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Brahmasri K P Shankara Shastri

 

Sri K P Shankara Shastrigal was born in the divine city of Kaladi in Kerala. His elder brother Sri Narayana Shastrigal was a scholar par excellence and a great Srividya Upasaka. He spent his last few days in the holy city of Kashi. He was a great devotee of Sri Parameshwara. It is said that when he passed away, a Bana Linga was found on his body. Coming from a family of such stalwarts, Sri Shankara Shastrigal studied Veda, Vedanta, Mimamsa, Tarka and other branches of learning from the masters in the respective fields. He was the foremost disciple of Sri Hanagal Virupaksha Shastrigal under whom he learnt and mastered Tarka. He was initiated into Srividya by Sri Valukeshwara Bharati Mahaswamigal and Sri Vidyabhinava Valukeshwara Bharati Mahaswamigal(The Acharya of Koodali Shankara Matham) and Sri Vidyabhinava Valukeshwara Bharati Mahaswamigal (Acharya of the same Matham, famously known as Hanagal Virupaksha Shastrigal in his Purvashrama). Sri Shastrigal also received Mahamantropadesham from the celebrated Jivanmukta, Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamigal of Sringeri. His disciples are numerous like the stars in the sky. His approach to Srividya is based totally on the Vedas and Upanishads. He has not only taught and guided innumerable number of Sadhakas but also the Peethadhipatis of various monastries. He has shunned various practices that have crept into the system of Srividya in the name of Kaula Tantra and clarified the actual path, as taught originally by Acharya Bhagavatpada. He belongs to the illustrious Dakshinamurti Sampradaya. Acharyas of Sringeri held him in a very high regard. He was the Asthana Vidwan of both Sringeri and Kanchi Kamakoti Peethas. His written works include Varivasya Rahasya Bhashyam, Tripura Mahimna Stotra Bhashyam, Shodasha Samskara Vidhi etc. He has also composed various hymns on Sri Rajarajeshwari. Most Mathams affiliated to Sringeri Sharada Peetham follow his guidelines for Srividya Upasana. The honours and rewards that have come his way are many. `Asthana Vidwan' of Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetham, he has received a gold medal from the president of India, Sri Shankar dayal Sharma. He has also received top honours from the late Maharaja of Mysore. He has served as the Principal of Sanskrit College in Kaladi and as a professor in other reputed institutions across the country. He has also been the Ashthana Vidwan of various other Shakha Mutts of Sringeri like the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, Swarnavalli etc.

A few words regarding the Srividya Sampradaya of Sringeri would be quite relevant here. It is well known that Sri Adi Shankaracharya instructed all the four Amnaya Peethas to worship Sri Mahatripurasundari in Srichakra and Sri Chandramoulishwara. This practice continues to the present day without interruption. It was already mentioned that the Acharyas of Sringeri were great Srividya Upasakas. Sri Vidyaranya, who is the author of the great encyclopedia of Srividya, Srividyarnava Tantra, was a Shankaracharya of the illustrious Sharada Peetham of Sringeri. However, a special person deserves mention here. Sri Satyanandanatha was a great Jivanmukta and Siddha born in the Andhra Desha. Nothing much is known about his parents, year of birth or even his age. He is said to have been initiated by a thousand year old great Avadhoota Sri Paramanandanatha. Some senior Srividya Upasakas I spoke to describe his name to be Prakashanandanatha. He is said to be belonging to Sri Dakshinamurti Sampradaya. But his Guru is said to be Sri Dattatreya himself. Sri Satyanandanatha was immersed in eternal bliss in a cave and appeared in Sringeri one fine day after receiving a Yogic invitation from Sri Narasimha Bharati Mahaswamigal. As per his instructions, Sri Satyanandanatha instructed a few scholars of Sringeri, including Sri Viroopaksha Shastrigal in Srividya. The present Srividya Paddhati followed in Sringeri is according to his teachings. Senior Upasakas of Sri Satyanandanatha’s lineage are still present in Benaras, Bengal, Chennai and Andhra. His chief disciple was Sri Jnananandanatha (Simhambhattula Ramamoorty Shastrigal), the author of the great Srividya hymn `Sharada Chatusshati'. There is said to be a cave in Andhra (Kashmir according to Sri Ramachandran of Guhananda Mandali) in which the great guru Sri Satyanandantha is still present, absorbed in eternal bliss. He was more or less a contemporary Saint of Sri Guhanandanatha. Sri Narayana Bharati (Brahmasri Chidanandanatha's late grand son) once mentioned that probably they were both Saha-Shishyas. I am fortunate to have a Srichakra Meru with me (given by Sri C P Ramaswamy Iyer’s family) that is said to have been worshipped by Sri Satyanandanatha for years and later by Sri Narasimha Bharati Swamigal. I was even told that it was handed over to him by his guru and is thousands of years old.

Salutations to Sri Rajarajeshwari Parabhattarika, who has graced us in the form of Shankara Traya - Adi Guru Dakshinamurti, Sri Shankara Bhagavatpadacharya and our beloved Guru Brahmasri Shankara Shastrigal. Namaami Shankara Trayam!