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(Life sketch of His Holiness from His 75th Year)
The Evening of an Epic Life
The Mahasomprokshanam (Re-consecration) of the famous Sri Rama temple at Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh, was preformed in a grand manner on the 15th of March, 1968 in the immediate presence of Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati Swami of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetha and then Junior Acharya of the Peetha. It is to be noted that the temple, built by Sri Bhakta Ramadas in the 17th Century A.D., has been renovated in accordance with the guidance and instruction of the Acharya before the Samprokshanam. The year's Vasanta Navaratri Puja were performed from 29th march, for nine days, at Khammam, Andhra Pradesh. After nearly a month's travel both the preceptors reached Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh on 27th of April of the year, His Holiness was welcomed by the then Chief Minister of Andhra, other ministers, top-ranking officials, leading citizens and large concourse of devotees at the outskirts of the city.
The Vyasapuja of the year was performed by His Holiness at the spacious building attached t the Swarajya Press, at Padma Rao Nagar, in Secunderabad City, where the Acharyas stayed for the Chaturmasya period. The seventh Vyasa-Bharata-Agama-Silpa-Kaladi Sadas was conducted in the same place for two weeks from 20th of August (1968). The State Government made elaborate and excellent arrangements for the successful conduct of the Sadas. Leaving Secunderabad on the seventh of September, the Acharyas reached Vijayawada at night on the 21st of the month. Sarad-Navaratri was celebrated at Vijayawada. After Navaratri, the Fourth All India Sarva-Veda-Sakha-Sammelan (Conference of Scholars well-versed in all branched of the vedas) was conducted at the camping place of His Holiness, at Vijayawada. Since the timing of the conference (11th October to 14 October-1968), coincided with the Krishna Pushkaram festival, a large number of Veda pandits from Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, etc., participated in the Sadas. Sri Vamadev Muni, Rajaguru (preceptor of the king) of Thailand attended the convention.
The Acharyas left Vijayawada by the middle of the second week of November (1968) and visited Masulipatna, Eluru and some other places in the State of Andhra. The Great Guru was perpetuating the memory of Sri Adi Sankaracharya, by constructing suitable memorials at important sacred places connected with the life story of the Bhagavatpada. For some years His Holiness had entertained an idea of erecting a Sankara Mantapa, near the Trivenisangamam (confluence of three rivers), at Prayag. (Allahabad, U.P.) The Government of Uttar Pradesh granted a plot of land near the sangamam for the purpose. The foundation stone for the mantap at Prayag, was laid on 29th December, 1968. The then Governor of Uttar Pradesh and the then Lt. Governor of Delhi participated in the function. At that time, the Acharyas were camping in a village near Eluru.
Later on the 27th of January, 1969 the preceptors arrived at the sea-side town of Vizag. During the stay of ten days there, the Great Guru conducted the consecration of the icons of Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada, Sri Vinayaka and the sandals of Sri Adi Sankara in the newly constructed Sankara Math of the town. The Acharyas reached Zonnawada (Nellore Dt. A.P.) on the 17th of April, 1969, for the Vasanta Navaratri Puja. On Sankara Jayanti Day, (21st April) the Great Guru consecrated a Srichakra Yantra before Devi Kamakshi, in the Devi temple, at Zonnawada.
Arriving at Tirupati (A.P) on the 29th of April, His Holiness and the Junior Acharya, climbed up the hills and had darshan of Lord Venkatesa in Tirumalai on the first of May. On the next day, His Holiness inaugurated the Hindu Dharma prathishtan, an organisation sponsored by the Tirupati-Tirumalai Devasthanam, for the propagation and encouragement of studying the Vedas, on the 9th May. The two Acharyas witnessed Brahmotsavam of Sri Venkatesa performed at the cost of the Math. After leaving Tirumalai, the Acharyas had darsan of Sri Padmavati Devi at Tiruchanur and reached Kanchi, at night on 23rd of May, 1969 after halts at Bugga, Tiruttani, Arakonam etc. A grand public reception was accorded by the citizens of Kanchi, to the Acharyas, who returned to headquarters after a long tour, extending roughly to four years and four months.
Nearly nine years at Kanchi and its neighborhood
Since it is Bhakti that appeals to and edifies the people at large, His Holiness was especially keen that Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada's great role in the propagation of Bhakti must be highlighted. At his behest and under his detailed directions the grand and august `Sankara - Sanmata' Conference was held in Madras for nine days from June 1 to 9, 1969. The then acting President of India, Sri V.V. Giri inaugurated the conference in which eminent scholars from all over the country brought to light the great jnana Acharya `Sankara's singular contribution to Bhakti by his re-establishing in the pure Vedic way the worship of the six principal deities of the Hindu pantheon. In keeping with the unpredictable nature of saps, our Saga of Kanchi did not participate in the conference but went into seclusion and silence in the vicinity of Kanchi. With that he freed Himself from the day-to-day administration of the Sri Matham, giving charge to Sri Jayendra Sarasvati Swamigal.
For the next nine years the Mahaswamigal was camping at various places in and around Kanchi. Hundreds of devotees had darshan of guru Deva at whichever place he happened to be. The Vyasa Puja of the cyclic year Saumya (1969) was performed by His Holiness, in the small Muktimantapa in the temple of Sri Visvesvara on the bank of Sarvateertham tank, in Sivakanchi. The eight of Vyasa-Bharata-Agama-Silpa Sadas was conducted from 21st, October, 1969 for 4 days, in a spacious choultry near Sankara Math in Sivakanchi. The Maharaja of Mysore, the then Governor of Tamil Nadu inaugurated the Sadas. The Great Acharya and Sri Jayendra Sarasvati Swami participated in the sessions of the Sadas.
By the middle of the year 1970, Sri Jayendra Sarasvati Swami started on a tour in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu, with the blessings of his preceptors. By way of fulfilling the Great Acharya's desire, Sri Jayendra Sarasvati Swami visited Chidambaram during the course of the tour and had a gold foot-cover kunchitapadam (kavacham) inset with a lot of the nine precious gems (rubies, diamonds, etc.), adorned on the raised foot of Sri Nataraja in the temple at Chidambaram. The ornament was made at a cost of three lakhs of rupees. After Kumbabhishekam of the AkhilandeswariJambunatha Swami temple at Tiruvanailoil performed on 5th of July, 1970, the Junior Acharya returned to Kanchi to join the Great Guru for the Vyasa-puja (of the year) which was performed at Vishnu Kanchi.
Early in 1971, the Mahasvami left Kanchi and in due course reached Karvetinagar (in Chittor Dt., Andhrapradesh). There His Holiness stayed for some months, in a thatched shed, near the large tank, close to the old place of the once famous Zamindari Estate of Karvetinagar. The Vyasa-puja of the cyclic year Virodikrt (1971) was performed by both the Acharyas at Karvetinagar. After the end of the Chaturmasya period (of two months) the successor Acharya left on a long tour in Karnataka and Kerala States. The Great Guru stayed for the Chaturmasya of 1972 and 1973 at Sivasthanam, near Vishnu Kanchi.
