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17. Shankara Digvijaya

 

Witnessing the sad deterioration of social life over the whole of Kerala, king Rajashekhara had been giving his thought since long on social reform. But considering the influence and the predominance of the some bigoted Brahmins he had not ventured to undertake his task. The arrival of the Acharya appeared to him to provide the proper opportunity for this. He decided to institute social reform under the Acharya's instructions and guidance. Resolving thus, the king soon came t the Acharya.

Learning the king's desire, the Acharya said with bowed head, " Well, this is a noble task indeed. I shall do all that lies within my powers. Tell me clearly what you want to do".

Getting encouragement from the Acharya, the kind said with humility, " Sir, it is impertinence to talk with you on this matter. But I have a feeling that if you write a treatise giving directions on social reform, I could take steps to follow them. You are well aware of the state of society in Kerala. So please act to realize public good".

Agreeing to the king's suggestion, the Acharya said, " Very well, I shall draft a brief code. You should all discuss its good and bad points and then institute it. This will be conducive to the country's welfare".

A scribe was appointed. The Acharya dictated the articles of the code and the scribe wrote them down. Thus, a small code-book incorporating sixty-four edicts came to be written within a short time. The king was very happy and read it with complete attention. The book was given the title, Shankara Smriti, the code of Shankara.

Full of hope and enterprise, the king convened a big meeting to which the Brahmins, who were the leaders of various groups were invited. The object of the meeting was to discuss the merits and demerits of the code. Many Nambudari Brahmin scholars were also present at the meeting. At the special request of the king, the Acharya also attended the meeting. After the edicts enunciated in the code were read out, the Brahmins present there unanimously declared that the principals put forth by the Acharya were all against the scriptures and were pernicious for society. Then the Acharya challenged them all to a debate. A furious debate with a lot of shouting ensued. The scholars gradually were silenced by the super-human scholarship and divine brilliance of the Acharya. But they refused to admit defeat.

The Brahmins after mutual consultation, took recourse to a novel and crafty design to have their way. At two places in Kerala, separated by nearly fifty miles, the Brahmins arranged for two meetings on the same day and at the same time. The delegates at both the meetings separately informed the king that they were challenging the Acharya to debate, if he could defeat them in debate, they would accept his code. The king tried in vain to have the meetings held on different dates, but neither side agreed to change the date or the time of the meeting.

The king felt himself in deep trouble. In this helplessness, he informed the Acharya pf all this. The Acharya was sitting then in Baddha Padmasana, closed lotus posture. Hearing everything, he slowly went into a deep trance. On his face there shone an indescribable divine radiance. That meditative aspect of the Acharya impressed the minds of present there with a divine consciousness. Awaking from the trance, the Acharya said in a solemn voice, " The Brahmins want to test my credibility. Let the meetings be arranged to their wishes. I shall be present in both the meetings and participate in the debates".

The king was astonished to hear this declaration apparently impossible of realization, from the Acharya. He could not understand anything of this. The king of course had heard of the Acharya's supernatural powers. But he could not see how it would be possible for him to be present at both meetings at the same time.

On the appointed day, at a meeting held under the chairmanship of the king, the Acharya silenced all the Brahmins by giving proper replies to the hundreds of questions raided by them. It was clearly established before all that the code formulated by him was in conformity with the scriptures including the Vedas and Puranas. The Brahmins were astonished at the numerous quotations from the scriptures cited by the Acharya who was so learned in the four Vedas, the Vedangas and all the philosophical works and who could easily retain in memory whatever he had once heard or read, correctly reproducing it ever afterwards. They were compelled to admit defeat, but they still hoped that the deliberation of the other meeting would be favorable to them. For the Acharya was after all engaged in debate with them and had no chance of being present at the other meeting.

But meanwhile an unimaginable development upset all the plans of the Brahmins. Acharya Shankara multiplied himself by his divine powers and at the appointed hour was present at the other meeting also. Answering all the queries of the scholars and clarifying all doubts, he silenced him. But the Brahmins were unable to give answers to the questions raised by him and hanging their heads down in shame, admitted defeat. They too cherished the hope that the Acharya would certainly be defeated at the other meeting.

