Chandrashekarendra Saraswati

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Sri Shankaracharya Chandrasekharendra Saraswati VIII Mahaswamigal
A 1933 photograph of Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigalu
Nationality Indian
Born Swaminatha
(1894-05-20)20 May 1894
Resting place Kanchi Mutt
Senior posting
Title Jagadguru
Period in office 9 May 1907 – 8 January 1994
Consecration 13 February 1907
Predecessor Sri Sri Mahadevendra Saraswathi VI
Successor Jayendra Saraswathi
Religious career
Ordination 9 May 1907

Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Mahaswamiji (Kannada: ಶ್ರೀ ಚಂದ್ರಶೇಖರೇಂದ್ರ ಸರಸ್ವತಿ; 20 May 1894 – 8 January 1994), or the Sage of Kanchi, was the 68th Jagadguru of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. He is usually referred to as Paramacharya, Mahaswami or Maha Periyavar. He is widely considered as one of the greatest Indian sages of recent times. He was renowned for his saintly life, strict adherence to the sanyasa (asceticism) and unparalleled knowledge in a wide array of subjects. His foremost vision was the protection of Vedas, tradition, and dharma.

Early life[edit]

Chandrashekarendra Saraswati was born on 20 May 1894, under Anuradha nakshatra according to the Hindu calendar, into a Smartha Brahmin family in Viluppuram, South Arcot District, Tamil Nadu as Swaminatha. He was the second son of Shri Subramanya Sastrigal, a District Education Officer and his devout wife, Smt Mahalakshmi. The child was named Swaminatha, after the family deity, Lord Swaminatha of Swamimalai, near Kumbakonam. Swaminatha began his early education at the Arcot American Mission High School at Tindivanam, where his father was working. He was an exceptional student and excelled in several subjects. In 1905, his parents performed his Upanayanam, a Vedic ceremony which qualifies a Brahmin boy to begin his Vedic studies under an accomplished teacher.He attained Maha Samaadhi at Kancheepuram on 8 January 1994 (Dhanur, Krishna Dwadasi) in his Centenary year.

Sivan Sir[edit]

His brother was Sadasiva Sastrigal, popularly known as Sivan Sir.[1] Sadasiva Sastri was born on 3 October 1903 in Viluppuram, South Arcot District, Tamil Nadu. He has written a magnum opus based on Hindu philosophy in a Tamil book titled "Yenippadigalil Maanthargal". [2][3][4][5]

Incidents leading to Sainthood[edit]

During the childhood of the Acharya, his father consulted an astrologer who, upon studying the boy's horoscope, is said to have been so stunned that he prostrated himself before the boy exclaiming that "One day the whole world will fall at his feet".[citation needed] In 1906, the 66th Acharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham performed the annual Chaturmasyam (a four-month annual ritual performed by Hindu ascetics while remaining in one place), in a village near Tindivanam in Tamil Nadu. This was Swaminatha's first exposure to the Math and its Acharya. Later, Swaminatha accompanied his father whenever he visited the Math where the Acharya was deeply impressed by the young boy.[citation needed]

In the first week of February 1907, the Kanchi Kamakoti Math had informed Subramanya Sastrigal that Swaminatha's first cousin (son of his mother's sister) was to be installed as the 67th Peetathipathi. The presiding Acharya was then suffering from smallpox and had the premonition that he might not live long. He had, therefore, administered upadesa to his disciple Lakshminathan before he attained Samadhi. Sastrigal being away in Trichinopoly on duty arranged for the departure of Swaminatha with his mother to Kanchipuram. The boy and his mother started for Kalavai (where Lakshminathan was camping) to console his aunt who, while also being a widow, had just given up her only son to be an ascetic. They travelled by train to Kanchipuram and halted at the Sankara Math. By then, Lakshminathan had fallen ill:[citation needed]

