Acharyas who adorned the Peetham between 1560 and 1706
Sri Nrisimha Bharati III (1560 – 1573)
सुरसिन्धुलसत्कीर्तिं स्मरसिन्धुघटोद्भवम् ।
नारसिंहार्चकं श्रीमन्नारसिंहयतिं भजे ॥
His fame is like the swelling Ganges-flood; Like Agastya He drinks the desire-sea; He does adore God Nrisimha daily; With love I worship Nrisimha the Saint !
It was during his period that the famous battle of Talikota was fought resulting in the disembering of the Vijayanagar Empire and in the feudatory chieftains claiming to be independent rulers.
Sri Nrisimha Bharati IV (1573 – 1576)
सारासारविवेकज्ञं मारकाननकुञ्जरम् ।
शूरं दाने च निरतं नारसिंहयतिं भजे ॥
His wisdom knows what is worth and what is not His will is a tusker that kills lust He is brave and magnanimous I adore with love, Nrisimha, the Saint of Saints!
The period of about two centuries and a half marks the relations of Sringeri with the Vijayanagar Empire during the years of its prosperity and subsequent decline. The Math acquired possessions outside Sringeri Samsthanam proper, enjoyed full rights over the mineral resources. It enjoyed the rights to cultivate supari (arecanut), grow sandal trees and create new plantations. It was exempted from royal customs and taxes and the requirement to supply labour for royal purposes. Subject to royal control, the authorities of the Samsthanam were empowered to enforce law and order within their jurisdiction. Properties of disciples, who died without heirs, were taken care of by the Samsthanam; imperial sanction was necessary only where the value of the property exceeded a certain limit. In the imperial capital, the Guru was shown all honours pertaining to royalty, including the Adda Pallakki (Palanquin). The blessed message that emanated from the lotus-like face of Sri Shankara Bhagavatpada got diversified a thousand-fold in the expositions of the Acharya who came after him, even as the Ganga stream gets variegated while flowing over different lands. It was the task of Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha and Sri Vidyaranya to link these variegated streams, and canalize them through several monastic establishments. And their successors added to the number of these monasteries, the heads of which were disciples of Acharyas of the Sringeri or derived inspiration and guidance from them. To these monasteries, as to Sringeri, flocked ascetics and scholars for contemplation, study and the elucidation of the truth of Advaita in its manifold aspects and refutation of the arguments of the rival schools. These Maths had also shrines and facilities for Annadana attached to them. It is no exaggeration to say that for spotless character, saintliness and depth of erudition, the Sringeri Jagadgurus commanded the highest esteem.
The Avani Math
According to tradition the Avani Math was founded by Sri Nrisimha Bharati Swami of Sringeri Math, while he was camping in Kolar, and placed in charge of one of the disciples. The head of the Math is known as Avani Sringeri Swami.
Sri Nrisimha Bharati V (1576 – 1600)
नृसिंहतां प्रयान्त्याशु यमाश्रित्य जना भुवि ।
नृसिंहभारतिं वन्दे द्विगुणोपपदं सदा ॥
Men of earth who take refuge in him Shall become lions of lofty virtues His holy feet I adore in full faith Hail Nrisimha Bharati the Saint!
The Acharya has written a work called Vaidika Nirnaya in which he has demonstrated that it is only Advaita that is in full conformity with the teachings of the Vedas.
Sri Abhinava Nrisimha Bharati (1600 – 1623)
तं सर्वभूताभयदं विभवैरन्वितं परम् ।
नारसिंहं गुरुं चापि नवं ज्ञानार्णवं भजे ॥
He removes fear from all the human minds He is majestic and magnanimous An ocean of spiritual knowledge Hail Abhinava Nrisimha Bharati!
An expert in mantrasastra, Sri Abhinava Nrisimha Bharati was an adept of a high order. A commentary on the Shiva Gita, that he wrote, is an outstanding work. He installed a linga named Rameshwara in 1602 at Rudrapada. He also founded an agrahara on the Paschimavahini and named it Narasimhapura after his Guru. When the Acharya visited the Malahanikeshwara temple and noticed the absence of any Ganesha image there, he painted with a piece of turmeric a figure of the God on one of the front pillars and worshipped it. Ever since, the outline of Ganesha on the pillar has been bulging out presenting a bas-relief, and has come to be known as Stambha Ganapati. The granite stone behind the idol now sounds hollow inside, while it is quite solid over the rest of the pillar.
