Sri Balakrishnananda Saraswathi Swamigal was born in a place called ‘Kaalaiyar Kovil’ in Sivaganga District, Tamil Nadu to a very pious and devout couple who were following the path of Bhagavatha Dharma. He was the disciple of Sri Bodhendra Saraswathi Swamigal, the 60th Jagathguru (head) of the Kanchi mutt, Kanchipuram. His adhishtanam is present in Govindapuram in South India. Right next to it, there is the samadhi or adhishtanam of Sri Balakrishnananda Saraswathi Swamigal. He assumes great significance to us, since He was literally the epitome of the ‘Divine Name’. He is also famously known to people as Sri Alangudi Periyava’s Guru.
Sri Swamiji often spends time near the holy adhishtanam in Govindapuram chanting Nama. He would often quote Sri Balakrishnananda Saraswathi Swamigal’s life story as an inspiration in many ways. His Guru Bhakthi! He had unflinching faith and devotion towards Sri Bodhendra Saraswathi Swamigal and did not leave Govindapuram till the end, till his jeevan mukthi. He spent his entire lifetime chanting Nama, keeping his Guru’s Nama Siddhantha and preaching on the Holy Name as His sole life scripture.
His divine affinity to Nama! He had the Divine Name on his lips at all times. He would never waste a moment on any wordly matter and would always be immersed in sweet, nectarine Nama.
And his wish to be near his Guru, in life and beyond by having his Samadhi right next to Sri Bodhendral’s. Sri Swamiji would refer to this with a beautiful phrase – “Charana Chaayai Vaasam” – Refuge under the Holy Feet and wish to be the Guru’s dust.
Swami Balakrishnanda was spiritually inclined and aloof from wordly matters right from his childhood. He knew Srimad Bhagavatham fully by-heart. He would always sing aloud and chant Nama with a veena in his hand.
In a place called Srivanchiyam in Tiruvarur District, Swami was giving a mesmerising lecture soaked in devotion and grace on Srimad Bhagavatham. When the part where Sri Akrura comes to escort Sri Krishna from Brindavan and the Gopis cry in pain due to separation, Swami Balakrishnanada stops halfway, enters into a trance and starts writhing in pain and cries out loud asking Sri Krishna to stop just like the Gopis of Brindhavan.
Swami’s very life story is an example for how one should lead a life in the path of Bhagavatha Dharma. Once while touring few places near Tanjore, Swami set out for his daily Bhiksha (food alms) with Nama on his lips. Swami rested at the thinnai of a house for the night. The lady of the house, came out to draw the morning kolam. She saw Swami outside and ran in to call her husband out to prostrate before the sadhu. Swami heard her husband call out, ‘Veliyil utkarndhirukkum sanyasi, Nama Solindrukara illa chumma ukanthundrukana?’ (Is the sanyasi outside chanting Nama or is the man sitting idle?)
Swami was shocked! He wondered how one could say something like that, since it is told as per shastras that one needs to immediately offer respect as soon as one sees a sanyasi. When Swami questioned the couple regarding this, they asserted that their Guru was Swami Bodendra Saraswathi Swamigal, and he has told them, that if one doesn’t have the Divine Names of the Lord on his lips, he needn’t be prostrated to, even if he is a sanyasi.
On hearing this, Swami, taking Swami Bodendra Swaraswati, as his Guru, spent the rest of his life filled with nothing but Nama Sankirtan. He had no personal belongings except for one dress to change. He would get bhiksha daily for food. He spent most of his time on the banks of river Kaveri singing the holy names. Swami’s last wish was to have his Samadhi just below his Guru, Bodhendra Saraswathi Swamigal’s adhishtanam. Considering this last wish, the British arranged for it to be done accordingly as the land belonged to them at that point and erected a plaque with wordings – To fulfill the last wish of the Hindu Monk…..!
Respect for women has been one of the basic tenets of Sanathana Dharma.
Once in a gathering, ‘Kalki’ R. Krishnamurthy (a renowned writer and the founder of the tamil magazine ‘Kalki’), MS. Subbukakshmi, Sri Sadasivam and Sri Rajagopalachari were on the dais. It was a gathering to felicitate Ms. MS. Subbulakshmi during which Sri Rajagopalachari was to present a garland to MS. ‘Amma’.
As soon as he took the garland in his hand, went over to Subbulakshmi and asked if he could garland her. MS Amma did not find anything wrong. He then turned to Sri Sadasivam, who was her husband and sought his permission. Sri Sadasivam gave his assent. All the dignitaries on the dais expressed their assent.
