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16. Sringeri Sharada Peetham

 

On the way to Sringeri, the Acharya gave religious instructions to many men and women. He had discussions and debates with people of different views. Acharya was not going alone now, but thousands of people were following him. He received a dazzling Hero's welcome everywhere.

When at the age of eight Acharya had started on from Kerala as a Sanyasi, with the staff and kamandala in hand, in search of Guru Govindapada, he had come to Sringeri also called Sringagiri on the way. He had liked that place greatly. The natural beauty of the place, sublime environment and deep forests surrounding it had left a deep impression on his mind. Particularly the sight of venomous snakes living peacefully with frogs appeared to him to be expressive of the lofty spiritual atmosphere prevailing there. On enquiry, he found out that the place had been the sacred abode of sage Rishyashringa, who had practiced severe austerities there. His impressions had become stronger as a result of this information. He had right then decided to establish his first monastery in Sringeri.

When the local Chalukya king learnt that the Acharya with his disciples was approaching Sringeri, he gave his officials instructions for his proper reception. Sringeri is a hilly region with rich scenic beauty. The mountain-river Tungabhadra that emerged in the confluence of the two streams Tunga and Bhadra, flowed at the foot of Sringeri and gave it a greater charm. A popular saying about this river goes as follows, `Tunga Pana Ganga Snana', i.e. drinking the water of this sacred river has the same effect as taking a dip in the holy Ganga. The disciples of the Acharya were very happy to come to know of that delightful and lonely place. The Acharya expressed his desire to stay in that place which seemed to him to be an abode for the performance of penance.

As the news of the Acharya's stay in Sringeri spread, many spiritual aspirants seeking liberation and devoted to the scriptures began to assemble there. Within a short time, the place became a settlement of spiritual aspirants. Acharya engaged in the task of building up the spiritual lives of all by expositions of his commentaries and other scriptures by his religious instruction and spiritual discourses. The great Acharya advised the aspirants to learn the qualities of restraint of passion, self-control, forbearance and withdrawal of mind from sense objects and to strive to attain Samadhi by constant contemplation of the great words and by sincere meditation.

Gradually a fine temple and monastery were built. The Acharya himself installed the Srichakra and installed the divine presence of Goddess Sarada. Sarada Parameshwari, the chief deity here, is much more than just an aspect of Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. She is Mahatripurasundari, the triple form of Lakshmi-Saraswati-Gauri. She is the supreme queen Rajarajeshwari. The Acharya also established various other deities like Bhadrakali, Hanuman, Ganesha and Bhairava for the protection of the place. Thus, at the express desire of the Acharya was established the Sringeri math, with a stability lasting over hundreds of decades for the infinite good of the world.

It is said that the Acharya requested the Goddess to come to Sringeri and stay there for ever in the Srichakra that he had established. The divine enchantress told him that she would agree if he promised to her that he would not turn back and see her, while they walked to Sringeri. Acharya agreed and started walking towards Sringeri. The Goddess followed him, with the melodious noise of her foot-Chain keeping the Acharya informed about her presence. However as they reached Koodali, where Tunga and Bhadra rivers join to form Tungabhadra, the noise of the twinkling bells from the Mother's ornament stopped. This was because of the sand in that region. Fearing that the Goddess had returned back, Acharya happened to turn back and the Goddess stopped right there and refused to move any further. The Acharya, as per his promise had to establish a temple there for the Goddess, who gracefully promised the Acharya that she would visit Sringeri during the nine days of Navaratra.

The establishment of the Sringeri math by the Acharya is, in many ways, a very significant event in the spiritual history of the world, especially of India. The order of monks set up by the Acharya there to maintain and carry on Vedic dharma gave immense strength to Hindu spirituality and greatly helped the stability of religion. Acharya's Advaita Vedanta made no small contribution to the universal religion. One could say that all the different religions of the world are different branches of the vast tree of Advaita. All spiritual endeavor finds its goal in Advaita knowledge. There is no conflict between Advaita Vedanta and any other theory or religion. There are no cultist worships of a particular form of God or any concept. In the awareness of Advaita, all conflicts are resolved.

