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Kalady’s Rediscoverer & Rediscovery – Part 4

Continued from previous part …

Sri Moolam Tirunal handed over the deed to the officials from Sringeri as an offering to the Mahaswamiji. The Maharaja also sanctioned a sum of Rupees ten-thousand for clearing the land and building a shrine there. The Mahaswamiji who came to know of this through the agent, Sri Srikantha Shastri was overjoyed, and hastened with the mammoth task. Sri A. Ramachandra Iyer of Mysore and Sri E.R. Subraya Iyer, a distinguished engineer who had also retired from Mysore Government service, were deputed to oversee Kalady activities like clearing the limits of the Kalady Sanketam and build the shrines for Adi Shankaracharya and Goddess Sharadamba.

The Mahaswamiji’s Vijaya Yatra towards Kalady

The Mahaswamiji received a divine signal from Goddess Sharadamba for undertaking the Vijaya Yatra towards Kalady. It brought Him additional firmness and enthusiasm. Commands were issued to make arrangements for the tours which were scheduled to start on Magha Shukla Panchami of the year of Paraabhava (March 1907).

On the selected day, the Mahaswamiji set out from His residence in Narasimhavana. After seeking the blessings of His Guru, went to the temple of Sri Sharada and after deeparadhana, performed his prostrations, recited verses in a voice choked with emotion. Traversing through many places in Mysore state and Madras presidency He reached the banks of the Tamraparni in Tirunelveli district. All through the Yatra, everyone having learnt that the Sringeri Mahaswamiji was on a journey to Kalady to consecrate the temple of Sri Shankara Bhagavatpada there considered it their duty to show their support and solidarity. Donations poured in from all quarters. After traversing through the southern tip of India touching Kutraalam and Kanyakumari, the Mahaswamiji reached Thiruvanantapuram, the capital of Travancore. Sri Moolam Tirunal, the Maharaja of Travancore, reverentially welcomed the Mahaswamiji. The Mahaswamiji stayed there for a while, blessed the royal family and then travelled towards Kalady.

Preparations for the Kumbhabhisheka

The consecration at Kalady was scheduled to take place in February 1910. In accordance with the Jagadguru’s instructions, two shrines, compact, strong and beautiful, were constructed. Both these temples stood on the north bank of the Poorna river facing south. To the east of the shrine of Sri Adi Shankaracharya, a shrine for Goddess Sharada had also been built. This temple housed the seven Matrika Devis in seven of the eight directions (other than south). The front door way, which faced south lead to the shrine of Sharadamba (Brahmi). Around the sanctum, the other Devis were placed so that the single structure accommodated the remaining shrines for Maheshwari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Indrani, and Chamunda.

As the Poorna river flows between high river banks, a beautiful and broad flight of thirty two steps made of granite slabs had been built at considerable expense to lead down to the river. To the east of the temples and outside of their enclosure, a building named “Sacchidananda Vilas” was built to serve as the residence for the Mahaswamiji. All the construction activities were completed under the supervision of Sri A. Ramachandra Iyer and Sri E.R. Subraya Iyer. The Sarvadhikari of the Peetham, Sri Srikantha Shastri was sent in advance to Kalady to make preparations for the Kumbhabhisheka ceremony.

Kalady then had no conveniences for accommodating large influx of devotees. There was no village nearby. Some three hundred workers from Kallidaikurichi in Tirunelveli district were engaged to setup the necessary infrastructure for the event. The allotted land was divided into plots and roads. On both the sides of the road six hundred cottages were built of bamboos and bamboo mats to provide lodgings for the visitors. All necessary amenities were provided inside these houses. About one hundred of the Mahaswamiji’s disciples had arrived in Kalady and held themselves in readiness to serve as volunteers.

Disciples of the Math shared the responsibility of setting up the boarding and lodging facilities. Reception centres were opened at the Railway station to provide conveyance for the participants. Volunteers were engaged to provide accommodation and amenities to the visitors.

The twelfth day of the bright half of Magha in the year Soumya (21st February, 1910), was fixed for the Kumbhabhisheka ceremony and invitations were sent to all the disciples of the Math and the Maharajas.

To be continued …

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