But when the results of both the meetings came to be known, all were surprised. Bowing down before the young monk o such supernatural powers, the Brahmins became the chief instrument for instituting the principles laid down in the code of Acharya in society. Man's puny strength is everywhere humble by divine laws.

The holy life of the Acharya had greatly influenced the life of king Rajashekhara. He was a deeply admiring follower of the Acharya. One day when the king had come to visit the Acharya and many religious topics were being discussed, the Acharya said to the king, " Dear, how are your literary works progressing these days? Have you written any new books?"

Questioned thus by the Acharya, the king sighed and said, " No indeed sir, I have given it all up now. It is a sad story. I cannot get over it eve today. The three plays that I read out to you long ago, have been destroyed by fire as if by way of a curse of God. I have been so mortified by this that I do not feel like writing any new plays".

The Acharya realized the depth of the king's feelings on the matter. Deeply symphatising with him for this loss, he said, " I can well understand what you have felt. A book is as dear to its author as his own child. Children are born out of one's body while books are created by the mind. You had read out the plays to me. I had liked them so much that I still remember all that the three books contain from beginning to end. If you so desire, you may have them written down and thus recover the texts".

Astonished at the Acharya's words, the king said, " O the great Guru, verily of the form of Narayana, please do this favor on me and I shall be ever grateful to you". Scribes were appointed by the king who took down the Acharya's dictation. Thus in a few days, the Acharya dictated from his memory, the contents of the three plays that he had heard from the king long ago and only once. Reading the books, the king found that the Acharya had dictated the very words that he had written. Hw bowed down at the Acharya's feet again and again. The people of Kerala were charmed to learn of the Acharya's feat of memory.

The Acharya now wanted to return to Sringeri but the king would not let him go. He humbly and repeatedly requested the Acharya to reform the religion prevailing in the country. Seeing such importunate eagerness on the part of the king, and also considering th deterioration of religion in the country, the Acharya agreed. Accordingly, he had a swift courier dispatched to Sringeri to his disciples with the message that they should come to Kerala.

A glorious chapter in the Acharya's inspiring unfolded now. From now on, for sixteen long years, he would be seen in the role of an ideal Leader of Lokasangraha. it is true that his many accomplishments like reading up the four Vedas and all philosophical systems and all scriptures by the eighth year of his life, attaining perfection in Yoga and experience of all branches of learning in the twelfth year, writing commentaries on many works including the Brahma sutras before he was sixteen are all evidences of his untiring capacity for work. Yet his inexhaustible energy in the last phase of his life surprises us.

In fact, abstention from all activity by remaining without work and without maintaining the sacred fire is not real Sanyasa. On the contrary, true renunciation consists in doing work for the good of the people in order to please God, indifferent to the consequences of work either here or hereafter, without attachment to or dependence on the fruits of the work performed, without coveting the merits of one's actions. He who undertakes such work for the good of the world is in fact the true Sanyasin. The Acharya had spent every moment of his life in strict performance of his duty in the mission of bringing about the welfare of all creatures. According to the Acharya, before the attainment of the ultimate knowledge, karma yoga consists in the performance of all works prescribed by the scriptures without attachment to the results of work and surrendering all merits of the work performed to God. It is improper to give up activity before the attainment of knowledge. This is harmful for existence both here and hereafter.

Acharya had attained perfection in yoga. He had also attained the full knowledge of Brahman. The joy of constant communion in yoga with the supreme all-pervading being would have been his, only if he had wanted it. Everyday, in an exalted state of Samadhi he would experience the awareness of Aham Brahmasmi and would feel in himself the nature of Shiva, the supreme Lord without form and attributes, without bondage and without deliverance, full of the bliss of consciousness. His devotion to and the self-sacrifice in the mission of the welfare of all creatures in spite of this experience of communion with the Ultimate Reality lights up a radiant world before us. The picture of that shining young monk, his head shaven, stick and kamandala in hand, brings to our minds a divine inspiration and fills hundreds of hearts with religious feeling. Slowly and calmly, he trudged over the whole of India, including Kashmir and even Nepal and many other places outside India of today, and had the temples repaired and rites of worship instituted. He held debates with those of views opposed to truth and explained the meaning of scriptures. He thus brought the solace and protection of Sanatana Vedic dharma to seekers and turned those who strayed from the right path back to morality and religion.

