Adi Shankaracharya was an 8th-century Indian philosopher and theologian who is widely regarded as one of the most influential thinkers in the history of Hinduism. He is credited with reviving and reorganizing Hinduism, and for his contributions to the development of Advaita Vedanta, one of the major schools of Hindu philosophy.
Adi Shankaracharya was born in a Brahmin family in the southern Indian state of Kerala. At a young age, he displayed remarkable intelligence and a deep interest in spirituality. He became a disciple of a renowned spiritual teacher, Govinda Bhagavatpada, who initiated him into the teachings of Vedanta.
At the age of 16, Adi Shankaracharya left home to travel across India, engage in spiritual practices, and engage in philosophical debates with scholars of other schools of thought. Over the course of his travels, he wrote numerous commentaries on the ancient Hindu scriptures, including the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Brahma Sutras.
Adi Shankaracharya’s teachings emphasized the importance of realizing the oneness of the individual self (Atman) with the universal self (Brahman). He believed that the ultimate goal of human life was to achieve liberation (moksha) from the cycle of birth and death, and that this could be accomplished through the practice of spiritual disciplines such as meditation, self-inquiry, and devotion to God.
One of Adi Shankaracharya’s most famous teachings is the doctrine of Maya, which holds that the world is an illusion created by the mind, and that true reality lies beyond the realm of the senses. He also emphasized the importance of selfless service to others, and believed that spiritual practice should be grounded in a commitment to social justice and the betterment of society as a whole.
Adi Shankaracharya’s influence on Hinduism and Indian philosophy has been immense. His teachings continue to inspire millions of people around the world, and his legacy as a great spiritual teacher and thinker lives on to this day.