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Anugraha Parampara - 2


Srikanthayya was a high official in the railways in Calcutta. He was on a leave and was visiting his friend Nageshwara Iyer in Bangalore. Nageshwara Iyer was a famous lawyer in Bangalore. One weekend, Iyer announced that he was going to Sringeri with his family to seek the blessings of Mahaswamigal and invited Srikanthayya to join them. Srikanthayya replied, "I have no problem coming to Sringeri. I am totally western in my outlook and have not much regard for customs and traditions. If Mahaswamigal asks some embarrassing question, then I may have to give him a rude reply". Iyer assured him that no such situation would arise. They reached Sringeri and had the Darshan of Vidya Shankara and Sarada Parameshwari. when they stood before Mahaswamigal, Srikanthayya felt immense respect for the sage in front of him, who looked the very personification of Yajneshwara. Iyer introduced Srikanthayya to Mahaswamigal. After a few casual questions regarding his job, place etc., Mahaswamigal asked Srikanthayya, "Do you do your Sandhyavandana regularly?" Srikanthayya's face turned pale and with great difficulty he answered, "No!" Mahaswamigal asked again, "Why? Are you not doing Sandhyavandana with the thought `Why should I do it?' or with the thought, `What will happen if it is not done?' Or you are not doing it because you think there is no use doing it. Or, are you not doing it for lack of time? Answer me!" Srikanthayya could not find the right answer to reply. He thought for a while and suddenly remembered a certain incident that he had read about. Once in the court of king Janaka, sage Yajnavalkya was discussing Brahma Jnana with the king. He continued the discussion even during the evening and did not perform his Sandhyavandana. When the king questioned the sage regarding this omission, the sage said, "a Jnani, who is ever in union with the atman, needs to perform no karma. For the welfare of the world, he may do some Karmas, but an omission of the same will not be considered a blunder". Srikanthayya repeated the same Shloka that the sage had told king Janaka. Mahaswamigal was pleased with his spontaneity and cleverness. He said, "So, does that mean that you have realized the atman like sage Yajnavalkya?" Srikanthayya put his head down in shame and remained silent. Mahaswamigal said, "Your reply suits only the Jnani who has realized the self. Till we realize the self, we have to continuously engage ourselves in Sadhana. The steps to actual Sadhana are Sandhyavandana and Japa. Omission of these will result in great sin. Please start performing Sandhyavandana and Japa regularly".

Srikanthayya sincerely began to follow Mahaswamigal's advice. He also began to visit Mahaswamigal frequently. As he got to see more of Mahaswamigal, he understood that he knew so less about the great ocean of knowledge. He found it very difficult to understand the behavior pattern of Mahaswamigal, who remained in Samadhi most of the time. He wanted to enter Mahaswamigal's being and search the interior. He began to think about this intensely and one day while he was asleep, he had a wonderful dream. In the dream, he saw himself assuming a subtle form and enter the heart of Mahaswamigal who was immersed in meditation. All he could find inside was pure, white space, infinite like the sky. By then, he woke up from the sleep and it was already dawn. Srikanthayya finished his Sandhyavandana and went to visit Mahaswamigal in the mutt. While giving him Tirtha and Prasadam, Mahaswamigal smiled at him and said, "From when have you been practicing the art of Parakaya Pravesha –the act of entering another's being?" He felt electrified and realized that there was nothing hidden from the Mahaswamigal who had attained complete unity with the all pervading and all knowing Paramatman.

Sri Krishnaswamy Iyer was an ardent disciple of Mahaswamigal. One evening, he observed that the attendants of Mahaswamigal were shifting the Pooja materials and other things to the other side of the river, towards its north. He was told that since it seemed as though it would rain heavily and this meant a rise in the water levels of the river, Guru's stay was being temporarily shifted. Iyer had been staying all the while in a guesthouse close to Mahaswamigal's old residence. He began to think of shifting along with Mahaswamigal. Mahaswamigal smiled at him and said, "Just because I am shifting, you need not do the same. You stay here only. This night neither will there be a rain nor will there be a flood". Iyer thought, "When Gurudeva knows so well that it won't rain, why didn't he stop the shifting?" The answer lay in Mahaswamigal's eyes, which said, "Here or there, what is the difference. Everything is the same for me". When he had not an iota of attachment to Samsara, nothing mattered to such an Avadhoota. Would it be necessary to say that there was not a drop of rain that night?

