Saints and Social Reformers of Uttarakhand
Reminiscenes (Nantin Baba)
The word Nantin, in the Uttarakhand parlance, connotes a child, and baba means a saint. Thus, Nantin baba means a child saint. A very young sadhu was first noticed roaming in the area extending from Bhowali to Gethia, near Nainital.
Soon he became well known for his innocent childlike activities. He would, many a times, suddenly refuse to eat the food offered to him by a household and would run away like child. On other occasions, he would insist for food at odd hours. One of his devotees once saw him rolling his body in the mud in the forest like an animal and bursting with joy. He never made any ashram and preferred to stay in natural caves in desolate forests from Bhowali to Bageshwer in kumaon area of Uttarakhand.
His items of utility remained scattered in these cave. Occasionally, he would visit and stay for short periods in a separate room of a household devotees, particularly, during the two Navratries. During the nine days period, he would keep his devotees under most strict discipline in terms of taking food and spending time in devotion. He used to say that the nine days fast and devotion is for washing off the mind of the accumulated dirt of the world. He was also well known for curing very difficult diseases by prescribing or giving medicines prepared from traditional herbs found in the hills. He knew the process of making gold from mercury by some alchemic procedure. As a proof of the fact that this had happened, one may visit the yagya- shala of the Birla Mandir, New Delhi. One may still find a marble slab, fixed on a wall near the Havan Kund, wherein it was inscribed that Nantin baba had made gold in that place in presence of Sri Jugal Kishore Birla Ji and others.
Adi Shankara early 8th century CE is a widely studied and influential Hindu philosopher and theologian from India who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. His works in Sanskrit discuss the unity of the ātman and Nirguna Brahman “brahman without attributes”.He wrote copious commentaries on the Vedic canon (Brahma Sutras, Principal Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita) in support of his thesis. His works elaborate on ideas found in the Upanishads. Shankara’s publications critiqued of rituals-oriented Mīmāṃsā school of Hinduism. He also explained the key difference between Hinduism and Buddhism, stating that Hinduism asserts “Atman (Soul, Self) exists”, while Buddhism asserts that there is “no Soul, no Self”.
Shankara travelled across the Indian subcontinent to propagate his philosophy through discourses and debates with other thinkers. He established the importance of monastic life as sanctioned in the Upanishads and Brahma Sutra, in a time when the Mīmāṃsā school established strict ritualism and ridiculed monasticism. He is reputed to have founded four mathas (“monasteries”), which helped in the historical development, revival and spread of Advaita Vedanta of which he is known as the greatest revivalist.
Note: Advaita Vedanta – Advaita Vedanta is the oldest extant sub-school of Vedanta, an ancient Hindu tradition of scriptural exegesis and religious practice,and the best-known school of advaita, the nonduality of Atman and Brahman or the Absolute. It gives “a unifying interpretation of the whole body of Upanishads”, providing scriptural authority for the postulation of the nonduality of Atman and Brahman.
Advaita (not-two in Sanskrit) refers to the recognition that the true Self, Atman, which is pure consciousness, is the same as the highest Reality, Brahman, which is also pure consciousness. Followers seek liberation/release by acquiring vidyā (knowledge) of the identity of Atman and Brahman. Attaining this liberation takes a long preparation and training under the guidance of a guru. Advaita thought can also be found in non-orthodox Indian religious traditions, such as the tantric Nath tradition.
The principal, though not the first, exponent of the Advaita Vedanta-interpretation was Shankara Bhagavadpada in the 8th century, who systematised the works of preceding philosophers.Its teachings have influenced various sects of Hinduism.
The key source texts for all schools of Vedānta are the Prasthanatrayi, the canonical texts consisting of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras, of which they give a philosophical interpretation and elucidation.
Jyotirmath: Jyotirmath, also known as Joshimath is a city and a municipal board in Chamoli District in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Located at a height of 6150 feet, it is gateway to several Himalayan mountain climbing expeditions, trekking trails and pilgrim centres like Badrinath. It is home to one of the four cardinal pīthas established by Adi Shankara.
Jyotirmath is the uttarāmnāya matha or northern monastery, one of the four cardinal institutions established by Adi Shankara, the others being those at Shringeri, Puri and Dwaraka. Their heads are titled “Shankaracharya”. According to the tradition initiated by Adi Shankara, this matha is in charge of the Atharvaveda. Jyotirmath is close to the pilgrimage town of Badrinath. This place can be a base station for travellers going to Guru Gobind Ghat or the Valley of Flowers National Park.
This is the math established by Adi Shankaracharya in North India. The Math is having temple of Badrinarayan and Rajrajeshwari Devi. It has a sacred cave where Adi Shankaracharya supposedly undertook tapasya