Preceptors of Advaita

by T. M. P. Mahadevan | 1968 | 179,170 words | ISBN-13: 9788185208510

The Advaita tradition traces its inspiration to God Himself — as Śrīman-Nārāyaṇa or as Sadā-Śiva. The supreme Lord revealed the wisdom of Advaita to Brahma, the Creator, who in turn imparted it to Vasiṣṭha....

60. The Sage of Kāñchī



T. M. P. Mahadevan
M.A., PH.D.


1. Introduction

Any one who has read the works of Śrī Śaṅkara would certainly want to know what sort of a person the great Master was. In all his extensive writings he nowhere makes any reference to himself. The only isolated passage where one could see an oblique reference relates, not to any detail in personal biography, but to the inwardly felt experience of the Impersonal Absolute. In this passage which occurs towards the end of the Brahma-sūtra-bhāṣya , he observes:

“How is it possible for another to deny the realization of Brahman -knowledge, experienced in one’s heart, while bearing a body?”[1]

The reference here is to the plenary experience of Brahman, even while living in a body (jīvan-mukti); and it is evident that the testimony offered here is from Śaṅkara’s own experience. The outlines of the story of Śaṅkara’s life could be gathered only from the Śaṅkara-vijayas and other narratives. Inspite of varying accounts in regard to some of the details, the image of the Master that one forms from these sources, taking into account also the grand teachings that are to be found in his own works, is that of a great spiritual leader, who renounced all wordly attachments even as a boy, who was a prodigy in scriptural lore and wisdom, who spent every moment of his life in the service of the masses of mankind by placing before them, through precept and practice, the ideal of the life divine, and who was a teacher of teachers, the universal guru. Even as such a magnificent image is being formed, the doubt may arise in the minds of many : Is it possible that such a great one walked this earth? Is it possible that in a single ascetic frame was compressed several millennia of the highest spiritual human history? This doubt is sure to be dispelled in the case of those who have had the good fortune of meeting His Holiness Jagadguru Śrī Chandra-śekharendra Sarasvatī, the Sixty-eighth in the hallowed line of succession of Śaṅkarāchāryas to adorn the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha of Kāñchī, Anyone who comes into the august presence of His Holiness cannot but recall to his mind the image of Ādi Śaṅkara, the immaculate sage who was divine and yet human, whose saving grace was universal in its sweep, and whose concern was for ail— even for the lowliest and the last. For sixty years Śrī Chandraśekharendra Śarasvatī has been fulfilling the noble spiritual mission entrusted by Ādi Śaṅkara to his successors bearing his holy name. Numerous are the ways in which he has given the lead for human upliftment through inner awakening. When one considers his life of ceaseless and untiring dedication to the task of stabilizing and promoting the renascent spirit of India so that humanity may be benefited thereby, one cannot but conclude that it is the unbounded Grace of Śaṅkara that has assumed this new form in order to move the world one step higher on the ladder to universal perfection.


2. Early Life

‘Chandraśekharendra Sarasvatī’ is the sannyāsa name given to Svāmināthan when he was barely thirteen. It was on the 20th of May, 1894, that Svāmināthan was born in Viluppuram (South Arcot District). His father, Subrahmaṇya Śāstrī, belonged to the Hoysala Karnāṭaka Smārṭa Brahmaṇa family which had migrated years earlier to the Tamil country and had settled in Choḷa-deśa. After passing the Matriculation Examination from the Government School, Kumbhakoṇam, taking the first place, Subrahmaṇya Śāstri served as a teacher for some time, and then entered the Educational Service. At the time of Svāmināthan’s birth, he was at Viḷuppuram. Svāmināthan’s mother, Mahālakṣmī, hailed from a family belonging to Icchaṅguḍi, a village near Tiruvaiyāru. An illustrious and saintly person connected with the family, Raja Govinda Dīkṣita of the sixteenth century, was minister to the first Nāyak King of Tañjāvūr; Dīkṣita popularly known as Ayyan, was responsible for many development projects in Choḷa-territory; his name is still associated with a tank, a canal, etc. (Ayyan Canal, Ayyan Kulam).

Svāmināthan was the second child of his parents. He was named Svāmināthan after the Deity of the family, the Lord Svāminātha of Svāmimalai, Two incidents relating to this early childhood period are recorded by the Āchārya himself in an article contributed to a symposium on What Life Has Taught Me.[2] This is how he has described these incidents:

“A ‘mara nāi’ as they call it in Tamil or teddy cat (an animal which generally climbs on trees and destroys t he fruits during nights) somehow got into a room in the house and thrust' its head into a small copper pot with a neck, which was kept in a sling and contained jaggery. The animal was not able to pull out its head and was running here and there in the room all through the night. People in the house and neighbours were aroused by the noise and thought that some thief was at his job. But, the incessant noise continued even till morning hours, and some bravados armed with sticks opened the door of the room and found the greedy animal. It was roped and tied to a pillar. Some experienced men were brought and after being engaged in a tug-of-war, they ultimately succeeded in removing the vessel from the head of the animal. The animal was struggling for life. It was at last removed to some spot to roam freely, I presume. The first experience of my life was this dreadful ocular demonstration born of greed causing all our neighbours to spend an anxious and sleepless night.

The next experience was a man in the street who entered into the house seeing me alone with tiny golden bangles upon which he began to lay his hands. I asked him to tighten the hooks of the bangles which had become loose and gave a peremptory and authoritative direction to him to bring them back repaired without delay. The man took my orders most obediently and took leave of me with the golden booty. In glee of having arranged for repairs to my ornament, I speeded to inform my people inside of the arrangement made by me with the man in the street who gave his name as Ponnusvāmi. The people inside hurried to the street to find out the culprit But the booty had become his property true to his assumed name, Ponnusami (master of gold)”

Reflecting on these experiences, the Āchārya observes with characteristic humility:

“I am prone to come to the conclusion that there lives none without predominantly selfish motives. But with years rolling on, an impression, that too a superficial one true to my nature, is dawning upon me that there breathe on this globe some souls firmly rooted in morals and ethics who live exclusively for others voluntarily forsaking not only their material gains and comforts but also their own sādhana towards their spiritual improvements”.


A significant incident occurred in the year 1899. Svāmināthan’s father was then serving as a teacher at a school in Porto-novo. He took the boy to Chidambaram for the Kumbhābhiṣekam of Ilaimaiyākkinār temple. Ilaimaiyākkinār it was that, according to a legend, gave salvation to Tirunīlakaṇthanāyanār, one of the sixty-three Śaiva saints whose biographies constitute the theme of Śekkilār’s Periyapurānam. The father and son reached Chidambaram one evening and stayed at the house of Śrī Venkatapati Aiyar, an Inspector of Schools. Svāmināthan was asked by his father to go to sleep after being assured that he would be woken up at night, and taken to the temple to see the procession and have the darśan of the Deity. Svāmināthan woke up only next morning, and felt that his father had disappointed him very much by not waking him up at night and taking him to the temple. He gave expression to his feeling of disappointment to his father. The latter consoled him saying that he himself had not gone to the temple, and added that it was very fortunate that none in the house had gone there. There was a fire accident that night at the temple and many of those who were inside the temple perished in that great fire. On the same night, Svāmināthan’s mother at Porto-novo had dreamt of the fire accident at the Chidambaram temple, and in the early hours of the next day she was very much perturbed imagining that danger might have befallen her husband and child. In a fit of frenzy she came out of the house only to be fold by her servant-maid that there had been a gruesome fire accident at the Chidambaram temple. She proceeded towards the railway station to enquire from the people who were returning from Chidambaram about her husband and her son. Her joy knew no bounds when she saw both of them coming out of the railway station. The agony she had experienced in her dream the previous night, and the providential manner in which the father and son were saved from the tragedy should have had some mysterious connection.

In the year 1900, Svāmināthan was in the first' standard in school at Chidambaram, Śrī M. Singaravelu Mudaliyār, the Assistant Inspector of Schools, visited the school on an inspection and discovered in t he boy the makings of a genius. He asked him to read the Longman’s English Reader prescribed for a higher standard; and Svāmināthan read it remarkably well. At his instance Svāmināthan was promoted to the third standard.

The upanayanam of the boy was performed in 1905 at Tinḍivanam to which place Subrahmanya Śāstri had been transferred. It is significant that the Sixty-sixth Śaṅkarāchārya of Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha, Śrī Chandraśekharendra Sarasvatī, who was at the time touring in South Arcot District, sent his blessings: and it was he that later on literally captivated the boy, and chose him as successor to the holy seat: and it is also significant that Svāmināthan came to bear the sannyāsa name of the Sixty-sixth Āchārya.

When Svāmināthan was ten years of age, he was admitted in the Second Form in the Arcot American Mission School, Tiṇḍi-vanam. The prodigy that the boy was, he gave an excellent record of himself at school. He used to carry away many prizes, including the one for proficiency in the Bible studies. The teachers of the school naturally took a great liking for Svāmināthan: they were proud of him and cited him to the other boys as a model student.

In 1906, when Svāmināthan was studying in the Fourth Form, the school was arranging for a dialogue from Shakespeare’s King John, The teachers who were responsible for fixing the participants in the dialogue could not' find a suitable candidate from the age-group fixed for taking on the role of Prince Arthur, the central character in the play. The Head-Master who knew Svāmināthan’s extraordinary talents sent for the boy who was only twelve then and assigned the role to him. After obtaining permission from his parents, Svāmināthan rehearsed his part for only two days, and acquitted himself remarkably well as Prince Arthur in the dialogue winning the appreciation of the entire audience: the acting was so perfect and the enunciation of Shakespeare’s classical English so accurate. One of Svāmināthan’s friends had lent’ him the attire of a prince and Svāmināthan really looked a prince. Many of the teachers went to Subrahmaṇya Śāstri’s house next day and expressed how greatly they were pleased with Svāmināthan’s superb performance.


3. Ascension to Sri Kamakoti Pitha

We have already referred to the Sixty-sixth Āchārya of Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha, Śrī Chandraśekharendra Sarasvatī. In 1900 he was camping in the village Perumukkal near Tiṇḍivanam and was observing the chāturmāsya-vrata there. Subrahmaṇya Śāstri went to that village along with his family to have the Āchārya’s darśana and receive his blessings. Svāmināthan saw His Holiness from a distance in a temple during the viśvarūpa-yātrā.

His Holiness the Sixty-sixth Āchārya had the Navarātrī Celebrations performed at Marakkanam village. After the Navarātrī he was camping at Sāram village situated on the Tiṇḍivanam-Madurantakam rail route. Svāmināthan went there with a friend without informing his parents. He offered his homage at the lotus-feet of His Holiness and requested his permission to leave. His Holiness insisted that Svāmināthan should stay there itself. Two pandits attached to the Maṭha also asked Svāmināthan to stay there. But Svāmināthan said that he had to attend school and that he had not informed his parents about his coming over to the Maṭha. Thereupon His Holiness gave him permission to leave. Svāmināthan left for Tiṇḍivanam in a cart belonging to the Maṭha. After Svāmināthan had left, His Holiness informed the two pandits of the Maṭha his keen desire to install Svāmināthan as his successor to t he glorious pontifical seat of Kāñchī.

His Holiness the Sixty-sixth Āchārya attained siddhi at Kalavai and Svāmirāthan’s maternal cousin was installed as the Sixty-seventh Āchārya. He was the only child of Svāmināthan’s mother’s sister. And, he had lost his father when he was quite young. He studied the Vedas at Chidambaram, staying in Svāmināthan’s family in the years 1900-1901. After that he was staying along with his mother in the Maṭha itself. When Svāmināthan’s parent’s received the news about his installation to the Pīṭha, Svāmināthan’s mother desired to see and console her sister whose only child had become an ascetic. The whole family planned to leave for Kalavai in a cart. But at the last minute, Svāmināthan’s father received a telegram from Tiruchi asking him to attend an Education Conference at Tiruchi. And so, before leaving for Tiruchi, he desired the members of his family not to go to Kalavai in the cart because it was not quite safe to travel


nearly fifty miles in a cart without proper escort; he asked them to go to Kāñchī by train and from there to Kalavai in a cart.

The epic journey to Kāñchī and Kalavai and the providential manner in which Svāmināthan came to be installed as the Head of the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha at a very tender age is recounted by the Āchārya himself in the article What Life Has Taught Me already referred to, in the following words:

“In the beginning of the year 1907, when I was studying in a Christian Mission School at Tiṇḍivanam, a town in the South Arcot District, I heard one day that the Śaṅkarāchārya of Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha who was amidst us in our town in the previous year, attained siddhi at Kalavai, a village about ten miles from Arcot and twenty-five miles from Kāñchīpuram. Information was received that a maternal cousin of mine who, after some study in the Ṛg Veda had joined the camp of the Āchārya offering his services to him, was installed on the Pīṭha.

He was the only son of the widowed and destitute sister of my mother and there was not a soul in the camp to console her. At this juncture, my father who was a supervisor of schools in the Tiṇḍivanam taluk, planned to proceed with his family to Kalavai, some sixty miles from Tiṇḍivanam in his own touring bullock cart. But on account of an educational conference at Trichinopoly he cancelled the programme.

My mother with myself and other children started for Kalavai to console her sister on her son assuming the sannyāsa āśrama. We travelled by rail to Kāñchīpuram and halted at the Śaṅkarāchārya Maṭha there. I had my ablution at the Kumara-koṣṭa-tīrtha. A carriage of the Maṭha had come there from Kalavai with persons to buy articles for the Mahā Pūjā on the 10th day after the passing away of the late Āchārya Paramaguru. But one of them, a hereditary maistry of the Maṭha asked me to accompany him. A separate cart was engaged for the rest of the family to follow me.

During our journey, the maistry hinted to me that I might not return home and that the rest of my life might have to be spent in the Maṭha itself! At first I thought that my elder cousin having become the Head of the Maṭha, it might have been his wish that I was to live with him. I was then only thirteen years of age and so I wondered as to what use I might be to him in the institution.

But the maistry gradually began to clarify as miles rolled on that the Āchārya my cousin in the pūrvāsrama, had fever which developed into delirium and that was why I was being separated from the family to be quickly taken to Kalavai. He told me that he was commissioned to go to Tiṇḍivanam itself and fetch me but he was able to meet me at Kāñchīpuram itself. I was stunned with this unexpected turn of events. I lay in a kneeling posture in the cart itself, shocked as I was, repeating RĀMA RĀMA, the only spiritual prayer I knew, during the rest of my journey.

My mother and the other children came some time later only to find that instead of her mission of consoling her sister, she herself was placed in the state of having to be consoled by someone else!”

Permission for installing Svāmināthan in the great pontifical seat of Kāñchī was obtained from his father through telegram and every arrangement was made as quickly as possible tor his installation. Svāmināthan ascended the Śrī Kāñchī Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha on the 13th of February, 1907, as the Sixty-eighth Āchārya, assuming the sannyāsa name ‘Chandraśekharendra Sarasvatī.’ His Holiness went in a procession to the siddhisthala and performed the mahā-pūjā of the Sixty-sixth Āchārya.

From Kalavai the new Āchārya proceeded to Kumbhakoṇam where the headquarters of the Maṭha were located. The transfer of the headquarters from Kāñchī to Kumbhakoṇam had been necessitated by the unsettled political conditions in Tonḍaimaṇḍalam in the eighteenth century during the time of the Sixty-second Āchārya. With the passage of time the responsibilities and the functions of the Maṭha increased. It is not a simple monastic institution. The Maṭha has to administer properties endowed for various religious and philanthropic purposes. The headship of such an organization, it is obvious, should be extremely difficult. The administration requires on the part of the Āchārya great spiritual power coupled with worldly wisdom, the ability to fill the status of the Jagadguru , as well as minute knowledge of men and matters. It is pertinent to mention here that the paternal grand-father of Svāmināthan, Gaṇapati Śāstrī, was closely connected with the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha as its manager (sarvādhikārī) for over fifty years from 1835 onwards. It was under his stewardship that permanent arrangements were made for adequate sources of income to meet the expenses of the Maṭha. The duties of the Maṭha had enormously increased since then. And, the new Āchārya lost no time in getting himself equipped for the tasks awaiting him. For this, he had first to go to the headquarters at Kumbhakoṇam.

Leaving Kalavai in the same year, i.e. 1907, the Āchārya went to Kumbhakoṇam after making a brief halt at Tiṇḍivanam. One could well imagine what a proud day it should have been for the people of Tiṇḍivanam when they received their own Svāmināthan as the new Āchārya of Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha. The town wore a festive appearance. The teachers of the American Mission School and the former school-fellows vied with one another in meeting the Āchārya and conversing with him. The Āchārya had a good word for every one, and spoke tenderly to each one of the teachers. After three days’ stay at Tiṇḍivanam, the Āchārya resumed the journey and reached Kumbhakoṇam in the month of Chitra in the year Plavaṅga.

The head of an Āchārya-Pīṭha is looked upon by the disciples as the spiritual ruler, and is invested with all the regalia associated with a king. The disciples of the Maṭha desired to celebrate the installation of the new Āchārya as the head of the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha with due ceremony. The installation was performed on a grand scale on Thursday the 9th of May 1907 at the Kumbhakoṇam Maṭha. Her Highness Jeejambabhai Saheb and Her Highness Ramakumarambha-bhai Saheb, queens of Shivaji of the ruling family of Tanjore sent all the regal paraphernalia for the coronation. The ceremonial abhiṣeka was performed with jasmine flowers. First, the representatives of the Bangāru Kāmākṣī, Kāmākṣī and Akhilāṇḍeśvarī temples performed the abhiṣeka. This was followed by the representatives of the princely family of Tanjore, of the various Zamindars, and of the several aristocratic families. Prominent scholars took an active part in the coronation. Seated on the throne of the Maṭha, the Āchārya blessed all the people assembled there. That night seated in the golden ambāri on the regal elephant, sent by the Tanjore ruling family, His Holiness went in a grand procession through the main streets of Kumbhakoṇam. Thus commenced the Āchārya’s spiritual rulership as the Jagadguru.


4. The First Tour of Victory (Vijaya-yatra)

Tours of victory (viiaya-yātrā) , in the present context, mean the journeys undertaken by the Āchārya to the different parts of the country to bless the people by his presence, to give them opportunities for participation in the daily pūjā performed to Śrī Chandramaulīśvara and Tripurasundarī (Parameśvara and Pārvatī), the presiding deities of the Maṭha, and to impart to them the light of spiritual knowledge and the guidelines for conduct. Wherever the Āchārya goes, the people of that place take the fullest advantage of his presence, celebrate the event as a great festival, listen to his soul-moving discourses in pindrop silence, and find in the very atmosphere a sense of exaltation.

The first tour undertaken by the new Āchārya was to Jambukeśvaram (Tiruvānaikkā) in 1908. It was here that Ādi Śaṅkara had adorned the Image of the Goddess Akhilāṇḍeśvarī with ear-ornaments (tāṭaṅka). In 1908 arrangements were made for the Kumbhābhiṣekam of the temple there, after it had been renovated. Our Āchārya was invited by the temple Sthānikas and the authorities to grace the occasion with his presence. The Kumbhābhiṣekam was performed with all solemnity and grandeur. Śrī Sachchidānanda Śivābhinava Narasiṃha Bhāratī, Śaṅkarāchārya of Śṛṅgeri, visited the Temple a day after the Kumbhabhiṣekam was performed. Śrī Subrahmanya Bhāratī, Śaṅkarāchārya of Śivagaṅga, visited the shrine a few months later.

From Jambukeśvaram, our Āchārya proceeded to Ilaiyāttaṅkuḍi in Rāmanāthapuram District, the place where the Sixty-fifth Āchārya of the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha, Śrī Mahādevendra Sarasvatī, had attained siddhi. On the way, he visited Pudukkoṭṭai, and stayed there for some days. At Ilaiyāttaṅkuḍi he offered his homage to his illustrious predecessor at the Adhiṣṭhānam. From there he returned to Jambukeśvaram for his chāturmāsya. At the end of the period, he went back to Kumbhakoṇam after a brief halt at Tañjāvūr. 1909 was the Mahāmakha year at Kumbhakoṇam — an event which occurs every twelfth year. The Maṭha did its part in playing host to the pilgrims. On the day of the festival, it was a feast for the eyes to see the Āchārya go for the ceremonial bath in the Mahāmakha tank. In a grand procession he went, seated in an ambāri on the back of an elephant.