One day, a gentleman came to have Mahaswamigal's Darshan. He stood humbly before Mahaswamigal with folded hands. Mahaswamigal looked at him and said, "Subrahmanya?" The person smiled and said, "Yes". People around thought that Mahaswamigal had seen him before and that his name was Subrahmanya. When they later spoke to the person, he revealed that his name was Ramakrishna Iyer. But his Upasya deity was Lord Subrahmanya. Mahaswamigal had recognized the Chaitanya of Subrahmanya that was evident in Ramakrishna Iyer. He had proved that after a long period of Upasana, the Upasaka becomes the same as his Upasya.

Krishnaswamy Iyer was staying in a guesthouse in Narasimhavana and was busy in his Anushthana. Mahaswamigal, who also stayed close by, had temporarily moved to another abode on the opposite side of the river. But he had asked Iyer not to shift. One morning, Iyer took bath, finished his Sandhyavandana, went to pay his respects to the Adhishthana of Sri Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswamigal and then came to seek the blessings of the Mahaswamigal in his new abode. Mahaswamigal smiled at Iyer and said, "Probably after I have shifted to this part of the river, Narasimhavana has become more quiet and peaceful. That is why you were busy today, chanting Dakshinamurthy Stotra in front of my Guru's Adhishthana. Am I correct?" Iyer stood dumfounded. How on earth did Mahaswamigal know that he had recited Dakshinamurthy Stotra in front of the Adhishthana?

A resident of Sringeri had to go to Madras for some urgent work. Before the journey, he came to seek the blessings of Mahaswamigal and sought his permission. Mahaswamigal looked at him and replied, "You want to go to madras. Why?" The gentleman said, "For some urgent work Gurudeva!" Mahaswamigal remained silent for a while and said, "Yes, there is indeed something unavoidable here, though not in Madras. Come back safely". The gentleman couldn't follow the meaning of what Mahaswamigal said and the left for madras. During the journey, the train stopped in Arakonam. He tried to get down the train, but slipped and fell on the rails, below the platform. Luckily, there wasn't much injury. The people around lifted him carefully and took him back to the train compartment. He continued his journey to madras but returned to Sringeri without trying to finish his work at Madras. As soon as he came to Sringeri and went to the mutt, Mahaswamigal asked him, "How are you? I hope you didn't go through much of suffering". Due to Guru's grace, the threat on his life had been nullified through a small accident.

A Vaidika Brahmana brought his Pooja Samputa with Panchayatana idols and asked Mahaswamigal to bless the Samputa. Mahaswamigal examined each and every idol. There were many Salagramas in the Samputa. Mahaswamigal picked a certain Salagrama and said, "Why is Narayana hungry from seven years?" The devotee became scared but gathering his courage, he said, "Gurudeva, I have not committed any sin knowingly as per my limited knowledge. I have regularly been performing Pooja to all these idols. If there is any blunder, please correct me and forgive me". Mahaswamigal said softly, "You have been worshipping the Salagrama but not in the right way. For the Lord who is present in this particular Salagrama, Kshira Abhisheka has to be performed everyday and payasam has to be offered as Naivedya daily. From seven years, this has not been done". The amazed Brahmana said, "Gurudeva! My father worshipped this Salagrama separately as instructed by you. After his death, I have been worshipping all the Salagramas in the same way without paying much attention to the specialties concerning each variety of Salagrama. As you mentioned, my father passed away seven years ago". Mahaswamigal blessed him and said, "This Salagrama is of a special type and requires Kshira Abhisheka and Naivedya as I said before. Please ensure that this is done regularly", and granted him Phala Mantrakshata.

Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha Mahaswamigal was the Shankaracharya of Pashchimamnaya Dwaraka Peetham. In his Purvashrama, he was known as professor Venkatraman and he had studied Vedanta under Sri Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswamigal and Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamigal. He had also served as the principal of national college at Rajamahendravaram. He was also actively involved in the freedom struggle. Though he was associated with the extremists for a while, he later turned to non-violent struggle. Even after Sanyasa, he retained association with Congress party and participated actively in Khilafat movement. He had also been imprisoned in Karachi for this reason. After the Shankaracharya of Purvamnaya Puri Govardhana mutt attained Mukti, his disciples decided to install Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha as the new Shankaracharya of Puri, as instructed by the previous Shankaracharya. Some people opposed this decision and filed a suit in Patna high court to prevent the Pitharohana of Bharati Krishna Tirtha. They claimed that he had lost the right to become a Shankaracharya because of his previous imprisonment. The court decided to act as per the guidance of Sri Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamigal of Sringeri Sarada Peetham, the eldest and the most respected of all the four Shankaracharyas. To record the opinion of Mahaswamigal, the court sent a commissioner to Sringeri. Many scholars from the north also accompanied him to Sringeri, so as to benefit from Mahaswamigal's Darshan. Some of these also belonged to the faction that opposed the installation of Bharati Krishna Tirtha as the Shankaracharya of Sringeri. Mahaswamigal patiently listened to all their opinions and asked them, "Where was Lord Krishna born?" everyone remained silent and amazed. Mahaswamigal continued, "The Lord was born in the jail right? Sri Vidyaranya and other great men have taken active interest in political and social reformation. Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha was imprisoned not because he committed a crime but because he participated in the freedom struggle. After his release, as per the Shastras, he has also undergone purificatory rites and Prayashchitta karmas. When he is already the Shankaracharya of one Peetha, there is nothing wrong in his ascension of another Shankaracharya Peetha". Bharati Krishna Tirtha went on to become the Shankaracharya of Puri. He later nominated Sri Sacchidananda Saraswati, the pontiff of Mulabagil (a temple town in Karnataka) as the Shankaracharya of Dwaraka and he chose to remain as the Shankaracharya of Puri. He also gave up active participation in politics.

Among the four Amnaya mutts established by Adi Shankaracharya, Sringeri has a very special place. Over a period of time, lot of branches and sub-branches of these mutts have originated. Today, there are hundreds of Shankara mutts all over the country and abroad. However, all these are under the governance of the concerning Amnaya mutt only. Many of these mutts broke their links with the Amnaya mutts and began to project themselves as the best and special representatives of Adi Shankaracharya. Books were written in various languages for the sake of propaganda. All this pomp and show created confusion in the minds of common men. Seeing this frightening trend, some disciples of Sringeri Sarada Peetham decided to educate the people about the invalidity of these Mutts and reveal the actual truth in front of the people. They requested Mahaswamigal for his guidance. Mahaswamigal said, "Every person who believes and lives by the teachings of Srimadacharya has equal rights as us, to teach and propagate Advaita. Why should there be competition in this holy deed? What if any of the Mutts or their heads claim themselves to be the best and the only representatives of Adi Acharya? Is it possible to hide truth? Do not involve yourself in cheap things like propaganda and publicity. Do not waste your time and thoughts on these useless things. This will lead to no dharma Sadhana. There is no need to publish books to counter allegations made by these people. Follow the path taught by Acharya; nothing else is necessary".

One lesser-known aspect of Sri Mahaswamigal is his Srividya Upasana, in which he had attained great heights. Though he was not really regular in external Pooja owing to his natural state of Samadhi, the internal Srichakra Pooja went on without a second's break. Sri Swamigal was a Srividya Upasaka even from his Purvashrama. This great Jivanmukta (liberated while living) was mistaken for a mad man by the ignorant. He danced and cried in divine bliss. He worshipped himself, ate the Naivedya and declared `Sarvoham'. He was verily of the form of Sri Rajarajeshwari and Sri Chandramouleshwara. A mere recitation of the Divine Mothers name would be enough to send him trance. One Subba Narasimha Bhatta was appointed to do Pooja in the shrine of Adi Shankara in the Mutt complex at Sringeri. Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Who came to that shrine looked at the new archaka, then turned to Narahari Bhatta who was accompanying His Holiness and asked him to initiate the archaka into Sri Dakshinamurti mantra before he was allowed to perform Pooja to Sri Shankara. Only then did the others become aware of the fact that Subba Narasimha Bhatta did not have that mantropadesha, which was necessary for one to do Pooja to Sri Shankara. The Jagadguru thus rectified the mistake committed by the Mutt officials in His own benevolent way.