Hara Hara Shankara||Jaya Jaya Shankara
Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu Gurur Devo Maheshwaraha |
Guru Saakshaat Para Brahma Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha||
Shruti Smriti Puranam Alayam Karunalayam |
Namami Bhagavadpadam Shankaram Lokashankaram”
My humble Pranaams at the Lotus Feet of Jagadguru Shankaracharya 69th Mathadhipati of Kanchi Math.
His departure to His Destination – The Shiva Loka was as sudden as it was shocking. For a person who is from a different philosophical school, the impact he had on me and my family was profound. Rewinding back 2003 when my job forced me to shift base to Chennai. Coincidentally, at the same time my manasik sister, Vidya and her family (Kalyana Kumar & children Roshni and Adharsh) also had to move to Chennai from Bengaluru. Looking back even this had a purpose and was not a coincidence at all. It was Divine will for a purpose. We used to regularly drive every weekend to various temples and other spots from Chennai. I vividly remember that August day when we decided to visit Sri Yoga Narasimha Temple in Sholingur (around 100 kms from Chennai). On our return trip from Sholingur after praying at Sri Yoga Narasimha Temple, when Kalyanakumar made an invaluable (with benefit of hindsight) suggestion of taking a detour and visit Sri Kanchi Matha and Darshan of Kanchi Kamakshi. What a decision it turned out to be!!!
We also had a wonderful darshan of Kanchi Kamakshi and landed up in Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. To our utter surprise, it wasn’t crowded at all and We had the time of our lives. We had a Darshan and got blessings of Balaperiyavaa Pujya Vijayendra Saraswathi ji and thereafter came for Darshan of Pujya Jayendra Saraswathi AVL. We were simply stunned and stood speechless in His Powerful Presence – Even today it gives me goosebumps to recollect those moments. With our sashtaanga pranayama and namaskaarams rendered, he found we were yet to get over that Divine Stupor and he made us comfortable by talking to us in Kannada. In a loving manner He addressed my wife, Aparna and asked her the place she hails from and then it opened a floodgate of emotions. Everyone had TEARS OF BLISS!!! Absolute BLISS and He turned His attention to the kids. Akhila (my daughter), Roshni (my Niece) and Adharsh (Nephew). Son, Ashrit was too small to realize the import of what this experience means. Lucky Kids! I envied the attention Pujya Swamiji was showering on them. He then asked them if they know any chants and Aparna and Vidya unanimously suggested Totakashtakam. The kids began in unison and Pujya Swamiji joining them in a childlike manner, swinging and swaying rhythmically to the chant was a sight to behold. Since we thought were were taking too much of His precious time, we hinted to the kids to stop after 3 stanzas… And Swamiji asked what happened! You know it completely, Finish it. (We are still wondering how did He know that kids knew the entire Totakashtakam) and it continued. After blissful 1 hour or so, almost for ourselves – it was time to take leave and with a heavy heart moved away from magnetic charm of Pujya Swamiji Jayendra Saraswathi AVL.
About an year later in Nov 2004, we heard the worst news of our lives – that Police arrested both Shankaracharyas of Kanchi Math. It was A BLACK DEEPAVALI for us (and millions of followers) – a Deepavali we would never want to remember again. What was worse – they were stopped from the Anushtanams midway and arrested. A set of volunteers from the Art of Living from Chennai drove down to Kanchipuram next day – had a Satsang in a hall and took out a protest march (After we got back to Chennai we were told that it was such a risk considering the fact that cops were hounding supporters of Swamijis – Thankfully and blissfully we were unaware of the viciousness of the TN Police at that time) It was a black period for our Dharma but never once our Faith in Swamijis were shaken. We knew there was an agenda by the powers that be and also enemies within. Karma has its way of getting things of even keel. After the trial and tribulations, insults by the forces inimical to these Divine Souls, they were acquitted by the courts. But who would pay for the hurt and pain that the Devotees went through. Swamijis who were Divine were forgiving but ordinary mortals like us were hurt deep. Eulogies of Swamijis and reasons are in two posts that follow (which I don’t wish to repeat – the purpose of this MAXI-POST.
