Chitrapur Guru Parampara

The Chitrapur Guru Parampara(Devanagariगुरु प्रंप्रा,Gu.ru Pa.ram.pa.ra) or Guru Heritage of the Chitrāpur Sāraswat Brahmins is the lineage of spiritual teachers (gurus), also known as Mathadhipatis(Ma.t.hā.dhi.pa.ti)(Head of the Chitrāpur Math - Chi.trā.pur Ma.t.h) who have led the community throughout its history.

These teachers are viewed as the torch-bearers of the rich culture and heritage that the community has passed down from generation to generation. Starting with Param Poojya Parijnanāshram I Swamiji in 1708, the Parampara (lineage) continues through to the present Mathādhipati of the Chitrāpur Math Param Poojya Sadyojāt Shankarāshram Swamiji. He is currently the 11th Mathādhipati of the Shri Chitrapur Math.

Contents

The Parampara

The Guru Parampara is as given.[1] It shows the reigning period of each Mathādhipati along with his place of birth as well as place where his shrine(samādhi) is located.

MATHĀDHIPATI REIGN BIRTHPLACE SAMĀDHI
Param Poojya Parijñānāshram Swamiji I (1708–1720) Unknown Gokarn
Param Poojya Shankarāshram Swamiji I (1720–1757) Haritē Shirali
Param Poojya Parijñānāshram Swamiji II (1757–1770) Kollur Shirali
Param Poojya Shankarāshram Swamiji II (1770–1785) Mallāpur Mallāpur
Param Poojya Keshavāshram Swamiji (1785–1823) Kandlūr Shirali
Param Poojya Vāmanāshram Swamiji (1823–1839) Mangalore Mangalore
Param Poojya Krishnāshram Swamiji (1839–1863) Vithal Shirali
Param Poojya Pandurangāshram Swamiji (1863–1915) Mangalore Shirali
Param Poojya Anandāshram Swamiji (1915–1966) Shirali Shirali
Param Poojya Parijñānāshram Swamiji III (1966–1991) Mumbai Karla
Param Poojya Sadyojāt Shankarāshram Swamiji (1997–Present) Chennai -----------

The Saraswat Brahmins

Saraswat(Sā.ra.swat) is the generic term for the Brahmins or learned people who inhabited the fertile basin between the ancient rivers of Saraswati and Drishadawati in Kashmir.[2] But usually Saraswat refers to the Saraswat Brahmins who come under the Chitrāpur Matha at Shirāli and are hence called Chitrāpur Sāraswat Brahmins(Bhānaps or Smārtha Sāraswats). Due to drought and famine, they migrated southwards towards Goa and Maharashtra. But Portuguese invasion of Goa forced the Sāraswats established neat Gomantak region to migrate further south towards Karnataka and settled down in the Kanara regions of Karnataka.[3] Their superior intelligence and administrative experience helped them attain several important posts in the regions in which they migrated to.[4]

The Bhanap people are a very small community that is scattered in all parts of the globe. But the common thread that binds all these people is the Guru Parampara and the Chitrapur Math

The Origin of the Guruparampara

Events leading to Guruparampara

During the reign of the Hindu Chiefs of Nagar or Keldi(1560–1768)[5] in the Kanara regions of Karnataka, the Smartha Saraswats held esteemed positions in the government. These were a variety of administrative and accountancy positions. Since they were established in different villages of the region, they adopted the names of the Villages as their surnames.

Their superior intelligence and high efficiency of work[6] created envy among the local people there. Their jealousy went to such an extent that they wanted to remove the Saraswats from their highly respective posts. For this they went and complained to the King of Nagar. THE COMPLAINT: The Saraswats did not have a Guru and hence did not have a spiritual existence of their own.[4]

The King heeded to the words of these jealous people and issued an official decree whereby "If the Saraswats did not show him their Guru, a heavy penalty would be imposed upon them". It so happened that the Guru of the Shenvis had left for Benaras.[5] The representative of the Saraswat community made this point to the King but he was not satisfied with it.