The new Shiva temple called `Sri Kamakotisvara Mandir' had been constructed in the Hanumanghat at Varanasi (U.P), according to the design planned by the Great Acharya by the end of December, 1973. The consecration of this temple was performed on the 28th of January, 1974, in the immediate presence of Sri Jayendra Sarasvati Swami, with the blessings of Guru Deva. By the end of February, 1975, His Holiness moved to Kalavai (in North Archot Dt. TN,) where the Brindavanas (places where the mortal remains of ascetic are interred) of Guru Deva's Guru and His Paramaguru are situated. The Acharya along with His disciple Acharya who had returned from the long tour in Northern India, performed the annual Vyasapuja at Kalavai on the 23rd of July, 1975.
The Kumbhabhishekam of the renovated temple of Devi Kamakshi at Kanchi was performed by Sri Jayendra Sarasvati Swami on the 5th of April, 1976. This humble self had the fortune of having darsan of the Great Acharya on the previous day at Kalavai, when I humbly submitted copies of the new edition of Sri Adi Sankara's Saundaryalahari with nine commentaries in Sanskrit, with translations of the verses in Hindi, Tamil, and English, explanatory notes, yantras and prayoga etc. This edition of the stotra was brought out, in toto in accordance with the instructions of His Holiness. On the 6th April, His Holiness walked off from Kalavai to Kanchi (a distance of about 20 miles), had darsan of Sri Kamakshi Devi and returned to Kalavai that same night.
From 11th July, 1976, the Vyasa-puja day of the year, till the 13th of April 1978, His Holiness stayed on at Sivasthanam near Vishnu Kanchi.
The Long Padayatra (tour on foot) for six years
It seemed as though perceiving, by chance, the flash of a sudden streak of lightning in the blue horizon, on a cloudless night, the people of Tamil Nadu came to know from newspapers, about the quite unexpected news that Jagadguru had left Sivasthanam, his favourite resort, situated about two k.m. south of the temple of Sri Varadaraja in Vishnu Kanchi, about three hours before dawn of the day next to the Tamil New Year Day i.e., the 15th of April, 1978. Walking briskly ahead, the eighty-four year young Acharya accompanied by a few chosen devoted attendants, soon reached Siva Kanchi. After having darsan of Devi Kamakshi and Sri Adi Sankara, the Acharya proceeded to Kizhambi, a village about six kilometers away from Kanchi where the Brindavan of the 60th head of the Kanchi Sankaracharya Math exists.
The long tour which commenced on that memorable day, extended for full six years, of course with pretty long halts for months at some places, covering many parts of the States of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and a sizable portion of Maharashtra also. During this long and extensive trek, quite a large mass of devout people, irrespective of cast or creed, status, sex or age, flocked to have darsan of the Great Guru and to obtain His blessings, wherever He chose to halt-be it a temple or a math, a choultry or a school, a way-side factory site, a shed on the bank of a canal or a villager's cowshed.
Walking along in the early mornings or in the evenings and halting for the nights at some places, by strange chance or with some serious intention, the route taken by His Holiness, in the early stage of this padayatra, was the same through which He made Gangayatra in 1933. On a second of May, 1978, he reached Chinnatippa-samudram, a big village near Madanapalle (Chittoor Dt., Andhra Pradesh). Here the Acharya stayed for ten days. The year's Sankara Jayanthi festival was celebrated at this place. It is noteworthy the Maha Swami was obliged to stay in Chinnatippasamudram for about forty days in the fag end of 1933, while on his way to Varanasi. Some of those who had darsan of the Acharya 45 years ago, were greatly happy now to have His blessings again.
Similarly, when on 16th June, 1978, the Great Guru reached a farm at Mallenapalle village, Sri Sayappa the owner of the farm, who was also the Karnam (Village Officer) of the place, who had received the Acharya with due respects at the time of the Acharya's previous visit to the place, in 1933, warmly received Him. The next day, the camp was at the Sangamesvara temple at the confluence of the Chitravati and two other small streams. On a small rock nearby, news of the visit of the Acharya to the temple in cyclic year Srimukha (1933-34) is seen engraved. Passing on through some towns and many a village. His Holiness reached Hagari, an industrial center, in Karnataka. He performed the year's Vyasapuja at Hagari and stayed at the place for about 68 days till 23rd September, 1978. On the 26th of Sept. 1978, Sri Morarji Desai, had darsan of His holiness at the small town of Thoranagal. In about four days he reached Sandur.
The year's Navarathri Puja was performed at Sandur. The Yuvaraja of Sandur made the necessary arrangements for the convenient stay of the Acharya. Before Navaratri on the 1st October, 1978, the Great Guru had darshan of Sri Kumarswami, in the famous temple, situate about 12 kilometers off Sandur. This shrine is very important to people of a vast region all around, extending for four districts. It is notable that women are allowed to have darsan of Kumaraswami. During the camp at Sandur, Sri Sanjeeva Reddy (then President of India) had darsan. After a stay of 23 days at Sandur, His Holiness left Sandur and proceeded towards Hampi. On reaching Hampi on 24th October, 1978, He stayed at the Virupaksha Vidyaranya Math. During all the days that He happened to be at Hampi and its neighborhood, the shrine of Malayala Brahman in the Vidyaranya Math was his abode.
Sringin, the Malayala Brahman, was a brahmarakshas, who got free from a curse on meeting Vidyaranya, on the latter's way to Kasi. Because of Vidyaranya's assurance to feed Malayala Brahman (who become as ascetic under the sannyasa name `Malayala Brahmendra Sarsvati', in all the Advaita maths in Karnataka with which Sri Vidyarana's name is associated as founder or restorer (Virupaksha Math, Kudali Math, Sringeri Math etc.) and other Sankara Maths like those at Pushpagiri, Avani and Sankeshvar an icon of Malayala Brahman is worshipped (daily in most Maths and in some on specific occasions).
During the long stay at Hampi, the Acharya visited the ruins of Vijayanagar, Anegundi and places associated with specific anecdotes in the story of the Ramayana, such as Pampasarovar, Sabari Asrama, (a cave), Risyamukha, Malyavantam, Anjanadri (said to be the place of Hanuman's birth). All these spots are situated within a radius of four miles, on both sides of the Tungabadra. The Sabari cave is a calm spot. There are a number of caves in its neighborhood. His Holiness had darsan of the historic Hazara Ramaswami temple and also at the Kothanda Rama temple. The famous devout musician Purandara Dasa has also constructed and consecrated a temple of Sri Krishna in this area. On the 11th of April, 1979, the Swami of the Vidyaranya (Virupaksha) Math came to Hampi and had a long conversation with His Holiness. The very next day happened to be the day of the car festival of Sri Virupaksha. His Holiness had darsan of Sri Virupaksha seated in the newly made car. It may be mentioned that during the stay of the Acharya at Hampi, Mrs. Indira Gandhi (then not in power as Prime Minister) had darsan of His Holiness, followed by a long interview of an house and a half.
Some of the chosen objectives which constituted a significant part of the life-mission of the Great Guru, such as a propagation and encouragement of the study of Vedas and Sastras, constructing new temples and renovating old ones, insisting people to lead a pure life and bringing to the memory of people the stupendous achievements a great preceptors like the great Sankara Bhagavatpada and Sage Vidyaranya etc., continued to revolve in the mind of His Holiness, with redoubled vigour, during the strenuous padayatra. Though he had renounced the headship of the Kanchi Sankara Math, in favour of His successor, by June 1969, He never failed to do what a typical word preceptor should, for the moral and spiritual uplift of the people at large.
