Shankara, a scholar of tremendous capacity, had one important task
to do. The Upanishads, BhagavadGita and Brahmasutras are sacred scriptures of the Hindus;
but it is not easy to understand them. Shankaracharya decided to write commentaries on
these texts. He wrote first on the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. They became very
popular. He was to write the commentary on BrahmaSutras. Hindus believe that Bhagavan
Vyasa is still alive in Badari, the pilgrim centre. This centre is located at the foot of
the Himalayas, at an altitude of 12,000 feet. Travelling was not easy in those days, about
1200 years ago. ButShankaracharya went to Badari itself to write his commentary on the
Dedicating himself to the service of Ishwara and Bhagavan Vyasa, he launched upon his
work. The writing of commentary went on smoothly. It is said that Vyasa himself gave
darshan to Shankara and blessed him. As it happened, according to his expectation Shankara
continued his work with a new vigour. This doubled his life-span as it were. Mainly this
new vigour-call it longevity - was needed for the fulfil- ment of Shankaras project.
The heavy task of spreading the meaning of these great texts was also waiting.
Shankaras mission in life would not be completed without doing this. So in order to
carry out this responsibility, a new vigour in the form of Gods Grace and
Gurus blessings was needed. Shankara, having got this, devoted the rest of his life
to carry out his mission. This, as may be called, was the period of Shankaras
As the first step of his conquests Shankara came to the city of Ruddha. There he was to
encounter one Kumarila Bhatta in argument and win over him. Kumarila said, "If you
want to debate on Vedanta you should go to MandanaMishra; and if you win over him in an
argument, then surely you can expect victory for Vedanta everywhere."
Mandana Mishra was an outstanding scholar. Even the most learned men would feel nervous
to argue with him. He lived in a town called Mahishmati. Shankaracharya went there.
Mandana Mishra agreed for a debate.
What is the stake?
The loser should become the winners disciple.
Both were stupendous scholars. Who should be the judge competent to decide as to who
had won and who had lost?
The wife of Mandana Mishra was Ubhaya Bharat. She too had astounding scholarship. She
was regarded as the incarnation of Saraswati (the Goddess of learning). She was made the
The debate with thundering argument and counter-argument on for several days.
Mandana Mishra at last accepted his defeat. As per the agreement he became a sannyasi
and disciple ofShankaracharya.
This victory of Shankara was of tremendous consequence, we should say. It was the
triumph of Shankara Charya's teaching. Besides, he got a brilliant person like Mandana
Mishra as his disciple. It was this disciple who rendered memorable service to Vedanta and
became known as 'Sureshwaracharya.'
After this event Shankara went to the sacred Srishalila. His intention was mainly to
defeat Ugra Bhairava who was notorious in Tantric field such as witchcraft and black
magic. That Kaapaalika could not win over Shankara's pious and spiritual Vedic doctrines.
He with his black art even attempted to kill Shankara, but fell himself a prey to it. From
Srishaila Shankara went to Gokarna, another famous pilgrim-centre. And then he proceeded
along the Sahyadri range to the Mookambika Temple at the foot of Sahyadri hills.