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Anugraha Parampara - 1

 

Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati Mahaswamigal had come to the city of Mysore. He was staying in the Veda Pathashala of Mysore. Everyday, thousands of devotees visited him to seek his blessings and to fill themselves with his grace. One afternoon, Mahaswamigal was speaking to some of his disciples. Having met a person once, he would never forget that person again. Even after several years, he would recognize him and address him affectionately. While he was busy talking to some disciples, an attendant came in and informed Mahaswamigal that one Venkataramana Iyer from Coimbatore was waiting for his Darshan. As soon as this information reached the ears of Mahaswamigal, his smiling face became serious and his voice became stern. He replied, "It is not possible for me to give him Darshan now. Convey this to him". All the disciples who had gathered around the Mahaswamigal were surprised to see him angry. The attendant came outside and conveyed Mahaswamigal's message to Venkataramana Iyer. However, Iyer refused to leave the place without Mahaswamigal's Darshan and requested the attendant to convince the Mahaswamigal to give him Darshan. But the attendant's efforts proved futile and Mahaswamigal refused to give him Darshan. After repeated requests through the attendant, Mahaswamigal unwillingly permitted Iyer to enter the room in which Mahaswamigal was seated. Overjoyed, Iyer came into the room, placed a big tray filled with many varieties of fruits in front of Mahaswamigal and prostrated before Mahaswamigal. However, Mahaswamigal said, "I will not accept any of this! Please leave the place". Iyer could not take this any more and began to weep in front of Mahaswamigal. He said, "Gurudeva! If I have committed any blunder, please forgive me and correct me". Mahaswamigal replied, "If the daughter dies, doesn't her mother even have the right to remember her daughter and shed a few tears? How can you reject her motherly affection and act cruelly towards her? Having doubled her grief with your indifferent behavior, why have you come here to see me? Being a Grihastha, when you cannot treat your own wife with care, why do you need Guru's Darshan? I will not accept any of this! Please leave". It was indeed true that Iyer's daughter had passed away and his wife often shed tears in remembrance of her daughter. Iyer had severely punished his wife for this reason and had even stopped talking to her. Mahaswamigal, who knew well the past, present and the future, had seen the sorrowful state of Iyer's wife and his compassion for the poor lady had transformed into anger towards Iyer. Iyer realized his mistake and began to cry for forgiveness. Mahaswamigal softened and said, "Forget the past! Return to your place immediately and console your wife. Go with your wife and son to Tirupati and perform your son's Upanayana there. Then come here for my Darshan with your wife and the Vatu. Until then, I will not accept any of the things you have brought for me". Following Mahaswamigal's advice, Iyer returned a few days later with his wife and the Vatu to seek Mahaswamigal's advice. Mahaswamigal blessed the couple and gave Mantropadesha to the Vatu.

Mahaswamigal, who was on his second Sanchara, had arrived in Bangalore. He was staying in the Shankara mutt at Shankarapuram. Sri K. Venkataramappa was the Kannada lecturer at central college. Though he belonged to a traditional family of Vedic Brahmins, he was greatly influenced by the western culture. His father came regularly to Sri mutt to have Mahaswamigal's Darshan. He was very unhappy that his son would not accompany him to the mutt and have Mahaswamigal's Darshan. He told his son, "Do you think you will get this opportunity of having Guru's Darshan again and again? When Guru is staying in our own city, why not benefit by having the Darshan of his feet?" Though Venkataramappa did not have any faith in Mahaswamigal, for his father's sake, he agreed to accompany him to Shankara mutt to see Mahaswamigal. One fine day, he came home from the college early, took bath, wore the sacred ash on his forehead and finished his Sandhyavandana. The father instructed his son, "When you go in front of Mahaswamigal, tie your Uttariyam around your waist, say your Gotra and pravara, and prostrate full length before the Guru". When they reached the mutt, an attendant of Mahaswamigal informed that since Mahaswamigal was busy with his Ahnika, they had to wait. Venkataramappa became impatient and angry. He told the attendant, "I will not talk to Swamiji and disturb him. I will simply see him and come out. Allow me to go inside". The attendant still refused to permit him to go inside. Venkataramappa became very angry and began to shout, "Is this mutt a circus? Is your Swamiji a circus tiger? Are you the gatekeeper? Are you selling tickets to let people inside? Do you know who I am? I will not spare you". Seeing the commotion, many people gathered around and the situation began to grow worse. Immediately another attendant walked in and told Venkataramappa, "Mahaswamigal has asked you to come inside at once". Still angry, Venkataramappa entered the room in which Mahaswamigal was performing his Ahnika. As soon as he saw the divine, radiant and smiling face of Guru, all his anger and displeasure vanished. He began to tremble with some unknown emotion and prostrated repeatedly before Mahaswamigal.