The long stay of the Great Acharya at Hampi and its surroundings, for 172 days (from 24th October, 1978, to the 14th of April, 1979) made Him think of bringing to light the fullest possible details of the glorious and multifaceted activities and achievements of Sage Vidyaranya who had spent years in penance on the banks of the Tungabhadra, who had been responsible for the establishment of the Kingdom of Vijayanagar, one who had shone not only as preceptor but also as sage counselor to the first three rulers of Vijayanagar, (Harihara I, - Bukka I and Harihara II), for well nigh five decades and who had revived some and founded some new Advaita monastic institutions in the Karnataka region.
From the Tungabhadra valley, the Acharya gradually toured through western Karnataka. On the 13th of May 1979, the 86th Jayanthi of the Great Guru was celebrated in a grand manner at His Hubli camp. About 150 Veda pandits participated in tee various havans performed on the occasion. His Holiness reached Dharwar on the 18th of the month and stayed there for about 15 days. There is a long-standing Sanskrit College at Dharwar, run by a scholar by name Balachandra Sastri who looked after the arrangements for the stay of the Acharya at Dharwar. Starting from Dharwar on 2nd of June, His Holiness reached Guru Dev Mandir in Belgaum, about a month later. On 9th July, 1979, Vyasapuja of the year was performed at Belgaum where His Holiness stayed on till the 16th of September. One of the days during chaturmasya period, Sri G.D.. Birla (late), one of the greatest business magnates of our country, had darsan of the Acharya and expressed his ardent desire to make an offering of some crores of rupees to the Math. His Holiness coolly declined the offer, giving some convincing reasons. On yet another day, while at Belgaum, the Queen Mother of Greece, along with other important of the Royal Families of Spain and Greece, had a pretty long darsan of the Great Guru.
During the Chaturmasya period, I had darsan of the Great Guru at Belgaum and stayed there for four days. His Holiness commanded me to write a book in about 120 pages (in English and Tamil-as two separate section in one Volume), on the greatness of Kumbhakonam (in Tamil Nadu) and about the Mahamagham festival, celebrated in that town, once in twelve years. (The Mahamagham festival happened on the first day of March, 1980). The Acharya dictated to me a wealth of details, by way of hints, taking long hours at night, for two days, and also suggested references to be made to some puranic works in Sanskrit and Tamil. It took nearly five months for me to complete the task.
Leaving Belgaum all of a sudden His Holiness turned eastward. On the night of the 18th of September 1979, when He halted at the village of Karadiguddhi (about 29 Kilometres from Belgaum), where there is a shrine of Sri Jambukesvara, there was a very heavy downpour of rain. The inhabitants of the village who had not seen such heavy rains during the past some years, were greatly happy. They adored the Acharya as they held His visit to the village as the cause for the bountiful showers.
His Holiness stayed in the temple of Sri Sangamesvara, in the village of Chachadi for Navaratri Pujas, from the 21st of September up to the end of the month. On the 1st of October when the Acharya got ready for leaving the place, about 2000 people of the village lay down, prostrating on the road and would not allow the Swami to leave their village. This touching incident is described in a paragraph, in an article contributed to A Hundred Years of Light, Vol II by Sri D. Balagopalan.
"When the chaturmasya period was over. His Holiness left Belgaum and continued His travel through some villages, staying for a day or two, at each place. One day, I had darshan in a village. The Acharya told me that the inhabitants of the village had prevented Him from leaving their village. They were not willing to let the Acharya go away from their village. Thereupon I addressed the villagers and said that it would not be proper to prevent the Acharya from His travel as it was His dharma to be moving, without staying at one place for long. They reluctantly agreed but en masse they accompanied the Swamiji for a pretty long distance."
In due course, the Great Guru proceeded to Badami on the 13th of October (1979); He visited the cave-temples there paying particular attention to every minute architectural detail. These are some of the finest specimens of Chalukyan architecture. Then He proceeded to Banasankari, a village which bears the name of Devi Banasankari enshrined there. It is worthy of note that this Banasankari Devi was originally the Kula Devata (family deity) of the whole clan of Hoyasala Karnataka Brahmins who migrated to the Tamil region during the first half of the 13th Century A.D, and that His Holiness belonged to one of those families which settled down in the delta of the river Kaveri.
The Great Acharya turned towards the west, passed on after short halts at Ramdurg, Gokak and many other places at a slow pace, and in the course of about 50 days, reached Ugar Khurd, on the bank of the Krishna and near the north-western boundary of Karnataka, on the 10th of December 1979, traversing a distance of about 250 kilometers. Ugar is a small town with a sugar factory at one end. The people mostly are labourers. The town has a mixed population of Mahrattas (majority) and Kannadigas, a hard-working polite, courteous and pious lot. His Holiness stayed in the Mahadev Mandir at Ugarkhurd for 82 days.
It needs mention that about an hour after midday, on Saturday, 1st March, 1980 (Mahamagham Day), the Acharya bathed in the water of the Mahamagham tank, brought from Kumbhakonam, in a special plane up to Belgaum and thence to Ugarkhurd by car. (His Holiness bathed standing in knee deep water in the Krishna).
About 50 to 100 volunteers worked day and night, selflessly, to look after hundreds of devotees visiting Him daily. On his Guru Aradhana and Paramaguru Aradhana days, 2 to 3 thousands of villagers and outsiders had darshan of His Holiness. Whoever came was being fed. Rice, wheat jaggery, vegetable, fruits etc., were pouring in the Mahadev temple and when once asked, the treasurer replies that he was in credit and that there was no shortage of fruits, food or eatables." Who gave all this?...........
We read in the Bible that Jesus Christ fed thousands of his devotees with 5 pieces of bread and two fish. We saw at Ugar that without having any material possession with Him He was feeding hundreds and thousands every day.
In the last week of January 1980, I west to Ugar Khurd and submitted the work, "The Crest Jewel of Divine Dravidan Culture" (the title suggested by His Holiness) before the lotus feet of the Master, who perused the book from cover to cover, spending about four hours at a stretch. Specific instructions were given by Him that except the postal expenses, the entire sale proceeds of the book should be utilized for lighting lamps, in the evening, with wicks and gingely oil, daily in the shrines of Adi Kumbhesvara and Mangalambika (in the Kumbheswara temple) and for supply of a small quantity of oil (daily) for abhisheka to the Sivalingas, in the twelve small mantapas on all the four sides of the Mahamagham Tank, in Kumbhakonam. After returning home, the injunctions were carried out. Most copies of the book got sold out by the first week of March. A devotee of the Math, having a grocery shop on the road just north of the Mahamagham Tank, gladly undertook to do the noble service enjoined by the Guru and the service went on without interruption till the evening of the Vyasa Purnima Day of the Year 1980.
