Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Guru Samarpanam - Issue#3



1. Biography


Ancestors

The holiest of holy days was heralded in the year of Jaya, on the eighth day of the lunar month of Vaikasi, on Sunday 20th May 1894 when the constellation “Anusham” was shining in the sky. This day was the blessed day when Srimad Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya, the 68th Acharya Swamigal of Sri Kamakoti Peetam, established by Sri Adi Sankara was born into this world. This auspicious event took place in the house of Govindarayar, located in the southern tip of an agraharam in Nawab Thoppu in the town of Vizhuppuram in Sourth Arcot district. A Brahmin named Subramania Sastrigal and his devout wife Mahalakshmi Ammaiyar had the good fortune of bringing this holy man into this world as their second son.

Sri Swamigal in His purvashramam belonged to the Hoysala Karnataka Smartha Brahmin community. This community had migrated from Karnataka and settled in the Chola Kingdom, near Cauveri during a time when a prominent member of the community, Govinda Deekshithar was a minister to the Tanjore Nayak Kings. One of the branches of this community settled in the holy place of Thiruvidaimaruthur. It is from this branch that our Swamji’s ancestors hailed. Some of the family members held prominent posts in the court of Maratha King Amarasimha Maharaja (Sarabhoji Maharaja’s uncle) who ruled over Thiruvidaimaruthur. In this glorious family was born Ganapathi Shastrigal, our Swamiji’s grand father.



Grandfather Ganapathi Shastrigal

Ganapathi Shastrigal was well versed in Shastras and trained in Rig Veda at an early age. He was fluent in Tamil, Kannada, Maharastram as well as being an able administrator. The 64th Acharya Swami of Kamakoti Peetam, Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswathi Swamigal discovering his efficiency appointed him as the Chief Executive Officer of the Mutt in 1835. He occupied this post for more than 50 years during the tenure of 64th and 65th Peetathipathi. The 64th Acharya Swamiji performed the Kumbabhishekam of the Kancheepuram Kamakshi Amman temple in 1840 and the Thatanga Prathishtai of Sri Akhilandeswari Amman in 1848. Ganapathi Shastrigal helped to conduct these two events successfully and obtained Swamiji’s blessings. Moreover he was instrumental in effecting important events that were beneficial to the Mutt in the long term. Let’s take a look at one of the key events here.

The 64th Acharya Swamy Srimad Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi Swamigal camped in Thiruvanaikkaval between 1844 and 1848 at Kanchi Sankara Mutt in North Street. The ear ring of Sri Akhilandeswari the residing deity of Thiruvanaikaval had to be repaired and prathistha of the ear rings had to be performed again. The temple officials and authorities requested Swamigal’s to accomplish these events and he accepted their invitation. At that time officals of Sringeri Mutt filed a case at Tiruchirapalli Sathar Ameen court claiming that the right to perform Thatanga Prathishta to Ambal rested with their Acharya only. The judge presiding at that court rejected their claim on 17th October, 1846. The officials of Sringeri Mutt filed an appeal at Trichi civil court. The civil court judge upheld the lower court’s decision and rejected the appeal on January 12th, 1848. Sesha Josyar, the Agent of Sringeri Mutt then filed special appeal with Chennai Sadar Adalat Court (then High Court) on 11-9-1848. The High Court also rejected the case. But a petition was filed to review the decision and the petition was duly rejected. It is to be noted that all judges who ruled against the Sringeri Mutt were not Hindus.

After the conclusion of the above said event, the 64th Acharya conducted the Thatanga Prathishta of Ambal’s ear rings in the proper way after repairing the same during the later part of the year 1848. The Sri Mutt was facing difficult times financially after bearing the expenses of a long legal battle, the Thatanga Prathistha and also because the Acharya was stationed in one place. During that time, Acharya was said to have told Ganapathy Sastrigal, “I am getting old and the debts of the mutt are increasing. Taking these into consideration, I feel I should have let Sringeri Swamigal perform the Thatanga Prathishtai”. Immediately following this event, Ganapathy Sastrigal was not found anywhere around the mutt for few days. When he returned, he was asked about his sudden trip. Ganapathy Sastrigal had gone to visit Tanjore Palace to find out about the feasibility of the Acharya’s visit to the palace on the way from Thiruvanaikaval to Kumbakonam. He was informed by the King and his officials that the visit was not possible.

