By Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy, former Head, Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore
The cultural and religious-minded people are happy and fortunate that the Sringeri Jagadgurus are paying a visit to our city, Mysuru, after a long time, this evening. Mahasannidhanam Shankaracharya Jagadguru Sri Sri Bharathi Thirtha Mahaswamiji and Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Sri Vidhusekhara Bharathi Sannidhanam of Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetham will be blessing the devouts including the royalty.
Right from the time of Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Kalady, Mysuru has been a great centre of Advaita philosophy. Though it looks complicated, in simple parlance it is unity of paramatma with jeevatma. It is our good fortune that Adi Shankaracharya established four centres of Advaita philosophy in four directions of our country and it is the good fortune of Kannadigas that he chose Sringeri or Rishyasringapura as the Southern abode of Advaita. My grandfather Aradikoppam Subramany Sastry was a great scholar in Meemamsa Sastra and he was asked by the then Acharya of Sringeri to proceed to Mysuru to become a professor at the Maharaja’s Sanskrit College. Thus we all came to Mysuru and perhaps had it not happened we would have been in Sringeri itself.
A unique feature of Sringeri Sharada Peetham is that it has a tradition of a long line of illustrious Jagadgurus right from the time of Adi Shankaracharya. His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Sri Bharathi Thirtha Mahaswamiji is the 36th Pontiff from 1989, the successor to Sri Sri Abhinava Vidya Thirtha Swamiji. It was our good fortune that Sri Bharathi Thirtha blessed our home long back when my grandfather and father were alive. As most of the younger generation may not be knowing about Sringeri Sharada Peetham and its Jagadgurus, I thought I should pay my pranams to the Jagadgurus through this write-up.
In one of the Agraharas in Narasaraopet in Guntur district lived a vedic family Tangirala Venkateswara Avadhani and his wife Ananthalakshamma. A boy was born to them on 11.4.1951 and he was named Sri Sitaramanjaneyalu. This young boy began conversing in fluent Sanskrit and this attracted His Holiness Abhinava Vidya Thirtha Mahaswamiji. This young boy decided that he found his Guru and never looked back. He was given the best education at Sringeri. His Holiness Abhinava Vidya Thirtha Swamiji made up his mind to make him the Peetadhipati of Sringeri Mahasamsthana and ordained him to Sainthood on 11.9.1974 and gave him the new name Sri Sri Bharathi Thirtha Swamiji. Sri Sri Abhinava Vidya Thirtha attained Mahasamadhi and Sri Sri Bharathi Thirtha Swamiji became the Peetadhipati of Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetham, as the 36th Pontiff on 19.10.1989 and he has been guiding the Sringeri Mutt from that day onwards. Thus Mahasannidhanam will be in every house on every Friday when he performs Sri Chandramouliswara Puja according to Vedic injunctions with Rudra and Chamaka and it is a sublime experience. My family makes it a point to be at home on every Friday at the appointed time.
Mahasannidhanam has taken many steps to protect and develop Sanatana Dharma as expounded by Adi Shankaracharya. Modern education, however good it may be, is without the strong foundation of ancient wisdom. Thus the Swamiji has a philosophy of education. He has revived the Gurukula system of ancient times. This includes new dimensions to Sringeri Sadvidya Pathashala, Mahaganapathi Vidwatsabha, Surasaraswathi Sabha, Shankarakripa, Sharadapeetha and establishment of Sanskrit University, Hospitals etc.
Another significant event is the historic summit of four Shankaracharyas of Sringeri, Dwaraka, Badri and Puri 1993. USAID (New York) granted equipment worth one crore of rupees. Commissioning of a golden chariot for the Mutt is another contribution. A rich devotee donated a diamond crown to Goddess Sharadamba on the 50th birthday of the Swamiji. To spread the message of Shankaracharya, Vidya Bharathi Foundation has been established at Strasburg, USA. They have also established a Sringeri Sharada Study Centre at Australia, Sydney.
Jagadguru Bharathi Thirtha Mahaswamiji is also adept in giving lectures and discourses. Giving the daily life examples in simple terms, he draws our attention to spirituality with a sense of humour. When his Holiness was in my residence years ago, he showed keen interest in books and particular reference to Sivasoma, a disciple of Bhagavatpada. The Swamiji is not only a great scholar in Sanskrit but is a great composer too and has written slokas on Shankaracharya, Chandramouliswara etc.
