Shankaracharya

“Guruji explained that the Hindu goddess Durga was pictured seated on a tiger, as a symbol of complete yogic control over sexual energy, for an ordinary person could not stand up to a tiger’s extraordinary strength and power. He added that since sex was such a dominant force in man, it could easily take control of the mind.”
                                                                                (from Footsteps to Freedom)

If we started talking about the various distractions on the yoga path, the list could go on for quite a while. The pull of sex, desires, fame, and money can be seen on the front cover of most daily newspapers and magazines. However, the great spiritual masters, past and present, give an example that renunciation is only genuine when they have realised truth to the point of complete non-attachment through practice.

During the Satsang where Guruji spoke about the Four Pillars of Human Existence, he told this extraordinary story from the life of Shankaracharya, a great yoga master from the South of India:

When Shankaracharya was young, he took his vows as a sannyasin. So he was practising, and he realised truth. According to the old tradition, you have to leave home to live the life of an aesthetic until you become self-realised, and when you return to the people you are tested in a spiritual group discussion. If you are defeated in this test, then you are sent back to the forest.

By the time Shankaracharya reached Varanasi, no one had been able to defeat him in the spiritual discussions. And then he came in front of Mandan Mishra. Shankaracharya asked Mandan Mishra many questions and it seemed as if Shankaracharya had defeated him, but then Mishra’s wife said, now you have to answer my questions also. And his wife asked many questions about sex.

Shankarcharya replied that, since he had taken his vows as a young man, he had no experience with these things. He had never married or lived as a householder. ‘You have to give me some time,’ he said, ‘and then I will answer you.’

Later on, Shankaracharya told his disciples that he had to experience something. He told them that he would have to leave his body, but told them to look after it whilst he was gone.

It was night time in a palace, and the king had just died. Preparations were already underway for the cremation. To the mourning Queen’s shock, her deceased husband got up from the bed. She was overjoyed to see that he was still alive, and the night passed.

The Queen felt that there was something rather strange or different about her husband, and Shankaracharya explained that he was a sannyasi who had no experience of sex, but needed this knowledge to complete his realisation of Truth. The only way had been to enter into the body of her husband as he departed. And now he was going back.

So Shankaracharya re-entered his body and went back to see Mishra and his wife. He defeated that woman with his knowledge of the art of sex, known as the Karma Sutra in India. Shankaracharya had all kind of powers and thus completed his knowledge of the four pillars of human existence. Afterwards it was announced that he was the greatest master in India, and he came to be known as an incarnation of Lord Shiva.