The departure of the sage from Ugar on the morning of the 2nd of March (1980), was a touching scene. Hundreds of devotees for Ugar-men and women, young and old-followed the Acharya, many of them shedding tears. Seeing them accompanying, even after about a kilometer away from the outskirts of Ugar, His Holiness turned back, consoled them, asked them to return home and then walked off quickly. It was reported that most of the women folk had forgotten to lock their houses even, as they joined those going behind the Sage, "Even after noon, it seemed as though they did not cook for the midday meal. I was reminded of the anecdote of the gopikas sobbing, when Sri Krishna left Brindavan for Mathura asa narrated in the Bhagavata", - one of the reporters said.
His Holiness stepped into Maharashtra State and after walking about 39 kilometers reached Miraj. Shri Balkishnadas Shetji, late Dr. K.G. Gadre and Shri A.B. Marathe formed an informal committee to receive Him and look after the comforts of His retinue. People came in large numbers for darshan. He stayed in the Ganapati Temple complex, in a farm, for about 100 days, on the outskirts of the town, which belonged to the Royal Family of Sangli.
The Great Guru proceeded northwards on 12th June (1980) and in course of eleven days reached the outskirts of Satara, walking about a hundred and fifty kilometers. On the 24th - Ekadasi day, the Acharya climbed up the Sajangad Hill (11 kms.) associated with Samartha Ramadas the preceptor of Shivaji the Great and after a short stay at the Angalayee Temple, on the hill got down.
From the 25th of June, His Holiness resided in the local Sankara Math at Satara. This Math was established by a learned ascetic associated with Sankesvar Sankaracharya Math. A Pathasala, was being run (continues to run) with 15 students and six teachers. Sastras are being taught. During the 335 days of the Acharya's stay at Satara and in its vicinity, the pathasala was much benefited. The period was marked by certain significant happenings. But almost through the major part of these eleven months and more, the Great Guru's health was not quite fit. The Vyasa-puja of the year was performed at Satara on 27th of July, 1980.
The pretty long stay at hampi for nearly six months, the visits to the ruins of Vijayanagar and stay at the Advaita Matha at Virupaksha, established by Sri Vidyaranya, made His Holiness think seriously about perpetuating the memory of the saint - statesman by founding an educational institution, on traditional lines, in the name of the sage, in the vicinity of the once great historic capital of the "Never to be forgotten Empire of Vijayanagar". After consulting the Yuvaraja of Sandur and some other interested dignitaries, the Acharya decided to establish an institution at Hospet. On the 30 of August, 1980, an institution by name "Vidyaranya Vidya Pitha" was registered as a trust, with Sri M.Y. Ghorpade, the Yuvaraja of Sandur as Chairman. Soon after the institution began to function. According to the desire of the Acharya, Veda, Veda-bhashya and Vedangas are being taught in the Vidyapitha, till date.
Sometime later, in the same year (1980), the Bhagavatpada Vidyarthi Trust was established for the propagation and encouragement of the study of Advaita philosophy, under the direction of the Great Guru.
Even by about the middle of the year 1980, the Acharya was cogitating upon an elaborate scheme for collecting all available epigraphs in the Sanskrit language having a bearing on history, religion-cum-philosophy, kavyas and proclamations and grants of rulers, with the idea of getting them published in a series of volumes. As a first step of this project the stone inscriptions and copper epigraphs pertaining to Sri Vidyaranya were decided to be published.
With this end in view, some retired government epigraphists, a few retired I.A.S. officials and two Indologists were summoned to the camp of His Holiness at Satara. After discussions and consultations, a board of trustees, with Dr. D.C. Sircar a renowned epigraphist(retired), as Chairman and six other trustees was formed. The trust bearing the name, `Uttankita Vidyaaranya Trust' was registered at Mysore, under the India Trusts Act, on the 15th of April, 1981.
The word `Uttankita' has the meaning `minted'. Generally the verbal root `to mint is applicable only in the case of coins. On coins, names of rulers or governments, the value of the coins, year etc. are minted. Even so in inscriptions, many particulars are got minted (i.e. inscribed) on stone or copper. Hence the word `Uttankita' was selected for being a part of the name of the trust. "The inclusion of the term `Vidyaranya' (in the name of the trust) was intended by His Holiness to bring readily to mind, in and by itself, the many achievements of the great sage, Vidyaranya". The first volume of inscriptions relating the Vidraranya was submitted by the Board of Trustees to the Acharya, about a year after his return to Kanchi i.e. in 1985.
During His long camp at Satara His Holiness desired that a temple for Sri Nataraja on the model of the ancient Nataraja temple at Chidambaram should be constructed at Satara. Samanna (late) an ardent devotee of the Acharya and a prominent citizen of Satara gifted away an adequate plot of land for building the temple. The foundation for the temple was laid on an auspicious day in May 1981. Because of the grace of the Mahaswami, by the financial assistance of the then governments of the States of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, and the supply of the entire timber necessary for the construction by the government of Kerala and diverse kinds of aid by a number of philanthropists, a majestic temple of Sri Nataraja with gopurams (towers) over the four gateways, a replica of the original in Tamil Nadu, though much smaller in size, rose up in Satara in the course of about three years The Kumbabhishekam (consecration) of the new Uttara (North) Chidambaram temple was performed in the immediate presence of His Holiness Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swami, in 1984. It is worthy of note that His Holiness caused to get funds raised for daily worship at the temple, which is being performed by Dikshitas of the Chidambaram temple, going over to Satara by rotation, according to the desire of the Acharya.
The Aradhanas of the Guru and the Paramaguru were performed at Satara. His Holiness Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swami who was with His preceptor for about two months and a half, for the Vyasa-puja, the Chaturmasya and the Aradhanas, left Satara on this onward tour-on the 21st of May, 1981. After halting for a day at the site gifted by Samanna for the construction of the Uttara Chidambaram temple, the Maha Swami left Satara on the evening of 24th May and took the road to Pandharpur, the foremost pilgrim center of Maharashtra where Sri Krishna is enshrined as Pandarinatha Vittala, so much extolled in bhajans.
Devotees of Satara informed Him that all along the route, availability of water will be a problem because of absolute failure of rains for some years, and prayed to Him to stay at Satara itself till the hot season was over. But the Great Guru walked on unmindful of the heat and the rugged road. For about a week, it was rather a difficult journey-from the last day of may. Right from the day's camp at the village of Mahimanghat, rains lashed all the villages en route to Pandharpur, even as the Acharya set foot in those places. The inhabitants of the villages were extremely happy since they had not experienced even a single shower for the past five years.
Travelling through several villages, the Great Guru reached Pandharpur and had darsan of Sri Vittal on the 13th of June 1981. After staying at the Trayambakesvar temple for three days, where the icons of Adi Sankara and his disciples had been consecrated on the Sankara Jayanti Day of the year, His Holiness repaired to the Madhava Veda Sastra Pathasala building on the other side of the river Chandrabhaga. The building was in the dilapidated condition. The Yuvaraja of Sandur got it repaired and made it fit for the stay of the Acharya and His attendants. The Vyasa-puja and the Chaturmasyavrata were performed there. The stay at Pandharpur continued for 162 days, during which period, His Holiness had darsan of Sri Vittal frequently and visited other shrines nearby.
