(His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam and His Holiness Sri Viswesa Theertha Swami of Pejawar Mutt, Udipi, the former upholding the advaita school of thought, and the latter upholding the dvaita school of thought, spoke from the same platform on October 29, 1958, at the Sanskrit College, Mylapore, appealing for a co-operative endeavor, to enshrine dharma and bhakti in the hearts of the people. Mr. S. Satchidanandam Pillai, as representative of the Saiva Siddhaanta, also addressed the gathering. The gist of the three speeches is given below.)
His Holiness the Swami of Pejawar Mutt said: For my part, I am happy at this coming together of the Heads of two different Mutts, and I have no doubt the public are also enthused by it. My only regret is that such occasions are rare and not frequent, for, there is an urgent necessity for Heads of Mutts, upholding different Vedantic traditions, coming together in the common interest of the spread of dharma and bhakti among the people.
There is a story, according to which a Rakshasa (demon) obtained, by his penance, a boon that he should not be vanquished or killed by any person singly or by a number of persons joining together. On account of this boon, he became a tyrant and began terrorizing people. So God, in His mercy, took the form of Harihara, and punished the demon. Harihara is neither a dual personality, because there is only one body, nor a single personality, because He combines in Himself the attributes of both Vishnu and Siva. This reference is found in one of the verses sung by Sri Vadiraja Swami in praise of Harihara, whose temple he visited.
Adharma is gaining the upper hand in this world and it cannot be driven away by the efforts of any school of Vedanta working alone, or by the efforts of different schools of Vedanta, each working in its own particular way. The task requires the cooperative efforts of all schools of thought coming together to carry out an agreed programme. We must develop the strength necessary to vanquish the demon of adharma by such concerted action. If the devotees of both Hari and Hara, represented by the two Mutts, which have come together on this platform, in the common cause of enthroning dharma once again in this land, bear this in mind and work in harmony and cooperation, then our cause is bound to succeed and the welfare of humanity is assured.
Students of the Mahabharata are aware that Aaranya Parva is followed by Ajnaata Parva and Udyoga Parva. Like Dharmaraja of the Purana, dharma is now in exile in the forest in this land. Even in the forest, friends and supporters of Dharmaraja were able to meet him and live in his company. Similarly, though dharma was in exile, dhaarmikas were able to keep the company of dharma, till recently. That stage has passed, and dharma has gone into ajnaata vaasa <Sanskrit> (living incognito). Even dhaarmikas are unable to locate where dharma is. Therefore, the time is now ripe for the next stage, Udyoga Parva. We must awake, arise, and act in unity to enthrone dharma once again in our heart.
I have great pleasure in associating myself with His Holiness Sri Sankaracharya Swami of Kamakoti Peetam whose heart is broad enough to accommodate different schools of Vedantic thought for the welfare of humanity. India is a country with a tradition of religious toleration. There is freedom in this land for preaching not only different sampradaayas of the Vedic religion, but are also preaching religions antagonistic to the Vedic religion. Not only that, there is freedom even to those who deny God. His Holiness Sri Sankaracharya Swami is the personification of that tolerant culture and tradition. In association with such a great soul, it is possible to work and re-establish dharma in this land.
The Vedas speak of God as having a thousand heads and a thousand arms; but nowhere it is said that He has a thousand hearts. There is one and only one heart. Similarly, Advaita, Dvaita, Vishistaadvaita, etc., are nothing but different facets of the same truth. They have a common heart and that is the Vedas. Such being the case, there is no difficulty for people owning allegiance to different schools of Vedantic thought coming together, and working for the establishment of dharma and bhakti, a task which all of us should perform.
His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam said: The Madhwa Acharya who has just addressed you comes from the Western shores, to the eastern shores to observe chaaturmaasya this year. The full name of Udipi is Udupateeswaram. There is an ancient temple of Udupateeswara or Chandramauleeswara there. Sri Madhwacharya, who propagated the Dvaita philosophy, with its emphasis on bhakti, also built a temple for Sri Krishna at Udipi, and installed therein the idol of Sri Krishna, which was found in a ship that came from Dwaraka. He also established eight Mutts, and directed the Head of each Mutt to perform worship at this temple by turns. It is noteworthy that Sri Chandramouleeswara is also worshipped by them. During the period when it is not their turn to perform pooja, the Heads of Mutts travel in different parts of the country, preaching the Dvaita Siddhanta, and collecting funds and materials for performing pooja and feeding people, when their turn to perform pooja at the Udipi temple comes.