I had a bath at the Kumara Koshta Tirtha. A carriage of the Math had come there from Kalavai with the people to buy articles for the Maha Puja on the tenth day of the passing of the previous 66th Acharya. One of them, a hereditary maistry (mason) of the Math, asked me to accompany him. A separate cart was engaged for the rest of the family to follow me. During the journey the maistry hinted to me that I might not return home and that the rest of my life might be spent in the Math itself. At first I thought that my elder cousin having become the Head of the Math, it was his wish that I should live with him. But the maistry gradually clarified matters as the cart rolled on. The acharya had fever which developed into delirium and that was why I was being separated from the family to be taken to Kalavai... I was stunned by this unexpected turn of events. I lay in a kneeling posture in the cart, shocked as I was, repeating "Rama... Rama," the only prayer I knew. My mother and other children came some time later only to find that instead of her mission of consoling her sister, she herself was placed in the state of having to be consoled

— T.M.P. Mahadevan, The Sage of Kanchi

[citation needed]

The 67th Acharya also attained Samadhi, after reigning for a brief period of seven days as the head of the Math. Swaminatha was immediately installed as the 68th head of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam on 13 February 1907, the second day of the Tamil month of Masi, Parabhaava (பரபாவ, the 40th Tamil Year) year. He was given Sanyasa Asramam at the early age of 13 and was named Chandrasekharendra Saraswati. On 9 May 1907 his "Pattabishekam" as the 68th Peetathipathi of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam was performed at the Kumbakonam Math. Devotees including Shivaji Maharaja of Tanjavur, government officials and pundits participated in the event.[citation needed]

Even though there was not enough property in the mutt to be administered, the court considering the benefit of the mutt, ordered the mutt to be administered under the "Guardian and Wards Act". Sri C.H.Venkataramana Iyer, an illustrious personality from Kolinjivadi (Colinjivadi) village near Coimbatore was appointed as the guardian by the court. The administration of the mutt was under guardianship from 1911 to May,1915. On the day of Sankara Jayanthi in the year 1915, Swamigal took over the administration of the mutt on the completion of his 21st year. The administration of the mutt was taken over only in name, but the actual work was taken care of by an agent, one Sri Pasupathi Iyer. He hailed from Thirupathiripuliyur, was an able administrator, who volunteered to do the job without compensation. Acharya does not sign any document, instead Sri Mukham stamp is placed on documents.[1]

He had vedic studies at Kumbakonam Mutt opposite the mahamaham tank (Melkarai) from 1913–1915. In 1915, Sri Anantharama Srouthigal was his prathama adhyayana tutor. As a little girl, his granddaughter Nagam used to carry milk in a pot to the pontiff next door. She said the acharya was sharp in memory and divinely blessed with prediction. Avidly she recalled how the acharya directed her father Narayana Iyer (Son-inlaw of Anantharama Srouthigal, H/o. Visalakshi) to vacate the place and go to his house next door. Narayana came home and died within minutes. Thus was his spiritual darshan.[citation needed] When her family visited the Kanchi Mutt in 1991, the aged acharya blessed the family members and enquired if they were Nagam's children. Such was his memory.[citation needed]

As a Jagadguru[edit]

The term Jagadguru aptly suited him. He had devotees from all walks of life. From the downtrodden to the affluent, from Hindus to Muslims, from Asians to Europeans, there were many who found solace from this man who lived in a small thatched hut in Kanchipuram. He was known throughout the world as a great jnani, in whose presence everyone found great peace and tranquil.[citation needed]

Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr, the Vice chancellor of Tehran university who participated in the World Conference of Philosophy in Madras in 1970, met the Paramacharya at Kanchi and said:

To behold the presence of His Holiness the Jagadguru, and to be blessed by the privileges of the fresh breeze which flows from him and which extinguishes the very fire that separates man from God, is to realise that the divine freedom manifests itself where it wills. In Kanchipuram one feels the proximity of the Light which as a Muslim , I have experienced near Muslim saints.In the eyes of the Jagadguru, the silence of the Eternity of India which is immutable and eternal like the peak of the Himalayas, shines and penetrates into the very heart where presides the throne of God. Through his glance, the heart becomes suddenly transmuted alchemically from a piece of flesh into a jewel that reflects Inner Light and Illuminates the whole from within.