Leaving Pandharpur on the 23rd of November, 1981, the Maha Swami reached Sholaur, by the end of the third week of December, where He camped for about a month. On the last day of January 1982, He had darsan of Devi Bhavani in Tulajapur. During the stay for 12 days at the Mudgalesvar temple in Sidhuphal, the Aradhana of the Acharya's Paramaguru was performed on 15th February. The Guru Aradhana which also took place at the same place nine days later, attracted an uncontrollable crowd.
Before reaching Gulbarga, His Holiness visited the Nirguna paduka Temple of Sri Narasimha Sarasvathi Swami - an Avatar of Dattatreya - at Ghankapur. This is the most important Dattatreya Temple.
Before reaching Mahagaon from Gulbura, for the Chaturmasya, His Holiness was taken to the Neelakantha Kaleshwar Mandir, in Kalgi village where there are a number of Shiva Shrines and perennial spring water.
His Holiness re-entered Karnataka by the end of March of the year. On 18th of May, 1982, the Acharya reached the village of Mahagaon and stayed at the Manikka Rao Maharaj Math.
For the Vyasa-puja and Chaturmasya His Holiness stayed at Mahagaon. The stay at Mahagaon was for 256 days On tone morning some days after Vinayaka Chaturthi, late Sri Rajiv Gandhi accompanied by Gundu Rao (then Chief Minister of Karnataka) and other had darsan of the Great Guru. On the 28th of January, 1983, the Acharya left Mahagaon before sunrise. The people of the village followed for a distance in deep grief and prayed that Guru Deva might be pleased not to go away from Mahagoan. For pleasing them the Acharya returned and after pacifying them left the next day. The Veda patha Nidhi Trust was created for giving financial assistance to indigent old Veda pandits, as desired and planned by His Holiness, during his camp at Mahagaon.
During the tour thereafter in Northern Karnataka, the Great Guru stayed at Gulbarga and Shahabad towns for some days in each. It was during the camp at Shahabad (March 1983), that Sri N.T. Rama Rao, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh had darsan of Acharya. Some 80 days after leaving Mahagaon, the Acharya stepped into Andhra Pradesh again, covering about 210 kilometers. AT dust on 20th of April, He arrived at the Raghavendra Cement Factory in Kasturpalli in the western border of Andhra Pradesh. A pretty large crowd of people with Sri N.T. Rama Rao, as their head gave a rousing reception to the Great Guru, at the outskirts of Kasturpalli.
On the 20th of May (1983) Sri Sankaranarayanan, a boy in his early teens, who had been selected by His Holiness Sri Jayendra Sarasvati Swamigal, the Acharya of Kanchi, for the future headship of the Kanchi Sankara Math, had darsan of His Holiness at the half at Pillala Marry, near Mahabub Nagar and returned to Kanchi with the blessings of Guru Deva. On the 28th of May, Sri Sankaranarayanan was initiated into sannyasa given the sannyasa name `Sankara Vijayendra Sarasvati and nominated successor-designate at Kanchi. His Holiness reached Kurnool in the course of a month. Two days later He shifted to the site of an Industrial Estate, at Kalloor about 6 kilometers off Kurnool, on the bank of the Aindravati, a tributary of the Tungabhadra.
Eager to have darsan of His Paramaguru (Preceptor's Preceptor) after becoming an ascetic, the new young Swami of Kanchi started from Kanchi accompanied by a group of devotees and proceeded towards Kurnool. He arrived at Kallor (near Kurnool) on 8th July, 1983. About a fortnight later His Holiness Sri Jayendra Sarasvati Swamigal also reached Guru Deva's camp. For full three days from the 21st of the months there was a continuous downpour of rain to the great joy of the local people who had been suffering from drought for three years. The Vyasa-puja was performed at Kalloor on the 24th of July, by His Holiness, the disciple Acharya, the Grand-disciple Swami and three other ascetics witnessing the puja. [If a group of ascetics assemble at a place for Vyasa-puja, it is enough if one performs the puja and the others look on, according to the rules]. An unprecedented crowd of devotees, not seen on Vyasapuja days, in recent years, -- about 12,000 on a modest estimate-moving in long queues, had darsan of the puja which was commenced at about 10 in the forenoon and ended roughly six hours later.
THE RETURN TO KANCHI
After the completion of the Chaturmasya at Kalloor, His Holiness decided to return to Kanchi in compliance with the prayers of the disciple Acharya and Sri Sankara Vijayendra Sarasvati Swami. On the 25th October 1983, all the three left Kalloor, early in the morning, the Great Acharya, proceeding on foot. On the way, while proceeding south-east, His Holiness stopped at Belum and Ramapuram and heard an exhaustive account about the very long (perhaps the longest in the world) underground cave at Belum near Ramapuram, given by Sri Chelapati Reddy, a retired Police office who was much interested in archaeology. It was learnt that at a depth of about 30 feet, in the hot season, when the water flowing through the caves receded, a number of formations in the shape of Shiva-linghas could be seen on the surface. People in Belu, Ramapuram and nearby places call the cave as "Kotilinga". Two German archaeologists had come there, years ago and carried on investigations. Sri Chalapati Reddy and his son-in-law presented to His Holiness a copy of the work, `Caves of India and Nepal', written by one of the German scholars.
The three preceptors reached Naraharipetta near the border of Tamil Nadu on 5th of February, 1984. A grand reception was accorded to the Acharyas here before their entry into Tamil Nadu. The reception was arranged by the Government of Tamil Nadu. Sri G.K. Mooppanar, (Congress leader), Sri R.M. Veerappan and Sri R. Soundararajan, Ministers of Tamil Nadu welcomed the Acharyas to the State. On the 21st of the February, Kalavai (North Arcot Dt.) was reached. There he camp extended up to 3rd March, for performing the Aradhanas of the Guru and Paramaguru of the Senior Acharya.
Early at night, on the Tamil New Year Day - 13th of April, 1984, a grand reception was given to the Gurus at the outskirts of Kanchi, by a large concourse of people, of the town, whose joy, at the return of the Mahaswami after an absence of six years, knew no bounds.
Once cannot but wonder when he ponders over his very long yatra of His Holiness, covering a distance of about 3860 kms, on foot in four States, in about a thousand days (leaving out the long camps at a number of places for one of such a frail body, with His food restricted in quality and quantity, who was 84 years old when starting from Kanchi and about month less than ninety on His return to Kanchi to have accomplished this feat. Definitely, here is felt the super-human touch.
THE LAST EVENTFUL DECADE
From the day of the return of Kanchi, His Holiness stayed at the Math in Siva-Kanchi, except for a stay of about two months at Orirukkai, a village near Kanchi for the Chaturmasya of the year 1987. From 1984 (May) the Sankara Math once again turned out to be a place of solace for the care-worn, the sick, the mentally retarded, the poor and the needy, a pilgrim center for devotees hailing from far and near and a magnetic spot of spiritual attraction for a good number of foreigners seeking peace.
Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru while writing about Adi Sankaracharya, has observed :- "Sankara was a man of amazing energy and vast activity. He was no escapist, escaping into his shell or into a corner of the forest seeking his own individual perfection, oblivious of what happened to others. In a brief life of 32 years, he did the work of many long lives and left such an impress of his powerful mind and rich personality on India that it is very evident today." The above observations of Pandit Nehru do fittingly hold good in the case of the Sage of Kanchi who was considered by the entire cross-section of humanity as the avatara of the original Sankara Bhagavatpada.
