Bharati Krishna Tirtha

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Jagadguru Shankaracharya

Swami Bharati Krishna Tirtha

Venkataraman Shastri

14 March 1884
Died2 February 1960
Known forReviving the genre of Vedic mathematics after rediscovering it in the form of sixteen sutras
Notable work
Vedic Mathematics
  • P. Narasimha Shastri (father)

Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swami Bharatikrishna Tirtha (IAST: Jagadguru Śaṅkarācārya Svāmī Bhāratīkṛṣṇa Tīrtha; 14 March 1884 – 2 February 1960), born Venkataraman Shastri (IAST: Veṅkatarāmaṇ Śāstrī), was an Indian Hindu monk and Shankaracharya of Govardhana matha in Puri, Odisha, from 1925 through 1960. He is particularly known for his book Vedic Mathematics ,[1] his being the first Jagadguru Shankaracharya in history to visit the West, and his connection in nationalist aspiration.

Early life[edit]

Venkataraman Shastri (IAST: Veṅkatarāmaṇ Śāstrī) was born on 14 March 1884 to an orthodox Tamil Brahmin family. His father was P. Narasimha Shastri, originally a tehsildar at Tirunelveli, in Madras Presidency, who later became the Deputy Collector of the Presidency. His uncle, Chandrasekhar Shastri, was the Principal of the Maharaja's college in Vizianagaram, while his great-grandfather, Justice C. Ranganath Shastri was a judge in the Madras High Court.[2]


Venkataraman joined the National College in Trichinopoly. After this, he moved to the Church Missionary Society College and eventually the Hindu College, both in Tirunelveli. Venkataraman passed his matriculation examination from Madras University in January 1899, where he also finished first.[3][4]

Although Venkataraman always performed well in subjects such as mathematics, sciences and humanities, he was also proficient in languages and particularly skillful in Sanskrit. According to his own testimonials, Sanskrit and oratory were his favorite subjects. Due to his knowledge of the language, he was conferred the title "Saraswati" at the age of 16 by the Madras Sanskrit Association in July 1899. At about that time, Venkataraman was profoundly influenced by his Sanskrit guru Vedam Venkatrai Shastri.[5]

Venkataraman passed the B.A. examination in 1902. He then appeared for the M.A. examination for the American College of Sciences in Rochester, New York from the Bombay centre in 1903. He also contributed to W. T. Stead's Review of Reviews on diverse topics in religion and science. During his college days, he also wrote extensively on history, sociology, philosophy, politics, and literature.[4]

Early public life[edit]

Venkataraman worked under Gopal Krishna Gokhale in 1905 for the National Education Movement and the South African Indian problems. However, his inclination towards Hindu studies led him to study the ancient Indian holy scripture Adhyātma-Vidyā. In 1908, he joined the Sringeri Matha in Mysore to study under Swami Satchidananda Sivabhinava Nrisimha Bharati (IAST: Svāmī Saccidānandaśivābhinavanṛsiṁha Bhāratī, the Shankaracharya of Sringeri. However, his spiritual practice was interrupted when he was pressured by nationalist leaders to head the newly-started National College at Rajamahendri. Prof. Venkataraman Shastri taught at the college for three years. But in 1911, he suddenly left the college to go back to Sringeri Math.[6]

Spiritual path[edit]

Returning to Sringeri, Venkataraman spent the next eight years studying Advaita Vedanta and Shastras under Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sachitananda Shivabhinava Nrisimha Bharati.

During those years, the Jagadguru initiated Venkatraman into spiritual yogic practices. Venkataraman also practiced vigorous meditation, Brahma-sadhana and Yoga-sādhāna, in the nearby forests. It is believed that he attained spiritual self-realization during his years at Sringeri Math. He would leave the material world and practice yoga meditation in seclusion for many days. During those eight years, he also taught Sanskrit and philosophy at local schools and ashrams. He delivered a series of sixteen lectures on Adi Shankara's philosophy at Shankar Institute of Philosophy, Amalner (Khandesh). During that time, he also lectured as a guest professor at institutions in Mumbai, Pune and Khandesh.[7]

Initiation into Sannyasa[edit]

After Venkataraman's eight-year practice and study of Vedanta, he was initiated into sannyasa, in the Tirtha sub-order of the Dashanami Sampradaya, in Varanasi by Jagadguru Shankaracharya (IAST: Jagadguru Śaṅkarācārya) Swami Trivikrama Tirtha (IAST: Svāmī Trivikrāma Tīrtha) of Sharadpeeth in Dwaraka on July 4, 1919, receiving the name "Swami Bharatikrishna Tirtha".[7]

Life in Sringeri[edit]

Swami Bharatikrishna Tirtha, remained a disciple of Sachitananda Shivabhinava Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswamigal, and also taught shastras to the next Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Sringeri, Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Mahaswamigal.