K. M. Munshi, founder of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan wrote about the Mahaswami :

He is one of the most remarkable men I've ever seen, a tapasvin who reminds us of the ancient ascetics referred to in our ancient literature, giving validity to the concept of our ancient ideal of austerity, rising superior to the demands of flesh. A profoundly learned man , he combines within himself sastraic scholarship with a discerning understanding of modern life and its problems.

Acharya spent several years in the study of the scriptures and dharma shastras and acquainted himself with his role as the Head of the Math.[citation needed] He soon gained the reverence and respect of the devotees and people around him. To millions of devotees he was simply "Periyavar"—the revered one or Maha-Periyavar or Periya-Periyavar. "Periyavar" in Tamil means a great person, and conveys endearment, reverence, and devotion. "Mahaswami" and "Paramacharya" are his other well-known appellations.[citation needed] He was the head of the Mutt for eighty-seven years. During this period the Kanchi Kamakoti peetham acquired new strength as an institution that propagated Adi Sankara's teachings. The devotion, intensity,and fervour with which the Paramacharya practised what Adi Sankara taught is considered to be unparalleled. Throughout his life, the focus of his concern and activities was rejuvenating Veda adhyayana, the Dharma Sasthras, and the age-old tradition, which had suffered decline. "Veda rakshanam" was his very life breath and he referred to it in most of his talks.

Remaining active throughout his life, the sage of Kanchi twice undertook pilgrimages on foot from Rameshwaram in the far south of the Indian peninsula to Benares in the North.[citation needed] He organised several sadas(seminars) on Indian culture, Vedas, Veda bhashya, Agamas, Natya shashtra, archaeology and sculpture. He sent scholars and indologists to many South East Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodia etc. to discover the cultural links between India and those countries . This way, he traced back the origins of the royal Giant Swing ceremony of Thailand to the Thiruppavai, Thiruvampavai festival held in the month of margazhi in South India.He observed that the last 2 verses of thiruppavai were recited at the occasion.

The site of the Giant Swing ceremony in Thailand, which was traced back to its origins in South Indian culture by the Mahaswami.

He is credited with the rediscovery of several ancient temples like the Panchamukheswara temple at Sri Kalahasti, which were thought to be lost. He traced the sthala purana of Srikalahastiswara and Gnanaprasunamba to the story of the Yaksha and celestials in the Kenopanishad. He found out temples dedicated to Yaksha, Indra, Vayu and Agni during the circambulation around the main shrine.This led him to identify Srikalahastiswara with the Yaksha (Brahman) and Gnanaprasunambika with the Uma of the upanishads. He also identified the samadhi of Sadasiva Brahmendra at Manamadurai.He was responsible for the renewed interest in Indian sculpture and Agamas, through the Vyasa Bharata Agama silpa sadas he held regularly.At such seminars he also promoted the display of Thai and other south east Asian art forms.He asked his devotee, Padma Subrahmanyam a renowned classical dancer and research scholar to design 108 Karana forms of the divine couple parvathi parameswara to be sculpted at Uttara Chidambaram Nataraja Mandir at Satara . She later discovered nearly 50 karanas in the famous Prambanan temple complex at Java, belonging to the 9th A.D. A remarkable feature is that these sculptures exactly tally with her designs.

