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My experience with His Holiness
Dr. Mandana Mishra
It is a matter of great honour of all of us that the centenary celebrations of His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati Swamigal of the divine Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham are being held this year. I had the privilege of having Swamiji's darshan for the last 30 years. My teacher, late lamented Mahamahopadhyaya Acharya Shri Pattabhiram Shasthri, was a conventional disciple of His Holiness and because of him I had the good fortune of belonging to the same conventional lineage. On the occasion of His Silver Jubilee, late Shastriji had gone to Madras and he was accompanied by some of my friends and myself as also the ex-professor of National Ayurveda Institute, Vaidyasri M.L. Bhardwaj. The primary purpose of our visit was to have darshan of His Holiness and to go around the city of Madras. Our revered Guruji started with this resolve that we would first have the darshan of His Holiness who was camping at Sanskrit College, Mylapore and then we could go round the city. Thousands of devotees gathered as the pandal to have His darshan. By some strange coincidence we were always among the first to return the pandal and because of the strong desire to have His darshan, we would stay on for the entire day and return only late night.
On that occasion itself, a Commemorative Volume on His Holiness edited by late Dr. V. Raghavan was released. His Holiness paid special attention to my Guruji and to me and gave us His blessings.
His Holiness is an erudite scholar and all that is of value in Indian thought or spirituality is, as it were, personified in him. It is because of His penance that the prestige of Kamakoti Peetham has been established throughout the world and Kanchi has attained the same importance as it had at the time of Adi Sankaracharya. I had the privilege of seeing His Holiness in His multifarious facets. He is so strong in His will that merely by His desiring something, it is achieved. Whenever His devotees are in trouble their woes will disappear merely by having a glimpse of His Holiness or even by just remembering Him with true devotion. This has been my finding, not once but many a time.
Today we see that all over India the study of Vedas is safeguarded and taken proper care of and this is because of the inspiring influence of His Holiness. Not only has he given protection to Veda pathasalas, Vedic pandits and Vedic students, but also he has been constantly keeping their interest supreme in his mind. Honouring Vedic pandits, presenting them with jewelry and arranging for their regular income have become His normal routine. Whatever program the Government of India is implementing for the propagation of Vedas they have all been done at His instance. It is well known that it was at His instance that the late Prime Minister Shrimati Indira Gandhi created an apex institution, Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratishthan for the preservation and propagation of traditional Vedic lore. Veda Sammelans are being organised in various parts of the country. Veda-pandits are honoured and at the root of all is the direction given by His Holiness which is being implemented by the Central Government and the State Governments.
His Holiness is held in high esteem not only in this country but the world over. Some foreign scholars have also been inspired by Him. This has once again established India as a cultural leader of the world.
Sitting in a corner as he does, He keeps His eye on every single Vedic pandit living in the country, even in a remote village. It was in implementation of His orders that a Viman Mandap was constructed at Sangam in Allahabad at an enormous cost. He has all along been concerned about the protection of Vedic Studies and Indian Culture in the northern parts of India. For this purpose His disciple Jagadguru Sankaracharya Shri Jayendra Sarasvati has been visiting North India time and again.
Kurukshetra is a place where Shri Krishna delivered the message of Geeta to Arjuna. His Holiness had, therefore, conceived the idea of having a statue made Kurukshetra showing Shri Krishna on the chariot preaching the Bhagwat Geeta to Arjuna. Today this idea of His Holiness has been translated into reality and this has added to the prestige of this important holy place.
His Holiness has always immersed himself in Tapas. But at the same time he is one always among the suffering humanity so that every one claims Him as his own. Whenever we went to Kanchi He would give directions that all facilities be provided to us, Himself remaining detached in every respect. It was His habit to select some lonely spot like an old temple and make it His abode and this would transform that place into a place a pilgrimage for everyone. Many dilapidated temples having been revived by His stay there.
About 10 to 15 years back while touring Karnataka, He selected a dilapidated Shivalaya in the jungles of Gulburga and stayed there. I had the fortune of visiting Him along with Dr. P.N. Kawthekar and Dr. C.R. Swaminathan at that time. It was Shivarathri and thousands of devotees had some to have His darshan with the result that this spot has now become a divine place. After darshan when we approached Swamiji with the request for leave to return home he gestured to one of His attendants to bring three shawls. The attendant was in a fix, as it was impossible to procure shawls in that jungle, and he expressed it to His Holiness. Even as he way saying it, a gentleman arrived with a consignment of about 50 shawls and presented the same to Swamiji. We were all astonished to see this and were convinced that whatever He desired would be accomplished without any delay.
At the same time another devotee brought some gold on a platter and placed it before Swamiji. His Holiness ordered that this gold be sent to Kasi Vishwanath temple where, it was reported, some gold had been stolen, from the sanctum sanctorum, saying that to make good the loss in that holy temple was our primary duty. This indicates the magnanimity of Swamiji and the concern that he has, for all the holy places in the country.
A couple of times, I had the occasion to visit Swamiji along with Dr. T.N. Dhar, the then Joint Educational Advisor, Government of India. Every time he would mention some important text ad would desire that arrangements be made for its reprinting. This would give us an insight into the vast extent of His knowledge of Vedic literature and His deep concern for its preservation. In a period of one or two months, 3 or 4 very important texts were thus got reprinted according to His desire and these were places at His feet, on which He showered His blessings an abundance.
No wonder, important leaders of our country pay a visit to His Holiness time and again and obtain strength by His blessings. For me His blessings have been God's own and whatever little we have been able to do for Sanskrit and Indian culture, it has all been due to His blessings which have given us enormous strength and inspiration. We pray to God that the blessings of His Holiness remain with us for all time to come.