– Dr A Pranesh
Sri Gaudapada Acharya happens to be the Parama guru (Guru’s guru) of Sri Adi Shankara Acharya. It is believed that Gaudapada Acharya renounced his life at a very young age and went to forest in quest of spiritual knowledge. There he heard God’s voice through Nabho vaani (inner voice) advising him to go to North. So he went to Himalayas and by the grace of god, he received teachings from Shuka Muni at Badrikashrama.
Details of his early life i.e exact name, parents and childhood are not very clear. He is known for writing commentary on Maandukya Upanishad. Even to this day it is known as Gaudapada Karika (commentary / Bhashya). His Maandukya Karika is known as Vedantamoola (root of philosophy). As a matter of fact, Maandukya Upanishad has only 12 verses but Gaudapada Acharya has written 215 verses commentary. He is known for elaborately explaining the illusionary nature of world (Maaya) and the reality of Brahman.
Hence Gaudapada Acharya is highly revered even to this day. During his days also people revered him so much that nobody dared to call by his name, hence he was called Gaudapada Acharya – Gaudadesh means present day Bengal and Pada means feet, thus meaning Feet of a Bengali guru and hence his real name is not known at all.
Around late 7th century, Guru Gaudapada Acharya along with his disciple Sri Govinda Bhagavatpada Acharya after visiting Varanasi stayed in a cave on the banks of Narmada River. During that time, an young boy named Shankara came to the entrance of the cave and Guru Govinda Bhagavatpada Acharya asked him who he was and for that young Shankara replied him through 10 Verses ending with – Shivakevaloham, which later became popular as Dasha sloki of Shankaracharya. Guru Gaudapada Acharya after listening to this comes to know that this young boy Shankara is none other than Lord Shiva himself, born to uplift Vedas and Sanatana dharma. So he instructs Govinda Bhagavatpada Acharya to accept him as his disciple and give him deeksha immediately, which he did and named him as Sri Shankara Bhagavatpada . After the completion of Vedantic studies with great teachers, Sri Shankaracharya wrote Commentary/ Bhashya on Upanishads, Srimad Bhagavat Gita and Brahmapuranas, which are popular even to this day.