Providing support through Veda Patashalas (schools teaching Vedic lore) through the Veda Rakshana Nidhi which he founded and honouring Vedic scholars, he reinvigorated Vedic studies in India. He gave a new lease of life to several ancient sakhas (recension) of the Vedas which were thought to be lost for ever, by identifying scholars in remote areas who knew them and sending students to learn the respective sakha from those scholars. In turn, these students popularised the sakha by teaching it to their pupils.This way he saved the Saunaka sakha of the Adharva Veda and Ranayaniya sakha of the Samaveda from extinction.Interestingly, Saunaka sakha is now the only extant one out of the 50 sakhas of the Adharva Veda. A scholar at Sinor, Gujarat was conversant with this sakha. The Acharya sent some of the vedic pundits of Kanchi kamakoti peetham to learn this sakha from the Gujarati scholar. Ranayaniya sakha is the one of the 3 remaining sakhas of Samaveda. In spite of his interest in political developments and many political giants holding him with great reverence, he was politically neutral and free from any disputes. He was admired by the leaders of the Congress, B.J.P and regional parties alike .He never used his influence for fulfilling his personal objectives, but never hesitated to use it in the interest of the Hindu religion.He sent lawyers to meet Dr. Ambedkar to make important amendments to the article 26 of the constitution which deals with religious freedom.These included the change of the phrase "Every religious denomination thereof shall have the right to...." to "Every religious denomination or section thereof shall have the right to ....", this was significant because all the maths and spiritual organisations of the time were running under the label of the respective subsects like Smartha, Saiva, Vaishnava etc. but not in the name of Hindu religion.Later he also sent legal experts to meet the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to persuade him to transfer the subject of religion and religious institutions from the State to the Central list. The Mahaswami feared that if a party that professes irreligiousness would come to power in a state, it would adversely affect the religious institutions of the state. This request was acceded to and the subject of religion was transferred to the concurrent list.

When the Vivekananda Rock Memorial was being planned, M. Bhaktavatsalam, the then Chief minister of Tamil Nadu who had been opposing the project ever since its inception due to fears of communal tension had given permission to only a 15 × 15 design.Knowing the chief minister's reverence to the Paramacharya, Eknath Ranade approached the latter for suggesting the design for the memorial. Sri Bhaktavatsalam unhesitatingly agreed to a larger design (130 × 56) approved by the Paramacharya.

Vivekananda Rock Memorial

He was the guiding spirit behind the Sri Venkateswara Veda Parirakshana Scheme launched by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. While camping at Satara, he asked P.V.R.K Prasad, the then Executive Officer of the T.T.D to start a scheme to help protect the Vedas in their pristine purity. He felt that the Tirumala devasthanams, a prosperous organisation had the responsibility of protecting the Vedas, since the very purpose of incarnation of the lord is to protect the vedic way of life. Sri Venkateswara had an epithet 'Dharma samsthapaka' which means protector of dharma and dharma in turn was dependent on the Vedas.

He composed a song Maithreem Bhajata, which was rendered at the United Nations on October 23, 1966 on the occasion of UN day, by the Nightingale of India, M.S. Subbulakshmi. The song received a standing ovation.

The Mahaswami had great devotion to Adi Sankara Bhagavatpada, whom he fondly referred to as "Our Acharya" in his discourses.He perpetuated the memory of Sri Sankara by constructing suitable memorials at important sacred places connected with the latter's life story like Kalady, Srisailam, Prayag, and Rameswaram . At Kalady (the birthplace of Sankara), Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthambha Mandapam, an eight-storey memorial symbolic of the fame of the great philosopher was built. It houses the padukas (holy sandals) of Sri Sankara and framed relief paintings that depict his life. It was declared open on the occasion of Sankara jayanthi celebrations by the then President of India, Sri Neelam Sanjiva Reddy.

Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthambha Mandapam at Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Sankara

At Enathur near Kanchipuram, a majestic 60 ft tall statue of Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada was inaugurated by President of India, Shankar Dayal Sharma.

His long tenure as Peetadhipathi is considered by many to have been the Golden Era of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam.[citation needed] He attained Mahasamadhi on 8 January 1994 at the age of 100 .A never ending stream of people filed past the same Dias where they had been having his darshan all these years.The saint's transcendence of religion, caste and creed was eloquently attested by numerous Muslims in traditional headgear and several Christian nuns in the 3 mile long queue. Roads jammed as crowds of people descended on Kanchi, 45 miles west of Madras. Prime minister of India P.V.Narasimha Rao cancelled all his programs to attend the interment ceremony.Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal and Sankara Vijayendra Saraswati Swamigal, the successors of the Mahaswami performed the last rites on January 9.Unlike normal Hindus who are cremated, Sanyasins are buried in salt and other substances as their bodies radiate power. An elaborate abhisekam (ceremonial bathing in milk, curd etc.) and deeparadhana (waving of lights) preceded the interment ceremony. The body of the saint was lowered into a 10-foot pit filled with salt, sandalwood powder, flowers and medicinal herbs.The exalted danda (staff), which the venerated saint so gloriously held aloft for the best part of the century was snapped into 3 pieces ;one was placed on the head the other two alongside the holy frame. A shrine (Brindavan) was erected on the spot and was thrown open to public worship on January 11.

