You are Supreme Light – Life lessons from Ad Shankara is a small book which kind of gives you Adi Shankara in a nutshell. I have had many encounters with Adi Shankara lately. It all began with the biography of Adi Shankara by Pavan Varma. That was soon followed by my visits to Omkareshwar where he trained under his Guru in a cave. Then I visited Kanchi Kamakshi Temple where he set up the Sri Chakra and where his samadhi is. Soon after I found myself in Kalady, his birthplace. I also started reading some of his texts, I can not yet say that I understand them all.
So, this small book was a nice primer on what Adi Shankara says in as abridged a manner as possible. The book briefly introduces the reader to the life of Adi Shankara before taking them to his Advaita philosophy. If you know what it is, you would enjoy reading about it and in a way revising it in your mind. If you have no idea what the Advaita philosophy of Adi Shankara is all about – then I doubt you will get much about this compact version. It is not easy to understand Advaita.
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Majority of the book is a translation of his works in English. It starts with Ek Shloki and Bhaj Govindam. I know the verses in Sanskrit, to whatever extent I know. So, I lost interest in the English translation after a few verses. I must say I did enjoy the ones I read – they are simple and easy to understand. For those of you who do not understand Sanskrit or Hindi, this should be a good way to read Sankara’s work.
While some works are given a context in a few lines, some works simply appear with a chapter title. I think the context at least gives some anchor for the reader to read the work. There is a discussion on concepts like Tatvabodh – knowledge of the truth, Atma bodh or the knowledge of self. There is a discussion on Moksha or the liberation as it is described in Srimad Bhagwat Geeta. I wonder why Gita lessons are brought in without really linking it to Adi Shankara’s work. There are thoughts on meditation, Sadhna & rituals, Maya, Purushartha or the duties and the nature of self.
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I would say read the biography of Adi Shankara first and then enjoy reading the translation of some of his popular works in this book.
It is a bite-size book on India’s best-known philosopher. The book cover says it is edited by Nanditha Krishnan. I did not get what they mean as I do not see any other authors or translators credited. Also, I gather that this is a part of a series planned on Indian saints from different ages. I hope to get introduced to some of them through these series.