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Shrimad Sudhindra Tirtha Swamiji—Our Guiding Light

by  Dr.V.Nithyanantha Bhat*

“The Guru is the bright mask which God wears in order to come to us.”  –Swami Vivekananda

Shrimad Sudhindra Tirtha Swamiji, our Revered Dharma Guru, was a Guide, Philosopher and Visionary who guided us throughout His Sanyasa life to tread the path of righteousness. Compassion, generosity and farsightedness were the hallmarks of Swamiji’s personality which invited the steady devotion of His disciples. Swamiji was a veritable living example of the ideal sanyasa with supreme renunciation, rare saintliness, deep wisdom and divine dignity. To Swamiji, “Adhyatmic wealth alone is the real wealth.” The essence of all His discourses is : “Man should strive for earning ‘Devakripa’ (God’s Grace) which would then take care of the rest.” Swamiji’s austerity shone with the added lustre of brilliant intellect and a mastery of Sanskrit and Vedic lore. Swamiji was a Bhakti-Jnani who never divorced Bhakti from Jnana. Though firm in tradition, Swamiji’s reformist and progressive bent of mind shone forth in every quest He pursued.

Swamiji was initiated to Sanyasa on 24th May 1944 as sishya of Shri Kashi Mathadhipati  H.H.Shrimad Sukrtindra Tirtha Swamiji and in 1949 Swamiji ascended the seat of Mathadhipati of Shri Kasi Math Samsthan. Ever since our Dharma Guru Shrimad Sudhindra Tirtha Swamiji became the Mathadhipati of Sri Kashi Math, He had been guiding the Gowda Saraswath Brahmin Community with boundless love, devotion and vision. Swamiji gave a new dimension to Sri Kashi Math Samsthan and bestowed it a distinct place and honour in the whole country. Throughout His life as our Dharma Guru, Swamiji had been striving for the spiritual, religious, moral and material welfare of the community. Swamiji’s discourses delivered in various branches of the Math and temples bear testimony to His interest in the overall uplift of the community. The intensity of Swamiji’s love, affection and care for the disciples is reflected in each of His discourses. Swamiji began each discourse with a blessing showered on the disciples with meditations on Lord Narayana, and ended it by praying for their welfare.

Apart from performing the “Trikala Pooja” to the presiding deity Lord Vyasa Raghupati, regularly travelling and meeting the disciples in different parts of India, delivering spiritual discourses and giving personal audience to the disciples while camping in different places–a superhuman pursuit indeed–, Swamiji undertook several developmental activities. When Swamiji became the Mathadhipati, Sri Kashi Math Samsthan had only 13 branch maths. Swamiji established 22 branch maths spread throughout India. The number of branches increased to 35. In addition to this, Swamiji performed installation of several temples. Among temples, Sri Vedavyasa Temple at Vyasashram, Haridwar, needs special mention because it is the first temple of that kind. Swamiji constructed this temple for the benefit not only of the Samaj but the whole humanity. During the Consecration ceremony of this temple Swamiji prayed Lord Vyasa to shower His blessings and give knowledge to all and give shelter from fear.

Deeply interested in the promotion of the life of the community in various directions, Swamiji chalked out a number of welfare schemes for the all-round development of the community. These include establishments like educational institutions (Pathasalas), hospitals, vraddhashrams, balakashrams, abalashrams, etc. Swamiji inspired the disciples to start several institutions. Sree Madhavendra Hospital at Haridwar, Sree Sudhindra Medical Mission at Cochin, Sadguru Varadendra Diagnostic Medical Centre and Sadguru Sudhindra Educational and Charitable Trust in Mumbai, Sree Sukrtindra Oriental Research Institute, Sree Kuladevata Mandir, Vraddhasram, Sree Varadendra Balakashram, Samskrita Pathasala—all at Cochin, Nigamagama Pathasala at Mangalore, Sree Bhuvanendra Balakashram at Basrur, Sree Sukrtindra Vidhyarthi Nilaya at Karkala, are some of them. Sukrtindra Oriental Research Institute has a unique place among these. During the celebration of the completion of 25 years of Swamiji’s  sanyasa, Swamiji desired to establish an Institution for higher learning in Sanskrit and sastras of ancient India. Swamiji believed : “Our Sastras are veritable mines of practical wisdom. They cover all aspects of human activity. They have stood the test of time. There are many truths in them which science has not unravelled. It is our duty to preserve them so that posterity may profit by them.” Swamiji desired to dedicate the proposed Centre of Learning to His Beloved Gurudev  Shrimad Sukrtindra Tirtha Swamiji and offer it to the people of Kerala as a gift for the hospitality Kerala had extended to the Gowda Saraswath Community for centuries. Swamiji founded the Gowda Saraswath Brahmana Sabha for the welfare of the G.S.B.s., the main objectives being bringing out unity among the members of the Samaj, preserving tradition and culture, and promoting and inculcating a sense of duty to the community, and discipline.