Staying in Sringeri the Acharya wrote many invaluable books full of instructions and shining with the spirit of renunciation. These include, Vivekachudamani, Aparokshanubhuti, Drigdrishyaviveka, Atmabodha, Bodhatara, Vedantakesari, Atma-anatma-viveka, Sarvadarshana Siddhanta, Prapanchasara Tantra and Lalita Trisati Bhashya.

During the Acharya's stay in Sringeri, a Brahmin youth called Giri (Anandagiri according to some biographers) became his disciple. Giri did not know much of reading or writing. But that completely pure- hearted young man had devoted himself to the service of his Guru from the very first day of his coming. According to the scriptures, it is only through attendance on service of the Guru that the disciple attains knowledge. Together with attendance on the Guru, tireless Giri was always ready to look after the needs of his brother-monks. Within a short time, the good-looking, soft-spoken Giri became a great favorite with all, particularly so with the Acharya.

The disciples of the Acharya were all vastly learned. They were worthy disciples of the great Acharya in exposition of the scriptures and debating skill. Indeed, from that point of view, Giri was no where equal to the other disciples. But incomparable was his devotion to his Guru. When the Acharya gave his disciples lessons on the scriptures, Giri would sit near the Acharya respectfully listening attentively to all that was said. He never failed to do that.

One day Giri was washing the garments of his Guru in the river nearby. It was the hour of teaching of scriptures. The disciples had assembled. Finding the disciples ready to commence with the benediction from the Upanishads, the Acharya said. "Please wait, Giri will come presently".

When after waiting it was found that Giri had not yet come, Padmapada said, "Can Giri understand your exposition of the scriptures?"

The Acharya smiled meaningfully and remained silent. Meanwhile, washing the linen in the river Giri felt that looking at hi, the great Acharya was blessing him with a graceful expression. His whole being was radiant with a divine light. Now, indeed he had been blessed by Lord Dakshinamurthy himself, who had descended to earth in the guise of the Acharya. He felted that he had mastered all knowledge. He ran back to the Acharya. On reaching the Acharya's abode, he at once bowed down at his feet. Magnificent verses, full of rhythm flowed out of his mouth.

This famous hymn composed by Giri in praise of Sri Adi Shankara is called Totakashtakam. This is a beautiful poem in the Totaka metre (which had twelve syllables in each line).

The other disciples were surprised to hear these verses couched in pure Sanskrit and full of deep meaning. Blessing Giri profusely, the Acharya in great affection bade him sit near him. Everyone realized that it was through the grace of Guru that Giri had attained this rare gift. Everyone talked about this wonderful happening, and this incident helped people to realize the utmost importance of Guru's grace. On an auspicious day, the Acharya initiated Giri into Sanyasa. He was given the name of Totakacharya.

The writing of the commentary on the Brahma sutras may be regarded as one of the main tasks performed by the Acharya. The Brahma sutra is also referred to as Saririka sutra or Vedanta sutra. In the Brahma sutra, there is in particular, a philosophic discussion on the bondage and attainment of liberation of all creatures. The Brahma sutra of Vedavyasa is written in the form of aphorisms. For this reason, the meaning of the sutras cannot be understood by the ordinary people. Without the aid of the commentary, it is impossible to understand the import of the sutras.

Even though Bodhayana and others had written commentaries before the Acharya and even after him, Ramanuja, Madhwa, Nimbaraka and others wrote commentaries on this work, the volume Saririka Mimamsa, written by the Acharya occupies a special, unique and supreme place of importance for a number of reasons. This commentary is an authoritative work on the Advaita doctrine, which is the sole and the ultimate reality. It also contains a subtle analysis of the Nyaya, Vaisesika, Sankhya and Buddhist systems of philosophy. For this reason, the commentary is a detailed philosophical work, full of deep scholarship. This is not even approachable by other commentaries written on the Brahma sutra by other commentators. Like the Brahma sutra, the commentary thereon is also difficult to understand. Hence more needed to be done to make the knowledge of the Brahma sutras available to the common man.

