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Jagadguru Sri Shankaracharya Chandrasekharendra Saraswati VIII
Swaminatha Sharma alias Swaminathan
20 May 1894
|Died||8 January 1994 (aged 99)|
|Resting place||Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam|
|Period in office||9 May 1907 – 8 January 1994|
|Consecration||13 February 1907|
|Predecessor||Mahadevendra Saraswathi V|
|Ordination||9 May 1907|
|Part of a series on|
Jagadguru Shri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigal (20 May 1894 – 8 January 1994) [birth name: Swaminathan], also known as the Sage of Kanchi or Mahaperiyava (meaning, "A venerable sage") was the 68th Jagadguru of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. Mahaperiyava's discourses has been written as magnum opus based on Hindu philosophy in a Tamil book titled - "Deivathin Kural" (Voice of God).
Mahaperiyava was born on 20 May 1894 and brought up in the Central part of the southern state of Tamilnadu, Villupuram, South Arcot District. His father was Subrahmanya Sastri who was from a Hoysala Karnataka Smarta brahmin family that had migrated to Tamilnadu generations earlier. Subrahmanya Sastri worked as a teacher having entered the educational service. His mother Mahalakshmi, belonged to the village of Icchangudi near Tiruvaiyaru. Swaminathan was the second child of his parents. His brother was Sadasiva Sastrigal, popularly known as Sivan Sar. Sadasiva Sastri was born on 3 October 1903 in Viluppuram, South Arcot District, Tamil Nadu. Swaminathan's upanayanam was performed in Tindivanam in 1905 and during his brought up, he was well versed with the Vedas and start doing poojas at his early stage of his life. In 1906, the Sixty-sixth Acharya of Kamakoti Pitha, Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati was camping in Perumukkal, a small village near Tindivanam in observance of the Chaturmasya vrtata. Subrahmanya Sastri went to take the blessings of the Acharya at that time. The Sixty-sixth Acharya attained Siddhi at Kalavai and Swaminathan's maternal cousin was installed as the sixty-seventh Acharya. The sixty seventh Acharya had a fever and due to the unexpected turn of events, Swaminathan was installed as the Acharya. Swaminathan ascended the Kanchi Kamakoti Pitham on 13 February 1907 as the sixty eighth Acharya with the Sannyasa name Chandrasekhara Saraswati. As per the usual training given to the seers, he was well trained with the Vedas, puranas, various hindu texts and ancient Indian literature. The Acharya was fifteen years old in 1909. For two years, he studied under the pandits of the Matha at Kumbakonam. Then from 1911 to 1914 he studied in Mahendramangalam, in a tiny village on the Northern bank of Akhanda Kaveri. The Acharya showed interest in subjects such as photography, mathematics and astronomy as well. He returned to Kumbakonam in 1914. The Matha was managed by the Court of Wards from 1911-1915 until he turned twenty one in May 1915.
He started spreading his knowledge through spiritual journeys across the Indian spiritual hinterland. Through his intense devotional practices like the daily rituals such as Sandhyavandhanam, Shri Chandramouleeshwara Pooja, Shri Panchadhanya Pooja, Shri Kamakshi Amman Pooja & recital of the vedas, made him popular across countries & continents. Iyengars (who were not part of the mutt), various sub castes and Muslims & Christians became his devotees. Devotees realized he was not a normal person and found out him as a 'Jagadguru', through his practices and rectifying their issues. Mahaperiyava dedicated his life to the primary deity in the premises of Shri Kamakshi Amman temple, where goddess himself came there for her devotion to Lord Shiva. During a visit to the holy shrine of Badrinath, an auspicious snake Vasuki came in his dream and told that the world will end in the year 2000 to increase devotional practices. He carried the responsibility and made it a simple practice to increase devotion by chanting & writing the holy name "Rama Rama" which became a religious movement. Devotees came across different origin to give salutations for his holy feet. Populous speeches made Presidents & heads of different states/organisations/associations to be in his path of spirituality. Throughout his life he practiced Advaitha phiosophy of his guru, Adi Shankara, the great hindu philospoher and reformist. Within the course of his lifeboat, Mahaperiyava renovated multiple temples across india, increased recitals of Shri Vishnu Saharsanamam which was not allowed by women by then & various mantras towards gods, increased devotion towards Sabarimala Ayyappan Temple & Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, implemented Agama Sastra rules heavily to fructify the devotion in religious places & made social changes on allowing devotees inside the temple premises and also helped vedic priests immensely on their pronunciation of the vedic language. His 99th birthday celebrations were celebrated by Shri Jayendrar and Shri Vijayendrar as a huge event. He passed away without celebrating his centenary on 8 January 1994. His death proved devotees to go beyond numerology and believe only the name of god in their lifespan. Shri Jayendrar & Shri Vijayendrar continued his holy work even after his death unlike other Shishyas to gurus. His devotional practices were followed by his devotees and the world didn't end in the millennium. Lifespan became one of the foremost to experience a divine sojourn.
