Coimbatore: April 24 — May 2, 2017

Shankara Jayanti Celebrations in Coimbatore

ARRIVAL

The Jagadgurus arrived at Coimbatore on April 24, 2017 to a rousing welcome by devotees. Sri Sannidhanam was led in a procession to the Sringeri Shankara Math, Sharadalayam, Race Course Road.  After the Jagadgurus had Darshan at the shrines of Goddess Sharadamba, Mahaganapati, Lord Bala Subrahmanya and Sri Adi Shankaracharya, they graced a public function organised on the occasion. Sri Vijay Anand performed the Dhuli Pada Puja. Swagata Patrikas in Sanskrit and Tamil were read out by Sri Jambunatha Ghanapatigal and Sri Nagasubrahmanya Iyer respectively, and then offered to the Jagadgurus.

ANUGRAHA BHASHANAMS

Sri Mahasannidhanam in His Anugraha Bhashanam praised the Astikyam, Dharma-Shraddha and Guru Bhakti of the devotees of Coimbatore. Sri Mahasannidhanam stated that Sri Adi Shankaracharya had brought about a transformation in the minds of the masses, and as per the direction of His Parameshthi Guru (Jagadguru Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharati Mahaswamiji), the Shankara Jayanti Celebrations were being observed everywhere to express gratitude towards the great Acharya.

Sri Sannidhanam then blessed the gathering with an Anugraha Bhashanam mentioning that the devotees had requested the Jagadgurus to grace Coimbatore as part of the Vijaya Yatra. Accordingly the Jagadgurus had come. At the same time, the Jagadgurus celebrating Shankara Jayanti was a boon conferred on the Coimbatore devotees without asking.

Guru Seva

Sri Sannidhanam then explained what constitutes a purposeful day –

कृतगङ्गोदकस्नानं श्रुतभारतसत्कथम् ।

अर्चिताच्युतपादाब्जं दिनं कल्पशताद्वरम् ॥

That day when you have had the opportunity to be in a holy place, that day when you have heard the noble stories related to God, and that day when the Lotus Feet of God have been worshipped, is considered better than (even) a hundred Kalpas of Brahma.

Sri Sannidhanam then went on to say that Guru Padodaka Prokshanam is equivalent to bathing in the holy Ganga and engaging in Guru Seva is equivalent to all the three factors that make a day purposeful.

Curb Anger & Desire

Emphasizing the need to curb desire (Kama) and anger (krodha), Sri Sannidhanam also recounted the story of 4 robbers who were on the run and found a treasure in a forest cave. They paid no heed to the advice of a Sannyasi who asked them not to covet the treasure. Ignoring his words, the 4 robbers split into two groups of two each, one to stand guard over the treasure and the other to fetch food. The two who went to fetch food ate their fill and came back with food for the other two. The other two, meanwhile had given into their greed, and ended up ambushing and killing the first two. Then the other two, suffering from the pangs of hunger, gobbled down the food and fell down dead, for the first two, themselves giving in to greed had poisoned the food they had carried for their friends. Thus having not paid heed to the words of the Sannyasi, and succumbing to their greed, all ended up losing their lives.

Sri Sannidhanam further directed that Kama must be regulated to remain within the boundaries of Dharma.

Splendid arrangements were made at the Sringeri Shankara Math, Sharadalayam, Race Course Road for the 8-day stay of the Jagadgurus with the highlight being the Shankara Jayanti celebrations.

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SHANKARA JAYANTI CELEBRATIONS

The Shankara Jayanti celebrations of the Hemalamba Samvatsara were conducted by the Ubhaya Jagadgurus at Coimbatore from April 27 to April 30, 2017. Every morning, Mahanyasa Poorvaka Shata Rudra Abhisheka was performed to the Vigraha of Bhagavatpada. Parayana of the four Vedas, the Prasthanatraya Bhashya and Madhaviya Shankara Vijaya  (the biography of Sri Shankara’s life) took place. At noon, chanting of various Upanishads, Ashtottara Archana and Mahamangalarati took place.  In the evenings, Sri Mahasannidhanam and Sri Sannidhanam presided over a Sabha at the Pravachana Mandiram. Sri Sannidhanam performed the Parayana of the Madhaviya Shankara Digvijaya and briefly conveyed the meaning of the verses in Tamil. Upanyasas by eminent persons (such as Swami Omkarananda, Sri Tukaram Ganapati Maharaj and Vidwan Mani Dravid) took place.

About 200 Vedic scholars from all over India took part in the Veda Sammelan conducted on the occasion by the Peetham’s Veda Poshaka Sabha. Under the auspices of the Sabha, examinations were conducted for advanced students of the Vedas.

