Monday, November 06, 2006

Brief life sketch of Sri Chandrashekara Saraswathi Mahasvami – 02

Hare Krishna Friends,

Continuing from where we had stopped previously. As mentioned before, most of the following is a transcription of the visual “The Sage of Kanchi”, depicting in brief the Biography of the Mahasvami.

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In the eighteenth century, under the rule of Maharashtra kings in Tanjore, the official site of the Kamakoti Peetham was moved temporarily from Kanchipuram to Tanjore owing to the conflicts in the place during that period. Since that time, Kumbakonam was the temporary place of Administrative headquarters of the Kanchi Mutt.

After being pontificated, the young Acharya left for Kumbakonam from Kalavai. The first priority of the Acharya was learning the Vedas, Shastras and various classics. The Mutt’s scholars were engaged to teach and train the Swamigal.

An interesting episode during his study while staying at Kumbakonam is as follows. This is as told in an article by Sri A.Kuppuswamy.

One of those who taught the Acharya during this period was Painganadu Ganapathi Shastrigal (Painganadu is a place near Mannargudi in Tamil Nadu). He was a versatile scholar. Before he was forty years of age, he had written about a hundred works, in Sanskrit – short and long. He was awarded the title of ‘Mahamahopadhyaya’, by the Government of India, posthumously – just ten days after his demise.

Ganapathi Shastrigal was residing in a house opposite to the Sankara Mutt in Kumbakonam. He would go to the Mutt early in the forenoon and teach the teen-aged Acharya for about an hour. In the evenings, lessons in Shastras, Sanskrit, Chandas (prosody) etc. were imparted to the Acharya. In the spring season, the teacher and the student would sit for an hour or more, on the sands of the dry bed of the Cauvery, near the Mutt and there the lessons used to be carried out.

One evening the tutor was teaching. The Acharya was frequently thrusting the fingers of his left hand in the sand. Ganapathi Shastrigal observed this. The next morning he went to the Mutt as usual. After prostrating to the Acharya, he said “Please permit me to leave Kumbakonam and go to my village”. The young Acharya was much surprised and he asked the teacher, “What is the reason for this sudden request of yours?” Shastrigal’s reply was a bit stern. He replied, “A student, desiring to acquire knowledge, should be quite attentive when lessons are going on. Concentration of the mind is essential. My guru used to tell his pupils that one sitting on sand but not touching it and one having a knife on his hand, but not doing anything with it and one having his mind fixed in something worthy, as examples for a “sthita-prajna’ (one with a steadfast mind). Yesterday evening Your Holiness was a bit inattentive to what was being taught”.

The Acharya quickly interposed and said, “I was attending although I was thrusting my hand into the sand off and on. I shall now repeat all of what was taught yesterday evening”. Ganapathi Shastrigal who was struck with wonder at the amazing memory and precociousness of the young Acharya, said, “I feel that I am not necessary hereafter. Your Holiness can learn everything without the aid of a tutor and I can go”. The Acharya was loath to part with such an erudite teacher. And Ganapathi Shastrigal continued as teacher for about 10 more months.

The learned and the academicians of the day were surprised at the brilliance and sharpness of Acharya’s intellect. But constant visits from a large number of devotees and followers of the Mutt caused a lot of distraction to the training. It became essential to find a quiet place to continue studies effectively. The Mutt officials chose the beautiful and secluded village, Mahendramangalam on the banks of river Cauvery in Tamilnadu for his stay and studies. It became a pilgrimage for the great scholar teachers who were astounded by the extra ordinary grasping power of the young Acharya. In a short duration, the Acharya mastered Mimamsa, Vedanta, Tharka Shastra, Vyakarana etc.

On top of all these, with his love for the rich traditions of the Tamil language, the Acharya studied its grammar and literature. Additionally he was studying English, French and Marathi languages on his own. He had deep interests in fine arts, particularly music. Though he did not allocate any time to learn fine arts, in his free time (I can’t think how he could find any free time at allJ), he used to discuss the nuances of music with the excelling artists and absorbed the intricacies involved therein. He was good in singing and playing the Veena.

The Acharya often went to the small islands on the middle of the river Cauvery and used to get blissfully absorbed in meditation in the beautiful surroundings. He loved to take photographs of picturesque sceneries. On few occasions, a disciple would follow the Acharya with a camera and take pictures under the guidance of the Swamigal.

His other interests included History, Epigraphy, Archeology, Astronomy and Sculpture. He also learnt the Puranas and Sthala Puranas (short Puranas pertaining to particular places). He absorbed all knowledge from scholars and subject matter experts who visited him and also applied that knowledge to investigate and analyze the basis of such subject matter.

The Acharya was 20 years of age when he returned back to Kumbakonam. He was fully equipped with knowledge required for his high position as the head of an ancient spiritual organization.

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We will see the rest of the account in the next email.



Blogger vedanta said...


Prostrations to all.

Regarding free time, AMMA's first sanyaasi disciple Swami Amrita swaroopa ananda puri proclaimed that a person overcomes time when he realizes the Self thereby he is the controller of time.

This aspect or science that deals with managing time is termed by modern science as "time management". We should in fact understand that the west people will never be able to apply or properly have time management because TIME is always limited. Anything which is limited will always be tough to control -- however much we try, we will not be able to control it properly and fully. The only way to control time is to ASCEND TIME. When a person realizes his nature of Brahman beyond time and space, he transcends time thereby having a lot of time for things. AMMA gives darshan for thousands of people during the day and during night she reads all the posts that she receives and giving replies for the same - in the midst taking a walk around the ashram to meet her disciples and see if everything is fine......

This is the case with any mahatma who has conquered time by realizing that which is beyond time. We will be able to control mathematics if we transcend it. Similarly time can be controlled only by transcending it.

:-) Here comes the irony........ When a person transcends time, there is the realization that time itself is only an illusion -- then what to manage and how to manage? :-) It is only when we stand in the emperical level and in the illusion of Maya characterized by time/space/causation that things seem to be miraculous with certain people. Go beyond MAYA and everything merely vanishes like the water seen in desert vanishes once we go near it.

Sankara gives a set of contemplative verses in Vivekachoodamani for nidhidhyaasana -- the very first verse (if memory doesn't fail me) goes thus

Desha kaala vishaya ati varthi yat
brahma tat tvam asi bhaavayaatmani

Know and contemplate on your Self as "I am that Brahman" which is beyond the three limitations of time, space and causation.

This is the reason why jeevan mukthas like Balakrishnan Nair and Ramana Maharshi didn't do much to the world because they knew that there is no world. Other saints like AMMA, the various sankaracharyas etc. do things for the world knowing that the world is only an illusion.......... Both are the same only -- just that a seeker has to constantly remember that the world is only an illusion.

If the world is an illusion, what about jeevan mukthas???? this is a question which has been answered by various advaitins (appayya dikshitar mentions this as well in his siddhantha lesa sangraha) -- we see jeevan mukthas even in dream but they are illusory only. similarly the jeevan mukthas seen in the illusory waking world is only only illusory like dream jeevan mukthas.

What really exists is Brahman alone, one without a second -- NEHA NANA ASTHI KINCHANA (there is no duality whatsoever here).

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

7:18 PM  

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