Mahaswamigal: Which place are you from?

Venkataramappa: Pavagada.

Mahaswamigal: Is Gangadhara Avadhani keeping well?

Venkataramappa: He is our Family Acharya. He is fine.

Mahaswamigal: Have you learnt Sanskrit?

Venkataramappa: No sir! I did not have the good fortune of learningSanskrit.

Mahaswamigal: What have you studied?

Venkataramappa: I have done M.A.

Mahaswamigal: Where are you working?

Venkataramappa: I am a lecturer in Central College.

Mahaswamigal: That is all right. You were mentioning earlier about circus, tiger etc. who is the circus tiger? How much did you pay to buy a ticket?

As soon as Venkataramappa heard this, he shrunk with embarrassment and said, "Please forgive me sir! I said those words in anger". Mahaswamigal said in a soft voice, "Don't worry. You were angry at the behavior of the attendant. The person you met was a `Kshetra Papi'. Such kinds of people are always present in temples, mutts and holy places. The Lord tests the faith, patience and self-control of his devotees through these people. You have failed in his test today. You have no control over your anger. You also have no devotion. You have come here to please your old father. Thought you have no faith in the god, you have come here to obey your father's order. This is a very good quality. Improve this quality of respecting the elders and gradually, you will become devoted to the Lord. Always remember that you should never lost self-control in places like temples and mutts, no matter what the situation is". Venkataramappa was ashamed at his behavior. He realized his mistake and began to intensely repent for the same. Mahaswamigal smiled at him, blessed him and granted him Phala Mantrakshata.

It is well known that Mahaswamigal remained in Samadhi most of the time. Whenever he became conscious of the outer world, the main things he would do were Snana, Ahnika and visiting all the temples in Sringeri. One such day, he began visiting all the temples in Sringeri. He began his tour by prostrating in front of his Guru's Adhishthana and then proceeded towards river Tunga. The news of Mahaswamigal coming out of his Samadhi had not yet reached the mutt officials. By then, Mahaswamigal had already crossed the river and had reached Vidya Shankara temple, which is situated on the north of the river. There were only two attendants with him. He had the Darshan of Lord Vidya Shankara and stood there for sometime. By the time he came out of the temple, the officials of the mutt reached the place hurriedly. Mahaswamigal smiled at them and said, "The queen of Mysore will be arriving today evening. Have you made proper arrangements for her reception?" Everyone there was surprised since the queen had visited Sringeri just two days ago. It was highly unlikely that she would revisit Sringeri within such a short span of time. Neither had the palace officials informed about her arrival. But they decided to take Mahaswamigal's words as an indication of her arrival and busied themselves in making proper arrangements for her reception. By six in the evening, the queen, her sister and her entire family arrived to seek the blessings of Mahaswamigal. The doubting officials of the mutt were once again convinced that it was divine mother Sarada Parameshwari who spoke through Mahaswamigal.

One day when Mahaswamigal was out of Samadhi, he called the name of one Sri Bhatta, who was his close attendant. Realizing that Mahaswamigal had descended to the external plane of consciousness, he reached Mahaswamigal's room and prostrated full length before him. Mahaswamigal, who had remained in Samadhi for several days, instructed him, "Sweep this place and wash it thoroughly". Bhatta obeyed Mahaswamigal's instruction and began to wipe the place with a wet cloth. All of a sudden, Mahaswamigal took a brass vessel that lay nearby and hurled it towards Bhatta. The vessel hit Bhatta's calf muscle with a great force. Though the pain he experienced was immense, his entire being became filled with an unknown bliss. By then, Mahaswamigal had reentered his usual state of Samadhi. All these days, Bhatta performed Snana, Sandhya, Japa, Pooja and other rituals mechanically without realizing their purport or showing an actual interest in them. Mahaswamigal had showered his infinite grace on Bhatta trough the vessel and slowly, Bhatta began to take a great interest in his Japa and Pooja. Gradually, he began to understand the meanings of the mantras that he was chanting. He lost all interest in Samsara and developed a strong Vairagya. He realized that the sole purpose of his life was to serve Guru and dedicated his entire life for Mahaswamigal's service. After a few days, Mahaswamigal jovially enquired, "Bhatta! Is your leg still paining?" Bhatta was overwhelmed with tears at this question, but chose to remain silent. The pain that Mahaswamigal had caused him, had removed the greatest pain – Samsara.