On Akshaya Triteeya day (April 29, 2017), Sri Sannidhanam performed a special Puja to Goddess Sharadamba in the Sringeri Shankara Math Race Course Road and offered a gold kavacha.

On April 30, 2017, Shankara Jayanti day, Sri Mahasannidhanam performed an elaborate Pooja to Sri Adi Shankaracharya from around noon. Sri Mahasannidhanam concluded the Pooja with the grand ‘Kanakabhisheka’ to the Vigraha of Sri Adi Shankaracharya.

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Evening Function

In the evening, a Sabha was organized at the Pravachana Mandiram in the divine presence of the Jagadgurus. Sri Sannidhanam performed the Parayana of the 5th Sarga of the Madhaviya Shankara Digvijaya Parayana. Thereafter the Administrator and CEO, Guru Seva Dhurina Dr. V R Gowrishankar spoke about the Shankara Jayanti Celebrations as a 5-day event, as constituted by the 33rd Acharya of the Peetham, Jagadguru Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharati Mahaswamiji. Mentioning that Sri Adi Shankaracharya is renowned as one of the great thinkers in world history, he also mentioned that it was Sri Adi Shankaracharya who was unique in unifying the nation as a cultural and spiritual unit.

He said that during the times of Sri Mahasannidhanam, Sri Shankara Jayanti has come to be celebrated even in the USA under the auspices of the Peetham. He also said that it is due to the Sankalpa of Sri Mahasannidhanam that the states of Kerala and Karnataka have issued gazette notifications to observe the Shankara Jayanti day as Philosophers’ day, and Kalady has a Sanskrit university named after Sri Adi Shankaracharya.  

Sri Gowrishankar said that the number of Vedic scholars participating in the annual Veda Sammelans conducted by the Peetham had gone up from 200 about 2 decades back, to 3500 today. He also said that the honorarium given to eminent Vedic scholars by the Veda Poshaka Sabha has become 25 times the original amount of Rs. 1000.

Sri Gowrishankar ended his address thanking all the Pathashala, teachers and students for having participated in the examinations conducted by the Veda Poshaka Sabha.

All Vedic scholars were then blessed by the Jagadgurus and felicitated in Their divine presence by the Peetham’s CEO Sri V R Gowrishankar.

Sri Mahasannidhanam then released a Tamil book “Dakshinamurti Stotrangal” containing stotras composed by Sri Adi Shankaracharya on Lord Dakshinamurti.

Anugraha Bhashanams

Sri Sannidhanam and Sri Mahasannidhanam blessed the gathering with Anugraha Bhashanams detailing the greatness of Sri Adi Shankaracharya, His contributions and why we must ever remain grateful to the great Acharya.

Bhagavatpada and the Supremacy of the Vedas

Sri Sannidhanam in His Anugraha Bhashanam said Shankara Jayanti is sacred for all followers of Sanatana Dharma. The first injunction of Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada is वेदो नित्यमधीयताम् – study the Vedas daily. One has to understand that the Vedas are the supreme means to knowledge. This is because what was put forth by logicians was refuted using the power of logic by Bhagavatpada. For instance, when explaining matter, the Tarkikas state that the indivisible or part-less Paramaanu, which cannot be directly perceived, combines with another Paramaanu to form a Dvyanuka. However Bhagavatpada dismisses this theory by pointing out that for two entities to combine, they must have a point of contact along their surfaces; this requires that the entities must be divisible into parts; and hence an indivisible entity such as a Paramaanu can never combine with another entity. Moreover, the Vedas does not talk of a Paramaanu in this sense. Bhagavatpada expounded the Vedanta Darshana using the Vedic (Upanishadic) statements as the principal Pramana. Hence in order to highlight the importance of the supreme authority of the Vedas, Parayana of the Vedas (and the constituent Upanishads) take place as part of the Shankara Jayanti Celebrations.

The Commentary on the Brahma Sutras

Mentioning about the greatness of the Bhashyam (commentary) of Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada, Sri Sannidhanam said that Bhagavan Veda Vyasa Himself met Sri Adi Shankaracharya in the guise of a Brahmana, debated with Him and joyfully blessed the Bhashya (commentary) stating –

व्याख्याप्यसंख्यैः कविभिः पुरैतद्व्याख्यास्यते कैश्चिदितःपरं च ।

भवानिवास्मद्धृदयं किमेते सर्वज्ञ विज्ञातुमलं निगूढम् ॥

“Many scholars have written commentaries on the Brahma sutras earlier, and many will write in future also. However O Omniscient One Shankara! But for you, there has been and will be none who has understood my thoughts (in writing the Brahma Sutras)”

Sri Sannidhanam also said that the standard of the Vedic exams conducted on the occasion are kept high because those who clear these exams with flying colours will be revered in society.