Almost till late in 1990, the Acharya continued in the strict observance of His daily routine - Japa (meditation) for an hour or more before sun-rise anushtana (ablutions), atmapuja, worship at the Adi Sankara shrine inside the Math, granting darsan to a vast mass of devotees and so on. He rarely missed going to Sri Kamakshi temple for darsan on Fridays. He perused at least two daily newspaper and at times read books of interest for even hours. After 1990, too, though His Holiness could not walk far, not sit for long, he never disappointed the devotees flocking at the Math for His darsan, nor failed to hear the prayers of suffering people and to bless them. Even His memory did not shrink till His last days.
A few months after His return to Kanchi, the thousandth year of the occasion of Rajaraja Chola (985 to 1016 A.D.) who was crowned in the middle of 985(A.D.) was celebrated with great eclat at Thanjavur the metropolis from where he ruled. His Holiness sent a crown of gold to adorn the statue of Rajaraja at Thanjavur. Further He arranged for assistance towards the daily worship at the temple of Sri Brahadeesvara built by Rajaraja at Thanjavur, by asking some of his ardent disciples to create a fund for the noble purpose.
In Kanchi there are a good numbers of Sivalingas, without any shelter. They are found mostly in fields or in open land by the side of some roads. The Great Guru asked some young Sivacharyas (priests of Siva temples) and some of his attendants to go on cycles to the sites where the lingas exist and to do a simple puja to those Sivalingas in the morning, every day. On every Deepavali day, new vastrams (clothes) for deities in all temples of the low income group and deities without temple, within Kanchi were being sent through the respective archakas (priests) of the various temples.
In the summer of 1986, near-attendants of the Acharya went by lorry to Hardwar and fetched a number of sizable copper cans (in some hundreds), filled with water from the Ganga, with the idea that the Great Guru might use Ganga water for his bath, ablutions etc., every day. On their return, they placed the cans with the holy water, before the Acharya. The Great Guru smiled and told the devoted attendants "About a thousand years ago, Rajendra Chola, built a large and grand Siva Temple at Gangaikonda-cholapuram, consecrated a huge Sivalingam in the temple and caused abhishekam to be performed to that Brahadeeswara Lingam with water brought from the Ganga. Carry some of these cans to Gangaikonda-cholapuram and perform abhishekam to the Brahadeeswara in the temple there. Only after that, I shall use the Ganga water that you have brought for my sake." The orders were carried out. Some months later His Holiness asked the same devoted attendants to perform annabhishekam (bathing the image of the deity with cooked raw rice) to Brahadeeswara, the huge lingam in the temple at Gangaikondacholapuram, adding that there will be sumptuous rain in the land because of the performance of that annabhishekam. This celebration which began in 1986, on a small scale, grew into a grand festival involving an annual expenditure of about two and a half rupees in subsequent years till 1994 and attracting thousands of people in the area and around. The committee-in-charge of the celebration has also been providing the necessary materials of daily worship in the temple.
In 1986, His Holiness thought that some sort of assistance should be given to poor priests performing puja in old temples with very low income. It was intended that the aid should cover Sivacharyas (priests of Siva temples) Bhattacharyas (priests of Vishnu temples) and Pujaris (priests in temples of village deities). For this noble cause a trust board, with Sri N. Krishnaswami Reddiar (retired judge of the High Court of Madras) as President and other trustees, was constituted under the name Kachi Moodur Archakas Welfare Trust. The Trust conducts annual refresher courses for the proper performance of worship in temples, to all kinds of temple priests and after examining those who undergo the course and evaluating their merit, renders monthly financial assistance to them. Today the Trust has grown up well.
One afternoon, in January 1988, the Great Guru was crossing the inner quadrangle of the Math. There lay a long and broad rectangular stone slab by the side of a well at the eastern end of the quadrangle (The well has been closed up of late). His holiness stopped and sat on the stone slab. Feeling something rough and irking, while sitting, He got up and after passing His fingers over the surface of the slab, He found a short inscription in Tamil, running into a few lines. On reading the epigraph it was learnt that an ordinary person has made an endowment for burning a lamp with wick and ghee in the shrine of Sri Ganesha In His keen interest His Holiness discovered the origin of the epigraph with the help of the archaeological department. The Superintending Archaeologist of the Archaeological Survey of India. (Madras Circle), in his report on the `Conservation of Adi-Sankara shrine and Archaeological discoveries in the Kamakoti Shankaracharya Math at Kanchipuram, states the following that the above mentioned inscription :- "Incidentally, it may be to know the fragmentary inscription, datable to the eleventh A.D. of the Chola period, retrieved while dismantling Sri Adi Sankara shrine in the math, mentions about a Ganesha shrine. Significantly, there is an idol of Ganesha, datable to the eleventh century A.D., in the math-complex." The incomplete inscription belongs to the latter half of the regional period of Rajaraja Chola (985-1016 A.D.). The Ganeshamurti referred to in the inscription can be seen near the left side of the entrance to the Adi Sankara Shrine. The Great Guru felt that if neydeepam was not lit before Sri Ganesha it would be a sin as it will be against the noble intention of the devoted donor.. Consequently His Holiness ordered for the formation of a Trust Board to collect donations and arrange for perpetual burning of lamps, fed with ghee, in the shrines of Sri Ganesha and Sri Adi Sankara. The Kanchi Kamakoti Peetha Neydeepa Kainkarya Trust with Sri N. Krishnaswami Reddiar (formerly judge of the Madras High Court) was Managing Trustee, Sri A. Kuppuswami as secretary and five other members, was created on 10th of February, 1988. The lamp service is being successfully carried out.
In the inner precinct of the central Math at Kanchi there is a separate shrine of Sri Adi Sankara. His Holiness used to perform anushtana (ablutions in a small room on the southern side of the Adi Sankara shrine. On noticing some words of a mutilated inscription on the walls of the Sankara shrine and considering the necessity of rebuilding this old Sankara Mantapa, He resolved to have the present structure reconstructed on the same original model. The Archaeological Survey of India (Madras Circle) shouldered the responsibility of guiding and supervising the reconstruction. The following is an extract from the Superintending Archaeologist dated 18-9-91 :- "A chance discovery of an ancient adhistana moulding within the Shankaracharya Math-complex at Siva-Kanchi, under the standing Adi Sankara shrine, is of extreme significance. It establishes that this shrine, under daily worship, rectangular on plan, was reconstructed nearly two hundred years ago over an ancient adhistana without known its existence".
"The story of the discovery is in no way less interesting than the discovered me. It may be remembered here that the interior rear wall of the shrine has a panel; in bas-relief, depicting seated Adi Sankara, flanked by three disciples (shishyas) standing on either side. The shrine decorated with kopatham, chajja, coping etc., moulded in stucco, had entrance on north, south and east. In addition, some pieces of a mutilated inscription, with its greater part missing, had been used as veneering stones on the exterior surface of the northern wall. The inscription could be dated to fourteenth-fifteenth century A.D., on the basis of palaeography".
