9th August 2013
Shankara learnt Advaita from a “low caste” Chandala, but he never really got the point, did he?
I wasn't aware of this story but after I chanced upon it twice in a single day, I researched this further and found that is it is quite well known and widely discussed.
Well, if there's ANYTHING useful we can get from this story, it is that caste is wrong. It is a FALSE idea and must be discarded.
VERSION OF STORY IN DALIT LITERATURE
The great Sankaracharya of Kaldi, famous for his ideologue Advaita once came across a Chandala who was on his way to Harighat. He, being aghast of the presence of an untouchable told the latter to stay away from his sight. To Shankara’s utter dismay, the Chandala raised some pertinent questions from the same Advaita. “Whom are you telling to keep away, Acharya the fountainhead of all knowledge of Vedas and Upanishads! This body or the atman which resides in this body? Your body and mine are made of the same substance, as pots of varying sizes and colours are made of the same clay. So one such body cannot ask the other of the same to stay away. Are they not part of the same illusion?”
Source: Swaminathan Venkat, The Dalit in Tamil Literature-Past and Present. Indian Literature Sahitya Akademi, Delhi P.17 (as cited in VOICE OF DALIT IN SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE by Aswini Kumar Mishra)
HOW BRAHMINS APPROPRIATED THIS AND CONVERTED THE CHANDALA INTO SHIVA
Sankara, the great Hindu philosopher and reformer, was one day coming from his bath in the Ganges when a drunken outcast accidentally touched him. “How dare you touch me?” he exclaimed. The outcast replied that since the same Supreme Spirit is in all, how could his touch contaminate, and proceeded to expound the philosophy of Oneness. Sankara listened in wonderment and humbly acknowledged that he was right. Whereupon the outcast stood revealed as Shiva Himself, and Sankara fell at His feet.
Source: HINDUISM: The World-Ideal by Harendranath Maitra (1916)
Instead of Sankara REJECTING CASTE he continued to teach caste, so that his future disciple Vivekananda continued to teach caste, even though he was teaching advaita.
In my view ADVAITA AND CASTE ARE FUNDAMENTALLY INCOMPATIBLE.
I totally deny this nonsense about the Chandala being "Shiva". The ONLY evidence we have is that Shankara was caught out by his HUGE EGO and Brahminical arrogance. He didn't get the message of TOTAL EQUALITY which is the key message of advaita.
The ONLY way Advaita can make sense is through total equality of all humans, of all human consciousness. Anything less is utter nonsense.
PLAY ACTING THE STORY