Sringeri Sharada Peetham

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Acharya: Sri Bharati Tirtha
Vidyashankara Temple at Shringeri.jpg
Location Shringeri
Founder Adi Shankara
First Acharya Maṇḍana Miśra
Formation 820 AD
Website http://www.sringeri.net/

Sringeri Sharada Peetha (Kannada: ಶೃಂಗೇರಿ ಶಾರದಾ ಪೀಠ ) is the southern Advaita Vedanta matha or monastery established by Adi Shankara in 8th century AD. The matha is on the banks of the Tunga River in Chikkamagalur district, Karnataka, India, 105 kilometers from Mangalore and 303 kilometers from the state capital Bangalore.

History[edit]

Sharada temple at Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Shringeri

Adi Shankara and Advaita Vedanta[edit]

The majority of members of Smarta community follow the Advaita Vedanta philosophy of Adi Shankara Acharya.[web 1] Smarta and Advaita have become almost synonymous, though not all Advaitins are Smartas.[web 1] Traditionally, Shankara (8th century) is regarded as the greatest teacher[1][2] and reformer of the Smartha.[3][2] According to Hiltebeitel, Shankara established the nondualist interpretation of the Upanishads as the touchstone of a revived smarta tradition.[4] The Sringeri Sharada monastery founded by Adi Shankara Acharya in Karnataka is still the centre of the Smarta sect.[1][2]

Maṇḍana Miśra (Sureshwaracharya)[edit]

Maṇḍana Miśra, assuming the name of Sureshwaracharya, belongs to Shukla Yajurveda sect, follower of Adiguru, Maharishi Sri Yagnavalkya, was installed here as the successor of Shankaracharya before the latter resumed his tour to found his three pithas at Puri, Dwaraka and Badrinath. Thus, the matha traces its lineage from Suresvaracharya. The Sringeri matha records its tradition from the 8th century onwards. The history of the Sringeri matha since the period of Sri Bharathi Tirtha (I) and Sri Vidyaranya (14th century) onwards has been documented. Most of the names from the Sringeri lineage up to Vidyaranya are also found in the Sri Guru Charitra, a 15th-century Marathi work by Gangadhara Saraswathi. People of all castes from all over India visit the Śankāracharya at the matha, but the majority of followers are Smartha Brahmins of South India, Maharashtra and Goa.[citation needed]

The head of the matha or Guru Parampara ('teacher tradition', referring to monastic initiation) is venerated as Jagadguru. The head has so far been chosen by the prevailing pontiff usually from among his disciples usually chosen as a Brahmachari, educated in the Vedas and other required learning. So far the Pontiffs have been monks. The present head of the math is Bharati Tirtha Swaminah.

Recent Jagadgurus[edit]

See: Jagadguru of Sringeri Sharada Peetham for the full list of Jagadgurus

The below table is about the last four Jagadgurus, including the incumbent Sri Bharati Tirtha Swaminah.[5]

Name Years as Jagadguru Place of Birth Purvashrama name[6]
Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Nrusimha Bharati 1872–1912 Mysore Shivaswami
Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati 1912–1954 Sringeri Narasimha Sastri
Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha 1954–1989 Bangalore Srinivasa Sastri
Sri Bharati Tirtha 1989–Present Machilipatnam Sitarama Anjaneyulu

Succession to the Śankāracharya title is through disciple selection by the existing Śankāracharya.[citation needed] The successor to the matha is usually named at a young age, from among the Vedic Brahmana community.[citation needed]

Relationships with other mathas and institutions[edit]

The matha has enjoyed patronage from many kings and rulers. Its sage Vidyatheertha was contemporary with the founders of Vijayanagar Empire, and the matha was given lavish grants of land by the Vijayanagar Kings. Vidyaranya, another matha head, was the founder of Vijayanagar empire and also served as advisor to the Vijayangar King.

In modern times the matha has had good relations with the State and Central Governments, as it has always been politically neutral and non-controversial. After Independence under communist influences the central government enacted land ceiling acts and forcibly usurped land of the Sringeri matha leading to loss of much of its traditional land and source of income, and at one time was struggling to maintain itself, but thankfully with donations from NRIs, things have turned for the better.

Philosophy and traditions of the matha[edit]

The matha gurus follow the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. Following the tradition initiated by Śankara, the matha is in charge of the Yajurveda (which is more prevalent in South India, over which the matha has authority in the Smarta tradition). The gurus of the matha teach that all the devas described in the Vedas and the Puranas are mundane manifestations of the same one cosmic spirit, called Brahman. Moreover, the innermost self of the human being is also not different from Brahman. They subscribe to the Vedic phrase Aham Brahma Asmi, which means, "I am the Universal spirit". The gurus wear ochre robes, smear their forehead with sacred ashes or vibhuti, and worship God for many hours every day. They practice intense penance and meditation, which they believe helps in the control of the mind. They sustain themselves on an optimum diet and minimal sleep. They meditate/chant on the Rudraksha and Tulasi beads and worship both the lingam and Sila every day.

