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Sri Vidyabhinava Valukeshwara Bharati


Mahamahopadhyaya Sri Hanagal Virupaksha Shastrigal blessed sAraswata sAmrAjya with his birth in the house of puNya daMpati Smt. Bhageerati Bai and Sri Krishna Dikshitar in the year 1873 (shAlivAhana shaka 1795) – shrImukha samvatsara, puShya krShNa saptami on an auspicious Friday. At the age of seven, he was adopted by his relative, Sri Shiva Dikshitar. He underwent Upanayana at the age of eight and studied krShNa yajurveda, nATakAnta sAhitya, vyakaraNa and tarka from the best of scholars. He had his initial training from Vidwan Brahmasri Tirumalacharya. He then became the chief disciple of Sri Swamirayacharya (1823-1903), who was a great scholar and a Tapasvi. The kings of Kashi and Gwalior held Sri Swamirayacharya in a very high regard and accepted him as Guru. Sri Shastrigal learnt Nyaya and Mimamsa from this great scholar. Even during his student days, Sri Shastrigal greatly impressed Diwan Sri Seshadri Iyer with his brilliance and dedication. He became a close disciple of H H Sri Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharati Mahaswamigal, the Jagadguru Shankaracharya Mahaswamigal of Dakshinamnaya Sringeri Sharada Peetham, revered as the incarnation of Adi Shankaracharya. He also received Srividya Mahamantra Upadesha from this living god, a fortune obtained by very few people. He was greatly influenced by Sri Mahaswamigal and was personally trained by him in Vedanta as well as in Srividya and Mantra Shastra. He also studied the works of the great saint Sri Sadashiva Brahmendra under the able guidance of Sri Mahaswamigal. The masterpiece `AtmavidyAvilAsa' was his personal favorite. He received the title `Mahamahopadhyaya' from the Indian government, `Tarka Panchanana' from the Maharaja of Kashi and Varanasi Vidya Peetha, `Vidyanidhi' from the Maharaja of Mysore and many others. He taught tarka shAstra and Advaita vedAnta to hundreds of students at Sri Shankaracharya Samskrita Pathashala in Dharwad and Sri Shankara Mutt in Bangalore.

Sri Shastrigal was widely respected by scholars, ordinary people, Sanyasins and householders alike. Vedanta, for him, was not a means of livelihood. It was his life and breath. After the Siddhi of Sri Mahaswamigal, H H Sri Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamigal ascended the Jagadguru Peetha of Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetham. Sri Shastrigal began to train the young Acharya in Vedanta, Prasthana Traya Bhashya, Tarka and Mimamsa. H H Mahaswamigal had learnt from Sri Shastrigal even in his pUrvAshrama and greatly admired his scholarship and vairAgya. It is recorded that Shastrigal had adviced Sri Narasimha Shastry [H H in his pUrvAshrama] to recite mUka panchashati [in praise of Sri Kamakshi] which blessed the young boy with his first experience of samAdhi. Though Sri Swamigal was a Turiyashrami, he showed great respect for this householder. He himself has stated that the greatest influence on his life has been that of Sri Shastrigal. Everyday, as soon as Sri Shastrigal entered the room to begin the day's lesson, he prostrated before the young Acharya as per the tradition. Sri Mahaswamigal would immediately stand up and bow down in his mind to this great person, who he respected beyond measure, while looking at his own omnipresent Guru’s pAdukA. The same episode would repeat when Sri Shastrigal would take leave. Though Nanjangud Srikantha Shastrigal was the Srividya Guru of Sri Mahaswamigal, H H was guided and trained in navAvaraNa pUjA and Srividya Upasana by Sri Shastrigal. His illustrious line of disciples included Sri Sacchidanandendra Saraswati Swamigal of Holenarsipur, the literary giant Sri D V Gundappa, Bhasyam Swamiji and maThAdhipati-s of various Mutts. He also chaired the Advaita Sammelana at Kashi and was honoured with the title 'Tarka Samrat' by the Maharaja of Kashi.