Different paths for Different Mindsets

Sri Mahasannidhanam in His Anugraha Bhashanam stated that at a time when the Vedas and Vedic Dharma were at its ebb, and people were steeped in ignorance, Sri Adi Shankaracharya incarnated, established the authority of the Vedas, resuscitated the practice of Vedic Dharma, and spread the Vedanta Tattva.

Sri Adi Shankaracharya was universal in His outlook and included all mankind under His purview when He penned His works. That is why one of the names in His Ashtottara Shata Nama is लक्ष्यभेदप्रदर्शकः – the one who showed the different paths of Karma, Bhakti and Jnana in accordance to their qualifications. He did not ask all to abandon Karma and engage in meditation. He recommended the practice of Bhakti and performance of Karma until the mind gets purified. Different लक्ष्य or objectives were thus pointed out by Bhagavatpada for people of different eligibilities. Hence it is inappropriate to think that Bhagavatpada wrote only for a specific section of the people, primarily the scholarly. Only because Bhagavatpada showed the path of welfare to all of humanity is He called “Jagadguru”. It is natural that we express our gratitude to Jagadguru Sri Adi Shankaracharya and celebrate Shankara Jayanti. Sri Mahasannidhanam ended His Anugraha Bhashanam blessing all the scholars, students and the devotees.

Felicitations for Scholars and Students

Sri Mahasannidhanam then awarded gold rings for excellence in Vedic scholarship to Vedabrahmasri R Subrahmanya Ghanapaathi of Trichy in Rig Veda, Vedabrahmasri Kambhampaati Shivaramakrishna Ghanapaathi of Vijayawada in Krishna Yajur Veda, Vedabrahmasri Devendra Ramachandra Ghadeekar of Alandi in Shukla Yajur Veda and Vedabrahmasri Bhikshaa Rama Sharma of Kumbhakonam in Sama Veda.

Then followed the felicitation of 58 successful students out of the 103 who appeared for the advanced Vedic exams. 20 of these 58 students who had cleared the Ghanapatha level examination were first felicitated – 1 in Rig Veda, 13 in Krishna Yajur Veda, 4 in Shukla Yajur Veda Kaanva Shaakha, 1 in Sama Veda Kauthuma Shaakha and 1 in Sama Veda Ranayaneeya Shaakha. The remaining 38 successful candidates had successfully cleared the Kramapatha level examination – 3 in Rig Veda, 26 in Krishna Yajur Veda, 3 in Shukla Yajur Veda Kaanva Shaakha, and 6 in Sama Veda Kauthuma Shaakha.

Finally, the Utsava Murti of Sri Adi Shankaracharya began In the divine presence of the Ubhaya Jagadgurus. Sri Sannidhanam led the grand procession around the Race Course road.

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VISITS

On April 25, Sri Sannidhanam visited the Varasiddhi Vinayakar temple (Bharathi Park Road), Ayyappan Puja Sangam (Ramnagar) and Sri Kothanda Ramaswamy temple (Ramnagar). On April 26, Sri Sannidhanam visited the Sringeri Shankara Math & Cochin Dewan Najappaiyer Trust Building (Raja Street), Panchamukha Raja Ganapati temple (Perur), Vaidika Brahmana Sabha (Perur) and the Pathashala run by Vedabrahmasri Jambunatha Ghanapatigal (Perur). On May 2, Sri Sannidhanam visited the Sharadambal temple (Rukmani Nagar, Ramanathapuram). At all these places, Sri Sannidhanam blessed the devotees with Anugraha Bhashanams.

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PHOTO EXHIBITION & QUIZ COMPETITION

Sri Vidyatirtha Foundation put up a photo exhibition titled “Pictures of Perfection” depicting the life and teachings of the 35th Acharya of the Peetham, Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahaswamiji. This being the birth centenary year, the foundation also conducted a quiz competition on the occasion with active participation from the Coimbatore devotees.

GURU VANDANA PROGRAM

A Guru Vandana Program was held on May 1, 2017. Many dignitaries including Sri KNV Ramani (Corporate Lawyer), Justice N Seshashayee (Madras High Court), Philanthropist Sri Krishnaraj Vanavarayar, Sri Mohan Sankar (Coimbatore Vijaya Yatra organising committee), Sri Ramakrishna Naidu of the Annur Dharmaveera Govindaswamy Naidu family, Industrialist Sri Ravi Sam spoke on the occasion expressing their reverence to the Sringeri Jagadgurus. Sri Mahasannidhanam and Sri Sannidhanam blessed all the devotees responsible for the wonderful arrangements made during the Shankara Jayanti, and blessed the gathering with Anugraha Bhashanams.

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