Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti is celebrated as the birth anniversary of the legendary Indian philosopher Adi Shankara. This year, the festival will be observed on Sunday, May 16, as it marks the fifth date of Vaisakha month in the Hindu calendar. The Tithi (date) will begin at 10:00 am on May 16 and end at 11:34 am on May 17.
Shankara, who is also known as Jagadguru Shankaracharya, is regarded for his significant work in unifying and establishing the main thought currents in Hinduism. He is also known for consolidating Advaita Vedanta, a non-dualist doctrine that believes only Brahm, the ultimate unchangeable unity, is real and the rest, the phenomenal transient world, is its illusory appearance.
Shankaracharya is also credited with moving the Hindu scholarship from realism to idealism. His publications criticised Mīmāṃsā, a school of thought in Hinduism that emphasises critical investigation.
Shakara was born in a village Kaladi in Kerala to a Nambudiri Brahmin couple, who had devoted their lives to the service of the poor. They named their child – Shankara, which means the giver of prosperity. After the death of his father when Shankara was very young, he wanted to live a life of Sanyasi which his mother Sivataraka disapproved of.
A story about his life mentions an interesting incident. When Shankara was eight, he went to a river with his mother to bathe. Suddenly, a crocodile grabbed his leg and Shankara used this opportunity to make his mother agree to his demands. He asked his mother to allow him to become Sanyasi or the crocodile will kill him. Wishing for her child’s life, Sivataraka agreed. After the crocodile frees Shankara, he leaves his home. Upon reaching a Saivite sanctuary in north-central India, he became a disciple of a teacher named Govind Bhagvatapada. He is believed to have died at an age of 32 in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand.
The actual date and year of Shankara’s birth are debated because there are at least fourteen different biographies of him. The claims lie between 897 BCE to 12 BCE.