Sri Kodur Shyama Bhatta was a lecturer in Sringeri Sadvidya Sanjivini Pathashala. He had taught hundreds of people. It was his daily routine to visit the temple of Sri Saradambal and have Sridevi's Darshan. One day, as he was going round the Sannidhi of Saradambal, Mahaswamigal arrived there with his attendants. Everyone around was filled with happiness and they began prostrating at the holy feet of Sri Guru. Mahaswamigal had the Darshan of Sri Saradambal and as he was coming out of Amba's Sannidhi, he caught sight of Shyama Bhatta and stopped abruptly. He asked him, "Do you know what it means to receive a mantra from the Guru and give up its Purashcharana?" Bhatta though for a while and whispered, "It is as sinful as lusting for one's own mother". Immediately Mahaswamigal retorted, "Then why are you not chanting the mantra that you have received from Guru". Bhatta was electrified at this question. It was indeed true that he had been initiated into a mantra of Devi, but he had stopped chanting it long ago. He began shivering and said, "Gurudeva! Please forgive me. I have realized my mistake. Please suggest the Prayashchitta for this sin". Mahaswamigal replied, "Having taken the Upadesha of a mantra, if the mantra is not chanted regularly, the sin will affect both yourself and also your Guru. Perform Gopooja tomorrow, utter the mantra in Gomata's left ear and receive the same from her right ear. Continue your Anushthana regularly". Shyama Bhatta had learnt a valuable lesson.

Sri Balaganapati Bhatta was a great scholar in Sanskrit literature, grammar, Hindi and Kannada. His family had settled in Sringeri from generations. Mahaswamigal had a special affection towards their family, which had served the cause of Vaidika dharma in many ways. Balaganapati Bhatta, who was a primary school teacher, was a very popular person. He was so busy with his activities that he would not even get time to perform his Japa and Sandhya peacefully. During Upanayana itself, Bhatta had been initiated into Shiva Panchakshari and Narayana Ashtakshari mantras. Initially, he chanted the mantras with great devotion. But as he got involved more and more with the worldly activities, the mantra Upasana took a backseat and stopped completely. Many years later, one night, Bhatta had a dream in which he had the Darshan of the divine Mahaswamigal. Mahaswamigal smiled at him lovingly and gave the Upadesha of Panchakshari and Ashtakshari in his right ear. He instructed him not to give up the mantra Upasana and vanished. Bhatta woke up to find a new energy and vigor in his body. Right from that day, he began to do the mantra Upasana and never discontinued it again in his lifetime.

Mahaswamigal's compassion knew no bounds. Any person who narrated his woes to Mahaswamigal was assured of a solution. Krishna Joyis, who was a native of Sringeri, had completed his education in Sri mutt itself. He had immense faith in Sri Saradambal and Sri Mahaswamigal. He was proficient in both Vaidika and Laukika Vidyas and led a happy life. Once, his four-year old son became ill. The doctors diagnosed that the child was suffering from typhoid. Even after several days of treatment, the fever did not come down. The doctor himself became worried regarding the condition of the child. Filled with grief, Joyis thought of seeking Mahaswamigal's blessings and of requesting him for a mantra or a Yantra that would cure the child. The next day, by the time he woke up, there was an attendant from the mutt at his doorstep who asked Joyis to reach the mutt after his bath and Sandhya. As Joyis reached the mutt, Mahaswamigal called Joyis close to him and gave the Upadesha of a secret mantra in his right ear. He instructed Joyis to chant the mantra with devotion and assured him that the child would survive. The moment Joyis received the mantra from Mahaswamigal, the child began to show an improvement in his condition. Gradually he was completely cured of illness and became normal again. Mahaswamigal had proved that he was Lord Dhanvantari to the ill.

