Monday, November 13, 2006

Brief life sketch of Sri Chandrashekara Saraswathi Mahasvami – 04

Hare Krishna Friends,

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On the way back from Rameshwaram, the Acharya visited many holy places sung by the various Nayanmars (Shaivite Saints) and Alwars (Vishnavite Saints), did the Tatanka (ear ornament) Pratishta for Sri Akhilandeshwari at Thiruvanikkaval (a place near Trichy).

There is an incident connected with Thiruvanikkaval. This place also known as Jambukeshwaram is one of the Panchabhoota Pilgrim centers. Here the Lord (Shiva) is symbolized in the form of water. There is perennial oozing of water from underneath the Shiva Linga in the sanctum sanctorum which is emptied at regular intervals (Thanks to my close friends at Trichy, I was fortunate to visit Thiruvanikkaval in March this year). The Lord in this holy place is called Jambunatha while the Devi is known as Sri Akhilandeshwari. It appears that the Goddess here was very fierce and with her ugra-kala (fury) used to burn everything before her. Even the priest who opened the temple doors early in the morning was reduced to ashes and the people, unable to put up with such fierceness, eagerly availed themselves of the opportunity afforded by the presence in their midst of the great Adi Sankara who came to this kshetra in the course of his tour and implored him to draw out the ugra-kala of the Goddess and thus appease her ferocity. Accordingly, he established a temple of Ganesh just opposite to that of the Goddess so that when the temple doors were opened in the morning the first person to catch the eye of the Goddess would be her own favorite son. This in a way reduced the ferocity, but not satisfied with this, Bhagavatpada prepared two Sri Chakras in the shape of two Tatankas (ear ornaments) and drew forth all the ugra-kala of the Goddess into these two Tatankas and consecrated them on her two ears thereby appeasing her and approachable to her numerous devotees. From that day forth, the Devi has been adorned with the Tatanka. And whenever this ornament got into disrepair, it was repaired by the spiritual descendants of the great world-teacher, who adorned the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham and again put on the ears of the Goddess after due Pratishtha. The Sage of Kanchi followed the same time honored rule.

It was a time when Indians, under the leadership of various patriots were fighting to free India from British Rule. When National leaders Desha Bhandhu Chittaranjan Das and S.Sathya Murthy sought his blessings, the Acharya said “All political parties should conduct politics in such a way that the religious faith of the general public is not harmed or affected. Though as a Sanyasi, I cannot identify myself with any party, I certainly look for the country attaining freedom soon. I want not only the foreign rule to go, but also the foreign outlook of our people to go”. Many other freedom fighters met the Swamiji and sought his blessings. They marveled his knowledge and concern for public affairs. Spiritually, the Acharya was also a freedom fighter, fighting for the freedom of people from the cycle of birth and death. But he felt that by the time political freedom was obtained our people may perhaps further lose their spiritual instincts.

When the Government of the then Madras regency brought a bill to regulate Hindu religious endowments and temples, the Acharya guided some eminent advocates to draft a memorandum. The chief minister, Raja of Panagal of Justice Party thanked the Acharya for his valuable suggestions.

Acharya was an authority on Vedanta and Mimamsa and could communicate with clarity to the people. He studied World History, particularly the impact of Hindu culture on humanity at large. In the course of his travels, the Acharya studied many relics, scriptural inscriptions, musical inscriptions etc at various places. He found that Indian culture and practices were prevalent in Java and Bali islands which are now called Indonesia. Swamigal had previously read about two thousand pages of the book ‘Raffle’s History of Java.’ There are temples in Indonesia for Ganesh, Shiva, Ambika and Vishnu, similar to the ones in India. However, the Shaivite and Vaishnavite religions that were prevalent before have disappeared and Islam has become the national religion.