When everyone expected that Rajaji would present the garland to the class singer, he walked over to the microphone. Alluding to the dignitaries on the dais, he began, ‘I requested for MS Amma’s permission to present the garland to her. She gave her assent. Her spouse Sri Sadasivam Iyer gave his nod too. Kalki Krishnamurthyji and other dignitaries too approved of my presenting the garland to her.’
He looked at the crowd and continued, ‘But the faith that I follow does not permit me to garland any woman other than my wife. I am sorry!’
He then walked over to Sri Sadasivam and requested him to garland his better half!
Vedas are said to have six ‘anga’s or parts of which ‘Jyotisha’ or Astrology is one.
Astrology is given such a prime position in the Vedas, only to show that everything in the world happens according to fate or destiny.
When one anticipates a danger or problem, it is wise to do the necessary measures to face it or prevent it. One should not wait for the trouble to strike, and feel sorry for being unprepared.
Mahabaratha, Shanthi Parva, 137:8
Sri Bhagavan Naama Bodendra Saraswati Swamigal has performed a Siddhanta on the greatness of Divine Name in a text called “Bhagavan Naama Rasodayam”.
In the text, he says the following:
One should respect and revere a person chanting the Divine Names the same way as one would respect and revere a Jivan Mukta (a liberated soul). The Jivan Mukta attains the supreme state of liberation after giving up his body. One with a bad character and yet performing Nama Sankirtan also attains the same state after death.
A question arises here that how would the latter attain liberation? The Lord in Bhagavat Gita says ‘thepi yaanti paraam gatim’ - that He shall give the Supreme state of liberation to such a person too bad character and yet has faith in the Divine Name.
One cannot question the Lord’s will! Further The Lord says ’saadhureva sa manthavyah’ - that such a person be respected just as a Sadhu.
According to the Shastras, the one who has been responsible for the body, the one who gives ‘upadesa’ of the Gayathri Mantra, the one who feeds, the one who imparts education and the one who imparts Jnana — these five people are like one’s father.
Sri Sri Swamiji's birth kshetra is Cuddalore. The historical name of Cuddalore is Thiruppadharipuliyur. Lord Shiva in this shrine is Sri Padaleeshwarar, and Ambal is Sri Periyanayaki. This shrine is one of the paadal petra sthalams (shrines sung by Saivite saints called Nayanmars) by Sri Thirunavukkarasar.
It is in the prahara surrounding Ambal's sannadhi that the palliyarai (retiring chamber of the Lordships) is situated in all other Shiva Temples. The unique feature of this kshetra is that, the palliyarai is situated in the prahara surrounding the sannidhi of Sri Padaleeshwarar.
In Indian tradition, during marriages, the bride and the bride-groom exchange flower garlands. Sri Swamiji beautifully explained the significance behind this! Flowers have Vasana (tamil word for ‘fragrance’). Vasana, in Sanskrit, also means latent tendencies of a person. These flowers not only carry their Vasanas, but also have the capability to carry the Vasanas (latent tendencies) of those who wear them. When the bride and the bridegroom exchange their garlands, their tendencies are exchanged too! This way, each would act in a manner that pleases their spouse. There is more unison in thoughts, harmony and this would make them an intimate couple!It is for such a reason that the flower-garlands which we receive as Prasad from Mahaans or deities must be accepted and used with great reverence and devotion for they carry the divine vibrations of the Mahan/deity![Related by Sri Sri Swamiji in a lecture of His]
‘Ved’ means Knowledge. They are said to be the Divine Knowledge of God.
The vedic Mantras are said to pervade the cosmos and are ‘heard’ by the Rishis and given to us. Hence they are called as ‘Sruti’ or ‘Anusravam’. In tamil, they are known as ‘Ezhuthaa kiLavi’ (unwritten verses).
Vedas are known as ‘Thrayi’ because there are three major branches – Rig, Sama and Yajur.
The other reason behind that name is that they are in the form of ‘Gadhya’ (Prose), ‘Padhya’ (Poetry) and Gana (music).
Vedas convey messages in a subtle manner rather than in a blunt manner. Hence they are known as ‘marai’ (hidden) in tamil language.
Vedas prescribe the rules for life. Hence they are known as ‘Nigamam’.
Vedas are called ‘AmnAyam’ because they are studied and practiced regularly and are handed over to the disciple (sishya) from a master (guru) in succession.