Thursday, September 21, 2006

Brief Life Sketch of Sri Chandrashekara Bharathi Mahasvami - 01

Hare Krishna,

Before proceeding any further, I would like to show my deep gratitude to Sri Neelakantan (my Veda Master here in Melbourne, by coincidence our names match) and Sri Sankar. They introduced me to the wonderful books of great Mahatmas. Both of them have been continually inspiring me by their words, deeds and actions. My humble prostrations to them.

Today is the first day of Navarathri. Let us constantly remember Ambal, the Goddess Supreme and pray to shower her blessings on us, her children.

The temple town of Sringeri (derived from the name of the great sage Rishya Sringa) is a picturesque spot located on the banks of river Tunga in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka. Reference to this holy place is found in Ramayanam and Mahabharatham. Sankara Bhagavatpada established the Sringeri Sharada Peetham in this serene spot. There is a legend behind the establishment of the Mutt which runs as follows. During one of his Vijaya yaatras, Bhagavatpada with his disciples reached Sringeri on a hot noon. As they proceeded to river Tunga for their ablutions, they saw an unusual sight. A cobra had raised its hood over a frog in labor pains to provide shade from the scorching sun. Moved by the sanctity of the place, that could infuse love even between natural enemies, Sankara decided to set up a Mutt there. He installed the Goddess of learning, Sri Sharadamba as the presiding deity of the Mutt and placed Sureshwaracharya (known as Mandana Mishra in his purva ashrama) as its first pontiff.

Since then, there has been a continuous lineage of illustrious Acharyas adorning the Sharada Peetham (including the highly eminent Sri Vidyaranya). The Acharyas have all been men of great erudition, spiritual attainment and compassion. Known as the Jagadguru, each one of them has added to the lustre of the Peetham. His Holiness Sri Chandrashekara Bharathi Mahasvami (1892 -1954) graced the Peetham as its 34th pontiff. His holiness was a Saint of astonishing spiritual accomplishments. He was extremely fierce in dispassion, a true master of Vedas & Shastras. In short, the Acharyal was a Jivanmukta.

Pandit Gopala Shastri was a laureate among the scholars who were patronized by Sringeri Sharada Peetham. Born on the morning of Sunday the 16th of October 1892 to Gopala Shastri and his devoted wife Lakshmi Amba, His Holiness, was then known as Narasimha. Though the family was financially poor, it had very rich Vedantic Culture. Gopala Shastri had about 11 children before Narasimha, but such was God's will that only this boy survived. The parents felt that they were being pursued by an inexplicable and relentless fate which deprived them of their children and hoped that at least by separating the boy from themselves for sometime, he might escape the fate of his brothers and sisters. The boy was lodged with Srikanta Sastri, the administrator of the Sringeri Mutt. Narasimha's memory was prodigious, his intelligence was sparkling and his conduct was humble and simple. He was admitted to the local Anglo-Vernacular school run by the Government. Narasimha used to study Sanskrit at home and English at school. The Brahmopadesa of Narasimha was performed when he was eight. He was regular in the performance of Sandhyavandana, thrice a day and Agnikarya, worship of fire god, twice daily. Even from his boyhood days, Narasimha was introverted, had no attraction for the objects of the world. He was very fond of chanting the hymn Mukapanchashati (a hymn of 500 verses composed by Muka Kavi praising the divine Mother. Sri Iyer has referred to Mukapanchashati in his Soundarya Lahari postings). Once, while on way to the market, the boy Narasimha was so immersed in the composition that he continued far beyond the limits of the Sringeri Township. It was only when the recitation ended that he realized he had come far out……. In his twelfth year, Narasimha took the lower secondary examination and topped the list in the first division. However, Narasimha was just not made for a worldly career. He was the child of God born to adorn the Sharada Peetham.

Very early in life, he had the gracious blessings of His Holiness Sri Sacchidananda Siva Abhinava Narasimha Bharathi, the towering Saint who then graced the Sri Sringeri Jagadguru Peetham. At the instance of His Holiness himself, Narasimha changed over to the “Sadvidya Sanjivini Patashala” at Sringeri and later on joined the “Geervana Proudha Vidya Vardhini” College at Sankar Mutt complex in Bangalore for higher studies in Purva Mimamsa and Vedanta. Under the guidance of eminent teachers of the time, Narasimha easily mastered the sciences of Mimamsa and Vedanta.

We will see the rest of the account in the next email. I will attempt to be earnestly regular and post a minimum of two emails every week.

Obeisance to All.



Blogger vedanta said...


Prostrations to all.

The tradition of advaita vedanta has been continued from generations to generations without any break from the time of Adi Sankara through the various sankara mathas. There have been saints who have continued the tradition of writing commentaries or bhashyas as well as independent treatises on vedanta. Many saints are such that we just know their name and nothing more than that has been revealed. Many of these include Prakaasatman, Vimuktatman, Sri Harsha, Chitsukha etc.

If we see the various stages from Sankara's time, we can split it into broadly two -- one is before vidyaranya, madhusudana saraswathi & the other after these saints. In fact, vidyaranya was present at a time when lot of vedantic systems other than advaita had come into existence - rather than suppressing any of those, he categorized them in ascending order in his Sarva Darshana Sangraha. But after vidyaranya started the great dialectics and debates between advaita and dvaita -- this kind of culminated or rather became very strong during the time of madhusudana saraswathi and gauda brahmananda.

All these great seers have been keeping up the tradition through sanskrit works. Of late, we cannot find much of work written in sanskrit - partly maybe due to nothing new to be propounded. Exceptions of these in the 20th century include certain sanyaasins as well as certain householders. Among householders, M M Ananthakrishna Sastri (who wrote the advaita tattva sudha and satabhoosani which is an answering of the arguments in Satadooshani of Vedanta Desika) and Vasudeva Sastri Abhyankar (his main advaitic work being advaitamoda wherein vishistaadvaita and advaita is being discussed -- also he wrote commentaries on the siddhantha bindu of madhusudana saraswathi and sarva darshana samgraha of vidyaranya). Among the sanyaasins, very few stand out amongst other acharyas. These include Sacchidanandendra Saraswathi of Holenarsipur (his prime work being Vedanta Prakriya Prathyabhijna where other schools are shown to be not present at the time of Sankara and Sankara's system being clearly expounded bereft of the three later advaita schools of bhamathi, vivarana and vartika --- also commentaries on adhyaasa bhashya, upanishads and mandukya in particular wherein he seems to show that advaita is not the same as shoonyavaada), Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi of Kanchi (whose Soundarya lahari commentary is illumining and his interpretation of vedas in general through "daivathin kural") and Chandrasekhara Bharathi of Sringeri (who wrote a commentary in sanskrit on Vivekachoodamani of Sankara -- this commentary seems to be started by Sacchidaananda sivaabhinava nrsimha Bharathi swamigal and doesn't have commentary to last few slokas).

Thus the biography we are learning is of a world renowned jeevanmuktha who lived like a perfect viraktha yogi during the last days of his life (we will learn this when Neelakantan would be going through that stage in swamiji's life) -- rather he lived like an avadhuta in his last few days.

Just thought about mentioning about teh acharyas who are keeping the tradition of writing in sanskrit.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

8:24 PM  

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