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Kalady’s Rediscoverer & Rediscovery – Part 1

A Profile of the Great Re-discoverer

Jagadguru Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharati Mahaswamiji, the 33rd Jagadguru in the unbroken chain of Acharyas of Sringeri Sri Sharada Peetham is hailed as the re-discoverer of Kalady.

Owing to a number of similarities between His life and the life of Sri Adi Shankaracharya, He was universally hailed as an Avatar of Sri Shankara. Just like the great philosopher saint, He too was initiated into Sannyasa by His Guru at the tender age of eight. A look at His biography would indicate that the incidents that occurred during His first meeting with His Guru and the first day of His Sannyasa were certainly a harbinger to the remarkable life that He was about to lead. Having ascended the Peetham as the 33rd Acharya in 1879, the Mahaswamiji spent the first few years in intense Tapas at Sringeri. The Mahaswamiji undertook three long Vijaya Yatras to foster Dharma in the minds of people. Just as Adi Shankaracharya, the Mahaswamiji during His Yatras consecrated many temples instituting the Vedic procedure for worship. Sringeri itself had a remarkable transformation during the time of the Mahaswamiji.

For giving a momentum to the study of Shastras, the Mahaswamiji instituted the annual gathering of Shastra scholars during the period of Chaturmasya. Termed the Mahaganapati Vakyartha Vidwat Sabha , the Sabha went on for twenty one days with scholars of Vedanta, Nyaya, Mimamsa and Vyakarana Shastras participating and deliberating on various topics. The Sabha took place under the august Presidentship of the Mahaswamiji, Himself an eminent scholar in Vedas and Shastras. Ever since, the Mahaganapati Vakyartha Vidwat Sabha has continued to be conducted in the presence of the presiding Jagadguru of Sringeri providing encouragement and guidance to scholars, young and old.

In 1895, the Mahaswamiji started at Sringeri a Pathashala under the name of ‘Sadvidya Sanjivini Samskrita Pathashala’. The Pathashala continues to flourish to this day under the constant care of the Jagadgurus of Sringeri and has been producing many scholars who have gone on to become the torch-bearers of Sanatana Dharma in the society.

The Acharyas of Sringeri had always been residing in the northern bank of the river Tunga close to the temple of Goddess Sharada. However, during the latter part of the last decade of the 19th century, the Mahaswamiji began to feel the need for a more secluded place for His tapas. He then chose to move to the river’s southern bank that was then a dense forest. A small portion of the area was cleared and the Mahaswamiji named it Narasimha Vanam in memory of His revered Guru. Ever since, Narasimha Vanam has come to be the permanent abode of the Acharyas of Sringeri.

The Mahaswamiji personally trained many students at Sringeri. Some of His illustrious disciples included Mahamahopadhyaya Sri Viroopaksha Shastri (who trained the Mahaswamiji’s successor in Vedanta and Nyaya Shastras), Sri Venkataraman who became the Shankaracharya of the Puri Peetham as Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha.

During the later years of His life, the Mahaswamiji initiated the renovation of temple of Goddess Sharada (the temple structure seen today is a result of this renovation). The Mahaswamiji also took a great step towards enhancing advanced studies in the Vedas and Shastras by establishing in the Sringeri Shankara Math at Bangalore, an advanced Pathashala called the Bharateeya Geervana Proudha Vidyabhivardhini Pathashala. Pupils were taught Purva Mimamsa and Uttara Mimamsa according to the ancient methods of imparting education. This Pathashala has produced hundreds of great scholars in the past century.

The Mahaswamiji was indeed an epitome of dispassion but emotions poured out of His heart when worshipping or beholding the various forms of the Divine. Melodious Sanskrit verses flowed as He stood transfixed before a deity, whether He was at Sringeri or touring the country on a Vijaya Yatra. The Mahaswamiji also penned a few short essays to convey the essence of Vedanta and the goal of human life. All his poetic compositions and works have been published under the title “Bhakti Sudha Tarangini”. His works, short and crisp, yet pregnant with Vedantic import and devotion, were in accordance to the needs of the times. They reflect His astounding nature as a great philosopher, scholar, poet, and a devotee par excellence just as Sri Adi Shankaracharya Himself.

While the Vedantic commentaries of Sri Adi Shankaracharya and some of His other works were well-known, there had been no comprehensive list of the complete works of the great philosopher. The Mahaswamiji also got published for the first time ever, the Complete Works of Adi Shankaracharya, titled the Shaankara Granthavali.

In spite of these achievements, the greatest gift of the Mahaswamiji to the world of Astikas is the rediscovery of the exact birthplace of Sri Adi Shankaracharya.

To be continued …

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