha and Yamas during Brahmacharya, stating the lack of ethics as causes that prevent students from attaining knowledge.
Shankara's Vedanta shows similarities with Mahayana Buddhism; opponents have even accused Shankara of being a "crypto-Buddhist," a qualification which is rejected by the Advaita Vedanta tradition, given the differences between these two schools.
Ramanuja, the founder of Vishishtadvaita Vedanta, accused Adi Shankara of being a Prachanna Bauddha, that is, a "crypto-Buddhist", and someone who was undermining theistic Bhakti devotionalism.
Adi Shankara lived in the time of the great "Late classical Hinduism", which lasted from 650 till 1100 CE.
Benedict Ashley credits Adi Shankara for unifying two seemingly disparate philosophical doctrines in Hinduism, namely Atman and Brahman.
Mandana Misra, an older contemporary of Adi Shankara, was a Mimamsa scholar and a follower of Kumarila, but wrote a seminal text on Advaita that has survived into the modern era, the Brahma-siddhi.
Adi Shankara's thought was mainly inspired by Mandana Misra, and harmonises Shankara's thought with that of Mandana Misra.
Many of Adi Shankara's biographies were created and published in and after the 14th century, such as Vidyaranya's widely cited Sankara-vijaya.
Adi Shankara's parents were an aged, childless, couple who led a devout life of service to the poor.
Adi Shankara's hagiography describe him as someone who was attracted to the life of Sannyasa from early childhood.
Adi Shankara called out to his mother to give him permission to become a Sannyasin or else the crocodile will kill him.
The mother agrees, Adi Shankara is freed and leaves his home for education.
Adi Shankara reaches a Saivite sanctuary along a river in a north-central state of India, and becomes the disciple of a teacher named Govinda Bhagavatpada.
Adi Shankara had a number of disciple scholars during his travels, including Padmapadacharya, Suresvaracharya, Totakacharya, Hastamalakacharya, Chitsukha, Prthividhara, Chidvilasayati, Bodhendra, Brahmendra, Sadananda and others, who authored their own literature on Adi Shankara and Advaita Vedanta.
Adi Shankara Sankara is believed to have died aged 32, at Kedarnath in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, a Hindu pilgrimage site in the Himalayas.
Adi Shankara was a Vaishnavite who came to be presented as an incarnation of Shiva in the 14th century, to facilitate the adoption of his teachings by previously Saiva-oriented mathas in the Vijayanagara Empire.
Traditionally, Shankara is regarded as the greatest teacher and reformer of the Smartism sampradaya, which is one of four major sampradaya of Hinduism.
Practically, Adi Shankara fostered a rapprochement between Advaita and smarta orthodoxy, which by his time had not only continued to defend the varnasramadharma theory as defining the path of karman, but had developed the practice of pancayatanapuja as a solution to varied and conflicting devotional practices.