Shankaracharya of Govardhana Matha[edit]

The Shankaracharya of Govardhana matha, Swami Madhusudhana Tirtha, was in failing health and was greatly impressed with Bharatikrishna. Madhusudana requested Bharatikrishna to succeed him at Govardhana Matha. Bharatikrishna respectfully declined the offer. In 1925, however, Madhusudhana's health took a serious turn and Bharatikrishna was compelled to accept the Govardhana gaddi (chair). In 1925, Bharatikrishna assumed the pontificate of Govardhana Matha. He installed Swami Swarupananda Saraswati as the new Shankaracharya of Dvaraka Pitha.[8]


In 1921, Bharatikrishna was one of the seven arrested in what became known as the "Karachi case". Mohammad Ali Jouhar, Shaukat Ali, Saifuddin Kitchlew, Maulana Hussain Ahmed, Pir Ghulam Mujaddid, Maulana Nisar Ahmed, and Bharatikrishna were charged with preaching in favor of a fatwa issued by the Muslim religious heads of India advocating all Muslims to not cooperate with the government. While the Shankaracharya was eventually acquitted, the others were sentenced to two years imprisonment.[9][10]

Jagadguru Shankaracharya[edit]

As Shankaracharya of Govardhana Matha, Bharatikrishna toured several countries in thirty-five years to promote Dharma and Indian culture.[8] He wrote a number of treatises and books on religion, science, mathematics, world peace, and social issues. In 1953, at Nagpur, he founded the Sri Vishwa Punarnirmana Sangha (World Reconstruction Association). The administrative board initially consisted of Bharatikrishna's disciples and supporters, then later included distinguished personalities. The Chief Justice of India, Justice B. P. Sinha, served as its President. Dr. C. D. Deshmukh, the ex-Finance Minister of India and ex-Chairman of the University Grants Commission served as Vice-President.[11]

In February 1958, Bharatikrishna went to Britain and the United States to speak on Vedanta, staying for three months in Los Angeles, California. This was the first trip outside India by a Shankaracharya. The tour was sponsored by the Self-Realization Fellowship, the yoga society founded by Paramahansa Yogananda.[12] At that time, Albert Rudolph, or "Rudi", became one of Bharatikrishna's students.

Bharatikrishna also attended various national and international conferences on yoga and on religion. He served as Shankaracharya of Govardhana Matha until his death in 1960.

In 1965, a Chair of Vedic Studies was founded at Banaras Hindu University by Arvind N. Mafatlal, a generous Mumbai business magnate and devotee of Bharatikrishna.[13]

Vedic Mathematics[edit]

Bharatikrishna's book, Vedic Mathematics, is a list of sixteen terse sūtras, or "aphorisms", discussing strategies for mental calculation. Bharatikrishna claimed that he found the sūtras after years of studying the Vedas, a set of sacred ancient Hindu scriptures.[14][15][16]


  1. ^ "Understanding ancient Indian mathematics". The Hindu. India. 26 December 2011.
  2. ^ Manjula Trivedi, "My Beloved Gurudeva", a dedication to Bharatikrishna, in Bharatikrishna's Vedic Mathematics, page i.
  3. ^ Manjula Trivedi, page i.
  4. ^ a b Manjula Trivedi, page ii.
  5. ^ Manjula Trivedi, pages i-ii.
  6. ^ Manjula Trivedi, page iii.
  7. ^ a b Manjula Trivedi, page iii
  8. ^ a b Manjula Trivedi, page iv.
  9. ^ South Asian Studies. South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, Delhi Branch. 1978. pp. 416, 417.
  10. ^ Prasad, Rajendra (1946). Autobiography (PB). Penguin Books India. p. 136. ISBN 9780143068815.
  11. ^ Manjula Trivedi, page v-vi.
  12. ^ Manjula Trivedi, page vi.
  13. ^ Publication announcement by N.H. Bhagwati, Vice-Chancellor, Banaras Hindu University, March 27, 1965, after title page, Vedic Mathematics
  14. ^ Agrawala, V. S. (1992). General Editor's note. Vedic Mathematics (pp. v-viii) Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited.
  15. ^ Myths and reality : On ‘Vedic mathematics’. S.G. Dani. School of Mathematics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. Frontline, 22 October and 5 November 1993.
  16. ^ The Fraud of Vedic Maths. Hartosh Singh Bal. Open Magazine. 14 August 2010.


  • Trivedi, Manjula, My Beloved Gurudeva, Sri Vishwa Punarnirmana Sangha, Nagpur (1965).
  • Svāmī Bhāratī Kṛṣṇa Tīrtha, Vedic Mathematics, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi (1992). ISBN 81-208-0164-4

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