About 1,200 years ago, there was a scholarly couple in Mithila in Bihar. Mandana Mishra and his wife Ubhaya Bharati. They were highly educated and followed the Vedic way of …Mandana Misra and Ubhaya Bharati were an example of a classic couple who equaled in scholarly excellence.
Both of them had risen to the same heights in all spheres of knowledge, learning, honorable character and meticulous assimilation of Vedic commandments. Ubhaya Bharati was as an avatar of the goddess of learning, Sarasvati Devi, and Mandana Misra an incarnation of Brahma. Vishwaroopa’s scholarly aptitude made people revere him and bestowed him with the title of ‘Mandana Misra’. His real name was Vishwaroopa.
Mandana Misra was an acclaimed and dignified expert of the Mimamsa philosophy. The Mimamsa philosophy is mainly derived from the karma kanda part of the Vedas and emphasizes the rituals. In this school of thought, a particular ritual gives the results instantaneously. It displays a genuine candid cause and effect relationship if practiced devotedly.
Adi Shankara or Sri Bhagavatpada reached Kashmir to meet the scholar Kumarila Bhat.
At that time Kumarila Bhat was on death-bed and guided Shankara to meet Vishwaroopa’ or Mandana Mishra.
Kumarila Bhat said, “You will know his house when you find there caged parrots discussing such abstract concepts such as is the Veda self-validated, is the world a reality or a perception, is it karma or God that brings about results!”
Sri Bhagavatpada curious to meet Mandana Misra reached near the gate of his house and found it bolted and locked from inside.
As a Sanyasin, Sri Bhagavatpada had no ethical stand up of admission into a closed house as per the rules of Smriti, which regulate the daily conduct of traditional Sanyasin. Sri Bhagavatpada thought for a while. He had resolutely decided to liberate Mandana Misra from rigid stubborn ritualism. Thus, with the tool of his phenomenal rare Yogic powers this Great Siddha Purusha yogi, Sri Bhagavatpada made his way inside the house through the closed door.
With an inherent aversion for Sanyasis Mandana believed that only those people who were lazy enough to follow the discipline of Vedic injunctions entered the sanyasi ashram.
When Sri Bhagavatpada (a synsansi )made his way in the house, Vishwaroopa or Mandana Misra was in a shraddha ceremony and the invited Brahmins were about to partake food. The entry of a synsasin at that time created a disturbance enraging Mandana Misra.
Shankara entered Mandana’s mansion and found him washing the holy feet of Sages Vyasa and Jaimini, whom Mandana was able to bring there on account of his sacrament, for the conduct of a Shraddha ceremony performed by him as per the Shastras. Mandana, who hated Sanyasins, entered into an aggressive argumentation with Shankara. The sages calmed Mandana and commanded him to welcome Sri Shankara’s challenge willingly.
The situation turned ugly and the invited Brahmins tried to set right the situation going out of control. They advised Mandana Misra to invite Sri Bhagavatpada for Biksha as a bhokta sitting on Vishnu Sthana in the Shraddha ceremony.
Mandana Misra, a Staunch Ritualist was fully bent upon preserving the ritual. Thus, he invited Sri Bhagavatpada for biksha. But Sri Bhagavatpada (Adi Shankara)refused to accept the invitation. He told Mandana Misra that he had entered his house for a Veda bhiksha, a polemic discussion in philosophy. Mandana Misra, who for the first time in his life found him as his match in learning ready for a dialectical battle. He gladly accepted it. After the completion of the Shraddha ceremony, the debate was held the day after.
Mandana Misra was an authority on ritualistic practices. On his countrywide religious tour, the young Adi Shankara in his early twenties, the follower of an Advaita Vedanta philosophy, was keen to debate with old and experienced Mandana Misra. But Mandana Misra, who had already spent half of his life in learning and preaching Mimamsa reasoned that it was not fair to debate with a young Sanyasi with least experienced
Adi Shankara, Misra permitted Shankara to nominate his own judge. Shankara who had already heard about Misra’s great righteousness accredited and applauded him for his act of fair-mindedness.Shankara was quick to decide that Mandana Misra’s
wife herself will prove the most suitable judge for this debate and agreed to a wager. The bet of the debate was as follows;
If Shankara looses in the debate, He would turn as a disciple of Mandana Misra also get married and If Mandana Misra loses, he would renounce his family life and become a Sanyasi and a disciple of Shankara. The debate between these two scholars continued for months together. Every day, thousands of scholars came to watch and learn from their discussions. The old Mandana Misra, still continued to a man with very scholarly intellect and a perfect grasp of logic, though he was slowly failing before a young Shankara. Shankara’s deep knowledge of Maya and realization of the ultimate Brahman qualified him to emerge victorious over Misra’s rationale with ease.
Although Misra was a very ace and adept follower of rituals, yet he failed to understand the higher spiritual reality which Shankara appeared to have consummated already.
Thousands of scholars came from distant places to listen to their arguments and counter arguments.Ubhaya Bharati keenly took note of the discussions and arguments between the two. Finally,after a protracted debate for a long period, Ubhaya Bharati gave impartial judgment pronouncing Shankara the winner
Mandana Misra decided to accept his defeat, but his scholar wife, Ubhaya Bharati, contended that to defeat a man in the debate the rival should also defeat his wife. It is all about the ethical values of Udhaya Bharati, Mandana Mishra’s wife. Ubhaya Bharati, the wife of Mandana Mishra, was also an acknowledged scholar of Vedas, Ritham, Sathyam, Mahattattwam, rituals etc.
Mandana even at this ripe age had some inquest about the aphorism of Jaimini and their connection to the Absolute Truth as contended by Sri Shankara.
As Sri Shankara illuminated Mandana’s curiosity, he had no option but to accept his defeat and said, ‘You are the nature of pure consciousness, yet for the sake of ignorant men you have assumed this human body. You have all saved with the single statement – Tat tvam asi, and elucidated the spirit of great soul explained in the Upanishads, the crest-jewel of the Vedas, as indestructible and one without a second.’
But Ubhaya Bharati said to Shankara. “You claim to have full knowledge of the world. But how can you? You are not married. You have no knowledge of kama-shastra.”
In simple words, she pointed towards the cognition of sex and other sensory pleasures like performing arts, fashion, food, fine arts etc. Shankara had to acknowledge his noesis of the earthly life was not perfect.
Shankara entered the physical body of a dying ruler of kashmir,Amaru and experienced all the aspects of kama sastra through Amaru’s body.He wrote his experiences as a householder in sensualist poems ,known as Amaru-shataka, which also function as a figure of speech for spiritual sensibility.
Shankara bowed to Ubhaya Bharati the moment he returned from Amaru’s body
and worshipped her as the Goddess of Knowledge, Saraswati.
Mandana Mishra ,also, bowed to Shankara and described him as the mythical hermit, Shiv shankra, who had decapitated Brahma, Father-God of rituals.
That was the day when Mimansa got divided into two schools: the old ritual school of Purva Mimansa and the new intellectual school of Uttar Mimansa. This later school evolved into what is today called Vedanta, the acme of Vedic thought.
Hermit Shiva, who had beheaded Brahma, father of rituals. From that day onwards, Mimansa was divided into two schools: the old ritual school of Purva Mimansa and the new intellectual school of Uttar Mimansa. This advanced school evolved into what is today called Vedanta, the pinnacle of Vedic thought.
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