5. Study and Training

Our Āchārya was only fifteen years old in 1909. For two years, the learned paṇḍitas of the Maṭha imparted to him instruction in Samskrit classics at Kumbhakoṇam itself. The management of the Maṭha felt that a less congested place than Kumbhakoṇam — a place which would not be frequented by visiting crowds — would be more suitable for study. Mahendramangalam, a quiet village on the northern bank of the Akhaṇḍa Kāverī, was selected for the purpose; a parṇaśālā was put up near the edge of the river. From 1911 to 1914, the Āchārya stayed there studying and receiving the requisite training. It was a strange relation between the teachers and the taught. The teachers were the disciples of the Maṭha. The Āchārya showed the utmost consideration for and respect to the teachers who were entrusted with his training; they too were conscious of the unique honour that was theirs.

Whenever experts in and exponents of musicology met him, he sought to improve his knowledge of this science and art through conversations with them. He used to snatch time to visit the nearby islands in the Kāverī to marvel at the natural scenery. Photographers sometimes took photographs of the natural surroundings. The Āchārya evinced interest in the photographic art. Some of the other areas of study of which he gained intimate knowledge are mathematics and astronomy.

In 1914 the Āchārya returned to the Maṭha at Kumbhakoṇam. He was twenty then. He had acquired by then encyclopaedic knowledge. Whenever scholars went to him, he used to put searching questions relating to their respective fields of study, and thereby gain a lot of information. When he was studying in Kumbhakoṇam, he made it a point to pay an annual visit to Gaṅgaikoṇḍa-choḻa-puram, and study the inscriptions to be found there and the niceties of temple-architecture. Thus, in a variety of ways the Āchārya equipped himself with the all-round knowledge and ability required for fulfilling the obligations of the leadership of the Kāmakōṭi Pīṭha.

Since the Āchārya had not reached the age of majority, the Maṭha was managed under the direction of the Court of Wards from 1911 to 1915. When the Āchārya completed twenty-one years of age in May 1915, he took over the management of the Maṭha under his direct supervision. But the actual execution of the affairs of the Maṭha was by duly appointed officers and agents. Even in the papers granting power of attorney to the agents, the Āchārya would not sign—this is in accordance with custom and usage. Only the official seal of the Maṭha would be affixed.

The Śaṅkara Jayantī Celebrations that year were performed on a grand scale. A new journal ‘Arya-dharma’ commenced its publication under the auspices of the Maṭha. In October 1916, the Navarātrī festival was observed at the Maṭha with a new fervour. The poet Subrahmanya Bhāratī wrote in one of his essays praising, in the highest of terms, the manner in which the festival was conducted in the Maṭha. This is the annual festival at which worship is offered to the World-Mother in Her triple manifestations—as Durgā, Lakṣmī, and Sarasvatī. Learned paṇḍitas came from all over the country to participate in the sadas . The foremost exponents of music gave concerts in the presence of the Āchārya. At the conclusion of the festival on the night of the tenth day, the Āchārya went round the town at the head of a huge and colourful procession.

Some of the very first measures taken by the Āchārya for the promotion of classical learning and of social welfare yielded rich results and marked only the beginning of many more to come. Distinguished scholars were honoured by the award of titles such as ‘śāstraratnākara’. Essay-competitions were held for college students on subjects relating to our dharma. Free studentships were instituted for the benefit of deserving students in schools and colleges. A free Ayurvedic dispensary was started in the Maṭha. During the Āchārya’s stay in Kumbhakoṇam from 1914 to 1918, almost every evening there were learned assemblies or music concerts. Paṇḍitas and śaṅgīta-vidvāns yearned for the Guru’s grace. Even professors, scientists, engineers, and administrators went to him for guidance and encouragement. The followers of the other faiths found in the Āchārya a deep understanding of their respective doctrines and profound appreciation of every type and grade of spiritual endeavour. Everyone who came into contact with the Āchārya recognized in him the Jagadguru.


6. All-India Tour (1919-1939)

The Āchārya’s great tour of our sacred land commenced in March 1919. It was a long and strenuous tour; but it was supremely worthwhile because of the opportunities it gave to people all over the country to meet the Āchārya and receive his blessing. The Āchārya never uses any of the modem modes of transport. He mostly walks, and accepts the use of a palanquin only when it is absolutely necessary. An entourage accompanies him, consisting of the officials of the Maṭha, paṇḍitas, vaidikas, servants, and animals such as cows, elephants, etc. Wherever the Āchārya camps, lots of devotees gather and stay at the camp as long as they can in order to derive the utmost advantage from the Holy Presence. Besides the daily anuṣṭhāna and pūjā, meeting the devotees, receiving visitors, giving instructions to the people concerned for the conduct of the affairs of the Maṭha and of the manv religious and welfare organizations occupy the Āchārya’s time each day. He hardly gets two or three hours of rest out of twenty-four. With frugal diet taken in between fasting days, and with so much of pressing work day after day, it is a marvel how the Āchārya meets the demands on his time and attention with absolute serenity and with perfect poise. No one will fail to nofe that the ideal of the sthita-prajña (the sage who has gained s t eady wisdom) has become actual in the soul-elevating person of the Āchārya.

The long pilgrimage began, as we have seen, in March 1919. During the first three years, the Āchārya visited all the places of pilgrimage—even remote and out of the way villages—in the Tañjāvūr District, the District in which Kumbhakoṇam is situated. The chāturmāsya in 1919 was in Veppattūr village at a distance of five miles to the east of Kumbhakoṇam. During the chāturmāsya, the sannyāsins are to stay at one place so that no harm may be caused to insects and other creatures by treading on them when they come out of the ground in the rainy reason. The sannyāsins camp at one place for four fortnights (pakṣas); this observance starts on the full-moon day in the month of Āṣāḍha which is dedicated to the worship of the sage Vyāsa, the author of the Brahma-sūtra. The day affords an occasion to the devotees to visit the Āchārya’s camp and offer to him their obeisance.

In 1920, on the most auspicious occasion of the mahodaya, the Āchārya took the ceremonial bath in the sea at Vedāraṇyam. The Vyāsapujā and chāturmāsya that year were observed in Māyavaram. One day, during the Āchārya’s stay at this place, a blind old Muslim gentleman wanted to meet the Āchārya. When the permission was given, the old Muslim’s joy knew no bounds. At the command of the Āchārya, he expounded the essential principles of Islam to the assembled audience. And, before taking leave he said that in the person of the Āchārya he found God Himself.

In 1921, there was the Mahāmakham festival in Kumbhakoṇam. The Āchārya who was touring in the neighbourhood went to Kumbhakoṇam on the festival day, but not to the Maṭha, for according to rule he could return to the Maṭha only after completing the vijaya-yātrā. A number of Congress volunteers helped in the orderly conduct of the festival. There was a contingent of Khilafat volunteers also. They went to Paṭṭīśvaram to pay their respects to His Holiness. The Āchārya spoke in appreciative terms about their services and blessed them. One of the leading nationalists of the day, Subrahmaṇyaśiva, met the Āchārya at his Paṭṭīśvaram camp, and asked for his benediction for the liberation of the Motherland from foreign rule and for the spread of devotion to God among the people. The Āchārya readily gave his benediction and said that those laudable objectives would be fulfilled. It may be mentioned here that right from the year 1918 when the Khādi movement came into prominence, the Āchārya has been wearing Khādi.

During this tour of the Tañjāvūr District, the Āchārya was one day going from one village to another, when he saw about two hundred Harijans waiting for his darśana, after having bathed, putting on clean clothes and wearing vibhūti on their foreheads. The Āchārya spent sometime with them, made kind enquiries about their welfare, and gave them new clothes. Similar events have occurred very often during the Āchārya’s journeys. His concern for the poor is great and unlimited, and he never fails to exhort the better-placed sections of society to go to their succour, and asks the Maṭha to set an example in this direction. The Āchārya visited Rāmeśvaram and collected a small quantity of sand for consigning it later on in the waters of the Gaṅgā, which act. is symbolic of the spiritual unity of India.

After touring in the districts of Rāmanāthapuram, Madurai, and Tirunelvēli, the Āchārya went to Jambukeśvaram. This time it was for the tāṭaṅka-pratiṣṭhā. Mention has been made of the Āchārya’s earlier visit to this sacred place in 1908, and of the fact that the Image of Akhilāṇḍeśvarī bears the tāṛaṅkas consecrated by Ādi Śaṅkara. In those early times, according t o legend, the Image was manifesting the Goddess’s fierce aspect. Śaṅkara changed this stale of affairs and enabled the beneficent aspect to express itself by adorning the Image with a pair of ear-ornaments (tiāṭaṅkas) made in the shape of Śrī-chakra. When the ornaments fall into disrepair periodically, they are set right and refixed. This task is the sacred responsibility of the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha; and it is the Head of the Pīṭha that has the ornaments re-fixed. In 1846, the then Āchārya of the Pīṭha had this ceremony performed. Now, again, in 1923, arrangements were made for the refixing of the tāṭaṅkas. Our Āchārya went to Jambukeśvaram for participation in this function. It was a great occasion for devotees to gather and pay their homage. Every detail of the ceremony was attended to with meticulous care. Opportunity was availed of for declaring open the renovated Maṭha of the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha there. A Veda-pāṭhaśālā and centre for scriptural learning started functioning at the Maṭha. It is interesting to note that the late Sir M. Viśveśvarayya of Mysore said at a meeting in Tiruchi when he visited that town in 1923, that it was at the Kāmakoṭi Maṭha in Jambukeśvaram that he had his upanayanam performed.

After the tāṭaṅka-praṭiṣṭhā ceremony, the Āchārya resumed his journey. One of the places he immediately visited was Nerūr where the Adhiṣṭhāna of Sadāśiva-brahmendra is situated. Born in Tiruvisainallūr near Kumbhakoṇam, Sadāśiva-brahmendra soon became a jīvanmukta, roamed about on the banks of the Kāverī as an avadhūta, and showered his blessings on several people of his time, Śrī Paramaśivendra Sarasvatī was his vidyā-guru. Sadāśiva has written many Advaita works, and has also composed devotion-filled kīrtanas. Our Āchārya spent several hours each day in the Adhiṣṭhāna of Sadāśiva-brahmendra during the time he spent in Nerūr, quietly contemplating on the many benefits that had accrued as a result of Sadāśiva-brahmendra’s exemplary life and precious teachings.

After Nerūr, the Āchārya was camping in the village Kuḻumaṇi near Tiruchi. One day, a prominent gentleman of Tiruchi, Sri F. G. Natesa Aiyar, who had himself lived twenty years of his life earlier as a convert to Christianity, brought along with him a young man form Kerala who had gone to Tiruchi with the intention of getting himself converted to the Christian faith. The Āchārya engaged the young man in conversation on that day as well as on the subsequent few days. He explained to the youth the essentials of Hindu-dharma. It was all-comprehensive; the spiritual paths taught in the other religions were all to be found in Hinduism. It had its own additional advantages. There was no reason whatsoever for any one to leave Hinduism and embrace any other faith. The young man from Kerala was thoroughly convinced of the excellence of the faith he was born in; and he went back home revoking his earlier resolve.

The Āchārya’s visit to different places in Cheṭṭināḍu and Pudukkoṭṭai State lasted about a year. During this period, many paṇḍitas, political workers, and nationalist leaders met the Āchārya and received his blessings. In 1925, Dr U. V. Swāminātha Aiyar, the world-renowned scholar in Tamil, was awarded the title ‘Dākṣiṇātya-kalānidhi’. In those days whenever he happened to be near the camp, he would witness the pūjā performed by the Āchārya. Recalling an earlier experience of his, he said once,

“When I was eighteen years old, I met the Sixty-fifth Āchārya, Śrī Mahādevendra Sarasvatī and watched his unique Śiva-pūjā. It is the same experience I am now having again”.

During the Āchārya’s Cheṭṭināḍu visit, a great Śiva-bhakta, Vaināgaram Rāmanāthan Cheṭṭiyār similarly enjoyed attending the pūjā , and meeting the Āchārya. The people of Cheṭṭināḍu organised a grand procession at Kaḍiyāpaṭṭī. During the procession the Āchārya looked out for Rāmanāthan Cheṭṭiyār, but he could not be seen. At the conclusion of the procession, the Āchārya enquired as to where Cheṭṭiyār was. Cheṭṭiyār who was standing at a distance in the crowd responded. Asked as to why he was not to be found in the procession, he replied with great elation that he had had the privilege that night of being one of the Āchārya’s palanquin-bearers. Another eminent scholar who was honoured by the Āchārya during his sojourn in Cheṭṭināḍu was Śrī Paṇḍitamaṇi M. Kadireśan Cheṭṭiyār who was proficient in both Tamil and Samskrit. The Āchārya and Paṇḍitamaṇi exchanged views about the ancient classical Tamil texts as also about the measures that were needed for promoting the study of Tamil and Samskrit.

Among the politicians and nationalist leaders who met the Āchārya during this period were: Śrī C. R. Dās, along with Sri S. Satyamurti and Sri A. Rangaswami Aiyangar, and Sri Jamnalal Bajaj along with Sri C. Rajagopalachan, and others. The latter group met the Āchārya in 1926 at Jambukeśvaram. Sri C. Rajagopalachari was staying out, sending in Śrī Jamnalal Bajaj. The Āchārya sent for Sri C. Rajagopalachari and asked him why he had not come in. When the latter replied that the reason was that he had not bathed that day, the Āchārya told him that those who were engaged in national work might no t find the necessary time for daily bath, etc., and that Sri C. Rajagopalachari who had dedicated his life for the service of the nation could meet him at any time, and in any condition. The Āchārya made it clear to the politicians and political leaders that he, as a sannyāsin, would not identify himself with party politics of any brand; but he was free to ask them all to keep the good of the people always at heart and to work towards its achievement, and also to do all they could to strengthen faith in God.

An incident which occurred in 1926 deserves special mention. The Āchārya was proceeding to Paṭṭukkoṭṭai from Karambakkuḍi. Among the people who saw the Āchārya off at the latter place there were some Muslims also. One of the Muslims followed the party, touching the palanquin with his hands as a mark of respect. After about three miles of the journey, the Āchārya stopped, and called for the Muslim gentleman and made kind enquiries. The Muslim placed before the Āchārya some personal matters for his advice and guidance, and then offered some verses of praise he had composed along with flowers and fruit. At the command of the Āchārya, the Muslim read out those verses and explained their meaning also. When taking leave he expressed his joy in these words :

“To my eyes the Āchārya appears as the embodiment of Allah Himself. The Āchārya’s darśana is enough for a man who wants to get liberation from worldly bondage.”

In July 1926, the Āchārya went to Uḍaiyārpālaiyam, a Zamindāri closely associated with the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha. When the transfer of the headquarters of the Maṭha from Kānchī to Kumbhakoṇam was being made in the eighteenth century, the then chief of the Zamindārī had rendered all assistance to the Sixty-second Āchārya. Since that time the ruling family had been closely associated with Kāñchī and Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha. Hence, it was a great occasion for Uḍaiyārpālaiyam when our Āchārya visited it in 1926. The Zamindar, his family, and the people accorded to the Āchārya a magnificent reception, and valuable presents were made to the Maṭha to mark the occasion.

When the Āchārya was camping at Tiruppādirippuliyūr, an old lady who was a scholar in Tamil, and national worker came for his darśana. Achalāmbikai was her name. She had composed a narrative poem on the life of Mahātmā Gāndhi. She had known the Āchārya as a child in his pūrvāśrama; and had also studied under the Āchārya’s father. Tears of joy streamed from her eyes when she now beheld the son of her teacher shine as the Jagadguru.

There is a place called Vaḍavāmbalam on the northern bank of South Peṇṇār where a Pūrva Āchārya of the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha had his samādhi. At our Āchārya’s wish the samādhi which had been obliterated was reconstructed, and arrangements were made for regular worship there.

At Pondicherry, the officials of the French Government and the people gave the Āchārya a royal welcome. During his stay there, the shocking news of the destruction of the famous temple-car at Tiruvārūr as a result of incendiarism arrived. The āstikas of the district of Tañjāvūr rose as one man and resolved to build a new car. The Āchārya blessed the effort; and through his blessing a new car equalling the old in magnificence was built in two years’ time. One Eḻulūr Subbarāya Vādhyār took a leading part in this laudable effort. Later on, he became a sannyāsin bearing the name ‘Śrī Nārāyaṇa Brahmānanda’; even as a sannyāsin he did great service in renovating old temples and performing kumbhābhi-shekams.

In March 1927, the Āchārya went to Salem and toured in the district. At Erode, a Muslim gentleman offered a few verses in Samskrit which he had composed in praise of the Āchārya. The letters of the verses were written in small squares which together formed the figure of the Śiva-liṅga. In the presence of the Āchārya, the Muslim scholar read out the verses and explained their meaning. When the Āchārya asked him as to how he had mastered the language to such an extent as to be able to compose verses, he replied that his forbears were scholars in Samskrit, and that he himself had studied the language under his own father. The Āchārya complimented him on the proficiency he had attained in Samskrit and advised him to keep up his studies.

After visiting Coimbatore in April 1927, the Āchārya, arrived in Pālghāṭ in the first week of May. Kerala which had given birth to Ādi Śaṅkara was now jubilant at the visit of an illustrious successor in whose life and mission the greatness of the Ādi-Guru was luminously reflected. The Āchārya spoke to the śiṣyas in Malayālam. The people who listened to him mistook him for a Keralīya. It was during the Āchārya’s Pālghāṭ visit that Śrī T. M. Kṛṣṇaswami Aiyar, a leading Advocate of Madras who later served as Chief Judge of Travancore, met the Guru with a party of devotees and conducted Tiruppugaḻ Bhajana. The Āchārya was greatly pleased with the devotion and the music, and blessed the leader by conferring on him the title Tiruppugaḻ-maṇi’.

In the latter half of 1927, Mahātmā Gāndhi was touring the South. He had heard about the Sage of Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha, and wanted very much to meet him. The meeting took place at Nallicheri in Pālghāt They met in a cattle-shed in the Āchārya’s camp. It was a unique experience for the Mahātmā. Here was an authentic successor of Ādi Śaṅkara, dressed in a piece of ochre cloth made of Khādi, and seated on the floor. The Āchārya too appreciated the occasion provided for getting to know at first hand the leader of the nation who had adopted voluntarily the mode of a simple peasant’s life. The Āchārya conversed in Samskrit, and the Mahātmā in Hindi. The conversation took place in a most cordial atmosphere. On taking leave of the Āchārya, the Mahātmā gave expression to the immense benefit he had derived from this unique meeting. How profoundly he was drawn to the Āchārya will be evident from a small incident that occurred during the interview. It was 5-30 in the evening. Śrī C. Rajagopalachari went inside the cattle-shed and reminded the Mahātmā about his evening meal; for the Mahātmā would not take any food after 6 O’clock. The Mahātmā made this significant observation to Śrī C. Rajagopalachari:

“The conversation I am having now with the Āchārya is itself my evening meal for to-day.”

The Āchārya visited several places in Kerala, including Guruvāyūr, Tiruchūr, Ernākulam, Quilon, and Trivandrum. The States of Cochin and Travancore accorded to the Āchārya the highest veneration. At Allepy the Āchārya paid a visit to the Śrī Chandraśekharendra Pāṭhaśālā, and blessed the pupils of the school. At Cape Comorin, he worshipped at the Kanyā Kumārī temple after a bath in the confluence of the seas. After completing the Kerala tour, he proceeded northwards again. At Madurai, Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru of Allahabad met the Āchārya and sought his blessings for the effort he was making to convene an All Parties’ Conference, in order to impress on the British Government that it should not ignore the demands of the nationalist forces. The Āchārya told Sir Sapru that the urgent need in India was for achieving the good of the people through peaceful means, and that any effort in that direction had his good wishes.

In February 1929. the Āchārya began his tour of the South Arcot District. The chāturmāsya, that year was observed in Maṇalūrpeṭṭai. For about a month the Āchārya was having fever. In utter neglect of the state of his body, he performed the daily worship, taking his usual bath. In due course the fever left, relieving the devotees of their great anxiety.

During the present tour, the Āchārya was passing through Taṇḍalam village. A cowherd of that place wanted to sell his small holding and give the proceeds as his offering to the Āchārya. The Āchārya dissuaded him from doing so; but the devotee would not go back on his resolve. He actually sold his piece of land to a rich man of the place and made his heart-offering to the Āchārya. The Āchārya, however, did not like that the cowherd should become a destitute. He, therefore, arranged through the local Tahsildar for the allotment of sufficient piece of puramboke land to the cowherd.