The Tamil savant Poovai Swaminatha Iyer who retrieved many relics from decaying Palm leaves received the title “Dakshinathya Kalanidhi” from the Acharya. His Holiness had command over 17 languages including some foreign languages. Praising Sir Annamalai Chettiyar for establishing the “Annamalai” university, he shared his concerns over the pernicious dowry system which was impoverishing many families. Wherever he went, a huge procession followed. And many in the procession were devotees from religions other than Hinduism. The Acharya had enormous compassion for each and every one.

In 1926, the Acharya was camping at a village near Trichy. Seth Chamanlal Bajaj, a Congress leader, was touring Tamil Nadu and wanted to have Darshan of the Acharya. He conveyed his desire to Dr.T.V.Swaminatha Shastri, then Congress leader at Trichi, who in turn consulted with Mutt officials and made arrangements for the meeting. On the appointed day, Bajaj, Chakravarty Rajagopalachary (Popularly known as Rajaji, who was a Writer, Statesman, Devout Hindu, Second Governor General of Independent India, Chief Minister of Tamilnadu and Bharath Ratna recipient. Most of us would have heard his introductory speech to the Bhaja Govindam Song rendered by Late Smt. M.S.Subbulakshmi), Dr.Shastri and V.Jayarama Iyer, a lawyer went to the camp site. Bajaj, Shastri and Iyer went upstairs to where Swamigal was staying. When they prostrated and sat down, Swamigal inquired if anyone else had accompanied them. They replied that Rajaji had come with them, but was standing outside. The Acharya sent Jayarama Iyer and asked him to bring Rajaji to the room. Rajaji came in to the room and prostrated before the Acharya as per practice. When Swamigal asked him why he did not come in before, he replied that he had not taken a bath yet and was planning to come have Darshan of Swamigal after completing his ablutions. Swamigal looked at him and said that people who are devoted in the service of the country would not get the time or the opportunity to cleanse their body in a timely manner. Their tireless service is their prayer and Vrata. Rajaji was a person with a pure heart and was eligible to have his Darshan at any time. Rajaji informed Swamigal about the national freedom struggle, Hindi Prachar and Gandhiji’s service to the nation. Swamigal also conveyed his opinions to the leaders gathered there. They prostrated to Swamigal and said this Darshan would enable them to do both worldly and religious service.

At a cowshed in Nallichery (Palakkad), a village in Kerala a historic meeting of two great persons took place on 15th Oct 1927. The 57 year old Mahatma Gandhi was drawn to the 33 year old Sanyasi sitting on the floor, clad in a Khaadi cloth. The Acharya was also happy to meet a respectable National leader leading a simple life with spiritual emphasis. Gandhiji prostrated before Acharya as per tradition and his heart immersed in the glowing presence of the Jivanmukta. Then Swamigal spoke in Sanskrit, invited Gandhiji to come nearby and take a seat. Gandhiji sat down on the floor and replied that he could not speak in Sanskrit, but can comprehend Sanskrit words. Swamigal conversed in Sanskrit and Gandhiji in Hindi. Swamigal conveyed his appreciation to Gandhiji on his service to the nation keeping in mind that political rule based on spirituality would nurture a nation and one based primarily on human strength would lead to destruction. He praised Gandhiji for preaching this principle to the whole world. The conversation lasted for nearly an hour. Finally, when Gandhiji took leave, he said he was greatly benefited by having darshan of Swamigal and would keep his suggestions in mind and act upon them as much as possible. That evening, Mahatma was asked to reveal the details of his conversation with the Swamigal when at a public meeting in Coimbatore. Gandhiji refused to reveal the conversation as it was a private meeting and matters close to his heart were discussed and that is why the press was not allowed in the shed. Swamigal also did not divulge any details about this conversation.