Shankar Dayal Sharma , the President of India said in his tribute :

He symbolised humankind's quest for truth, peace and harmony.

R. Venkataraman, the former President of India, who was seen in tears described the sage as :

A lamp unto humanity who led them on the path of dharma and offered solace to millions.

Jayalalitha, Chief minister of Tamil Nadu, said :

The liberation of His Holiness marks the end of a great epoch in the spiritual history of India. He was a great sage in every sense of the term.

The most perceptive observation came from the illustrious jurist Nanabhoy Palkhivala, a onetime ambassador to the U.S.A. A distinguished member of the Parsi community, extolled

The pontiff saw with the eyes of his soul and exemplified the towering tenets of Indian culture. No one ever asked of life so little for himself.

The spirit of Mahaswami still pervades the Kanchi Math. He lives in his abode, the sacred Brindavana.Even today, people still pray for relief as if the Mahaswami still sits there.

Spiritual leadership[edit]

He is considered as one of the greatest spiritual leaders of Hinduism in the line of Adi Sankara, Ramakrishna, and Ramana Maharshi. Kirupanandha Variyar swamigal explained:

The Kanchi Kamakoti Paramacharya is an embodiment of enlightment. His benign face smeared with sacred ash , His lotus like eyes, dripping the honey of compassion, His mouth ever fragnant with the Vedas, His pure body adorned with rudraksha, His frail body reflecting great austerity, and his holy feet chasing away the misfortune of the devotee- such is the form of his holiness, the darshan of which is the greatest fortune for one born on the earth.

His strict adherence to the tenets of sanyasa ashrama made him shine as a great saint. He travelled widely by foot and rarely by palanquin, this way he toured entire India once and south India several times.

In spite of being the pontiff of an important spiritual institution of India, he rejected the royal paraphernalia usually associated with such high offices. Living at places like dilapidated temples, cowsheds, and thatched huts, even in the remotest of villages, he strived to spread dharma amongst the people. Taking one meal a day, sleeping in makeshift rooms, withered palanquins and cowsheds, he advocated simplicity and shunned extravagance.Wherever he went, the common folk and the elite thronged to receive him with honours.Vinoba Bhave said :

Even to the most obscure village of our land , he has gone and stayed and met and conversed with the people from the humblest to the highest in the society.His stay in every village has been a source of inspiration, illumination,instruction to the people.He is a walking encyclopedia of variegated knowledge. Every man, woman and child has received his blessings and enjoyed the delight of words falling from his lips. The person struck with sorrow has received consolation and courage from his sympathetic looks and words. In fact, wherever he went he has spread joy, comfort, knowledge, spirituality.

The Mahaswami, through his devotion and austerity, acquired mastery over the vedas and other holy scriptures. He was often found in discussions in depth with scholars from all over India. Apart from scriptures, he was master of other arts and sciences like Archaeology, History, Epigraphy, numismatics, music, yoga, dance and other folk arts.His discussions with great philosophers, astute politicians, erudite scientists, and intellectuals from India and abroad impressed everyone of them and they were amazed at his knowledge and his approach to problems. Some of the intellectuals who were stunned[citation needed] at the genius of the mahaswami were Paul Brunton (author of the book "A search in secret India"), Arthur Koestler (a Hungarian-British author), Robert Walser, Milton Singer (Professor at the Chicago university), Raja Ramanna (a famous nuclear scientist of India), and Nani Palkhivala (A famous Indian lawyer). A senior official of the Archaeological survey of India once remarked that if they had any doubts regarding the age of inscriptions, they would consult the Paramacharya for clarification.[citation needed] Even R. Nagaswamy, known for his groundbreaking research on the temple inscriptions and the folk art of Tamil Kadu, said that he was inspired by the acharya's visit to Sanskrit college, Mylapore. Paul Brunton, one of the early popularisers of Neo-Hindu spiritualism, notably via the book " A Search in Secret India", was the first foreign national to interview the acharya. It was the Mahaswami who compelled Brunton to meet Ramana Maharshi, and it was Brunton's soulful account of the Maharshi that threw open the window of the west to an illumined master. Paul Brunton records his impression about the Sage of Kanchi in the following glowing terms:

