Gokarna Math

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Gokarna Matha
Gokarna Matha is located in Goa
Gokarna Matha
Gokarna Matha
Location in Goa
Geography
Coordinates 14°59′35″N 74°06′26″E / 14.992989°N 74.107327°E / 14.992989; 74.107327Coordinates: 14°59′35″N 74°06′26″E / 14.992989°N 74.107327°E / 14.992989; 74.107327
Country India
State Goa
Location Partagal, Poinginim, Canacona

Gokarna Matha is one of the 24 mathas of the Dvaita order, a system established by Madhvacharya in the 13th century AD.

This matha is also called Partagali Jivottama and is headquartered in Partagali, a small town in South Goa, on the banks of the river Kushavati. There is still ongoing research to establish who exactly founded the math and when exactly it was founded. As per historic lore it is said that it was initiated by Shri Raghothama Theertharu (Bhavabodharu) of Uttaradi Matha. It is said that this matha was formed after it split away from Palimar at Udupi initiated by Shimad Ananda Theertharu (Madhvacharya).

The first pontiff of the matha was Narayanatirtha. The deity worshiped by the institution is Ramdev Veervitthal. The math became well known as Jivottama Matha after the third pontiff, Jivottama Tirthar.

This math was also a victim of Portuguese Christian missionary activities that drove the original establishment from Madgao to Bhatkal in Karwar District in Karnataka. Shri Narayana Theertharu was a great scholar of the Dvaita order and earned the name "Shri Paada Wodayaru", for which he is still known today. During the late 1950s, Shri Dwarakanatha Theertharu established several educational institutions and republished several seminal works.

History[edit]

In the true sense, establishment of Shree Mutt renowned as the Shree Samsthan Gokarn Partagali Jeevottam Mutt coincidentally took place in the Himalayas at Badrikashram on Chaitra Shukla 2, saka 1397 (1475 A.D.)

Shree Madhvacharya had established Ashtamuttas (eight mutts) at Udupi to disseminate the Dvaita philosophy of the Mudhva sect. Of these eight, one was the Phalimaru Mutt. The Saraswat community spread along the Western Coast of India, following the philosophy of the Vaishnava sect had accepted the spiritual guidance of this Phalimaru Mutt.

The tenth Acharya of the Phalimaru Muth Shree Ramchandra Teerth, while on a pilgrimage to the Himalayas accompanied by his entourage, was taken seriously ill. The place being inaccessible and remote from Udupi, it was not possible to establish any contact with the headquarters of the Mutt at Udupi. Fearing that the lineage of the Acharyas of the Mutt may be severed in case he breathes his last at the feet of Lord Narayan, and the tradition of the Mutt would be curtailed, as an alternative arrangement he ritually conferred the discipleship on an eligible Saraswat bhrahmachari (celibate bachelor). Having thus initiated him into the Mutt tradition by giving diksha and having bestowed the name of Shree Narayan Teerth on him, the Guruswami advised him to return to Udupi after duly completing his pilgrimage.

After being duly initiated into renunciation, Shree Narayan Teerth resolved to complete his pilgrimage to the sacred spots and shrines of North India. Thus moving from places of pilgrimage such as Kurukshetra and Brahmavarta to Brahmahruda, he finally arrived at the world-renowned pilgrim centre of Varanasi. This ancient land of Vaishnavas is considered as the abode of rest of Lord Madhava.

The holy month of Kartik had drawn near and the Swamiji was aware of the extraordinary significance of the sacred dip at the Panchaganga ghat at this auspicious time. In fact, it has been mentioned in the Ramayana that Lord Ram had made a year-long sojourn at Varanasi on the way to his vanavas (disbandment).

It so happened that, during the very month of Kartik, the princess of Kashi (Varanasi), along with her companions arrived at the ghat for the gangasnaan (holy bath). As had been her practice, she kept her ornaments on the bank over the clothes and dipped into the water. But due to the extreme cold, she began to shiver and quickly rushing for dry clothes on the shore and pulled them on.