In December 1929, the Āchārya went to Tiruvaṇṇāmalai for the Dīpam festival. Tiruvaṇṇāmalai is one of the most sacred places of pilgrimage. The holy hill Aruṇāchala is itself worshipped as a Śiva-liṅga. According to Purāṇa it was here that the Lord Śiva appeared as a column of light whose top and bottom Brahmā and Viṣṇu could not discover. And, it was here that Pārvatī acquired half of Śiva’s body and as a consequence the Lord became Ardhanārīśvara. Saint Aruṇagirināthar had his vision of Subrahmaṇva here, and became the bard who sang the Tiruppugaḻ. The samādhi of Iḍaikkāṭṭu Siddhar is said to be within the precincts of the great temple of Aruṇāchaleśvara. In our own time Tiruvaṇṇāmalai became the hallowed residence of Śrī Ramaṇa Maharṣi. Once a year on the full-moon day in the month of Kṛttikā, iust at sun-down, a beacon is lit at the top of the sacred hill signifying that Śiva is worshipped at Tiruvaṇṇāmalai in the form of light and fire. This is known as the Dipam festival. Our Āchārya visited the sacred place during this festival in 1929, staying there for about a month, walking round the hill several times, and worshipping at the temple.

The next place of importance to be visited was Aḍaiyapalam near Āraṇi. It was here that the famous Appaya Dīkṣita had lived about four centuries earlier. Dīkṣita was a great Advaitin as well as an ardent Śaiva. He was a polymath who wrote several classical works. The Āchārya reminded the people of Aḍaiyapalam of the great service rendered by Dīkṣita to Advaita and Śaivism, and asked them to observe the birth-anniversary of this eminent teacher and to arrange for popularising his works.

In December 1930, at Tirukkaḻukkunṟam (Pakṣitīrtham), an address of welcome was presented to the Āchārya on behalf of the All-India Sādhu Mahāsaṅgham. The address referred in glowing terms to the invaluable service that the Āchārya was doing to Hindu dharma and society, both through precept and practice, following faithfully the grand tradition of Ādi Śaṅkara. In January 1931, the town of Chingleput had the privilege of receiving the Āchārya — the privilege to which the people of the town had been looking forward for a long time.

A notable event that look place during the Āchārya’s sojourn in Chingleput was the visit of Mr Paul Brunton, a noted British writer, journalist, and spiritual seeker. Mr Brunton was on an extensive tour of India looking out for contacts with mystics, yogins, and spiritual leaders. It was the desire for A Search in Secret India[3] that had brought him to this country from far off England. While in Madras, he met Śrī K. S. Venkataramani, the talented author in English of essays and novels on village life. It was Śrī Venkataramani that took Mr Brunton to Chingleput for an interview with the Āchārya. Through his personal representation to the Āchārya, he succeeded in securing for the English visitor an audience with the Āchārya. The beatific face and the glowing eyes of the Sage produced at once an experience of exaltation in the visiting aspirant. Mr Brunton looked at the Achārya in silence, and was struck with what he saw. Referring to this memorable meeting, he wrote later in his book,

“His noble face, pictured in grey and brown, takes an honoured place in the long portrait gallery of my memory. That elusive element which the French aptly term spirituel is present in his face. His expression is modest and mild, the large dark eyes being extraordinarily tranquil and beautiful. The nose is short, straight and classically regular. There is a rugged little beard on his chin, and the gravity of his mouth is most noticeable. Such a face might have belonged to one of the saints who graced the Christian Church during the Middle Ages, except that this one possesses the added quality of intellectuality. I suppose we of the practical West would say that he has the eyes of a dreamer. Somehow, I feel in an inexplicable way that there is something more than mere dreams behind those heavy lids.”[4]

Mr Brunton put to the Āchārya questions about the world, the improvement of its political and economic conditions, disarmament, etc. In his own characteristic way, the Āchārya probed behind the questions and explained how the inward transformation of man was the pre-condition of a better world.

“If you scrap your battleships and let your cannons rust, that will not stop war. People will continue to fight, even if they have to use sticks!”

“Nothing but spiritual understanding between one nation and another, and between rich and poor, will produce goodwill and thus bring real peace and prosperity”

The Indian attitude towards life and the world, according to the critics, is one of pessimism. But that this view is utterly wrong is borne out by the answer which the Āchārya gave to one of Mr Brunton’s questions.

Mr Brunton:

“Is it your opinion, then, that men are becoming more degraded?”.

The Āchārya:

“No, I do not think so. There is an indwelling divine soul in man which, in the end, must bring him back to God. Do not blame people so much as the environments into which they are born. Their surroundings and circumstances force them to become worse than they really are. That is true of both the East and West. Society must be brought’ into tune with a higher note.”

Mr Brunton does not fail to make a note of the universalistic and catholic vision of the Āchārya. “I am quick to notice,” he writes, “that Shri Shankara does not decry the West in order to exalt the East, as so many in his land do. He admits that each half of the globe possesses its own set of virtues and vices, and that in this way they are roughly equal! He hopes that a wiser generation will fuse the best points of Asiatic and European civilizations into a higher and balanced social scheme.”

Adverting to the purpose for which he had come to India, Mr Brunton asked if the Āchārya would recommend anyone who could serve as his spiritual preceptor, or if the Āchārya himslef would be his guide.

“I am at the head of a public institution”, said the Āchārya,

“a man whose time no longer belongs to himself. My activities demand almost all my time. For years I have spent only three hours in sleep each night. How can I take personal pupils? You must find a master who devotes his time to them,”

It was as directed by the Āchārya that Mr Brunton went to Tiruvaṇṇāmalai and found the Master he had been in quest of, in Śrī Ramaṇa Maharshi. Already a devotee of the Maharshi had told Mr Brunton in Madras about the Sage of Aruṇāchala. Mr Brunton was not keen then, because he thought that the Maharshi might turn out to be another Yogi like the ones he had met earlier in this country. But now, it was different. The Āchārya himself had asked him not to leave South India before he had met the Maharṣi,

After the interview at Chingleput, Mr Brunton returned lo his residence in Madras. That night he saw the Āchārya in a vision. There was a sudden awakening. The room was totally dark. He became conscious of some bright object. He immediately sat up and looked straight at it. This is what he writes:

“My astounded gaze meets the face and form of His Holiness Shri Shankara. It is clearly and unmistakably visible. He does not appear to be some ethereal ghost, but rather a solid human being. There is a mysterious luminosity around the figure which separates it from the surrounding darkness.

“Surely the vision is an impossible one? Have I not left him at Chingleput? I dose my eyes tightly in an effort to test the matter. There is no difference and I still see him quite plainly!

“Let it suffice that 1 receive the sense of a benign and friendly presence. I open my eyes and regard the kindly figure in the loose yellow robe.

The face alters, for the lips smile and seem to say:

“Be humble and then you shall find what you seek!”

“The vision disappears as mysteriously as it has come. It leaves one feeling exalted, happy and unperturbed by its supernormal nature. Shall I dismiss it as a dream? What matters it?"[5]

From Chingleput, the Āchārya went to Kāñchī, the seat of the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha. This was his first visit after he had assumed the headship of the Pīṭha. The ceremonial entry into the holy city was made on Sunday the 25th of January, 1931. The city wore a festive appearance that day, the citizens offered to the Āchārya a reverential and enthusiastic welcome. Kāñchī is the city of temples par excellence. The temple of Śrī Kāmākṣī occupies the central place. Ādi Śaṅkara installed the Śrī Chakra in this temple. In the inner prākāra, there is a shrine for Śaṅkara with a life-size image. Tradition has it that he ascended the Sarvajña Pīṭha and attained siddhi in Kāñchī. There are sculptured representations of Śaṅkara in many of the temples including those of Śrī Ekāmreśvara and Śrī Varadarāja. For several centuries past the management of the Kāmākṣī temple was being carried on under the general supervision of the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha. In 1840 the Sixty-fourth Āchārya, Śrī Chandraśekharendra Sarasvatī, performed the kumbhābhiṣekam. The very next year, the British Government in India arranged for the taking over of the direct management of the Temple by the Maṭha itself. During our Āchārya’s stay in Kāñchī in 1931, he made arrangements for the renovation of the temple and for the proper and regular conduct of the daily worship.

Leaving Kāñchī towards the end of April 1931, the Āchārya visited Uttiramērūr which is a place of historical importance as there are inscriptions there regarding the ancient democratic institutions. Another great place in Chingleput district to which the Āchārya went was Śrīperumbūdūr, the birth-place of Śrī Rāmānu-jāchāryā. In a discourse which he gave at the Śrī Ādikesava Perumāḷ Temple, he explained the significance of the verse in Puṣpadanta’s Śiva-mahimna-stotra in which the various religious paths are compared to the different rivers joining the same ocean and the differences in approach to God are attributed to the differences in taste.

The chāturmāsya in 1931 was in Chittoor. After that the tour was resumed. While the Āchārya was camping in Āraṇi, a party of about two hundred volunteers of the Indian National Congress wanted to have his darśana . Those were the peak days of the struggle for freedom. The British Government would come down upon anyone who showed any hospitality to the volunteers. Therefore, the officials of the Maṭha were hesitant in the matter of receiving the volunteers. When the Āchārya was informed of the intention of the volunteers, he immediately asked the officials to admit them and arrange for their hospitality. He made individual enquiries of the members of the party and gave to each one of them vibhūti-prasāda.

In March 1932, the Āchārya went to Kālahasti for the Maha-Śiva-rātrī. During his stay there, he walked round the Kailāsa hill, a distance of about thirty miles along difficult forest paths. From Kālahasti, the Āchārya proceeded to Tirupati and Tirumalai; vast concourses of people listened to his daily discourses in chaste Telugu. Among other places in Chittoor District, the Āchārya visited Venkaṭagiri and Nagari. In Nagari, the Āchārya was presiding over a discussion on Vedānta among scholars, one day. The Manager of the Maṭha received a telegram from Kumbhakoṇam carrying the sad news of the passing away of the Āchārya’s Mother on the 14th of June 1932. As the Manager was approaching the Āchārya with the telegram in his hand, the Āchārya enquired if it had come from Kumbhakoṇam, to which the Manager replied ‘Yes’.

The Āchārya made no further enquiry, but asked the Manager to get back. He remained silent for some time,[6] and then asked the assembled scholars:

“What should a sannyāsin do when he hears of the passing away of his mother?”

Guessing what had happened, the scholars were deeply distressed and could not say anything. The Āchārya got up and walked to a water-falls at a distance of two miles followed by a great number of people chanting the Lord’s name. He took his bath, the others too did the same. The passing away of the Mother of the Jagad-guru was felt as a personal loss by everyone of the śiṣyas.

There is a spot of natural beauty near Kagan, called Buggā. In the same temple, here, there are the shrines of Kāśī Viśvanātha and Prayāga Mādhava. A perennial river flows by the temple; and five streams feed the river. Commencing from the 17th of July 1932, the Āchārya observed the chāturmāsya at this fascinating place. During his stay there, the temple was renovated and kumbhābhiṣekam was performed on a grand scale. A large number of devotees from Madras went to Buggā and invited the Āchārya to the Presidency City. En route to Madras the Āchārya visited Tiruttaṇi and the famous Subrahmaṇya shrine there.

Before we follow the Āchārya to Madras, let us record here the epic of a faithful and devoted dog. Since 1927, a dog was following the retinue of the Maṭha. It was a strange dog — an intelligent animal without the least trace of uncleanliness. It would keep watch over the camp during the nights. It would eat only the food given to it from the Maṭha. The Āchārya would therefore enquire every evening if the dog had been fed. When the camp moved from one place to another, the dog would follow, walking underneath the palanquin, and when the entourage stopped so that the devotees of the wayside villages could pay their homage, it would run to a distance and watch devoutly from there, only to rejoin the retinue when it was on the move again. One day, a small boy hit the dog; and the dog was about to retaliate, when the officials of the Maṭha, in fear, caused the dog to be taken to a distance of twenty-five miles blindfolded and left there in a village. But strange as it may seem, the dog returned to where the Āchārya was even before the person who had taken it away could return. From that day onwards the dog would not eat without the Āchārya’s darśana, and stayed till the end of its life with the Maṭha.

The citizens of Madras had the great privilege of receiving the Āchārya on the 28th of September, 1932. During the four months’ stay of the Āchārya in the city, the people felt in their life a visible change for the better. In their crowds they flocked to the camp at the Madras Samskrit College and later in the different parts of the city, and drank deep of the elevating presence and the soul-moving speeches of the Āchārya. On the first night, there was a huge and colourful procession terminating at the Samskrit College. Seated in a decorated palanquin, the Āchārya showered his blessings on the people. Śrī K. Bālasubrahmanya Aiyar and other devotees had made all arrangements for the Āchārya’s stay at the Samskrit College, founded by Śrī Bālasubrahmaṇya Aiyar’s revered father, Justice Śrī V. Krishnaswami Aiyar. A discourse-hall for studying the Śāṅkara-bhāṣya on the Vijayadaśami day was built, for which the Āchārya himself gave the name, Bhāṣya-vijaya-maṇṭapa.

The Corporation of Madras wanted very much to present the Āchārya with an address of welcome. Śrī T. S. Ramaswami Aiyar was then the Mayor. Moving the resolution to present an address, Śrī A. Ramaswami Mudaliyār referred to the fact that that was the first occasion when the Corporation would be presenting an Address to a religious leader, paid his tribute to the Āchārya, saying that he was held in great esteem not only by the Hindus but also by the followers of other religions, and hoped that the resolution would be passed unanimously. The resolution was passed with acclaim by the entire House. But when the invitation was conveyed to the Āchārya, he politely declined as it would not be proper for him to associate himself directly with a secular function at the Corporation Buildings.

The navarātrī in 1932 was celebrated at the Samskrit College. During this pujā-festival, the Āchārya fasts and observes silence on all the nine days. Women are honoured with offerings of gifts, as they are manifestations of Parā Śakti (the Great Mother of the World). And, ceremonial pūjā is performed to girls, commencing with a two-year old on the first day and ending with a ten-year old on the last day. This is what is known as Along with recitation of the Vedas , pārāyaṇam of the Devī-bhāga-vata, the Rāmāyana, the Gītā and other texts, the Chaṇḍī and Śrī-Vidyā homas are performed during the festival. Thousands of people participated in the navarātrī festival at the Samskrit College and received the Āchārya’s benedictions.

After the navarātrī, the Āchārya delivered discourses every evening after the pūjā. Thousands of people listened to these in pin-drop silence. Seated on the siṃhāsana, the Āchārya would remain silent for some- time. Then, slowly he would commence to speak. It was not mere speech; it was a message from the heart, each day. With homely examples, in an engaging manner, he would exhort the audience to lead a clean, simple, unselfish and godly life. The essentials of Hindu dharma , the obligatory duties, the supreme duty of being devoted to God, the harmony of the Hindu cults, the significance of the Hindu festivals and institutions, the cultivation of virtues, and the grandeur of Advaita, formed some of the themes of these discourses.[7] Those who were not able to listen to these speeches had the benefit of reading reports of them every day in “The Hindu” and “The Swadesamitran.” The Āchārya’s teachings enabled the listeners and readers to gain the experience of inward elevation.

During his stay in the city, the Āchārya visitēd some of the educational institutions such as the Ramakrishna Mission Students’ Home, t he P. S., Hindu, and Theological High Schools. He advised both teachers and students to be devoted to the sacred task of educating and learning respectively. Before leaving the city, he blessed some of the eminent scholars and devoted leaders by the award of titles: Mahāmahopādhyāya S. Kuppuswami Sastri received the title Darśana-Kalānidhi, Śrī K. Balasubrahmanya Aiyar, Dharma-rakṣāmaṇi, and Sri A. Krishnaswami Aiyar, Paropakāra-chintāmaṇi.

Tiruvoṟṟivūr near Madras, is a most sacred place. It has been for centuries the favoured resort of mahātmās. The temple of Tvāgeśa and Tripurasundarī is an ancient one. Ādi Śaṅkara installed the Śrī-chakra in this temple. Even to this dav the archakas that officiate at the shrine of Tripurasundarī are Nambūdiris. There is an image of Śaṅkara in the inner prākāra of the temple. Several of the heads of the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha chose to live at least for some time at Tiruvoṟṟyūr. In the Śaṅkara Maṭha there, the adhiṣṭhānas of two Āchāryas of the Kāmakoṭi Pītha are to be seen. Our Āchārya visited Tiruvoṟṟyūr and made the holy place holier.

Leaving Madras, the Āchārya went to the South a sain in order to participate in the Mahāmakham festival at Kurabhakoṇam in March 1933. Since the vijayā-yātrā was still in progress, he did not enter the Maṭha at Kumbhakoṇam; the camp was set up in Tiruviḍaimarudūr. From there, he went to Kumbhakoṇam on the festival day and took the ceremonial bath in the Tank. About six lakhs of people thronged to Kumbhakoṇam that dav to oarticimte in the festival that comes once in twelve years. After the Mahāmakham the Āchārya continued to stay for some months at the Śaṅkara Maṭha in Tiruviḍaimarudūr. According to tradition, when Ādi Śaṅkara visited this holy place and had darśana of Śrī Mahāliṅga-svāmī in the temple, there appeared Śiva’s form from the Liṅga, raised the right hand declared three times that “Advaita alone is the truth”, and disappeared. In 1933, our Āchārya celebrated the Śaṅkara Jayantī at Tiruviḍaimarudūr.

For a long time the Āchārya had had the intention of visiting Chidambaram. But. for over two hundred years no previous Āchārya had gone there, the reason being that the Dīkṣitars of the Temple of Śrī Naṭarāja would not let even the Āchāryas of the Śaṅkara Maṭha take the sacred ashes straight from the cup as was the custom in all other temples as a mark of respect shown to the Pīṭha. Many of the devotees of Chidambaram, however, wished very much that the Āchārya should visit Chidambaram; and the Āchārya too wanted to have Śrī Naṭarāja’s darśana. Accepting the invitation of the devotees, he arrived at Chidambaram on May 18, 1933. A great reception was accorded to him by the inhabitants of Chidambaram including the Dīkṣitars. The devotees of the Āchārya were rather apprehensive of what might happen when the Āchārya visited the temple in regard to the offering of vibhūti. The Āchārya, however, was utterly unconcerned. All that he wanted was to have Śrī Naṭarāja’s darśana as early as possible. He resolved to go to the temple early In the morning: having asked one of his personal attendants to wait for him at the tank, he went there alone at 4 a.m., had his bath and anusṭhāna, and when the shrine was opened he entered and stood in the presence of Śrī Naṭarāja absorbed in contemplation. The Dīkṣitar who was offering the morning worship was taken aback when he saw the Āchārya there. He sent word to the other Dīkṣitars; and all of them came at once. They submitted to the Āchārya that they were planning for a ceremonial reception, and that they were pained at the fact that none of them were present in the temple to receive him that morning. The Āchārya consoled them saying that he had gone to the temple to have the early morning darśana of Śrī Naṭarāja, known as the viśva-rūpa.-darśana, and that he would be visiting the temple several times during his sojourn in Chidambaram. The Dīkṣitars honoured the Āchārya in the same manner as he is honoured in the other temples. And, at the earnest request of the Dīkṣitars, the Āchārya stayed in the temple for a few days and performed the Śrī Chandramaulīśvara-pūjā in the thousand-pillared Maṇṭapa. The devotees had the unique experience of witnessing pūjā performed, at the same place, to two of the five Sphaṭika-liṅgas brought by Śaṅkara, according to tradition, from Kailāsa—the Mokṣa-Liṅga of Chidambaram and the Yoga-Liṅga of Śrī Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha.

The 1933 chāturmāsya and navrātrī were observed at Tañjāvūr. A Śaṅkara Maṭha was established there mainly through the munificence of the Tañjāvūr Junior Prince Pratapa Simha Raja and Śrī T. R. Joshi. The preparation for the Āchārya’s northward journey to Kāśī had by now been completed. A number of years earlier the Āchārya had commissioned a youth Śrī Ananta-krishna Śarmā to go to Kāśī on foot. He had to walk the entire distance and send notes regarding the route and places en route. He should learn Hindi before he returned and could do the return journey by rail. Śrī Anantakrishna Śarmā carried out the instructions in the letter and in spirit. It took six months for him to reach Kāśī. Aged sannyāsins like Brahmānanda Sarasvatī and revered scholars including Mahāmahopādhyāya Ānanda Saran and Pratap Sītaram Sastri, Agent of the Sringeri Maṭha, sent their letter of invitation to the Āchārya of the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha on behalf of the citizens of Vārāṇasī; Mahāmahopādhyāya Chinnanaswami Sāstrī, Professor of Mīmāṃsā in the Banaras Hindu University, read out the letter of invitation in the Chidambaram camp of His Holiness.

