The discrimination on the basis of caste, race, or gender is a universal one; that reveals the fundamental nature of the human mind to identify with the similarities and differences in individuals. Besides this complication, it is also a consequence of bolstering one\u2019s own superiority. Historically, caste and religion have been weaponised to wield power over nations like Bh\u0101rata. This pernicious practice, which we have been led to believe in, is innate in human existence. Sadly, there is an element of truth to this claim. The crux of the problem lies in the misrepresented nature of the Bh\u0101rat\u012bya tradition in the consciousness of its very own people. What began as a simple means of identifying people based on their Gu\u1e47a (attributes) and Karma (work)1 devolved into a means of stratifying the society. Thus arose an idea that the caste, determined by birth, commands the respect and worth of individuals in the society; and sadly, the idea that they in turn determine man\u2019s capacity to engage in various activities. The very same applies to the gender-based issues. Though the scriptural injunctions explicate the profound thoughts of great women, we are led to believe that women are not privy to the Vedas. Similarly, the scriptures exhort the universality of spirit. We, however, are caught in the mire of caste-based stratification. It does beg the question of what went awry and where. Wherever things may have gone awry, the wise action would be to recognise and acknowledge the sore need of a change; that is based on the understanding of Vasudhaiva Ku\u1e6dumbakam (Universal Brotherhood) by identifying with the universality of spirit imbuing all of creation; that recognises all faiths as different paths to seek and attain the Supreme, be it the Supreme dwelling in the hearts of beings or the Ultimate that is distinct from the individuals; that evolves to the love and joy of creation, from the fear and hatred of diversity; and most importantly, a transformation born of keen understanding that the Supreme is perfect perfection and that we are in perfection only when in tune with that Supreme. 1 Just as reiterated in the Bhagavad-g\u012bt\u0101, the four-fold classification of society into Br\u0101hma\u1e47as, K\u1e63atriyas, Vai\u015byas, and \u015a\u016bdras was based on an individual\u2019s inherent nature (Gu\u1e47a) and work (Karma). Across the world, a healthy system of social classes is necessary for a society to flourish and prosper. Here is a wonderful anecdote from the life of \u015ar\u012b \u0100di\u015ba\u1e45kara that depicts how Lord \u015aiva, perfect perfection, inspired perfect perfection in the \u0100c\u0101rya, thus establishing at one stroke, both the universality of spirit and the ephemerality and hence the triviality of physical frames. \u015ar\u012b\u015ba\u1e45kara was in K\u0101\u015bi, and one fine morning, after offering his ablutions in the sacred Ga\u1e45g\u0101, he found himself in the proximity of a ca\u1e47\u1e0d\u0101la. Worried that he would have to bathe in the river again, if he were touched by the approaching man, the \u0101c\u0101rya gestured for him to move away; so that he could make his way to the temple on time. The ca\u1e47\u1e0d\u0101la, who was none other than Lord \u015aiva himself, posed thus, \u0905\u0928\u094d\u0928\u092e\u092f\u093e\u0926\u0928\u094d\u0928\u092e\u092f\u092e\u0925\u0935\u093e \u091a\u0948\u0924\u0928\u094d\u092f\u092e\u0947\u0935 \u091a\u0948\u0924\u0928\u094d\u092f\u093e\u0924\u094d\u0964 \u092f\u0924\u093f\u0935\u0930 \u0926\u0942\u0930\u0940\u0915\u0930\u094d\u0924\u0941\u0902 \u0915\u093f\u0902 \u092c\u094d\u0930\u0942\u0939\u093f \u0917\u091a\u094d\u091b \u0917\u091a\u094d\u091b\u0947\u0924\u093f\u0965 annam\u0101y\u0101dannamayamathav\u0101 caitanyameva caitany\u0101t| yativara d\u016br\u012bkartu\u1e41 ki\u1e41 br\u016bhi gaccha gaccheti|| O\u2019 foremost amongst ascetics, pray tell which you mean to distance with your exhortation, \u2018Go away, Go away!