If we but once ponder over the enormous labors involved in all these activities, we are bound to be astonished. The religions that have been propagated in the world so far have mainly spread through the patronage of the government in power. It is only in the case of the propagation of the Vedic religion that we find an exception. The Acharya proceeded alone holding aloft the banner of Vedic dharma fortified by divine strength, inspired by the strength of his own universal self. Bugles did not sound behind him, solders did not march nor did he run overnight from a place to escape from opposition. There were only the solemn and holy verses of the Vedas, the chanting of mantras and singing of prayers to Gods and Goddesses.

It was not an easy career of conquest that the Acharya had undertaken. Many a time his life was in danger. But he accepted everything, faced all dangers. No situation could weaken the peace and equilibrium of his soul. In all circumstances he was ever the same, unshakable and unaffected. This practical aspect of the Acharya's nature appears to be particularly fascinating and we are filled with respect to observe how in all his work and endeavor he remained self-contained. His was indeed a noble existence, a truly great life. He was not only for India but for the entire world.

Even though some ignorant dualists, especially the Gaudiyas call the great Acharya, a Mayavadi, in reality he preached the doctrine of Advaita Brahman which is the only way to escape from Maya. A certain foolish group feels no compunction in holding the Acharya responsible for the present laziness and inertial in the national life of India. If everything is due to Maya, of what avail is individual initiative in this state of illusion? This misinterpreted though is what is behind the reluctance to undertake activity. Acharya's entire life was a living commentary to the doctrine that he preached. We are not prepared to agree with fools who hold this untiring leader responsible for the inaction of Hindus. All we have from his life is the ideal of great work and inspiration for it. His life of activity inspires a sense of duty in our hearts. Now, the Madhwas have a limited following in the south especially in coastal Karnataka, the followers of Ramanuja in Tamilnadu and the Gaudiyas and others in parts of Bengal. It is indeed the light of Advaita that has spread across the length and breadth of the country. Now these sectarian philosophies, with no bearing to universality can never even hope to approach the place of importance that Advaita Vedanta holds in the altar of the world's spirituality.

Soon, many disciples arrived at Kerala from Sringeri and respectfully presented themselves before the Acharya. Meanwhile, learning of the talking tour of the great Acharya, many householder disciples of the Acharya also assembled there to partake of his holy company. Thereafter, on an auspicious occasion, accompanied by his disciples and devotees and also by king Rajashekhara, the Acharya started on the holy mission of establishment of true religion. First of all, the Acharya traveled through many parts of Kerala, having temples repaired there and spreading the Vedanta system of philosophy through exposition of the scriptures.

The Acharya with his disciples had come to Mahasura, a place of pilgrimage in Kerala. Performing his worship and saying his hymns at the temple there, he was giving discourses when Padmapada and his friends arrived there. Seeing him, the Acharya was greatly delighted and greeted him cordially. As Padmapada bowed down at his Guru's feet, the Acharya placed his hand on the disciple's head and said, " Dear son, are you well?"

All the suppressed feelings in Padmapada's heart now came out, overflowing his eyes with tears, Padmapada wept like a little child. The Acharya holding his hands, made him sit up and asked him why he was weeping. Padmapada told him of all that had happened after he had left Sringeri. He also said that the destruction in fire of Vijayadindima at his uncle's place caused him the greatest pain. He also spoke of the incident of poison being administered to him. When Padmapada had calmed down somewhat, the ever kind Acharya said in a sweet voice, words of wisdom comforting his disciple, " Dear child, do not indulge in futile grief. No one can escape the bitter consequences of past karmas. It is much better to bear patiently the pain that cannot be cured. There is nothing to grieve over the destruction of the book. Apart from the supreme Brahman every thin else is transient. You had read out to me the explanatory notes on the first four sutras. I still remember them fully. I will dictate from my memory and you may take it down. I bless you that the notes on these four sutras alone will make you immortal. Do not grieve".

