Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Mahaswamiji
Srimad Bhagavatam describes Parikshit’s words spoken to Sri Suka, the illumined sage:
‘yeshaam samsmaranaath pumsaam sadhyah shudhayanthi vai gruhah |
kim punardarshana-sparsana-paada-soucha-asanaadhibhih’ || (1:19:33)
….if mere remembrance of Holy ones purify the homes of devotees what then to speak of the sanctifying effect on those who have been blessed with the opportunity to see, touch, and serve you physically!
‘saanidhyaathe mahayogin paatakaani mahaantyapi |
sadhyo nasyanthi vai pumsaam Vishonriva suretharaah || (1:19:34)
…..Oh, great Yogin! Worst sins are destroyed by your mere presence just as the demons are destroyed in Mahavishnu’s presence.
Darshan of a Jivan Mukta is the rarest and the highest blessing of God.
Sri Muralidhara Swamiji, in one of His discourses, has said, “In our country and in our Religion, we find a continuous line of Mahans (great souls). It is not as if a great Maharishi like Adi Sankara or a Vasishta or a Viswamitra or an Agastya lived only in days gone by. Even today we can show such great Maharishis. We can say that we have seen such great Maharishis! This continuous line of Jnanis is a great fortune of this nation.
We find that each soil is fit for the growth of some type of crop only. In Southern parts, the soil is fit for the growth of rice while in Northern parts it is fit for the growth of wheat. Thus, I feel that this soil of ‘Bharata Bhoomi’ (the land of India) is one that grows Mahans (great souls – Saints)! Innumerable Mahans are being continuously produced on this soil. This land is indeed such a pure one.”
Sri Chandrasekhara Bharathi Mahaswami of Sri Sringeri Peeta was one such rare Jivan Mukta who lived in the recent past.
Maha Periyava (Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati MahaSwami of Sri Kanchi Kamakotti Mutt) has said that it would suffice for those who take to ascetic life in the forthcoming 200 years to wear only the ochre robe and tonsure their heads. This is because the intense tapas performed by Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Mahaswami (of Sri Sringeri Mutt) will protect them! He has done tapas that equals the tapas of all the ascetics who would come during the next 200 years!
Even as a child his vision was turned inward. He was ever in dhyana and japa. He used to say, "I am a 'Sanyasi' first and only then a 'peettadhipati' (Mutt head)."
His life is simply wonderful.
Gopal Bhattar and Srimati Lakshmamma were poor but dharmic Brahmin couple who led their life as ordained by the Scripture. Smt. Lakshmamma bore eleven children but none survived. With the blessings of Sri Sacchidananda Sivabhinava Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswami, the Pontiff of the Sringeri Mutt, they went to Gokarna and worshipped Sri Mahabaleshwar. As a result, Lakshmamma became pregnant once again.
When Lakshmamma was carrying this child in her womb, she was one of the ‘Suhasinis’ in the ‘Suhasini puja’ conducted by Sri Nrisimha Bharathi during the Navrathri festival. When all the Suhasinis were seated for being fed, Sri Nrisimha Bharathi went around offering special teertha (Holy water) to each one of them. When He came to Lakshmamma, she began to shed tears. The Swami asked her the reason for shedding tears. The grief stricken, pious lady said that she had lost several children and prayed that the child that was in her womb then should survive. At once, the Swami consoled her and said, “With all devotion, take the vow of offering this child in the womb to the Mutt, for worshipping Sri Saradamba and drop the teertha on the earth. The child in the womb would live long and also be a world teacher.” Lakshmamma did as bid.
On 16th October 1892, on a Sunday, on the day of Ekadasi (the eleventh day of the fortnight), in Makha nakshatra, at Sringeri was born the illustrious son. The pious parents named him Narasimha. The child was later left in the home of Srikanta Shastri, the Sarvadhikari of Sri Matam (Sri Sringeri Mutt) with the thought that separation from them might bestow long life to the child.
Even from his birth, Narasimha’s vision was inward bent. He used to chant the ‘mookapanchasathi’ stotra. Once, when he went out to the market to buy something for his parents, his whole mind was concentrated on this stotra in praise of the Devi that he had walked past the shop to the boundary of Sringeri town. Only later did he realize the mistake and turn back.