We will miss your jovial yet intellectually and spiritually stimulating presence and invaluable Guidance Pujya Swamiji Jayendra Saraswathi ji. WE WILL NEVER HAVE ANOTHER ONE LIKE YOU. Prayers to you to continue to shower your Blessings on all the Followers!
I reproduce two tributes that were in public domain and leaving it to readers to judge! One is by much respected Sri Gurumurthy ji. The other by an anonymous devotee which I received by Whatsapp (The author can revert to me to attribute to him/her).
Sri S. Gurumurthy – Article in The New Indian Express
Reproducing the content (as at the time of publishing this piece) verbatim for easier readability (Click on the Headline to read the article in original)
Jayendra Saraswathi, the direct disciple of the Mahaswami, was particularly distinct from his predecessor in almost every respect. Being more contemporary than traditional, he often tested the limits of orthodoxy and extended the areas of the Math’s reach and influence
Jayendra Saraswathi Swami, the 69th Shankaracharya of the famous Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, who attained samadhi on Wednesday was an Acharya different in comparison to his peers in the pantheon of Shankaracharyas. He was particularly distinct from his predecessor and Guru, Chandrashekarendra Saraswathi, popularly known as the Kanchi Mahaswami, in almost every respect. Jayendra Saraswathi was even controversial because of the risky territories he traversed that were never unravelled to him in the training he had received in the innocent surroundings at the Math.
The Kanchi Math, rebuilt from scratch by the Mahaswami, attained the most revered status among all Maths in the country and the Mahaswami was revered as the walking Divinity. An epitome of modesty and simplicity, his calmness and silence attracted millions to him. The tallest intellectuals, the mightiest leaders and the most respected men and women from all walks of life queued up for his darshan and to hear his profound words. Even his detractors were silenced by the power of his calmness and quietude. The Math reached its pinnacle under his stewardship. Jayendra Saraswathi, the direct disciple of the Mahaswami, was almost a contrast.
If the Mahaswami was silent, Jayendra was outspoken. If his Guru was inner directed, Jayendra was outgoing. If the Mahaswami walked, Jayendra motored, even flew. If the Guru avoided fame, the disciple enjoyed it. If the Mahaswami immersed in contemplation with self, Jayendra involved in conversation with the world. This contrast did create a situation in 1988, when Jayendra Saraswathi, piqued by some in the Math not accepting the culture change he was bringing about, left the Math without informing anyone suddenly. It shook the Math and its millions of followers. Though he returned after calming himself, the incident demonstrated his trans-traditional impulses.
The calm, quiet and inward-looking Math and its grammar changed into one of high pulse and activity under Jayendra Saraswathi’s leadership after the Mahaswami attained siddhi in 1994. Being more contemporary than traditional, Jayendra Saraswathi often tested the limits of orthodoxy and extended the areas of the Math’s reach and influence beyond its traditional adherents even as he explored areas of social thrust. He was instrumental in the Kanchi Math expanding directly into people’s service and not remaining merely a spiritual fountainhead as it was under the Mahaswami.
Today, the Kanchi Math runs a deemed university and dozens of schools and hospitals — territories previously not in the reach of Math — besides over 50 traditional Vedic schools and temples. Jayendra broke the restraining rules of the Math and reached out to the downtrodden. He went to Harijan bastis and attracted thousands of new followers and devotees. He transformed a spiritual and ritualistic Math into a socially vibrant one. This brought him high popularity and also into interaction with a multitude of social and political leaders in the country. It had had its pluses and minuses.
Arrest and vicious atmosphere
Jayendra Saraswathi’s independent course provoked some elements in the Math to fault him for deviating from the celebrated traditions. This led to an uncomplimentary campaign against him and the murder of one of the dissenters. In a state where Hinduism has borne the burden of unjust assault at the hands of the Dravida Kazhagam and its offshoots, political parties and others found it opportune to attack Jayendra, finally leading his arrest.
