on Aug. 20, 2010
Trustees of the birth site of Sripad Shankaracharya in Kelady, South India invited ISKCON Deputy Governing Body Comissioner Bhakti Vinoda Swami to speak as the Chief Guest at one of their widely known educational institutions this July 28th.
The Swami addressed over 1,000 parents, faculty, trustees and students who had assembled at the Adi Shankara Institute of Engineering and Technology to start their careers in the sacred land.
After receiving a warm reception, he expressed his happiness in being asked to speak at the historic Kerala village were the great Vedantic philosopher
Shankaracharya was born in 788 C.E., and from where he blazed an intellectual and spiritual trail across India.
Of course, Shankara taught that the Absolute Truth was attributeless and impersonal, differing from the Vaishnava perception of a personal God. But his own ultimate conclusion sends a different message—as illustrated in his song Bhaja Govindam: “Worship Govinda! Other than chanting the Lord’s names, there is no other way to cross life’s ocean.”
Bhakti Vinoda Swami explained how Shankaracharya differentiated matter from spirit, denounced the falsity of material life, and scientifically proclaimed the superiority of spirit and the self.
Modern education, he said, lacks these essential teachings and is therefore weak and incomplete. As ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada often asked when he visited reputed colleges and universities all over the world: “Where is your department for study of the spirit soul?”
Bhakti Vinoda Swami urged the Adi Shankara Institute and its students to imbibe Shankaracharya’s teachings as expressed in his Bhaja Govindam song, and to cultivate spiritual knowhow in parallel to their material education.
The Swami quoted Srila Prabhupada extensively, and requested that the Institute, situated as it is in the heart of Shankara’s bastion, stand out as unique by imparting the knowledge given in Prabhupada’s books.
When the function came to a close, the Institute’s trustees took his advice and ordered some of Srila Prabhupada’s books for their library. They also requested
Bhakti Vinoda Swami to visit again, and to consider conducting classes on the Bhagavad-gita As It Is for their students.
-- With rewriting and additional research by Madhava Smullen