"Obviously the learned Paramacharya of the Kanchi Sankara Math was interested in knowing whether the missing portion of the inscription has been used elsewhere. [It is reliably learnt that a great part of the inscription is found in the surface of a wall in a mosque in the street just to the west of the Math] .... Further more the Paramacharya desired that the shrine should be renovated. The Archaeological Survey of India, (Madras Circle) accepted to shoulder the responsibility of guiding the execution of the work with great pleasure. Thus in the late 1988, the renovation work was started". "Systematic probing was conducted with a view to study the condition of the foundation of the shrine. Surprisingly, while probing, remains of the structure were encountered".
"Astonishingly it turned out to be an ancient adhishtana, square on plan, build of moulded sandstone and granite....[Encouraged by this find further excavation was taken upon the eastern side..... Unfortunately the area available for the operation was very limited as the present complex of the Math has occupied the whole area. However, the expected the plinth portion of antarala and a part of mukha-mandapa could be exposed"........
"However it can be emphatically stated that this temple was built in late Pallava period (774 - 912 A.D.) on the basis of architectural style and the material used in the construction".
Over the ancient adhistana the dismantled Sankaracharya shrine was reconstructed using the original stones and the old moulded decorations. About two years after dismantling, the newly constructed Sankara shrine was consecrated in the presence of the Great Acharya. The entire expenses of the renovation was borne by Sri V. Subrahmanya Iyer of Veppattur (in Tanjavur Dt.) and the members of his family.
Years ago, on the direction of His Holiness, some two or three ardent devotees used to conduct a `mini' vidvat sads, in a mantapa in front of the western gateway of the temple of Sri Varadaraja in Vishnu-Kanchi, every Thursday. Some four or five Sanskrit scholars used to participate in discussing on some topic in the sastras and these pandits were presented with a small sum of rupees by those who conducted the sadas. After the Acharya left Kanchi in 1978, there was a lull in the activities of this guruvara sadas-so called because of it being held on gurvara i.e.. Thursday. With the return of the Great Guru in 1984, the sadas was revived. The Guruvara Sadas Trust was created on 15th August, 1988. Thereafter the venue was shifted to the Math in Siva Kanchi and not less than 30 Sanskrit scholars participate in the sadas held every Thursday. His holiness used to attend the weekly sadas without fail till the middle of 1990. Now the participating scholars are honoured with a good cash sambhavana.
One fine morning, in December 1988, as I prostrated before His Holiness (seated as usual inside the ivory-coloured palanquin), and got up, He bade me sit, and said, "You ill have an additional portfolio from today" and then kept quiet. I was afraid to ask what the Great Guru meant by "additional portfolio". Some minutes later He asked me to give the names of Siva temples having gopuram (towers) over the gateways in all the four directions (east, south, west and north) and the names of the places where those temples were situated. I could give only the names of five. His Holiness gave the name of three more, and to these eight He added three more two of which though having less than four gopurams, have a connection with the Veda- the two being vedaranyam and Tiruvanaikovil. Then the order came that I should arrange for Krishna Yajurveda Jatha-parayanam at these 11 centers, during the time of the Brahmotsavam, with the help of devotees of the Math in the respective places. This Vedic recital needs at least 4 masterly Veda pandits and it takes 13 days of time. The Jatha parayanam pertaining to the Brahmotsava of Sri Kamakshi temple at Kanchi is held in March every year, at the Math premises, both in the forenoon and afternoon.
During 1988 to 1990 (March) every year, His Holiness used to spend hours everyday in hearing the parayanam at the Math.
The Rajagopuram of Kumara Kotham (temple in Kanchi) was completed by June, 1989. The trustees of the temple prayed that His Holiness should be pleased to grace the Kumbhabishekam. The two successor Acharyas of the Math were then touring in the north. On 9th July, 1989, the nonagenarian Maha Swami, witnessed the consecration, standing, in the hot sun, for more than hour.
It was under the directions of His Holiness that the old Siva temple at Tiruppudamarudur - (Putarjunam), in Tirunelveli Dt. (T.N.) and at Kaveripakkam were renovated and a Siva temple was constructed in Dwaraka, by M.P. Birla. The `Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati Trust, was created by an ardent devotee, Sri Muthuswami Iyer, an engineering contractor and under its auspices, the Siva temple at Kooram and the Kausikesvara temple (very near Sri Kamakshi temple) in Kanchi was renovated and their kumbhabhishekams were preformed during this period, as per the injunctions of the Acharya.
The renovation work of the Rajagopuram of the temple of Sri Ekambranatha at Siva-Kanchi was begun late in 1990 with the blessings of the Great Guru and its Kumbhabhishekam took place on 9th of February, 1992, in the presence of the two successor Acharyas. Renovation of the Punyakoti Vimanam of the temple of Sri Varadaraja at Kanchi was begun with the blessings of the Maha Swami. The final consecration festival took place from the 23rd to 27th January, 1991 in the immediate presence of the two successor Acharyas.
THEY CAME, THEY SAW AND THEY GOT BLESSED
During the nine years and more from May, 1984 till almost the end of 1993, apart from the teeming thousands of those who flocked at the Sankara Math at Kanchi for a glimpse of their `Maha Periyaval', almost not a day passed without some high-placed dignitary, some business magnate or some scientist or scholar of repute, or a small team of foreigners-some seeking an interview of a few minutes with the Acharyas, or some wishing for a mere darsan and other to simply make obeisance before the Great Guru. Presidents and Prime Ministers of our country, Ministers of foreign countries, judges of the Supreme court of India and of High courts of States, heads of political parties and so on, came over to Kanchi, had darsan of His Holiness, sought His advice on their public or private problems and left after attaining His blessings.
It was during that early part of this period that two ministers of the Government of Malaysia, paid respects to the Acharya. Late Sri M.G. Ramachandran, (when he was Chief Minister of the Government of Tamil Nadu), had darsan of His Holiness at the Kanchi Math and received His blessings. This was soon after late Ramachandran's return from the United States of America after having had treatment there. A group of Swedish and American visitors of India paid homage to the Great Guru on the 18th of February, 1987.
On the first of March of the same year, the Heads of the Dharmapuram, Tondaimandalam and Tirupanandal Saiva Aadhinams (Maths) had darsan of the Acharya which was followed by a long conversation. Among other heads of religious institutions who came down to Kanchi for having darsan, mention may be made of the Raval of Badrinath (18.4.87) the Dalai Lama (13th December 1987), the former Head of the Ahobilam Math and Sri Sumatindra Swami, had of the Puttige Madhva Matha at Udipi (8-4-91).
Sri R. Venkatraman, (who for long has been associated with the Kanchi Sankara Math) when he was President of India and after his retirement had darsan of His Holiness off and on during these years. Sri Ranganath Misra (who, according to his own words had his "first darsan of the Great Master," when he was lad of nine), when he was judge and later Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India went over to Kanchi with the members of his family to get he blessings of the Great Guru. Late Rajiv Gandhi had darsan of the sage, at the Kanchi Math on 25th January, 1987 (when he was Prime Minister) and again later on 25th, January, 1990 (when not in power). Some other notables who paid respects to His Holiness during this period are : - The Rajmata of Gwalior, Brahmananda Reddy, (then Governor of Andhra, Maharashtra), Mr. Alexander (Governor of Tamil Nadu) and Sri Krishna Kant (Governor of Tamil Nadu). On the 8th of February, 1989, Sri L. Narendra Vishnu, Prime Minister of Mauritius and members of his family paid respects to the Acharya. On 6th June, Sri Peri Sastry, then Election Commissioner had darsan.