In the course of his travel, the Acharya visited the small village of Vadvambalam situated near Vizhuppuram. The 56th Acharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Sri Atmabhodhendra Saraswathi Swami had attained Siddhi in this village. He had stayed in Kashi for a long time and was known for his commentary on Rudram (the centre portion of Yajur Veda). There was no marking in that town to identify the place where the Acharya had attained Siddhi. His Holiness roamed the village’s fields, groves looking for signs of the spot and finally stopped at a place and asked the ground to be dug there. The village folks were following Swamigal around during his search. They said that they had dug places around there for various other reasons and did not see any signs of anyone attaining Siddhi there. However, Swamigal insisted and ordered that place to be excavated. A few feet into the ground, a skull was found. At that time, one of person who was digging (Kumaramangalam Sambamoorthy Shastri) fell down shouting “Stop, Stop” and went into a trance like state. He regained consciousness after a long time and recounted the amazing vision that he saw. “I saw a Sanyasi wearing saffron robes, having a Dhandam in his hand, wearing Rudraksha maala around his neck and was as tall as the sky. There were several Brahmins around the Sannyasi chanting Upanishads. The huge figure then ordered the chanting to be stopped. Moreover, I heard the figure say, “Don’t dig don’t dig in my ears”. The figure became smaller and smaller and disappeared. I just heard someone chanting “Sadashivam, Sadashivam” in my ears. And that too stopped in a little while, at which point I regained consciousness”. The village people were astonished to hear his vision, prostrated before the Acharya and requested his guidance on how to proceed further. As per Swamigal’s wish, the piece of land was donated to the Mutt and a Brindavan was built there with the help of one of the local Reddy. Daily pujas are being conducted there.

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We will continue the next day.



Blogger vedanta said...


Prostrations to all.

A few words on Mahatma Gandhi would not be out of place over here. As we all know that Gandhiji died chanting the name of Rama -- as per Lord Krishna, it is very tough indeed to chant the name of the Lord while dying because that is when the thought which has got much attention throughout the life will be remembered. It is thus beyond doubt that Gandhiji had his thought fixed on Lord Rama throughout his life.

People might comment and criticize Gandhiji for visiting the brother, not minding his children etc. but there are avadhoothas who do not even speak with people & when they speak, they just spit on your face -- different are the ways of saints & it is tough indeed to apprehend it.

The aspect of remembering the Lord was very strong in Gandhiji. But yet, there was one problem with Gandhiji. The problem was the over emphasis on Karma. Gandhiji had read the Gita and knew it but gave much emphasis to Karma than Jnaana. As the Lord himself says that Karma is totally destroyed in Jnaana, it is but apt that a person doesn't give much emphasis to Karma rather concentrate on jnaana. It is for this reason that Gandhiji cannot really be called a jeevan muktha and had to struggle with the struggle of nation. A jeevan muktha would have happily left the country on its own all the while doing things for the country unlike the mahatma who got too much attached to the country (which Vedanta terms as ahamkaara or ego).

Calling out the name of the Lord at the time of death is not liberation - it is just that such a person will attain the world of the Lord (whether it be vaikunta as in the case of gandhi or ultimately brahma loka). Sankara emphasizes in his bhashyas that mukthi has to be attained here and now itself. And this is possible not through crores of karma or following or karma yoga or being devoted to a form Lord but only through brahma atma aikya jnaana, nothing else.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

4:18 AM  
Blogger vedanta said...

Hari Aum,

For all that we know, Gandhiji might have been a jivan muktha. Though being involved in the nations struggle and showing complete involvement he might have hidden the fact that he is actually not affected inside. I am just feeling this might also be true. Jeevan mukthas don’t announce their caliber or spiritual conquers and all of us know Gandhiji was a staunch follower of the Lord and he has read the Gita so many times and hence he may have deceived the common folks inspite of being a truly realized soul. I am mentioning “he MAY”J as I feel this might have also happened. Its like the Krishna killing shisupala though the Lord doesn’t really hate anyone but he is curing Shisupala of his ego. Similarly Mahatma being a true karma yogi was a leader in quest of freedom, he could have also been a jeevan muktha and this might have eluded us. Dint the sikh guru’s fight for a similar cause though all 10 gurus idealogy were different at different times their one goal is just as mentioned in Gita. Even Jesus Christ played the role he came for and I strongly believe he was a jeevan muktha. Wasn’t he? Now that brings us to the question as to whether the Sikh Gurus are also jeevan mukthas like Jesus Christ. Probably someone who knows better than me can elucidate.