Sage Gautama propounded the Nyaya system. He is also referred to as Akshapada. In this philosophical system, sixteen principal objects are recognized, proof, object of proof, doubt, necessity, example, deduction, preposition, argument, inference, controversy, discussion, dispute, logical fallacy, pretext-evasion, category or kind, and the point of defeat or failure in argument. Through the grace of God, the knowledge of the nature of these objects is attained and thereupon through hearing and thinking of and deep meditation on the Self, the false ascription of self to the physical form ceases. Through cessation of false knowledge, there id destruction of anger, malice and delusion. Pravritti(desire), both good and evil, is destroyed through the destruction of imperfection. Through the cessation of both good and evil, there is cessation of birth and this leads to complete cessation of sorrow and final emancipation.

In Vaisesika philosophy, seven categories viz. substance, quality, action, generality, particularity, inheritance and non-existence are recognized. Through the knowledge of the similarity and dissimilarity of these seven categories is attained the knowledge of discrimination between these categories. As a result of such discrimination, according to Vaisesika system, through deep thinking one learns to discriminate between the self and the non-self. Thereupon, through deep contemplation and meditation, one attains the knowledge of the self and this leads to liberation in the form of complete cessation of sorrow or pain. This system was propounded by sage Kanaada.

Kapila is the founder of the Sankhya system of philosophy. In this system, twenty-five principles or Tatvas are recognized. They are nature, intelligence, egoity, the five subtle elements, the eleven senses, the five gross elements and Purusha (the person endowed with attributes). Getting from the preceptor instructions on the Sankhya system, one is advised to deeply think and contemplate on these elements. This results in an awareness of the distinction between Prakriti or primal energy and Purusha or the soul, leading to liberation in the form of complete cessation of the three kinds of sorrow. Here, there is no recognition of the existence of God.

We have seen how Vedavyasa himself had appeared before the Acharya at Uttarakashi and had extended his life-span by another sixteen years and how he had directed the Acharya to defeat Kumarila Bhatta in debate to make him thereafter write the Vartika (explanatory treatise) on the commentary. Following this direction, the Acharya had met Kumarila. But Kumarila had told the Acharya that if his chief disciple Mandana could be defeated in a debate, he could be made to write the Vartika on the commentary. We have seen before that Mandana, defeated in the debate, had become the Acharya's disciple. On arrival at Sringeri, the Acharya remembered in particular about the writing of the Vartika. One day, he sent for Sureshwara and told him, "Son, the holy Vedavyasa had told me about having explanatory notes to my commentary written. It is my desire that you should write the Vartika on the commentary of sutra Bhashya".

Hearing the Acharya's instructions, Sureshwara said, "Revered sir, it is beyond my powers to write an explanatory treatise on YOUR commentaries on the Brahma sutras. Nevertheless, I shall try my best to carry out your instructions". The Acharya blessed Sureshwara profusely and gave him permission to withdraw.

Obeying his revered Guru's directions implicitly, Sureshwara engaged very earnestly in the task of writing the Vartika. Gradually this came to be known by other disciples and the possible results of such an enterprise caused great worry to quite a few of them.

Padmapada and the other disciples took into account the fact that Sureshwara was an exponent of the Mimamsa system. He had become a monk only a short while ago. It was possible therefore that he would establish the superiority of the karma kanda in his treatise. It was also possible that he would establish the superiority of the Mimamsa system in such a fashion that the significance of the commentaries would be distorted and its importance would suffer. As a result of these doubts and musings, an uncomfortable atmosphere was created.

The extremely brilliant Acharya noticed the dissatisfaction among his disciples and was greatly alarmed. He one day informed Sureshwara, " My so, do not write the treatise on the commentary. At present you should write such an authoritative work on Advaita Vedanta reading which the other disciples may have their unfounded fears dispelled".

Making his obeisance at the Acharya's feet, Sureshwara indicated his silent consent to the Acharya's proposal and took his leave. On a later occasion the Acharya sent for Padmapada and said, " You see, it is the desire of many that you should write a Vartika on the Brahma sutra Bhashya. But instead of writing a treatise, you should explanatory notes on the commentary and in it your ideas will be made clear". Directed thus by the Acharya, Padmapada engaged himself in the task of writing the explanatory notes.