Among those dignitaries who came down to Kanchi for darsan of the Great Guru in 190 mention may be made of the following : - Sri C. Subramanyam (then Governor of Maharashtra), Sri L.K. Advani and Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee (both leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party) and Sir Chandrasekhar who was then Prima Minister of India. Of those who came in 1991, some are Sri Bhishma Narayan Singh, the Governor of Tamil Nadu, and Sri S.B. Chavan, Home Minister of the Government of India.
THE HUNDREDTH JAYANTI OF THE MAHASWAMI AND AFTER
The 7th of May, 1993, happened to be the 100th Jayanti Day (birthday) of the Sage of Kanchi. Even early in January of the year, disciples, ardent devotees and close associates of the Kanchi Kamakoti Pitha greed themselves up for celebrating the Jayanti in a fitting and grand manner of Kanchi, under the guidance of Acharyas Sri Jayendra Sarasvati Swami and Sri Sankara Vijayendra Sarasvati Swami. Besides a Satabdi (Centenary) Celebration Committee (with State sub-committees) was formed to celebrate the Jayanti at important centers all over the country. Indian Hindu Organisations in come foreign countries also began to plan for the centenary celebration.
Religious functions such as parayanam (recital) of Vedas, havans like Atirudram, Sahasra - Chandi homam were begun on 4th April, 1993 and were continued till 7th of May. During this period Dr. Sankar Dayal Sarma, President of India, had darsan of His Holiness on 24th of April. On the very next day, the three Acharyas made gruhapravesam (entered for the first time) in the newly constructed building, just west of the apartments (inside the Math) where the great Acharya had been staying since April, 1984.
(This new construction is a part of the five-crore Math renovation scheme undertaken by the members of the family of late G.D. Birla).
On the 7th of May, after the conclusion of the havans and other religious functions, at about noon, Acharya Sri Jayendra Sarasvati Swami adorned the Great Preceptor with a crown of gold. Thousands of devotees had darsan. In the evening, a public meeting was held at the Ghatikasthanam complex at Enathur, near Kanchi. Sri P.V. Narasimha Rao, Prime Minister of India (who had specially gone over to Kanchi for participating in the Jayanti Celebrations), Sri R. Venkataraman, former President of India, and a number of dignitaries, spoke paying rich tributes to the greatness of the Great Acharya. The Prime Minister released `A Hundred year of Light' - a souvenir consisting of articles in Sanskrit, Tamil and English, written by eminent person on the greatness of His Holiness. On the 10th May, His Majesty Kind Birendra of Nepal and the Queen paid homage to the Great Guru.
On the 26th of May, came off the grand Kanakbhishekam (shower of pieces of gold) of the Sage. Acharyas Sri Jayendra Sarasvati Swami and Sri Sankara Vijayendra Sarasvati Swami performed Kanakabhishekam to the great preceptor at about noon. The function was witnessed by many thousands of devotees. It is to be noted that His holiness Sri Swarupananda, Acharya of the Dwaraka Sankaracharya Math paid reverential homage to the centenarian Acharya of Kanchi on the occasion. The second volume of `A Hundred Years of Light'. consisting of articles, (mostly in English) on the Great Acharya contributed by a number of dignitaries and writers of repute and with about 90 illustrations (photographs of His Holiness taken at different periods of time from 1908) was released by Sri Shivraj Patil, Speaker of the Lok Sabha (Delhi), at a public meeting held in the evening (of 26th May). Sri Arjun Singh, former Minister, Government of India and others addressed the gathering paying glowing tributes to the greatness and stupendous achievements of the Sage of Kanchi.
On the 4th of August of the same year another Kanakabhishekam was performed to the Great Guru. This was preceded by the performance of Veda Parayanam, havans etc. extending for a number of days.
On the 27th of September, another souvenir, the third volume of `A Hundred Years of Light', comprising of a good number of articles in Tamil, mostly in the nature of experiences by devotees, was released, at a public meeting, held at Kanchi, by Sri R. Venkataraman, former President of India. Sri N. Krishnaswami Reddiar, retired Judge of the Madras High Court, Dr. K. Venkatasubrahmanyam, former Vice-Chancellor of the Pondichery University and some others spoke on the eminence of the Mahasvami. The proceedings of the function were rounded off by the benedictory speeches of the two Acharya Swamis of Kamakoti Peetham.
UNTO ETERNAL BLISS
From about the middle of October, 1993, the Sage was not quite sound in health. Cold, cough, phlegm in the chest and consequent trouble in breathing continued for days. The midday darsan by devotees had to be cancelled on certain days. Two expert local physicians who came daily and some others who came from Madras periodically, used to examine the Acharya. They found nothing wrong except weakness and lack of power of resistance.
Pujyasri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati Swamigal, the greatest spiritual luminary of this century, a "Living God" to the vast mass of devotees, an unsurpassed thinker to foreign scholars, a master scholar to scholars, a giant philosophers amongst philosophers, the source of solace to the suffering humanity, attained videha mukti (liberation from the body) in the afternoon at 2.58 p.m. on Saturday, 8th January 1994, in the Sankaracharya Math of Kanchi, the Southern Mokshapuri, leaving teeming thousands of devotees, in gloom, who trust on them from Heaven.
The sad news spread like wild fire and in an hour or so thousands of people, men, women and children, thronged on the road near the math. And anon news had reached the metropolitan city of Madras and many a town in Tamil Nadu and in other bordering states. The mortal frame of the great Sage was seated on a chair which was placed on the platform before the place where he used to give darsan for devotees. By about 5.30 P.M. the two Acharyas sat beside and the close associates and attendants sat nearby, all with tears running down their cheeks. By about that time people in thousands, were seen moving in long orderly and silent queues extending from the vegetable market in North Rajveethi to the inside of the Math. People of all walks of life, of all castes, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and a sprinkling of Jains slowly marched on after praying their last respects to the departed Sage. And this continued till an hour before dawn of the next day. Some sobbed, some wept bitterly, some muttered the words `Hara Hara Sankara Jaya Jaya Sankara' in subdued voice. the chanting of Veda Mantras was heard from one corner and the reciting of Thevaram hymns from another, all amidst the cries of thousands resembling the sound of waves at a distance.
In the afternoon of the 9th , Pujas were performed to the mortal frame of the Great one by his disciple and successor Acharya. The mortal remains of the Maha Swami were interred in the center of the front hall of the new block in the math complex at about 5 p.m. amidst the chanting of Veda Mantras.
When we reflect upon the final beatitude of His Holiness we recall what Sri Anantananda Giri (12th century A.d.), author of the earliest complete biography of Sri Adi Sankara has said while narrating the exit of Sri Adi Sankara from this mortal world, in his Sankara Vijaya. Once sitting in the Mokshapuri Kanchi Sankara drew his gross body into the subtle one and shines till this day as the all-pervading `Chit' (Pure Consciousness). May the grace of Pujyasri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati, 68th Acharya of the Kanchi Peetham, continue to shine for ever upon the vast mass of His devotees!