The age which saw the advent of Sankara was the dark period of unrest and strife. The country was divided into number principalities which had very little in common between them. There were literalists and ritualists, on the one hand, who held to the letter of the scriptures missing their message, while on the other, there were powerful nihilists and iconoclasts ready to tear and destroy all that was sacred and ancient. Clinging to narrow conceptions of godhood and swayed by fanaticism, they used religion as weapon of aggression instead of finding in it the solace of life. The society was infested with heinous practices which were given religious sanction by the culturally decayed populace. This was brought  about by the uncultured uneducated mass of people who had embraced Buddhism but who could not appreciate or live up the great and noble ideals preached by the Buddha. The land had no religious Master, and the population drifted without a goal, stagnating in innumerable sects, each championing its own narrow, limited viewpoint to the  exclusion  of all others. [ to be cont-------d]

BY Swami chinmayananda.
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