Through His frequently delivered discourses Swamiji enlightened the disciples on various subjects of importance related to leading a Dharmic life. In one of the discourses,  Swamiji highlighted the duty of a Brahmin: “The Brahmin should uplift himself first and try to uplift others. Brahmin is one who chants Gayatri 108 times with devotion. . . . We are Gowda Saraswath Brahmins, we are holy and our parampara is ancient. Today we have become renowned only due to our elders. We must continue our Gowda Saraswath heritage.” To the householders Swamiji exhorted thus: “You must live your life sincerely. Do your business honestly and earn unlimited wealth. Wealth belongs to Goddess Lakshmi. One who gives it as charity will be protected by Lord Narayana. Work hard and earn money. But give away some as donations and acquire virtue. . . . One who depends on others without doing any hard work and lives a life of comforts and luxury, is a demon. . . . Be hospitable, generous and treat everyone with love and respect.” On ideal life and welfare, Swamiji said: “When we think of welfare, let us not confuse ourselves that welfare is another term for the word ‘enjoyment’. The life that gives us inner and outward happiness with perfect traquillity of mind in this world and the life that leads us to salvation in the other world is the real and ideal world. Human welfare can be sought through the ideal life which our ancestors led in the fullest sense of the term.” In another discourse Swamiji spoke  of the young generation: “Our community’s young generation must get education and become doctors and engineers. They must devote their time to serve our nation, India, and they must become noble and virtuous. With the blessing of the Lord, they will earn more wealth and use it for good cause and serve the society.”

Swamiji summed up the means towards a happy life thus: “The secret of a happy life is to follow the basic tenets of Dharma such as Ahimsa, Truth, Humility and Compassion, and lead a pure and simple life of righteousness.” According to Swamiji, truth is the great principle which should guide one in all activities, if one seeks permanent happiness and peace in life.

We the disciples are fortunate to have had Parampoojaneeya Srimad Sudhindra Tirtha Swamiji , the Saint of piety and compassion, as our Dharma Guru to guide us in our moral and spiritual regeneration. Swamiji’s guidance was instrumental in transforming the G.S.B.Community into a dynamic social force. Swamiji’s blessings gave us inspiration for establishing renowned institutions—Temples, Educational institutions, and social organizations. Swamiji’s love and affection transformed the lives of many disciples into philanthropists who have dedicated their lives for the welfare of the human society. Swamiji’s Divine Grace has always been a guiding light for all the disciples and it will ever continue to guide us.

Click here for: Malayalam Translation

Shrimad Sudhindra Tirtha Swamiji and Sukrtindra Oriental Research Institute

By Dr.V.Nithyanantha Bhat*

Ever since our Dharma Guru Shrimad Sudhindra Tirtha Swamiji became the Mathadhipati of Sri Kashi Math, He had been guiding the Gowda Saraswat Community with boundless love, devotion and vision. Swamiji gave a new dimension to Sri Kashi Math Samsthan and bestowed it a distinct place and honour in the whole country. Throughout His life as our Dharma Guru, Swamiji had been striving for the spiritual, religious, moral and material welfare of the community. Swamiji’s discourses delivered in various branches of the Math and temples bear testimony to His interest in the overall uplift of the community. The intensity of Swamiji’s love, affection and care for the disciples is reflected in each of His discourses. Swamiji began every discourse with a blessing showered on the disciples with meditations on Lord Narayana, and ended it by praying for their welfare.

Apart from performing the “Trikala Pooja” to the presiding deity Lord Vyasa Raghupati, regularly travelling and meeting the disciples in different parts of India, delivering spiritual discourses and giving personal audience to the disciples while camping in different places–a superhuman pursuit indeed–, Swamiji undertook several developmental activities. When Swamiji became the Mathadhipati, Sri Kashi Math Samsthan had only 13 branch maths. Swamiji established 22 branch maths spread throughout India. The number of branches  increased to 35. In addition to this, Swamiji performed installation of several temples.