Thereupon, the Acharya caressed his disciple affectionately like a small child. In that affectionate motherly caress of the ar, Padmapada's mind was refreshed. He became calm. After he had written the notes on the four sutras from the Acharya's dictation, Padmapada's mind was filled with an indescribable serenity and with that the desire to write more books vanished from his heart for ever. From that time on, due to the influence of the holy company of his revered Guru, Padmapada's confusion of mind and exhaustion of body were completely removed and he was purified in spirit and in body like the sky after the clouds have gone. Padmapada's brother- disciples were also very happy to see Padmapada return to normalcy.

In this triumphal career more than a thousand disciples and Brahmin scholars had accompanied the Acharya.

A majority of the disciples, both monks and householders, of the Acharya consisted of Brahmins and he specially endeavored to make the Brahmins devoted to the duties allotted to them. For this reason, many who belong to castes other than Brahmins, blame him, calling him illiberal and partial. According to them, he showed special favors to the Brahmins.

In one place of his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, the Acharya writes, " Vedic religion is protected if Brahmin-hood is protected". From this we learn the extent of his goodwill for the efforts directed towards the Brahminism. The fact that the Brahmins have helped immensely the work of protecting religion as the upholders and preachers of it, has to be admitted by all.

The Acharya however, opened the gates of the attainment of religion for all by instituting the worship of the five Gods viz. Ganesha, Surya, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga and the performance of five supreme sacraments - the worship of Gods, all progenitors, mankind, every being in the creation and the Vedas, as the foundation of the Vedic dharma and had given rights to everyone according to worth in performance of religious duties. In his commentaries, he further observes, " It is true that the Sudras cannot perform sacrifices but there is no scriptural ban on the right of a Sudra to attain the knowledge of the Brahman". Speaking of Vidura, the son of a maid- servant, referred to in the Mahabharata, the Acharya says, " It is not possible to prevent the attainment of knowledge by persons like Vidura who attained the knowledge Supreme through tendencies transmitted from past birth". According to the Acharya, " The attainment of the knowledge of the Supreme Brahman is founded on the Vedas. There is a notion prevalent in the society that women and sudras are entitled to read the Vedas". As to the right of women to attain the knowledge of Brahman, there are the shining examples of Gargi, Maitreyi and Sulabha. The question naturally arises-since which period women have been deprived of the right to read the Vedas. No one can doubt the knowledge of the Vedas and the of Brahman of Ubhayabharati.

On the rights of women and Sudras to read the Vedas, many books have been written and there have been many controversies and much dispute. One may look for the solution in the Sruti itself. In the Aitareya Brahmana, Vedic sages like Bhrigu and Angirasa are found to confer the right to perform sacrifices on the Sudra sage, Ailusha. So we have evidence in the Vedas itself of the fact that in special cases a qualified Sudra would not be deprived of the right to perform sacrifices.

Besides, it is also seen that Sudra sage Kavasha is the seer of several invocations in the Rig Veda Samhita. In Samvarga Vidya, the king Janashruti who was desirous of attaining the knowledge of Brahman by listening to Vedic discourses, is described as a Sudra. Jabala Satyakama, the son of Jabala, a maid-servant who had served many a master, was accepted because of his devotion to truth, as a Brahmachari by Haridrumata Gautama who had his Upanayana performed. He was given the right to study the Vedas.

No one can doubt the knowledge of Brahman of Narada who was also a son of a maid-servant. The truth is that whatever the caste in which a man of good deeds and of auspicious tendencies transmitted through previous births happens to be born, no one can deprive him from attaining ultimate knowledge. The Acharya did not attack existing beliefs and the great inspiration for religion and for the attainment of ultimate knowledge that he left behind in his life and works, has been transmitted to all levels of society and has urged all people to live religious lives.