The Saraswat Brahmins were aghast. All the elders of the community held a Dharan(Community prayer) at the Temple of Lord Mahābaleshwar(Bhavānishankar) at Gokarna. The intesity of prayer is as quoted:

"The Saraswats gathered together,
And prayed in all humility,
Giving up hunger,thirst and sleep...

Such was the intensity

The devotees with prayers in their hearts,
Unceasingly for long nights and days,
Surrendered unto Lord Mahabaleshwar,
At Gokarn,that sacred place.
"[7]

Lord Bhavānishankar is said to have answered their prayers. In a dream he appears and assures his devotees that a Sanyasi would arrive at the banks of the Kotiteerththe next day and that he would guide the community as their Guru.

As the dream had proclaimed, a sanyasi clad in saffron robes and carrying the vigraha(idol) of Lord Bhavānishankara in his cloth pouch arrived at the banks of the Kotiteerth(Ko.ti.tī.rth)- the village tank.[8]

"Sacred ash smeared on the forehead,
The Guru arrived,the Benevolent One,
Clad in flaming saffron robes,
Resplendent like the Sun!
A 'Danda' adorned in one hand,
A 'Kamandalu' in another,
The brilliance of Shankara on his face,
The gentle smile of a mother! A 'rudraksha mala' adorned his nech,
A 'Jholi' by His side,
Carried the 'Vigraha' of Lord Bhavanishankara,
Our Gurudev had come down to guide."[9]

This great one was Parijñānāshram I, the first Guru, who established in 1708, the glorious Guru parampara in which the present guru Sadyojāt Shankarāshram is the Eleventh(11th) in succession

Sāraswats Under the Swamis

The Sāraswats have lived a glorious period of over 300 years under the Guru Parampara. Each swamiji has contributed in his own way to the development of the community. The divine powers possessed by the greats and their deeds towards humanity are stuff of legends.

Under Parijñānāshram I(1708 - 1720)

See the main article: Swami Parijñānāshram I

The Saraswat installed Swami Parijñānāshram I at the Sri Vishveshwar Vithal Temple and brought him to Nāgar and before the king. But the king refused to accept him as their guru until and unless the Shankarāchārya of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham gave his consent.[4]

Parijñānāshram Swamiji travelled from Gokarna to Shringeri. At first he was denied entry into the temple by the priests there. In the night "Jagadguru" had a dream where he saw that idol of Sharada Devi had lost its lustre as she was upset as her son was denied entry into the temple. In the morning the Jagadgururealised this when he saw the idol and immediately called for Parijnanashram Swamiji and gave his consent to the new Swamiji. He was also awestruck by Parinanashram swamiji's piety, yogic abilities and his knowledge.[10] The King wholeheartedly welcome the new Mathādhipati of the Sāraswats. Thus the Guru parampara was established.

The Swamiji consented to stay on at the Sri Vishweshwar Vithal Temple on the banks of the Kotiteerth in Gokarna which became the first Math or Monastery (The Adi Matha) of the Sāraswats. He led the community till 1720 when Shankārashram I Swami became the Mathādhipati(Head of the matha- generic name for head of the community). He attained Mahāsamādhi(death) on the Krishna Chaturdashi Day of the Month of Chaitra in 1720.[5][11]

Under Shankarāshram I (1720 - 1757)

Swami Shankarāshram was the mathādhipati from 1720 until his Mahāsamadhi in 1757. Under his leadership, the Chitrāpur Math at Shirāli became the Head math(Monastery) of the Sāraswats. His divinity has many popular folklore attached to it. Many devotees in grief and sorrow attained happiness due to his divine grace (See Swamiji's Miracles). Swamiji suddenly suffered from an untimely illness and succumbed to it and attained Mahāsamādhi in 1757.[12] He had not adopted a shishya(disciple) to continue the lineage or parampara

Under Parijnānāshram II (1757 - 1770)