The Sringeri gurus advocate that an individual must not merely revere a guru and listen to his teachings, but imbibe the good habits of the guru in their own life. Some of the things advocated by the gurus are:

  1. Sattvic habits, which include vegetarianism, cleanliness, discipline, etc.
  2. Regular worship of God and development of bhakti.
  3. Giving importance to learning and knowledge.
  4. Good conduct, honesty, generosity, and adherence to scriptures.
  5. Austerity and simplicity.
  6. Love, respect, and responsibility towards one's family or community.
  7. Destruction of pride and ego.

The material world is considered maya, or temporary like a dream, so they believe that one should be involved in the material world only in order to fulfill one's responsibility. Although they adhere to the teachings of Śankara, they read other secular and religious works. Within the recorded history of the last two centuries, every one of the gurus at Sringeri has been a polyglot and a scholar with knowledge of a wide range of subjects. They do not advocate religious conversion, and believe that individuals must follow the religion of their own birth properly and correctly.

Smarta Hindu denomination[edit]

Smartism, a relatively modern Hindu tradition (compared to the three older traditions ), invites the worship of more than one god including Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti, Ganesha (the elephant god) and Surya (the sun god) among other gods and goddesses. It is not as overtly sectarian as either Vaishnavism or Saivism and is based on the recognition that Brahman (God) is the highest principle in the universe and pervades all of existence.[7][8][9] Generally Smartas worship the Supreme in one of six forms: Ganesha, Siva, Shakti, Vishnu, Surya and Skanda. Because they accept all the major Hindu Gods, they are known as liberal or nonsectarian. They follow a philosophical, meditative path, emphasizing man's oneness with God through understanding.[10]

Sringeri Shri Sharada Parameshwari[edit]

The Sringeri Matha's main deity is the Goddess of Learning Sri Sharada Parameshwari. The present image in the temple is in gold and is believed to be in place from the times of Jagadguru Vidyaranya Swaminaha; before which a murti made of sandal wood was in worship. Sri Sharadamba as the Math's sishyas call her, is seated comfortably in padmasana, with four hands respectively showing chinmudra, japa mala, pustaka and amruta kalasa. She is Brahma Vidya personified and is revered throughout centuries by the succeeding Jagadgurus and the discples of the math.

The Sringeri Sharada Suprabhatha was adopted by the Sringeri matha in the late 1970s by his holiness Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha swamiji. The very famous Sree Sharada Suprabhata Stotram was composed by Veda Brahma. Turuvekere Subrahmanya Vishweshwara Dikshith also known as Sri. T. S. Vishweshwara Dikshith for the divine Sringeri Sharada maata (God Mother).

Veda. Brahma. T. S. Vishweshwara Dikshith was born in Turuvekere, a small town in Tumkur district and was the Sanskrit professor in Maharaja College in the Royal Kingdom of Mysore and resided at Mysore. He was also the Aasthana Vidwan of Alankaara Shasthra of King Jayachamaraja Wodeyar Bahadur. Sri. T. S. Vishweshwara Dikshith was a learned Sanskrit scholar in several Vedas (Yajur Veda in particular) and specialised in Ghana Krama – which is the essence of the Vedas. He also composed the Sree Srikanteshwara Suprabhata and Sree Chandramoulishwara Suprabhata of Lord. Srikanteshwara of Nanjangud, and Sri Chandramoulishwara temple in V. V. Mohalla, Mysore respectively. He was a Ghana Pati and had mastered several Shastras such as Alankara Shastra, Jyothishya Shastra (Astrology), Tarka, and Vyakarana (Literature) to name a few. He received several awards and accolodates from the Maharaja of Mysore, and their holiness the pointiffs' of Sringeri Sharada Peetham and Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam respectively for his contributions made to Sanskrit Literature.

Activities of the matha[edit]

The primary objective of the Matha is to ensure deep learning in Scriptures and tradition by the qualified seekers and living a life established in Dharma. The successive Jagadgurus have been so far come in an unbroken tradition and have themselves been quite clear living examples of high learning, and pious life besides teaching the same to their disciples. The Swamis of this matha believe themselves to be the Apostolic descendants of Adi Shankara.[11] Preserving the tradition of Vedic learning and living a vedic life has been the central theme of this Matha so far, and it has produced many lively scholars.

A number of Vedic schools and temples are maintained by the matha across India. Besides this, the matha also runs a hospital and a few colleges. It has established branches in many parts of India. The Sharada Temple at Sringeri is managed by the Sringeri matha. There is also a library in Sringeri, with rare Sanskrit volumes, which is managed by the matha. The matha has also played an important role in preserving the natural beauty of Sringeri.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Doniger 1999, p. 1017.
  2. ^ a b c Popular Prakashan 2000, p. 52.
  3. ^ Rosen 2006, p. 166.
  4. ^ Hiltebeitel 2013.
  5. ^ See http://www.jagadgurus.org and http://www.sringeri.net for detailed biographies of the Jagadgurus
  6. ^ Purvashrama name refers to the name of the Jagadguru before taking Sannyasa.
  7. ^ "ISKCON". Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  8. ^ "Hindus in SA". Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  9. ^ Dubois. Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies. Cosimo. p. 111. 
  10. ^ "HimalayanAcademy". Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  11. ^ Sen 1930, p. 59

Further reading[edit]

  • Hasan, Mohibbul (1951). History of Tipu Sultan. Bibliophile. .
  • Sen, Surendranath (1930). Studies in Indian history. University of Calcutta. .

External links[edit]