Having completed their bath, as the entire troupe was about to return to the palace, it was discovered that the diamond studded bangle of the princess was lost. But where could it go? Who could have dared to steal the bangle of the princess? An intense search was launched but to no avail.

An hermit was seen engaged in japa anushtthan (ritual of chant-worship) at one corner of the ghat. Many had seen this alien sanyasin (ascetic) there. Although there was a hue and cry over the lost ornament of the princess, it had not disturbed the Concentration of the hermit engrossed in his worship. However, the soldiers disturbed his meditation and accosted him with their suspicion. His reply was spontaneous and forthright:

"We are ascetics who have renounced the world. What enticement could wealth and ornaments hold for the like of us? When we don't even covet a square meal a day, why would we turn traitors to our own belief of non-accumulation and astheya vrata (nonsteaking) ?"

Although Shree Narayan Teerth was unmoved by the accusation, the soldiers refused to be dissuaded by his candid speech and searched him. But they were crestfallen when they found nothing on his person!

There was no iota of doubt left about the innocence of Shree Narayan Teerth, when the waters of the river receded the bangle was discovered in the shallow riverbed near the bank.

The royal family sought forgiveness of Shree Narayan Teerth. The King of Kashi heard that an innocent sanyasin had been harassed by the royal household. He Was deeply disturbed. He felt that he had to seek personal forgiveness for his high handedness of the royalty. Coming to the Panchaganga ghat, he fell at the feel of Shree Narayan Teerth.

"We are ashamed of what has come to pass. Swamiji may kindly forgive us." The King prayed.

Shree Narayan Teerth replied, "Oh Royal Prince' In your kingdom dharma and religiousity have always been given generous patronage. On this Panchaganga ghat, mother Ganga has turned the corner of her stream to become ishyanyaplava (oriented towards the North-East). We belong to the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin community from the distant land of Aparant, but we are deeply devoted to Mother Ganga in the holy land of Kashi. We desire that more and more people or our community should visit this sacred place to seek the darshan of Mother Ganga and bathe in the holy waters: So we intend to have Mutt premises here. If your Royal Highness takes active interest in this project, it would be a virtuous act of benevolence."

The repentant King of Kashi was much relieved by the words of Shree Narayan Teerth. He helped the construction of a modest of a mutt premises on the very ghat facing Shree Bindu Madhav temple on the banks of the ishyanyaplava Ganga. Having ritually installed the pancha-dhatumaya (quinta-metallic) idol of Shree Laxmi Narayan and having inade adequate arrangements for the daily pooja of the deity.

Shree Narayan Teerth Swamiji had established the arch Mutt in the Varanasi region, in the absence of any clear perception regarding the existing and ideal relations between the Mutt and the society. The primary objective behind the establishment of a Mutt would be solely to raise the banner of one's sect in a leading place of pilgrimage and to provide a secure shelter to the pilgrims who venturing forth to remote lands in search of spiritual solace and benediction. [Nonetheless his great venture had also launched a new tradition since] This was the initial Mutt of the Vaishnav sect of Saraswat Brahmins.

Having thus established the first Mutt at Kashi, Shree Narayan Teerth Swamiji returned to Udupi. After some time, the venerable Guru Shree Ramchandra Teerth Swamiji having recovered from his ailment believed to be incurable, also returned to his own Mutt. On seeing Shree Narayan Teerth, the Guruswami was puzzled. He was in two minds. The Dravid Brahmins wanted him to cancel the authority over the Peetha granted to Shree Narayan Teerth; while he himself was aware of the worth of the Batu who had served him so well during his pilgrimage and who having taken diksha as his disciple had planted the banner of his glory in the holy region of Varanasi.

As a way out, the revered Guru made Shree Vidyanidhi Teerth as his successor and advised Shree Narayan Teerth to organize the Saraswat Brahmin community and to create a separate Mutt tradition. Accordingly, Shree Narayan Teerth arrived at Bhatkal and having erected a Mutt premises there began the spread of faith among the Saraswat community in the land of Parashur am.