Even from his childhood, the young Narasimha was deeply devoted to his Guru Sri Sachidananda Sivabhinava Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswami, the then Head of the Sringeri Mutt. He nurtured the desire to have the Guru’s Paduka at home and worship. But he did not have the courage to approach the Guru freely and voice his desire. At this time an unexpected, fascinating incident took place. A devotee from another Town came to Sringeri and served the Guru Sri Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswami earnestly and devoutly for several days. Thus he earned the Grace of the Guru. On the day of his departure he prayed to the Guru to bless him with his Paduka so that he could worship them at home and thus earn his Grace. Sri Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswami, very mercifully, blessed him with his Paduka. This devotee brought the Guru’s Paduka to Narasimha’s home where he had been staying. While leaving he forgot to take the Guru’s Paduka along with his other goods and left them behind. As he was a very old man his memory had failed him and it was not possible for him to return to get them. In those days it was not easy to reach Sringeri, as buses were few and rare. Narasimha felt that it was indeed his deep desire for the Guru’s Paduka that had brought ‘IT’ to him, just as the Holy Ganga water on her own fell on a lame man unable to go to her!
Initially, Narasimha studied in the local Government school. Later, the boy was shifted to the Mutt Patasala. Later, at the behest of Sri Nrisimha Bharathi Mahaswami he was sent to Bangalore for higher studies. As he was the only child of his parents, the parents also accompanied him to Bangalore. Sri Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswami advised Narasimha that the studies taken up should not have money as its goal. To realize the Atman was verily the highest knowledge. Narasimha, with a natural inward bent mind, spent his free time in the Gangadhareshwar Temple at Gavipuram, Bangalore.
In the year 1912 Sri Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswami named the young Narasimha as his successor and asked him to be brought to Sringeri from Bangalore. Narasimha was then twenty years of age. When the message was conveyed, Narasimha at once set out without a second thought about his or his parents’ future. Unquestioningly he left for Sringeri. But unfortunately before he reached Sringeri, the news of Sri Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswami’s mahasamadhi reached him. Narasimha was given sanyasa in the ordained way and made the 34th Mutt head. Sri Mummudi Krishnaraja Wudaiyar, the then Raja of Mysore rendered all his assistance in the matter. Young Narasimha was given the name ‘Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati’.
The first thing that Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Mahaswami did on becoming the 34th Pontiff of Sringeri Mutt was to visit the Samadhi of his Guru Sri Sachidananda Sivabhinava Nrisimha Bharathi Mahaswami. Even as he prostrated to his Guru and offered flowers, tears ran down his cheeks and his voice choked. It was at this time that the ‘Paadaavalambana stuti’ fell out of his divine lips. The Guru Bhakti of Sri Acharya is unique. For some years, the Acharya remained near his Guru’s Samadhi and was always immersed in the dhyana of his Guru. While blessing people only the words, ‘may Gurunatha bless you; may Sri Sarada bless you; May Bhagavatapada be gracious to you’ fell out of his lips. During his tour to the South and at all other times innumerable people sought his blessings for relief from various troubles. In those times the Acharya, with his own hands, blessed everyone with the holy ash (‘vibhuti’). This certainly helped the grief stricken people. The Acharya has, once or twice, revealed the secret behind it – ‘I do not have time to perform special Mantra japa, etc. in order to alleviate the troubles of people. Therefore, I meditate on the Lotus Feet of the Guru for a moment and give the holy ash. That’s all. Everything is verily the Grace of the Guru.’ What humility! What Guru Bhakti!
It is said that there was no time limit to the puja performed by the Acharya. The puja would be done in solitude. At times a few would be permitted to have this puja darshan from afar. None could say when the puja would begin and when it would end. At times abhisheka to Sri Chandramouleeswara would go on, endlessly. Pots and pots of water would be brought and offered to the Lord, without a sign of the abhisheka coming to an end. In the same way, even after emptying all the plates filled with flowers, in archana, the Acharya would, without removing his eyes from the Lord, search with his hand for more flowers. While doing ‘kumkum’ archana, the Acharya would stop at a particular Nama (chanting the Divine Name) and not move to the next Nama.