His noble face, pictured in grey and brown, takes an honoured place in the long portrait gallery of my memory.That elusive element which the French aptly term " spiritual" is present in his face. Such a face might have belonged to one of the saints who graced the Christian church in the middle ages, except that this one possesses the added quality of intellectuality.

He had great command in 17 languages including Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Hindi, English, French and several others. He is known for his unparalleled expositions of the subtle truths of sanatana dharma. His discourses cover various topics ranging from religious observances to metaphysics, puranas to world history, advaita to algebra. He would explain to the common folk Einstein's general theory of relativity with the same ease with which he would elaborate tales from the puranas.They were very simple in language but rich in content and appeal. But the great reverence with which he his held in India, especially in the south is due to his saintly stature. This moved the learned and the lay man alike. He treated the rich and the poor, the elite and the common folk, men and women, the elderly and the young equally.

The Dalai lama visited the nonagenarian sage and found great peace in the latter's presence. He later told the press :

He is the only real ascetic of the 20th century.

People from all background marvelled at his Spartan lifestyle and minimal needs:frugal diet, little food and long hours of meditation and prayers; they imparted a continual quality of grace and serenity to him.Professor Milton singer remarked:

Before I went to India I had read and heard much about the great "Soul Force" of its saints and holy men, but I had assumed that it was something of the ancient past. And it was not until I met the Shankaracharya that I realised that it is still a part of the living force of Hinduism even today.

He preached about the importance of following the Dharmic path, including the benefits of Hindu rituals and the virtues of life. His various discourses are available in a volume of books called 'Deivathin Kural' (Voice of God) which have been compiled by R. Ganapathi, a devotee of Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, and published by Vaanathi Publications. These books are available both in Tamil and English. These are available in all branches of the Kanchi math.

He treated all religions equally and with respect.When some extremist organisations were planning to stage black flag protests against the Pope's visit to India, he persuaded them to cancel such programmes. He was of the view that just as different rivers which travel in opposite directions merge in the same ocean, different religions even though seemingly opposed to each other, lead humanity towards eternal bliss.

His schemes for social welfare were simple but far reaching; desisting of tanks, laying of roads, cow protection, planting trees, giving kunkuma Prasad from temples to those on deathbed, etc. .His 'Oru pidi arisi ' scheme where the housewife keeps a handful of rice everyday aside to feed the poor, which in turn is collected by volunteers, cooked and served to the poor at temples was stunning in efficacy. He was greatly admired by other saints like the jeeyar of Parakala Mutt, Chandrasekhara Bharati Mahaswami of Sringeri Sharada Peetham, Kirupanandha Variyar swamigal and scholars like Agnihotram Ramanuja Tatachariar, Prathivadhi Bhayankaram Annangarachacharya, Tadepalli raghava narayana shashtri, Madan Mohan Malaviya.

Periyavar and the Indian Freedom Movement[edit]

Though Periyavar did not get directly into politics, he was interested in the happenings. At Nellichery in Palakkad (Present Day Kerala), Rajaji and Mahatma Gandhi met the Acharya in a cow shed. It was a practice in the mutt to wear silk clothes. But Acharya was the first one to do away with them and shifted to Khadi robes at Rameshwaram. He requested his devotees to do away with foreign/ non-natural clothes some time earlier at Trichy.[citation needed]

