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Madurai Aadheenam, Source of all Religions

Madurai Aadheenam is much older than Vedanta and Siddhanta. Vedic tradition is the wellspring source for both Vedanta and Saiva Siddhanta, the predominant vedic systems that developed in early first millennium.

All the philosophies whether it is Vedanta or Siddhanta, evolved from Thiru Jnana Sambhandar. Vedanta philosophy originated from Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century, who was highly inspired by Thiru Jnanasambandar, the first pontiff of timeless, Madurai Aadheenam. Adi Shankara is at least 300 years younger to Jnanasambandar.

Shankara himself belongs to Jnanasambandar Sampradaya, the sacred lineage of Jnanasambandar, who did not even create Madurai Aadheenam, but revived it back to its original majestic empire. Such is the unmatched richness of Madurai Aadheenam, mother of all lineages.

Adi Shankaracharya Inspired by Thiru Jnanasambandar

Adi Shankara sings Soundarya Lahari as "Shiva"

Adi Shankara, the incarnation of Shiva, founder of Vedanta,  himself puts an end to all future speculations about His source inspiration. He directly records His deep inspiration from Jnana Sambandar in His heart-melting stotra, ‘Soundarya Lahari’ (lit. the waves of beauty), the sacred devotional hymns sung in the praise and glory of Devi, the Cosmic Mother.

When describing Devi from Her feet to crown, “Paadadi Kesa”, Shankara beautifully glorifies the Mother’s breasts singing these mellifluous lyrical verses… 

“dhayavathya dhattham dravida sisu raaswadhya thava yat” meaning “the breasts that created Jnanasambandar by giving a drop of milk”.

He very clearly talks about Jnanasambandar in Soundarya Lahari.


The Unique Greatness of Soundarya Lahari

There is one more profound greatness associated with these verses. Soundarya Lahari was sung when Shankara was in the bhava of Shiva, i.e. the mood and space of Shiva Himself, as Devi’s beloved consort. Shankara sings the whole beauty of Devi soaked in supreme love that only a beloved feels.

To understand the greatness of Adi Shankara’s verses that glorify Thiru Jnana Sambandar, the sacred emotions of Lord Shankara, and the context of these divine hymns need to be understood.

The vedic tradition, the philosophy of Madurai Aadheenam contributes to the ultimate science of ‘feeling connected’ to the divine, that allows our ordinary emotions to evolve to the divine heights of ‘evolved emotions’, purifying our common lower emotions of lust, greed, jealously, worry, fear and selfishness etc. to higher sacred emotions of ‘supreme love’ which is causeless and devoid of anything selfish. The devotee withdraws the energies wasted in such emotions, and turns them upon the higher object of his supreme devotion. When the Divine is present before the devotee or the follower of Truth in a form he can see, touch and relate to, the transmutation becomes an easy and joyful process, taking him closer to himself, his very innate divinity.

The Vedic Tradition thus, presents infinite ways to feel connected, relate, and live with the Divine through the ‘deities’, the embodiment of Super Consciousness. It is a common mistake to think that Hindus worship idols. In the vedic tradition, there is no idol worship, but only worship through idols called ‘Deities’. We do not pray to the stone idol, but pray to the divine through the Deity, the sacred divine name, and glorification of the divine through hymns of love ‘Stotra’, that spontaneously out pour when the ultimate relationship flowers and melts us, soaking us completely into that experience.

Each has the freedom to create their ‘personal divine’ in many beautiful relationships. The different ways to relate with the divine are called  ‘bhava’, the ‘sacred sentiments’ are primarily five

–  the Vatsalya Bhava, the mood of a mother towards a child.

– the Matru Bhava or Sat-putra Marga (path of God’s son), which is the mood of a child towards the mother or father, this is also the sacred sentiment of Thiru Jnanasambandar, who played the role of a child incarnation in His life.

– The third, is the mood of a friend, looking at the Master or Divine as your friend, the ‘Sakha Bhava’ also called

– Next, is the attitude of a servant, a servitor of the Lord, called the ‘Dasa Bhava’. Many of the 63 Nayanmars, the great Saiva saints fully surrendered to Lord Shiva connected with Him in this mood.

– And the ultimate consummation, the peak of all sacred sentiments is the ‘Madhura Bhava’, the mood of relating with the Divine as your very beloved. This is considered the ultimate bhava for it is colored with all other bhavas of Divine love, and total surrender.

There is no literature to Devi, the Cosmic Mother in the ultimate sweet emotion of a beloved, what is called the ‘Madhura bhava’. All the male deities such as Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna enjoy the Madhura Bhava when devotees connect with them as their beloved. There is not a single female deity or a stotra (sacred hymns) with ‘Madhura Bhava’.

In these 5 ‘bhavas’ or ‘sacred sentiments’, only 4 are for female deities. Never any female deities were looked, addressed in Madhura Bhava. It is always ‘Matru Bhava’ (mood of feeling divine as Mother), or at the most ‘Dasa Bhava’ (servitor of Mother), not even a Sakha Bhava (mood of friendship with Mother).

Shankara, the great Saint and incarnation sings about Devi this ultimate bhava of all bhavas, emotion of all evolved emotions, in Madhura Bhava. It means He has become one with Shiva. Shiva himself is singing through Shankara.

In that great hymn, Soundarya Lahari, Shankara clearly beautifully praises Thiru Jnanasambandar, the great Saint, enlightened being, an incarnation of Shiva himself. So, ‘Soundarya Lahari’ is a diamond of all sacred hymns that emanated from Shiva Himself.

Giving highest reverence to him, Shankara poetically attributes Jnana Sambandar as one of the glories to the mother herself and whose poetry have stolen the mind. This is a direct historical fact proving that he was inspired, impressed influenced by Thiru Jnana Sambandar. These verses from Soundarya Lahari are


"Dravida Sisu" Thiru Jnana Sambandar drinks Enlightening Milk from Devi

“Twa stanyam manye dharanidhara kanye hridhayatha
Paya paraabhaara parivahathi saaraswathamiva
Dhayavathya dhattham dravida sisu raaswadhya thava yat
Kaveenam proudana majani kamaniya kavayitha”

“Oh daughter of the king of mountains,
I feel in my mind,
That the milk that flows from your breast,
Is really the goddess of learning, Saraswati,
In the form of a tidal wave of nectar.
For, milk given by you, who is full of mercy,
Made the child of Dravida*,
The king among those great poets,
Whose works stole one’s mind.

Adi Shankara does not speak about any master in any of his verses other than Jnana Sambandar. He does not praise anybody especially when he is praising and singing the glory of Mother in Soundarya Lahari.

This wonderful act of Adi Shankara extolling Thiru Jnanasambandar is His way to declare to the world about His own sacred lineage, and proves that Madurai Aadheenam is the source of all religions.