Adi Shankaracharya & Kootaneeti

All religious figures have some historical identity that is diametrically opposite to their religious one.

 

There need not be any doubt that Adi Shankaracharya was a historical figure. After taking the pledge of Sanyasa at the tender age of 13, he brought down the world’s oldest known proselytizing religion, which used religion and politics to meet its end in less than three decades – Buddhism. It is important to note that Buddhism in all its hues and forms started over 900 years after the death of Buddha, a.k.a. Siddhartha Gautama, and has no apparent connection to him. Like Islam & Christianity, in the recent past, Buddhism – starting with the third Mauryan emperor – Ashoka – has committed heinous crimes against humanity before reinventing and adapting itself to blend in with the other South Asian nations.

 

But how did Shankaracharya achieve this feat? The chauvinist “Advaitis” would claim that it was owing to “blessings of the goddess.” But those who understand Advaita would know that Atma (our true conscience-self) and Paramatma (the universal collective consciousness) are the same. And those who genuinely know their true conscious self have neither the need for god nor a prophet nor any saviour.

 

Shakti Peethas as “Seat of Power and Learning”

 

There are clear indications that Shankaracharya established four Shakti Peetha. In Vedic Sanskrit, Shakti Peetha translates to “a seat of power.” It was never a temple or religious place for a simple reason – the word used to identify a religious place was “Devasthanam.” So the Shakti Peetha could be better translated as “the seat of learning”; a place of true power – knowledge and wisdom.

 

Just like Kaivalya Peetha, where Shankaracharya learned Advaita from the revered Govinda Bahagavadpada – a student of the renowned exponent of AdvaitaGaudapadacharya. Although a great proponent of Advaita Shankara was never the founder of this school of thought. The Advaita is the essence of all authentic and original Vedic traditions, which unanimously urges all to seek power from within – for Atma itself is Paramatma.

 

I have always wondered how it can be that a proponent of Advaita like Shankaracharya could write something colossal like Nirvana Shakata, Brahma Jnanavalimala, and the like along with emotional poems like Bhaja Govindam, Soundarya Lahari, etc. While the former is logical, analytical, and straightforward, the latter is entirely bereft of logic and reason while romanticizing gods. One logical answer to this question would be that Shankara wrote them when young – like in their teens. But then, Shankaracharya had taken Sanyasa Deeksha at 13 and spent the rest of his life learning and promoting the Advaitic view of Vedas. Yet another logical answer would be – that Shankara was not the author of the works such as Bhaja Govindam, Soundarya Lahari, and the like. This answer gets credence when we observe the language and style of the two different sets of poems. Nirvana Shatakam and its likes follow a simple, practical yet melodious Vedic Sanskrit – i.e., the Sanskrit of the Vedas. Soundarya Lahari follows Panini’s Astadhyayi – a book on grammar unknown to Vedic authors. If there was unison in the language, one could comfortably conclude that the same person wrote those two sets of poems. But the given fact that the languages in the two sets of works vary so remarkably – they could not have been written by the same person.

 

Then the question remains: How did Shankaracharya defeat Buddhism or the Buddhist’s political hegemony? Todays’s Advaitis says a lot about “Vaada,” yet there is no conclusive evidence that the Vaada alone achieved the task. Vaada means Intellectual Conversations, not Debate, in Vedic Sanskrit. We all know that it is impossible to instill a sense in people through conversations or debates alone. A politically driven religion always falls back on muscle power (read violence) to eliminate its threat. We have already seen these in recent semantic faiths. They have slaughtered millions of people in the name of peace, god, and prophets.

 

So how did Shankaracharya neutralize the Buddhists?

 

In the 1600s, a savant named Madhavacharya a.k.a. Vidyaranya, inspired two young twins – Hakka Raya & Bukka Raya to establish the revered Vijayanagara Kingdom in the south. Yet, how he inspired the two and made the kingdom happen remains unanswered. But if we follow the last available version of Arthashastra by Kautilya – popularly known as Kautilya’s Arthashstra, it mentions Madhavacharya, briefly. Now, was he the same Madhvacharya who inspired the founders of Vijayanagara? Interestingly, the last manuscript of Kautilya’s Arthashastra was found in the library of the rulers of the erstwhile state of Mysore by one Dr. R Shamashastry. The Wodeyars considered the heads of Sringeri Peetha as their Rajaguru’s or Royal Mentors. Madhavacharya, a.k.a. Vidyaranya, also headed this order during his time. So, although there is no clear link between the two – there is some compelling circumstantial evidence to claim the possibility.

 

And provided we take a cue from the Kootaneeti in the Kautilya’s Arthashastra, which was passed on to generations by the Shakti Peethas, one will see how Hakka Raya & Bukka Raya were able to establish the kingdom of Vijayanagara. Kootaneeti, of many things, also empowers its practitioners to installing sage empires by eliminating the savage ones.

 

What Kautilya achieved with the Maurya dynasty, Shankaracharya achieved with Buddhists, or Vidhyaranya, a.k.a. Madhavacharya with Vijayanagara, are all near to impossible tasks. And there exist substantial pointers to prove that they all were scholars in the Neeti, Rajaneeti & Kootaneeti – which provides insights, knowledge, and wisdom in founding, building, and sustaining formidable political systems.

 

Interestingly, Advaita also forms the foundation of Kootaneeti. In both, the emphasis is to first, and foremost, understand the true conscious self – Aatma. To understand others, we need to understand our true selves. With the understanding of the self, alone, can we understand others. If we do not understand others, how can we lead? And without leadership, where is peace or prosperity?

 

Therefore, it is imperative that we rethink and re-research all available data on the times and life of Shankaracharya and analyze them from a logical and rational point of view instead of blindly following cultist leanings claiming to adhere this sage-savant.

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