At the time when people were lured into atheism and religions that did not do a complete analysis but came up with attractive half-baked philosophies, a young devotee of the Lord, with tremendous amount of energy and dedication, travelled cross and quer of Indian subcontinent, bringing back to the fore the glorious vedic dharma and continues to influence the minds of philosophers even after many centuries. That is shankara bhagavatpAda.
kAalaTy is a small picturusque village on the banks of river Purna in Kerala. In that village there were prosperous Agraharams. There lived a very pious couple shivaguru & AryAmba. shivaguru and Aryamba were leading a happy life according to Vedic instructions. The most learned scholar with his faithful wife was engaged in his daily agnihotra and other rituals. They had all the comforts what every house holder aspires to have. But their desire for a child was not fulfilled. The longing devout couple thought, "Lord shiva is the kalpataru. He is able to give us whatever we want. upamanyu got his wish satisfied by the lord. In the same way we can also get our desires fulfilled. Let us pray Lord shiva in vRishachala".
Both went to the shrine vRishachala to offer their prayers; both observed strict austerity. One day Lord shiva appeared in the dream of shivaguru and asked the devotee whether he would prefer a wise and virtuous but short-lived son or a dull one who would live long but without any virtues or greatness. shivaguru preferred the first choice, a son who would be ranked first among the learned. He woke up and narrated the dream to Aryamba. Both of them rejoiced in their hearts and returned home with a conviction that a virtuous son would be born to them soon. They made liberal gifts to Brahmins and feasted them.
Their conviction did not fail and Aryamba was soon in the family way. shivaguru felt happy and offered prayers. She felt that even during the pre-natal state that a great personality was in the womb. Time rolled on, both shivaguru and Aryamba were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their child. The auspicious moment came. The world witnessed the bright light on the eastern horizon. The planets like Jupitor, Mars, Sun and Saturn formed a favourable position on the auspicious day in the month of vaishaka shuddha panchami. The great young devotee was born. Aryamba & shivaguru prayed to Lord of vrishAchala and mother Uma. shivaguru named the child as shankara, the name of his beloved Lord shiva, (Sam- happiness, Kara- the giver, which means the bestower of auspiciousness.)
The child grew bright day by day like the morning Sun. He became the cynosure of the agraharam. Every body who saw the child felt inclined to carry him. The parents felt proud of their child. Within a year the child started to speak. At the age of three his memory power was astonishing. He was able to reproduce verbatim what ever he heard. He had learnt many stanzas from kAvyas and purANas. The aksharAbhyAsa ceremony was performed. He was only three years at that time. shivaguru passed away when shankara had just completed three years. Aryamba took courage to bear the great loss with calmness. She performed the upanayanam when the child was five years, and sent him to gurukula.
Very shortly the boy became the excelled in four vedas along with their branches. Through his sound reasoning he excelled all. Even the learned teachers were not able to understand him and his power of comprehension. He excelled many in explaining the subtle truths of scriptures. The young shankara found the books gievn to him were not able to guide properly. At the age of six he himself prepared a text book bAlabodhi samgraha for his fellow pupils to make teaching simple. There is no such example found any where in the pages of world history to exemplify such a genius. He also studied logic, yoga, shankhya and other non vedic shastras in depth.
At gurukulam he was going for alms along with fellow students as a routine. One day he was standing before the doors of a poor brahmin's house for alms. The lady of the house felt sad. She was not able to feed the Brahmacharin, because the family was passing through utter poverty. She abused herself and felt sad for she was not able to offer any food article. She offered with all humility and devotion to that young brahmacharin a gooseberry fruit (Amalaka). shankara the kind hearted boy of just five years understood the situation. He took pity on her. He composed a hymn known as kanakadhAra stotra on mahalakshmi and prayed her to shower wealth on the poor family. mahalakshmi pleased with his prayers showered a rain of gold Amalaka fruits.
shankara completed the study of all the branches of learning. He became the master in the subjects. shankara was seven years old then. He returned home after his studies.
shankara served his mother well. He spent his time very quietly and did his rites regularly. Aryamba felt very happy about the virtuous conduct of her son. Aryamba observed many vows (vratama), frequent fasting being one of them. So day by day she grew very weak and emaciated due to over performance of ascetic observances.
