An ode to Shankara
Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s greatest thinker
Author: Pavan K Varma
Publisher: Tranquebar Press
My strong faith in a personalised God and ritualistic worship took a serious jolt after two, back-to-back, life-altering incidents that took place by the time I was 14 years old. My faith in the Hindu religion, as was presented to me in my childhood in the garb of ritualism and which I vehemently practised until then, plummeted to a nadir. Ever since, I have been actively engaged, for more than three decades, in a silent investigation of spirituality that includes reading literature and commentaries on the work of Adi Shankaracharya, in the search of a scientific, logical, and rational explanation of ‘what life is all about.’
It was in this context that I came across Pavan K Varma’s latest book, Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s greatest thinker. A personality as great as Adi Shankaracharya and his voluminous work of revival of Hinduism cannot be confined to a single book. However, Varma’s book comes across as a meticulous work of painstaking research and study. In presenting a comprehensive account of Shankaracharya’s life, philosophy, and the audacity of his thoughts, the author dismantles the western notion of Hinduism and reassigns to it the high pedestal that it deserves. He uses the weapons of science to proclaim the fact that what science, in the last few centuries, has achieved with its ultra-modern technology and sophistication, our subjective scientists (rishis of yore) had achieved many thousands of years ago, that too without the aid of any telescope or laboratory.
Varma’s account of the context before and after Adi Shankaracharya’s life and the saint’s profound and audacious thoughts—examined through a credible yet balanced account of scientific validations—makes for a convincing read. This extremely intelligent work by Varma caters to a wide ideological spectrum and is a must read for all those who might be interested in being reminded of the remarkably philosophical undercurrent of Hinduism. Varma’s book works as a reminder to the fact that scientific accuracy, rationality, and logic are the substratum of Hinduism, making it one of the most vibrant religions of the world.
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