The Acharya, after becoming the Mutt head, left on his first tour in 1924-27. On 22nd May 1931, the Acharya, initiated the young Srinivasa shastri into sanyasa and gave him the name ‘Abhinava vidhyateertha’ and made him his successor. An interesting incident occurred on this evening. Two palanquins, one made of gold and the other of silver were decorated and kept ready for carrying the Guru and the Sishya, respectively, around Sringeri Town. After visiting Sri Saradamba Temple, the Guru (Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Mahaswami) and the Sishya (Sri Abhinava Vidhyateertha Swami) walked together, majestically. As soon as they neared the silver palanquin, the Acharya quickly got into it and with the gesture of his hand instructed the disciple to occupy the golden palanquin. The disciples and the devotees around were stunned beyond words. When Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Mahaswami was requested to occupy the golden palanquin, he said, “Have you all so quickly forgotten the objective of today’s event? From today, all honors pertaining to the Mutt head belongs to him (pointing to Sri Abhinava Vidhyateertha swami). I do not need them anymore. I desire to move away from all these and live freely in solitude. Permit me to live as I wish.”
Such has been the ‘vairagya’ of Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Mahaswami.
That night after the celebrations were all over, the Guru and Sishya went to Sri Saradamba Temple for darshan. Seeing the young Swami’s (Sri Abhinava Vidhyateertha swami) earnestness in entering the Sanctum Sanctorum, the Guru asked, “Do you know where we are going?”
The young Swami said, “I do. We are entering Sri Saradamba’s Temple.”
The Guru said, “It is not just that. We are entering the ‘antahpura’ (private chamber) of our Mother. She is not an ordinary soul that we meet in the world. She is very special. She can bless us with anything that we seek. Yes, She gives anything sought. Therefore, let us approach Her with whole hearted faith and with a feeling of belonging (‘swaadeenam’).”
Sri Abhinava vidhyateertha Swami has said that his Guru was immensely pleased with and appreciated anyone who exhibited even a bit of knowledge.
Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati acclaimed ‘manasika puja’ (mental worship). In his younger days, the Acharya used to perform ‘manasika puja’.
The Acharya was always in an introverted state and it was very difficult for others to comprehend his state. Yet, the Acharya came to the rescue of one who took refuge in him. An interesting and touching incident occurred at Sringeri. Once, while the Acharya was in such an introverted state, he walked out of the door bolted from outside (the attendant had moved away a while) to the police station where an innocent man had been put behind bars. The Acharya told the half asleep guard (a policeman) that the man in the prison was innocent and should be let out and walked back. The stunned policeman at once set the man free. Meanwhile, there was hue and cry at the Mutt in not finding the Acharya inside his room. People set out in search of the Acharya. Not finding him anywhere when they returned they found the door ajar but the Acharya in deep dhyana inside! The prayer of an innocent man had drawn the Acharya to his rescue.
Once, an attendant who used to lie just outside the Acharya’s room heard melodious, divine music from the Acharya’s room. He at once opened the door slightly and peeped in. He found the wonderful sight of the Acharya wearing the holy ash all over his body and standing in the posture of Lord Nataraja. The divine music also continued to be heard. He watched for a while and returned to his bed outside. He could not get back to his sleep due to the guilt that he nurtured for having intruded upon the privacy of the Acharya. The next morning when he entered the room to do his work, the Acharya asked him if he could not sleep properly at night!
Many thronged this divine presence to benefit in worldly and spiritual planes.
Once, in his discourse the Acharya said, "Vidhya (Education) is that which annihilates ignorance and bestows knowledge about the Atma. What does one gain in learning Geography, Chemistry, etc.? Or, what does one lose by not learning these subjects? But are our six Shastras such trivial things? Our Shastras sharpen our intellect and help us discriminate.
'Vangaah katham Angaah katham iti niyungte vrudha deshaan |
keettakrutaantapurm-iti koapi na jignyaasate lokah ||'
………..People keep enquiring about Vanga kingdom and Anga kingdom. But none enquires about the kingdom of Yama! (the God of death).
What does one gain by reading magazines? Today, if a story has been left unfinished, people become restless to receive the next edition to read the rest of the story! People learn about everything under the sky but are ignorant about the “I”. What to speak of such persons?"