A representative Committee had been formed at Vārāṇasī headed by His Highness the Mahārājā of Kāśī, with Pandit Madanmohan Malaviya, the Mahāmahopādhyāyas, distinguished Scholars, and other eminent men as members. The citizens of the Spiritual Capital of our country were eagerly looking forward to the visit of our Āchārya, who had already made the saṅkalpa for kāśīyātrā.

In conformity with the past practice observed by the previous Government, the Government of Madras issued a notification to the Governments of other States, and the native States to accord due honour and all facilities to the Āchārya and his entourage during his journey to Kāśī.

The journey commenced in the second week of September 1933. The Āchārya proceeded northwards, covering about twenty miles each day. While camping at Kurnool, the Āchārya thought of going to Śrī-śaila which is regarded as the Southern Kailāsa. Here, the Lord Śiva appears as Mallikārjuna-liṅga, and Parvatī as Bhramarāmbikā. The Liṅga is one of the twelve Jyotir-Liṅgas in the country. The holy place is counted among the eighteen Śakti-pīthas. The sthala-vṛkṣa is the Arjuna tree. (The two other sacred places which have the Arjuna as the sthala-vṛkṣa, are Tiruviḍaimarudūr, also known as Madhyārjuna in Tañjāvūr District, and Tiruppuḍaimarudūr, also called Puṭārjuna in Tirunelveli District). The tīrtha at Śrī-Śaila is Pātāla-gaṅgā (the counterpart of Ākāśa-gaṅgā at Tirumalai). Ādi Śaṅkara has sung the praise of Śrī Mallikārjuna in his Śivānanda-laharī.

Our Āchārya delights in reciting these verses—especially the 50th verse:

“I adore Mallikārjuna, the great Liṅga at Śrī-Śaila (the Arjuna tree entwined by jasmine creepers on the beautiful mountain) who is embraced by Pārvatī (which is auspicious), who dances wonderfully at dusk (which blooms profusely in the evening), who is established through Vedānta (whose flowers are placed on one’s ears and head), who is pleasing with the loving Bhramarāmbikā by His side (which is grand with eager honeybees humming around), who shines in the repeated contemplations of pious people (which always wafts good scent), who wears serpents as ornaments (which embellishes those who seek enjoyment), who is worshipped by all the gods (which is the best of flower-trees), and who expresses virtue (and. which is well-known for its high quality)”.[8]

Taking with him only a few attendants, the Āchārya went by boat upto Peddacheruvu, and from there walked the remaining distance of eleven miles uphill. He reached Śrī-śaila on the 29th of January 1934, went to the temple, and stood before the Deities for a long time reciting verses from the Śivānandalaharī and the Saundarya-laharī. After spending a few days at Śrī-śaila, the Āchārya returned to Kurnool. During the difficult Śrī-śaila journey through dense forests, the Chenchus, members of a wild hill-tribe, gave every assistance and protection to the visiting party. They considered the Āchārya’s presence in their midst a great blessing.

Crossing the Tuṅgabhadrā at Kurnool, the Āchārya entered the Hyderabad State. He reached the Capital of the State on the 12th of February 1934. The people and the State officials including the Chief Minister vied with one another in paying their homage to the Jagadguru. At the command of the Nizam, the State Government undertook to meet one day’s expenses of the Maṭha. Every facility was provided for the conduct of the daily pūjā, etc. During the Āchārya’s stay in Hyderabad a Sanātana-dharmasabhā was held; it was attended by many prominent scholars. In his inaugural address to the Sabhā, the Āchārya emphasized the need for safeguarding the Dharma, reminded the Hindus of their duty to follow the rules of conduct, and asked the people to hold the paṇḍitas in high esteem.

As the journey from Hyderabad northwards would be a difficult one—through wild forests and uninhabited areas—a large part of the entourage consisting of carts, cattle, attendants and others, was left behind; this part rejoined the group that accompanied the Āchārya, after four years, in Andhra Pradesa. Leaving Secunderabad on the 24th of April 1934, the Āchārya reached a place called Soṇṇā on the banks of the Godāvarī on the 5th of May, and had his bath in the sacred river.

What was then known as the Central Provinces was the part of India which lay next in the Āchāryas itenerary. In May that year, Śrī Śaṅkara Jayantī was celebrated at Bendelvāḍā on the banks of a tributary of the Godāvarī. After spending a few days at Nagpur in June, the Āchārya travelled through the country of the Vindhya mountains. It was an arduous journey in burning summer, through practically waterless tracts. The members of the party braved all difficulties with cheer, their sole aim being to serve the Master in the fulfilment of the resolve to complete the pilgrimage to Kāśī. After crossing the Vindhyas, the Āchārya reached Jabalpur on the 3rd of July 1934, and had his bath in the sacred river Narmadā. Journeying quickly thereafter, the Āchārya arrived at Prayāga (Allahabad) on the 23rd of July 1934. At the outskirts of the holy city, the prominent leaders of the place headed by Mahāmahopādhyāya Gaṅgānātha Jhā received the Āchārya with due ceremony. Thousands of people lined the route of the procession, uttering the words “Victory to the great Guru!” (Gurumahārāj-ji-ki Jai!).

On the 25th of July 1934, the Āchārya immersed the sacred sand he had brought from Rāmeśvaram in the holy waters at Prayāga, the place of Triveṇī-saṅgama, the confluence of the Gaṅgā, the Yamunā, and the subterranean Sarasvatī; and gathering the holy water in vessels, he had it sent to the places of pilgrimage in South India. By these significant ceremonial acts, the Āchārya made it known to our people how custom and tradition are expressive of the spiritual, as well as geographical, unity of India. On the 26th of July, the Āchārya commenced the chāturmāsya at Prayāga. For the Vyāsa-pūjā that day, many devotees assembled there from the different parts of the country. During this chāturmāsya period, a conference of scholars was held in the immediate presence of the Āchārya. Several paṇḍitas of North India participated in the deliberations of the Conference, and received the Āchārya’s blessings.

From Prayāga (Allahabad) to Kāśī—a distance of eighty miles—the Āchārya travelled by foot. He entered the most holy city of Kāśī on the 6th of October 1934, and was received by the citizens in their thousands, headed by the Mahārājā of Kāśī, Pandit Madanmohan Malaviya, and others. About a lakh of people participated in the procession that day, many of them uttering the full-throated cries of victory, “Jagadguru-Mahārāj-ji-ki Jai!” Unprecedented crowds—a record in the history of the city-gathered to greet the visiting Āchārya. A glowing account of Kāśī’s reception to the Āchārya was published in the Hindi newspaper “Pandit” dated the 8th of October 1934. Among other things, it said that the joy of the people knew no bounds when they beheld the beaming face of the great ascetic, and that the procession and the mammoth meeting were unprecedented in magnificence and splendour iti the history of the holy city within memory.

Kāśī, the city of the Lord Viśvanātha and Śrī Viśālākṣī, is considered to be one of the seven mokṣa-puris. The holy Gaṅgā flows here in a northward direction, and in the form of a crescent. The city is the resort of saints and scholars. Kāśī is also known as Vāraṇāsī, because it lies between two tributary rivers Vāraṇa and Asi. It was in this city near the Maṇikarṇikā Ghaṭṭa that Ādi Śaṅkara wrote his commentaries. It was Kāśī that proclaimed him as the Jagad-guru. It was from there that he started on his dig-vijaya. And so, our Āchārya’s visit to Kāśī was full of supreme significance. On the very day of his arrival there, the Āchārya had darśana of the Lord Viśvanātha and Śrī Annapūrṇā. On the 7th of October, after a bath in the Gaṅgā at the Maṇikarṇikā Ghaṭṭa, he performed the Chandramaulīśvara-pūjā in the Lord’s temple itself. From the 9th of October onwards, the navarātrī festival was celebrated. On the Vijaya-daśmī day, the Āchārya visited the Dakṣiṇāmūrtī Maṭha on the other bank of the Gaṅgā. On the 9th of February 1935, in response to Pandit Madanmohan Malaviya’s request the Āchārya paid a visit to the Hindu University. In his welcome address consisting of five verses in Samskrit, Pandit Malaviya referred to the fact that the Āchārya was adorning the Kāñchī-pīṭha established by Śrī Śaṅkara, and that his fame and grace born of his great wisdom, austerity, compassion, generosity, etc., had spread far and wide in this sacred land, and requested His Holiness to bless the assembled University community by his words of advice. Addressing the teachers and students in felicitous Samskrit, the Āchārya pointed out that the end of education is to gain peace of mind, and that it is by acquiring wisdom that one realizes immortality. Commending the laudable efforts of Pandit Malaviya in founding the Hindu University, the Āchārya said that the main objective of āstika education should always be kept in view in the details regarding the courses of study, etc., and expressed the wish that the University should train and send out leaders of thought and action who would set an example in ideal living for the masses of the people to follow. In his concluding speech, Pandit Malaviya said that while from the legends regarding Ādi Śaṅkara they knew that the great Master visited Kāśī and saved the world through his wondrous works, they now had the rare experience of seeing with their own eyes in Kāśī the Āchārya who was an avatāra of Ādi Śaṅkara.

The Citizens of Kāśī organized a meeting in the Town Hall on the 9th of March 1935, to offer their reverential homage to the Āchārya. Addresses in different languages were presented to the Āchārya and several scholars spoke hailing his visit to Kail The Āchārya said in his speech that he had undertaken the journey, following in the foot-steps of Ādi Śaṅkara, that he was pleased with the boundless enthusiasm of the people, and that his prayers to the Lord Viśvanātha, Śrī Viśālākṣī, and Śrī Annapūrnā were that Their grace should make the entire world march on the road to goodness.

A conference of the eminent Paṇḍitas and Daṇḍi Sannyāsins of Kāśī was held on the 9th of March 1935. A similar conference of the Paṇḍitas of Bengal led by the grand old Mahāmahopādhyāya Kamalanayan Tarkaratna was held at Calcutta. Over one hundred and thirty scholars met. The conference sent as its representative Śrī Mahāmahopādhyāya Durgasaran to Vārāṇasī to invite His Holiness to visit Calcutta, and to convey its considered view acclaiming the high status and the greatness of the Kāmakoṭī Pīṭha at Kāñchī.

Leaving Kāśī on the 18th of March 1935, the Āchārya reached Patna (Pāṭalīputra) on the 24th of April. The English Daily of the place, “The Search-light”, wrote in its issue dated the 28th of April:

“Bihar accords a cordial and respectful welcome to Jagadguru Swami Sankaracharya of Kamakotipitam. Heir to a great and honoured tradition, Swamiji Maharaj is an object of veneration to Hindus all over India and his presence in our midst is a rare privilege .... We have no doubt Swamiji’s message will leave an abiding impression on all who receive it, for what he has to say is the result of study and Tapas”.

The Acharya blessed the people of Patna by observing the Śaṅkara Jayantī there; the citizens participated in the pūjā, meetings, etc., wholeheartedly.

The next important place of visit was Gaya. Arriving there on the 20th of May 1935, the Āchārya bathed in the Phalguni River, and had darśana of the Viṣṇu-pāda. On the 25th of May, he went to Buddha Gayā and saw the Bodhi Tree and the Temple of the Buddha and also the tiny Śivaliṅga in a low flooring in front of the large idol of the Buddha, said to have been consecrated by Śrī Śaṅkara Bhagavatpāda. A great place of pilgrimage in Bihar is Deogarh (Vaidyanātha Kṣetra) On June 21st, the Āchārya visited Deogarh, went to the Temple and stood for a long time in meditation before the Svayambhu-Liṅga and Śrī Girijā-devī.

After brief halts en route, the Āchārya reached Calcutta on the 13th of July 1935. The premier city accorded to him a rousing welcome. The Āchārya observed the chāturmāsya from the 17th of July at Kali Ghat. In an Address presented on behalf of the Committee of the Kali Temple, Darśanasāgar Śrī Gurupāda Śarmā said that after founding the Maṭhas in the various parts of our country, Ādi Śaṅkara established a Maṭha at Kāñchī, that the present Śaṅkarāchārya whom they had the honour to receive was on a peripatetic tour of India following in the footsteps of Ādi Śaṅkara, and that through the grace of Śrī Parameśvara and Mahā Kālī the tour should be completed victoriously after planting firmly in the land righteousness and piety. In his reply, the Āchārya stated that he accepted the reverence shown as a representative of Ādi Śaṅkara, and blessed all the assembled people. On behalf of the Brāhmana-sabhā of Bengal, an address of welcome in Samskrit was presented on the 23rd of September. The address, which was read out by the eminent scholar Paṇḍita Pañchānana Tarka-ratna, paid a glowing tribute to the Āchārya who by his grace was leading the people on the path of righteousness, referred to the sanctifying effect of the gracious visit to Calcutta, pointed out the significance of the title “Indra Sarasvatī” which belongs to the Āchāryas of the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha, and praised the manner in which His Holiness was performing the vijaya-yātrā, following the example of Ādi Śaṅkara.

Navarātrī or Daśarā (called Pūjā in Bengal) is the most important festival for the Bengalis. The Āchārya performed the navarātrī pūjā in September-October at Calcutta, delighting the hearts of thousands of devotees there,) In the third week of October, the All-India tour was resumed. A steamer took the Āchārya and the entourage on the rivers, Dāmodar and Rūpnārāyan which are tributaries to Ādigaṅgā. The Āchārya reached Midnapore in response to the earnest request of the people of that place on the 27th of October 1935. Midnapore at the time was the spearhead of the revolutionary nationalist movement. Many young men—especially college students—were behind prison-bars as detenus. And. the town was under curfew restrictions. The authorities, however, relaxed some of the restrictions to enable the people to receive the Āchārya and participate in the religious; functions connected with the unique visit'. Coming to know of the Āchārya’s presence in Midnapore, many of the detenus desired to meet him. They obtained permission from the British officer in charge of the prison for this purpose; but the condition imposed was that they should return to the prison before 6 p.m., that day. When the detenus reached the Āchārya’s camp late in the evening, the Āchārya had just then retired for brief rest after the day’s pūjā. After waiting for some time, the young men started going back to the prison, disappointed. Meanwhile, the Āchārya came out and on learning about what had happened, sent for the detenus. They came again, prostrated before the Āchārya, and prayed to him for his blessings for the gaining of independence for the country and for the welfare and happiness of the people.

Kharagpur, where the well-known Railway Workṣops are situated, and Tatanagar, the Iron and Steel-town, were the places which the Āchārya visited, after leaving Midnapore. Then followed the tour of the Native States in Bihar. While in Keonjar Garh, the Āchārva visited the temple dedicated to Dharanī Devī. The Image of the Goddess, according to the records of the State, was brought from Kāñchī by one Govind Bhanj Deva. In Mayurbhanj State, the Āchārya had darśana of the Mahā-Liṅga in the Vāraneśvara Temple at the State Capital, Bāripadā (Mayurbhanj State). In Rāj Nilgiri State, at a place called Sujanāgaḍ, there is a temple of Śrī Chaṇḍī Devī, where the vāhana is the boar instead of the usual lion. The Āchārya visited the temple, and halted in that place for four days.

Entering the Cuttack District of Orissa, the Āchārya arrived at Jājpūr on the 4th of April 1936. Jājpūr is famous for its antiquity and sanctity. The place is referred to in the Mahābhārata, as Virājapīṭha, one of the eighteen Śakti-pīṭhas. The river Vaitaraṇī flows in a north-ward direction here. There are twelve main temples and many smaller ones—each exemplifying in a marvellous manner the ancient skill in architecture. Because there resided at this place over one hundred Somayājins, about two centuries ago, it came to be called Jājpūr (Yājīpuram). The Āchārya spent five days in this historic town, and then proceeded to Cuttack the District headquarters. That year’s Śaṅkara-Jayantī was celebrated there. On the 3rd of May 1936, the Āchārya visited Sākṣi-Gopāl, about which there is a legend current in Orissa. Two Brāhmaṇa pilgrims went to Kāśī from Kāñchī; one of them was old and the other young. The old one promised to give his daughter in marriage to the young man on their return to Kāñchī; this promise was made in Mathurā at the shrine of Gopāla. The old man, however, did not keep his promise. The youth lodged a complaint with the king. Asked if there was any witness, he said that Gopāla was his witness, and went to Mathura and brought the Lord with him. The stipulation was that the young man should not look back, as Gopāla was following him. On the outskirts of Kāñchī, the young man violated the stipulation. Gopāla transformed himself into an image at the very place.. Later, the image was brought from there fo Sākṣī-Gopāl by a king of Purī.

After visiting Sākṣī-Gopāl, the Āchārya proceeded to Purī Jagannāth. At the end of a grand procession, a ceremonial reception was given to him at the Govardhana Maṭha. The other Advaita Maṭhas of Purī, viz, Śaṅkarānanda Maṭha, Śivatīrtha Maṭha, and Gopālatīrtha Maṭha, also associated themselves with this function, and co-operated in the arrangements connected with the Āchārya’s visit. The Āchārya visited the temple of Jagannātha, and at the request of the scholars of the Mukti-maṇṭapa Sabhā, sat on the Pīṭha in the Maṇṭapa and blessed the assembly. In a speech delivered in Samskrit, the Āchārya said that he regarded the honour shown to him as belonging to Ādi Śaṅkara whose holy Feet are worshipped by all, and who made the false doctrines disappear from the land by establishing the supreme Truth. On the 6th of May 1936, the Āchārya bathed in the Mahodadhi (the Eastern Sea) at Purī; it was the auspicious Pūrṇimā day. On the 9th, he inaugurated a Paṇḍita-sabhā; several elderly speakers recalled the visit of the Sixty-fifth Āchārya of Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha, Śri Mahadevendra Sarasvatī, fiity years earlier, and said that they were having the unique privilege, again, of receiving in their midst the Sixty-eighth Āchārya.

The journey through the Chilka Lake area was an arduous one. High mountains, thick forests and sandy wastes had to be crossed. Walking at the rate of tweny-five miles a day, the Āchārya with the tour-party arrived at Chatrapūr on the 17th of May 1936; at this place which is on the sea-coast at the southern end of the Lake, there is a temple of Ādī Śaṅkara. The chātur-māsya which commenced on the 4th of July was observed at Berhampur. The navarātrī festival was celebrated in October at Vijayanagaram. At a largely attended meeting on the 31st of October, the Āchārya spoke on Advaita, explaining that there was no difference between Hari and Hara, that saints like Samartha Rāmadās gained mukti by following the path of Hari-Hara-Advaita, that those who adopt the path of knowledge attain Jīva-Brahma-Advaita, and that the goal is the same for both upāsanā and jñāna .

Simhāchalam is an ancient pilgrim centre in Andhra. On a picturesque hill is situated the ancient temple of Śrī Varāha Nṛsimha. On the 4th of November 1936, the Āchārya visited this shrine, and spent some time in meditation near the Gaṅgadhārā Falls. Three days later, the Āchārya reached Viśākhapatnam, the harbour-town. After touring in the District of Vizag, he journeyed through the Godāvarī area. The chāturmāsya in 1937 was observed in Palacole. The next important place of halt was Rajahmundry, on the banks of the Godāvarī. On the auspicious Mahodaya day on the 31st of January 1938, the Āchārya bathed in the sea at Kākināḍā.

The Andhra districts to receive the Āchārya next in sequence were Krishna, Guntur, and Nellore. At Vijayavāda, the Āchārya had his bath in the Krishna River. The 1938 chāturmāsya was observed in Guntur. During this period, the well-known Vyākaraṇa Paṇḍita Śrī Pulyam Umāmaheśvara Śāstrī offered to the Āchārya a poetical composition in Samskrit, consisting of one hundred and seventy verses. From November 1938 to January 1939, the Āchārya was in Nellore. After visiting Venkaṭagiri, he went to Kālahasti and Tirupati again. In April 1939, Śrī Śaṅkara-Jayantī was celebrated at Buggā. After having Śrī Subrahmaṇya’s darśana on the Tiruttaṇi hill, the Āchārya reached Kāñchī on the 2nd of May 1939.