Reading the Vedas and attaining the knowledge of Brahman are not always the same. The Acharya says, " It is Anagnitwa, the deprivation of the right to maintain the sacrificial fire that makes the Sudras deprived of the right to perform Vedic ceremonies. But his cannot be the factor depriving one from attaining the knowledge of Brahman. For even a Sudra can have requisites or the desire to attain knowledge of Brahman and also the intellectual capacity to attain knowledge of self".

Sudhanwa, the king of Karnataka and Ujjain had also become the Acharya's disciple. He and the king of Kerala also accompanied the Acharya. The pilgrims were going in a procession with flags and banners and with ceremonial musical instruments like the conch, the bell, the damaru and the mridanga. As they were walking, the disciples were chanting verses from the Vedas in a chorus. The solemn notes of Aum resounded everywhere. To meet this party of pilgrims, villagers in groups in many places on the way waited in deep devotion with articles of worship in their hands, giving a ceremonial welcome with burning incense. The villagers considered themselves blessed by worshipping the Acharya and him welcoming with lights. It was an inspiring sight. The central figure of that procession was indeed the Godly Acharya. The youthful monk, with his eyes half-closed in meditation, was walking slowly. Raising his hand in Abhaya Mudra, a gesture of benediction, he was showering blessings on all. All were captivated to hear his discourses and his exposition of the scriptures.

Within a few days, the Acharya reached Madhyarjuna, the famous Shaiva pilgrimage center. The Acharya was very happy to see the deity and worship him. Most scholars t that place were believers of mere rituals, as prescribed by the karma kanda. After the evening prayers, a big meeting was arranged on the temple courtyard. Hearing the Acharya's flawless and rational exposition of the theory of Advaita and the self, most decided to accept the Acharya as their Guru. This greatly perturbed the scholars of that place who followed the karma kanda.

Next day also, the Acharya seated in Siddhasana, making the Tatva Mudra in his hands, began to give discourses to the assembled people. All of them were listening to him in silence when one Brahmin from among the scholars stood up and said, " O revered sir, Our Madhyarjuna Shiva is a deity ever-awake to our prayers. We worship and adore him. If we hear an express instruction from that Supreme Lord to the effect that the Advaita is correct, we shall all then accept it".

There was complete silence in the meeting. The Acharya went into a deep trance. His face expressed the calm of joyous communion with the Self. Awaking from meditation, the Acharya left his seat and went to the temple-door and knelt down in prayer, saying, " O Lord of Madhyarjuna, you indeed are the essence of all Upanishads. It is your glory that is proclaimed in the Vedas. You are the Lord of all Gods, you are All-knowing. Please reveal before all the truth that Advaita which is the main point of the Vedas is true and thus remove the doubts of all".

Even as the Acharya's prayers were over, a miraculous incident astonished everyone. The inside of the temple was bathed in a divine light and with it there was a voice from the heavens, deep and grave as the running clouds, saying, " Advaita is true, Advaita is True, Advaita is True".

That sudden and unthinkable development overwhelmed all, taking their very senses away. At this demonstration of the Acharya's supernatural powers, all were astounded and speechless with wonder, and rendered absolutely immobile. Everyone fully realized that the Lord of Madhyarjuna was ever-awake. Under the Acharya's influence the truth was revealed that the image that the local Brahmins were worshipping for so long with devotion was not a mere image. It was in fact a symbol of the Supreme Consciousness ever-awake. He listened to prayers and responded to the cries of the soul. The deep inner meaning of image-worship was revealed through the Acharya.

All scholars bowed down at the feet of the Acharya and accepted the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta as the ultimate truth. At the pressing desire of all, the Acharya stayed on at Madhyarjuna for a few more days and performed worship at the shrine there and filled the hearts of everyone with his religious discourses. Then the holy Acharya left for Rameshwaram.