This sparked a nationwide uproar, but in Tamil Nadu, a vicious campaign was carried by political parties, intellectuals, activists and even the media against the Math and the Acharya. The New Indian Express alone gave the other side view and carried five counter-investigation articles [authored by me]. The first article titled As the Shankaracharya stands like Abhimanyu [NIE 23.11.2004] captured how the Dravidian political and secular media in the state were hounding the hapless Acharya, who was stung and stunned by the heinous charge against him. The third one titled The case is dead. Who’ll do the funeral, and when, exposed the frivolous prosecution. An angry government ordered my arrest and even the bail available to any accused was denied to the Acharya by the Magistrate and Sessions Court and by the Madras High Court. Finally, he had to get bail from the Supreme Court! Even the junior Acharya was arrested.
The final article titled Will the Secular Media Heed Justice Reddy’s Warning? [Jan 14, 2005] was on the judgment of Justice Narasimha Reddy of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, who condemned the unprecedented process of denigration of the ancient, prestigious and glorious Math with almost 2,500-year history by “not only individuals, but also a section of the institutions, such as the State and the Press”. Noting the stoic silence of the proponents of human rights, fair play and dignity, the judge said “a powerful section is celebrating or watching with indifference” the “perfidy against the Math” that had shocked the nation and beyond”. Pointing to the “amount of disrepute and sacrilege inflicted on Jayendra Saraswathi that had no comparables, Justice Reddy pointed out that harshest possible words were used directly or in innuendo against him”. Finally he declared, “today he is subjected to similar treatment as was Draupati in the Court of Kauravas.”
Later, the Principal Sessions Court in Puducherry acquitted Jayendra Saraswathi, Vijayendra Saraswathi and all others. The judgment almost echoed the third counter investigation article in The New Indian Express which opened thus: “On counter investigation, we found the case against the Shankaracharya not just slippery, but actually groundless from day one. Not just that. It involves a bit of fabrication too. Yes the fabrication to fix the Acharya. The police are running for cover. They may not give up yet and may fabricate more to put the case, which is dead, on life support system. But the case is irretrievably lost. The dramatic turn came on Wednesday in the Kancheepuram Magistrate court. The two criminals on whom the police had exclusively relied to name the Shankaracharya as an accused in the case have actually turned to accuse the police as the fabricators of the case itself.”
Within two weeks of the Acharyas’ arrest, The New Indian Express had called the prosecution’s bluff. The judgment acquitting the Acharyas pretty much said the same thing. But that was after nine years of intense pain and humiliation the Acharya underwent, having been declared a criminal even before a chargesheet was filed against him.
Jayendra Saraswathi is no more and the pain inflicted on him has died with him. But the pain the Math and the millions of peaceful devotees underwent at the hands of a hostile state, egged on by the media and watched by the proponents of human rights, as Justice Reddy had said, will remain a permanent scar in the political, judicial and media history of Tamil Nadu. Jayendra Saraswathi’s demise may be an occasion for all those who hounded him for a decade and more to introspect so that they don’t repeat it ever.
Here is a touching tribute – Straight from the heart Tribute by Devotee (Received it on Whatsapp without any attribution). I would be glad to credit the author if I am informed.
Reproducing verbatim except for fixing Typos.
An era has just ended in the hoary history of the Kanch Kamakoti Math, with the Maha Samadhi of Sri Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, the 69th Peetadhipathi of the Kamakoti Peetam. There is an overwhelming sense of loss and despair amongst the devotees of the math and the Acharya. It is even more significant if one dispassionately considers the deep impact that Sri Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal had left on every aspect of the math functioning.
He was chosen as the successor to the Paramacharya (as his predecessor Sri Sri Chandrasekarendhra Saraswathi was known to all) at the young age of 20 and for almost four decades lived under shadow of the towering Paramacharya. It is a very difficult thing in any human activity to be the second in command, while the number one is in absolute control and is a larger than life kind of personality, which the Paramacharya was, very deserving of course. He was a very disciplined deputy and was known for his total devotion to the Paramacharya., a fact that those closely linked to the Math can vouch for.