The Acharya would draw attention to the lessons that one had to learn from our very lives. Once, a man, who had been posted to various places during his office tenure, came to Sringeri for the first time to have the Acharya’s darshan. The Acharya enquired if it were his first visit and the man said, “Yes. But I have been nurturing the desire to visit Sringeri for a very long time.”
The Acharya asked him what had stopped him from visiting Sringeri earlier.
The man explained that in his younger days he was employed at Cuddapah district and since he was told that Sringeri was not very far from there he was desirous of visiting Sringeri. But some of his friends and relatives discouraged him. They said that though Sringeri was not far from that place there was no proper transportation. Further, one had to pass many forests; many steep hills had to be crossed. Lots of wild animals and dacoits had to be faced on the way. That Sringeri was a very small hamlet situated amidst mountains where the comforts of modern city life were not available. They added that bathing in the waters of Tunga River at Sringeri would affect the health very badly. The man said that all these created deep fear in him and he gave up the thought of visiting Sringeri. Later, he was transferred to several places far removed from Sringeri and several years passed in this manner. If, at any point of time he decided to visit Sringeri some problem would crop up and he was unable to take up the visit. However, the desire to visit Sringeri and have the Acharya’s darshan did not die out completely. Deep within he continued to nurture the desire.
The Acharya asked him, “How have you been able to visit now?”
The man said, “I have already wasted several years. The intense desire to visit Sringeri against all odds took hold of me. And, I have finally made it.”
The Acharya said that he was pleased to see him and asked him what was his experience after coming here.
The man said, “It has been wonderful. As soon as I took the firm decision to make the trip I felt elated and also the thought that I could brave any sort of problem rose up in me.
It is surprising that I was not inconvenienced in any way during my rail trip and motor journey to Sringeri. On the contrary, everyone that I met on the way, on learning that I was visiting Sringeri, showered me with affection and showed reverence. They even volunteered to assist me all through my journey. The forests and hills that were said to be filled with dacoits and wild animals were so enjoyable. Nature seemed to uplift my spirit. On reaching here, I found the waters of River Tunga so clear and pure, bestowing good health and not disastrous to health. Sringeri Town is also very beautiful sans the discomforts of a city. All the comforts of a city are also found here. Sri Saradamba Temple and Sri Mutt stand high filled with beauty and luster, filling the hearts of the beholder with high thoughts. As I experience deep peace and joy I feel sad that soon my holiday would come to an end and I will have to return to my office bindings.”
The Acharya asked, “The description of your experience has been enjoyable. However, did you notice the likeness?”
The man asked, “Likeness to what?”
The Acharya explained, “To our life! From our young days inexplicable longing to learn the Truth arises in us. At once we think of reading the Vedanta Shastra seriously. Gripped with fear and anxiety our relatives and friends would all, in one voice, caution us, ‘oh, fool! This effort at a young age would prove disastrous. Many people, far advanced in age and wisdom, are still struggling; it is sheer ignorance to turn your attention to these matters. The repercussions that you will have to face are inexplicable. Recall to your mind those who have taken a plunge into this and due to their ignorance lost everything and themselves.’ Thus, they would create fear in us. Listening to these unwarranted advices our mind would lose its strength and we would give up our efforts. Nevertheless, if this longing is firm and continues to prompt us from within the good day would certainly dawn. Then we would be ready to take the plunge come what may. If we take efforts resolutely, soon the path that we tread would be cleansed of all stones and thorns and the walk made enjoyable. Wherever we had anticipated dangerous pitfalls there would appear comfortable steps to move ahead. Instead of wild animals and dacoits we would come across people who would offer help lovingly. As we tread this path we would begin to experience joy and elation not found in anything of the world. And, as we grasp the Brahman that is the end of Vedanta we would find the extremely pure and blissful Brahman bestowing the supreme bliss on us. There is only one difference in the description of what happened in your life and Vedanta vichara. You said that you grieve as your holiday would soon end and you will have to return to your office. But holiday is never ending for the sadhak who has traveled on the path of Vedanta and comprehended the ‘tattva’. Therefore, he need not return to his earlier bindings.”