During his first Sanchara, Mahaswamigal had decided to perform Samudra Snana in Rameshwaram and have the Darshan of Sri Ramanatha Swamy on the auspicious occasion of Ardhodaya Punya Kala. Thousands of people from various parts of the country began to pour into Rameshwaram to perform Samudra Snana in the holy company of Mahaswamigal. One among them was Sri Sitarama Shastrigal, who was a retired schoolteacher. He had received an instruction from Mahaswamigal to reach Rameshwaram during the time of Ardhodaya Punyakala. Since Sitarama Shastrigal was aged, he asked his student Krishna Joyis to accompany him to Rameshwaram. They started from Sringeri and reached Bangalore via Narasimharajapura, Tarikere and Birur. They joined a large group of people who were also travelling to Rameshwaram and continued their journey. When they reached Madurai, Sitarama Shastrigal suddenly fell ill. He began to continuously vomit and showed symptoms of a severe diarrhea. The troop realized that Shastrigal was suffering from cholera and refused to help him out. Only Krishna Joyis was courageous enough to serve the ailing Shastrigal. By the time the train reached Rameshwaram, Shastrigal was very weak and nearing death. In Rameshwaram, he was shifted to the isolation ward, but by the same evening, Shastrigal attained Amba's feet. Joyis was filled with grief for his master. He also became worried about the funeral arrangements for the departed gentleman. With great difficulty, he somehow managed to perform the last rites of Shastrigal the same evening. He came back to the room in which he was staying after the ceremony and took bath. The same night, he also began to exhibit symptoms of cholera. he had a high fever and sever diarrhea by morning. With the sunrise, the entire city of Rameshwaram went ablaze with activity to welcome Mahaswamigal. The streets were cleaned up, the houses were decorated and grand arrangements were made to receive Mahaswamigal. When Mahaswamigal arrived in Rameshwaram, the entire city came out to welcome him. In that huge crowd, Mahaswamigal spotted Krishna Joyis and asked him lovingly, "What happened Dear one? Why are you looking unhappy? When did you come to Rameshwaram?" Krishna Joyis could hold no more. He fell at the feet of Mahaswamigal and began to cry. He said, "Gurudeva! With great difficulty I performed the last rites of my departed master all alone. Now I am also showing symptoms of cholera. I have lost hope completely. I am holding on to my life only to see your holy feet one last time". The ever-compassionate Guru immediately asked his attendants to bring the sandal paste that had been offered the previous day to Lord Sri Chandramouleshwara and mother Mahatripurasundari. He gave it to Joyis and said, "keep inhaling the fragrance of this sandal paste every now and then. Whenever you feel very ill, drink a little of this sandal mixed in water. Lord Chandramouleshwara and Saradambal will surely save you. You shift immediately with your belongings to the place where I am staying with my people". The others around Mahaswamigal became worried that the Mahaswamigal had invited a cholera patient to stay with him. How could the great guru's Anugraha go waste? Joyis became well soon and was able to successfully participate in the various rituals during the auspicious Ardhodaya Punyakala. He retuned to Sringeri with a heart filled with gratitude for the great Guru.

The Navaratra function in Sringeri is said to be incomparable. On the day before Ashwayuja Pratipat, the Mahabhisheka of Saradambal is performed. Sri Saradambal, decorated in various Alankaras, gives Darshan to the devotees from Pratipat to Vijayadashami. The car festival of Saradambal is held on the day of Ekadashi. This Sharannavaratri festival attracts devotees from all parts of the country. During this time, all the guests will be served food in the Sri mutt. In those days, about ten thousand saris were given to ladies along with Dakshina as a part of Sumangali Pooja. Young girls were given small saris called `Kirige'. Ladies from various places would come to Sringeri to accept this auspicious gift, which was a blessing from Sri Saradambal and Sri Mahaswamigal. Some of them would walk for hours to reach Sringeri to accept this gift. The saris would come to Sri mutt from Coimbatore or Salem, directly from the mill. One Navaratra, the saris arrived in a lorry from the mill. The administrator of the mutt sent the luggage to the storeroom without bothering to have a look at it. The same evening, Mahaswamigal asked him, "Are the saris ready for Sumangali Pooja?" The administrator replied that the saris had arrived from the mill and were safely stored in the storeroom. Mahaswamigal said, "Ok. So this time you have decided to give away the saris with Vibhuti instead of turmeric and Kumkuma". The administrator was perplexed. Mahaswamigal said, "You haven't bothered to take a look at the saris. They are not suitable for Sumangali Pooja. Return them and arrange for proper saris". The administrator immediately went back to the storeroom and was amazed beyond thought. All the saris were red in color and of the type that was traditionally worn by widows with shaved head.

One day Mahaswamigal was taking his ritualistic bath in river Tunga. He immediately said aloud, "How can these people cheat even Saradambal?" The attendant who was nearby did not understand what Mahaswamigal meant and looked at him questioningly. Mahaswamigal said, "Today is the day when we perform Panchamrita Abhisheka to Saradambal. A person is mixing some impure ghee to the pure, cow's ghee in the storeroom. Go and stop him immediately". The attendant rushed to the storeroom and caught the greedy person in the act. He was warned and pardoned. Though the great guru remained in Samadhi most of the time, every small thing that was going around him was evident to him.