From Kāñchī, the Āchārya proceeded to Chidambaram en route to Rāmeśvaram. The sand collected at Rājmeśvaram in September 1922, it will be recalled, was Immersed in the holy waters at Triveṇī-Saṅgama (Allahabad) on the 25th of July 1934. The sacred water of the Gaṅgā that was gathered there was now to be offered to Śrī Rāmanātha as abhiṣeka. On the 10th of June 1939, after bathing in the Agni-tīrtha, the Āchārya went to the temple, and the abhiṣeka was performed. With this was concluded the Āchārya’s Gaṅgā-yātrā. From the next day onwards, for over six months, the Āchārya observed silence. But the tour schedule was continued, as also all the activities connected with the Maṭha. After re-visiting many places in Ramnād, Pudukkoṭṭai, Tiruchi, and Tañjāvūr, the Āchārya returned to Kumbhakoṇam, from where he had started out on his vijaya-yātrā twenty-one years earlier. The 29th of June 1939 was a red-letter day for the citizens of the town; there was no end to their joy in receiving the Āchārya again into their midst.


7. Consolidation and Furtherance of Our Ancient Dharma

The twenty-one years’ All-India tour had paved the way for taking concrete steps towards the consolidation and furtherance of our ancient Dharma. In the years that have followed, the Āchārya has given the lead in several directions for bringing together the different sections of Hindus, for the promotion of Vedic and Vedāntic studies, for the due observance of religious ceremonies, and rules of conduct as prescribed in the Śāstras, for deepening the spiritual life of the people, for rendering service to the sick and the disabled, and for universal welfare.

In 1939, the Āchārya had an organization of Mudrādhikārīs set up, with a view to serve the people in a comprehensive way. The Mudrādhikārīs are representatives of the Maṭha in the different places. Among their functions are: to enlist' the co-operation of the people in keeping the temples in good repair, to see to it that temple-worship is performed in the proper order, to arrange for popular expositions of the Purāṇas on Ekādaśī days, to bring together all classes of people in such corporate activities as digging tanks and wells, dragging the temple-car on festival days, etc., and cattle-care. In order to implement this programme and ensure the best possible results, the Āchārya toured the villages in the Tañjāvūr District, and other places several times, and convened periodical conferences of the Mudrādhikārīs to instruct them personally.

Under the guidance of the Āchārya, several of the old temples came to be renovated, and kumbhābhiṣekams were performed. The kumbhābhiṣekam for the temple of Śrī Baṅgāru Kāmākṣī at Tañjāvūr, after renovation, was performed in June 1941. In Tiruvānaikkā (Jambukeśvaram), the ancient temple of Pañchamukheśvara (Liṅga with five faces) was in ruins. When the Āchārya visited the place in 1943, he had the accumulated rubbish and wild trees that had grown there removed, marvelled at the uniqueness of the temple, arranged for renovation, and had the kumbhābhiṣekam performed in. June that year. There is an old Śiva Temple in Tiruviḍaimarudūr on the banks of the Vīrachoḻan River. It was in a state of utter disrepair. The Āchārya had it renovated, and the kumbhābhiṣekam performed in 1943. The renovation work of Śrī Kāmākṣī Temple at Kāñchī had been in progress for some years. On the completion of the work, the kumbhābhiṣekam was performed on a grand scale on the 7th of February 1944. In the temple itself that day, over fifty-thousand devotees had gathered to witness the ceremony. To mark the occasion, the Mūka-pañchaśatī, a moving hymn of devotion to the Devī, was published by the Kāmakoṭi Kośasthānam.

In order that the evils caused by the Second World War may not oppress the people and distort their minds, the Āchārya suggested to the temple-authorities, and managements of religious charities, in 1942, that the Śrī-Rudra and Śrī-Viṣṇu-sahasranāma be recited and archanas performed in the temples. Accordingly, in many temples, this suggestion was carried out. In April 1942 at Pūvanūr near Mannārguḍi, an Ati-Rudra-yāga was performed, in the immediate presence of the Āchārya, for the purpose of securing the welfare of all people. In September, the performance of the yāga was repeated at Nattam in Tiruchi District where that year’s chāturmāsya was observed. While touring in this District, the Āchārya visited Śaṅkara-malai which is at a distance of thirty miles to the west of Tiruchi Town; here is a Mahā-Liṅga establishesed on the hill here, similar to the one of the Śaṅkarāchārya Hill in Kashmir. On the day of this visit—the 2nd of March 1943— the Āchārya drew the attention of the people there to the striking similarity. The next Ati-Rudra-homa was performed in February 19-19, at Tiruviḍaimarudūr. As on previous occasions, people in their thousands participated in the performance of this yāga and received the Āchārya’s blessings. The navarātrī also was performed at Tiruviḍaimarudūr. After that, the Āchārya stayed during October-November, 1949, at Kuttālam, and went every day to Māyūram for Tulā-snānam.

The Vedas constitute the basic scriptures of the Hindus. It is through the preservation of the Vedas that Hindu culture has been preserved in spite of the vicissitudes of history. In recent times, the cultivation of skill in Vedic recitation and Vedic studies have been neglected because of alien influence and conditions of modem life. In order to offset the forces making for deterioration, the Āchārya caused to be organized the Veda-dharma-paripālana-sabhā. Under the auspices of this sabhā, which was started in 1944, annual conferences of Vedic scholars are held in the various parts of the country, examinations are conducted in Vedic literature and prizes are awarded to successful candidates, maintenance is provided for selected Vedic scholars, institutions for teaching the Vedas are set up and run, and every possible assistance is given for the preservation of Vedic culture. In, January 1955 at Kāñchī where the Āchārya was staying at the time, a conference of eminent Vedic scholars was convened, and seventeen paṇḍitas in Ṛg, Yajus and Sāma Veda were selected from all over the country and honoured with presents and awards.

The consolidation of Advaita through his bhāṣyas and numerous Vedāntic manuals, and through teaching by example and precept, was the greatest gift Ādi Śaṅkara conferred on the entire humanity. The central mission of any institution which owes its foundation to the great Teacher should be to spread the knowledge of Advaita. The Jagadgurus of Śrī Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha have, in various ways, rendered invaluable service to the cause of Advaita. An important measure designed to promote studies in Advaita was taken when the Parama-guru of our present Āchārya inaugurated, in 1894, at Kumbhakoṇam, the Advaita Sabhā. Besides the annual conferences of Advaita scholars, award of studentships for the study of Advaita, arranging for courses in Advaita according to a syllabus, publication of works on Advaita, and of a journal “Brahma Vidyā”, are among the activities of the Advaita Sabhā. The first conference was held in 1895 in the immediate presence of His Holiness the Sixty-sixth Āchārya; eminent scholars headed by Mahāmahopādhyāya Śrī Rāju Śāstrī participated in the deliberations. Learned discussions and vākyārtka in Samskrit and popular lectures in Tamil form regular features of these conferences. Examinations are held in Advaita-śāstra and prizes are awarded to successful candidates. Presents are given to them every ye’ar if they attend the conference. The Golden Jubilee of the Sabhā was celebrated in Febraury 1945, at the Kumbhakoṇam Maṭha in the presence of our Āchārya. The Āchārya commended the work of the Sabhā, and explained the essentials of Advaita-Vedānta: The basic truth of Advaita is that the Self (Ātman) alone is real, and that all else is mithyā. Not understanding the implication of the words mithyā and māyā, the critics find fault with Advaita. Although ultimately the world of plurality is not real, it is not that it is not useful. Because the world of māyā is useful until the onset of wisdom, it is vested with empirical reality (vyāvahārika satya). It is in this world, and while living in it, that we have to strive for and gain release from bondage. The true mokṣa is the attainment of all-selfhood, in this very life, by the removal of māyā through knowledge. The followers of the different religions think that their particular mode of worship alone is the true mode. But we who follow Advaita believe that it is the same God that is attained through any of the religious modes, and that devotion to God is essential for realizing the truth of Advaita. In conclusion, the Āchārya referred to the fact that teachers of Advaita have appeared at all times and in all the different parts of the country, and have left behind immortal works on Advaita; and he declared that it was our duty to study those works and gain the wisdom that is contained in them. To mark the occasion of the Golden Jubilee, a volume entitled “Advaita-akṣara-mālikā”, containing fifty-one essays on Advaita written in Samskrit by various scholars, was published. Two other books one in English and the other in Tamil, containing articles on Advaita were also published on the occasion.

Ten years later, in March 1956, the Diamond Jubilee of the Advaita Sabhā was celebrated at Śivāsthānam near Kāñchī, where the Āchārya was staying at the time. Addressing the conference, the Āchārya observed that the aim of the Advaita Sabhā was to spread the light of the Self as revealed in the Upaniṣads, that those who adopted Advaita as their way of life should look upon all beings as they would on themselves and render some service or other every day to the afflicted and the distressed, and that they should investigate the cause of dispute among religious culls and seek to eliminate it.

It is on the basis of Advaita that the conflicts among religious cults could be removed. With sympathy and understanding, it will not be difficult to realize that, it is the same God that is worshipped under different names and forms. The special contribution of Hinduism to the world’s history of religions is the truth that there are as many modes of approach to Godhead as there are minds. And, yet, on account of misunderstanding and narrowness, the followers of the different cults of Hinduism have indulged in quarrels sometimes. In South India, exclusive claims have been advanced, for instance, on behalf of Vaiṣṇavism and Śaivism. While the Āḻvārs and Nāyanmārs were universalistic in their outlook, their later followers introduced narrow distinctions and dogmatic partisanships. Our Āchārya wanted to give a concrete form to the movement for unity and co-ordination as between the Vaiṣṇavas and the Śaivas in Tamil Nādu; and accordingly, the idea of Tiruppāvai—Tiruvembāvai—Ṣaḍaṅga—Conference was hit upon in 1950. Āṇḍal’s Tiruppāvai and Māṇikkavāchakar’s Timveṃbāvai are sung in the Viṣṇu and Śiva temples respectively in the month of Mārgaḻi (Mārgaśīrṣa). The Āchārya had a conference of scholars in these sacred texts organized at Tiruviḍaimarudūr in December 1950. It was a unique experience to listen to the Vaiṣṇava and Śaiva scholars speak from the same platform. On the last day of the conference, the Āchārya spoke explaining how the goal of all the cults was the same, even as the end of all the rivers was the sea.

He declared:

“The redeeming Reality is one and the same. We may seek to reach God through several ways. But while marching on these diverse paths, we must not forget the fundamental unity of Godhead. If we are obsessed with diversity, there is no happiness.”

The Āchārya further showed how it is the state of plenary happiness and freedom from fear that is the significance of the images of the dancing Naṭarāja and the redining Viṣṇu, and concluded saying that in realizing this truth the recitation and study of Tiruppāvai and Tiruvembāvai would be supremely helpful.

On another occasion speaking on the same theme, the Āchārya observed:

“Because two people worship different manifestations of One Supreme Being, there is no warrant for their quarrelling with each other. The Śiva-purāṇas extol Śiva and the Viṣṇu-purāṇas extol Viṣṇu. But a proper understanding will remove the misconception. The praise of a particular manifestation in a Purāṇa is to be understood in its context and not as absolute. How can there be a higher or lower, superior or inferior when in reality there are not two, but it is only One God manifesting differently? We must not forget that there are works which proclaim the oneness of Śiva and Viṣṇu, of Hara and Hari. It has been declared that the enemies of Śiva are the enemies of Viṣṇu too, and vice versa.

“Among us there is the concept of the iṣṭa-devatā, of the particular form of God which one chooses for his worship and meditation. To get at the One Supreme, you must start' from some manifestations of It, and you choose it as your iṣṭa-devatā. Another man may choose some other manifestation. As each progresses in his devotion and concentration, he will be led on to the One where the differences disappear. That has been the experience of great sages and saints. A true Śiva-bhakta has no quarrel with a true Viṣṇu-bhakta.

“In this connection it is good to remember two devotional hymns one in praise of Viṣṇu and the other in praise of Śiva sung by devotees of the different persuasions. They are the Tiruppāvai of Āṇḍāḻ and the Tiruvembāvai of Maṇikkavāchakar. Both of them deal with awakening the sleeping devotees of God from their slumber before dawn. The language and the substance of the two hymns show a remarkable similarity bringing forcibly to our minds that, in the ultimate analysis, from the point of view of the devotee and his devotion there need be no difference in respect of Śiva or Viṣṇu. A devotee of one manifestation is a devotee of every other manifestation. That is the way to establish devotional harmony. All the theistic schools of our religion have stemmed from the Vedic religion which proclaimed: ‘That which exists is One; the sages speak of it variously.’ The substance is ultimately one; its shape and name may be as various as you please.”[9]

The unity-movement has been gaining in popularity since its inception. Encouragement is given for children to learn to recite the two poems. In the month of Mārgali, the two poems are broadcast from the temples. All India Radio has also been cooperating by arranging for the singing and exposition of these two moving hymns. In the different parts of Tamil Nadu Tiruppāvai-Tiruvembāvai meetings are held during the month. At the meeting held in Māyūram in front of Ērī Dakṣiṇāmūrti Shrine, on the 8th of December 1952, the Āchārya pointed out that recent research has brought to light the fact that in distant Thailand (Siam) the Tiruppāvai—Tiruvembāvai festival is still celebrated, although the people there do not seem to be aware, now, of its significance. The festival is being observed to propitiate both Viṣṇu and Śiva. The festival occurs there at the time of Ārdnā-darśana, and the swing-festival is also observed, as here, in connection with it. Here, in Tamil Nadu, we do not call the Ārdrā by the name Tiruppāvai—Tiruvembāvai, but the Thais call it so. Only, the name occurs there in a slightly mutilated form—Triyembāvai-Tripāvai. Drawing a lesson, from the Thai festival for our people, the Āchārya observed that we should revive and popularise the tradition which we have forgotten, and which the Thais still observe, having received it from us.

Religion is the basis of Hindu culture; spirituality is its backbone. What are considered elsewhere to be secular arts, such as sculpture and dancing, are here in India regarded as sacred. Hindu culture in all its aspects spread far wide in the past. The evidences of its influence are even now to be found in widely distant countries from Egypt in the West to Java and Bali in the East. Speaking about the pervasiveness of Hindu culture at a meeting at the Kumbhakoṇam Maṭha in January 1947, the Āchārya dwelt on the need for the resuscitation of the traditional arts and crafts. These should be revived and popularized, bearing in mind that all of them serve the purpose of strengthening faith in God, faith in spiritual values. The temple is the centre of the ancient arts and crafts. Architecture, sculpture, and iconography go into the building of temples and the making of images. The directions for these arts are to be learnt from the Āgamas—Śaiva, Śākta, Vaikhānasa and Pāñcharātra. It is from the same sources that the archakas have to know the correct procedures of temple-rituals and worship. Popular discourses on the Epics and Purāṇas used to be given mainly in the temples, and on occasions of temple-festivals. The folk-songs, dances, etc., have for their themes the religious stories as related in the Epics, etc. The Āchārya wanted to institute an organization which would work for the revival—leading to a renaissance—of the ancient skills and arts relating to the temples. He had a sadas arranged for, for the first time in 1962, during the c hāturmāsya at Ilayāttaṅgudi—the Akhila-Vyāsa-Bhārata-Āgama-Śilpa-Sadas. Scholars and specialists in the various fields covered by the wide scope of the Sadas are invited to present papers and give expositions at the annual sessions of the conference. Besides the traditional paṇḍitas in the Āgamas and experts in Śilpa, some foreign scholars also take part in the Sadas. The archakas are asked to discuss and settle points relating to rituals and worship. Arrangements are made for cultural programmes consisting of puppet-show, shadow-play, ōṭṭam-tuḷḷal, yakṣa-gāna, buṟṟa-kathā, villup-pāṭṭu, kathaka} etc. The Sadas has become now a permanent annual feature. It was held at Nārayaṇapuram (Madurai) in 1963, at Kāñchī in 1964, at Madras in 1965, and at Kālahasti recently in 1966, where the Āchārya observed his sixtieth chāturmāsya.

One of the most significant achievements in the last few years is the bringing together of the Heads of the Dharma-Pīṭhas in South India in periodical conferences with a view to formulate and execute concerted measures for the safeguarding and furtherance of Hindu institutions and practices. This has become possible through the initiative and leadership of our Āchārya. In this endeavour, the Hindu Religious Endowments Board is offering its whole-hearted co-operation. The objectives of the conference of the Heads of the Dharma-Pīṭhas are to strengthen the forces that make for āstikya, to project before the people the true image of Hindu-dharma, to work for the consolidation of the Hindu society, and to persuade its members to follow the path of virtue. Despite minor doctrinal differences, there is much that is common to the various Hindu denominations; and it is good that the Heads of the different sampradāyas have come together lo remind the people constantly of their common heritage, fundamental duties, and the final goal of spiritual freedom.

The ‘rice-gift’ scheme formulated by the Āchārya is being implemented in several areas. According to this scheme, in each household, everyday before starting to cook rice, a handful of rice along with a paisa should be put into a pot kept for the purpose. Once a week the rice and coins should be collected by the Association in each street or locality constituted under the scheme. The rice thus gathered should be handed over to the temple in the neighbourhood for being cooked and offered to the deity as naivedya. The cooked rice that has been consecrated should be sold in packets to the poor people of the place at a nominal charge of 10 paise per packet. The amounts collected thus and the gift-coins gathered from the charity-pots should be utilised towards meeting the cost of fire-wood and for paying the temple-cook for his services. This scheme will benefit those who give as well as those who receive. Those who give will have the satisfaction of having made their daily offering to God and their less fortunate brethren; and those who receive will have their hunger satisfied and thoughts purified through partaking of the consecrated food.

One of the most distressing phenomena is the crude way in which Corporation or Municipal servants dispose of the, dead bodies of Hindu destitutes. The Āchārya has repeatedly exhorted the well-to-do Hindus to do their duty by those who are unfortunate in life and unfortunate in death also. Arranging for the proper cremation or burial of the dead bodies of destitutes is of the greatest importance. By such service, as the Āchārya points out, one obtains the merit of performing the Aśvamedha sacrifice (anātha-preta-saṃskārāt aśvamedha-phalaṃ labhet). This is one of the functions of the Hindu-mata Jīvātma-kainkarya Saṅgha organised at the instance of the Āchārya. The members of the Sangha have to arrange for the last rites of the destitutes who die in hospitals or prisons or on the streets. Among the functions of the Saṅgha are: weekly visits to hospitals for distributing the Āchārya’s prasāda (vibhūti and kuṅkumam) to patients and making them think of God who is the Great Healer; offering the Tulasī leaves, Gaṅgā-water, etc., to those who are on the verge of death, and performing Śrī-Rāmanāma-japa staging by their side; going to the villages one day every week tor explaining to the people the essentials of Hindu-dharma; and arranging for frequent talks on ethical living and spiritual disciplines for the benefit of those who are behind prison-bars.

Some of the other activities and insti t utions which owe their inception to the Āchārya, in recent times, are: the institution of “Weekly Worship” enabling the Hindu community of each place to visit the local temple collectively once a week and perform bhajana; the setting up of Amara-bhāratī-parīkṣā-samiti for arranging for instruction in Samskrit for beginners, conducting periodical examinations, and awarding certificates and prizes; the starting of the Madras Samskrit Education Society at Nazarethpet near Madras for the promotion of studies in Samskrit; the publication of Advaita-grantha-kośa compiled by a yati of the Upaniṣad Brahmendra Maṭha, Kāñchī, who has been serving the Āchārya for a number of years in many a way; and the building of Ādi-Śaṅkara Memorial Maṇtapas at important places of pilgrimage, to which we shall refer later.

One of the major causes for our cultural decline was foreign domination. This cause was removed when our country gained political independence from British rule on the 15th of August 1947, under the leadership of Mahātmā Gāndhi. But political emancipation cannot be an end in itself; it must lead on to a new flowering of the Soul of India. In a message issued on the day of Independence, the Āchārya said:

“At this moment when our Bhārata Varṣa has gained freedom, all the people of this ancient land should with one mind and heart pray to the Lord. We should pray to Him to vouchsafe to us increasing mental strength and the power for making spiritual progress. It is only by His Grace that we can preserve the freedom we have gained, and help all beings in the world to attain the ideal of true happiness.... For a long time our country has striven for freedom; by the Grace of God, by the blessings of sages, and by the unparallelled sacrifices of the people, freedom has come to us. Let us pray to the all-pervading God that He may shower His Grace so that our country will become prosperous, being freed from famine-conditions, and the people will live unitedly and amicably without any communal strife”.