Arriving at the holy place of Tulaja Bhavani on the way, the Acharya reformed the different ceremonies of worship of Bhavani, Lakshmi and Saraswati by explaining the true nature of religion to these creeds.

At Tulaja Bhavani, there lived many Shakta followers of Vamachara. Many of them indulged in practices like Narabali and Yoni Puja. These so called Shaktas indulged in the name of religion, in meat, wine and women and had thus considerably sullied the moral life of society. As a result of their diabolical rituals, people were misled to indulge in many evil practices. The Acharya knew this and therefore decided upon reforming these Vamachara tantrics.

One day during his stay at Tulaja Bhavani, some Vamacharis came to the Acharya and began to abuse him as a hypocritical ascetic. Explaining their own view they said, " The primal source of the world is Shakti and it is her that we worship. There is no importance of your Advaita knowledge whatsoever. You too should follow this creed. This will bring you supreme good".

The Acharya listened to their arguments patiently. Then he said, " There can be no deliverance through senseless rituals by which you claim to please Shakti. In the scriptures it is written that one should never take to meat and wine. By taking meat and wine, you have lowered yourselves. You have stayed away from the region of the Brahman. Do not call yourselves Shaktas any more. Try for deliverance from sins through atonement and by surrendering yourselves to the supreme Brahman".

The followers of Vamachara were filled with self-remorse at these words of the Acharya, full of substance and quite in accordance with the scriptures. The Acharya initiated them into Samayachara worship of the great Goddess and showed them the proper way to attain self- realization. His invaluable works like Prapanchasara Tantra, Tantravatarakrama and the Saundaryalahari acted as guides to the path of liberation by way of worship of the supreme Parashakti , at the same time following the rules laid down in the Vedas.

Thereafter, the Acharya came to the holy Rameshwaram. In the Ramayana and the other scriptures it is written that Sri Rama had installed the Linga of Sri Ramanatheshwara and since then, the holy place had had great attraction for Hindus from all over India. It is one among the twelve Jyotirlingas. The Acharya too, on his arrival at the shrine ceremonially worshipped the holy Linga. Many pilgrims had assembled there to see him. Through ritual worship, exposition of scriptures and hymns sung to the glory of Mahadeva, the place took on the aspect of a great religious festival. The Acharya stayed with his disciples at that famous shrine for three months.

From holy Rameshwaram, the Acharya with his disciples arrived at Srirangam, visiting many holy places on the way. At that time, Vaishnavas belonging to the six communities of Bhakta, Bhagavata, Vaishnava, Pancharatra, Vaikhanasa and Karmahina lived there. There was great enthusiasm among them when they learnt that the Acharya had arrived there nearly with three thousand disciples. Arriving at the holy shrine of Srirangam, where Bhagavan Narayana lay in his eternal bed, the Acharya first of all visited the temple. Going through the rites of worship and singing hymns to the Lord in great devotion, the Acharya was in a divinely exalted mood. The immense devotion of the Acharya touched the hearts of all. Even those Vaishnavas who maintained at heart an attitude of enmity towards the Acharya, were captivated by his great devotion. During his stay there, the Acharya would spend long hours in the rites of worship.

In spite of this, Vaishnavas belonging to different sects engaged in debate with the Acharya in order to uphold their own narrow view points. One day the leader of a Vaishnava community said to the Acharya, " I have marked myself with the auspicious signs of Vishnu and with symbols like the conch and disc. I am a great Vaishnava. I shall therefore go to Vaikuntha. Why don't you mark yourself with those marks, instead of just smearing your body with useless ash? It is said in the scriptures, " Those who have the foreparts of their hands marked with the signs of conch and disc, their necks bedecked with garlands made of Tulasi and Lotus beads, and their forehead marked with the sign of Gopichandana called Urdhwapundra, are Vaishnavas". Hearing the words of the ignorant man, the Acharya said, " But is there any corroborative evidence of this in the Vedas? You see, in the Vedas it has been said that liberation is attained only through the knowledge of the Brahman. Rigorous penance to destroy sin and worship of God for the purification of the heart, these are indeed the injunction of the Vedas. On the contrary, in the Brihannaradiya Purana, the burning of marks into one's body is expressly forbidden. So where is your claim of scriptural support? Just as a Sudra does not become a Brahmin by simply wearing the tuft of hair and the sacred thread, this is also a figment of imagination. A being attains the state of Shiva when his notion of distinctive existence is removed by the meditation on the truth. Therefore you too should worship the five Gods and thus purify your heart, perform the five sacramental rites and thus purge yourself of sin and by contemplating on the truth, attain the knowledge of the true self".