One day it was noon, she went to river Purna to have the noon bath in the hot Sun. As she was not able to walk such a long distance, she collapsed on the way due to exhaustion. Hearing the news young shankara rushed to the spot and brought back the mother home. That night he prayed to the mother river Purna to flow near his house. The presiding deity granted his prayers. The next day river Purna changed its course and began to flow very close to his house. The neighbours were astonished at the yogic power of the young boy.
One day, the rishis came to him and reminded him of his duty to the land in spreading spiritualism. Sankara agreed it was time to become a Sanyasi and go all over the country to kindle religious ferver. Days passed. shankara was thinking to go away from home as early as possible. He had no desire to lead a family life. He also knew well that he should serve his mother. He had understood the trials and tribulations the mother had undergone to bring him up due to the untimely death of his father. She was more than a normal mother to him, but his desire for sanyasa was much stronger.
One day he was taking bath in the river Purna along with his mother. Aryamba was standing on the bank looking at the son. All of a sudden shankara started to shout. A crocodile had caught his leg pulling him down into the water. The mother saw it herself. She was aghast and in great grief. She prayed the Almighty for the safety of her son. The body of the boy was submerging in the water. She exclaimed in distress "why I am alive? My husband has already left me, and now...now my son?". The boy spoke to his mother "give me permission to become a sanyasi, since my life has come to close". As there was no other way, the mother thought instead of losing him let him become a sanyasin and continue his life. In case he escaped from the clutches of crocodile she could see him at least as a hermit, "Alas! Oh God, I give my consent; kindly save him". The crocodile soon left the boy. Then shankara immediately chanted the resocharana mantra three times, and entered the stage of sanyasa. He came out of the river and prostrated to his mother. He told her consolingly "I am your servant. I shall follow your command. Our relatives will look after you. I leave all my paternal properties to them. They will also look after your health and after your death they will do all obsequies according to rites. You can live in comfort" Hearing all these words the mother said "what is the use of having a son if he is not able to do the obsequies?". shankara, thought for a while, accepted her last wish and assured her that he would come to her in her last days and serve her as a dutiful son and perform the last rites. She was happy. Then shankara gave all his wealth to his kith and kin and entrusted them to take great care of his mother.
At the age of eight shankara walking alone continuously passed through various hermitages and crossed many rivers. While crossing rivers after rivers and places after places through deep forest, one day he sat under a tree for his meditation. The Sun was hot. He saw a group of frogs basking in the hot Sun. To his astonishment a huge cobra crept behind the rock and spread out his huge hood to give shade to a she-frog which was laying eggs. The keen sensitive intellect of shankara did not let this scene as a passing incident. He thought himself that such a sense of love is not possible between two different creatures which were by nature inimical to each other. He thought that it must be an abode of tapaswins. He enqired the importance of the palce in nearby hermitage where lived an old ascetic. He welcomed shankara and told him that the place shRingeri was sanctified by the sage Rishya shRunga of Ramayana time and his father Rishi vibhanDaka. shankara felt extremely happy.
shankara continued his journey and arrived at the holy OmkAranath(1) on the shores of narmada and finally reached the hermitage of the sage govinda bhagawat pada. govinda bhagavat pada was in deep penance in the Ashram. shankara saw the cave where the sage was sitting. He realized that govinda bhagavatpAda was the teacher he was searching for. He prostrated with full devotion before the guru and prayed to him. "I am shankara and I worship you. I pray to you for grace and request you to accept me as your disciple to know the truth of Brahman".
The sage opened his eyes and asked "who are you?"
"Most respected sir, I am neither the earth nor water, nor fire,nor air, nor ether, nor any properties, I am not any on eof the sense organs, I am the divisionless consciousness" humbly replied shankara.
