Srirangam: JUNE 10-12, 2012

Srirangam & Sringeri Sharada Peetham: A Unique and Special Bond

Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji arrived at Srirangam at around 7 pm on 10th June 2012 to a devout reception by a large number of devotees. On arriving at the Sankara Gurukulam (Sringeri Shankara Math), Dhuli Pada Puja was performed to the Padukas of the Jagadguru.

In His Anugraha Bhashanam, the Jagadguru said that the 33rd Acharya, Jagadguru Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharati Mahaswamiji attained fame as a reincarnation of Sri Adi Shankaracharya. He discovered the birthplace of Sri Adi Shankaracharya at Kalady and consecrated temples for Goddess Sharada and Sri Adi Shankaracharya there. On the same day when the consecration and Kumbhabhisheka (at Kalady) took place in February 1910, the collection of the works of Sri Adi Shankaracharya was submitted as an offering to the great Master and released under the title of “Shankara Granthavali”. The offering was made by Sri T K Balasubrahmanya Iyer, the founder of the Vani Vilas Press at Srirangam. Such is the unique relation between Sringeri, Srirangam and Kalady that resulted in Sri Iyer, hailing from Srirangam submitting the first print of the works to Our Parameshti Guru at Kalady.

The Jagadguru delved upon the special relation by continuing that, of the many fortunate Shishyas who were blessed by His Parameshti Guru, Sri T K Balasubrahmanya Iyer was one. Through His blessings on many such Shishyas, the Mahaswamiji brought about the welfare of the world. Sri T K Balasubrahmanya had received the Anugraha of the great Acharya and had established the Vani Vilas Press, and later the Sankara Gurukulam at Srirangam. Sankara Gurukulam has transformed into the Sringeri Shankara Math and become a focal point of Sanatana Dharma in the region. The Jagadguru remembered that Sri T K Balasubrahmanya Iyer had taken great care of Sankara Gurukulam and had been conducting and observing various Utsavas during his time, and had earned the respect and support of the community at Srirangam and Tiruchi.

The Jagadguru mentioned that after Sri Iyer’s time, though the Sankara Gurukulam had been maintaining its Dharmic activities, further development took place only after the arrival of the late Dharmadhikari Sri Ramanarasu. The Jagadguru remembered that Sri Ramanarasu had approached Him during His Yatra 25 years back and had requested blessings for developing Sankara Gurukulam. Having received the blessings, he executed whatever he had envisioned and developed the Math.

The Jagadguru compassionately remembered Sri Ramanarasu’s final visit to Sringeri when he had expressed his wish to see the Jagadguru grace Srirangam and look at the developments in the Math. The Jagadguru expressed great joy at being in Srirangam and said that it was quite fitting that Sri Ramanarasu’s daughter and son-in-law had performed the Dhuli Pada Puja. The Jagadguru ended the short Anugraha Bhashanam blessed the devotees of Srirangam and Tiruchirapalli who had welcomed Him with such ecstasy-filled devotion.

On the morning of June 11th, the Jagadguru started for the sprawling temple of Sri Ranganathaswamy via the southern Raja Gopuram. The Jagadguru first inaugurated the Peetham’s “Arogya Prada” health centre built in the South Chitra Street in the place where the Vani Vilas Press building once stood. The Jagadguru also graced the Kumbhakonam Cooperative Bank located in the premises.

The Jagadguru then proceeded towards Sri Ranganathaswamy temple and was received at the entrance by the temple officials led by Smt. Kalyani, Joint Commissioner and the Executive Officer of the temple. The Jagadguru first had Darshan of the massive Garuda, the mount of the Lord and then proceeded towards the Garbha Griha of Sri Ranganathaswamy temple. Having had Darshan of Sri Ranganatha, the Jagadguru was offered Prasadams in ceremonial style by the Archakas of the temple. The Jagadguru then walked to the temple of Goddess Ranganayaki, had Darshan, came out via the northern Gopuram and returned to the Math.


Guru Vandana Program

In the evening a Guru Vandanam program was organized in the premises of the Shankara Math. As part of the event, renowned scholars Brahmasri R Krishnamurthy Shastri, Brahmasri Goda Venkateshwara Shastri and Upanyasakar Sri Anantaraman addressed the gathering of devotees. Sri Goda Shastri based his address on the Vagvaadini Shatkam composed by Jagadguru Sri Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharati Mahaswamiji, and talked about how Karma, Bhakti and Jnana all have a role in spiritual Sadhana. Sri Anantaraman delved on the short prose of the Mahaswamiji titled “Purushartha NirnayaH” that describes the four Purusharthas of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha and explains Moksha to be the supreme Purushartha. Sri R Krishnamurthy Shastri then gave a lucid explanation of the 26-verse Sri Dakshinamurti-manu-suvarnamala stavaH of the Mahaswamiji.

