At the age of five Shankara's
Upanayana was performed. By that time his father Shivaguru was dead. Only the mother had
to bear the responsibility of bringing up the child pupil. Shankara was sent to the nearby
Gurukula on the banks of river Poornaa. Under the guidance of Guru he studied the Vedas
and its branches and also all other subjects. His brilliance brought credit to the entire
Gurukula. From an incident that happened during his stay at the Gurukula one can
understand his deep concern for the poor and distressed persons.
There is a convention that the pupils in a Gurukula should get their food by begging.
Accordingly the boy Shankara went round to beg. He stood at the door of a house and
shouted, "Mother, please give alms. He repeated the appeal twice. There was no reply.
He repeated it several times. Then a woman came out and stood with a sad face. There was
nothing in the house to offer to this boy. Hence that piteous look. Tears welled up in her
Shankara understood the situation. "Mother, I shall be content with whatever you
give me. Thereby may there be no scarcity in your house," he said. But how to give
anything when there was nothing? What is there to give? At last she remembered the
gooseberries grown in the backyard. She brought some gooseberries and gave them to
Shankara. Shankara then prayed to Shreedevi, the Goddess of Wealth, to show her mercy on
this humble and virtuous woman. Then, as Written in the books, there was a shower of
golden gooseberries in the house. This means that as a, result of Shankara's prayer to the
Goddess, that family became rich and Prosperous.
Shankara stayed in the Gurukula for eight years. By then he made such a thorough study
of all the subjects that he had them at his finger-Ups. More than any other subject, he
was greatly interested in the Vedanta, the most advanced part of the Vedas, which is said
to be the very came of spiritual truth. This is the highest and the culminating point of
all knowledge. "By knowing which everything will be known, and that is what the
Vedanta aims at," say the learned. Even at such a tender age Shankara was attracted
towards that goal. This shows the greatness of his personality.