Meanwhile, following his Guru's instructions, Sureshwara within a few days wrote an authoritative philosophical work called Naishkarmya Siddhi, on the Brahman and the self in a beautiful style, theoretically significant and rational in approach, and presented it to the Acharya. Reading to book very attentively from end to end, Acharya was delighted. Sureshwara's deep knowledge of Advaita, profound scholarship, wonderful style of writing, his capacity to use sentences appropriate to the meaning, his demolition of the views of the opponents with irrefutable logic, and the great force with which he established his conclusions, all impressed the Acharya. He blessed Sureshwara and said, " Dear son, do not be sorry for not being able to write the Vartika. Do write treatises on my commentaries of the Taittariya and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads. It is through these works that you will attain immortal fame in the world".

Sureshwara was overwhelmed by this demonstration of the infinite affection and grace of his Guru. The Acharya then sent for the other disciples and bade them to read Naishkarmya Siddhi. All were charmed to read the work. None entertained any doubts now about Sureshwara's scholarship or his devotion to Advaita Vedanta.

For the maximum propagation of Vedanta, the Acharya directed all his disciples to write according to their capacities, different treatises based on Advaita. Anandagiri wrote the currently accepted explanatory notes on the commentaries of Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya Upanishads. He was also the author of many other works like Nirnaya Kala, Totaka Sloka and Srutisara Samuddharana.

Sureshwara also wrote a critical treatise on Nrisimha uttara tapini Upanishad. Apart from critical explanatory notes on the Taittariya and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads, he wrote treatises on the hymn Dakshinamurthy Stotra (called Manasollasa). His Panchikarana Tika is also held in a very high regard by scholars.

Learning that Padmapada was writing explanatory notes on the commentaries on the sutra, the Acharya expressed a desire to listen to these notes. Considering himself blessed at the request, Padmapada read out to the Acharya all the explanatory notes written by him. The Acharya praised the efforts of Padmapada and named the collection of notes as Vijayadindima. Padmapadacharya also wrote other valuable treatises like Vijnanadipika, notes and commentary on Acharya's Prapanchasara Tantra and the commentary on the Panchakshari Mahamantra of Sri Mahadeva. It is said that Padmapada also wrote an authoritative work giving a chronological account of the Acharya's triumphal career, but it was lost by the ravages of time. From that unpublished work of Padmapada, the later chroniclers collected much material on the Acharya's inspiring life.

Vedavyasa had directed that Kumarila Bhatta should write the critical treatise. Kumarila in turn had expressed the desire that Mandana should write the treatise. But divine dispensation was otherwise and no critical treatise was written on the Acharya's commentary on the Brahma sutras. Meanwhile, the incident of the writing of the treatise being stopped had caused quite a reaction in Padmapada's mind. He considered himself very guilty in having set up an obstacle in the way of his Guru's will. His heart was filled with deep remorse and as an atonement for his sin, he mentally prepared to set out on a pilgrimage.

As desired by the Acharya, Padmapada wrote out notes on the whole commentary and making a sacrificial present of it to his Guru one day, sought his permission to undertake a pilgrimage. Reading his disciple's thoughts, the Acharya said, " My son, to live in the company of the Guru's feet is the real pilgrimage. The water washing the Guru's feet is truly the waters of holy places. Seeing your chosen deity in the Guru and attending on him constantly is the true service rendered at holy places. Do not go to far away places leaving your Guru. When you are tired after your walks by day, you will be tired and will fall asleep at night. There will be no time for meditation and for contemplation of the Reality". Thus instructing him variously, the Acharya tried to prevent Padmapada from going on a pilgrimage. But seeing the deep spirit of renunciation and firm resolve of his disciple, the Acharya blessed him many times and gave him the sought permission.

On an auspicious day, Padmapada along with a few other disciples set out for Holy Rameshwara and Setubandha. On the way, he visited the shrines of Kalahasti, Kanchipuram, Pundarikapuram and Shivaganga and arrived at the ancient shrine of Srirangam. His maternal uncle's place was nearby. Padmapada and the other disciples who accompanied went there. Seeing his nephew after a long time, his maternal uncle received him cordially and requested him to stay on there for some time.

