Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sri Sadashiva Brahmendra - The Truly Liberated One


In chapter 7 of the Bhagavadgitha [Gjnana-Vigjnana Yoga] there is a profound statement made by Lord Krishna which says:

“Manushyanam Sahasreshu Kaschit Yatathi Siddhaye

Yatatamapi Siddhanam Kaschith Mam Vetthi Tattvatah”

meaning ‘Hardly one among thousands of men strives to realize Me; of those striving Yogins, some rare one only knows me in reality’. Among such rare one who realized Brahman in recent years was Sri Sadashiva Brahmendra who lived in the 18th Century. Sadashiva was a true Avadhuta in every sense of the term

Literally speaking, the term’Avadhuta’denotes a person who has shaken off all worldly ties and bonds. It is a Sanskrit word from the root ‘dhu’ with the prefix ‘ava’
which means ‘shake off worldly attachments, impurities, ignorance, avidya etc. The term
‘Avadhuta’ has been more clearly by Lord Dattatreya in the Avadhuta Upanishad as:

Aksharatvath VArenyatvath DHUtasamsara Bandhanath

TAttvamasyadi Lakshyatvath AVADHUTA Itiryathe

which means “ One is called Avadhuta on account of imperishability [ Aksharatvat], an excellence to be devoutly wished for [Varenyatvath] and on account of having the realization of Mahavakyas like ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ as the only object to be aimed at”. In short, the Avadhuta signifies the highest development of the life of the spirit attainable by a human being. There is a special significance attached to this life, because it establishes the identity of the individual with Brahman obtained after going through the fiery ordeal of Tapas.

Sadashiva Brahmendra was born to Samantha Yogi and Parvati Devi at Madurai around the first decade of the 18th century. She was named Shivarmakrishna. The highly religious and devout parents underwent severe austerities to beget a worthy son. When they were on a pilgrimage to Sri Rameswaram, well-known pilgrimage centre in the South as a part of the austerities, Sri Ramanatha, the presiding deity, appeared before his mother in a dream and told the lady that her wish would be fulfilled.

Shivarama was sent to a local Pathashala [Vedic school] at a tender age where he picked up the lessons at a prodigious rate. Observing this, the teacher was keen that the brilliant student should be helped to attain higher level of proficiency and take further lessons under a great master. He therefore made up his mind to take him to one Sridhara Ayyaval of Tiruvisanallur [Tamil Nadu]. However, his mother made him wait till he was 12 years got him married to a girl of 5 years and then allowed him to go. However, Shivaramakrishna never lived a married life. There at the Guru’s ashram, he took to his studies seriously and within a short time became highly proficient in the study of the Vedas and other scriptures. Sometime later the new master Ayyaval decided to take his student to Paramashivendra, a renowned Yogi and Vedantic scholar of those days so that he could study the higher aspects of Vedanta. Here too he excelled and earned the admiration of the guru. The training that he received here was so elaborate that it had a profound effect on his practice of Yoga and influenced him in his work of writing religious treaties as well.

At this juncture, the Maharaja of Mysore was on the lookout for a Vedic scholar to adorn his court in the palace. He sent an emissary and invited Shivaramakrishna to join his court. After he joined the Mysore palace, an eminent Vedic scholar from Tanjore by name Gopalakrishna Shastry came to Mysore to defeat Shivaramakrishna in a philosophical debate. Unfortunately he himself got defeated and became a disciple to Shivaramakrishna. When the name and fame of Shivaramakrishna spread across the country, Guru Paramashivendra felt that the spiritual potential of Shivarama was un-utilised in the Palace as a mere Asthana Vidvan and that he should be persuaded to take to Tapas instead. Accordingly he sent word to him through one of his disciples. Accordingly, Shivarama resigned his post from the Mysore Palace and returned to his Guru. It was then that Guru Paramashivendra advised Shivarama, saying
“You have learnt the art of silencing others; but you have not learnt the art of silence yourself”. Taking the Guru’s words seriously, Sadashiva immediately took a vow of silence and never broke it. He was then initiated into Sanyasa and was given the new name Sadashiva. Sadashiva went to a place known as Nerur, about 12 kms from Karur in Tamil Nadu. There he commenced his Sadhana and quickly mastered all the five traditional types of Yoga namely Mantra Yoga, SparshaYoga, Bhava Yoga, Abhava Yoga and Maha Yoga. His perfection in all these yogas took him to the summit of spiritual attainment and enabled him to acquire all the Yogic Ashta Siddhis like Anima, Mahima, Gharima etc. He realized the Self and thereafter, he was in a state of complete and conscious identity with Brahman. He also developed extraordinary yogic powers.