The Āchārya also appealed that the people should cultivate the cardinal virtues, ridding themselves of passions and violent desires, and that they should by inward control and spiritual knowledge seek to realize the Self.


8. At Kanchi

After touring intensively in the southern districts, especially in Tañjāvūr, visiting even the remote villages, in pursuance of the implementation of programmes for religious awakening among the people, the Āchārya arrived at Kāñchī on the 22nd of June 1953, and made a stay of three years there.

The Āchārya wanted to select a successor to the Kāñchī Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha, and train him for the great tasks and duties associated with the headship of the Pīṭha. The choice fell on a young disciple, Subrahmanyam by name, the son of Śrī Mahādeva Aiyar who was an official of the Southern Railway at Tiruchi. From his early boyhood, Subrahmanyam had been receiving Vedic education at the Maṭha itself. He was about nineteen years of age in 1954. The Vedic rituals connected with initiating him into sannyāsa and imparting to him the mahāvākya-upadeśa by the Āchārya took place at Kāñchī from the 19th to the 22nd March 1954. Thousands of people had gathered in the holy city for witnessing the unique ceremony on the 22nd of March. The young disciple stood hip-deep in the Sarvatīrtha Tank as soon as the Āchārya had arrived there, and discarded the insignia and attire of the pūrvāśrama. Then he donned the kāṣāya cloth and repaired to the shrine of Śrī Viśveśvara where the Āchārya imparted to him mahāvākya-upadeśa. He was given the yoga-paṭṭam, ‘Śrī Jayendra Sarasvatī’. From that day onwards he has been with the Āchārya as the First Disciple, receiving the necessary guidance in the performance of the many duties associated with the Pīṭha and its ever increasing sphere of spiritual service to the people.

On the 18th of May 1954, the Āchārya’s ṣaṣṭi-abda-pūrti (sixty-first birth-day) was celebrated all over the country. In a message to the disciples who had gathered at Kāñchī that day, the Āchārya asked them to do their utmost to preserve the Vedic lore, to spread the spirit of devotion among the people, and to make endowments of lands, etc., for charitable purposes. To mark the auspicious occasion Śrī Śaṅkara’s Brahma-sūtra-bhāṣya with notes was published by the Kāmakoṭi Kośasthānam.

The Golden Jubilee of the Āchārya’s ascension to the Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha was celebrated on the 17th of March 1957, at Kalavai whore he had ascended the Pīṭha in 1907. In the course of a message, the Āchārya observed:

“We know today that half-a-century has passed. There is not much use in reviewing all that we have been able to do in the past fifty years. On the contrary, we should bestow our thoughts on what we have to do in the remaining years that are given to us by God in this life. What is it that has to be done by us? What has to be done is to gain the state of freedom from all action. But, in the Bhagavad-gītā. the Lord declares repeatedly that the state of freedom from action cannot be obtained by remaining quiet (without performing our duty). It is by performing action that the state of actionlessness can be realized. What is that action which is very intense, by which actionlessness is to be achieved by us? In answering this question, we recollect and remind you of the Bhagavatpāda’s command: ‘Let action be performed well; thus let God be worshipped!’ Let us then perform our allotted actions. It is the performance of allotted actions that constitutes service t'o the Lord, worship of Him, and becomes the means to obtain His Grace. Therefore, performing our respective duties, and thus worshipping the Lord, we shall gain the Supreme Good.”


9. Since 1957

In the history of the city of Madras, the years 1957-59 constitute an unforgettable chapter; for, during these years, the Āchārya staved in the city—visiting it after a lapse of twenty-five years— and blessed the people by his benign presence, by the daily pūjā. performed to Śrī Chandramaulīśvara and Śrī Tripurasundarī, and by his after- pūjā discourses. An enthusiastic and reverential welcome was accorded to His Holiness the Jagadguru, when, accompanied by his Principal Disciple, he arrived in the city on the 23rd of September 1957. Śrī V. Ramakrishna Aiyar, Deputy Chief Reporter to “The Hindu”, Madras, to whom was “assigned” the task of reporting the ceremonial welcome, records his personal experience on that glorious night as follows:

“As I had not the good fortune of receiving the darṣan of His Holiness previously, I went to my ‘duty’ in a professional attitude, little realizing the unique experience that awaited me The first sight of His Holiness sent a thrill through my body anc brought about an indescribable mental revolution. A glance from that shining benevolent eyes and a comforting gesture fron the hand, which caused a wave of peace to engulf one, made ’tu surrender myself to him unreservedly.

“I could have discharged the duty assigned to me that day to the satisfaction of my office, by covering the reception accorded to His Holiness at ‘Farm House’, by Mr Kasturi Srinivasan and the members of his family and prominent citizens constituting the Reception Committee, and then winding up my report by mentioning that His Holiness and Śrī Jayendra Sarasvatī Svāmī were taken in procession in decorated palanquins to the Samskrit College, indicating the route taken by the procession. But I found myself unable to move away from that divine presence and without any conscious effort on mv part, I followed the procession, noting down everything that happened en route. It was only after His Holiness retired late in the night at the Samskrit College that I managed to drag my feet home”.[10]

Thousands of devotees listened with rapt attention to the Āchārya’s after- pūjā discourses. It was a new experience of exaltation and ennoblement’ each day To watch the Āchārya perform the pūjā was itself a unique participation in the adoration of the Divine After the evening pūjā, the Achārva would come to the platform and sit there in silence for a while One was often reminded of Śrī Dakṣiṇāmūrti whose mode of upadeśa is silence. But, in order to bless us who cannot understand the language of silence, the Āchārya would begin to speak after preparing the ground through silence. The speech would flow effortlessly, without the least trace of artificiality. Into the content of the speech would go the most ancient wisdom as well as the results of the latest research in a variety of disciplines Above all, every word of the Āchārya’s utterances would have as it's support authentic inward experience. The entire audience would sit spell-bound, drinking in every syllable and accent and their deep significance. Those who could not listen to the discourse's in person, for some reason or other, had the benefit of reading reports of them in the newspapers such as “The Hindu”, and “The Swadesa Mitran”.[11]

The following is a brief account of the significance and gist of the Āchārya’s teachings:—

“True to the appellation Jagadguru (World-teacher), the Āchārya’s teachings are meant for the entire mankind Even when they are addressed to the Hindus, they are applicable mutatis mutandis to the followers of other faiths. Advaita, whose consolidation was the great life-mission of Ādi Śaṅkara, has no quarrel with any religion or spiritual perspective. No one is excluded from its portals. The plenary experience which is Advaita is the common goal of everyone. Inheriting this most comprehensive outlook as the Āchārya does, he finds no difficulty in accommodating apparently divergent points of view and elevating them at the same time with the lever of Advaita experience.

“Advaita is not a school among schools of thought. As the Āchārya says, sages belonging to different traditions and religions have had the Advaita-experience; and they have shared their experience with others. Tattvarāya Svāmī was a Madhva; Mastān Sāheb was a Muslim. Even those thinkers who profess to oppose Advaita turn out to be contributors thereto; and all of them speak the language of Advaita. This shows that the expansive heart of Śrī Ādi Śaṅkara accommodates all views on the ultimate Reality and all approaches to it. Though other systems may quarrel with Advaita, Advaita does not quarrel with them.

“It is in the context of Advaita that the Āchārya’s varied teachings fall in place. His exhortation for work for the commonweal, his advice for the adoption of simple and clean modes of living, his repeated invitation for offering worship to God in any of His myriad forms, his recommendation of the practice of concentration and meditation, his advocacy of the study of Vedānta and the realisation of its truth—all these are to be understood as relating to disciplines that lead to Advaita-experience.

“There is an unfounded criticism that Advaita accords no place to God in its scheme. The truth, however, is that even the Advaita outlook one gains only through the Grace of God There is nothing strange, therefore, in the Āchārya’s teaching, through example and precept, that the most important item in one’s daily programme should be divine worship Those moments in one’s life are vain which are unrelated to the endeavour to bespeak the blessings of the Lord.

“As a spiritual discipline, the worship of one’s chosen form of the Deity is indispensable for one’s progress towards enlightenment Especially at the initial stages it serves as the go-cart which helps the child to learn to walk. While praying one may ask for the fulfilment of one’s personal ends; but the best prayer is that which asks God to dower the entire world with His blessings; for the devotee of the Lord should look upon all mankind as one.

“A theme which recurs frequently in the Āchārya’s speeches is the plea for inter-religious understanding. There is no meaning in the rivalries between the followers of the different faiths. The attempts at religious conversion are like those of the drivers of all sorts of conveyances at the railway station to “catch” passengers. While the behaviour of the drivers is understandable, that of the protagonists of religions is meaningless. As the God of all religious denominations is one, there is no need to give up one religion and adopt another. This does not mean that all the religions are uniform; uniformity is not important; what is important is unity; and all our faiths are united in proclaiming the supreme reality of the One God. The religions are like the arches of a bridge. To a man standing under a particular arch, that one would loom large and the others would appear small But the fact is that all arches are similarly constructed and are of the same dimension. As God cannot be different, why should there be decrying of any religion? The religions are many only to cater to the different tastes of men. This should not lead to religious fanaticism and hatred.

“The grandeur of Hinduism is that it consciously recognizes the unity of religion. That the different religions are nut contradictory of, or antagonistic to, one another, but are only apsects of one Eternal Religion, is not a mere theory or abstract speculation with the Hindus, it is an article of faith. It is a tragedy, therefore, that there should be religious quarrels among the Hindus themselves. A major division in Hinduism is that between Vaiṣṇavism and Śaivism. The Āchārya is never tired of pointing out that, according to all our Scriptures and the teachings of all the great masters, Śiva and Viṣṇu are one. Our ancients have taught us in several ways the unity of Godhead. The conceptions of Naṭarāja and Rangarāja are complementary to each other. In fact, Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva are but different aspects of the same Deity. A similar complementariness is to be noticed in the idea of God as male and female, as father and mother. The integrated views of the Deity as Harihara , and as Ardhanārīśvara , have a deep significance, and take us nearer the supreme truth.

“A resurgent and strong Hinduism is necessary not only for the salvation of the Hindus but also for the betterment of the world. The Veda which is the basic scripture of Hinduism is not a sectarian text. Whatever truth was declared by any great prophet can be traced to the Vedas. On the river-banks of the Vedic dharma, the various religions are like the bathing-ghats. In the distant past, the Vedic religion was spread throughout the world. Gradually other religions appeared in the other parts of the globe, each emphasizing some aspects of the religion of the Veda. To India belongs the privilege of preserving the ancient dharma in its purity and comprehensive nature.

“A disciplined and ordered life is what is taught in the Veda. The main Vedic disciphnes are: performance of one’s duties (karmānuṣṭhāna) , cultivation of the cardinal virtues (śila), worship of the Deity (upāsana), and acquisition of wisdom (jñāna). To live like an animal, eating, sleeping, and begetting, is to prostitute the precious human birth. We must learn to put a curb on the animal propensities, and purify our minds. By good deeds we must convert the material goods into religious merit (puṇya) which alone is legal tender in the worlds to come. Earning and hoarding should not become the ends of life. A career-oriented education is no education. What should first be inculcated in young minds is respect for dharma. There is no point in asking people to increase their standard ot living; what should be aimed at is improvement or the quality of life. The frail mortal Cannot improve his life by sell-effort alone; he must seek God’s Grace through worship and meditation. It is by bathing in the holy waters of meditation that the mind gets cleansed of its impurities, The mind so cleansed develops the power of discrimination; it gains the ability to distinguish the real from the unreal, which paves the way for the dawn of wisdom (jñāna).

jñāna is the fruit of the tree of life. The man of wisdom, the sage, is the ideal of man. He has no attachment and aversion; praise and blame are equal to him. He does not sink under the weight of so-called troubles. A heavy log of wood becomes light when immersed in water. Let the troubles be sunk in the waters of jñāna, they will cease to be troubles. To the jñāni the supreme Self is the sole reality. As the dolls in the Daśarā exhibition are all clay in their insides, so are all things the Paramātman in substance for the jñānī. There is no bondage for the jñānī; he does not fall again into the tract of saṃsāra. Mokṣa or release is not a post mortem state; it is the eternal nature of the Self. The jñānī realizes this; and hence there is no more travail for him. The Trayaṃbaka-mantra compares release to the separation of the cucumber fruit from its stalk. This fruit does not fall down, but gets detached from the stalk, or rather, the stalk gets itself detached even without the fruit knowing it. This ‘cucumber mukti’ is the goal of every one. Those who have realized it are the jñānīs.

“Such jñānīs have appeared at all times and in all places. Their presence is a blessing to the world. Thousands of people profit, even without their knowing, by contact with a Mahāpuruṣa. There is no discord or divergence of views among the wise. The peace that passeth understanding is what they spread. Let the people resort to them for gaining liberation from the fetters of finite existence.”[12]

Every moment of His Holiness’s life is spent in the service of Ādi Śaṅkara, in conveying the Great Master’s all-comprehensive and soul-saving message to the people at large. With a (...?) to remind the people of Śrī Śaṅkara and his spiritual (.....?), His Holiness has been causing Sankara Memorial Maṇṭapas to be constructed during the last few years, at important places of pilgrimage. The first to be so constructed is the one at Ramesvaram(?), After participating in the Kumbhābhiṣekam of Śrī Bangaru Kāmākṣī at Tañjāvūr on the 7th of April 1963, the Āchārya proceeded to Rameśvaram for the consecration of the (....?) Sankara Memorial Tower there. The consecration ceremony took place significantly on the Śankāra Jayanti Day, the 28th of April. As the day dawned, the Āchārya accompanied by Śrī Jayendra Sarasvatī Svāmī, went to the temple of Śrī Rāmanātha and performed the pūjā himself. After the pūjā, he proceeded to the newly constructed Śaṅkara Maṇṭapa for the Kumbhāhiṣekam ceremony. The sanctified waters in the Kalaśas were taken out in procession. The Āchārya himself accompanied, tanning the Kalaśas with specially prepared chāmaras. After Śrī Jayendra Sarasvatī Svāmī had performed the abhiṣeka to the five Kumbhas adorning the dome of the tower, the Āchārya entered the shrine and performed pūjā in sequence to Śrī Hanumān, the twelve Jyotir-liṅgas, the Dakṣiṇā-mūrti-Yantra, and Ādi-Śaṅkara and his four disciples; finally, he consecrated the image of Śrī Sarasvatī in the Sarasvatī Mandira attached to the main shrine just behind the Maṇṭapa. The entire Memorial is a graceful structure with representations of holy sages and preceptors whose sight would bring back to one’s memory the unique grandeur of India’s culture. As one rises from the Agni-tīrtha after a sanctifying bath, one beholds the Memorial Tower and the various features thereof. Each aspect elevates the mind of the onlooker. The central figure of Śrī Ādi Śaṅkara surrounded by his disciples impresses the pilgrim as representing all that is best and noblest in India’s heritage.

In connection with the Kumbhābhiṣekam, a sadas was held that night. Addressing the audience, the Āchārya explained the significance of the installation of Śrī Ādi Śaṅkara. With a smile, he observed in a lighter vein:

“Śrī Ādi Śaṅkara was a wandering Āchārya moving quickly and frequently from place to place. He had travelled throughout this sacred country. Today Śrī Ādi Śaṅkara has assumed a fixed seat in Rāmeśvaram, the dakṣināmnāyakṣetra, the southern-most dhāma of all the dhāmas of Bhāratavarṣa. To the four corners of India he carried his message; but from today onwards the people of India from all over will be coming to him at Rāmeśvaram, and alter touching his Pādukā placed in front of the Maṇṭapa, will receive the message and inspiration from him.”

The Āchārya thus gave the reason why Rameśvaram had been chosen as the first place lor the installation of Śrī Ādi Śaṅkara. There is the shrine of Añjaneya built in front of the Maṇṭapa. After adoring Śrī Añjaneya, one worships the twelve Jyotir-liṅgas which Ādi Śaṅkara himself had worshipped at the respective dhamas in the country. The Śrī Rāmanātha Sotu Liṅga (? or Setu Liṅga) has been appropriately installed as the first of the twelve Liṅgas. One then comes to the shrine on the top adorned by the Image of Ādi Śaṅkara and the representations of his four disciples. The Śaṅkara Image is placed on a high pedestal so that every person who takes a dip in the Agni-tīrtha would have Śaṅkara’s darśava when he turns back to the shore. The result of this darśana would be, as pointed out by the Āchārya, that through Śrī Śaṅkara’s grace one could get rid of nescience and gam the plenary wisdom.

Tiruviḍaimarudūr, also called Madhyārjuna, is a notable place of pilgrimage connected with Ādi Śaṅkara’s dig-vijaya. When Śaṅkara visited this place, he desired that the Mahāliṅga at the temple should itself declare the truth of Advaita so that the doubt in regard thereto lingering in the minds of some people might bo dispelled. In response to the Jagadguru’s prayer, the Lord Śiva appeared out of the Mahāliṅga, raised the right hand, and proclaimed the truth of Advaita three times thus: ‘satyam advaitam; satyam advaitam; satyam advaitam.’ Our Āchārya wished that this greatly significant incident should be adequately represented in sculpture so that people would easily remember it. A Vimāna over the entrance of the local Śaṅkara Maṭha was put up, and within it were installed sculptured figures of the Mahāliṅga with the right hand raised and of Ādi Śaṅkara with palms joined. In the central courtyard of the Maṭha a shrine was constructed and in it was installed Śaṅkara-pādukā. Our Āchārya accompanied by Śrī Jayendra Sarasvatī Svāmī participated in the Kumbhabhiṣekam of this new Memorial, which took place on the 5th of December 1963. A special feature of the ceremony was the archana performed to the Pādukā with 108 laced shawls, which were subsequently presented to the paṇḍitas.

In the Śrī Maṭha at Kāñchī, a new sixteen-pillared hall was constructed, and therein were installed the Images of Ādi Śaṅkara and his four disciples, and the Guru-pādukā. The Āchārya arrived at Kānchī on the 26th of February 1964, after a tour of the southern districts. On the next day, the 27th of February, the consecration ceremony was performed.

At Kanyākumārī, the land’s end, where the eternal virgin Mother presides, a Memorial Mantapa for Śaṅkara was built. The Kumbhābhiṣekam for this was performed on the 31st of May, 1964.

Śrī-Śaila. the Holy Mountain, in Andhra Pradesh is one of the most sacred Śiva-sthalas. We have already referred to the visit of our Āchārya to this place in 1934 during his vijaya-yātrā, and to the fact that Ādi Śaṅkara had also visited it. A fitting Memorial Maṇṭapa for Śaṅkara has been built there. And, our Āchārya went to Śrī-Śaila in March 1967 for the consecration ceremony. Arriving there on the 8ih of March, the Āchārva and Śrī Jayendra Sarasvatī Svāmī had their bath in the sacred Pātāla-gaṅgā, and thereafter darśana of Śrī Mallīkārjuna Mahāliṅga and Śrī Bhramarāmbikā in the temple. On the 9th of March, which was Mahā-śivarātrī, Ekādaśa-rudra-homa was performed. The Kumbhābhiṣekam of the Śaṅkara-Maṇṭapa took place on the 22nd of March, 1967.

At Rishikesh (Ṛṣikeśa) near Lakṣman Jhula, where the Gaṅgā descends to level-ground, a temple for Śrī Śaṅkara has been constructed. This was consecrated on the 14th of May 1967, the Śaṅkara Jayanti day.

At Kurukṣetra, the Images of Śrī Śaṅkara and of the Gitopadeśa have been installed. Among the other places of pilgrimage where arrangements are in progress for Śaṅkara-Memorials are Trayaṃbaka where the Godavarī has its source, Prayāga where there is the confluence of the Gaṅgā. the Yamunā, and the invisible Sarasvatī, and Badarī on the Himalayas where Nara and Nārayana observe perpetual tapasya for the welfare of the world.

The following words of the Āchārya bring out clearly the supreme importance and value of Śrī Śaṅkara and his message to India and the world :

“There is no avatāra greater than Āchārya Bhagavatpāda. Even from childhood he travelled throughout the land, from the Setu to the Himalayas, from Rāmeśvaram to the Himalayas, and established the six faiths. If one wishes to know the real truth, one should study the Āchārya’s works. There is no country where the Āchārya’s commentaries are not known. Is it possible to measure his greatness? His fame has been sung even in stone. The spade of the archaeologists has unearthed in the far-eastern countries several precious inscriptions. In them there is reference to ‘Bhagavān Śaṅkara.’