The Shivaganga Math
The Acharya founded a Math in Shivaganga and placed one of his disciples, Sri Shankara Bharati in charge of it. Sri Shankara Bharati presided over the new Math till 1656 and the Math has since had an uninterrupted succession of Gurus.
Sri Sacchidananda Bharati I (1623 – 1663)
सत्यस्वरूपं सद्ज्ञाननिष्ठं साक्षाच्छिवं परम् ।
सदा दानरतं दान्तं सच्चिदानन्दमाश्रये ॥
Truth incarnate, firm in self-knowledge He is ever blissful like Supreme Shiva, Self-controlled, He delights in charity; Homage to Master Sacchidananda!
The Acharya was a native of Madura district and became a very sound Vedic scholar in boyhood. In his 16th year, he went to Sringeri where he was nominated as the 25th Acharya of the Peetham. Shortly after he assumed the headship of Peetham, the new Acharya visited Ikkeri on the invitation of Venkatappa Nayak. From there accompanied by the Nayak, he went to Kollur to worship Goddess Mookambika. No sooner did Virabhadra Nayak ascend the throne of Ikkeri, than Bhairava, chief of Kalasa, invaded his territory and captured a slice of it, which included Sringeri. In his cupidity, he committed the irrelevant act of ordering the Guru to come to his court and compelling him to yield the valuables of the Math. Nothing perturbed the Guru who went into meditation and refused to yield to aggression. Bhairava then went to Sringeri and plundered its wealth and on his way back defeated the Nayak forces that had come for the relief of the Guru. Thus emboldened, he again went to Sringeri, and when the Guru was about to leave the Math, relief came from Nayak. Bhairava came a third time to plunder the Math. Left with no help but the power of his tapasya, the Guru retired to his meditation, and saw in a vision the mysterious response of the deities in Sringeri, who appeared as bearing arms and attacking the invader. The Guru was soon informed that Bhairava had actually left the town. He celebrated the occasion by composing the poems, Ramachandra Mahodaya, Guru Stuti Satakam, Rama Bhujanga , Meenakshi Ashtakam and Meenakshi Satakam. Virabhadra Nayak, Sivappa Nayak, Bhadrappa Nayak, Hanumappa Nayak and the then rulers bestowed several grants to the Math during this period. On his return from a visit to Bednur, He built a shrine for Bhavani in the Malahanikareshwara temple and started several festivals including a ‘rathotsava’ (car festival) at the temple and also composed t. This festival is held even today following Maha Shivaratri in the benign presence of the Sringeri Jagadguru.
Sri Nrisimha Bharati VI (1663 – 1706)
महामेरुसमं धैर्ये माधुर्येऽप्यमृतोपमम् ।
ऊहापोहार्थ निष्णातं नरसिंहं गुरुं भजे ॥
His mighty courage is like that of the mount Meru, His tender heart is like the sweet nectar, He who is clear in the inner Truth of things I hail that holy Master Nrisimha!
Somasekhara Nayak (1664 – 1675) confirmed the grant of lands in Erehalli village to be utilised for the worship of Sri Chandramoulishwara. The Acharya visited Bednur at the request of Rani Channamaji (1671 – 1696). Her minister provided an ‘Utsava Murti’ (idol used in rathotsavas) for the Sri Sringeshwara temple in Kigga. The Rani instructed her officers not to collect duties on articles bought for the use of Math. Her successor Basavappa (1696-1714) issued orders to his officers directing them to help Sringeri authorities in their enquiries regarding ‘achara’ and in the collection of dues. The Acharya fed thousands of people during the great famine of Akshaya in 1686. The places he visited in his pilgrimage included Kollur, famous for the temple of Sri Mookambika, Gokarna and Kotishwara. He founded an agrahara which he named Sacchidananapura after his guru, and also installed a linga named Sacchidanandeshwara.