Only God knows what is true. Just wanted to share this, that’s all.

Hari Aum.



And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.

7:23 PM  
Blogger vedanta said...


Prostrations to all.

"God only knows what is true" -- :-) Pardon the criticism but this is the statement of either a escapist or an ignorant person - these words dont suit a Vedantic seeker.

As Vedantic seekers, we ought to know the basics of jeeva muktha among other things. It is escaping if a person says that "I dont know scriptures nor sanskrit" as there are more than enough multi-language translations of the scriptures as well as many saints in our midst to solve our doubts or from whom we can learn Vedanta in the proper way.

Jeevan muktha has been variously explained in the scriptures even in the Gita. First of all, as we have already learnt in the small work emphasizing the main import of Gita as knowledge -- it is but true that knowledge alone is the final, nothing else. Sankara goes to the heights in criticizing karma in his chatusutri bhashya so does Sureshwaracharya in an entire chapter of his Naishkarmya Siddhi. It is as well true that the Lord after explaining Karma yoga in the 3rd chapter negates karma completely by saying that "all actions end in knowledge" and "knowledge burns actions into ashes even as fire burns firewood". This is more than enough to gauge or finalize as to whether karma is greater or jnaana is.

It is also clear that Gandhiji emphasized on Karma. It is also true that Kanchi acharya among others met with Gandhiji etc. etc. These in no way can lead to the conclusion that the Mahatma was a jeevan muktha.

Mukthi itself is possible only through knowledge & knowledge alone. Wherever karma is emphasized, it is limited-ness alone & hence mukthi is impossible in such a case. Sankara stresses this in a few beautiful slokas in the starting of Vivekachoodamani.

Chittasya shuddhaye karma na tu vasthu upalabdhaye
vasthu siddhir vichaarena na kinchit karma kotibhih

Actions are only for purification of the mind and not for gaining of an entity -- entity (real entity) can be known only through knowledge & not through crores of actions.

Hope everybody understands the difference between karma yogi and jeevan muktha. Gandhiji was a karma yogi who believed in karma - his interpretation of gita as well as emphasis of certain parts of gita clearly shows that he gave importance to karma. This itself is enough for a Vedantin to determine whether the Mahatma is a jeevan muktha or not.

Kanchi acharyal accepted Ramana as a jeevan muktha when Paul Brunton met the acharya. But he doesn't mention the same about Gandhiji. Compare Gandhiji and Ramana, it will be quite evident as to what is the difference.

There is no question of "Gandhiji may be a jeevan muktha" but it is conclusive that "Gandhiji was not a jeevan muktha" -- this is not "my" personal opinion but as per the scriptures and open statement of none other than Prof. Balakrishnan Nair. It is important for each one of us as Vedanta seekers to understand that "personal opinions" are not what is to be accepted but "scriptural support" is what is to be accepted.

It is quite easy for a person to say that "he might be internally unaffected" etc. but things should be faced and supported with scriptural statements for the same. As to Jesus Christ, he was a jeevan muktha for sure. Read the bible & compare with what Vedanta speaks about jeevan mukthas and it will be quite evident as to whether Christ was a jeevan muktha or not. It is but a pity that christians dilute and pollute Christ's teachings. Swami Prabhavananda of R K Mutt has written a work titled "Sermons on the mount" wherein he corelates Christs sermons with Vedantic concepts.

As to Sikhs, have no idea whatsoever & hence cannot comment on the same.

PS: Not "my" views but the views of scriptures.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

7:24 PM  

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