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'0, Mother Parvati, - Give Me Alms'

After visiting many pilgrim centres of this holy land of Bharat, Sri Shankara came to Kashi. His object was to have darshan of God Vishweshwara on the banks of sacred Ganges. His march of religious conquest was to start in Kashi.

Shankara in Kashi felt that his first and foremost duty was to have darshan of Sri Annapurna, the presiding deity of the city of Kashi, that she should give him the first alms. But the alms that Shankara begged of her was unusual:


bhikshaam dehi cha Parvati

"O Mother Parvati, give me alms such as will enable me to attain wisdom and austerity." The humility and the intense feeling with which he was appealing to the mother of the universe, the radiance which far exceeded the tender age of that handsome boy-monk surprisedeverybody. If some thronged around him to listen to the ecstatic songs dominated by a note of devotion which Shankara sang in his divine voice, many others came to listen to his enlightening discourses on Vedanta. Still many more experienced peace in his company under a spiritual influence. In this way, before long the boy-ascetic won a place in the hearts of the people.

During Shankara's stay in the city of Kashi an incident happened as ill to test his inner development.

The day was about to dawn. Shankara was on his way to the river for bathing. A man whom people called pariah (of a low caste) came across the road. Shankara, it seems, shouted at him, "0, untouchable, keep away." The answer the other man gave was startling. "To which are you referring as untouchable, this body or the Self? Is not this body also made of dust in the same way as your body? Does the Self ever get polluted? And how can the Self which is present everywhere keep itself at a distance? Is there any difference between you and me the way it has pervaded?" It is a situation in which any one might get confounded. But Shankara’s reaction was entirely different. Throwing away all his pride, he fell prostrating at the feet of that man. "This is not an ordinary man. One who has ‘described the nature of the Self in such a simple and lucid language is really not ordinary: He is no other than God Himself. Is not this inner enlight-enment a form of Vishweshwara’s Grace?" he said to himself and felt happy. Shankara even after experiencing the Advaita doctrine was caught for a moment in the illusion of high and low. He offered his salutation to that God in human form who had dispelled his illusion.

One Vishnu Sharma at Kashi prayed with great devotion. "I wish to be freed from the bondage of worldly life, please show me the way, Sir." He became the first disciple of Shankara. It is this person who later became known as ‘Padmapadacharya’.

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Shankaracharya - One of the greatest philosophers and savants of Bharat.
About Shankaracharya
God's Grace
At Gurukula
For The Sake Of Mother
Mother's Longing And Anxiety
Shankara,The Ascetic
You are Here! 'O, Mother Parvati, Give Me Alms'
A Matchless Guru For A Matchless Disciple
The Four Regional Monasteries
The Disciples
Service To Mother
The Path That Shankara Showed
The Guiding Light
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