Periyavaa (the other name of "Periyavar") is credited with reforming the noted Indian National Congress leader F. G. Natesa Iyer from Tiruchirappalli, during the Indian independence movement. Periyavaa is recorded to have reconverted F.G.Natesa Iyer from the Christian religion back to Hinduism. It is recorded that, F.G. Natesa Iyer, as a young boy of ten years, "took shelter with Englishmen who brought him up and converted him to Christianity. Twenty years later, dissatisfied with the ability of the priests to clarify his doubts, he met the Kanchi Sankaracharya and, getting satisfactory answers from him, reconverted to Hinduism." [6]

The Indian National Congress, in the decade of the 1920s, started organising the Non-Cooperation Movement, which involved getting many people to protest on the streets. F.G.Natesa Iyer, the leading Congress activist of Tiruchirappalli then, as also the elected Mayor, took this opportunity to convert the movement to also show support for the Periyavaa. He described the occasion, thus: "I was nominated by the public as the chairman of the Reception committee for arranging a reception for the Acharya of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. As the municipal chairman , it was my duty to provide a proper welcome and respect to Swamigal who was visiting after a long time. The opportunity to welcome His Holiness in a manner that was exponentially greater than receptions given to kings and viceroys, was accorded to me, along with my supporters: Sri M.Kandaswamy Servai, Sri. R.Srinivasa Iyengar, the lawyer and the larger public. The procession that was seven miles long, was preceded by seven groups of nadaswaram players, three band groups, four elephants, many horses and camels, instrumental players, Bhajan singers, Seva Samitis. I had the blessing to hold the front side of the ivory palanquin where our guru for the whole world , Sri Sankaracharya Swamigal was seated. He gave darshan to numerous people lined on both sides of the roads, in every floor, irrespective of their religion, caste or creed. There was no count of arathis, Poorna kumbams, garlands, asthika goshams. The procession that started at 6 pm ended at 10 pm in front of the mutt at Thiruvanaikkaval. I was enthralled in my service to Swamigal as service to Lord Shiva himself".[7]

The day India became free, He gave a speech on the significance of the flag and the Dharma chakra in it on that day.[8]


Some of his famous devotees include, their highnesses the King and Queen of Nepal, the Queen mother of Greece, the Dalai Lama, M. S. Subbulakshmi, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Mandolin Srinivas, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, R. Venkatraman, Shankar Dayal Sharma, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Rajaji, M. Bhaktavatsalam, Subramanian Swamy, S. Gurumurthy, T .H. Vinayakram, P. V. Narasimha Rao, Viswanatha Satyanarayana, Paul Brunton, Robert Walser, Padma Subrahmanyam, F. G. Natesa Iyer, V. Ganapati Sthapati, Pullella Srirama Chandrudu, among others. Millions of devotees still revere him, and pray to him as a messenger of the Supreme or an ultimate Guru.


Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamigal was an embodiment of all that is sacred in the scriptures and a venerated leader of universal appeal. The contribution of His Holiness towards the religious revival of India and preservation and promotion of Vedic heritage is immense and everlasting.

The Sage of Kanchi is a 69-minute 35 mom colour biographical documentary, produced by Nrityodaya Arts, Chennai. A panoramic picture, it takes on a spiritual journey and portrays the life and times of the Mahaswami.

The Kanchi Mahaswami Satabdhi Manimantapam at Orikkai is a fitting tribute to the revered sage.The mammoth project, a rock memorial undertaken by the Sri Mahalakshmi Mathrubhuteswara Trust with V. Ganapati Sthapati as its chief architect, it has come up in a happy blend of Chola, Chera, Pallava and Pandya traditions of architecture - something that has not been attempted for 1000 years since the famous Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur has been built. The main temple is 100 feet high symbolising the lifespan of the Mahaswami who graced the earth for 100 years.The stone elephants, lion with rotating ball in its mouth, the elegant chain of perfectly linked circles, the hundred pillared mantapa is replete with exquisite craftsmanship. The Deccan Herald reported ;

Both in concept and execution, the Manimantapam is a one-in-a million effort which seeks to revive the 1000-year-old architectural grandeur of ancient dynasties.

An architectural marvel: an elegant chain of perfectly linked circles carved in rock; it takes nearly 3 months to carve such a chain.