As a religious head like his founder of the mutt, the great hindu philosopher Adi Shankara, he travelled acrosss the country on a palanquin and started giving discourses. On several occasions, he addressed the common masses on diverse aspects of our Dharma, ancient culture, and a variety of subjects. He delivered the discourses on a simple verandahs, river beds and sabhas(smaller halls) unlike the 21st century. The discourses delivered decades ago in Tamil & other multiple languages by him and are compiled and published in English and Tamil as "Deivathin Kural" (The Voice of God) by his disciple R.Ganapathi, published by Vanathi Pathippagam (Publishers). It has been translated to English as well as several Indian languages. Discourses were related to various subjects across different topics which are well researched and well advised. His discourses were the difference for his devotees when the whole nation was suffering from a distress from ancient culture & devotion. He brought back the practices of sanatana dharma effectively through nook and corners of the country which reflected in starting various veda paatashalas (schools).
Dignitaries who have met the Acharya
As a Jagadguru, he was popular with dignitaries such as the King and Queen of Nepal, the Queen Mother of Greece, Dalai Lama, Sathya Sai Baba, Mahatma Gandhi, C. Rajagopalachari, M. S. Subbulakshmi, Indira Gandhi, R. Venkataraman, Subramanian Swamy, Shankar Dayal Sharma,MGR, Jayalalitha, Karunanidhi, Kalki Krishnamurthy,Sivaji Ganesan,Rajinikanth, Kamalhassan, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Prannoy Roy, Amitabh Bachchan, R.P. Goenka,Jamanalal Bajaj, Indira Gandhi, Birla Family, JRD Tata & Atal Bihari Vajpayee and several others.
His brother was Sadasiva Sastrigal, popularly known as Sivan Sir. 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".
Influence on Indian Freedom Movement
Mahaperiyava (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. 'Mahaperiyava' 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." 
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 Periyava. 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".
In his own words
“I had a bath at the Kumara Koshta Thirtha. A carriage of the Mutt 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 Mutt, 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 Mutt itself. At first I thought that my elder cousin having become the Head of the Mutt, 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
- Svāmī, Candraśekharendra Sarasvatī (2000). Hindu dharma : the universal way of life (4th ed.). Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. ISBN 978-8172760557.
- Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati (2006). The Vedas (7th ed.). Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. ISBN 978-81-7276-401-2.
- Candraśekharendra Sarasvatī Svāmī (2008). Voice of the Guru : The Guru tradition (2nd ed.). Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. ISBN 978-8172764159.
- Svāmī, Pūjyaśrī Candrasekharendra Sarasvatī (2001). Śri Śaṅkara Bhagavatpādācārya's Saundaryalaharī = Saundaryalaharī An exposition (1st ed.). Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. ISBN 978-8172762124.
- Jagadguru His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigal (2008). Fitzgerald, Michael Oren, ed. Introduction to Hindu dharma : illustrated. Bloomington, Ind.: World Wisdom. ISBN 978-1933316482.
- Candraśekharendra Sarasvatī Svāmī (2008). Voice of God Vol 1 and 2 (2nd ed.). Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. ISBN 978-81-7276-415-9.
- "Of sibling and sensibility". The Hindu. 26 October 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
- "Shri Sivan Sir – Sadashiva Sastrigal – Yenippadigalil Maanthargal". Srisivansir.com. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- "Smt Kanthi mami recalls Sri Sivan sir | sri sivan sar". Sivansir.wordpress.com. 4 June 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- "Periyava of Angarai". The Hindu. 30 January 2004. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- "What SRI HH SIVAN SIR TELLS ABOUT PERIYAVA | Kanchi Periva Forum". Periva.proboards.com. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- T.S.Mani (1–15 April 2012). "FGN – actor and patron of the arts". Madras Musings (Volume XXI, number 24).
- 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 extended 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.
- From a Calendar Published on Behalf of the Mutt in 1997 – 50th Year of India Independence.
- Mahadevan, T. M. P. (1983). The Sage of Kanchi. Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Sankara Mandir.
- Official website of Kanchi Kamakoti peetham
- Book "Hindu Dharma: The Universal Way of Life" by Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Press.
- History of Kanchi Mutt 
- Sri Kanchi Mahaswamy Charitram
Mahadevendra Saraswathi V
| Kanchi Kāmakoti Pīṭādipati
13 February 1907 – 20 January 1994
Sri Jayendra Saraswathi