Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Brief life sketch of Sri Abhinava Vidyateertha Mahasvami - 02

Hare Krishna Friends,

Please pardon a day’s delay in the posting. Let us continue with the brief biography of Sri Abhinava Vidyateertha Mahasvami and see some of his words of wisdom.
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Sri Chandrashekara Bharathi Mahasvami had often stressed to Srinivasa the importance of brahmacharya and sanyasa. One day, Srinivasa asked Vaidyanatha Shastry (Srivasa’s teacher in the Mutt) the following few questions:

I have heard that the eldest son in the family must get married. Is it so?
Is it necessary to master the scripture before renouncing the world?
I have heard that a set of debts accrues when one is born. Some of these are resolved by service to parents, some by worshipping Devas and some others are repaid by begetting progeny. Is this indeed the state of affairs?
To enter another ashrama, is it necessary for one to dwell as a Brahmachari with the Guru for a long time?
Can a young boy like me take up sanyasa? Can sanyasa be taken up without the approval of parents?

Vaidyanatha Shastry could not give satisfactory answers to these questions. Subsequently, one evening Mahasvami went to the Kalabhairava temple accompanied by Vaidyanatha Shastry and Srinivasa. Mahasvami asked Shastry to give the meaning of certain shlokas from the “Prabodha Sudhakara” of Sankara Bhagavatpada. As ordered, Shastry gave an overall meaning as follows: "It cannot be said that begetting a son confers liberation because not all people with sons have attained liberation. Further, the cycle of transmigratory existence itself will cease if this were true. A son cannot be the cause of happiness in this world or next since the Vedas prescribe special rites such as Jyotishtoma to attain a higher world and not procreation. The Veda very clearly proclaims that only the realization of the Self yields immortality. The Veda's utterances that a son is essential should be understood as merely eulogizing the performance of sacrifices such as “Puthreshti Yaga” (performed to obtain a son).The Vedas, which are like a mother, certainly does not intend to compel un-desiring ones to perform such sacrifices". After this, Mahasvami proceeded to give a detailed exposition. He said that marriage is compulsory only for a person who wants to enjoy sensual pleasures. For persons with strong dispassion there is no obligation to lead a householder's life. Further, there is no Vedic injunction that a dispassionate one should get married. The householder's life is recommended for persons with desire so that they avoid bad ways and lead a path of Dharma. In fact, the Jabala Upanishad explicitly declares that the moment one becomes extremely dispassionate one can renounce and become an ascetic. Thus a man can become an ascetic regardless of whether he is a celibate or a house holder or a forest dweller. He strengthened his explanations by various citations and firmly drove home his points.

On many occasions, Mahasvami spoke to Srinivasa in private about detachment and Brahmacharya and he was able to gauge from Srinivasa's face that the advice was having the desired effect. Undoubtedly, these words would have been like nectar to Srinivasa whose longing for asceticism was intense and innate.

Under the inspiration of Sri Sharada, Mahasvami resolved to appoint the capable and most deserving Srinivasa as his successor designate. On May 22, 1931, Srinivasa was initiated into the holy order of sanyasa, even before he had attained the age of 14. The Mahasvami named him as Sri Abhinava Vidyateertha Svami and taught him the sacred Mahavakyas.

Acharya's Guru Bhakthi and Guru Seva stand as a perfect example of Guru-Sishya relationship eulogized in the scriptures. It can be recollected here that Sri Chandrashekara Bharathi Mahasvami very often used to enter into “Antarmukha Avastha”. His behavior was unpredictable and the ordinary rules of conduct, worldly or spiritual, were no more for him. During such states, Mahasvami had to be particularly cared for. People feared that he might get drowned or move away into the forest. None dared to approach him for he would pelt them with stones. It was only Acharya who was able to bring his Guru back to the safety. There were even times when Mahasvami would start casting off his clothes and move about unconcerned like an Avadhuta. Acharya would rush spare clothing to him to prevent a commotion. This apart, Acharya used to constantly look after Mahasvami's needs when the latter was in his moods of seclusion. It is not too difficult to serve the Guru in conditions of normalcy but it requires patience, dexterity and tact to attend to the Guru's needs under trying circumstances. Acharya's exemplary care of his master is itself sufficient testimony to his boundless devotion to his Guru.

Mahasvami's affinity to Acharya was so great that he strongly disapproved when devotees showed preference in having his (Mahasvami's) darshan. In fact, Mahasvami firmly believed that his disciple was none other than his Guru (Sri Sacchidananda Siva Abhinava Narasimha Bharathi Mahasvami) incarnate and even had told Acharya about this. Mahasvami did not hesitate to exhibit his regard for Acharya openly - he would sometimes open the door for Acharya and was known to have stood up on Acharya's arrival. During festival season, he used to encourage Acharya to use the Golden palanquin and he would use the Silver one that followed. Acharya on his part never let these things go to his head. As far as he was concerned, "It was only my Guru’s love for me that caused him to speak of me as a re-manifestation of his own Guru".
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It is by the grace of a Guru that one is led from the state of ignorance to the state of everlasting infinite bliss. Therefore, one must show the greatest respect to the Guru and always act perfectly in accordance with His words.
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While a piece of iron is transformed by the Sparsha Gem into a piece of Gold, if that piece of Gold were to be brought into contact with a piece of Iron, both the Iron and the Gold would remain as they are.

But a Guru not only transforms his disciple into a knower but also confers on the disciple the power to convert another into a knower. Thus, the Sparsha Gem hardly serves as an analogue. Actually, there is simply no analogue for the Guru.
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Hari Om,


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