It was decided that Swamigal and his followers would leave for Kumbakonam via Thiruvaiyar in a couple of days. On the appointed day, the caravan including carts belonging to Sri Mutt, elephants, horses etc., were travelling on the way to Thiruvaiyar. At the cross roads leading to Thiruvaiyar the officials from Tanjore Palace waylaid the mutt caravan and ordered them to turn towards Tanjore. Carts belonging to Sri Mutt were forced to travel towards Tanjore. After some time, when Acharya Swamy reached the Thiruvaiyar/Tanjore cross roads he was received and welcomed with great respect by the Diwan, palace officials and Vedic Scholars and taken to Tanjore.

Acharya Swamy camped at Tanjore for more than a week. Special food was provided to everyone belonging to the Sri Mutt as well as the general public at Shreyas Chathiram, Vennathangarai Chathiram and Rathri Chathiram. On the night before his departure, Sri Swamy was taken on a procession on an elephant with the King’s son-in-law seated behind His Holiness. On another Elephant, the king followed along with Ganapathy Shastrigal and the procession continued around all the four streets and thousands of people gathered to watch the glorious sight.


Next morning, when Sri Swamigal was about to leave the palace, He was requested to sit in an asana under a tree. The King Shivaji Raja showered Sri Swamigal with small gold flowers which covered upto His Holines’s neck. The sudden change in the King’s attitude that had previously rejected Ganapathi Shastrigal’s proposal of Sri Acharya’s Tanjore visit was revealed at that time. Two days before Sri Swamji left Thiruvanaikaval the King had a dream where someone kept asking him how he could not do aradhana for Sri Acharyal and Chandramouliswarar Swamy when they were passing by to go to Thiruvaiyar that is so close to Tanjore. Immediately Shivajiraja made all arrangements including the stay and Kanagabhishekam.

Eventhough, Sri Swamigal was not keen on keeping the gold from kanagabhishekam, Ganapathi Shastrigal wanted use the money to obtain revenue yielding land for the mutt. After finally obtainin the consent of Sri Swamy, Ganapathy Shastrigal consulted Perunilakizhar Mopanar from Kapisthalam. He purchased 250 acres of fertile lands belonging to Anaikudi Ramaswamy Pillai at Karuppur, which is situated two miles from Tanjore. The lands in this village are the most extensive and most profitable of all of the mutt’s properties. It is believed that the lands in Karuppur were purchased within a few years of the ascension of the monastery by 65th Peetahipathi of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Sri Mahadevendra Saraswathi Swamigal.

Father Subramania Sastrigal

Ganapathi Sastrigal had three sons namely Subramania Sastrigal, Ramanatha Sastrigal and Sundaramoorthi Sastrigal. The eldest of the three Subramania Sastrigal was Mahaperiyava’s father. He was born in the year 1855 had upanayanam performed at an appropriate age and obtained Vedic instruction. Ganapathi Sastrigal also provided Anglo-education for his son. In the year 1872, Subramania Sastrigal matriculated in the first place from Kumbakonam Government Kalasala. Leaving Kalasala, Subramania Sastrigal joined as a teacher at a school started by Rao Bahadur Appu Sastrigal, Swaminatha Iyer and other prominent persons at Kumbeswara Swamy South Street, Kumbakonam. He got this with a recommendation from the principal of Kumbakonam Government Kalasala Sri Gopal Rao. After working there for sometime he was appointed to teach the famous land lord Thyagaraja Mudaliar at Kavalakudi village near Thiruvarur. He worked there for a few years and then joined the government education department as a teacher. Later, he was promoted to supervisor and moved around Virudachalam in South Arcot district, Chidambaram, Parangipettai, Vizhuppuram, Tindivanam, Vikravandi and Manjakuppam for around 30 years.

Mother Mahalakshmi Ammal

Our Swamiji’s maternal ancestors belonged to the illustrious Raja Govinda Deekshitar who was a very able administrator and minister in King Sevappa Nayakkar, the first Nayakkar king to rule Tanjore. Govinda Deekshitar belonged to Upamanyu Gothram, conducted various Yegnas and was considered a Maha Vidwan. During his times, he was very well known by another name “Ayyan”. Around Chola Kingdom there are many places named after him like Ayyankulam, Ayyan Vaikkal, Ayyan Street, Ayyan Kadai etc. He claims the acclamation of building various mandapams and stone steps along the banks of Cauveri in Chola Kingdom. He also has the credit of repairing temples in Thiruvannamalai and other temples around Chola nadu. He has also dug tanks and canals in lots of plces. Govinda Deekshitar retired to a famous place Pateeswaram near Kumbakonam. Even today his wife’s and his full size statutes can be found inside the Shiva Temple here. Our Swamiji’s mother Mahalakshmi Ammal belonged to this Deekshitar lineage.