The four decades that he was with his senior, were very difficult times for the Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism if one were to use a contemporary terminology), as this state had often had elected governments, where the ruling party was inimical to the faith in general and to the math and its followers in particular. Caste based politics and the resultant bitterness was far too obvious to escape the notice of even a casual traveler to the state. The math had to break out of its traditional moorings and reach out to the people at large, as missionaries of the Abrahamic faiths were creating havoc in the coastal and southern districts of the state of TN, causing great level of anxiety to the people and the government. Unfortunately, the successive state governments did precious little to stem the rot and were almost mute spectators to the gross misuse of religious freedom enshrined in the constitution.
It was in these circumstances that Sri Sri Jayendra Saraswathi decides to break the perceived shackles of Sanyas and enter the social world to put a brake on the large scale conversions that were taking place resulting in levels of social unrest hitherto unseen and unheard of. This decision necessitated even his ignoring instructions to the contrary perhaps even from the Paramacharya himself. He realized at the very beginning that the only way we can stop this was to shed the faith of the caste based discrimination and erase the dividing line between the math and the Hindus of so called lower castes. This strategy, expectedly, met with stiff resistance and derisive comments not only from within the math but also from Hindus outside, especially the upper caste Hindus (more importantly a section of the Brahmin community). What was not observed correctly and appreciated by most commentators was that in breaking the caste based discrimination and uniting the Hindus under one identity, he had inevitably invited the wrath of the minority missionaries and the so called secular brigade.
Unmindful of all this, Sri Sri Jaydendra went about his tasks of uniting the Hindus through service, through such organizations like Jan Kalyan, Jan Jagran etc. He was given unconditional support by the RSS, Hindu Munnani and Viswa Hindu Parishad etc., making it even more uncomfortable for the minority outfits. Given the source of limitless funds and other resources, the minority institutions could play havoc with the hapless Math and the Acharya, which they did with aplomb.
Meanwhile, Sri Sri Jayendra initiated multifarious activities like revival of old dilapidated temples, revision of wages for poojaris/archakas of small village temples, educational institutions for the economically weaker sections, health care through numerous hospitals etc. The last two were going to earn him bigger enemies who were raking in crores through their own private institutions in these fields. Here again the minority community question was inevitably linked, especially the Christian lobby. That’s what finally landed him in the mess that was Sankara Raman murder case. He touched those areas that were invariably linked to the minority-politician nexus which has an unimaginably huge muscle power in our country, especially in states like TN, where anti-Hindu parties have been in power for long.
What am I talking about?? Yes, a Hindu seer dared to stand up to this nexus and refused to budge and paid with his reputation, dignity, health and the overall image of the Math and himself. Here comes the irony. In this hour of despair he didn’t have anyone of substance backing him unconditionally, something unthinkable in other faiths. Those avowed devotees of the Math were more than ready of believe the media’s concocted stories. The political class was seeing what was politically convenient and taking such a stance. BJP and RSS with the other Hindu outfits were the only ones which were even prepared to consider getting to the truth.
The Hindu community in TN should have risen as one and resisted the media’s preplanned character assassination of the seer and forced the powers that be to behave. They failed him collectively. More blatant was the Brahmin community’s response. A whole lot of them were ready to believe the media than see the opposite side’s version. That some of the worst detractors of the Math and Sri Sri Jayendra, at that time, were people from the community itself, is the most bitter fact. This attitude comes from their appointing themselves judges of how the Acharyas should conduct themselves and how the Math should be administered. This is from a community wherein not even 10% of the people observe their daily chores as stipulated in the shastras (nithyakarma anushtaanam), a good percentage take alcoholic beverages regularly, consume non-vegetarian food, a vast majority skip offerings to their ancestors via tharpanam, shrardham etc.
