If anything is known to us as Hinduism today, the origin of that is from Shankara. Non controversially the greatest master of Hinduism in historical times and the one who saved it from certain destruction. Shankara in his lifespan of 32 years did unimaginably wonderful things. So much so that western historians who have never encountered giants of the order of Kapila, Vyasa and Shankara declare many of his works to be done by others. This is the problem with having mediocre communist minds write our history. They dumb down our history to the level of their capacities.
Shankara. His life is a wonderful journey in itself. But that is not what we are going to look at here. But more the way he designed Sanatana Hindu Dharma. And how what we are facing today is a more elaborate and intricate version of the Bharath he faced during his lifetime.
Before we look at Shankara, we need to study the life and times of another great star of the Mahanirvani Peeta, perhaps the one who has inspired more humans around the world towards enlightenment than any other. But sadly one whose influence over the long term – perhaps due to misinterpretation of his teachings – has been disastrous to the land and the world at large. Gautama, The Buddha. The Sankhya Muni from Kapilavastu.
The misinterpretation of Buddha’s teachings left India weak and vulnerable to attack. At the same time the region of Arabia saw the rising of one of the most violent military forces propelled by religious sanction for rape and murder. It was in this confused and weak country that Shankara found himself in the 7th Century AD. With his intuition and the ability to access knowledge anywhere – Sarvajna – he was able to understand that it was only a matter of few centuries before the evil that was arising in the lands west would arrive at the doors of Bharath.
His task was two fold. One to counter the negativity spread by Buddhist ideology. And the second, to create an army that would protect the land till such a time when the weakness was completely eradicated.
It was for the later reason that Shankara revived the Mahanirvani Akhada of Kapila which was now almost a defunct organization. He went village to village and encouraged people to give one of their sons to the Akhada for the protection of the country and for the regeneration of Hinduism. He revived the structure to the Akhadas – of the Panchayati system and a democratically elected framework. The Akhadas were masters of both the Sashtras – scriptures and Astras – weapons. The Mahants and the Acharya Maha mandaleshwars of the Akhada were powerful warriors and at the same time masters of Mystical powers and the scriptures.
Shankara adopted the dasanami sadhu naming system from the Akhadas into the Shankara Peeta. While the Akhadas can adopt any of the 10 names, the Shankara Matts each can initiate people into only 2 or 3 of the 10 names. Thus he integrated his organization with the Akhadas and made them work under the one umbrella of the Mahanirvanipeetam.
In the philosophical arena, he refined the Buddha’s principle of Sunyatva or emptiness with the principle of Advaita – or non-duality. God is neither “One” or “Empty” or “Many”.. but is the principle of oneness – non Duality. Advaita. This intellectual clarity helped him assimilate all schools of thought into one framework. He went on a Dig-Vijaya – a journey of victory in all directions – challenging existing thought leaders and defeating them with his unbeatable logic and clarity.
Shankara also revived the practice of deity worship and the agamas of Sadashiva which had been neglected by the intelligentsia due to the spread of Buddhism. He showed people the amazing power of deity worship as a path to the ultimate and established the Shanmada or six forms of worship. Within this framework of 6 divine forms (Shiva, Shakti, Narayana, Shanmuga, Ganesha and Surya), he brought together all the numerous Gods and Goddesses around the country.
Hinduism was a united whole once more. And Shankara joined the lineage of Luminaries – Sadashiva, Kapila, Krishna and Buddha – who each during their times had brought the entire land to unite behind their updated all encompassing representation of reality.
Mahanirvani Peetam is the oldest apex body of Hinduism - Sanatana Hindu Dharma. From its origin from Sadashiva to Kapila, Krishna, Shankara and currently Paramahamsa Nithyananda, the story of the Mahanirvani peetam is verily the history of Hinduism.