I have nothing new to say to you today. I only wish to say a few words by way of Bhaashya (commentary) for the sutras (principles) enunciated by the Swami of Pejawar Mutt. The Swami has been exhorting all Hindus to work together in harmony, and not to be, to use a common parlance, like a bag of aamalaka fruits (<Tamil>). You know that when a bag of aamalaka is emptied, each aamalaka rolls in a different direction. There is no cohesion amongst them. That different schools of philosophy co-existed in this land is evident from the fact that all of us speak of the four Vedas and the six Sastras. There is a branch of Saankhya, known as Nireeswara Saankhya, which denies the existence of God. While Nyaaya declares that jivaatma is different from Paramatma, Meemaamsa, on the other hand, attaches no significance to bhakti and jnana, but lays emphasis on the performance of the karmas prescribed in the Vedas. While one school of thought criticizes the other, the founders of these schools of thought are held in respect and esteem by all. We find that Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada, the founder of the Advaita philosophy, adopted the acceptable theories advanced by the other schools of thought and respected Gautama and Sabaraswami, the expounders of Nyaaya and Meemamsa Sastras (as Acharyas). These different siddhaantas have come into existence, not to divide people into warring camps, but to cater to differing tastes, so that no one will lose sight of the fundamentals.
In North India, a sanyasi is also called das naami. This is because, according to the Dharma Sastra, sanyasins come under one or the other of ten different classifications, like Theertha, Aasrami, Saraswati, Saagara, etc. Sanyasins who suffix the term Saagara to their names, are not to be met with now. But I found an inscription in the Sri Varadaraja Swami temple at Kancheepuram in which the name Vedendrasaagara, occurs. This Vedendrasaagara and his disciples seem to have engaged themselves in the recitation of the Vedas in the temple. Now, this classification of the sanyasins is again meant not to create separatism, but to maintain the purity of the line, so that we may know the originator of a particular order of sanyaasa.
All these facts emphasize the underlying unity in Hindu religious thought. More than one agency is created for the preservation of Hindu dharma, so that, even if one agency becomes defunct, the other agencies may keep the torch of dharma burning. Dharma is the root of our religious tree; bhakti and jnana are its flowers and fruits. It is our duty to preserve the root from getting dry. We should work on the basis of the greatest common measure of agreement for the preservation of dharma. This involves some measure of sacrifice. In the story narrated by the Swami of Pejawar Mutt, both Vishnu and Siva sacrificed a part of their identity in order to incarnate as Harihara, so that dharma can be vindicated. As mentioned by the Swami, the heart is common for the thousand heads and the thousand arms of God. Because the Swami of Pejawar Mutt and myself have the common object in view, we have come together to tell the people what dharma is. That is also our duty. Perhaps, the present state of affairs is due to our neglecting our duty in the past. There are four main siddhaantas in this part of India – Advaita, Dvaita, Visishtaadvaita, and Saiva Siddhaanta. I thought that at least the Swami of Pejawar Mutt and myself can come together in the task of propagating dharma. But we have received the support, for this work, from the Swami of the Ahobilam Mutt (Vishistaadvaita Siddhaanta), and also the Head of the Gnaanasambanda Mutt, Madurai (Saiva Siddhaanta). Thus a coordination of the representatives of all the four main siddhaantas has been achieved. It is proposed to distribute widely pamphlets dealing with dharma under the authority of all the four Mutts. In this work, the services of the organization known as Hindu Dharma Prachara Sabha, which is in existence in the City, will be utilized. The main task before all of us is to spread dharma and bhakti among the people. Bhakti is inherent in dharma, and if dharma comes to prevail, bhakti will automatically spread. I hope God’s grace will attend our task and help us to attend our mission.
Mr. S. Satchidanandam Pillai, as representative of Gnaanasambanda Mutt, Madurai, said : When we are being threatened to be engulfed by Adharma, the two Heads of Mutts, now present before us, have come forward to protect us and remove our fears. India is the only country that has held aloft the ideals of spirituality and a higher purpose of life, through ages unknown. There may have been occasional lapses; but great teachers like Sri Sankaracharya have appeared from time to time to guide our erring feet along the dharmic path. The harassed Western world is looking to us for guidance. Signs are not wanting to show that people in this land are once again turning their eyes to the path of dharma and bhakti. The Chief Justice of India, whose speech has been reported this morning, has made a strong plea for a system of education which will inculcate right conduct and devotion in the minds of pupils. Archbishop Mathias has paid a tribute to the Gurukula system of education, and pleaded for pleaded for preserving this ancient tradition. I hope the secular Government of this country will take note of these views. This is a country which regards dharma, artha and kaama as steps leading to moksha or salvation. The family life itself is led in a pure manner so that it may not hinder the pursuit of salvation. This is also a country which regards sacrifice and meditation as priceless virtues. Symbolic of this, Siva sitting in meditation enveloped in sublime peace, in the Himalayas, and Sakti performing penance at Kanyakumari (the northern and southern ends of the country), are protecting the people of this land with their overflowing kindness. It is our duty to follow the advice tendered by their Holinesses and stick to the path of dharma and bhakti.