That was the beginning of the Shree Samsthan Gokarn Partagali Jeevottam Mutt which is considered as the emblem of Saraswat identity and the rallying point for their unification. Devoted for over 530 years to preserve and organize a people forced to be disorganized and committed to serve and energize a community ordained to undergo many an ordeal by fate and compelled to be dispersed by history, the success story of the Mutt also contains the history of the Saraswat community. In this long march ahead, the Mutt has had the rare fortune of having an unhindered lineage of 23 Swamijis. The tiny sapling planted on the banks of lshyanyaplava Ganga by H.H. Shree Narayan Teerth Swamiji and nurtured by this long unbroken tradition has today in the form of the holy Mutt burgeoned like a mighty, banyan tree with its branches spread far and wide.[1][2][3]

Deities[edit]

Main Deities of Samsthan Gokarna Math are charaprathishta (literally, a moving installation) idols of Lord Shri Veera Vittala and Lord Shri Rama.

Guru System[edit]

Gokarna Math follows a Guru system, wherein the head of the Math appoints a shishya, who succeeds the Guru. According to the Math's tradition, the shishya should be unmarried, and is selected at a very young age.

Shri Gokarna Math are followers of the Dwaita school of Vaishnavite philosophy founded by Maadhwacharya.

Mathadipathi[edit]

The spiritual head, or the Mathadipathi is the administrative head of the math and its properties. As a math specific to the Gowd Saraswat Brahmins, the mathadhipathi seldom mingle with members of other communities. The mathadhipathi is not a mere spiritual head of the community. In the past, the mathadhipathi exercised powers over secular matters of the community too. The current Mathadhipathi of Sri Gokarna Math Samsthan is H.H. Vidhyadhiraja Theertha Swamiji.

Vidhyadhiraja Theertha Swamiji[edit]

Shrimat Vidyadhiraja Swamiji (Poorvashram Name: Shri Raghavendra Acharya, Native Place: Gangulli, in the Present Udupi District), 23rd in the pontifical lineage was given Sanyas Deeksha on 26th Feb.,1967 in Shri Ram Mandir Wadala, Mumbai by his illustrious preceptor, Shrimat Dwarakanath Tirth Swamiji, who brought Shri Gokarn Math to Mumbai as earlier there was no branch of the math in the city. Shri Swamiji ascended to gurupeetha on 5 April 1973 and thereafter tirelessly working for the spiritual upliftment of the followers, the prime duty cast on the maths. Under his leadership quite a few old temples and math branches were renovated and rebuilt and Shri Swamiji revived in a big way the ancient-most mode of worship by yagas and yajnas and also by undertaking pilgrimages to holy places, including the ones in the remote part of the Himalayas.

In 1997, during Dasara in Shri Ram Mandir, Mumbai, in the year of Golden Jubilee of India's Independence, for the welfare of the Indian nation in particular and humanity in general, Shri Swamiji organised a series of Maha Yagnas when thousands from all over the country participated. Interestingly though a particular yajna is performed in a particular place, Shri Swamiji organises in such a way that the young and the school going tiny tots as well as the old can participate sitting in their own home. For instance, in 1997, for "Koti" (one crore) likhita (written) Shri Rama Nama Japa Yajna, hundreds of note books in which thousands have chanted and written in their own handwriting the mantra, Shri Rama Jaya Rama Jaya Jaya Rama, arrived at the venue. The enthusiasm of the devotees was so great that as against the targeted one crore, 23 crore mantras arrived at the scene! This year, April, 2000 for the mammoth Shatakoti (one hundred crores - one billion) Shri Rama Nama Japa Yajna, organised in commemoration of the 525th Foundation Day of the Samsthan and Shri Swamiji's Silver Jubilee of ascending the gurupeetha, a devotee could chant any number at home, keep a daily record in a card supplied by the math and send it over to Partagali where the yajna took place. "Among all the yajnas, japa yajna is the greatest," so declares Gita and Shri Swamiji actually propagates it by word and spirit.