This maternal uncle was himself a ritualistic and learned Vaishnava Brahmin. He was a follower of the karma kanda part of the Vedas, as propagated in those times by Prabhakara. Even though he was deeply annoyed at the sight of his nephew being a monk, he managed to conceal his feelings and variously provided for Padmapada's comfort.

Now, Prabhakara mentioned here is not be confused with the father of Hastamalaka. The Prabhakara referred to here was the chief disciple of Kumarila Bhatta. After Bhattapada's death and Mandana's Sanyasa, Prabhakara became the chief of the school of Mimamsa.

After the strain of the journey was relieved, Padmapada told his uncle about his Guru and engaged in a discussion of the scriptures with him. The uncle was himself vastly learned. He was of the Dvaita or dualistic school while Padmapada followed the Advaita or the non- dualistic system. The discussion gradually led to controversy and disputation. In the face of Padmapada's reasoning and logic, his uncle was not able to hold on to his own for long. The uncle's mind chafed with envy at this. Padmapada had brought his book Vijayadindima along. Asked by his uncle about the book, he said, " I have written notes on the commentary of my Acharya on the Brahma sutras. These are the notes called Vijayadindima".

Taking the volume up and reading part of it attentively, Padmapada's uncle realized that the publication of the volume would mean a strong attack on Dvaita and on the very basis of karma kanda. He resolved upon destroying the book. He, however, praised the work profusely and said, " I am strongly inclined to read it up from end to end".

Padmapada was greatly delighted to hear from his uncle such high praise of the notes written by him. At the importunate requests of his uncle, he had to stay on there for three days. The villagers were charmed to hear Padmapada's discourses and his exposition of the scriptures. On the fourth day, Padmapada along with the other disciples left for the holy Rameshwara. The book Vijayadindima was however left with his uncle at the latter's great eagerness to read it. It was arranged that Padmapada would take it back on his return journey.

Having read the volume attentively, his uncle pondered thus, " If this book is published, my Guru Prabhakara's fame will decline". He did not have the intellectual power to refute the views put down in the book through debate. He, therefore, set fire to his own house one night and destroyed the book. Padmapada meanwhile was full of joy after visiting the holy shrines and on his way back to Sringeri, came back to his uncle's place in a happy frame of mind. Even as he entered the village, he found that his uncle's place was burnt up. Seeing Padmapada, his uncle feigned grief and striking his head by way of grief, he particularly expressed his sorrow for the book that was destroyed. Consoling his uncle Padmapada said, " Please do not grieve on account of the loss of that volume. Through the grace of my revered Guru, I shall be able to write another book based on even stronger arguments and logic. I shall refute in the new book with all my power the arguments that you offered from your side during our debate". The uncle found that all his efforts were in vain. He nevertheless concealed his real feelings and showed great affection for his nephew. He decided on destroying Padmapada's sanity by administering poison and accordingly he poisoned Padmapada's food. As a result, Padmapada became insane. Even though Padmapada recovered through the treatment of the local doctors, he was not completely normal. Becoming aware of the wicked scheme of Padmapada's uncle, the other disciples left for Sringeri along with Padmapada. Traveling towards their destination for a day or two, they learnt from a group of pilgrims that the Acharya had left for Kerala. In order to meet the Acharya they too started for Kerala.

When Padmapada was on pilgrimage, everyone at Sringeri felt his absence deeply. Moreover the weight of sorrow that he carried away in his heart had struck chords of grief in the minds of all. The Acharya however remained unaffected and constantly sought to bring about perfection in the lives of all there. One morning while the Acharya was engaged in the exposition of the scriptures to his disciples, he suddenly realized that his mother was remembering him on her death- bed. He stopped the lesson and went into meditation. Later, he addressed his disciples thus, " My mother is thinking of me on her death-bed. I have promised her that at the moment of her death I shall be present at her feet. I have to go to my mother without any delay".

