Lord Shiva incarnated as an incredible saint and mystic named - Adi Shankara. He appeared in an area known as Kaladi, on the banks of river Purna (now known as Kochi Kerala). He was born to a brahmin couple – Shivaguru and Aryamba.
Setting the Stage - Appearance and Pastime of Lord Buddha
tataḥ kalau sampravṛtte
"Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Añjanā, in the province of Gayā, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist."
The teachings of Lord Buddha
Lord Buddha's intension was to stop animal slaughter. This is why therefore he preached that the greatest religious principle is nonviolence.
Denial of Vedic Scriptures and authorities
Due to misuse of Vedic injunctions and justifying violence based on misrepresentations of Vedas, at that time it was necessary for Lord Buddha to reject the Vedas altogether. At least for the athesis people who didn't understand the true essence of Vedas.
Lord Buddha, based on his target audience, never taught or spoke about higher subject matter - soul, super-soul, God. Even if He didn't mention about Spiritual Knowledge, still, He advised stopping the material existence - Nirvana.
Nirvana is a Vedic concept of ceasing the process of material life which includes material desires, material activity, and the pains of material existence. Lord Buddha taught that the ultimate goal of life is nirvāṇa - to end the material cycle of existence. His idea was - because of desire we are facing the troubles of material life, so our goal should be to make all your desires extinct. Thus there will be no more feelings of pain and pleasure. Become desirelessness or Make it Void or Make it Zero.
Because Lord didn't speak anything about the Higher Reality, God, the afterlife as per His philosophy was also Void.
That is why Buddhism Philosophy is called Voidism or Sunyavad.
Although Lord Budha was an incarnation of Vishnu, still the philosophy of Buddhism is atheism (as it didn't acknowledge the existence of God & His instructions - Vedas), which he had to preach based on the time, place & circumstances
With time, the authority and relevance of the Vedas have been severely undermined. Buddhism and atheism were becoming common and theistic philosophies were getting discouraged and suppressed. Thus the actual import of the Vedas was lost.
Instructions of the Lord
dvāparādau yuge bhūtvā kalayā mānuṣādiṣu
svāgamaiḥ kalpitais tvaṁ ca janān mad-vimukhān kuru
"In Kali-yuga, mislead the people in general by propounding imaginary meanings for the Vedas to bewilder them."
māyāvādam asac chāstraṁ pracchannaṁ bauddham ucyate
mayaiva kalpitaṁ devi kalau brāhmaṇa-rūpiṇā
brahmaṇaś cāparaṁ rūpaṁ nirguṇaṁ vakṣyate mayā
sarva-svaṁ jagato ’py asya mohanārthaṁ kalau yuge
vedānte tu mahā-śāstre māyāvādam avaidikam
mayaiva vakṣyate devi jagatāṁ nāśa-kāraṇāt
"The Māyāvāda philosophy," Lord Śiva informed his wife Pārvatī, "is impious (asac chāstra). It is covered Buddhism. My dear Pārvatī, in Kali-yuga I assume the form of a brāhmaṇa and teach this imagined Māyāvāda philosophy. In order to cheat the atheists, I describe the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be without form and without qualities. Similarly, in explaining Vedānta I describe the same Māyāvāda philosophy in order to mislead the entire population toward atheism by denying the personal form of the Lord.
śṛṇu devi pravakṣyāmi tāmasāni yathā-kramamyeṣāṁ
śravaṇa-mātreṇa pātityaṁ jñāninām
apiapārthaṁ śruti-vākyānāṁ darśayal
loka-garhitamkarma-svarūpa-tyājyatvam atra ca
naiṣkarmyaṁ tatra cocyateparātma-jīvayor aikyaṁ mayātra pratipādyate
"My dear wife, hear my explanations of how I have spread ignorance through Māyāvāda philosophy. Simply by hearing it, even an advanced scholar will fall down. In this philosophy, which is certainly very inauspicious for people in general, I have misrepresented the real meaning of the Vedas and recommended that one give up all activities in order to achieve freedom from karma. In this Māyāvāda philosophy I have described the jīvātmā and Paramātmā to be one and the same."
The advent of Adi Shankara
As instructed by Vishnu, Lord Shiva in the form of Adi Shankara established countless facts proving the Buddhist Philosophy as Voidism and established the grounds and faith back on Vedic Scriptures. Adi Shankara established four maths or monasteries on the four directions of India, to be held by his disciples who would be known as Shankaracharyas.