The following verse is from one of those inscriptions.”


The meaning is:

‘the seekers of the truth all over the world bow their heads before Śaṅkara. Their bowed heads are like the bees that do not wish to leave the tender lotus-feet of the Master. The heads of all the wise ones, the realized souls, in the world have found a harbour at the holy Feet.’

Thus the inscription.”

During the period of the Āchārya’s stay in Kāñchī in 1953-57, his second visit to the city 1957-59, and in subsequent years, several foreigners—scholars and savants, spiritual seekers and religious leaders, exponents of the Arts and even diplomats—have had interviews with the Āchārya, thereby gaining first-hand knowledge of the immortal tradition of India. What Professor Milton Singer, of the University of Chicago, said after meeting the Āchārya in 1955, expresses precisely the feeling of all those from abroad who have had the privilege of conversing with the Great One.

This is what the Professor said:

“Before I went to India I had heard and read much about the great ‘soul force’ of its holy men and saints, but I had assumed that this was something in the ancient past. And it was not until I had met Śaṅkaracharya that I realized it was still a part of the living force of Hinduism to-day”.

In his book, The Lotus and the Robot, the well-known writer Mr Arthur Koestler records his impressions of a meeting which he had with the Āchārya in 1959, and speaks in glowing terms of the smile that transformed the Āchārya’s face into that of a child:

“I had never seen a comparable smile or expression; it had an extraordinary charm and sweetness”.

Mr Arthur Isenberg of the United States of America, reminiscing about the evening which he had the privilege of having with the sage of Kāñchī, speaks about

his eyes, which looked at me with a mixture, or rather a fine blending, of intelligence, kindliness and compassion , while at the same time somehow reflecting a most gentle sense of humour”.

He further says,

“I had the definite sensation of being in the presence of a man thoroughly at peace with himself, a sage. This impression grew to conviction during the course of the three and half hour conversation that night on 20th April, 1959”.

Regarding the manner of the Āchārya’s conversation, he writes,

“Almost from the start I was impressed by a most remarkable habit which the Āchārya practises. Not only does he never interrupt a question (which would be remarkable enough!) but he invariably pauses about a minute or more before answering. His reply, when it comes, clearly shows that it was preceded by reflection: it is invariably concise and to the point.”

Miss Eughina Borghini, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who was among those who attended the first Āgama-Śilpa-Sadas at Iḷaiyāttaṅguḍi in 1962, has this to say about our Āchārya:

“I consider the day I first saw His Holiness as a day of great fortune in my life. I consider that in him Jesus has come again into this world. He is an image of love. From the moment I saw him, the light of his grace gave me maturity to understand clearly some of the aspects of spiritual life and religious teachings. His Holiness lives just like Jesus, homeless and devoted to a life of renunciation, and with his contemplation, worship, penance, and teachings working for the welfare of mankind. I shall bow at his feet and be always adoring him.”

Dr Albert B. Franklin, the U. S. Consul-General in Madras, saw the Āchārya for the first time in the Madurai Mīnākṣī Temple during the kumbhābhiṣekam in 1963. In these striking words he records what he saw and the deep impression it made on his mind:

“A stir in the central portion of the temple yard before the gilded Vimanam under which the Goddess Meenakṣi is henceforth to stay, attracted our attention. The V.I.P’s. in that area parted respectfully to let an old man with a beard and a long stick come through. He approached the ladder leading to the top of the Vimanam. It was the Sankaracharya. The old man approached with halting steps, his head turning from side to side as if he wanted not to miss any detail of his surroundings. Who was he? He has a name, he has a dwelling place, he has an age, but in fact, he is every man and he is as old as man’s ponderings. He is the man of faith who has given away all that he had and follows only his faith. He is symbol of that renunciation which is at the heart of all religions, and which Christ himself demanded when asked by the rich young man “What must I do to be saved?” So, here, at this time, in the temple, he is more than the most highly placed of the V.I.P. guests. With a vigour surprising in so old a man, he seizes the railing of the ladder in a long fingered, bony hand and rapidly climbs seven or eight rungs to a point from which he can reach the top of the Vimanam with his stick. He remains, a central figure throughout the ceremony”.[13]

We reproduce below the report of an interview which a British author and a French savant had with the Āchārya on the 26th of February 1958, in Madras, as a typical illustration of such meetings:

“The time fixed for the interview was 9 p.m. Sir Paul Dukes arrived at His Holiness’s camp at Thyagarayanagar at 8-30. He was conducted to the place of the interview which was an open space beneath a row of palms. There was a spread of hay whereon in the centre was placed a wooden plank which was to serve as the seat for His Holiness. Struck by this, for him, unusual situation, Sir Paul remarked that this was a romantic setting for the new experience which he was looking forward to. Presently, the Frenchman, M. Philippe Lavastine, arrived escorted by a few Indian friends. He seemed evidently moved at the prospect of meeting a great scholar-saint.

“It was a little past nine. Our attention was drawn to the direction from where a mild torch-light flashed. His Holiness was coming slowly, with those unself-conscious steps which are uniquely his. About half a dozen devotees who were following him stepped back, as His Holiness sat on the wooden plank, asking the group that was waiting for him to sit down, by a graceful gesture of hand. The two guests sat at a short distance from His Holiness, with the interpreter in between them. The stage was now set for the interview.

“Sir Paul Dukes was the first to be introduced, as the author of two books whose titles are The Unending Quest, and Yoga for the Western World. His Holiness asked Sir Paul as to what he meant by the unending quest. The Englishman said that in his own case the quest had not ended yet. In the case of the average Westerner, he added, it is thought that the quest ends once a particular church was accepted. Sir Paul’s view was that this was not so. Explaining the meaning of the unending quest , His Holiness observed:

‘If the quest is external, there would be no end to it. It would be like the quest after the horizon—a hallucination. If the quest is inward, then it would end with the discovery of the true Self. In a sense, even this latter quest may be said to be unending in that its object is infinite’.

“The Frenchman was then introduced as one interested in the study of our temples and the purāṇas in connection with his researches into the institution of kingship. M. Lavastine himself explained what his central problem was. In ancient times the temporal and the spiritual were united in the institution of kingship. There was no division of the secular from the sacred. Probably, most of the ills of the modem world are traceable to this division which now obtains. The French scholar thought that a study of the history of the South Indian temples might throw light on the question of the relation between temporal power and spirituality.

“His Holiness enquired if M. Lavastine had heard of the saying: rājā dharmasya kāraṇam (The king is responsible for dharma). As His Holiness was giving an illuminating explanation of this saying, the two visitors were observed moving close to him, with their attention fixed on every word of his. Although His Holiness was speaking in Tamil, he used a profusion of English words to help the interpreter in his task, and also the visitors in their understanding of him. Not accustomed to squat cross-legged, the Western visitors were stretching their legs forwards. The interpreter touched the knees of the Frenchman, in order to indicate that he could fold his legs. Observing this, His Holiness told the interpreter that there was no need for this restraint. It was difficult for the average Westerner to squat. The way in which the visitors sat did not matter. They were like children in this respect. Why restrain them? How gracious of His Holiness to have made this observation! Is this not a true sign of a Mahātmā?

“Explaining the Samskrit saying, His Holiness said:

‘It is natural that man should seek to satisfy his wants like hunger, thirst, and a place to rest. There are duties which an individual has towards himself, the social group, and the nation. Ordinarily the performance of these duties remains on the level of satisfying the creaturely wants. But there is a way of performing these duties which will elevate everyone concerned spiritually. That is dharma. And it is the duty of the king or the state to see that the citizens are provided every opportunity for spiritual growth and progress. That is the meaning of the saying: rājā dharmasya kāraṇam’.

“The Frenchman said that he wanted to study Samskrit in the traditional Indian way, directly from a teacher, without the aid of books. His Holiness expressed his appreciation of this wish, and remarked:

‘Even in India that tradition has all but disappeared. The old way was not [to confuse the ability to read and write with scholarship. Even the greatest scholars did not know how to read and write’.

(Here, one of the visitors cited the instance of Śrī Rāmakṛṣṇa who could not even sign his name properly in Bengali. His Holiness continued:)

“I am referring to even secular scholars. Writing was the special art of a small class of people called kaṇakkars. They were good caligraphers. But the rest of the people, for the most part, were not literate. Eminent mathematicians, astronomers, physicians, Vedic scholars—these could not read and write. Learning was imparted orally and was imbibed by rote. The method has its own excellences, and could be revived with profit, within certain limits”.

‘Would His Holiness favour the revival of all that is old and ancient?’,

asked Sir Paul Dukes. His Holiness replied that what was good and of value was worthy of revival. There was no need for any propaganda. This is not to be done that way. If a few people would set an example in their personal lives, this would catch on; and a time may come when the West also would emulate. And, when there is recognition from the West, our people may wake up and see something grand in their own past.

“‘One last request,’ said Sir Paul, ‘What would be the message from His Holiness that could be carried to the West?’ His Holiness remained silent for a considerable length of time. He was indrawn, with eyes half-closed, and absorbed in contemplation. A t the end of that period he spoke in slow, measured tones:

‘In all that you do, let love be the sole motive. Any deed must be with reference to another. Action implies the acted-upon as much as the agent. Let action be out of love. I am not here referring to the Gandhian gospel of ahimsā. There may be situations which demand violent action. Punishment, for instance, may be necessary. Even wars may have to be waged. But whatever be the nature of the action, the agent must act out of love. Passions such as desire and hatred, anger and malice must be totally eschewed. If love becomes the guiding principle of all deeds, then most ot the ills of the world will vanish.’

‘This,’ added His Holiness, ‘you may carry with you as the message of the sages and saints of India.’

“Thus ended a memorable interview with one who is the embodiment of all that is most noble and sublime in the spiritual culture of India. Enjoying the aroma of the virtues of gentleness and courtesy, one could see the light of wisdom beaming forth from those enchanting eyes, as one listened to words which were true and at the same time pleasing.”

Royal Visitors from Greece had memorable interviews with His Holiness at the Kālahasti Camp on the 4th and 5th of December, 1966. Her Majesty Queen Frederika, Queen-Mother of Greece and Her Royal Highness Princess Irene came as seekers of truth; and they thought it supremely worthwhile to undertake this long journey, and were richly rewarded. The following is the gist of the interviews—the questions asked by the Royalty and the instructions given by His Holiness:

1. Q. Your Holiness! I am able to meditate with a measure of success while awake. But, the meditative experience does not come in dreams. What should be done to retain this attitude in the dreams also?

A. One need not worry about the kind of dreams one has. One who practises meditation in the waking state, may not, when he goes to the dream state, experience the meditative attitude. The dreams may relate to non-spiritual phenomena. But the spiritual seeker should not be troubled over these; he should not think that such dreams constitute an impediment to his spiritual life. To think so, and to be troubled mentally would be an obstacle. What the seeker should be careful about is the waking life. He should devote as much of it as possible to the spiritual quest. If his endeavours in the waking state are in the direction of the Spirit, then gradually in dreams also one’s spiritual nature will be reflected.

It is not dreams that affect waking life; it is the other way about. One who is fair-skinned in waking life usually dreams of himself in dreams as having fair skin. If he has dark-skin, in dream also he has a similar complexion. Thus, it is the experiences of waking state that get reflected in dreams, although in odd and queer forms. So, if the aspirant is vigilant in his waking state, and strives constantly to remember the Self, gradually in dreams also the same attitude will get reflected. If he succeeds in rendering his waking life free from violent passions and base desires, in course of time his dreams also will become placid and full of peace.[14]

2. Q. Will Your Holiness be pleased to prescribe a technique by which the concentration and equanimity of the mind may be facilitated?

A. Normally one breathes through one of the two nostrils, right or left’. It is possible to change the breathing from one nostril to the other by effort. If the breathing is through the right nostril, and if it is to be changed to the left, what one should do is to put pressure on the right side of the body, which could be done by resting the right palm on the ground and making the body lean on that aim. For a change from the left to the right, the pressure should be put on the left side. Before the actual change takes place, the breathing would be through both the nostrils for a short time, say, two seconds. This is what may be called equalised breathing. If one practises to observe the equalised breathing, its period will become longer and longer. And, the equalised breathing will facilitate the gaining of mental balance and equanimity. The more one practises this, the greater will be the progress in achieving the balance of mind, and the ability to remain unperturbed.

3. Q. If the surroundings are not salutory, if there are people who are hostile to one’s mode of life, if everywhere one sees evil and wickedness, what should one do?

A. One may be surrounded by wicked people who are treacherous and evil in their ways. But one should not be impatient with them, or show hatred towards them. On the contrary one should have sympathy for them, and compassion. No person is wicked by nature, but circumstances and upbringing make him so. There is no reason, therefore, to hate him for what he has been made into. And also, an aspirant should not have hatred for anyone. He should reason thus: “Since the wicked person is so because of circumstances and upbringing, he is to be pitied rather than hated. What would I do if some one whom I hold dear, say, my son, turns to evil ways? I would strive to correct him through love. Even so should I treat the stranger. In fact, there is no stranger for a truth-seeker; for all are his kindred. What would be my plight if I had been born and bred in those evil circumstances? I too would be behaving in a wicked way. So, let me see the same Self in the wicked man; let me not hate him.”

4. Q. What is the distinction between the savikalpa and nirvikalpa stages in samādhi? And, what is sahaja-samādhi ?

A. Savikalpa and nirvikalpa are stages in the path of concentration and meditation. In what is known as savikalpa-samādki, the mind is steady without any distraction, contemplating its object wholly absorbed therein. In nirvikalpa samādhi, which is the goal of yoga, the mind ceases to function, and vanishes once for all, leaving the self to shine forth alone. In Advaita too the path of meditation is recognised; but here the object of meditation is the disñnctionless Brahman. What is called sahaja-samādhi is realised through the path of inquiry. It is the natural state of Self-realization, and one of utter unconcern for the fleeting phenomena.

5. Q. What should a leader do in regard to customs, usages, etc.? Even after he finds them to be not of any benefit for himself, should he follow them?

A. Those who are the leaders of a group, society, or state, should not neglect the established religious customs and usages. For themselves, they may not be in need of church-ceremonies, for instance, their advance in spirituality may not require these. But if they begin to neglect them, the people for whom the rituals are really helpful will also start neglecting them. This would be setting a bad example. In the words of the Bhagavad-gītā

“The wise one should not unsettle the minds of those who are ignorant, and are attached to action; on the contrary, he should encourage them to perform what they should perform, by himself doing the appropriate actions well and with diligence”.

It is a duty cast upon the leaders and those that are at the top to lead the people from where they are, and not to refrain from participation in the traditional ways of worship.

Recording the indelible impression of the interviews and the unique blessing gained by the darśana of His Holiness, Her Majesty has observed thus:

“The two days we spent in his company will never be forgotten. There was pure spirituality. What strange fate has brought us close to him !”

Expanding the same impression, and reminiscing on what has been aptly described as the meeting with Perfection, Her Royal Highness says:

“Since some time now I find myself in a situation where t here are no more questions to ask (except for details). Yet identification with the Self is far from constant. Nevertheless the practice of application will also contribute in making it more permanent so that there is really no problem. Then I believe that Fate brings things when time is ripe. And what came as Fate’s great gift was this meeting with Perfection who’s blessing is more than I am able to cherish without being deeply moved.

“He mentioned that the astronauts must have experienced outwardly that which is usually felt inwardly by spiritual seekers— an outer mystic experience. We had the Grace of having both the outer and inner mystic experience in His presence and we are thankful for it. He appeared as the vivid link between Spirit and matter, a link (for the seeker) which showed that they are not separate. The world of appearance with this Sage, who quite obviously was a guest in the frail body, was there, but the Essence, with which the guest is identical, was there too, demonstrating that the world is not different from it. His gaze made the self cast off all the bonds of the ego, thus unveiling a pure reflection of what those eyes are identified with. How can the beauty of this be witnessed with dry eyes?

“The greatness of His blessing was so immense that this human container was incapable of holding it without its overflowing which resulted as tears. Tears of utter fulfillment which washed away the container, causing it to dissolve, for a while, into the Reality He symbolizes.”

Dr Paul Brunton, an account of whose interview with His Holiness has been given earlier, has sent the following message on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of the Pīṭhārohaṇa:

“About forty years ago I sat in the presence of His Holiness Sri Shankaracharya of Kamakoti Peetham. The soundness of his graciously given advice, answers, explanations, and his direction of my footsteps towards the late Śrī Ramaṇa Maharṣi, was proved by later experience and study. There was also a feeling of the great importance of this meeting with him. Somewhere in “A Search in Secret India” I wrote of the mystical vision which followed during the night and the great upliftment which was felt at the time.

“I have often thought of him during the intervening vears and there is no doubt in my mind that he is a sanctified being, a channel for higher spiritual forces. At the same time he is an upholder of religious values, which it would be regrettable for India to lose under, the pressure of modem life, with its industrialism and materialism.

“Those scientifically educated young Indians who have no use for their own religion and regard it with disdain should take a lesson from the West which has gone through an equivalent experience already, but now has to retrace its way.”

The American consul General, Dr A. B. Franklin, paid the following tribute to His Holiness, while presiding over a meeting held in Madras as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, on the 28th of February, 1967:

“We are living in a unique time in the world’s history, when things are happening on so many different levels that, if we are caught up in any one of these levels, we are likely to be completely mistaken about the whole. On one of these levels (the one which most interests me) the West, my West, is arriving laboriously, after centuries of search by our most brilliant minds, at philosophical knowledge which was both implicit and explicit in India thousands of years ago. The greatest miracle of the human spirit is the sum of knowledge found in the body of lore which we collectively term the Vedanta. His Holiness, sixty years ago, abandoned the multitude of other levels of human, existence, contest, involvement, to devote himself to this Truth.

“If we meet here to-day to honour him because of the sixty years of his accession to the title of Holiness, I believe that this is immaterial to him. I believe that he is as far beyond the titles and honours of this world as we, on our side, are in need of honouring him, as a way of symbolising our awareness of the Reality he represents for us.

“It is hard for me to find a tribute in words which expresses my feeling of admiration and gratitude towards His Holiness. Those of us who deal in words as commodity or as a tool of trade, learn to mistrust them. Especially do we mistrust words as a means to describe a living, changing force, or personality, and like your remote ancestors we learn to mistrust words as a means of describing ultimate things. Perhaps the most appropriate thing I can say on this occasion is a very simple thing. I come from a very God-fearing portion of Christian America, that is to say, New England. Our earliest great philosophers, in that blessed comer of the earth, were among the very first westerners to appreciate the fact that' the Vedanta, far from being an outworn creed, was a vast and joyous experience that lay ahead of us. Not only do I come from that comer of the earth which bred Emerson and Thoreau, whose spirits are with us here this evening, but I am one of a long line—long as our lines in America go—of ministers and teachers. When this line started, back in the seventeenth century, ministers and teachers were usually the same individuals. It gives me pleasure to be able to say, in these circumstances, that, though some of my ancestors were in their day the subject of controversy because of their beliefs, just as Emerson was in his day, yet not one of them would question the appropriateness of my being here this evening. For them as for me, the spirit whom we are celebrating, represents the highest aspirations of mankind.”

It is difficult to reduce to words what one feels about the unique greatness of our Āchārya. His very presence in our midst is a blessing. The solace that countless devotees receive from his words is inexpressible. When one thinks of His Holiness, one is reminded of the definition of “The Guru” given by Ādi Śaṅkara in his Praśnottara-ratna-mālikā:

ko gurur-adhigatatattvaḥ śiṣyahitāyodyataḥ satatam.

“Who is the Guru ? He who has realized the Truth, and who is always intent on the disciples’ good”.

For sixty years, His Holiness Śrī Chandraśekharendra Sarasvatī has adorned the ancient Kāñchī Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha as the Sixty-eighth Āchārya in succession to Ādi Śaṅkara. May this spiritual rulership continue to shower its many blessings on the entire world!



1.    13th February 1907—Ascension to the Pīṭha at the village of Kalavai in North Arcot district.

2.    Grand state reception with full military honours at the Pudukkoṭṭai state border town of Mañjuvāḍi by Vijaya Raghunātha Thoṇḍaimān, Regent Counsellor, Venkatarama Das Naidu, Dewan, and other officials together with Radhakrishnan, mathematical genius.