The worse is most of them compare Sri Sri Jayendra with his predecessor the Paramacharya and make derisive comments against the former. First, the comparison itself is completely unfair to both and is completely lacking in common sense as they both were working on different planes and at different times and very, very different set of circumstances. The efforts of Sri Sri Jayendra in getting all Hindus (okay, a majority if not all) to identify with the Math as a representative of the Hindu faith, are incomparable. His contribution in getting rid of the Math’s Brahmin Tag, was singularly responsible for people of all communities identifying with the Math. It is the result of his efforts that brought a vast cross section of the Hindu society to oppose the activities of DK, DMK and other Anti-Hindu activists, whenever the latter crossed the boundaries of decent politics and were bordering on selective outrage.
Their animosity towards him multiplied when political leaders and religious scholars from across the nation consulted him on the Ayodhya issue which he offered to help resolve. While many Muslim organization from UP as well as TN welcomed his efforts and offered to accept his recommendations, the Anti-Hindu political outfits in TN were systematically instigating an opposition to his effort, with clearly a vote bank mindset.
In a nutshell, one can see clearly, how the forces opposed to national interest could use the media and the powers that be to malign an important religious head of the majority community and thereby weaken the faith’s popular support thereby aiding in conversion. It is an irony that the so called forward castes failed to see this and instead put him on the accused stand and made him stand the trial by media.
Despite my great hesitation, I have to give a piece of my mind to my Brahmin friends, many of whom had declared him guilty even before the case was in court, just going by the media outrage. Many disgruntled elements within this community, who had either disagreement with the Math in general or with the seer in particular, exploited this opportunity and poured venom in the guise of writing commentary. And of late, there are many who go around claiming to be great devotes of the Paramacharya (the numbers have grown exponentially after his Maha Samadhi), which is good if they restrict to expressing their devotion to him. The unkindest cut of all that Sri Sri Jayendra had to stomach was that good percentage of these so called devotes of the Paramacharya were great critics of Sri Sri Jayendra and were almost dismissive of him.
To them, I ask, “Who are you to judge him? What is your qualification to do so? Do you know the kind of positive transformation he had brought about in the way the Math was perceived by the common Hindu outside the so called devotee crowd that you make up? How many of you live the way the Shastras recommend? Have you ever cared to go to the institutions run by the Math and learnt how they are administered and how the funds are made available? Have you ever gone to any of those hospitals run by the Math and found out for yourselves as to how patient care is offered there and how the beneficiaries perceive these?? Many of you may not have any answers to these questions, because, you go by what the media vomits as news and sit in your living room and pass judgements against a man who dared to challenge those very forces and showed he could succeed.
It is the quirk of fate or irony of justice in this country that he had to go through the worst for daring to oppose those forces and his greatest failing was that he thought he had us behind him. For sure, we were behind him, but not to support, but to push him down.
We are ungrateful people who never deserved a Jayendra Saraswathi. We did not respect his sincere efforts at bringing in the changes that were desperately needed. We did not have the guts to stand by him when forces inimical to our national interest were hounding him out. We now shed crocodile tears at his passing away. Shame on us for our hypocrisy.
He must be giving his famous disarming smile looking down at us from wherever he is now. At least from now on, let us carry on the good work started by him and compensate for all the dishonor and insults that we have heaped on him. I would dare say that, no single Acharya from the Shankara lineage could have contributed so extensively in critical social areas as His Holiness Sri Sri Jayendra had done in the last three decades (or longer). More than ever before, we needed him now as the forces inimical to the nation and Hindu religion are gathering great strength and momentum to give one last shot at denying this nation its Hindu identity. We have to defeat this at all costs and for that we need a few more Jayendras.
Jaya Jaya Sankara…!
Look at the glaring difference in the tributes! One is too cerebral and other one is Emotional. Leaving it to readers of this piece to make your own conclusion.
Signing off with Two Part Videos of very Touching Anugraha Bhashana of Pujya Shankaracharya Vijayendra Saraswati AVL (3 yrs back) on the occasion of Peetarohana Jayanti celebrations of HH Pujya Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswathi Swamiji (Overwhelming and each time I watch this… tears just flow). I am sure the readers will be moved too.
UPDATE: 6TH MARCH 2018
Some comments that I received on Twitter/Facebook that I found is worth sharing with readers (Click on the image to read the Original tweet on Twitter (available at the time of updating this)