It was the 26th September, 1954, Mahalaya Amavasya. The Acharya went to River Tunga and even as the attendant who followed him cautioned him about the depth of the river at the spot that he entered, the Acharya entered it and advanced further and took a dip. He did pranayama and took a dip again. Soon the Acharya’s body was found to be seated in Padmasana with the fingers of His both hands joined in dhayna mudra. The attendant, who rushed into the river crying out, lost consciousness. He was brought out of the river and saved. But the effort to bring the Acharya back to life was in vain. There was no sign of drowning. The face reflected lustrous peace and all doctors unanimously declared that not a single drop of water had gone into the body. He remained an enigma in Mahasamadhi as he had been while living in his physical body.
Sri Abhinavavidhyateertha Swami (the successor of Sri Chandrasekhara Bharathi Maahaswami), in one of His discourses, has described the ‘vairagya’ (dispassion) of His Guru Sri Chandrasekhara Bharathi Mahaswami thus – “The owner of a cow, with a view to decorate his cow, would tie a beautiful bell around her neck. He would, now and then, look at the cow to check if it fit well and looked good on it. But the cow herself would not in the least bother about it. She would not be, in any way, conscious of the beautiful bell around its neck. It was in this manner that my Guru lived without any attachment whatsoever to His body.”
There is an incident that took place at Sringeri, depicting His ‘vairagya’.
Once, a wealthy man from Mumbai visited the Acharya with several offerings. He seemed very cautious about one of the plates, which he had placed quite close to the Acharya. This plate contained a folded white paper placed on top of the dry grapes, cashew nut, etc. Innocently, the Acharya stretched out His hand and picked up the folded paper. Without opening it, He asked, “What is this?”
The devotee from Mumbai explained, “Since I am coming from Mumbai I was scared to carry hard cash. Therefore, I have brought it in the form of a Bank draft……..Even as he was saying this, the loud sound “ha!” escaped from the Acharya’s lips and the paper dropped away from His hand!
Once, Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Swami had camped in Bangalore Sankara Mutt. The Acharya discoursed every day. On the day of His departure a devotee began to shed profuse tears even as he received the ‘mantrakshada’ from the Acharya.
Sri Acharya asked him the reason behind his tears and the devotee explained that it was due to his inability to bear the separation from the Acharya. He explained that the very thought that from the morrow he would not be able to see or listen to his Guru caused him grief; and, that he wondered if he (the devotee) would be alive to have the good fortune of having the Acharya’s darshan during his next visit. On hearing this, the Acharya asked, “Who is that Guru who gave you darshan daily and gave ‘upadesh’?”
And, said, “If, even after listening to me you grieve thus it only shows that my ‘upadesh’ and your hearing them have both been in vain. To restrict the Guru to this physical body made up of the five elements is verily ignorance. The term ‘Guru’ refers to a very high philosophy. It is beyond time and space and is the acting force behind our buddhi. If only you would understand the Guru tattva in the right perspective, your mind will not grieve. And you would have realized the truth that your Guru is ever with you, inseparable from you. There is no separation at all. Realize this now and do not grieve.”
The Acharya has said, “While getting up to walk one should think ‘a wave has risen up in the great ocean of Atma. That wave is moving forward. There is no difference between the wave and the ocean.’ While walking one should think ‘I am a wave in the ocean of Atma – I am a wave in the ocean of bliss.’ One should always, even while talking to someone, bring up this thought repeatedly. While sitting one should think ‘I am a bead strung on the thread of Chaitanya (Conscious). A bead has been strung in the thread of wisdom and none can remove this bead. The thread has been made of Chaitanya that cannot be cut. I am verily that bead.’ While lying down one should think ‘I am now immersed in the ocean of bliss.’”
Sri Abhinava Vidhyateertha Swami has advised that one need not demand this and that of their Guru. His ‘kataksha’ (sight) would suffice. The mere thought in Him, ‘let this man turn good,’ would do: and, that would bring about all round welfare.”
Sri Abhinava Vidhyateertha Swami has said, “Our Guru is omnipotent; highly compassionate. He is one who bestows all that we lack; protects what we possess. He is omnipresent, filling everything within and without. Therefore, while standing in His divine presence let only the thought, ‘Thou art verily the Atma within me’ arise in us.”
Courtesy ‘Sri Gurukripa Vilasam’ (Volume II, III)