Among many pilgrimages Shri Swamiji has undertaken, the most difficult was virtually an expedition to Shri Damodar Kund in the Himalayas about 20,000 feet above the sea level. Some 500 years ago the third Swamiji of the math, Shrimat Jeevottam Tirth Swamiji by whose name the math is called on account of his great many feats, had gone on a pilgrimage and Shrimat Vidyadhiraj is the second one to repeat this in the year 1998 traversing and climbing the snow clad peaks. The followers were deeply impressed by this accomplishment of their beloved guru and so they gave him the title of Abhinav (new) Jeevottam Swamiji! This year Shri Swamiji is undertaking another difficult pilgrimage, from Gangotri, the source of Ganga to Gangasagar where Ganga meets the sea.

Shri Swamiji is a great Sanskrit scholar and all the GSBs can be proud of his accomplishments. He has mastered all the books on Madhwa Philosophy, Kavyas like Raghuvamsh, Kumar Sambhav, Kirartarjuneey and Nasishadh and also Jyotishya, Agama and Dhramashastras. He likes self-study and is fond of linking auspicious moments and stars to all his religious programmes. He is a lover of GSB History and Culture and always states that Gowda Saraswats are generous leaders with the spirit of service to all. Shri Swamiji has maintained a good two way communication with shishya varga and also friendly ties with other mathadhipatis. His greatest success is in making Shri Gokarn Math a vibrant and dynamic religious institution answering to the religious needs of the modern society especially popularising that great mantra of mantras, Shri Rama Nama, taking it to every home and heart.

Guru Parampara[edit]

SL No Name Purvashrama Name Birth (A.D) Ashrama Sveekar Samadhi Ref
Date Place Date Age Place Date Age Place
1 Shri Narayana Theertha - - - Bhatkal
2 Shri Vasudeva Theertha - - - Pandarpur
3 Shri Jeevothama Theertha - - - Bhatkal
4 Shri Purushothama Theertha - - - Gokarnam
5 Shri Anujeevothama Theertha - - - Dicholi
6 Shri Ramachandra Theertha - - - Ravan
7 Shri Digvijaya Ramachandra Theertha - - - Ankola
8 Shri Raghuchandra Theertha - - - Honavar
9 Shri Lakshmi Narayana Theertha - - - Nasik
10 Shri Lakshmikantha Theertha - - - Honavar
11 Shri Ramakantha Theertha - - - Ankola
12 Shri Kamalakantha Theertha - - - Gokarnam
13 Shri Shrikantha Theertha - - - Partagali
14 Shri Bhuvijaya Ramachandra Theertha - - - Ankola
15 Shri Ramaanatha Theertha - - - Venkatapur
16 Lakshminaatha Theertha - - - Baroda
17 Shri Ananda Theertha - - - Partagali
18 Shri Poornaprajna Theertha - - - Partagali
19 Shri Padmanabha Theertha - - - Partagali
20 Shri Indirakantha Theertha - - - Partagali
21 Shri Kamalanatha Theertha - - - Partagali
22 Shri Dwarakanatha Theertha - - - Partagali
23 Shri Vidhyadhiraja Theertha Raghavendra Acharya - - Present Mathadipathi -

Samadhi/Virndavan[edit]

According to a custom followed in the Gokarna Math, after Swamiji passes away, the mortal remains of the departed Swamiji are buried in the earth after suitably embalming the body with preservatives - salt, camphor, heaps of Tulsi leaves etc. - usually in the Math premises or in temples associated with the Math. Subsequently, a memorial structure is constructed over the site. The entire place is known as the Vrindavana or Samadhi of the Swamiji. Arrangements are made for the daily pujas in the Vrindavana and the Punya Tithi (death anniversary) of the Swamiji is duly celebrated with special pujas and prayers and Abhishekam to the Hanuman idol for his blessing to the Matha Samsthan and its followers.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The History of the Dvaita School of Vedanta and Its Literature by B.N.K. Sharma, 3rd Edition - 2000 (Motilal Banarsidass)
  2. ^ Madhva Matagalu by Dr Krishna Kolarakulkarni, 2nd Edition (Bhagyalakshmi Publishers - Bangalore)
  3. ^ "Official Website of Gokarn Math or Partagli Jivothama".