Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Maharshi And The Pontiff of Sringeri Math

Sri Ramana Maharshi and the Sringeri Math Pontiff

At the Sri Ramanashram, Tiruvannamalai, a composition by name ‘Sri Ramana Ashtottaram’ which is a litany of 108 names of Sri Ramana Maharshi, is recited during daily worship. Many of the devotees also recite it every day. This was composed by one Shankarananda Bharathi of Uttarakashi in the Himalayas who had earlier stayed with Bhagavan on the Arunachala Hill. In this composition, there is a Nama [name] ‘Sri Shringagiri Mathadheesha Bhaavitah’ which means ‘one who is revered by the Head of the Sringeri Math’. When one of the close devotees of Ramana asked him what it meant, Bhagavan replied saying that the reference was to His Holiness Sri Satchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharathi who was the 33rd Pontiff of the Sringeri Math and who presided over the Math for a period of 46 years from 1866 A.D. to 1912 A.D. Bhagavan further added that the Sringeri Pontiff had intuitive recognition and regard for him. The Pontiff used to enquire of devotees going to him from Tamil Nadu “How is the Balayogi of Tiruvannamalai? Is he well?” [In those days Ramana was known as Balayogi]

The great esteem and reverence with which the H.H. Sri Narasimha Bharathi held Bhagavan Ramana is also evident from the following incident. In the early part of the nineteen twenties there was a young student in Chidambaram studying Sanskrit under a well-known Pandit. After finishing his course of studies, he went to Sringeri for learning the higher aspects of Vedanta under His Holiness. Looking at the earnestness of the student, His Holiness agreed to teach him, even though he had taken a decision to retire into solitude for meditation. The teaching began and was proceeding fairly well. Once, at the end of the day’s lesson, the Swami remarked “We study scriptures and the commentaries on them. They no doubt clarify one’s understanding and help one spiritually; but they are secondary. The main thing is one’s spiritual ripeness. One who is already spiritually evolved need not go through the scriptures and the commentaries on them. Such a one gets illumined in a flash without these aids. The Balayogi of Tiruvannamalai is an instance here”. The student had heard of the ‘Brahman swami’ while at Chidambaram but had thought it was all a hoax. So he was stunned to hear such profound appreciation of him from the lips of his venerable Master and resolved to go to Tiruvannamalai and have Darshan of the Great Master ere long. This student thereafter went to North India, took up Sanyasa under the name ‘Pragjnananda’ and met one Sanyasi by name Narayana Brahmachari in Calcutta. The latter who had moved closely with Sri Ramana Maharshi gave a vivid and glowing account of Ramana and Sri Ramanashram.. Moved by the glorious description of Sri Ramanashram and Bhagavan, Swami Pragjnananda went to Tiruvannamalai, had Darshan of Sri Ramana in the Virupaksha Cave. At the meeting with Mahrshi, he told how he first came to know about Ramana only through his first Guru, H.H. Sri Satchidananda Narasimha Bharati of Sri Sringeri Math.

During the early days of Maharshi’s stay at the Virupaksha cave, a devotee of H.H. Narasimha Bharati from Sringeri went to Sri Ramanashram to have Darshan of Sri Ramana. After the Darshan and while going to the town for his lunch, he went close to the Maharshi and with folded arms and great respect said “ Swami, I have a request to make. Please hear me”. When the Maharshi asked as to what it was, the devotee said:
“Swamiji, as you are born a Brahmin, why should you not take Sanyasa in the regular way? AS you know it is an ancient practice. There is nothing for me to tell you. I am anxious to include your name in the Sringeri Math Line of Gurus. Hence, if you give me permission, I will come here again with all the necessary preparations and arrange for your initiation. If you do not like to wear full ochre-coloured robes [Akhanda Kashayam] I respectfully submit that it is enough if your loin cloth at least of ochre-colour. You may think over the matter and give your decision. I am going down the Hill for my lunch and will come back by 3P.M. All the members of Sringeri Math have heard of your greatness and I have come here to see you at their request. Please do us this favour”

Recollecting this incident, Suri Nagamma, Sri Ramanashram’s diarist, in her letter dated 13th January 1949, reports about the reaction of the Maharshi in his own words after the Sringeri Math devotee left for lunch:

“A little while after he left, an old Brahmin came to me with a bundle. It could be seen from the outside of bundles that there were some books in it. As soon as he came, he placed the bundle opposite to me and like an old acquaintance said: “Swami, I have just come. I have not had a bath. There is no one to look after the bundle. I am therefore leaving it with you”. So saying he left the place. As soon as he went away, why, I do not know, but I felt like opening that bundle and seeing the books. As soon as I opened it, I saw a Sanskrit book in Devanagari characters with the title “ Arunachala Mahatmyam” I did not know before that ‘Arunachala Mahatmyam’ is in Sanskrit also. I was therefore surprised and as I opened the book. I found the following shloka describing the greatness of the place [Arunachala] in the words of Lord Iswara:

“Yojanatrayamatresmin Kshtre Nivasatham Nrunan

Deekshadikam Vinapyastu Mat Sayujyam Mamagjnaya”

Which means “I, Lord Iswara, ordain that those who reside within a radius of three Yolanda from this place [Arunachala] shall attain union with the Supreme even without their taking any initiation or Deeksha” [One Yojana is eight miles]
As soon as I saw that Shloka, I felt I could give a fitting reply to that Shastri by quoting that Shloka. So I hastily copied it out and then tied up that bundle as before after putting back the book in it. I showed this Shloka to the Shastri when he returned in the evening. As he was a learned man, he did not say anything further. With great reverence and tepidity, he saluted me and departed.
It appears that when the matter was reported to the Pontiff at Sringeri, he was terribly upset since all these activities took place without his knowledge. He felt extremely sorry and warned his devotees to stop all further effort in that direction. I subsequently translated that Shloka and wrote it in a verse in Tamil which has now been added at the beginning of the ‘Five Verses in praise of Arunachala’—popular as ‘Arunachala Stuthi Panchakam ‘

ARTICLE No. 457---- Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and the SringeriMath Pontiff
Created: Friday, August 15, 2008 9:54 pm


At November 16, 2016 at 1:06 AM , Blogger soorya said...

He was manifestation of God to spread awareness of ATMA


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