My dear little friends, Bhagwan Shankaracharya was a Divine Vibhuti (a personage endowed with superhuman power) who took birth in Bharat. An incident describing his astounding intellect is given ahead. Fame of hiserudition and proficiency in spiritual knowledge started spreading far and wide. It reached the ears of a king of Kerala, King Rajashekhar also. King Rajashekhar had interest in acquiring scriptural knowledge; he was also a great admirer of learned people, devotees, pious people and scholars. Therefore the king was very much eager to see and meet this child who was heralded as a scholar par excellence.
King Rajashekhar sent his minister with an elephant as a gift to Shankara and asked him to invite Shankara to his palace. The minister came to Shankara’s house and conveyed the King’s message to Shankara very humbly. Hearing the message Shankara said, “What is the use of the elephant for the one whose means of earning livelihood are alms given by people, to perform the ritual of sandhyavandan thrice a day, to meditate, ritualistic worship and Guruseva as his vowed religious observances ? Making appropriate living arrangements to facilitate the four Varnas to lead a life abiding by Dharma, is a king’s duty. Give this message to your master.”
He also refused the king’s invitation. The king was very much pleased to hearthe reply. His faith in Shankara increased a lot and he went to meet Shankara at Kaladi along with his minister. He saw a very radiant boy sitting in front and some Brahmins were studying the Vedas sitting around him. Seeing the King, Shankara welcomed him humbly. The King realised Shankara’s unusual erudition and extraordinary power of deliberation while having discussions with him. While departing the King offered some gold coins at Shankara’s feet and requested him to accept them. Shankara said to the King, “Maharaj, I am a Brahmin and a celibate. What use can I have of these gold coins for myself ? The land you have given me for ritualistic worship is enough for me and my mother. There is no dearth of anything by your grace.”
The King was nonplussed by Shankara’s answer. He said“I am blessed with your meeting; but once I give something I cannot take it back. You can distribute this money to those who deserve.” Shankara smiled and said immediately, “Maharaj, you are a king. You must be aware of who is deserving. How can a celibate like me have such knowledge ? Vidyadan (To offer knowledge) is a Brahmin’s duty and giving donation to the worthy, is a king’s!Therefore you only should distribute the money to the deserving.”
The King was speechless. He bowed before Shankara and distributed the money among the Brahmins present there.
Dear children. We have seen how brilliant Shankara was, even as a child. From Shankara’s last answer to the King we also learned that we should help everyone as per our capacity. For example if there is a particular subject that you are good in, you should coach those classmates who find the subject difficult to understand. That will be the way to increase your knowledge and also follow Adi Shankaracharya’sexample!