With Shankarāshram I Swamiji attaining samādhi without ordaining a new successor, the community was again put into a state of peril. The King had again ceased the assets of the math with the condition that a new mathadhipati had to be installed.[13][14]

The elders of the community gathered together and sought to resolve the impending peril. They went to a saintly person, who practised Yoga, from the Pandit family in Kollur and asked him if he would take up the reins of the Mathādhipati. He graciously acknowledged and thus was ordained as Parijñānāshram II Swamiji.[14][15]

Not being the type who liked to wield power,[14][15] Swamiji accepted a shisya(Disciple) very soon and spent most of his time practising yoga at Kollur. He attained Mahāsamādhi in 1770[14] leaving behind his successor 'Shankarāshram II

Under Shankarāshram II (1770 - 1785)

Swami Shakarāshram II was considered as the avatār(incarnation) of Lord Dattātreya.[16][17] He was a true Jñāni(knowledgeable one) and people from all parts of the country flocked to hear his spiritual discourses. Very many miracles have been attributed to him(See Miracles).

In 1781, swamiji accepted a shishya(disciple) and christened him Keshavāshram.[15][18] In 1785 swamiji attained Mahāsamādhi and Swami Keshavāshram became the 5th mathādhipati of the Sāraswat Brahmins. The samādhi of His Holiness Shankarāshram Swamiji is located at the small hamlet of Mallāpur in Karnataka at the Mallāpur Math.

Under Keshavāshram (1785 - 1823)

Keshavāshram Swamiji took charge of the math in 1785. He was a very learned person and a scholar in the Sanskrit scriptures. Knowing that education was the key to success, Keshavāshram Swamiji encouraged the Sāraswats to have English education during British rule[19] Thus when the other communities ostracized the English language, the Saraswats got well educated in English and thus could hold positions of high esteem even under the British.

He is attributed with very many miracles (See Miracles) and the popularity of the matha got a tremendous boost under his Ādhipatya(governance). He accepted a shishya in 1804 and ordained him Vāmanāshram.[20][21] Thus another sacred link was added to the Guru parampara.

In the year 1823, Keshavāshram Swamiji attained Mahā-samadhi. His samādhi is located at Shirali[22][23]

Under Vāmanāshram (1823 - 1839)

Vāmansāshram Swamiji became the mathadhipati in 1823. Vāmanāshram Swamiji had the distinction of serving as the shishya of Keshavāshram Swamiji for 19 years. He was a person who was more involved in spiritual pursuits than in administration. So in order to reduce the burdens of administration, he accepted a shishya.[24] This shishya was ordained as Krishnāshram in the year 1836.[25]

After accepting a shishya Vamanāshram Swamiji gave up the administrative responsibilities and took the path of Tyāga(sacrifice)[24] in 1836.[25] Stories of his divine powers and intensity of prayer are legends among the Sāraswats (See Miracles). Swamiji attained Mahā-samādhi in 1839. His samādhi stands at Mangalore within the premises of the Mangalore Math.[24][25]

Under Krishnāshram (1839 - 1863)

Param Poojya Krishnāshram Swamiji gained control over the matha in 1839. He was a dynamic and able administrator.[26] His contributions to architecture and infrastructure still stand today. He ordered the construction of temples and mathas, set right existing ones and gradually got over many people from their Vaishnava practises.[26]

Swamiji accepted a shishya in 1857 and ordained him as Pāndurangāshram.[26][27] With the dynamism of youth in Pādurangāshram swami, Swami Krishnāshram could introduce many reforms for the benefit of the community.