Immediately after saying this, the Acharya exercised his Yogic powers and reached his mother in Kerala in the flash of a second. Acharya's mother was on her death-bed. An old woman attendant was sitting near her. It was then that the Acharya reached there and bowed down at his mother's feet. To meet her son after such a long time so unexpectedly, Aryamba was overcome with emotion. She caressed her dear boy in a hundred ways. She forgot all her pain at the sight of her darling son. However the Acharya was filled with sadness when he found his mother so afflicted with old age and illness. He said, " Dear mother, I have come to nurse you and to attend on you. Forget your grief and be well again. Tell me what your trouble is and I shall nurse you back to health through proper medicine and diet".

Aryamba said, " My dear, I am very pleased to see you in good health. I am decrepit and old. My only solace will be death in your arms. Our relatives have treated me very cruelly. If this old woman attendant had not been there, I would have died much earlier. After my death see that she does not suffer. That will give me solace and satisfaction. Now please go and have bath and take your meal".

When the Acharya returned after having his bath and meal as directed by his mother, Aryamba said, " Darling, now do arrange for my Last Journey. I had lived on all this time in the only hope of seeing you. Now I have met you again. I have no other desire except that you arrange for my salvation".

The Acharya realized that the moment of his mother's death was very near. He began to speak to her of the nature of ultimate reality and said, " Mother, you will attain salvation even as you know the nature of the Supreme Brahman".

Listening to the Acharya's discourse for some time, Aryamba said, "My dear, I am a simple woman. How I can grasp the nature of Brahman without attributes, the reality that is beyond thought and speech? My dear, please show me some beautiful manifestation of the Divinity as in an image that brings joy to the heart".

Learning of his mother's desire the Acharya remained silent for a while. Then he said, " Mother shut your eyes and concentrate your min on God. This will enable you to be blessed with a vision of lord Shiva, the Lord of the Lords". With a view to his mother's satisfaction, he began to say a hymn in the Bhujanga Prayata metre to lord Shiva in his eight forms. Pleased at the Acharya's hymn, Mahadeva sent his messengers to bring Aryamba to Shiva Loka. But Aryamba was frightened at the sight of the terrible-looking messengers of Shiva, who were adorned with snake and tridents. She said, " Darling, how terrible they look! I will not go with them".

Acharya then sent the messengers of Shiva away with great humility. Thereafter he meditated on Narayana and sang now a hymn of Vishnu, the Lord of Lakshmi. Meanwhile many villagers had collected there to witness that supernatural phenomenon. Pleased at the superb hymn and the Acharya's devotion, Lord Narayana, holding the conch, discuss, mace and lotus in his hands, appeared before Aryamba, radiating divine light in all directions. Joyous at this vision of her beloved deity, Aryamba blessed her son profusely. By then, the messengers of Sri Vishnu had also appeared there in a beautiful flying chariot. It was as if Aryamba's house had been transformed into Vaikuntha. Thereupon the messengers of the Lord took her up on the flying chariot. The chariot, in the course of its flight, passed through the regions of the wind, sun, moon, lightening, Varuna, Indra and the effulgent worlds like Archis and Ahas, inhabited by Gods including Brahma and finally reached Vishnu Loka. Aryamba thus reached the lotus feet of the Lord.

The Acharya considered himself blessed at being able to be present near her in her last moment and provide for her salvation by making possible, the vision of her cherished God. He knew that his mother, like all mothers, was apart of the mother of the Universe, the Supreme Parashakti. His devotion to the mother had arisen from the Himalayan peaks of Brahman consciousness and had mingled with the holy waters of Bhakti. With a heart full of satisfaction, he remembered the last instructions of his mother and prepared for her funeral rites. By then all his relatives had assembled there. Addressing them, the Acharya said, " It was my mother's desire that I should perform her funeral rites. Even though these are not proper for a monk, my supreme duty is carrying out the instruction of my mother. So please arrange for it".

Hearing the Acharya's words, his relatives became greatly excited and called him a cheat, a hypocrite and an avaricious person. They said, " You, being a monk, have no right to perform the funeral rites of your mother. We will never allow you to act thus against the scriptures and come into possession of the property".