The sage was delighted beyond description. It appeared that he was waiting to meet such a disciple. He felt very happy, knowing about the knowledge, shankara had gained through deep study. He was pleased with the words and the way of presentation of the truth before him. He saw the glow of knowledge on shankara's face. With all humility, shankara prostrated before the feet of guru. Highly pleased with this young boy the guru initiated him to sanyasa and imparted the purport of the four mahavakyas.
1. pragyAnam brahma - Brahman is pure consciousness.
2. aham brahmAsmi - I am Brahman.
3. tat tvam asi - Thou art that (Brahman)
4. ayamAtmA brahma - This atman is Brahman
He taught him the vedanta sutra of vyasa. shankara understood the inner most essence of Vedanta philosophy. Sanyasa is the ultimate stage in the spiritual status of a religious practitioner which will finally lead him to realisation of 'The self'.
shankara attained the paramahamsa hood and established himself in bliss. He entered the state of samadhi. In samadhi he experienced the bliss of sat-chit-Ananda state. He experienced the existence of brahman every where.
Acharya's beloved mother Aryamba had become emaciated and weak due to old age. She felt her last days were arriving and she thought that her son would be with her during these days as per his words. Aryamba was eagerly awaiting the arrival of her beloved son. The mother's heart is the epitome of affection and tolerance. One day when shankara was in his routine meditation his mind was unusually disturbed. Suddenly he felt that the last days of his mother had arrived and she was awaiting for his arrival. Immediately shankara got up, told his disciples about it and left for kAlaTy.
shankara reached Kalaty and prostrated before his mother. She felt very happy. She saw her young son had grown up to manhood and maintaining good health. Seeing the weak and sick mother the son promised to serve her and to be with her till the end. She requested him with great love that her body should be cremated as per Vedic rites. She asked him to explain her his philosophy of Advaitha. shankara explained to her the nature of brahman as eternal, self-effulgent, immeasurable, free from defects, and pure consciousness etc. In reply she said that she was not able to grasp all those abstract ideas and asked him to recite some hymns composed by him in praise of some deities. His heart touched with love, he recited the hymn in praise of Lord shiva. Pleased with his prayer shiva appeared with his consort Parvathi and all his emissaries. However the mother was not in a prepared state to go to kailAsha with shiva's emissaries with trident in their hands. shankara then sung a song in praise of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu paid a darshan to the great mother along with his consorts on either side. AryAmba left the mortal body. She attained Vaikunta abode.
shankara requested the brahmins in the agraharam to help him to perform the funeral rites. No brahmin came there. But they criticised shankara as what right he had to perform all rites, when he had given up vedic karmas. They were not prepared to hear the words of shankara. They did not come forward to help him to the last rite. They refused to give him even fire to lit the pyre. On the banks river pUrNa there were numerous trees. He collected the dried branches and prepared the pyre with great effort. He brought the dead body with the help of some kind persons. He put it on the pyre. He generated fire from his right hand and performed all the rites to fulfil the last wishes of his mother. s
After the passing away of his mother the Acharya left Kalaty and reached Shringeri to start his Dharma Prachara. He visited various places of learning. He met scholars of various schools of philosophy. He defeated all those who opposed him. shankara started his pilgrimage towards South. He reached Madurai, offered his prayers at Meenakshi temple and then proceeded towards Rameshwaram. Padmapada joined him. Having the darshan of Ramanatha and offered his prayers, the mighty ocean appeared to him as supreme reality of oneness, the ocean as Brahman, the rising and merging waves as the Jeevas or teh creation of Brahman. He took holy dip, offered Puja to Lord shiva as Ramanatha.
The Acharya received his disciple with affection and enquired his welfare and experiences during the pilgrimage. Padmapada narrated his bad luck. The kind hearted Acharya helped him to write the glossory on Sutra Bhashya which was brought again through his memory. Padmapada rewrote it again which is known as Panchapadika.
On that day the usual discourse was going on. One of the assembled stood up and asked the significance of the word
Padmapada gave a detailed description. The scholars gathered there praised Padmapada for his scholarship.
