Jagadgurus

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Sri Sacchidananda Bharati III (1770 – 1814)

तत्त्वमस्यादिवेदान्तवाक्यार्थज्ञानवारिधेः ।
पूर्णचन्द्रमसं वन्दे सच्चिदानन्दयोगिनम् ॥

He is the sea of knowledge that expounds Vedanta’s essence which is Thou art That; His visage beams with wisdom like the Moon; I bow to Sacchidananda Yogi!

Hyder-Ali demonstrated his profound respect for the new Jagadguru by directing his ministers to render all assistance to the Mutt.

Tipu, who succeeded Hyder, was opposed by the Marathas, the Nizam and the British. In the course of the campaigns of the Third Mysore War (1790 – 1792), Parasuram Bhau marched on Bednur. His hosts commanded by a Patwardan foolishly plundered Sringeri. In the letter commiserating the Acharya, Tipu wrote, “People who sin against such a holy place will at no distant date suffer the consequences of their misdeeds. Treachery to the Gurus will lead to all round ruin of the family.” He aided in the restoration of the temple and the re-consecration of the image of Sri Sharada.

On several occasions Tipu sought the blessings of the Acharya. He once wrote that he depended upon three sources of the strength – God’s grace, the Jagadguru’s blessings and the strength of his arms. He requested the Acharya to perform Satachandi and Sahasrachandi japa and homa. In the subsequent letter the Sultan acknowledged the miraculous effects of the Yaga that led to success in his enterprise and how rains poured and the land flourished.

The Acharya decided to go to Poona to seek redress for the spoliation of the Mutt. Tipu invited him to Srirangapatnam before proceeding to Poona. Not having heard from the Acharya for a long time after he reached Poona, Tipu requested in a letter expressing his conviction that wherever a godly personage like Acharya stayed, there was sure to be prosperity. After returning to Sringeri, the Acharya set out on a pilgrimage to Tirupati, and other holy places. While the Acharya was at Kanchi, Tipu requested him to bless his charities to the temples there and work of renovating the temples partly destroyed during his father’s campaigns.

Tipu even desired to make a pilgrimage to Sringeri, but the desire was not fulfilled. Between 1791 and 1798 Tipu wrote twenty-nine letters to the Acharya, and every one of them breathed the high veneration he had for the latter.

It is remarkable that Tipu’s enemies also sought the blessings of the Acharya. Nizam-Ul-Mulk, the founder of the Asaf Jahi dynasty in Hyderabad, evinced very high respect for the Sringeri Guru and issued several special privileges on the Mutt. In 1800 Peshwa Baji Rao II communicated his decision that agrapuja should be paid to the Sringeri Sharada Peetham in all religious assemblies. He further declared himself a disciple of the Mutt. During 1785-86, Basavappa Nayak of Jugali (Anekal taluk), Basavappa Nayak of Santebennur and Chamaraja Wodeyar of Mysore conveyed their respects to the Acharya with presents and grants.

After Tipu’s death, the rightful sovereign Krishna Raja Wodeyar III was placed on the throne. During his minority (1799-1811) Diwan Purnaiya carried on administration as regent. A Madhava Brahmana by birth, Purnaiya had a prejudice against Advaitins and their Acharyas. He thought that the Sringeri Acharya was leading a life of indolence in the midst of plenty and waited for an opportunity to bring about his discomfiture. When the Acharya was in the capital, he proposed a polemical contest between the Acharya and the ablest of the Pandits in Mysore. The Acharya accepted the challenge on the condition that a curtain was laid between him and all others assembled. Discussions began and soon reached a high intellectual level. To Purnaiya it appeared that he heard the voice of a woman from behind the curtain. Unable to restrain his curiosity, he slightly pushed the curtain and peeped in. What a wonderful vision he had! He saw the figure of Sri Sharada discoursing, and slowly it transformed itself into the Acharya. He fell at the Acharya’s feet for pardon, vowed to serve him to the best of his ability. He indeed did serve the Acharya during his tenure as the regent of Mysore.

Thirty-eight letters written by the regent to the Acharya are on record. In 1805, the Acharya was on pilgrimage for which the regent afforded all facilities. While at Madras, the Governor met the Acharya and paid his respects. The East India Company provided an armed retinue for the Acharya’s safety with instructions to the officers to offer all facilities during the Acharya’s pilgrimage. After visiting Tirupati, Kanchi, Kalahasti, Madurai, Rameshwaram, Thiruvananthapuram and other holy places, he went to Srirangapatnam and returned to Sringeri.

The regent strictly enforced on his officers the duty of seeing that the rights and privileges of the Acharya and Samsthanam were respected. The regent held that no other Swami could be taken out in the Adda Pallakki. In 1811, the regent Purnaiya handed over the reins of the Government to Maharaja Krishna Raja Wodeyar III on his attaining the age of majority. The Maharaja lost no time in extending a respectful invitation to the Acharya to visit his capital.

The Acharya then went to Harakeri, which the Maharaja had declared a sarvamanya village belonging to Sringeri Samsthanam, for the Chaturmasya vows for the year and there cast off his mortal body. Thus passed away from this world an eminent sage, whose spiritual greatness commanded the veneration of the Muslim and Hindu rulers of Mysore, Peshwas Madhava Rao and Baji Rao II, Mahadji Sinde, Nizam Ali Khan, and last but not least the governors of the East India Company.

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