Even as the Acharya adopted the tone of greater and greater humility, his relatives became more and more agitated and rude. They abused him in foul language. The Acharya put up with all this silently and told them, " I have decided in accordance with my mother's wishes to give away all the property to this old woman who took great care of my mother in her last days". Hearing this, the Acharya's greedy relatives left the place in violent anger. They banned anyone from helping the Acharya in performing the funeral rites. The Acharya gathered some firewood with the help of the old woman and had a funeral pyre prepared in the garden yard of the house where Aryamba had lived. He carried with great difficulty his mother's body there and made a fire by his yogic powers. His relatives did not help him in cremation in any way, not even by giving a little fire to light the pyre.

It is said by some biographers that the Acharya cursed the class of relatives who had been cruel to his mother and later refused to allow him to perform her funeral rites. They have, since then come to be known as people belonging to the Patana Shaakhaa or the fallen branch. It can be seen to this day that the people belonging to this class have made no progress at all. Most of them turn out to be dumb in their studies and as a result have had to make a living out of odd jobs, not quite fit for the Brahmin community. They live in poverty and ignorance. It is also believed that the Acharya, on hearing their cries for forgiveness, blessed them with knowledge and progress after a period of three hundred years.

In the earlier part of the last century, the great Yogi, believed o be the very incarnation of the Acharya, his holiness Sri Shivabhinava Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswamigal of Sri Sringeri Sarada Peetham recognized the exact spot of Aryamba's funeral and also the house inn which the Acharya spent his childhood days. Kaladi, the birth place of the great Acharya was in total neglect then. The great Yogi of Sringeri, re-established the glory of this holy place and built temples of Sri Adi Shankara and Sri Sarada. He also established a Veda Pathashala and a Shankara math. The Sanskrit college in Kaladi is considered to be the best of its kind in south India. My revered Guru, Sri K.P. Shankara Shastry was the principal of this college for a long time. Now, Kaladi is one of the largest pilgrim attractions in Kerala.

In course of time, the local king Rajashekhara heard about the Acharya's arrival in Kerala. At the same time, he also learnt from his officials of the cruel treatment to which the Acharya was subjected by his relatives. Rajashekhara had met and known the Acharya long ago. Then the Acharya was only eight years of age. He had realized that the boy was indeed an uncommon genius. Later the stories of the Acharya's writing of the commentaries on the sutras, of his triumphal career and the establishment of the monastery at Sringeri had reached even distant Kerala. Hearing all this, the king had come to develop great respect for the Acharya. Coming to know of the arrival of the great teacher admired by the world at Kaladi and also learning that he was in great trouble because of ill-treatment by his kinsmen, the king came to see the Acharya with all his ministers. At the very sight of the serene figure of the monk whose aspect radiated tranquility, profundity and contentment, the king was filled with devotion and admiration. He considered himself blessed and fortunate.

After an exchange of proper greetings and courtesies, the king himself wanted to hear everything about the conduct of the Acharya's relatives. With great restraint and humility, the Acharya gave him an exact account of his mother's last wish and of the cruel attitude of his relatives. He then said, " O king, it is after all the way of this world which is full of illusion. I am not in the least sorry for this. It was my mother's last desire that the old woman attendant should receive all her property. You please arrange for this".

Hearing what the Acharya had to say, the king heaved a long sigh in sorrow and disappointment at the conduct of the relatives of the Acharya. He said, " O great sir, I am meting out punishment to your relatives for their inhuman conduct towards you. Brahmins cannot be given sentences of death, I cannot punish them physically but I will banish them from the kingdom".

Even as they heard the royal orders, the relatives of the Acharya realized the great danger that were in for. Finding no other way, they apologized in a body, to the Acharya. Seeing them repentant, he said, " Well, I have not felt the slightest pain at your cruel behavior towards me. Your offence is against the religion, in the court of the holy Lord. May he forgive you".

Witnessing such forgiveness, kindness and generosity of the Acharya, all there praised him. Thereupon the king made all arrangements for the Acharya's residence there and with deep respect took leave. Many people flocked to the village of Kaladi to see him and benefit from his instructions.