Osho Discourse on Adi Shankara
Osho : Adi Shankara, the founder of a systematic,
philosophical system for the Hindus, died at the age of thirty three. He
became enlightened somewhere about the age of seven. When he was seven
his father had died. He was the son of a poor father, a poor brahmin;
the mother was only living for him, the only son.
At the age of seven, Adi Shankara asked his mother that he wanted to
renounce the world. Can you conceive of a child of seven years old
thinking of renouncing the world? – must be another Mozart, a Mozart of
The mother said, ”Your father has died and you want to renounce the
world. Don’t you think of me?”
Adi Shankara said, ”I can only promise you one thing: before you die I
will be present, so in your last moments you can die peacefully. But
right now, allow me to renounce the world. I want to become a sannyasin
and to go in search.” The mother refused.
Not to hurt her, Shankara remained for a few days more. One day he went
to the river. He used to go for his bath every day, but that day he
insisted that his mother should also come with him.
The mother was a little concerned: why he was so insistent? But when he
became absolutely adamant that ”if you don’t come, I will not go for the
bath. Then I cannot worship and then I cannot eat either,” so the mother
had to go.
The mother was standing on the river bank and the little child, seven
years old, was caught by a crocodile. A crowd gathered, but there was
nothing that could be done. Both the feet of the boy were inside the
mouth of the crocodile, and Shankara shouted to the mother, ”Now there
are only two possibilities: either you give me permission to renounce
the world and become a sannyasin or the crocodile is going to eat me. It
is up to you to decide. Be quick!”
It is a strange story. How did the crocodile conspire in this? And the
mother of course immediately shouted, ”I allow you, you can become a
sannyasin. Even this much will be a solace to me, that you are still
And the story goes that the crocodile immediately left him and
disappeared. Must have been a very saintly crocodile... Whatever the
case – perhaps it is only a parable – one thing is certain: that Adi
Shankara at the age of seven must have convinced his mother that either
she had to allow him to be a sannyasin or she had to be ready for his
death. How he managed it, that is a different matter.
But one thing is certain: he gave her the clear-cut choice, either death
or sannyas. Obviously the poor mother had no choice; she allowed him. At
the age of seven, Adi Shankara became a sannyasin. In the whole history
of the world there is no other case parallel to Shankara.
Somewhere between the age of seven and eleven – there is no historical
record of it, but it seems just between seven and eleven – he must have
become enlightened. At the age of eleven he started writing his great
commentaries on the UPANISHADS, and on one of the greatest and most
complicated scriptures that exists in India, Badrayana’s BRAHMASUTRAS.
At the age of eleven it is almost impossible even to understand it – and
Shankara wrote the greatest commentary. It has defeated all the great
commentators of the past and all the great commentators that came after
him. Nobody has been able to go beyond these flights of consciousness
and bring such tremendous meaning to the almost dead scripture of
The way he interprets is possible only after enlightenment. Each small
word... the way he gives a turn to its meaning. Something which was
looking very ordinary immediately becomes extraordinary. He has the
touch that transforms everything into gold.
By the time he was thirty-three, he had written all the great
commentaries on all the great scriptures, and he had traveled all over
the country and defeated all the so-called great philosophers,
theologians, priests. At the age of thirty-three he died. Consciousness
is not limited to your physical age. Consciousness can go far ahead of
you, your body.
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