Today is Shankara Jayanti. It is Shri Adi Shankaracharya’s birthday (the greatest Guru of the Advaita school of Indian philosophy).
Adi Shankaracharya propagated the teachings of the Advaita (non-dual) philosophy. According to Advaita, everything is made up of only One thing. In Advaita, it is said: ‘Sarvam khalvidam brahmam’, which means everything is made up of Brahman or the One Consciousness only; it is all Vasudeva (another name for Lord Krishna). So the diversity that you see is not reality. The reality is that which is unseen (and can only experience).
Lord Krishna says, 'People
mistake me to be a human
being, they are not able to
recognize Me. I am that pure
consciousness from which
everything has come, and
due to which everything
It is like those animal shaped biscuits that we used to get. Have you seen those biscuits? They are all in different shapes – a cat, a dog, a horse, an elephant. Children like to play with such biscuits. So the same ingredients are used to make these different biscuits of different sizes and shapes.
Today you see different animal shapes made out of chocolate as well. But ultimately it is all made of the same chocolate only, isn’t it so? And all of them taste more or less the same. But children enjoy seeing the diversity in these chocolates. So even though they all appear to be different, essentially they are the same. Everything that we see appears to be different from each other due to Maya (illusion), but that is not true.
There is a story of Adi Shankara.
Once, Adi Shankara was sharing, ‘This whole world, that is everything, is nothing.’ So, he was saying, ‘This is all nothing.’ Like the modern day scientists say, ‘All this matter is nothing because it is all just waves.’
As he was saying, ‘Everything is nothing’, just then a mad elephant started running towards him. So Shankara ran to take cover.
Then someone said, ‘Oh, that elephant is nothing. Why are you running?’
Shankara then said, ‘The elephant is nothing and my running is also nothing.’
Such was the profound intelligence of Adi Shankaracharya, and you will rarely find someone like this.
What he said a thousand years ago matches exactly with what modern science tell us today. We know this by different names and theories such as the Theory of Relativity. But it is one and the same thing. Everything is an expansion of that One thing only.
A great scientist called Professor D’Hoore had come here recently. He told me that he had been studying matter for the past 45 years.
He said, ‘Gurudev, I studied matter for 45 years only to find out it doesn’t exist! So today, when I give a speech, people think I’m speaking about Buddhism or some Eastern philosophy because I say that matter doesn’t exist, what exist are only waves.’
Today science has reached the same conclusion, i.e., what appears is not real, and that which is unseen is real, and which is everything. So everything is Vasudeva (another name for Lord Krishna) only.
Now when I say everything is Vasudeva, do not think that this means there is someone with a peacock crown, dressed in bright yellow clothes, standing under a tree beside Radha and holding a flute (referring to Lord Krishna’s attire). If you think this, next you will start to wonder, for how many years he has been standing with a flute in his hand, and that his hands and feet might be aching from holding the flute all the time (laughter). So do not misunderstand it this way.
This is why in the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says, ‘Avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum asritam. Param bhavam ajananto mama bhuta-maheshvaram’. (9.11)
Lord Krishna says, ‘Whosoever
worships whichever deity, it is
Me only who gives them the
fruits of their worship.’ It is
the One pure
Consciousness which is
giving everything to everyone.
He says to Arjuna, ‘People mistake me to be a human being (meaning being limited to the physical body), they are not able to recognize Me. I am that pure consciousness from which everything has come, and due to which everything exists.’
Those great people (Mahatmas) who see Vasudeva in everything and everyone are indeed rare.
There are some people who think, ‘Vasudeva is in everything but not in me. I am just a servant. I am nothing, not even worthy of the dust of the Lord’s feet. I am very insignificant’. No, do not think this way. If everything is Vasudeva then you too are Vasudeva. You are a part of everything, which is Vasudeva. There is nothing beyond Vasudeva.
Such wise souls who are deeply connected with their inner self are very rare.
Lord Krishna says, ‘Kamais-tais-tair hrta-jnanah prapadyante 'nya-devatah. Tam tam niyamam-asthaaya prakrtya niyatah svaya’. (7.20)
There are many people who worship different deities and gods to have their desires fulfilled. Some worship Lord Hanuman, some go to Lord Shiva, and some seek the blessings of Santoshi Mata (a form of the Mother Divine) and so on. They worship all the different deities and there are different desires behind why they do so.
Lord Krishna says, ‘People worship different deities for fulfilment of their desires. But the power that fulfils these desires through all those deities is Me and Me alone. And the devotion with which people worship these deities is also Me’.
There are so many different religious communities in the world today, not just one. And within each religion, there are so many sects. And different people believe and worship different sects, and they also receive some merit out of it.
Some believe in Jesus Christ, some believe in Allah, some in Guru Granth Sahib (a holy scripture of Sikhism), some in Jehovah. Whosoever keeps their faith in whichever religion it may be, they surely get something out it. If they did not get anything out of it, why would they have faith in the first place?
Similarly, some people believe in Goddess Kali, some in Goddess Vaishno Devi, while some devotees find that their wishes get fulfilled at Amarnath (one of the sacred places of worship of Lord Shiva in North India).
Someone might think that the Amarnath shrine is nothing more than a block of ice that gets formed according to some law of Nature. Why go there at all? No, people go there with all their devotion. For the devotees, the shrine represents the Divinity and it is not simply a block of ice. They see Lord Shiva in it and worship it with a feeling of devotion.
So Lord Krishna says, ‘Whosoever worships whichever deity, it is Me only who gives them the fruits of their worship.’
Again I tell you, ‘Me’ does
not mean someone with
a peacock crown
dressed in bright yellow
clothes. It is the One
which is saying this, and
which is present
everywhere and in all
It is the One pure Consciousness which is giving everything to everyone. When someone goes on a holy pilgrimage like Hajj (a sacred pilgrimage for Muslims), they definitely get some joy from it. So Lord Krishna says, ‘I am the giver of this joy. This joy comes from Me and Me alone’.
Again I tell you, ‘Me’ does not mean someone with a peacock crown dressed in bright yellow clothes. It is the One pure Consciousness which is saying this, and which is present everywhere and in all things. That is what Vasudeva is.
That Tattva (principle) which holds both the Apara Prakruti and the Para prakruti together within itself is Vasudeva. And it is that Vasudeva that is saying, ‘Yo yo yam yam tanum bhaktah sraddhayarchitum icchati. Tasya tasyacalam sraddham tam-eva vidadhamyaham’. (7.21)
‘Whosoever, and through whatever faith that one comes to Me, I grant them the fruits of their worship according to their devotion. And it is Me only who is also the giver of this devotion. So the devotion is Me, the worship is Me and the fruit also comes from Me. But these fruits are only temporary. However the one who is wise knows Me by My true nature, and therefore he is best among all the four types of people’.
Anyone who has achieved self-realization has said the same thing, that there is only One (consciousness). Such people are able to see the oneness in everything. The one who do not see this are the ones who remain entangled in fights and attachments in the world. They pick up scriptures and debate among themselves, thinking, ‘What I say is the truth’, or, ‘My religion is supreme’.
But the wise one who has reached the pinnacle of devotion sees the Divine alone in everything.