\u2019 \u2014 (my) physical frame that is made up of food from (your) physical frame that is made up of the same food, or the consciousness (that resides in me) from the consciousness (that resides in you)? He prodded on further, \u092a\u094d\u0930\u0924\u094d\u092f\u0917\u094d\u0935\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0941\u0928\u093f \u0928\u093f\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0930\u0919\u094d\u0917\u0938\u0939\u091c\u093e\u0928\u0928\u094d\u0926\u093e\u0935\u092c\u094b\u0927\u093e\u092e\u094d\u092c\u0941\u0927\u094c \u0935\u093f\u092a\u094d\u0930\u094b\u093d\u092f\u0902 \u0936\u094d\u0935\u092a\u091a\u094b\u093d\u092f\u092e\u093f\u0924\u094d\u092f\u092a\u093f \u092e\u0939\u093e\u0928\u094d \u0915\u094b\u093d\u092f\u0902 \u0935\u093f\u092d\u0947\u0926\u092d\u094d\u0930\u092e\u0903\u0964 \u0915\u093f\u0902 \u0917\u0919\u094d\u0917\u093e\u092e\u094d\u092c\u0941\u0928\u093f \u092c\u093f\u092e\u094d\u092c\u0924\u0947\u093d\u092e\u094d\u092c\u0930\u092e\u0923\u094c \u091a\u093e\u0923\u094d\u0921\u093e\u0932\u0935\u0940\u0925\u0940\u092a\u092f\u0903 \u092a\u0942\u0930\u0947 \u0935\u093e\u0928\u094d\u0924\u0930\u092e\u0938\u094d\u0924\u093f \u0915\u093e\u091e\u094d\u091a\u0928\u0918\u091f\u0940\u092e\u0943\u0924\u094d\u0915\u0941\u092e\u094d\u092d\u092f\u094b\u0930\u094d\u0935\u093e\u092e\u094d\u092c\u0930\u0947\u0965 pratyagvastuni nistara\u1e45gasahaj\u0101nand\u0101vabodh\u0101mbudhau vipro'ya\u1e41 \u015bvapaco'yamityapi mah\u0101n ko'ya\u1e41 vibhedabhrama\u1e25| ki\u1e41 ga\u1e45g\u0101mbuni bimbate'mbarama\u1e47au c\u0101\u1e47\u1e0d\u0101lav\u012bth\u012bpaya\u1e25 p\u016bre v\u0101ntaramasti k\u0101\u00f1canagha\u1e6d\u012bm\u1e5btkumbhayorv\u0101mbare|| Why this delusion of discrimination, \u2018is he a br\u0101hma\u1e47a or is he an eater of dog-meat\u2019 when everything is but a universal and waveless ocean of bliss and consciousness? Does not the jewel of the firmament, the sun, cast his reflection in the waters of the Ga\u1e45g\u0101 as well as in those of a (canal) upon the streets of ca\u1e47\u1e0d\u0101las? Does the water in a golden pot differ from that in an earthen pot? The great monist \u015aa\u1e45kara was flabbergasted by the profound challenge presented before him. \u015aa\u1e45kara instantaneously recognised the ca\u1e47\u1e0d\u0101la to be the Supreme One. In a trice, he rose from the stratifications of the physical world to the eternal realm of the spirit and thence, burst forth five verses of absolute perfection \u2014 the Man\u012b\u015bapa\u00f1caka. The word \u2018Man\u012b\u015b\u0101\u2019, among other interpretations, refers to \u2018understanding\u2019 or \u2018wisdom\u2019, and the word \u2018pa\u00f1caka\u2019 stands for a collection of five. These five verses stand for cognisance of the ultimate Truth through direct interaction with the embodiment of the Supreme in Lord \u015aiva. The \u0101c\u0101rya responded thus to the question posed by the ca\u1e47\u1e0d\u0101la, \u091c\u093e\u0917\u094d\u0930\u0924\u094d\u0938\u094d\u0935\u092a\u094d\u0928\u0938\u0941\u0937\u0941\u092a\u094d\u0924\u093f\u0937\u0941 \u0938\u094d\u092b\u0941\u091f\u0924\u0930\u093e \u092f\u093e \u0938\u0902\u0935\u093f\u0926\u0941\u091c\u094d\u091c\u0943\u092e\u094d\u092d\u0924\u0947 \u092f\u093e \u092c\u094d\u0930\u0939\u094d\u092e\u093e\u0926\u093f\u092a\u093f\u092a\u0940\u0932\u093f\u0915\u093e\u0928\u094d\u0924\u0924\u0928\u0941\u0937\u0941 \u092a\u094d\u0930\u094b\u0924\u093e \u091c\u0917\u0924\u094d\u0938\u093e\u0915\u094d\u0937\u093f\u0923\u0940\u0964 \u0938\u0948\u0935\u093e\u0939\u0902 \u0928 \u091a \u0926\u0943\u0936\u094d\u092f\u0935\u0938\u094d\u0924\u094d\u0935\u093f\u0924\u093f \u0926\u0943\u0922\u092a\u094d\u0930\u091c\u094d\u091e\u093e\u092a\u093f \u092f\u0938\u094d\u092f\u093e\u0938\u094d\u0924\u093f \u091a\u0947- \u091a\u094d\u091a\u0923\u094d\u0921\u093e\u0932\u094b\u093d\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0941 \u0938 \u0924\u0941 \u0926\u094d\u0935\u093f\u091c\u094b\u093d\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0941 \u0917\u0941\u0930\u0941\u0930\u093f\u0924\u094d\u092f\u0947\u0937\u093e \u092e\u0928\u0940\u0937\u093e \u092e\u092e\u0965 j\u0101gratsvapnasu\u1e63upti\u1e63u sphu\u1e6datar\u0101 y\u0101 sa\u1e41vidujj\u1e5bmbhate y\u0101 brahm\u0101dipip\u012blik\u0101ntatanu\u1e63u prot\u0101 jagats\u0101k\u1e63i\u1e47\u012b| saiv\u0101ha\u1e41 na ca d\u1e5b\u015byavastviti d\u1e5b\u1e0dhapraj\u00f1\u0101pi yasy\u0101sti ce- cca\u1e47\u1e0d\u0101lo'stu sa tu dvijo'stu gururitye\u1e63\u0101 man\u012b\u1e63\u0101 mama|| He who is imbued with the unshakeable conviction that he is not the visible object (the body) but the most clarified knowledge that is present in the waking, dreaming, and sleeping states of beings, that animates beings from (the greatest) Brahm\u0101 to a (tiny) ant, and is the eternal witness to the world is my Guru, be he a twice-born or a ca\u1e47\u1e0d\u0101la \u2014 this is my conclusive wisdom. - Man\u012b\u015bapa\u00f1caka, 2 It is significant here to notice that \u015aa\u1e45kara did not rapturously sing glories of Lord \u015aiva. Rather, he identified the divine spark within him to be Supreme; and more importantly, the One who is constantly attuned to the Supreme as his True Preceptor. Having explicated further how immaterial the physical frame is in the larger scheme of divine wisdom, \u015aa\u1e45kara concludes thus, \u0926\u093e\u0938\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0947\u093d\u0939\u0902 \u0926\u0947\u0939\u0926\u0943\u0937\u094d\u091f\u094d\u092f\u093e\u0938\u094d\u092e\u093f \u0936\u0902\u092d\u094b \u091c\u093e\u0924\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0947\u0902\u093d\u0936\u094b \u091c\u0940\u0935\u0926\u0943\u0937\u094d\u091f\u094d\u092f\u093e \u0924\u094d\u0930\u093f\u0926\u0943\u0937\u094d\u091f\u0947\u0964 \u0938\u0930\u094d\u0935\u0938\u094d\u092f\u093e\u0924\u094d\u092e\u0928\u094d\u0928\u093e\u0924\u094d\u092e\u0926\u0943\u0937\u094d\u091f\u094d\u092f\u093e \u0924\u094d\u0935\u092e\u0947\u0935\u0947- \u0924\u094d\u092f\u0947\u0935\u0902 \u092e\u0947 \u0927\u0940\u0930\u094d\u0928\u093f\u0936\u094d\u091a\u093f\u0924\u093e \u0938\u0930\u094d\u0935\u0936\u093e\u0938\u094d\u0924\u094d\u0930\u0948\u0903\u0965 d\u0101saste'ha\u1e41 dehad\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e6dy\u0101smi \u015ba\u1e41bho j\u0101taste\u1e41'\u015bo j\u012bvad\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e6dy\u0101 trid\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e6de| sarvasy\u0101tmann\u0101tmad\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e6dy\u0101 tvameve- tyeva\u1e41 me dh\u012brni\u015bcit\u0101 sarva\u015b\u0101strai\u1e25|| O\u2019 fountainhead of bliss, seen in the light of this body, I am your servitor. O\u2019 three-eyed one, in the light of an individual Soul, I have emerged forth from you. In the light of the Self, I am you, the Self in all, and this is my considered wisdom. This is probably one of \u015aa\u1e45kara\u2019s most significant verses for it offers the true identification of man in the light of the Bh\u0101rat\u012bya tradition. Man is neither stratified by birth nor by caste or creed, but rather by his ability to identify with his higher Self. If he identifies himself with the physical body, then he can call himself a servitor of the Supreme. If he looks upon himself as the individual Soul, he can then to have been created in the reflection of the Supreme Soul. If, however, he looks upon himself as the Indestructible Supreme, he verily becomes the Supreme that animates all of creation. In that vine of understanding springs forth the blooms of perfect identification with the Supreme and the recognition of a universal brotherhood, an immediate and unfailing corollary.