Now it is time to pay respects to His Holiness Sri Vidhusekhara Bharathi Swamiji. Ananthavaram in Guntur district had an illustrious family in which was born Sri Kuppa Venkatesvara Sharma to Sri Shivasubramanya Avadhani and Sita Nagalakshmi on 24.7.1991 at Tirupati. He had his early traditional education under the guidance of his grandfather. The Kuppa family had close relationship with Sringeri Sharada Peetha. In 1961 Sri Abhinava Vidya Thirtha had paid a visit to Ananthavaram when this Kuppa family performed padapuja. In 1985 when Sri Bharathi Thirtha visited Ananthavaram the Kuppam family showed great interest in dharmic activities. One illustrious family member Sri Venkatachala Somayaji was ordained to Sanyasa and was in Shankara Mutt at Vijayawada. Shivasubramanya Avadhanigalu had studied sastras at Sri Abhinava Vidya Thirtha Sastrasamvardhini Pathashala. He had visited important pilgrimage centres such as Kashi, Ayodhya, Haridwara, Mathura, Ramesvara, Madhurai and even worshipped Pashupathinatha at Nepal.
In the meantime, Sri Kuppa Venkatesvara Sharma had been participating in dharmic activities with great interest. He had the good fortune of visiting Sringeri Peetham in 2006 and 2008 and in 2009 had the opportunity of paying respects to the Jagadguru. He expressed his desire to study Sastras under the guidance of the Jagadguru and it was accepted. Every year at Sringeri is held Vakyartha (discussion) on the Ganesha festival day. Vedic scholars from all parts of the country used to take part in this discussion directly under the Jagadguru. Very young Sri Brahmachari Venkatesvara Sharma took part in it. The way in which Vakyartha was done by this brahmachari attracted the attention of all the scholars including the Jagadguru. The Jagadguru immediately made up his mind with the blessings of Goddess Sharadamba and Adi Shankaracharya to groom him as his successor to Sringeri Sharada Peetham. The disciples of Sringeri Mutt should be grateful to Sri Bharathi Thirtha Mahaswamiji for this God-ordained decision. He made a public announcement of this good news on January 4, 2015, on the day of Guruvandana. The Shisyas of Sringeri Mutt hailed this decision and expressed their gratefulness to the Mahasannidhanam.
The Shishyasveeraka rituals took place on 22nd and 23rd of January 2015. Almost all the TV channels beamed this unique programme and Shishyas and religious-minded people were glued to the TV till all the rituals were completed. My family also had the good fortune of watching this great spectacle. I still remember the way in which the illustrious brahmachari abandoned the white clothes and donned the ochre robes and the Jagadguru held him in great affection while showering blessings on him. He was given the new name Sri Sri Vidhusekhara Bharathi Swamiji. The character of the new brahmachari is summarised by the beautiful and meaningful sloka ‘Vidyavinaya Sampannam Vitaragam Vivekinam|Vande Vedantatattvajnam Vidhusekhara Bharatim.’
True to the tradition of Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Jagadguru Sri Sri Bharathi Thirtha Swamiji is slowly giving the young Swamiji all responsibilities of the Mutt including blessing the disciples and most of the time giving pravachanas. Jagadguru Sri Sri Vidhusekhara Bharathi Swamiji’s discourses are profound but simple in language. To make his disciples understand Advaita of Adi Shankaracharya, the Swamiji gives examples which are known to all of us. One thing I have noticed is that he will not forget to pay obeisance to Jagadguru Sri Sri Bharathi Thirtha Swamiji. We have to learn a lesson from this.
There is a famous adage that history repeats itself and Sringeri Mutt is not an exception to it. It will continue to bless the people and guide them towards dharma. I will be failing in my duty if I do not express our gratefulness to Dharmadhikari H. Ramachandra of Mysuru, Padmashree V. R. Gowrishankar, Administrator-cum-CEO and to Shankara Puranik, who have made all arrangements for the visit of Sringeri Jagadgurus to our city.
All roads will lead to Sri Abhinava Shankaralaya (Sringeri Shankara Mutt, Fort Mohalla) on 11th, 12th and 13th of this month. The prayers of the Shishyas of Sringeri Mutt is to request the Jagadgurus to bless them by visiting Mysuru as often as possible. The disciples in Mysuru will have the good fortune of witnessing Chandramouliswara Puja being performed by His Holiness directly and not through the medium of TV. Our Salutations to the Jagadgurus of Sringeri Sharada Peetham.