With the Jagadguru arriving to grace the function, the Sringeri Birudavali was chanted, prostrations were offered and Swagata Patrikas in Sanskrit and Tamil were read.

In His Anugraha Bhashanam, the Jagadguru talked about His Parameshti Guru, Jagadguru Sri Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharati Mahaswamiji and spoke about His Parameshti Guru’s profound scholarship. In addition, the Mahaswamiji was an extraordinary poet. It is difficult to see such a combination. Scholars in the Shastras are usually never poets. And poets are usually not scholars in the Shastras. But the Mahaswamiji excelled in the Shastras and was equivalent to Kalidasa in penning poetry. Such a combination is very rare. The great poet Sriharsha has expressed this in his own words – साहित्ये सुकुमारवस्तुनि दृढन्यायग्रहग्रन्थिले तर्केऽपि मयि संविधातरि समं लीलायते भारती ।

Our Parameshti Guru had such a unique combination of scholarship and poetic flare. His poetic works are pregnant with meaning and with beautiful usage of words.

The Jagadguru then stated a verse that is used to describe the greatness of the stalwarts of Sanskrit literature –

उपमा कालिदासस्य भारवेरर्थगौरवम् ।
दण्डिनः पदलालित्यं माघे सन्ति त्रतो गुणाः ॥

One often wonders at the imagination of Kalidasa in his usage of similes. For instance, in His Raghuvamsha, Kalidasa writes while describing Maharaja Dileepa –

भीमकान्तैर्नृपगुणैः स बभूवोपजीविनाम् ।
अधृष्यश्चाभिगम्यश्च यादोरत्नैरिवार्णवः ॥

Kalidasa describing the quality of a Maharaja, states the ideal of Maharaja Dileepa who seemed very accessible to his citizens because of his innate noble qualities. At the same time, a King given his duties, cannot freely move with the citizens and must possess qualities that make him seem inaccessible. Indeed, the citizens dreaded going near Maharaja Dileepa because of his valorous qualities. To illustrate this, Kalidasa compares the king to an ocean. The ocean attracts people as it is filled with pearls and precious stones. However a number of aquatic predators live in the ocean causing people to hesitate entering it. What a suitable simile!

At another place, Kalidasa describes a message sent by Brahmarishi Vasishtha through his disciple, to Aja Maharaja when the latter was grieving over being separated from his wife.

न पृथक्जनवच्छुचो वशं वशिनामुत्तम गन्तुमर्हसि ।
द्रुमसानुमतोः किमन्तरं यदि वायौ द्वितयेऽपि ते चलाः ॥

Vasishta addresses Maharaja Aja as “वशिनाम् उत्तम” – O Master of your senses; and says – It is natural for a tree to shake when a strong wind blows. But if a mountain starts shaking too, what would be the difference between a tree and a mountain. Thus does Kalidasa use the simile of a mountain to describe Vasishta encouraging Aja.

While Kalidasa was known for his skill in using similes, the poet Bharavi’s work Kiratarjuneeyam is laced with verses that are profound in their meanings. The usage of words that the poet Dandi employs in His prose, Dashakumaracharitam are mellifluous while the poet Magha is said to have possessed all these three qualities.

These three – similes, profound verses and the usage of appropriate words are also present in the Bhaktisudhatarangini of Our Parameshti Guru.

When we talk of अर्थगौरवम् , we are talking of verses that remain incomprehensible during a cursory glance, but give rise to profound meanings when one understands them. For instance, in the nine-verse Guru Paduka Stotram written by our Parameshti Guru, the last verse contains an adjective for the Guru Padukas – “स्वाहासहायाक्षधुरंधराभ्याम्”. This adjective is often not understood because of its profundity. Here स्वाहासहायः refers to Agni. स्वाहासहायः अक्षि यस्य सः स्वाहासहायाक्षः – ईश्वरः. He who has Agni has His eye is Ishwara. तस्य धुरंधराभ्याम् – This refers to the Guru Padukas as those which have the responsibility and power that is equivalent to that of Ishwara. It is well known that – ज्ञानं महेश्वरादिच्छेत् – One has to obtain Jnana from Ishwara for only He can bestow Jnana. This power of bestowing Jnana that Ishwara has, is also present in the Guru Padukas. Such is the greatness of the Guru Padukas.