3.    1908—His Holiness paid respects to His Parameṣṭhī guru at the latter’s Adhiṣṭhānam at Ilaiyāttaṅgudi on Vaiśākha-chitrā-paurṇami anuṣa nakṣatra day which happens to be the birth-day of the Parameṣṭhī guru.

4.    1908—Octogenarian Śrī Muthu Ghanapāthī who had at his own expense imparted Vedādhyayana to numerous pupils at Tiruvaiyāru Kṣetra received His Holiness with more than fifty of his disciples while His Holiness was on His way to the Kumbhābhiṣekam of Akhilāṇḍeśvarī temple at Tiruvānaikkā.

5.    1908—Kumbhābhiṣekam of Akhilāṇḍeśvarī temple at Tiruvānaikkā. Adorned the Goddess with the ear-rings (tāṭaṅka)

6.    1909—Reception with military honours and by Vidvāns and others at the palace of the Mahārāṣṭra princess of Tanjore, H. H. Jijamba Bai Saheba and Queen Ramamba Bai Saheba and at Sarasvati Mahal. His Holiness was then taken in procession along the four royal roads seated on golden howda on the royal elephant.

7.    1909—Led by Maharaja Śivāji and Prince Pratāpsiṃha of Tanjore, His Holiness was taken seated on an elephant into Kumbhakoṇam town. His Holiness then took bath in the Mahā-makham tank.

8.    1911—Installation of the image of Ādī Śaṅkara Bhagavatpāda at Lālguḍi (Tiruchi district) in the presence of Paṇḍitaratna Sundararāma Śāstrī of Mysore state, Chidambaram Mahāmaho-pādhyāya Harihara Śāstrī, Mylapore Mahāmahopādhyāya Mīmāṃsā Venkatasubba Śāstrī, and other eminent scholars.

9.    1911 to ’13 —Śāstravichāra at Mahendramaṅgalam on the banks of Akhaṇḍa Kaverī in Tiruchi district.

10.    1916—Lakṣadīpam at Kumbhakoṇam Śrī Maṭha during the auspicious occasion of Śrī Śāradā Navarātri. Separate Lakṣārchanas to Durgā, Lakṣmī, and Sarasvatī who were seated on separate rathas. Among those who ofiered archana was Karungulam Kṛṣṇa Śāstrī of Tirunelveli district.

A vidvat sadas was held in which great scholars like Mahāmahopādhyāya Mannārguḍi Yajñasvāmi Śāstrī (grandson of Mannārguḍi Rāju Śāstrī), Mahāmahopādhyāya Kṛṣṇa Śāstrī, Chidambaram Mahāmahopādhyāya Daṇḍapāṇi Dīkṣitar participated. A Music Sabhā was also held in which Ramanāthapuram Pūchi Iyengar, Kumbhakoṇam Pañchāpagesa Śāstrī, Palladam Sañjīva Rao, Madurai Puṣpavanam, and many other musicians participated.

His Holiness was then taken in procession on an elephant, witnessed by lakhs of people. The Head of Tiruppanandāl Kāśī Mutt personally presented Rupees Five thousand to His Holiness.

11.    1921—Mahodaya-snānam at Vedāraṇyam.

12.    Stay at the palace of Śrī Govinda Dīkṣita, and journey to Kumbhakoṇam for holy bath at Mahāmakham tank.

13.    1922—Performed Navarātri pūjā at Dhanuṣkoṭi. On the next full moon day His Holiness after taking saikatam (sand) at Dhanuṣkoṭi readied Rameśvaram, performed pūjā at the sannidhi of Sethumādhava, and bound the saikatam in the customary manner.

14.    1923—Kumbhābhiṣekam at Tiruvānaikkā. His Holiness invested Goddess Akhilāṇḍeśvarī with the repaired ear-rings (tāṭaṅka). Śrī Sadāśiva Tawker of Tawker and Sons had donated precious gems for the said repair. Śrī Tepperumānallūr Śrī Annadāna Śivan performed annadāna to thousands.

15.    1924—Heavy floods in the Kāverī threatening to link up with the overflowing Coleroon. His Holiness was at that time observing Chāturmāsya at Tiruvaiyāru Puṣyamaṇḍapam on the banks of the Kāverī. By His Holiness’s blessings and the cooperation of the general public the whole place was saved from the floods.

16.    1927—Establishment of the Adhiṣṭhāna of His Holiness’s Pūrvāchārya at Vaḍavaṃbalam village on the banks of the South Peṇṇār in South Arcot district.

17.    15th October 1927—Mahātmā Gāndhi paid his respects to His Holiness at Nallicheri village in Palghat.

18.    1928—Darśana of Śrī Guruvāyūrappan and bhikṣā by Guruvāyūr Devasthānam through His Highness the Zamorin of Calicut.

19.    25th January 1931—Darśana of Kāñchī Śrī Kāmākṣī. Mooted the idea of renovating the temple.

20.    March, April, 1932—Darśana of Śrī Veṅkateśvara at Tirupati. Performed Sahasrakalaśābhṣhekam for the Lord. Bhikṣā by the Tirupati Devasthānam through the Mahant to His Holiness with all temple honours such as umbrella, śeṣa-vastra (32 cubits), etc.

21.    1932—Chāturmāsya at Buggā in Chittoor district. Renovation and Kumbhābhiṣekam of the temple there and installation of the image of Ādi Śaṅkarāchārya.

22.    1932—Navarātri mahotsava at Madras Samskrit College and establishment of the Bhāṣyavijayamaṇṭapam. His Holiness’s Bhāṣyapravachana on the Vijayadaśami day. Śrī Rajendra Prasād paid his respects to His Holiness.

23.    1933—Camp at Tiruviḍaimarudūr, known as Madhyārjuna, and holy bath at Mahāmakham tank at Kumbhakoṇam.

24.    1933—Chāturmāsya at Mukāsa mansion in Tanjore. Procession on a richly caparisoned elephant on Visvarūpayātrā day. Navarātri also was celebrated at Tanjore. Beginning (aṅkurārpaṇam) of the practice of writing of Śrīrāmajayam, Śivanāmam, Muruganāmam, and the like. His Holiness commenced His northward journey to Vārāṇasi.

25. Darśana of the Lord at Śrī Śailam,

26.    1934—Reaching Prayāga His Holiness performed pūjā to the saikatam (sand) brought from Rāmeśvaram in the presence of Lord Prayāga Mādhava and mixed the same in the holy waters of Prayāga, at the place of the confluence of the Gaṅgā, the Yamunā, and the antarvahinī Sarasvatī. Gathered the holy water in vessels for abhiṣeka to Ramanāthasvāmī of Rameśvaram and to deities at other temples of South India.

27.    1934—Navarātri utsavam at Kāśī reaching the same walking all the way from Prayāga. Welcome address presented by Pandit Madan Mohan Mālavīya at the Benaras Hindu University. Abhinandanapatra presented by pandits who included several Mahāmahopādhyāyas.

28.    1935—Meeting at the Kāśī Town Hall attended by many sannyāsins and scholars including several Mahāmahopādhyāyas. A praṇati patram was read and presented to His Holiness by Mahā-mahopadhyāya Giridhara Śarmā of Jaipur, Rājasthān.

A big portrait of Śrī Ādi Śaṅkara Bhagavatpāda with His four immediate disciples was taken in procession around the town by the scholars themselves and installed at Kāśī Viśveśvara shrine. His Holiness followed the portrait on foot.

An image of Ādi Śaṅkarāchārya made of white marble was installed in the compound wall of Kāśī Viśveśvara temple.

16th February 1935—The Rāja of Kāśī presented a Rājapatra to His Holiness at a gathering of Vedic scholars at the sāṅga-Veda Vidyālaya.

29.    1935— Daṇḍasparśa (touching with the staff) of the Muṇḍapriṣṭa stone at Gaya.

30.    1935—Chāturmāsya and Navarātri utsava on the banks of Ādi Gaṅgā at Calcutta. Welcome address by the members of the Bengal Brāhmaṇa Sabhā and Kālighāṭ Nirvāha Sabhā. Presentation of Address by Mahāmahopādhyāyas of Calcutta.

31.    5th May 1936—Arriving at Purl, His Holiness camped at the Śrīmaṭha of Purī Śrī Śaṅkarāchārya Svāmigal. Took holy bath in the sea and had darśana of Lord Jagannātha. At the request of the Rājā of Purī His Holiness took His seat in the temple and received the welcome address presented by the members of the Vidyālaya Sabhā of the Devasthānam.

32.    Śaṅkarajayantī at Mukhāmalā—East Godavari. Brahma Saptāham.

33.    1939—Abhiṣeka to Śrī Rāmanāthasvāmī of Rāmeśvaram with the holy waters of the Gaṅgā taken at Prayāga.

34.    30th June 1939—His Holiness entered the Śrī Maṭha at Kumbhakoṇam. Vyāsa pūjā, Navarātri pūjā, and Śatachaṇḍī homa were conducted at the Maṭha.

35.    4th June 1941—Kumbhābhiṣekam of Śrī Baṅgāru Kāmākṣī temple at Tañjāvūr.

36.    1942—Atirudra homa at Pūvanūr near Mannārguḍi.

37.    Vyāsa pūjā, Atirudra homa, and Śatachaṇḍī homa at Nattam village.

38.    Vyāsa pūjā and Navarātri pūjā at Tiruvānaikkā. Kumbhabhiṣekam of Pañchamukheśvara shrine. Pārāyaṇa of the four Vedas was held, Atharvaṇa Vedins having been specially brought from Kāśī for this purpose. Recitation of the whole of Nālvar Tamiḻ Tirumuṟai set to paṇ metres was also conducted.

39.    1944—Kumbhābhiṣekam of Kāñchī Kāmākṣī temple on the completion of the renovation work. To commemorate the Kumbhābhiṣekam the Śrī Kāmakoṭi Kośasthānam brought out an edition of the Mūka-Pañchaśatī with Śrīmukham.

40.    1945—Inauguration of the Veda Śāstra Paripālana Sabhā at Kumbhakoṇam on the auspicious occasion of the Mahāmakha. The Golden Jubilee of the Advaita Sabhā was also celebrated at the same time. In commemoration of the Golden Jubilee three works were published, namely Advaita-akṣara-mālikā in Samskrit, Ponvilāmalar in Tamil, and Golden Jubilee Publication in English. In honour of the Guru and Paramaguru Adhiṣṭhānas a trust in the name of Kalavai Brindāvanam Paramaguru Svāmigal was established with the contributions of several devotees.

41. 1947—Completion of the silver chariot (ratha) of Śrī Kāmākṣī; Celebrated the Rathotsava.

42.    1949—Atirudra and Vyāsa pūjā at Tiruviḍaimarudūr.

43. 1951—Inauguration of the Veda-Bhaṣya-Vidvat-Sanmānam.

44.    22nd March 1954—His Holiness’ consecration of the disciple.

45.    The Shaṣṭiabdapūrti of His Holiness. In commemoration of this auspicious occasion a Bhūdāna trust was established with the help of several devotees.

46.    1956—Diamond Jubilee of the Advaita Sabha was celebrated at the place known as Śivāṣānam near Kāñchīpuram. (It is worthy of mention that in the garbhagṛha of the temple here is a sculpture depicting Śrī Ādi Śaṅkara Bhagavatpāda offering daṇḍavandana (obeisance with the staff) to Lord Somāskanda). Many works of Ādi Śaṅkarāchārya which had not been published till then were brought out on the occasion of this Diamond Jubilee.

47.    1958—Consecration of Śrīmaṭha at Old Mambalam in Madras and the installation of the pādukas of Śrī Ādi Śaṅkara Bhagavatpāda therein.

48.    His Holiness awarded a grant for the translation of Kālidāsa’s Śākuntalam into Tamil.

49.    1960—His Holiness inaugurated the Madras Samskrit Education Society; then arrived at Aḍayapalam village near Āraṇi for the Kumbhābhiṣekam of the temple there.

50.    1960—Kumbhābhiṣekam of the Śiva temple built by Śrī Appayya Dīkṣita at Aḍayapalam.

51.    1960—Kumbhābhiṣekam of the Śrī Akhilāṇḍeśvarī temple at Tiruvānaikkā.

52.    3rd June 1961—Officials and Āsthāna Vidvāns of the Cochin Royal Palace presented to His Holiness the great Nyāya and Vedānta classic— Brahmānandīya-bhāvaprakāśa, personally edited and published by His Highness Śrī Rāma Varma Parīkṣit Tampurān, the Mahārājā of Cochin.

53.    1962—Inauguraion of the Akhila-Vyāsa-Bhārata-Āgama-Śilpa Sadas at Ilaiyāttāṅguḍi.

54.     1962— Publication of Kolarupatigam of Śrī Jñānasaṃ-bandhasvāmigal.

55.    4th July 1962—His Highness the Mahārājā of Travancore paid his respects to His Holiness at Ilaiyāttaṅguḍi.

56.    7th April 1963—Kumbhābhiṣekam of Baṅgārukāmākṣī temple at Tañjāvūr.

28th April 1963—Installed the images of Śrī Ādi Śaṅkarāchārya and His four immediate disciples at Agni Tīrtha in Rāmeśvaram under the Vimāna constructed for the purpose.

28th June 1963—Kumbhābhiṣekam of Madurai Mīṇākṣī temple.

1963—Sadas at Nārayaṇavaram.

5th December 1963—Installation in the Śrī Maṭha at Tiruvidaimarudūr of the images of Mahāliṅga-mūrti and Śrī Ādi Śaṅkarāchārya depicting the tradition that Mahāliṅgamūrti conveyed to Śrī Śaṅkarāchārya through an ethereal voice (Aśarīri-vāk) His confirmation of Śrī Ādi Śaṅkarāchārya’s Advaita doctrine in the words ‘satyam advaitam’.

57.    31st May 1964—Under the instructions of His Holiness images of Śrī Ādi Śaṅkarāchārya and His four immediate disciples were installed at Kanyākumāri in the place between Aṃbikā-temple and the sea. Vedic scholars were specially sent from the Śrī Maṭha for this purpose. A Vimāna maṇṭapa was also constructed.

58.    February 1966—The Mahārāja of Mysore, Śrī Jayachāmarāja Wadiyar Bahadūr paid his respects to His Holiness at the House of Śrī Śaṅkararāma Iyer at Adyar, Madras.

59.    Under instructions from His Holiness Vedic Scholars sent from the Śrī Maṭha installed at the place in Kurukṣetra where the Bhagavad-gītā was imparted to Arjuna a white marble sculpture depicting a chariot with the Hanumān banner and drawn by four horses with Arjuna seated inside and Śrī Kṛṣṇa outside as charioteer.

4th and 5th of December 1966—Her Majesty Queen Frederika, Queen-Mother of Greece and Her Royal Highness Princess Irene with Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan had memorable interviews with His Holiness at Kalahasti.

60.    March 1967—Darśana of the Lord at Ahobilam, Mahānandi, and other places. Installation in the Śrī Ādi Śaṅkarāchārya Vimānam at Śrīsailam of the images of Ādi Śaṅkara and His four disciples, His padukas, and the image of Nartana Vināyaka. A Kumbhābhiṣekam was then performed to this shrine.

61.    May 1967—Under instructions from His Holiness a Vimānam was constructed near the bridge over the Gaṅgā at the place known as Lakṣmana Jhūla, on the route taken by Śrī Ādī Śaṅkarāchārya to Badari.



1 . Plavaṅga 1907 Kumbhakonam
2. Kīlaka 1908 Tiruvānaikkā
3. Saumya 1909 Kumbhakonam
4. Sādhāraṇa 1910 Kumbhakonam
5. Virodhikṛt 1911 Tiruvānaikkā
6. Paritāpī 1912 Mahendramaṅgalam
7. Pramādīśa _ 1913 Mahendramaṅgalam
8. Ānanda 1914   Tiruvānaikkā
9. Rākṣasa   1915 Kumbhakonam
10. Ṇala 1916 __ Kumbhakonam
11. Piṅgala 1917 Kumbhakonam
12, Kālayukti 1918 Kumbhakonam
13. Siddhārthi 1919 Veppattūr
14. Raudrī 1920 Māyurum
15. Durmati 1921 __ Kadirāmaṅgalam
16. Dundhubhi 1922 Avuḍaiyārkoil
17. Rudrotkārī   1923   Tiruvānaikkā
18. Raktākṣī 1924 Tiruvaiyāru
19. Krodhana 1925 Ilaiyāttaṅguḍi
20. Akṣaya 1926 Kāttumannārkoil
21. Prabhava 1927 Kañjikkodu
22. Vibhava 1928 Tiruvēdagam
23. Śukla 1929 Manalūrpettai
24. Pramodūta 1930 Pūśamalaikuppam
25. Prajotpatti 1931 Chittore
26. Āṅgirasa 1932 Buggā
27. Śrīmukha _ 1933 Tañjāvūr
28. Bhava 1934 Prayāga
29. Yuva 1935 Calcutta
30. Dhātu   1936 Berhampur
31. Īśvara 1937 Palacole
32. Bahudhānya 1938 Guntur
33. Pramādi   1939 Kumbhakonam
34. Vikrama 1940 Tuvaraṅkuricchi
35. Viṣṇu 1941 Nagapattinam.
36. Chitrabhānu . — 1942 Nattam
37. Subhānu 1943 Tiruvānaikkā
38. Dhāraṇa   1944 Eśaiyanallūr
39. Pārthiva _ 1945 Tirukkarukāvūr
40. Vyaya 1946 Kumbhakonam
41. Sarvajit 1947 Vasanta Krishna Puram
42. Sarvadhārī 1948 Vēṅkaṭādri Agaram
43. Virodhi 1949 Tiruviḍaimarudūr
44. Vikṛti 1950 Tiruviśainallur
45. Khara 1951 Muḍikoṇḍān
46. Nandana 1952 Sāttanūr
47. Vijaya 1953 Kāñchī
48. Jaya _ 1954 Kāñchī
49. Manmatha 1955 Kāñchī
50. Durmukhī 1958 Kāñchī
51. Hevilambī 1957 Kāñchī
52. Vilambī 1958 Madras
53. Vikārī   1959 Vānagaram
54. Śārvarī 1960 Kāmānāyakanpālaiyam
55. Plava 1961 Ilaiyāttaṅgudi
56. Śubhakṛt 1962 Ilaiyāttaṅgudi
57. Śobhakṛt 1963 Nārayaṇapuram
58. Krodhi _ 1964   Kāñchī
59. Viśvāvasu 1965 Kāttupalli
60. Parābhava 1966 Kālahasti
61. Plavaṅga 1967 Rajahmundry

Footnotes and references:


Brahma-sūtra-bhāṣya, IV, i, 15.


What Life Has Taught Me, Series IT(?), Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1964, pp. 1-9.


This is the title of a book he later on published, giving an account of his search (Rider & Company, London, 1934). Sir Francis Younghusband says in his Foreword. “Sacred India” would be as apt a title for this book.


A Search in Secret India, p. 90.


Ibid., pp. 93-06


The Āchārya’s father, Śrī Subrahmanya Śāstrī passed away in Kumnhakonam on the 24th of July 1929. When the news was conveyed to the Āchārya he remained silent for some tme, and said nothing.


These have been published in three parts: 1. Śrī Śaṅkarāchārya Svāmigal Aruliya Nan-moḻigal; 2. Śrī Śaṅkara Vijayam; 3, ŚrīJagadguruvin Upadeśaṅgal (Śrī Kāmakoṭi Kośasthānam, Madras).


There is a pun on the words of this verse. The discription may be taken as applying to both the great Liṅga and the Arjuna tree.


Śrī Chandraśekharendra Sarasvatī, Aspects of Our Religion, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1966, pp. 42-44.


Āchārya’s Call, Madras Discourses, Part I, Introduction, pp. iii and iv (B. G. Paul & Co., Madras, 1984)


The discourses have been subsequently published in book form: (1) Āchārya-svāmigalin Upanyāsaṅgal. In three parts (Kalaimagal Karyalayam, Madras); (2) The Call of the Jagadgutu, Śrī Śaṅkarāchārya of Kanchi, Discourses compiled by Śrī P. Sankaranarayanan (Ganesh & Co., Madras, 1858); (3) Āchārya’s Call, op,cit,


From the present writer’s review of the book, The Call of the Jagadguru, op. cit.


See The Jagadguru, edited by Dr V. Raghavan (Jaya Chandra, Madras-28), p. 101.


See the Pañchadaśī, a manual of Advaita (IV, 82). Relinquishing contrary thoughts, if one meditates without interruption, he would achieve meditation even in dreams, etc., because of the residual impressions.

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