Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Guru's Grace and Self-Realization

Sri Totakacharya ~ "Guru - Disciple Relationship"

Sri Sankara, was the greatest expounder of Advaita Vedanta. Totakacharya was a disciple of Sri Sankara. 

When Śaṅkara was at Śṛṅgeri, he met a boy named Giri. Śaṅkara accepted the boy as his disciple. Giri was a hard-working and loyal servant of his Guru, Ādi Śaṅkara, though he did not appear bright to the other disciples. The reverence which he had for his Guru, the great Sankaracharya so completely dominated him that Giri had no other interest in his life except to serve the great Master. Tradition has it that the devotion of Giri to his Master was very profound; but he did not profit much by the teachings. He seems to have felt that a strong personal devotion to the Guru was of far greater importance than a mere intellectual grasp of the teachings. He had neither the learning of other disciples like Sureshwara and Padmapada nor the realisation of Hastamalaka. His co-disciples naturally entertained a lesser idea of his intellect. Even Padmapada was not free from this misconception. 

One day, Giri was washing his Guru's clothes, when Ādi Śaṅkara sat down to begin a lesson on Advaita Vedānta. He however did not start the lesson saying he was waiting for Giri to come back from his chores and singing lessons. At this, Padmapada pointed to a wall and said that it would be the same if Ādi Śaṅkara taught to this dumb wall as he taught to Giri. Sri Shankara naturally did not relish this remark. Ādi Śaṅkara wanted to reward Giri for his loyalty and devotion. Thus Sankara out of compassion mentally granted Giri the complete knowledge of all the śāstras (sciences).

When Giri returned from the river, he was literally in bliss. He addressed the Acharya in a few brilliant stanzas in Totaka metre each verse ending with the refrain, “bhava sankara desika me saranam.”. Since then, known before as Giri, he got the title of Totakacharya. The other disciples were dumb founded by the instant illumination that shone forth in the out pour of devotion coupled with knowledge with all trace of dullness dispelled.
Sri Totakacharya's life is an example that the Guru's Grace alone can carry one over the stormy ocean of worldliness to the safe shores of self realization. The grace of the master alone can illuminate one as even the essential effort needed for spiritual progress can only aid one to a certain extent. The rest that remains which cannot be accessed by the mind, is with the beyond or the Grace that throws opens the portals of enlightenment.

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