Similarly the next adjective – स्वान्ताच्छभावप्रदपूजनाभ्यां means – स्वान्ताच्छभावप्रदं पूजनं ययोः, ताभ्यां. The Guru Padukas are referred to here as those whose worship removes the impurities in the mind thus bestowing purity of the mind.

At another place, Our Parameshti Guru describes the Vahanas for Goddess Sharada during the Navaratri Celebrations. Our Parameshti Guru while describing the Ashva Vahana Alankara on the Vijayadashami day, comments on the Ashva (horse) carrying the Goddess in a verse that goes – अश्वो वाहनतां न याति.

[the entire verse being –
अश्वो वाहनतां न यातीति दिविषद्बृन्दस्य वेदा इति
प्राहुस्तं च निशम्य रोषसहितस्त्वत्संनिधिं प्राप्य किम् ।
मिथ्या कर्तुमहो तदीयवचनं देव्यास्तवाम्बानिशं
वाहत्वं कुतुकी जगाम तुरगाधीशो गिरां देवते ॥
Verse 59, श्रीशारदास्तोत्रम् in Bhakti Sudha Tarangini

The Shruti (Veda) says “अश्वो न देववाहनः । त्वं हविष्मन्तमीडते ।” The first Vedic statement “अश्वो न देववाहनः” literally means that a horse (Ashva) cannot be a Vahana for gods. Even though the statement actually does not convey this meaning, the Mahaswamiji applied it literally and wrote the above verse to mean that the Ashva carrying the Goddess was looking at everyone as if to ask questioningly – “Even though the Vedas say that an Ashva cannot be a Vahana for the gods, here I stand in defiance of the Shruti and carrying the Goddess”. Few can understand the many such nuances that are found in the Bhakti Sudha Tarangini.

The Jagadguru then pointed out there is a need for many Dharma Upanyasas to take place in these times, when people give up essential Dharmic practices just because others mock at them. The Jagadguru also gave a general advice to people engaged in preaching Dharma to prepare themselves well before addressing the masses.

The Jagadguru recalled a verse from the Kamalajadayitashtakam of His Parameshti Guru where the Goddess is beseeched for bestowing a bent of mind for adhering to Svadharma, for a strong body, a long life, and a holy company – all in order to engage in Dharmic practices prescribed by the Shastras.

कर्मस्वात्मोचितेषु स्थिरतरधिषणां देहदार्ढ्यं तदर्थं
दीर्घं चायुर्यशश्च त्रिभुवनविदितं पापमार्गाद्विरक्तिम् ।
सत्सङ्गं सत्कथायाः श्रवणमपि सदा देवि दत्त्वा कृपाब्धे
विद्यां शुद्धां च बुद्धिं कमलजदयिते सत्वरं देहि मह्यम् ॥

The Jagadguru reiterated the importance of noble people by quoting a metaphor from the Vedas where a Palasha Vriksha overheard the gods engaged in Brahma Vichara, thus making the Palasha Vriksha sacred to this day – देवा वै ब्रह्मन्नवदन्त । तत्पर्ण उपाशृणोत् । The message contained here is that we should not sit awaiting an invitation to be in holy company but rather, seek such company voluntarily.

Thus does the Bhakti Sudha Tarangini of the Parameshti Guru contain such profound meanings stressing upon the need to stick to Varnashrama Dharma and to be in the company of holy people.

The Jagadguru expressed joy over the conduct of the program where scholars explained works from the Bhakti Sudha Tarangini and blessed the devotees of Srirangam and Tiruchi.

On 12th June, at 6:30 am the Jagadguru performed Puja to Goddess Sharada, Sri Adi Shankara and to His Parameshti Guru, Jagadguru Sri Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narsimha Bharati Mahaswamiji. It may be noted that besides the Adhishtanam at Sringeri, there are shrines for Jagadguru Sri Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narsimha Bharati Mahaswamiji at Mysore, Srirangam and Ayyampalayam.

At 3 pm in the evening, the Jagadguru started towards Neyveli and enroute had Darshan at the Subrahmanya Swamy temple in the India Cements factory premises and at the Ganapathy temple in the Madras Cements factory premises, and blessed the devotees in both the places.