Swami Krishnāshram attained Maha-samadhi in 1863. His samadhi(shrine) is located at Shirali.[26][28]

Under Pāndurangāshram (1863 - 1915)

Param Poojya Pāndurangāshram took charge of the math in 1863.He is the longest serving Mathādhipati till date(A period of 52 years). He is considered one of the most brilliant of all the swamis and his mastery over Sanskrit and Logic was unquestionable.[29] Even after taking charge of the matha, he continued to learn the Vedanta and the Upanishads. He stressed on the need for education in the community. Under his guidance, a school was established and he brought about the development of general infrastructure of Shirāli.[30]

Swamiji stressed on Dharma(the right way to live) and encouraged a sense of patriotism in our country.[31] He came under criticism for imposing a ban on foreign travel. Anyone who went abroad or anyone who associated with a person who went abroad were excommunicated. Overall, the period under the leadership of Swami Pāndurangāshram is called The Glorious Age of the Saraswats.[32]

Various miracles have been attributed to swamiji. Swamiji was reluctant in adopting a shishya because of the lack of discipline within the community. Eventually when swamiji was very sick, he relented to the pressure of the people and accepted a shishya.The new shishya, who was just 8 years old, was ordained as 'Ānandāshram.[33] Thus a sacred link in the Guru Parampara could be established. Pāndurangāshram Swamiji attained Mahā-samādhi in 1915. His samādhi is at Shirāli.[30][34]

Under Ānandāshram (1915 - 1966)

Ānandāshram Swamiji had served as mathādhipati for a glorious period of 51 years. Those were the years when India went through turbulent times of the Independence struggle. Under Ānandāshram Swamiji the Sāraswat community developed at a rapid rate. The financial development was given top priority as the community was facing a financial crisis[35] during the early parts of his reign. He brought about many social reforms like permission to go abroad and taking back the people from the community who had been ostracized for foreign visits.[36][37] The community underwent tremendous progress(economically and morally) under his regime.

Swami Anandashram accepted a shishya in 1959 and ordained him as Parijñānāshram. Swamiji attained Mahā-samādhi in 1966. His samadhi is situated in Shirali.[38][39]

Under Parijñānāshram III(1966 - 1991)

Parijñānāshram Swamiji took charge of the matha after the glorious years under Swami Ānandāshram. He was very intelligent, had a progressive outlook and a keen thirst for knowledge - Vedic as well as technical. His dynamic approach to matters regarding the matha brought back the financial stability it needed. His scientific temper resulted in the establishment of a printing press, Observatory and other technical advancements.[40][41]

He was responsible for the starting of cottage and small-scale industries like printing press, handlooms and powerlooms, agro-industries in the regions around the math. With the financial stability regained, the Rathōtsav(Car Festival) was restarted which had been stopped under Swami Ānandāshram due to acute financial strain.[42][43]

His far-sighted and monumental development ideas did not go well with the "orthodox" members of the community. This resulted in a rift occurring within the community. It also led to an open display of disrespect towards this Swamiji by certain lobbies within the community.Swamiji true to his divine grace made the ultimate Tyāga(sacrifice) by giving up the administration of the Matha in 1981. This was reminiscent of Swami Vāmanāshram who had done the same in 1836.[44] Swami Parijñānāshram III attained Mahā-samādhi in 1991. His samādhi is at Karla in Maharashtra.[45][46]

After the Samadhi of Parampoojya Parijnanashram Swamiji, The Karla Math continues to be managed by the Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin community, under guidance from His successor, H H Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji the 11th Guru in the Chitrapur Saraswat Guruparampara and Spiritual Head of the Institutions running the Karla Math

Under Sadyojāt Shankarāshram (1997 - Present)

After a 6 year search for a Guru, (1991–1997) the Sāraswat community was blessed with a Mathādhipati and Guru - H H Param Poojya Sadyojāt Shankarāshram Swamiji. In Him the community found an erudite Vedic Scholar, an exponent of the advaitic Philosophy of Adi Shankaracharya,Teacher, reformist leader. and much more. Ordained into Sanyas by HH Swami Ishwarānanda Giriji Maharaj as Sadyojāt Samvat Giri[59][60]., He took up the reigns of Shri Chitrapur Math in February 2007 as Sadyojat Shankarashram Swami at a well attended, elaborate Ceremony graced and blessed by H H Shankaracharya of Shringeri Shardamba Peetham.[45][47]