While building the monument, tradition was preserved in its pristine purity, no materials like cement were used, it is entirely built in rock and even the foundation was made with sand, a traditional approach towards architecture. In spite of being a costly affair the project has been going on smoothly due to donations from devotees, philanthropists, and NRI's M.S. Subbulakshmi, the renowned Carnatic musician gave several benefit concerts to contribute towards the noble cause.

Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Mahavidyalaya is a Deemed University which was established in 1993 under the aegis of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. Kanchipuram was a great centre of learning in the ancient times. Different schools of thought like Advaita, Visishtadvaita and Jainism flourished at this sacred place. The Mahaswami had cherished a dream to revive Kanchipuram as a centre of learning. The SCSVMV University derives its inspiration from the Mahaswami who was not only an unparalleled scholar in the Hindu scriptures but also a great authority in a wide number of arts and sciences .The university has a unique focus on integrating traditional knowledge with modern scientific practices with a global outlook.


  • Svāmī, Candraśekharendra Sarasvatī (2000). Hindu dharma : the universal way of life (4th ed.). Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. ISBN 978-8172760557. 
  • The Vedas (7th ed.). Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. 2006. ISBN 81-7276-401-4.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  • Voice of the Guru : The Guru tradition (2nd ed.). Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. 2008. ISBN 978-8172764159.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  • Svāmī, Pūjyaśrī Candrasekharendra Sarasvatī (2001). Śri Śaṅkara Bhagavatpādācārya's Saundaryalaharī = Saundaryalaharī An exposition (1st ed.). Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. ISBN 978-8172762124. 
  • Fitzgerald, edited by Michael Oren (2008). Introduction to Hindu dharma : illustrated. Bloomington, Ind.: World Wisdom. ISBN 978-1933316482.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  • Voice of God Vol 1 and 2 (2nd ed.). Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. 2008. ISBN 978-81-7276-415-9.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Shri Sivan Sir – Sadashiva Sastrigal – Yenippadigalil Maanthargal". Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "Smt Kanthi mami recalls Sri Sivan sir | sri sivan sar". 4 June 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "Periyava of Angarai". The Hindu. 30 January 2004. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "What SRI HH SIVAN SIR TELLS ABOUT PERIYAVA | Kanchi Periva Forum". 9 November 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  6. ^ T.S.Mani (1–15 April 2012). "FGN – actor and patron of the arts". Madras Musings (Volume XXI, number 24). 
  7. ^ T.K.Balasubramaia Iyer (10 May 1923). "Editorial". The Hindu. Never before in the annals of Tiruchirapalli have we witnessed the grandeur and enthusiasm that were displayed at the reception of His Holiness Sri Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam who arrived at Tiruchirapali on the 23rd. The mile long procession headed by richly caparisoned elephants and surging crowds with His Holiness seated high on the ivory palanquin in the center, surrounded by large concourse of Brahmins chanting the Vedas, and followed by numerous Bhajan parties and Thevaram parties, the rich and tasteful decorations all along the route which exteded to nearly eight miles, the buoyant enthusiasm of the huge crowd that pressed on all sides just to have a glimpse of His Holiness' beaming countenance and that followed the procession right through to the end, the festive appearance of the whole town and the eageress of everyone in that vast concourse of people to do some sort of service to His Holiness were sights for Gods to see and they beggar all description. It showed in a clear and unmistakable way the stronghold of religion and religious ideals still on the people of the country. No Viceroy or even the Emperor himself could have evoked such spontaneous and heartfelt enthusiasm. It took nearly five hours for the procession to reach its destination. His Holiness had a smile or a word of cheer for every one of the assembled people and when he retired into the mutt, His Holiness observed that the weariness of the journey was counteracted by the unprecedented enthusiasm of the people. 
  8. ^ From a Calendar Published on Behalf of the Mutt in 1997 – 50th Year of India Independence.

Real History of Kanchi Mutt [2]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Mahadevendra Saraswathi V
Kanchi Kāmakoti Pīṭādipati
13 February 1907 – 20 January 1994
Succeeded by
Sri Jayendra Saraswathi