Home Forums Hinduism Relevance of Sri Adi Sankara\'s Maneesha Panchakam Today – A Social Commentary

This topic contains 10 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  Bharath Kumar K. 2 months ago.

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  • #1171770 Reply

    Bharath Kumar K.

    This forum discusses the above topic. Thank you for sharing your feedback.

    #1171771 Reply

    Bharath Kumar K.

    Sri Adi Sankara’s famous meeting with a lowest caste untouchable (‘Chandaala’) in Kasi (Varanasi/Benaras) and his enlightenment there led him to compose his famous ‘Maneesha Panchakam’ – a scholarly work with 5 verses – acclaimed for elucidating the core essential message of Advaita Vedanta.

    As the story goes, as the Acharya (Sri Adi Sankara) was walking in Kasi, a Chandaala stood in the way.

    #1171772 Reply

    Bharath Kumar K.

    Acharys’s disciples (or Acharya Himself, by another account) shouted at the Chandaala bluntly to move aside and to let the Acharya pass by. The Chandaala’s simple yet mystical response to the Acharya was – “What should move aside – His perishable body from another perishable body, or his immortal spirit from another immortal spirit?”

    #1171773 Reply

    Bharath Kumar K.

    He further questioned the Acharya whether there was any difference at all between the sun’s rays shining in the water of the Holy Ganga and the sun’s rays shining in the ditch in front of a Chandaala’s hut? – and between the air inside a golden pot and that inside a mud pot?

    #1171774 Reply

    Bharath Kumar K.

    He takes Acharya to task for differentiating between a Brahmin and a Chandaala merely based on external differences, despite being so learned in wisdom. This surprised the Acharya – who was acclaimed throughout Bhaarat Varsha as the supreme exponent of Advaita Vedanta. Acharya felt he had a taste of his own medicine from the Chandaala – usually from an illiterate lowest caste. Advaita Vedanta is the all-encompassing doctrine of Hinduism that states that the same Supreme Divine Spirit inhabits ALL living species – from a tiny ant to a human being. This implies that man-made caste differences are irrelevant in the overall cosmic design.

    #1171775 Reply

    Bharath Kumar K.

    Acharya realized that the Chandaala was indeed no ordinary person – but was Lord Shiva HIMSELF – who had personally come to test him and illuminate him – so as to shed any traces of caste-consciousness still within himself. This realization led Acharya to compose the acclaimed ‘Maneesha Panchakam’ (Maneesha means firm conviction). In this, Acharya clearly states that anyone who has seen that the world is unreal and that only the Divine Spirit (i.e., ‘Brahmam’ or ‘Brahman’) was real and devotees who spend their life time in the blissful experiences of that undivided ocean of divine consciousness is truly worthy to be a Guru – whatever caste he may be – a Brahmin or a Chandaala.

    During Sri Sankara’s lifetime around 800 AD, caste intolerances were at a peak and Hinduism was at its darkest period then. The Maneesha Panchakam thus reevoked an awakening of equality of all before the Divine and that spiritual achievements had very little connections with one’s caste, race, or social status.

    #1171776 Reply

    Bharath Kumar K.

    This incident based on a true incident faced by the Acharya in Kasi reveals to us that there were spiritually-evolved yet simple-minded people (just like that Chandaala) living at that time itself within India. Thus India was not wholly barbaric and uncivilized as many Britishers and Christian Missionaries later announced to the world outside and used such a false image as the perfect pretext for aggressive empire-building through cultural, educational, administrative reforms and religious conversions.

    Even today, an Indian considers a foreigner to be more ‘valuable’ (profitable) as seen by organ transplantation inequities reported in South India where foreigners were given more priority by Indians over Indian patients. States within India are frequently at war between themselves – but welcoming foreign investors and contractors with folded hands. Living abroad holds fascination both for the Indian youth and for the just-retired senior generation as well.

    #1171777 Reply

    Bharath Kumar K.

    Communications, print and mass media in India today are increasingly mimicking the materiistic agendas of the Western world – and glorifying flesh, body and money over God and Spirit. Indian media is reinforcing the same Western consumer stories without educating the masses about the harmful side-effects and health hazards.

    #1171779 Reply

    Bharath Kumar K.

    Freethinkers, truth seekers, writers, whistleblowers and ordinary honest citizens are increasingly facing difficulties and threats to their lives, especially during the past few decades. High-finance and High-Tech based professions are being given exceedingly high social status and compensations, as compared to basic sciences, arts, literature and agriculture based livelihoods. South India has been seeing many language-based disputes,fights over natural resources and high crime rate and massive corruption during the recent few decades. Barbaric Taantrik (occult) rituals and related crimes have re-emerged in South India and films and soap operas (megaserials) frequently telecast such themes since the beginning of this new century.

    #1171780 Reply

    Bharath Kumar K.

    Absorbing and practising the crucial message from the Maneesha Panchakam that all are equal before the Divine ultimately will help to resolve many of the above conflicts and to arrest the severe degradation of values seen all around India today.

    #1171781 Reply

    Bharath Kumar K.

    This article uploaded in parts through above 9 postings is now fully complete with this posting. Comments are very much required and welcome. Thanks.

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