History has borne witness to the heinousness that the caste, colour, and gender-biases can result in. Such biases, entrenched in a myriad of forms, tear the society apart; leaving bloodshed and strife at its worst and inequity and resentment at its best in its wake. Upon deeper thought, it becomes apparent that the polarising forces can wield such power only when we, as a race, forget the fundamental truth \u2014 the truth of the underlying unity in all the diversity; the truth of the actual essence that characterises mankind; and the spark that is termed \u2018\u0100tm\u0101\u2019 in the Bh\u0101rat\u012bya tradition. In a nutshell, the tradition holds that the physical frame (\u015aar\u012bra) is a vessel (V\u0101hana) and is enveloped by sheaths (Ko\u015bas) that houses the true essence of man, namely the Soul (\u0100tm\u0101). It further states that this soul is nothing but a spark of the Divine, and that very same spark animates every creature in creation. The tradition thus elaborates on the unification of all creation under a single umbrella of consciousness. The discord emerges when the vision of this reality is lost, and seeming differences become the grounds for the stratification of man. 1 The various philosophies differ in how this Spark relates to the Supreme. While the monists argue that this Spark is the all-comprehensive Supreme, the dualists claim that this Spark is a reflection of the Supreme. There is no contention whether mankind is created in the image of the Supreme or not. The lack of this basic perception is a canker; it festers, turns putrid when not attended to, and engenders a grave loss to the society. In extension, it leaves its shadow on the Spirit as a gloomy legacy of karmic-debt; enslaving a man further to the churning wheel of materialism and robbing his soul of wings that could set him free. If we could stop to ponder upon the source of our biases, we would realise that fear and unsound notions of the perceived differences form the basis of the discordant biases. In the spirit of knowing how the greats battled biases, here is an inspiring anecdote from the life of \u015ar\u012b \u0100disa\u1e45kara. As a tender lad, \u015aa\u1e45kara found himself in the grip of a crocodile \u2014 verily the jaws of death. The realised \u015aa\u1e45kara, however, was not perturbed by the grim situation. He took this as an opportunity to coerce his mother \u0100ry\u0101mb\u0101 into permitting him to assume the order of a renunciate (Sa\u1e43ny\u0101sa); a consent he had not been successful in getting from his mother earlier. Faced with the imminent loss of her precious son, \u0100ry\u0101mb\u0101 permitted \u015aa\u1e45kara to assume what is referred to as \u2018\u0100pat-sa\u1e43ny\u0101sa\u2019 or renunciation when death comes beckoning. Sa\u1e45kara grabbed the chance and renounced the worldly order. In keeping with the tradition, \u015aa\u1e45kara then had to seek for a preceptor who would officially initiate him into the order of the renunciate. Seeking high and low, \u015aa\u1e45kara finally came upon his preceptor, \u015ar\u012b Govindap\u0101da, who was meditating in a cave upon the banks of River Narmada. Upon Sa\u1e45kara\u2019s request to be accepted as a \u015ai\u1e63ya (a disciple), \u015ar\u012b Govindap\u0101da asked him who he was. What burst forth as \u015aa\u1e45kara\u2019s response characterises not just humanity, but summarises the essence of all creation. It encapsulates the true and the permanent, and hence, points out that our different perspectives are merely perceptions. Living in the constant recognition of this reality is sure to still the roving mind and find the underlying thread of unity in all of creation. 2It is believed that Sa\u1e43ny\u0101sa transitioned at this stage will, in the least, ensure that the soul is liberated. In response to Govindap\u0101da\u2019s question, \u015ar\u012b \u015aa\u1e45kara began by stating he is not the five elements, the senses of the physical body, and their aggregate. He said, \u0928 \u092d\u0942\u092e\u093f\u0930\u094d\u0928 \u0924\u094b\u092f\u0902 \u0928 \u0924\u0947\u091c\u094b \u0928 \u0935\u093e\u092f\u0941\u0903 \u0928 \u0916\u0902 \u0928\u0947\u0928\u094d\u0926\u094d\u0930\u093f\u092f\u0902 \u0935\u093e \u0928 \u0924\u0947\u0937\u093e\u0902 \u0938\u092e\u0942\u0939\u0903\u0964 \u0905\u0928\u0947\u0915\u093e\u0928\u094d\u0924\u093f\u0915\u0924\u094d\u0935\u093e\u0924\u094d \u0938\u0941\u0937\u0941\u092a\u094d\u0924\u094d\u092f\u0947\u0915\u0938\u093f\u0926\u094d\u0927\u0938\u094d\u0924\u0926\u0947\u0915\u094b\u093d\u0935\u0936\u093f\u0937\u094d\u091f\u0903 \u0936\u093f\u0935\u0903 \u0915\u0947\u0935\u0932\u094b\u093d\u0939\u092e\u094d\u0965 na bh\u016bmirna toya\u1e41 na tejo na v\u0101yu\u1e25 na kha\u1e41 nendriya\u1e41 v\u0101 na te\u1e63\u0101\u1e41 sam\u016bha\u1e25 | anek\u0101ntikatv\u0101t su\u1e63uptyekasiddhastadeko'va\u015bi\u1e63\u1e6da\u1e25 \u015biva\u1e25 kevalo\u2019ham || I am not the earth, water, fire, wind, ether, the senses, or an aggregate