From the Jacket:
His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Candrasekharendra Sarasvati, Sankaracarya of Kanci Kamakoti Pitham, is the sixty-eighth in the line of succession from Adi Sankara on the Kanci Kamakoti Pitha in Kanci. He became the head of the Matha at the age of thirteen in 1907. After the requisite training in seclusion on the banks of the river Kaveri near Kumbhakonam, he under-took a peripatetic pilgrimage of India, which lasted from the year 1919 to 1939. In the course of this dig-vijaya he spent four months in the city of Madras in the year 1932. During his stay, the Acarya used to deliver discourses every evening after puja. Thousands of people listened to these words in pin-drop silence. Seated on the simhasana, the Acarya would remain silent for some time. Then slowly he would commence to speak. It was not mere speech; it was a message from the heart each day. At that time, he delivered a series of discourses on the life and message of Adi Sankara, in Tamil, which was published by Messrs. B.G. Paul and Company in 1933. We must indeed be grateful to Sri K. Nilakantan for compiling these speeches in book-form. It was a privilege for Sri T. M.P. Mahadevan to translate them into English for the benefit of as many people as possible.
In the year 1954 His Holiness nominated his Successor giving him Sannyasa. After training him for the arduous duties connected with the headship of the Math, His Holiness retired from active administration thereof. Even now he travels from place to place as a peripatetic monk blessing the people by his very presence in the respective villages or towns. It is by his grace that this series of discourses has been translated and published in Bhavan's Series under the title "Adi Sankara: His life and Times."
I consider it a unique privilege to have the good fortune of translating the series of speeches on "Sankara, His Life and Times" delivered by His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Candrasekharendra Sarasvati, Sankaracarya of the Kanci Kamakoti Pitha. During his stay in Madras in the year 1932, the Great Sage gave to us the wonderful experience of letting us hear from him the story of Adi Sankara in an uninterrupted series so that we could benefit from its blessed and powerful meaning.
Sri K. Nilakantan had the commendable idea of compiling the record of these speeches into book-form in Tamil and as such it was published by Messrs B.G. Paul and Co. in 1933. I have based my translation thereon.
I felt that it was very necessary to share this treasure with those who do not know Tamil, as also with our foreign friends.
By his luminous reflection, His Holiness has thrown an insightful light on even the obscurest details concerning the life of Sankara Bhagavatpada and he has given us a vivid impression of the Great Master against the rich background of our multi-faceted culture. Thus, we have an account of all the aspects of our spirituality and our customs, their meanings, and reasons for being interwoven in the life-story of the Great Acarya. Mythology, history and so many other subjects find their unifying harmony in the simple and clear rendition so characteristic of His Holiness.
It will be noticed that His Holiness adapts himself to the simplest of minds by using easy examples and modes of expression, without compromising in regard to the highest teaching while doing so.
Unconcerned about so-called sophisticated opinions he reminds and even exhorts us to resort to our holy scriptures and teachings while striving to make progress and not to neglect our spiritual heritage while we justly seek to better our conditions. He points out to us that when the direction of our endeavour is God-ward only, then do all other facets of our activities become really valid and authoritative as also of lasting effectiveness. He calls for all round spiritual development. Furthermore, he strongly advise that before we characterize so many items of our culture as mere superstition of the past, we investigate into our legend discriminatingly and find out the meaning and truths which are contained therein. He advocates devotion to one's chosen form of the Deity because such devotion will lead one eventually to the realization of the ultimate Reality which is the supreme felicity and the highest beatitude. This experience becomes possible through service without any selfish motive, one-pointed concentration gained by devotion and study of the Vedantic teachings accompanied by reflection and meditation. Towards this end, the knowledge of the biography of Adi Sankara will itself serve as a powerful guide to all spiritual aspirants.
I greatly appreciate the readiness with which Sri S. Ramakrishnan, Executive Secretary of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, has agreed to publish this volume, which appears under the title "Adi Sankara-i-His Life and Times."
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