Story-day is for cultural exploration, puraanas and parables and finding out about leading lights in spiritual philosophy.
For this month we have been focusing on Sri Adi Shankaraacharya. His jayanti (birthday) is actually celebrated around the end of April, but other festivals will be covered at that time, so this was a good opportunity. It is also worth introducing this amazing sage, so why not at the start of a new year? To round it off, here is 'cut and paste' from an article from Hinduism Today made in 1990, when Gurudev was still present. CIF has moved on in leaps and bounds since that time and you can get the full picture from the dedicated web pages on the links at the side bar. That a place of such historical and spiritual importance should have come into the care of Gurudev's foundation speaks volumes for the standing and regard in which he was held and that Chinmaya Mission is still.
(Minor modifications to spelling and removal of some irrelevant data on activities has been undertaken, images added, but otherwise this is as the article appeared.)
Adi Sankara's Ancestral Home Bought by Swami Chinmayananda
Presently Unkempt Site to be Restored as International Centre in Honour of Philosopher
standing for centuries on eight-acres of land in the village of Veliyanad in the state
of Kerala is at last going to get the care it needed from the people of India. It is
being acquired by the Chinmaya International Foundation and will be carefully
protected, maintained and turned into a historical monument of great attraction for
the devotees of Adi Sankara all over the world.
It was in this house that the great saint of the Vedantic religion was born about thirteen
centuries ago to revive the glory and grandeur of India's cultural and spiritual
values. It was in this house that he lived for years studying the Vedas, the
Upanishads and other valuable works concerning spirituality and meditating to
seek answers to the crucial questions facing his country in those days. Even the
venerable mother of the saint, Aryamba, was born and brought up in this house.
Aryamba belonged to the ancient Nambudiri family known as Melpashur Illom. The
house is an excellent example of the splendid architectural style of old Kerala, a
style in which the structural strength was admirably blended with practical utility
and artistic workmanship. The house in which Sankara spent many a summer
serving his ailing mother was in sad ruins for decades. There was only one solitary
structure that still bears eloquent testimony to the exquisite wooden panelling and
engraving expertly done by the carpenter artists of the ancient days.
In keeping with the traditions followed by the Nambudiri families of the past, a
Siva temple was also constructed on the compound grounds of the house. It is
believed that Sankara lived in the house even after he became a world teacher and
dedicated himself to the service of humanity. Traditionally, a sannyasin (renunciate
monk) would not live at his family home. It was here that he had composed his
Hymn to Uma-Maheswara to glorify Siva and Parvati installed at the temple.
Sri Sankara had also written his commentaries on the Brahma Sutras while living
here. The commentaries were reduced to ashes when the whole gatehouse where
the acharya's maternal uncle had kept them (along with other works of the saint)
caught fire. Fortunately for the world, the commentaries in their entirety were
safely preserved in the marvellous memory of Padmapadacharya, Sri Sankara's
foremost disciple. He wrote the commentaries down from memory and thus
preserved them for future generations.
The Chinmaya International Foundation, (CIF) set up by Swami Chinmayananda in
1989, intends to fully restore the house to carry out a cross-cultural program it is
planning. A postal tutorial course in Sanskrit has already been started. During the
summer, the newly created CIF facility will be available for various training sessions
for children, youth, teachers and managers. Some international programs are also
The foundation is organizing a Gita chanting competition from district to a national
level. Students from schools and colleges will participate in the competitions and
win cash ... In all about 120 students will win prizes for reciting the various chapters
of the Gita in a style that helps elevate the minds of the listeners. […]
The foundation is also planning to set up what Swami Chinmayananda calls the
"Chinmaya Institute of Living Values." The swami told HINDUISM TODAY in New
Delhi recently that the institute will work for the encouragement of the living values
relevant to our society. "With the continuous decay of moral values and consequent mental dissipation we are unable to cope with the problems faced by us and the society," he said. Swami-ji explained that the values sought to be propagated would have their roots in India's culture and spirituality. The institute's actions and activities will promote value-based approaches to living applicable to persons of any profession.