Such was the wonderful life of this Self-realized sage, who never spoke a word nor wore a shred of clothing except for the kaupina. The epithet Brahmendra is usually applied to the Sanyasin name of Sadashiva, to indicate his perfect state of abidance in Brahman. There can be no disputing of his own rich and impressive contribution to the spiritual enlightenment of humanity through song and discourse and above all through his life. He was an Avadhuta sanyasin in the Paramahamsa Parivrajaka order, wandering around—a moving beacon of spiritual light to the world.

Sadashiva Brahmendra wrote many scholarly works of which the most important is his ‘Brahma sutra Vritti’ which is a verse condensation of Advaita Vedanta and a brilliant exposition of Shankara’s ‘Bhashya Sutras’. ‘Sudhakara’ is another brilliant but brief commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga sutras. Atmavidya Vilasa is a poetic discourse on Atma Vidya which sets forth the nature and significance of the quest for spiritual light and method of attaining it.

More than the philosophical treatises that Sadashiva Brahmendra wrote, the kirtanas that he sang with effortless ease have become a boon to the Carnatic musicians. Compositions like Pibare Rama Rasam [Janjooti Ragam, Adi Tala], Khelati Mama Hridaye [Athana Raga, Adi Tala], Manasa Sanchara Re [Chalukeshi Raga, Adi Tala] etc are some of the very fine compositions which bring home the very essence of Advaita Vedanta in a nutshell in simple mellifluous Sanskrit.

Sadashiva Brahmendra who laid down his life sometime between 1750 and 53 knew in advance when he would enter Samadhi. With this realization he reached Nerur and desired to meet the Maharajas of Mysore, Tanjore and Pudukottai who were his ardent devotees. Even though he could not send word to them, all the three Maharajas were present by themselves on the day of his entering Samadhi. This power of thought transmission was probably one of the Yoga Siddhis which he had acquired. He apprised the rulers of his decision to enter into Samadhi and directed that they were to construct his Samadhi as per instructions. He also instructed that on the 9th day of Samadhi, a Bilva tree would sprout at the spot and that on the 12thday a saint from the North would come with a Shivalingam [Banalingam] which should be installed 12 feet on the eastern side and a temple built on it. Exactly as predicted, a Bilva tree sprouted on the ninth day and three days later a saint from Kashi brought the Lingam. It was installed at the spot by the Maharaja of Pudokottai and a temple built. The shrine at Nerur on the banks of the Kaveri has been a pilgrimage centre ever since

Sringeri Math Jagadgurus have always held Sadashiva Brahmendra in high esteem and regard, right from the days of the 32nd Pontiff His Holiness Sri Narasimha Bharati V111 [1817-1879] who realized the greatness of Sadashiva Brahmendra. H.H. visited the shrine at Nerur more than once. His successor Satchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharati [1879-1912] also visited Nerur and during one such visit composed two mellifluous stotras in Sanskrit in Sadashiva’s praise. These stotras record some of the Siddhis of Sadashiva and the depth of his knowledge. It is said that once when he was worshipping Sadashiva at the shrine, some devotees who were watching the worship, heard a clear conversation between two persons. One of the voices could have been that of Sadashiva Brahmendra. It is reported that after this visit to Nerur and his subsequent return to Sringeri, H.H. chose a life of seclusion. His successor Sri Chandrasekhar Bharathi, the 34th Pontiff, also visited Nerur and after his return to Sringeri, he preferred to be alone in Antarmukha in the Narasimhavanam, repeating Sadashiva’s ‘Atma Vidya Vilasa’ and Shankara’s ‘Vivekachudamani’. His successor Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha also visited Nerur twice and offered worship in perfect humility.

Such was the life of the extraordinary Yogi. Sadashiva Brahmendra. Some of the great Yogis sometimes behave like children and sometimes like mad men in so far as their external actions are concerned; but inwards, like the great Rishis of ancient days, they are one with the BRAHMAN. Sadashiva Brahmendra was one such great Yogi. B.M.N.Murthy

ARTICLE NO. 444---Sri Sadashiva Brahmendra---A True Avadhuta
Created: Friday, May 16, 2008 11:25 AM


At April 5, 2015 at 9:08 PM , Blogger aanandam said...



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