Jagadgurus

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Vijaya Yatras of Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswamiji

After the formal installation the two Acharyas started on a tour. After visiting Srirangapatnam, Nanjangud and Chamarajanagar, they toured the districts of Coimbatore, Salem, Tiruchurapalli, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Trivandrum, Chengelpet, North Arcot, Madras, Cuddappah and Kurnool, and returned to Sringeri in 1878. During the twelve years the tour lasted, the education and training of the young Acharya was completed under the personal care of the senior Guru. On Sri Nrisimha Bharati Swami attaining Mahasamadhi, Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Nrisimha Bharati ascended the Vyakyana Simhasana of the Sharada Pitha as thirty-third in the line of succession from Sri Adi Shankara.

Second tour (to the North)

The first six years of his incumbency were spent in constant Puja and yogic exercises, in which he soon attained perfection. He was in constant spiritual communion with his guru and this gave him necessary inspiration and sustaining faith. He started on a tour in February 1886 and first went to Gokarna to worship at the shrine of Sri Mahabaleshwara, who was in the last thoughts of his Guru. Visiting one place after another, the Acharya reached Kolhapur, where the Swami of the local Mutt received him with due respect. The Acharya did not proceed beyond Poona and started on his return journey. After four years of digvijaya, the Acharya returned to Sringeri in 1890.

Third tour (to the south)

Life in Sringeri for the next two years was a quiet one for the Acharya, who daily gave lessons in advanced works of Vedanta. Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar sent a pressing invitation that the Acharya accepted. He went to Mysore in 1891. After visiting Nanjangud, the Acharya went to the source of Cauvery in Coorg. Sathyamangalam and Gobichettipalayam were then visited. In the latter town, the Acharya consecrated and installed the Murti of Sri Subramanya in a temple built by a wealthy resident of the place. He then visited the Agraharams on the banks of Cauvery and at Ayyampalayam, laid the foundation of Dandapani temple at the request of a wealthy mirasdar. Then to Kadattur, Palani, Madurai and Rameshwaram. During the navaratri which he celebrated in Ramanathapuram at the earnest solicitation of the Raja he stopped the gruesome form of worshipping the goddess by sacrificing sheep and installed within the palace enclosure Sri Raja Rajeshwari and a Sri Chakra and arranged for the daily puja according to Vedic rites, for which the Raja set apart a village. The Raja further offered to the Mutt five villages in his zamin. He then visited Koilur near Karaikudi which is the seat of Advaita Mutt conducted by Nagarattars ( nattukotai chettiars) and several other towns in Chettinad. The Nagarattars gave him Rupees Thirty Thousand towards renovation of the temple of Sri Sharada of Sringeri. There he heard the news of the death of the Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar which most distressed him.

Proceeding to Tirunelveli, he visited Banathirta, the source of Tamraparani, one of the most sacred thirthas of our land, where the Zamindar of Singampatti entertained him. On the return journey he installed Sri Dandapani, Sri Prasanna Parameshwara, Sri Prasanna Parvathi and Sri Srinivasa in the temple which Mirasdar Tandavaraya Pillai had built at Aiyampalayam (April 1895). At Bangalore he received an invitation from the Maharani Regent and went to Mysore to console her and bless the young princes.

With the help and blessings of the Jagadguru and the co-operation of Raju Sastri and other descendent of Sri Appayya Dikshita, a devout yati, Swami Mahadevendra Saraswati of the Upanishad Brahmendra Mutt at Kanchi got the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple (near Vellore), associated with a sacred memory of Dikshita, renovated, performed Kumbabhishekam and arranged for daily worship(1892).

In 1894-1895, the Government of Maharaja Sinde of Gwalior communicated their decision that in that State, the Sringeri Mutt should be given precedence over Sankeswar Mutt. Soon after he returned to Sringeri, he established the Sadvidya Sanjivini Patashala providing for studies in Vedas and Sastras. He himself taught Vedanta to some advanced students.

Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya deputed one of his friends to invite the Acharya to Varanasi to lay the foundation-stone of the Hindu University. The Acharya regretted his inability to proceed to Varanasi at such short notice and instead sent a pair of his guru’s sandals, which, he said, would impart greater blessings to the enterprise than he could ever do.

The Jagadguru’s mind was set on retirement and Tapasya. He had a portion of the jungle to the south of the river cleared and an ashrama put up in the clearing, which he named Narasimha Vana after his Guru. He lived there for most of the years, but the Chaturmasya months, he spent in Mutt buildings. Maharaja Krishna Raja Wodeyar with his brother and his tutor Fraser came to Sringeri in 1898 to obtain guru’s blessings before assuming the reins of administration. He repeated the visit in 1901.

The need to take effective steps to counteract the spread of irreligion and materialism and indifference, if not opposition, to the age-long spiritual and moral codes was very prominent in his mind. Centuries ago, when there was spiritual chaos in the land, Sri Shankara incarnated and revived the dharma of the land. The Acharya longed for another descent of the spirit of the Master for which purpose he felt it necessary to build a shrine at the birth place of Sri Shankara and make it a great centre of pilgrimage to radiate spiritual influence all over the land.