The philosophy of Advaita Vedanta or Mayavad
As we have seen Lord instructed Shiva to preach the philosophy of Mayavad, giving imaginary meaning to Vedic injunctions.
The principle messages of his philosophy were
- All / Everything / Everyone Is God. Hence this philosophy is known as Advaita (Non-Dual).
- The Absolute is Supreme, all-pervading and hence has to be formless
- Everything is an illusion, only the Absolute Reality is Truth. Because it says everything is an illusion (Maya), this philosophy is called Mayavad and the followers are known as Mayavadi
- The perfection of Life is to merge back to that Absolute Truth
- The form, pastimes of Lord is all illusion
However, as we have seen earlier, these were false propagations to mislead the atheistic crowd.
The theistic crowd, or the, devotees of the Lord knows the bonafide knowledge,
- Reality is the philosophy of Achintya-bhedabheda-tattva which refers to the inconceivable oneness and difference of the Supreme Person and His energies.
- There is one Supreme Personality of Godhead, and we are His Part and Parcells, and this material world is His energy. Hence everything is real and not an illusion. Although the material world can be understood as temporary.
- The Vedic injunction is that the Supreme Person is spread all over the cosmic manifestation by His energy. This energy is spiritual, but because it acts in the material world it is called maya, or illusory energy.
- The Absolute Truth is understood in three phases—impersonal, localized, and as the Supreme Person. The Supreme Person's impersonal feature, brahman, is subordinate to His personal aspect, as the sun's rays are subordinate to the sun itself.
- The perfection of Life is not to merge back to that Absolute Truth, but, to return back to the Spiritual Abord.
- The form, pastimes of Lord is a reality
Adi Sankara's Mercy
So as we have seen, his philosophy basically doesn't believe in the forms and qualities of the Lord. It believes the Nirguna Brahman to be an Absolute Truth.
However, during his last days, he composed the following verses,
bhaja govindam bhaja govindam
govindam bhaja muudhamate .
nahi pashyaamo bhavatarane
Worship Govinda, worship Govinda, worship Govinda, Oh fool ! Other than chanting the Lord’s names, there is no other way to cross the life’s ocean.
jagannatha svami nayana-patha-gami bhavatu me
Who sometimes fervently plays His flute on the banks of the Yamuna river in Sri Vrindavana, who is like a bumblebee that blissfully tastes the lotus faces of the Vraja-gopis, and whose feet are worshipped by great personalities such as Laksmi, Shiva, Brahma, Indra, and Ganesha — may that Sri Jagannatha-deva be the object of my vision.
This is strange that someone whose philosophy is based on formless Brahman, who doesn't believe in the beautiful form of Lord, how can He compose such deep verses on Govinda (Krishna) or Jagannatha. The person who thinks Absolute is formless wouldn't have any faith or inclination towards any deity, let alone Supreme Personality of Godhead - Krishna / Govinda / Jagannatha.
The fact is Shiva couldn't hide his devotional heart even in the form of Shankara and composed following verses which clearly shows his devotional heart and gives a clear message - the ultimate epitome of spiritual practice and philosophy is Devotional Service onto Krishna.
This is the greatest mercy that Shiva did in the form of Adi Shankara towards his followers. He gave them a subtle hint about the fallacy of his Mayavad Philosophy. He offered them a gateway to escape the trap of the illusionary philosophy of Mayavad.
This is why even though Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu warned everyone against the poisonous philosophy of Mayavad, he never blamed His dear devotee, Lord Shiva.
tāṅra doṣa nāhi, teṅho ājñā-kārī dāsa
āra yei śune tāra haya sarva-nāśa
Śaṅkarācārya, who is an incarnation of Lord Śiva, is faultless because he is a servant carrying out the orders of the Lord. But those who follow his Māyāvādī philosophy are doomed. They will lose all their advancement in spiritual knowledge.
dharmaṁ vakṣyanty adharma-jñā
Uncultured men will accept charity on behalf of the Lord and will earn their livelihood by making a show of austerity and wearing a mendicant’s dress. Those who know nothing about religion will mount a high seat and presume to speak on religious principles.
Although with the lights of scriptures, it is proven that Mayavad is like a terror in the land of God Consciousness, still there are innocent people falling into the trap.
There are many institutions and guru budding every year and they base their phylosophies on this Mayavad Theories. To make their business flourish, they try to present it in a way that is catchy for young and modern minds, they coin various terms like "Modern Religion", "Engineering", etc, but, inside is as void as ever.
We must be aware of the poisonous Mayavad Philosophy and keep ourselves safe.