The Acharya with his disciples started his missionary tour for the re-establishment and propogation of Sanatana Dharma and the Advaitha doctrine. So the Acharya started digvijaya beginning from the SOuth to the North. He met Saivas. They were drum herds and of sakta cult. He argued with the Brahmanas of sakta persuasion. He silenced them and reached Kanchipuram passing through Tanjore, Chidambaram and Subramanya Puram now known as Tiruthani in Subramanya desha. The Tantrikas were worshipping Devi Kamakshi in their own crude way by offering meat and liquor. He argued with them and convinced them, and finally they accepted the philosophy of nin-dualism. He instituted the mode of worship in accordance with the Vedic tradition. He proceeded towards Kalahasti on the bansk of Tambraparni. He offered pooja to Lord shiva and reached Venkatachala the present Tirupati. He worshipped Lord Venkateshwara, established Dhanakarshana chakra and reached Vidarbha. The Bhairavas were performing the pooja in a crude form by offering human sacrifice. shankara and Padmapada argued with them, preached them non-violence and the pure mode of worship and brought them to the path of pure religion. The Kapalikas lived in various parts of the country in the interior forests and hill caves. They were very dangerous sects. They followed the cruel cult of human sacrifice and condemned Vedic religion. Acharya reached the heart of the region of Kapalika. Krakacha their leder came for a bitter argument. His body was smeared with ashes, Krakacha abused shankara for having a pot of mud instead of having a human skull with liquor in it. Krakacha sent a band of Kapalikas to fight. shankara was able to see what was happening. Under his guidance, King Sudhanva a local captain with his band of army silenced them. Krakacha himself came for the battle. shankara prayed Lord Bhairava for help. Bhairava appeared before him and cut the head of Krakacha. Acharya prayed Bhairava for his kindeness.
Travelling through various parts of the country he debated and won everyone who came for argument. He reached Rajamahendri and then arrived at Shrikshetra the Jagannatha puri and stayed there for a few days. He had some extraordinary thoughts. He understood the greatness of the place and established an Amnaya Peetha and appointed his disciple Hastamalaka as the chief of this Peetha.
Thereafter he marched further North and did penance in a beautiful place, now known as shankaracharya Guha and left for Maghada Desha. In his sojjourn the Vaishnavas, the shivas, the Saktas, the Sauras came together for argument. He defeated them and converted them to his path and proceeded towards Varanasi. After worshipping Vishwantha he went towards Triveni (Prayaga). Having taken bath at Sangam he proceeded towards Ujjayani. He offered prayers before the presiding deity Mahakala. It was a city of learned scholars.
The Acharya proceeded from there and reached Dwaraka passing through Girinath, Somanath, and Prabhasa. He stayed a few days at Dwaraka and established the Third Amnaya Peetha at Dwaraka and appointed Padmapada as the Acharya of that Peetha. This is known as Paschimnaya Peetha.
shankara proceeded further, reached Sindhu belt and then started towrds Sindhu Sangama. Hearing the news of the arrival of the Acharya, a group of scholars belonging to Jain religion came for an argumetn with the hope to win shankara. They were not equal to stand in argument. They withdrew themselves from the scene of argument. Defeating them, he reached Sindhu Sangama the present Karachi. Passing through Gandhara, Purushapura (Peshawar) he reached Takshila. The Buddhist scholars challenged him for a bitter argument. Arguments and counter arguments went on. Finally they accepted the philosophy of Advaitha. Passing through Bahlika (Persia) he reached Kashmir. Various misleading sections like Saktas, Pareepatas, Kshapanakas, Kapalikas, Charvakas and Vaishnavas were indulging in mutual criticism and quarrelling. shankara led them to a pure way of life. Now shankara was like a bright Sun. No one was able to stand before him for argument. He won all, one by one. Abandoning irreligious practices they accepted the ideals of shankara.
He did penance for a few days in a hill in Kashmir now known as shankarachary hills. He proceeded towards Bhimeshwara, Jwalamukhi, Haridwar. Seeing all sacred centers of learning and having baths in great rivers he proceeded towards Naimisharanya and Ayodhya. Performing the traditional rites at Ayodhya he reached Mithila. To go further towards East he went to Pataliputra wher he argued with various scholars of different schools of learning and philosophy. He saw the place where the old Universoty was established at Nalanda. The Buddhists came for arguments and discourses went on for days. Finally shankara made them to accept the nature of Brahman and its manifestations in various forms and in a victorious march reached Raja gruhs.
The Acharya while sitting on the sandy bed of Ganga for meditation, he saw the great guru Gowdapada before him. The disciple prostrated before Paramacharya in great excitement. Smiling at the
the Paramacharya said "Govindapada imparted you the knowledge of the Atman. Through the knowledge you have well realised the eternal truth of Sat-Chit-Ananda. You have gained proficiency on the eight limbed yoga. Your mind has become one on the eternal being". In reply shankara said to him "Honourable master, all these virtues you have identified in me are due to your blessings, a glance of yours can make a fool a scholar, sinner, a saint, a dumb an eloquent speaker. You, the great teacher, got the knowledge of Brahman directly from Suka, the great son of Vyasa, Suka the knower of Brahman was able to identify the call of his father in the form of reverberation of voices from the trees, from such a great line of gurus you have imbibed the truth, I am standing face to face before such a guru".
The great Gowdapada replied "my child, I heard from Govindapada that you have written Karika on Mandukya into full bloom". shankara read a few portions from his commentary. He was pleased immensely from his realm of scholarship. He felt happy and granted a boon.
shankara replied "Oh Great Master, I saw the splendour of Suka is residing in you. In you I have seen the Mahavishnu himself, what a great boon can be asked from you whose thoughts resolve always the supreme being only". Paramacharya, the death less and the desireless, blessed him and disappeared. shankara spent the night to explain the episode to his disciples.
One day the Acharya and his disciples were doing their morning rites and duties. One of his disciples described that Kashmir is one of the beautiful lands in India and a temple was dedicated to mother Sharada, where the throne of transcendental wisdom or Sarvagna Peetham was established. The temple has four doors on four sides i.e., on to East, West, South and North. The seat of learning could be occupied by a person of exemplary character and learning. The entrance would not not open to others who were not well versed and so far no body had entered through the south. The news kindled the desire in shankara, and he decided to visit Kahsmir and Sharada Peetam
Then he went to Gaya the oldest seat of learned scholars and from there he went towards Vanga desha Kamarupa. He established the rituals on Veda marga. Winning all the defenders of Shakti cult he went from Pragjyothisa to Pasupatinath. He offered prayers to Pashupathinatha. People were offering animals and human lives. He corrected the rituals and made not to give any life as offering to Lord Pashupathi. The Vedic tradition was established and from there he visited Jyesteshwara and from there to Kashmir.
shankara started towards North and reached the temple town of Shri Sharada. Knowing that a sanysin wanted to enter from the south gate, the scholars assembled. The learned scholars started to test the knowledge of the saint and said "if any one wants to enter in, one must be a master of all branches of learning". The masters of all branches of learning were present there. One after another, they raised questions afer questions. All confusions were cleared. Arguments went on for many days. Finally the controversalists agreed with shankara. The entrance of Southern Mahadwara was opened. The Acharya entered through it. The presiding deity of the temples Saraswathi in a disembodied voice questioned his knowledge. "You are a sanyasin but you have studied Kama Sutra. How do you say that you are pure?". The Acharya replied "I have not committed any sin from my birth and that too from my present body. Does it affect this body?" The voice became silent.
The Acharya ascended the throne. All the learned scholars of all schools praised him as Omniscient. He reached the zenith of glory. The Devas also praised him for his supremacy. He re-established Advaitha. He built his own tradition. There was nothing left behind to be achieved. He became an accepted Omniscient among all scholars and schools of philosophy.
The next day the Omniscient started towards Badari. He established Sarvajna Peetha there and appointed Thotaka as the head of the fourth Amnaya Peetha.
The disciples were not able to bear the cold of the Himalayan region. They felt very sick on account of extreme cold. shankara prayed to Lord shiva, then a spring of hot water started to flow and it is flowing continuouisly.
On one most auspicious day, when the sky was clear he sat on a little raised seat. All the four principal disciples were within him. The Omniscient now had a full view of the entire Bharatha Varsha in his mind, he had visited all the holy places and met thousands of persons of all hues and won hearts. He decieded to build a strong and spiritually United Nation on the firm foundation of Dharma, Satya and Nyaya. He asked his followers to strictly follow the Vedic religion and gave them instructions to protect the Dharma. He directed the four principal disciples to proceed to their respective Peethams. He dictated the ' Mahanushasana' in which he clearly guided their principal duties; how the successors to be selected; how all the four Amnaya Peethams should work together and finally through such procedure how they can bind the nation and achieve emotional integration. The four disciples faithfully obeyed to follow
There was silence for some time. The Acharya brokw the silence and said "you are my beloved disciples. You have understood everything about Sanathana Dharma and you are capable of keeping the nation always united and uphold Dharma. My mission is over. I want to leave this mortal world. I want to seek shelter permanently in the abode of the Lord".
The silence continued. The white sheets of snow were shining on the peaks of Himalayas. The principal disciples readily prepared to obey the instructions of their guru. They agreed to go to their Kshetras to perpetuate the teaching of their guru in their seats of learning. They stood up and prostrated to their guru in obedience. shankara, the knower of all, sat silently.
Now some stray disciples broke the silence and requested the guru to explain in a nutshell his philosophy. The great Acharya happily repeated the Dasa Sloki again and explained the great truths of Advaitha.
The apponted hour arrived. The Acharya gave advice to all those assembled in his presence. Every body started to feel the pangs of separation from his guru. The great Acharya started to move towards Kedarnath in the high mountains. The snow covered peaks were all eagerly waiting the arrival of the world teacher. As the Acharya moved, his followers also followed closely. A permanent eternal peace was established in his face. No one was able to speak a word before him. The light of Omniscience was glowing in him.
The path was steep. The Acharya stood there. He blessed all and advised them not to follow him any more.
In a few minutes he climbed the mountain and disappeared. The Lord Dattatraya came down to receive him to his abode.
The sound of AUM vibrated every where.
1. shankara propogated orthodox religion 2. shankara is incarnation of Lord shiva 3. shankara was born 2500 years back To fit in
Sri Sankara went to Kasi and by that time, he had a lot of disciples. One of them, Sanandhyaya, was drying the clothes of his Guru and suddenly Sri Sankara called him to the other bank of the river as he needed the clothes urgently. Sanandhyaya, little realising that he would drown, starts walking into the river. However, the Grace of his Guru resulted in a lotus materialising wherever he was keeping his foot. When asked as to how did he cross the river, he says that when his Guru calls, he is not to worry about anything. Sri Sankara named him as Padma Padar (lotus feet).
Once, in Kasi, when Sri Sankara was going to the Vishwanath Temple, his path was blocked by an "untouchable" who was accompanied by his wife and 4 dogs. The disciples of Sri Sankara shouted at him to make way, and to keep a distance. The untouchable smiled and said, ""According to your principle of Advaita, which you practice, all the Jivatma are same as God. How do you ask me to go? How am I different from your Paramacharya? What you say is unreasonable. How can I go away from myself?" Sri Sankara realised that it was not an ordinary person and understood that it was Lord Shiva himself who had come along with His escort and the four Vedas. He prostrated before the Lord and sang five slokas called "Manisha Panchakam". Lord Shiva presented himself along with Visalakshi and blessed Sri Sankara.
When Shri Sankara was 16, a very old Brahmin of ill health started arguments with him about Brahmasutra bashyam which Shri Sankara had written. Shri Sankara was astounded by his intelligence and arguments but they continued their discussion. The arguments continued for days together and the more Shri Sankara argued, his ideas crystallised more and more and he understood that the old man was none other than Vyasa Rishi, who was the creator of Brahmasutra. Sri Sankara said that he has done a great disrespect to the sage by entering into an argument. Vyasa Rishi said "I fully agree with your bashyam and I wanted to establish that yours is correct. I bless that you should live another 16 years and you should spread this Advaita throughout the country."
Sri Sankara learnt that there was a great learned person by the name Mandana Mishra who lived in Mahishmati and who followed the Karma Mimaamsa method of devotion. Sri Sankara arrived at his house and found his house was closed and Mandala Mishra was carrying out some rituals inside his house. Sri Sankara entered the house by using his powers and entered the house. Mandala Mishra became very angry and shouted at Sri Sankara. But Sri Sankara smiled and explained the uselessness of such rituals. However, Mandala Mishra admired the intelligence of Sri Sankara and started discussions with him after completing the rituals. Sri Sankara said that there should be a judge to decide the winner and suggested that Sarasawani, the wife of Mandala Mishra, to be the judge. Sarasawani, who was extremely intelligent and learned, realised that Sri Sankara was none other than Lord Shiva, did not want to declare her husband as the loser. She suggested that both of them should wear a garland of flowers and whichever garland fades first, that person would be the loser. Naturally, Sri Sankara won. As per the original condition, Mandala Mishra became an ascetic and started to leave the house. Unable to bear the separation, Sarasawani stood transfixed and told Sri Sankara that according to our faith, the husband and wife, even though have two bodies, are spiritually one and she would be incomplete without her husband. Sri Sankara accepted this and started discussion with this lady. Saraswani showered questions like rain and Sri Sankara gave very beautiful answers and Sarasawani acknowledged him, and followed Sri Sankara and her husband's footsteps. In their travels, they reached Sringeri in Karnataka, which is on the banks of Tungabadra. While Sri Sankara and Mandala Mishra were walking, Sarasawani did not move and stood fixed in the sands of Tungabadra. Sri Sankara turned back and realised by his divine powers that Sarasawani did not want to proceed any further and created a seat for her for spreading the Advaita. This seat is today called the Sharada Peetham or the Seat of Sharada. This was the first Mutt installed by Sri Sankara, with the direction that all the heads of the Mutts will be called Sankaracharayas and they will have a lineage of Shishyas or disciples.
Sri Sankara, with his three principle disciples, namely, Padmapadar, Sureshwarar (Mandala Mishra) and Hastaamalaka, went from place to place, and preached Advaita. Sri Sankara gave intense training to his disciples. One of the other disciples, Giri, while listening to the discourses, would not ask any doubts, would not open his mouth, and would be silent all the time. Some of the other disciples thought that this Giri was a dumb idiot and did not know anything. One day, all the disciples were ready to listen to Sri Sankara's discourses. Sri Sankara waited for Giri to arrive. Ultimately, Giri turned up but instead of keeping silent on that day, burst forth into eight slokas which had never been heard by the disciples earlier. These were the creation of Giri. On hearing this, all the disciples felt ashamed and praised Giri. These slokas are called "Thotaka ashtakam". Giri was named as Thotakar by Sri Sankara.
Arjuna tree is the tree of "Marutha" and the place where Lord Shiva appears as a Linga under this "Martha" tree is called Arjuna Kshetra. The Thiruvadaimaruthur which Sri Sankara visited earlier is called Madhyaarjunam. Srisaila, in Andhra, is called Mallikarjunam as Lord Shiva resides under a Marutha Tree which has also got Jasmine creepers on this tree. Sri Sankara visited this tree and became ecstastic on seeing the linga at the foot of this tree. His happiness flowed like the waves of a flood and became a sloka called Sivanandalahiri.
Near Srisailam, there is a forest called Hatakeshwaram, that no man enters. Sri Sankara entered this place and did penance for many days. During this time, a Kabalika, by name Kirakashan appeared before him. Kapalikas are a set of people who live in the burial grounds and pray to God by giving human and animal sacrifice. They were against Advaita which preaches love and affection and shuns violence. He asked Sri Sankara that he should give his body as a human sacrifice to Lord Shiva. Sri Sankara was happy to hear this request and agreed. Kirakashan was about to cut off Sri Sankara's head when Lord Narasimha appeared in the form of a lion and killed Kirakashan.
(Text of all these could be found at Scripture and shloka section