Mahalakshmi Ammal was born to Nageswara Shastri and his dharmapatni Meenakshi Ammaiyar at the beautiful village of Eechangudi that is four miles east of Thiruvaiyar and on the northern banks of Cauveri. Nageswara Sastrigal hailed in Upamanyu Vasishta Gothram did adhyayanam of Rig Veda and was well versed in Dharma Shastras. Numerous families in Kumbakonam area respected him and considered him their Acharya. One of the families is that of our Swamiji’s grandfather Ganapathi Shastrigal. Once when Nageswara Shastrigal visited Ganapathi Shastrigal’s house for an occasion, he expressed his wish to give his daughter Mahalakshmi’s hand in marriage to their son Subramanian. Who in their right mind would reject Mahalakshmi knocking on their front door? Moreover an offer from his Acharya to wed his own daughter to his son was not something Ganapathi Shastrigal could refuse. The wedding of Mahalakshmi Ammaiyar in her 7th year and Subramania Shastrigal in his 17th year took place at Eechangudi.

Mahalakshmi Ammaiyar was a very humble woman well versed in prayers and hymns in Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit languages. She spent her time taking care of her husbands’ needs and bringing her children up with lot of care and attention. She also performed all pujas and vratas observed by women in the appropriate times. Especially she was known to keep equilibrium without being carried away by good times or bad times leaving it all to God. She had five siblings, two girls and three boys. Her last brother Subramania Sastrigal was trained in Rig Veda, Shastras and South Indian languages and spent more than 60 years working in the Mutt.


2. Mahaperiyava Miracles

“Ghee for 1 Rupee”

Mahaperiyava was camping at Pandharpur [Pandaripuram] in the year 1981. Devotees were thronging at the camp to have darshan of Periyava. Amidst the crowd there was a North Indian Seth [Settu] who came there to present his offerings to Jagadguru. When his turn came he prostrated before the Acharya and offered one full can of ghee and paid his obeisances.
Paramacharya then murmered “One Rupee” “One Rupee” [Oru Rupaai, Oru Rupaai]. Devotees who have congeragated there could not understand this and every body started taking One Rupee from their pockets.

Mahaperiyava then asked his Mutt Sishyas to enquire from the Seth as to why he brought one full can of ghee instead of ghee worth one rupee. Now the surprise increased for everyone to know as to why Periyava asked the Seth to buy ghee for one rupee.

When they enquired this to Seth he narrated the incident

“Few days before somebody kidnaped my daughter and when I was confused and worried Mahaperiyava appeared in my dream and informed me to buy ghee for one rupee and come to Pandharpur and told me that your daughter will return safe please don’t worry”

“As told by Periyava I got my dauther back the next day. I got relieved and very happy to see my daughter back and hence decided to offer one full can of ghee instead of one rupee” thus by telling this Seeth broke the suspence to everyone.

The above incident confirms that Karunamurthy periyava will come to the rescue of his devotees in need of help under difficult circumstances.

3. Voice of the God – Teachings of Mahaperiyava

"Dasoupadesam" (The Ten Commandments of Mahaperiyava)

1. One of our duties as human beings is to avail ourselves of every opportunity to do good to others. The poor can serve others by their loyal work to the country and the rich by their wealth to help the poor. Those who are influential can use their influence to better the condition of the lowly. That way we can keep alive in our hearts a sense of social service.

2. Man by himself cannot create even a blade of grass. We will be guilty of gross ingratitude if we do not offer first to God what we eat or wear - only the best and choicest should be offered to Him.

3. Life without love is a waste. Everyone should cultivate "Prema" or love towards all human beings, bird and beast.

4. Wealth amassed by a person whose heart is closed to charity, is generally dissipated by the inheritors: but the family of philanthropists will always be blessed with happiness.

5. A person who has done a meritorious deed will lose the resulting merit if he listens to the praise of others or himself boasts of his deeds.

6. It will do not good to grieve over what has happened. If we learn to discriminate between good and evil, that will guard us from falling into the evil again.

7. We should utilise to good purpose, the days of our life-time. We should engage ourselves in acts which will contribute to the welfare of others rather than to our selfish desires.

8. We should perform duties that have been prescribed for our daily life and also be filled with devotion to God.

9. One attains one's goal by performance of one's duties.

10. Jnana is the only solvent of our troubles and sufferings.

Bibliography

· Pujyasri Mahaswamy Divya Charitram – Sri Sambamoorthi Sastrigal, Sri Kuppuswamy Iyer, Sollin Selvan “P.N. Parasuraman”
· Kanchimahanin Karunai Nizhalil – Ananda Vikadan Publications
· http://www.kamakoti.org/

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