of these; for they are uncertain. I am nothing but that consciousness, which is the remainder that persists even in the deep-sleep state. - Da\u015ba\u015blok\u012b, 1 3In Advaita, the Supreme Truth is derived not by categorically defining it; they state it by defying the descriptions. They thus arrive at the Supreme by negating all things as \u2018Neti-neti\u2019 (Neither this nor that). The remainder then essentially becomes the Supreme. In this verse, he dismisses the entire phenomenal world as untrue; where then is the question of the minutia of colour, creed, or gender? The use of the word \u2018\u015aiva\u2019 in this verse is noteworthy. Among the many senses of the word, it refers to consciousness, auspiciousness, and final beatitude. \u015aa\u1e45kara thus obliterated in a single word that everything is impermanent and unsavoury. \u015aa\u1e45kara distinguishes next, the four classes of men, the four orders of society, the dharma pertaining to them, and the yogic practices as being distinct from the Truth that he is. He states, \u0928 \u0935\u0930\u094d\u0923\u093e \u0928 \u0935\u0930\u094d\u0923\u093e\u0936\u094d\u0930\u092e\u093e\u091a\u093e\u0930\u0927\u0930\u094d\u092e\u093e \u0928 \u092e\u0947 \u0927\u093e\u0930\u0923\u093e\u0927\u094d\u092f\u093e\u0928\u092f\u094b\u0917\u093e\u0926\u092f\u094b\u093d\u092a\u093f\u0964 \u0905\u0928\u093e\u0924\u094d\u092e\u093e\u0936\u094d\u0930\u092f\u093e\u0939\u0902 \u092e\u092e\u093e\u0927\u094d\u092f\u093e\u0938\u0939\u093e\u0928\u093e\u0924\u094d \u0924\u0926\u0947\u0915\u094b\u093d\u0935\u0936\u093f\u0937\u094d\u091f\u0903 \u0936\u093f\u0935\u0903 \u0915\u0947\u0935\u0932\u094b\u093d\u0939\u092e\u094d\u0965 na var\u1e47\u0101 na var\u1e47\u0101\u015bram\u0101c\u0101radharm\u0101 na me dh\u0101ra\u1e47\u0101dhy\u0101nayog\u0101dayo\u2019pi | an\u0101tm\u0101\u015bray\u0101ha\u1e41 mam\u0101dhy\u0101sah\u0101n\u0101t tadeko'va\u015bi\u1e63\u1e6da\u1e25 \u015biva\u1e25 kevalo\u2019ham || The castes, the orders, the dharma, and observances of these orders; yogic practices such as stilling of the mind and meditation that are not the basis of the \u0100tm\u0101 are not for me who having dwelled (on the \u0100tm\u0101 incessantly have realised). I am merely that Consciousness that remains. - Da\u015ba\u015blok\u012b, 2 It is essential to note the careful position that \u015aa\u1e45kara assumes here. He does not dismiss the classification of caste, order of society, the mores and practices of society, or austerities categorically. Instead, he points out that they are not the basis of the truth. In doing so, he highlights the need for a man to recognise the order and nature of creation, while at the same time remaining rooted in the Truth, which transcends creation. In essence, he seems to suggest that the classification of man and the practices he engages are, in itself, a matter of societal convention and an attempt to evolve. They are neither the goal nor should the differences in the appearance and birth characterise the quality or worth. The following verse of the Da\u015ba\u015blok\u012b, which is also glorified as the Nirv\u0101\u1e47a-da\u015baka, is particularly pertinent for the present day. The \u0101c\u0101rya proclaims, \u0928 \u0936\u0941\u0915\u094d\u0932\u0902 \u0928 \u0915\u0943\u0937\u094d\u0923\u0902 \u0928 \u0930\u0915\u094d\u0924\u0902 \u0928 \u092a\u0940\u0924\u0902 \u0928 \u0915\u0941\u092c\u094d\u091c\u0902 \u0928 \u092a\u0940\u0928\u0902 \u0928 \u0939\u094d\u0930\u0938\u094d\u0935\u0902 \u0928 \u0926\u0940\u0930\u094d\u0918\u092e\u094d \u0964 \u0905\u0930\u0942\u092a\u0902 \u0924\u0925\u093e \u091c\u094d\u092f\u094b\u0924\u093f\u0930\u093e\u0915\u093e\u0930\u0915\u0924\u094d\u0935\u093e\u0924\u094d \u0924\u0926\u0947\u0915\u094b\u093d\u0935\u0936\u093f\u0937\u094d\u091f\u0903 \u0936\u093f\u0935\u0903 \u0915\u0947\u0935\u0932\u094b\u093d\u0939\u092e\u094d \u0965 na \u015bukla\u1e41 na k\u1e5b\u1e63\u1e47a\u1e41 na rakta\u1e41 na p\u012bta\u1e41 na kubja\u1e41 na p\u012bna\u1e41 na hrasva\u1e41 na d\u012brgham | ar\u016bpa\u1e41 tath\u0101 jyotir\u0101k\u0101rakatv\u0101t tadeko'va\u015bi\u1e63\u1e6da\u1e25 \u015biva\u1e25 kevalo\u2019ham || That which is the remainder; the sheer Consciousness that I am; is neither white, black, red, nor yellow. It is not hunched, fat, short or tall. It is formless and the very embodiment of light. - Da\u015ba\u015blok\u012b, 6 This verse, especially, is significant in today\u2019s world, given the climate that we live in; a world that is tainted by the discrimination based on colour and size. \u015aa\u1e45kara categorically dismisses these as insignificant and leads one to the essential truth that we all are. He points to the inner spark that animates all of creation and states that he is that immutable and eternal Truth. Identification with this inner light, which is ablaze in all of creation, will help us transcend the notions of differences and help us recognise that diversity is the spice of life sprinkled by the Supreme artist in aesthetic rapture.