As a first step he instituted the annual festival – Sri Shankara Jayanti -a five day festival in April-May in honour of the great Master’s birthday. The festival has since become popular in the country and is now marked in the almanacs.

Deputed by the Acharya, Diwan Seshadri Aiyar succeeded in identifying the site of the ancient agrahara in Kaladi, the birth place of Sri Shankara. The Acharya deputed the learned Nadukaveri Srinivasa Sastri to go to the place every year and conduct the festival. In 1905 the Acharya sent his agent Srikantha Sastri and A. Ramachandra Aiyar, a retired Judge of the High Courts of Travancore and Mysore to acquire with the help of the Travancore Government the land about Kaladi. The pious and highminded Maharaja Rama Varma (popularly called Sri Mulam Tirunal) and his Diwan V.P. Madhava Rao readily fell in with the proposal. The Maharaja introduced in the State as law, the provisions of the Government of India Act of 1904 for the preservation of Ancient monuments, and in pursuance there of ‘acquired’ Kundakara puraiydam lekkam No.115 registered in the name of Kaipalli Nambutri, and in the possession of Tekkamatam Svamiyar and other lands in Kaladikara Manjappara Proverthy, Kuttanad Taluk, which are associated with Sri Shankaracharya containing sites which are known as his birth place, the sites where his house stood and the site on which the remains of his mother were cremated. The Maharaja placed the site so acquired at the disposals of the Jagadguru together with ten thousand rupees for developing the site for the shrines to be built on it.

Fourth tour (to Kaladi)

Overjoyed with the initial success of his scheme, the Jagadguru sought the grace of Sri Sharada and commenced his tour to Kaladi. During these years he had become so enamoured of a quiet life of comtemplation and communion with the self in quiet retreats of Narasimha Vana, that it was a great wrench tearing himself away from the place. The verses that he addressed to Sri Sharada on the occasion came from the depth of his heart and reflect the working of his mind and spiritual experiences. ‘Why then do you send me away from your presence? I was happy spending my time visiting my Guru’s shrine or the shrine of Sri Vidyatirtha, wandering along the Narasimha hill, chanting Vivekachudamani or Atmavidhyavilasa or the hymns of Sri Shankara or seated on the sands of the river fixing my mind on the parvattva (Eternal Truth) ? Am I not your child entrusted to your special care by my guru’? – in these and similar strains did he pour out his heart.

But the great scheme called for fulfillment. It was Sri Sharada’s behest as he understood it. Before he left Sringeri he laid foundation of a new temple for Sri Sharada to be built of granite. The Maharaja with his wife, mother and brother paid a sudden visit to the Acharya, and received initiation in the Shivapanchakshari and Sri Vidhya mantras and worship of Sri Chakra.

Leaving Sringeri in February 1907, the Acharya reached Bangalore in May. At the request of V.P. Madhava Rao who had become Diwan of Mysore, and A. Ramachandra Aiyar, he installed an image of Sri Shankara in the newly acquired plot in Shankarapuram in the heart of Bangalore city. Passing through Mysore by quick marches, he reached Gobichettipalayam, and visiting the villages on the banks of river Kaveri, arrived at Jambukeshwaram (Tiruvanaicoil) near Tiruchirapalli to participate in the Kumbabhishekam of the temple of Sri Jambunatha and Sri Akilandeswari which had been renovated by Chidambaram Chettiar of Kanadukattan. After a brief halt at Srirangam and Tiruchirapalli, he travelled to Koilur through Pudukottai, then to Kanadukattan, Karaikudi, Devakottai, and Kunnakudi where he performed the year’s chaturmasya. Then Madurai, Ramanathapuram and Rameshwaram were visited. The disciples in the towns and villages of Tirunelveli gave him a rousing reception, and out of their munificent contributions, two lakhs of rupees were earmarked for the consecration of Kalady shrines. The Acharya went to Papanasam Banathirta falls, and Sri Kanyakumari. When he reached Trivandrum in 1909, a royal and unprecedented reception awaited him. The Maharaja presented an elephant and another sum of ten thousand rupees towards the expenses of the consecration of the Kaladi shrines.

On the return journey, the Acharya passed through Cochin State, Coimbatore, Salem and Tiruchirapalli districts and reaching Aiyampalayam installed in the Sri Dandapani temple of Tandavaraya Pillai, an image of Sri Shankara. His agent had already installed there an image of the Acharya. In the Mysore State, he visited Nandi hills and then Bangalore, where in the newly built Mutt buildings, he instituted a College of higher Sanskrit studies- the Bharatiya Geervana Praudha Vidya Abhivardani Mahapathasala and declared open residential quarters for teachers and pupils which V.P. Madhava Rao had donated. Reaching Sringeri in March 1911, he hastened to the shrine of Sri Sharada and sang hymns of the thankfulness saying, ‘I have seen the mother….. What then remains to be done?’.

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