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A Hymn Attributed to Adi Shankaracharya

Recited by Viju Kulkarni in Shree Muktananda Ashram.

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Lyric sheet

The Gurorashtakam, or “Eight Stanzas on the Guru,” are verses in the Sanskrit language attributed to Adi Shankaracharya (CE 788–820), one of India’s most well-known philosophers and poet-saints. Tradition holds that he traveled throughout India on foot, expounding the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta, which teaches that the individual soul (atman) and the Supreme (Brahman) are one.

In the verses of the Gurorashtakam, Shankaracharya points out that neither beauty nor wealth nor fame, neither scriptural learning nor virtuous actions nor even yogic attainments are of any consequence if one’s mind is not steeped in devotion to the Guru.

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Listening to the sincerity in Viju’s voice while I read the words of this hymn struck a chord of truth deep within in my own being. Each verse resonated with a powerful recognition of, and longing for, that Truth that Adi Shankaracharya extols. Again and again, waves of acknowledgment, yearning, and profound gratitude burst forth within my heart, exposing my own deep hunger to live in the light of this Truth, to be rooted in this knowledge as I go about my day, and to continuously meditate on the Guru’s lotus feet.

California, United States

As I sang this hymn with great focus on the meaning of the words, I experienced nonseparation, the dissolution of duality. Everything that felt separate in me disappeared. Only the experience of unity remained. Body, thoughts, even the sense of separation dissolved and were replaced by this awareness of unity, of being the Self. As the pain of separation disappeared, only peace—the deep peace of the Self—remained. 

Sherbrooke, Canada

When I first learned about atoms, spontaneously the image came up for me that God is a huge being, and our galaxy, our solar system, our earth are only a tiny part of him. With this image in mind, I have also come to understand why the Guru's feet are, as Adi Shankaracharya reminds us in this hymn, of the highest importance for humanity.
I see the Guru's feet as the home of our vaster and subtler being, just as the earth is the home of our physical being. And just as I bond to and honor the earth as the foundation of my physical life, so I want to keep my mind “attached to the lotus feet of the Guru” as the foundation of my spiritual life. I want to remember that we all live in God, and are tiny, scintillating parts of God—parts that can choose to be supportive of the whole.

Hindelang, Germany

Ahhh, what a relief to see how the wisdom of Adi Shankaracharya freed my mind from the grip of the ego this morning. Feeling the freedom and generosity ingrained in the Truth allows me to go deeper and place my whole being at the lotus feet of my Guru.

Cologne, Germany

I am grateful for this hymn. In the midst of a health challenge and longing to connect to joy, I found that singing this hymn made my heart soar. I could feel the hymn lift me above the clouds of earthly existence into the realm of beauty and bliss.

Florida, United States

As I listen to the melodious strains of this beautiful hymn, I experience the rasa of the raga, and devotion, love, and contentment arise from my heart. The words of the refrain sum up how my heart feels: if my mind is not attached to the Guru’s feet, attached to the oneness that flows from devotion and knowledge, what have I got?

I am filled with gratitude for the Guru, her teachings, and the inner shakti that brings about the longing that fills me with joy and sweetness.

New Jersey, United States

What an exquisitely beautiful hymn, in such a sublime raga! Every time I sing it, my whole being is enveloped by love, contentment, and devotion to the Guru. It becomes so easy for my mind to be anchored on the lotus feet of the Guru!

California, United States

The Gurorashtakam is becoming my favorite hymn. When I read it for the first time, I felt very happy and content. I realize that over time my mind is attaching to the lotus feet of my Guru, to the state of oneness with my own Self, my own inner tranquility.

I have been reading these verses in the Marathi, English, and Sanskrit languages as a form of self-inquiry. I experience the serenity of my mind. I have also been remembering my Guru’s lotus feet and repeating the refrain to myself throughout my day—when walking, while in nature, while offering pranam at my puja, while bathing. As I practice these forms of remembrance, I am attaching my mind to the Guru’s lotus feet.

Pune, India

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