Under Swami Sadyojāt Shankarāshram's guidance, the Shrivali Trust was established which has provided high quality medical care and drinking water to the people.Free value based education is provided at the Shrivali School Various temples have been reconstructed from the state of ruin and general infrastructure developed. The Shri Chitrapur Math Charitable Trust today works for the empowerment of the villagers providing livelihood to the underprivileged. Swamiji has stressed on the development of the youth as a force and has resulted in the conducting of very many Shibhirs(youth camps) for the physical,mental and spiritual development of the youth in the community.[48]

Conclusion

The "Guru Parampara" of the Sāraswat Brahmins is something that they cherish and will always remain as the vital link that connects this small community of people, living in different parts of the globe, together.[49]

References

Notes

  1. ^ "Guru Parampara". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  2. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 23. 
  3. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 27. 
  4. ^ a b c Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 29. 
  5. ^ a b c "Shrimat Parijananashram Swamiji -I (Gokarn)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  6. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 28. 
  7. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (September 2002). Anugraha-A saga of cascading grace. Shri Chitrapur Math. pp. 31. http://www.chitrapurmath.net/books/BOOKS.HTM. 
  8. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 35. 
  9. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (September 2002). Anugraha-A saga of cascading grace. Shri Chitrapur Math. pp. 35. http://www.chitrapurmath.net/books/BOOKS.HTM. 
  10. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 39–40. 
  11. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 47. 
  12. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 57. 
  13. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 59–60. 
  14. ^ a b c d "H. H. Shrimat Parijananashram Swamiji -II (Shirali)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  15. ^ a b c Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 61. 
  16. ^ Math, Chitrapur. "H. H. Shrimat Shankarashram Swamiji -II (Mallapur)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  17. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 77. 
  18. ^ "H. H. Shrimat Shankarashram Swamiji -II (Mallapur)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  19. ^ Guruparampara Charita Saramrita(Devanagari). Shri Chitrapur Math Publication. 2002. pp. 25–27. 
  20. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 85. 
  21. ^ "H. H. Shrimat Keshavashram Swami(Shirali)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  22. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 87. 
  23. ^ "H. H. Shrimat Keshavashram Swami (Shirali)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  24. ^ a b c Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 91. 
  25. ^ a b c "H. H. Shrimat Vamanashram Swami (Mangalore)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  26. ^ a b c d "H. H. Shrimat Krishnashram Swami (Shirali)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  27. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 104. 
  28. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 117. 
  29. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 118–119. 
  30. ^ a b "H. H. Shrimat Pandurangashram Swami (Shirali)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  31. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 121. 
  32. ^ Math, Chitrapur. Guruparampara Charita Saramrita. Chitrapur Math Publications. http://www.chitrapurmath.net/books/BOOKS.HTM. 
  33. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 135–137. 
  34. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 141. 
  35. ^ "H. H. Shrimat Anandashram Swami (Shirali)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  36. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 165. 
  37. ^ "H. H. Shrimat Anandashram Swami (Shirali)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  38. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 167–174. 
  39. ^ "H. H. Shrimat Anandashram Swami (Shirali)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  40. ^ Divgi, Jyothi (2002). Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 179–183. 
  41. ^ "H. H. Shrimat Parijnanashram Swamiji-III (Karla)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  42. ^ Divgi, Jyothi. Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 179–183. 
  43. ^ "H. H. Shrimat Parijnanashram Swamiji-III (Karla)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  44. ^ Divgi, Jyothi. Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 184–186. 
  45. ^ a b Divgi, Jyothi. Anugraha-A Saga of cascading grace. pp. 189. 
  46. ^ "H. H. Shrimat Parijnanashram Swamiji-III (Karla)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  47. ^ "H. H. Shrimat Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  48. ^ "H. H. Shrimat Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  49. ^ "Guru Parampara". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927030418/http://www.chitrapurmath.net/parampara/guru_parampara.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 

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