The five Gods are Shiva, Vishnu, Surya, Ganesha and Durga. The re- introduction of the worship of the five Gods was a special contribution of the Acharya to the Sanatana Vedic dharma. It is usual practice to worship one of the Gods among the five as the chosen deity of the spiritual aspirant according to his own tastes, Samskaras and qualifications, the other four being worshipped as auxiliary deities. For example a Srividya Upasaka would worship Sri Devi Panchayatana with Mahatripurasundari as the main deity. Similarly one could also worship Shiva or Ganesha Panchayatana. One's cherished deity is the principal one to be adored, the others help the aspirant to this end. The cherished deity has to be worshipped as Saguna Brahman. It is this Brahman that is the efficient and constitutive cause of the universe. It is by His grace that the spiritual aspirant attains gradual emancipation. The other Gods are pleased by worship and remove the obstacles to the path of spiritual aspirant. It is the same Brahman looked at from the point of view of Maya that is called Saguna Brahman. That which is free from illusion is called Nirguna Brahman. This Nirguna Brahman is the substrate of illusion of the universe. The Brahman with attributes is the efficient cause of the universe and the Maya is the ultimate material cause of the world. it is because the same Brahman has the Saguna and Nirguna states that it is regarded as the undivided efficient cause of the universe.

The five great sacramental rites are:

1. Brahma Yagna - Reading and teaching the Vedas and scriptures.

2. Pitru Yagna - rituals for the progenitors or the ancestors.

3. Homa - lighting the sacrificial fire everyday and periodical special rites.

4. Bali - worship by giving food to animals and birds.

5. Nr Yagna - Attendance on the guest by way of giving food and other necessities of life.

By continuous practice of the five rites, one is freed from sin and has one's mind is purified. A person with mind thus purified can attain gradual emancipation by a vision of his cherished God through mental concentration gained in worship.

Worship of the five Gods and the performance of the five sacramental rites have been made the basis of religion in the Acharya's Vedic dharma and it has grown on this foundation, making aspirants at each mental and spiritual level gradually worthy of salvation.

The Acharya's generous discourse full of meaning touched the heart of the Vaishnava leader. Showing great humility, he bowed at the Acharya's feet and said, " Lord, your instruction is sweet like the very nectar. From this day, I shall make every effort to carry out your instructions". As a result of the Vaishnava leader accepting the Acharya's creed, many of his community became disciples of the Acharya. Vaishnavas of other sects also gradually became the disciples of Acharya. Staying there nearly for a month, the Acharya reformed the Vaishnava society and by his discourses made people generally devoted to their respective religious duties.

The Acharya then visited with his disciples, places like Subrahmanyadesha and Subhaganapuram and in course of journey reached Kanchipuram. Everywhere, the Acharya untiringly gave religious discourses to the seekers of truth and created in the minds of all his listeners the desire to attain the ultimate reality. On the way, he also reformed different creeds of worshippers such as the Kartikeyas, Hiranyagarbha, the sun worshippers, worshippers of Mahaganapathy, Ucchishtaganapathy and Haridraganapathy etc. the Acharya knew very well that all are not worthy recipients of the Advaita truth. Thus, he would consider the aptitudes of people and in terms of it encourage them either to seek Advaita knowledge directly or to perform rites and ceremonies of worship of deities as steps leading to the Advaita view.