12

The most prominent thinker of the Advaita Vedanta school is Adi Shankaracharaya, but he wasn't the founder of Advaita; Adi Shankaracharaya's guru Govinda and Govinda's guru Gaudapada were also Advaitins. As I discuss in this question, Gaudapada is famous for his commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad. But I'm interested in Gaudapada himself.

As you can see here, according to Advaitin tradition Gaudapada was the student of the sage Shuka, son of the sage Vyasa, and then the Advaita Sampradaya is traced back through Shuka's ancestors: Vyasa, Parashara, Shakti, Vashishta, Brahma, and ultimately Vishnu. My question is, what is the story of how Gaudapada met the sage Shuka?

I've found one possible story which is from a seventeenth-century work called the Patanjali Charitam. In this account Gaudapada starts out as a student of Patanjali, the ancient grammarian and author of the Yoga Sutras. But Gaudapada displeases Patanjali, who curses him to turn into a Brahmarakshasa or cannibalistic demon. The only way for Gaudapada to be free from the curse is for someone to correctly answer a Sanskrit grammar question. After many years of roaming the forest as a Brahmrakshasa, Gaudapada finally comes across Govinda, a boy who correctly answers the question. Gaudapada then proceeds to teach the boy all about Sanskrit grammar, and this finally frees Gaudapada from the curse. After he returns to his human form, Gaudapada goes to Badarikashrama, where he meets the sage Shuka and becomes his disciple. Then years later, Govinda goes to Badarikashrama and finds out that Gaudapada is now an Advaita Acharya, so he decides to become his disciple (taken from this forum post):

After Gaudapada taught the boy, he was released from the curse. He then went northward searching for a guru. Having heard that Sukadeva was identified with the entire universe, he felt a desire to become his sishya and learn from him. After a long search he met Suka at Badari and was initiated by him into Advaita Darshana....

After searching in various places, [Govinda] finally went to Badari and met his old guru who had taught him grammar. He learnt that Gaudapada had become a sannyasi. He too took sannyasa from him. From then on, he was called Govinda Bhagavadpada.

So are there any older works that confirm the story given in the Patanjali Charitam? Are there any alternate accounts of how Gaudapada and Shuka met? I'd like to try to find the oldest known story of their meeting.

  • 2
    I am unfamiliar with the myths surrounding Gaudapada's life. There are many myths regarding Sankara's also. In the Dig-Vijayas of Sankara there are conflicting accounts and references to books no longer available - and even they conflict. There is an account of Sankara and his disciples meeting with Vyasa, He appeared to them and held a debate with Sankara. Not surprised there is a myth that Gaudapada met with Shuka but the references are I am sure lost in the haze of time. – Swami Vishwananda Apr 23 '15 at 5:53
  • 1
    @SwamiVishwananda if Shuka did not meet Gaudapada then what is the lineage of sankara vedanta ? why they include Shukas name in that ? – Rakesh Joshi Feb 25 '17 at 18:55
  • 1
    @RakeshJoshi Many many sannaysins, including myself, chant a hymn every morning reciting the lineage of major teachers to thank them and honor them. Sankara is about half way - there are many names pre-Sankara chanted before Sankara is reached. You should really read more sources, including academic. – Swami Vishwananda Feb 26 '17 at 2:38
  • 2
    @SwamiVishwananda नारायणं पद्मभुवं वशिष्ठं शक्तिं च तत्पुत्रं पराशरं च व्यासं शुकं गौडपादं महान्तं गोविन्दयोगीन्द्रं अथास्य शिष्यम् । श्री शंकराचार्यं अथास्य पद्मपादं च हस्तामलकं च शिष्यम् तं तोटकं वार्त्तिककारमन्यान् अस्मद् गुरून् सन्ततमानतोऽस्मि ॥ ” — अद्वैत गुरु परंपरा स्तोत्रम् “ nārāyanam padmabhuvam vasiṣtham śaktim ca tat-putram parāśaram ca vyāsam śukam gauḍapāda mahāntam govinda yogīndram athāsya śiṣyam śri śankarācāryam athāsya padmapādam ca hastāmalakam ca śiṣyam tam totakam vārtikakāramanyān asmad gurūn santatamānato’smi ” — Advaita-Guru-Paramparā-Stotram – Rakesh Joshi Feb 26 '17 at 7:29
  • 1
    @SwamiVishwananda bodhayana was not advaitin but vishistha advaitin i suppose – Rakesh Joshi Mar 11 '17 at 6:59

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .