Omkareshwar Jyothirlinga temple is located on the ‘Mandhata” island formed by ever holy river Narmada in Madhya pradesh, India. Aadhi Shankaracharya met his guru “Govinda Bhagavatpada” exactly 2520 years back in a cave just downside of the same Omkareshwar Jyothirlinga temple.
I had a blessing to do the devoutyatra to Omkareshwar on September month 2018. I was able to spend bit time in this Aadhi Shankaracharya cave near to Omkareshwar Jyothirlinga temple.
Location of this cave in Omkareshwar:
If we go from the southern banks of Narmada near Mamleshwar Jyothirlinga temple, we have to first cross the Narmada through overhanging bridge called mamleshwar Setu. Post crossing the Narmada through the bridge, we have to take left. This way will take us to Omkareshwar Jyothirlinga temple. The temple will be on our right side. If we go further, there will be steps downwards. Once we get down, we need to take ‘U’ turn on left side, this Aadhi Shankaracharya cave is just on the dead end.
This Shankaracharya cave is just downside of Omkareshwar Jyothirlinga temple.
It is also locally called as Govindeshwar cave (gufa in hindi).
This cave was located by an ardent devotee of Kachi Shankara mutt Shri Jabalpur Nagaraja Shama around 1977-78 with the guidance & blessings of Kanchi Paramacharya. (He narrated his experience about finding this cave and Please click the youtube link in downside to watch the same)
As per the history of Aadhi Shankaracharya (Sankara Vijayam) as told by Kanchi Paramacharya, there are two incidents associated with this cave.
- The first incident is pertaining to the meeting between Gaudapada and Govinda Bhagawatpada.
- The second incident is about Govinda Bhagawatpada and Aadhi Shankaracharya.
First incident: Gaudapada & this cave:
The first incident is bit earlier than the Aadhi Shankara’s period itself. Gaudapada was the guru of Govinda Bhagawatpada. Govinda Bhagawatpada was the guru of Aadhi Shankara. Gaudapada wrote his bhasyam on mandukya upanishad named “mandukya karika”. When Aadhi Shankara wrote bhasyam on “mandukya karika”, he glorified Gaudapada as his paramaguru (guru’s guru)
Poojyabhi poojyam paramagurum amum padapaidar nathosmi
(my guru’s guru is sage among sages, am bow on his feet)
As per Patanjali charitam written by legandary Rama bhadra dikshithar, Gaudapada was the student of Patanjali maharishi in Chidambaram. He was learning vyakarana maha bhasyam from Patanjali maharishi along with other 1000 student. However, Gaudapada became ghost (Brahma rakshas) due to curse of Patanjali maharishi since he left the classes in between.
Despite this reason, Patanjali maharishi blessed Gaudapada and gifted his knowledge on vyakarana maha bhasyam. Patanjali maharishi blessed him that if he teaches vyakarana maha bhasyam to one person, he will get relived from ghost form. Hence, Gaudapada with ghost from moved to the banks of Narmada and stayed in peepal tree (ashwatta vruksha) near to this cave as well as Omkareshwar Jyothirlinga temple.
One day Gaudapada met the young man Chandra sharma. He was from Kashmir and traveling to Chidambaram to learn vyakarana maha bhasyam from Patanjali. Now Gaudapada himself taught him vyakarana maha bhasyam after checking Chandra sharma’s eligibility. This Chandra Sharma spread the vyakarana maha bhasyam throughout the Bharat. Later he became sanyasi with the name of “Govinda Bhagawatpada”.
This historic and pious incident of teaching vyakarana maha bhasyam to Govinda Bhagawatpada by Gaudapada happened near to this cave in Omkareshwar.
Second incident: Govinda Bhawatpada and Aadhi Shankaracharya
As per same Patanjali charitam, Govinda Bhagawatpada came again to this cave in Omkareshwar from Badrinath and lived in this cave for many years with an expectation of meeting Aadhi Shankara.
At his age of 8, Aadhi Shankara walked from Kalady village in Kerala to Naramada banks in search of his guru. When Aadhi Shankara reached the southern banks of Narmada, there was a flood in river and his guru was inside this cave on the northern banks of Narmada.
Aadhi Shankara immediately composed Narmadashtakam in praise of Narmada river. Immediately, Narmada dried up and entered into ‘kamandalu” of Aadhi Shankara. He reached the cave and Govinda Bhagavatpada waked up from his deep meditation. Govinda Bhagavatpada asked him that who are you?. Aadhi Shankara answered in ten slokas. These ten slokas are named “dasa sloki”
Na Bhoomir na thoyam na thejo na vayuh;
Na kham nendriyam vaa na thesham samooha
Anai kanthi katwat sushupthyeka sidda
Thad ekao (a)vasishta shiva kevalo aham
(1st sloka – Dasa sloki – Aadhi Shankara)
(I am not earth, not water, not fire, not wind, not senses organs, nor am combination of these, because they don’t always exists, this remains even in sleep after everything is taken out. Hence, I am the one, the residue simply Shiva the self)
After Aadhi Shankara’s this reply, Govinda Bhagawatpada accepted him as his disciple. He then initiated him into sanyasa and blessed him with “upadesa” of four maha vakhyas from Upanishads. After this, Aadhi Shankara lived with Govinda Bhagawatpada for brief period in this cave.
There is no parallel in the human history for Aadhi Shankara’s guru bhakthi. His Dakshina murthi stotram is the testimony for such an ardent guru bhakthi. Each sloka of this stotram ends with
“tasmai shri gurumurthaye nama idam shri dakshina murthaye”
Inside the cave:
This cave witnessed such an amazing incidents in the history of our ancient Bharatavarsh and still making us mesmerizing about that golden days. This Shankaracharya cave is just downside of Omkareshwar jyothirlinga temple.
Inside, there seems to be around 4-5 passages. One passage goes to Narmada river. It seems that it was being used to bring the water from Narmada. There seems to be other passages towards Omkareshwar temple, Omkareshwar town and even to Ujjain. However, they all are closed.
Inside, there is murthy of Aadhi Shankara. The image of Aadhi Shankara standing on Narmada banks & Govinda Bhavatpada’s meditation inside the cave are carved out in the behind wall. There is small devi shrine inside the this cave.
This cave may be later converted into partial temple since the stone pillars inside the cave indicates the same.
As an ardent devotee of Aadhi Shankara, the moment standing inside this cave brings goosebumps to me. We are living in this great Bharavarsh where Such a legend, Shri Parameshwara himself, who walked over around 2500 years back, who traveled three times within his 32 years of short span throughout the country to establish dharma, who single handedly enriched our civilization.
Apart from doing humble pranam to him and following the path of devotion, what else can we do
One thing is sure. Whether we celebrate Diwali, rama Navami or Janmastami. We should celebrate Sankara jayathi with full glory.
How to reach Omkareshwar:
- Omkareshwar is an ancient pilgrimage town in Madhya pradesh state in India.
- It is 78KM from Indore City.
- Nearest airport is Ahilyabai Holkar International Airport in Indore. Airport is around 8KM west of Indore city.
- Indigo operates more number of flights to and fro Indore.
- Indore is well connected with other major cities of India through Rail, Air and Road.
- The more convenient way to reach Omkareshwar is, first reaching Indore through Air or Rail, then proceed to Omkareshwar through Cab. There are bus facilities however, it is limited.
- When you plan your yatra to Omkareshwar, It is better to include Maheshwar, Ujjain Mahakaleshwar into your list.
- In Omkareshwar, Apart from this Omkareshwar Jyothirlinga temple as well as Shankaracharya cave, There is Mamleshwar Jyothirlinga temple and many other ashrams.
- There is parikrama called Omkareshwar parikrama circumambulating the hill and temple. This parikrama patha is dotted with various temples and ashrams
Youtube link – Shri Jabalpur Nagaraja Sharma’s speech – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxvxXsd-1g8
Youtube link – Narmadastakam – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPHX457XAKY
Youtube link – Dasa sloki stuti – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8wjed2yLow
Source: Dasa sloki stuthi english verse from http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Sankara%27s_Dasa_Sloki
Reference: Deivathin kural 5th volume in Tamil