Jagadguru Shankaracharya Samskrita Pathashala was established in Dharwad by H H Sri Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Nrsimha Bharati Mahaswamigal. Sri Shastrigal personally taught Gita Bhashya here for several months, and this event has been described as shAnkara gItAmrita dhArA by scholars of repute. In 1905, Sri Shastrigal, according to the instructions of his Guru H H Sri Mahasannidhanam, started the first ever Shankara Bhashya Pravachana Saptaha. Mahaswamigal, greatly impressed with his disciple, remarked, 'If any one is completely blessed by Sri Sharadamba, it is you'. The following incident was narrated by none other than H H Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamigal to an elderly relative, while quoting the example of Sri Shastrigal as a 'Maha Tapaswi' - "Once while Shastrigal enthralled listeners with his Bhashya Pravachana, a certain naive villager came rushing to him and reported that his cow was in labor but was near dead due to excessive bleeding. Shastrigal, without pausing for a moment, waved at him to sit down, closed his eyes and continued to speak. It was later known that the cow had delivered her child miraculously. Mani Mantra and Aushadhi have always been used thus by great men to alleviate suffering of other beings". A certain boy, who went on to become the head of another Shankara Mutt was dumb by nature and his father, a great scholar took the boy to the Maharaja of Mysore. Maharaja, who knew well the scholarship and Siddhi of Sri Shastrigal, advised him to take the boy to Shastrigal. Needless to say, the boy became a scholar of repute and a well-known mathAdhipati later, quoting Shastrigal’s Siddhi of Sri Medha Dakshinamurti mantra as the reason for his awakening. Sri Shastrigal, by the age of 27, had completed three complete purashcharanas of Shodashi and Panchakshari.

Sri Shastrigal performed soma yAga in trikUTeshwara temple in Gadag and established the idol of Sri Adi Shankaracharya. He also performed Sahasra Chandika Mahayaga remembered till today by elders in Northern Karnataka. Sri Shastrigal served as the dharmAdhikAri for the entire state of Mysore (now known as karnATaka) as per the request of Maharaja of Mysore. Sri Shastrigal was vairAgya nidhi and embraced turIyAshrama with the title `Sri Vidyabhinava Valukeshwara Bharati' on July 14, 1932 from H H Sri Sri Valukeshwara Bharati Mahaswamigal, the Jagadguru of Sri Kudali Sringeri Sharada Peetha, a shAkha matha of Dakshinamnaya Sringeri Sharada Peetham, as per the request of H H Sri Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamigal. Sri Valukeshwara Bharati Mahaswamigal was a great Tapasvi and had completely given up food and water. He lived merely by the Chaitanya of the all-pervading Atman. When Sri Shastrigal ascended Sri Kudali Sringeri Peetha, the Mutt was in serious financial crisis. Sri Shastrigal, after assuming Sannyasa in Uddagatte, moved to Kudali in 1933 and revived the Mutt. He undertook Sanchara and accepted the invitation from Maharaja of Mysore to undertake his chAturmAsya vow in Mysore that year. On July 5, 1933, he arrived at Srirangapatna and was welcomed and personally escorted to Mysore by the Maharaja. He continued to reside in the Sanskrit Pathashala in Mysore, blessing hundreds of seekers of knowledge with his nectarine discourses on shAnkara darshana. Maharaja accepted Mahaswamigal as his Guru and learnt Advaita Vedanta from him. Due to his charisma, Kudali Mutt, which was almost unknown till then, came to be known as one of the foremost Dharmic Institutions in Southern India. Sri Ganesha Shastrigal was Mahaswamigal’s brother in pUrvAshrama and had a son named Sri Mahesha Shastrigal. This young man developed vairAgya early in his life and sought refuge at the lotus feet of Sri Vidyabhinava Valukeshwara Bharati Mahaswamigal. He learnt tarka, vedAnta, vyAkaraNa and sAhitya from Mahaswamigal and was initiated into the royal science of Srividya. He later assumed the seat of Kudali Sringeri Peetadhipati with the title, Sri Sacchidananda Shankara Bharati. In 1935, the 62end vardhanti of Mahaswamigal was performed with great devotion by the Maharaja and residents of Mysore. On March 10, 1936, dhAtu samvatsara, chaitra krShNa chaturthi - Saturday, Mahaswamigal attained Mahasamadhi at 8.45 am. Maharaja of Mysore constructed the Adhishthanam of Mahaswamigal within the premises of Mysore Sanskrit College and established Swarna Kalasha on the Adhishthana Mandira.