The Madhya Pradesh government recently announced plans to install a 108-foot murti of the renowned philosopher and saint Sri Adi Sankaracharya in Omkareshwar on the banks of the Narmada river. Born in Kerala, this great saint travelled at the tender age of eight to Omkareshwar where he met his Guru, Sri Acharya Govindabhagavatpada.
The Adi Shankara Sandesh Vahini, an initiative of Chinmaya Mission and the Govt. of Madhya Pradesh is a life-story of Sri Adi Sankaracharya on wheels, and was specially designed to be a part of the Government’s initiative called ‘Ekatm Yatra’. The idea of the bus is to travel from Adi Sankara Nilayam, Veliyanad, Kerala, the birth-place of Sri Adi Sankaracharya and home to Chinmaya International Foundation, to Omkareshwara, Madhya Pradesh.The intricately designed bus carries panels depicting significant incidents from Sri Sankara’s life. This bus, aptly called the Adi Shankara Sandesh Vahini was flagged off from Adi Sankara Nilayam on Dec 29, 2017 by Hon’ble CM of Madhya Pradesh, Sri Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
On the morning of Dec 29, 2017, the CM visited the Adi Shankara Sandesh Vahini along with his family. They were accompanied by Swami Mitrananda, Trustee Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth (CVV), and Swami Advayananda, Acharya CIF. After that, the CM offered puja in the birth room of Sri Sankara. He also visited the Chinmaya Swayambhu Ayyappa Temple in the precincts of Adi Sankara Nilayam. The CM offered the first kalasha containing mud of the illam to be used in the foundation laying ceremony of the construction of the 108-ft high statue of Sri Adi Sankara in Omkareshwar.
In a public meeting organised to mark the occasion, Prof. B. Mahadevan, Vice Chancellor CVV, welcomed the gathering and introduced the chief guest, Sri Shivraj Singh Chouhan. In just a few minutes, the Vice Chancellor connected the life and work of Adi Shankaracharya with the vision of the University.
In his speech, Sri Shivraj Singh Chouhan spoke about how Adi Sankaracharya was a gifted child and how the various instances of his life depicted in the Vahini have deep philosophical significances. He also mentioned how his government was working on not just building infrastructure, but on providing means to a better life.
A synopsis of the CM’s speech:
" In this country, especially in North India, we have a tradition of universal prayer at the end of every ritual. They say " Victory to goodness (dharma)! May evil (adharma) be destroyed! May all creatures experience goodwill! May the world be happy!" This Universal prayer is a wish for the welfare of all – not people of a particular religion, not just humans or Indian but for everyone in this world, whether
humans or animals or other species. This is the culture where the Upanishads declare that "This is mine, that is yours is the sign of petty minds; for the wise, this entire Universe is one family!"
It is this tradition of Oneness and Universality known as the Advaita philosophy that Adi
Sankaracharya propounded and it is this philosophy that will unite this country. Adi Sankaracharya was born in Kerala and travelled to Omkareshwar, on the banks of the Narmada river, in present day Madhya Pradesh. He took the philosophy of Advaita to all four corners of the country by establishing mathas in East, West, North and South thereby uniting the country. His proposal to have Namboordiri priests in Badrinath was his unique idea.
This Ekatm Yatra or Journey of Unity celebrates Adi Sankaracharya's life. We are doing the bhoomi puja for a 108-foot murti of Adi Sankaracharya in Omkareshwara where the saint met his Guru, Govindapada. In this journey, we are collecting earth in copper pots from Veliyanad, Kalady and several other pilgrimage places along the way to demonstrate that Adi Sankaracharya belongs to the whole country."
Swami Paramatmananda, noted spiritual teacher, explained the genesis of the Ekatm Yatra and how it was being led by saints and people in society rather than politicians or bureaucrats. In his benediction address, Swami Advayananda mentioned how the sun shines at its zenith and how Sri Sankara shone brightest when he reached the centre of the nation, Madhya Pradesh, where he met his Guru. The public programme ended with a Vote of Thanks by the Chief Sevak of CIF, Sri K K Rajan.
The CM then flagged off the Adi Shankara Sandesh Vahini and the bus is on its way to Omkareshwar where it will culminate its journey on the 22nd of January, 2018. On the same day, the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi will preside over the bhoomi puja of the location where the 108-foot murti of Adi Sankaracharya will be installed.