Deeply interested in the promotion of the life of the community in various directions, Swamiji inspired the disciples to start several institutions. Sukrtindra Oriental Research Institute is one of the most prominent among them. During the celebration of the completion of 25 years of Swamiji’s  sanyasa, Swamiji desired to establish an Institution for higher learning in Sanskrit and sastras of ancient India. Swamiji believed that: “Our Sastras are veritable mines of practical wisdom. They cover all aspects of human activity. They have stood the test of time. There are many truths in them which science has not unravelled. It is our duty to preserve them so that posterity may profit by them.” Swamiji considered Sanskrit language and the sastras of ancient India as invaluable contributions to the Treasury of World Knowledge. It should be remembered here that even as the Sishya of Srimad Sukrtindra Tirtha Swamiji, Swamiji showed signs of a great scholar in the scriptures. Having studied Brahma Sutra, Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads and so on, Swamiji was also acknowledged as a great scholar in Dwaita Philosophy propounded and propagated by Sri Madhwacharya. Swamiji’s quest for knowledge had surprised even His teachers.  Swamiji desired to dedicate the proposed Centre of Learning to His Beloved Gurudev  Srimad Sukrtindra Tirtha Swamiji and offer it to the people of Kerala as a gift for the hospitality Kerala had extended to the Gowda Saraswat Community for centuries.

A society named Veda Purusha Seva Sangh was formed in 1971 in Kochi under the instruction of Swamiji  with the objective of promoting studies in Sanskrit, Indian culture and heritage. A Sanskrit Pathasala functioned under the instruction of Swamiji in the premises of Thirumala Devaswom Temple at Kochi. The pathasala provided facilities to learn Sanskrit in a traditional way. Swamiji had already established Srinivasa Nigamagama Pathasala in Mangalore for providing facilities for Vedic education where Gurukula System of education is followed. Swamiji then conceived and initiated the establishment of an Oriental Research Institute with special focus on Indological subjects such as Sanskrit, Indian Philosophy, Culture, History, Arts and Architecture, and so on, with the prime objective of contributing towards the preservation and propagation of India’s rich cultural heritage. Swamiji convened a meeting of scholars and prominent members of the community in Kochi and as a consequence, it was decided to start such an institution and the name of the institution was appropriately conceived by Swamiji as “Sukrtindra Oriental Research Institute” in order to perpetuate the sacred memory of Swamiji’s ‘Gurudev’.

The Institute was started under the auspices of the Veda Purusha Sangh, the Chief Patron of which was Shrimad Sudhindra Tirtha Swamiji. It was temporarily housed in the Yogya Pai Narayana Pai Trust Building in Kochi.The Inaugural Function of the Institute took place in a grand manner at the premises of Y.N.P. Trust on 4th September 1971. In His Message for the Inaugural Function Swamiji said: “We are happy that a long cherished desire has become a reality . . . Sanskrit is the Language– of the Devas and the Vedas—containing all the literature essentially needed to acquire the knowledge necessary to lead a life divine. . . . May Lord Almighty and Sri Vyasa Raghupati bless the function with all success and bestow His choicest blessings on the Institute to earn name and fame by giving to Humanity in general books teaching the noble and higher values of life bringing thereby universal understanding and peace.” Padma Bhushan Dr. V. Raghavan inaugurated the Institute. Well-known scholars Panditarajan Sri K.V. Achutha Poduval and Sahityakusalan Sri A.D. Hari Sarma were honoured at the function. The Inaugural Function was followed by a Seminar on Kerala History and Sanskrit Language participated by eminent scholars of Kerala such as  Dr. P.K.Narayana Pillai and Sri N.V.Krishna Warrier.

Swamiji wanted the Institute to provide facilities for study and research in Sanskrit and other Indological subjects. He insisted that the facilities should be available for each and every one who has thirst for knowledge without any discrimination of caste or creed. Renowned  Sanskrit scholars – Dr. S. Venkitasubramonia Iyer, Retd. Dean, Dept of Sanskrit, University of Kerala, Dr. N.V.mallaya, an authority on Indian Architecture and Iconography, Pandit Anantha Sarma Sastri, recipient of Rashtrapati Award for outstanding Sanskrit scholars,volunteered to serve Swamiji’s Institution. Sanskrit Pathasala of Kochi T.D.Temple offered its wealth of books and manuscripts to the Institute. The Kerala History Association and the All Kerala Samskrita Parishad readily came forward to support Swamiji’s endeavour for a noble cause. The Institute was soon recognized by the University of Kerala as a Centre for Research in Sanskrit.

In 1985 the Institute was shifted from Kochi to Ernakulam in a land offered to Swamiji by a well-known family of Dr S. N. Padiar who was an ardent disciple of Swamiji. Swamiji paid special attention to the Institute especially because it is in the name of His Gurudev. Swamiji believed that “Sri Vyasa Raghupati, Sri Venkatachalapati and Bhagavati Saraswati are very kind and gracious towards the Institute.” Swamiji went on prompting and inspiring the disciples to work for the progress of the Institute. Now and then Swamiji exhorted those who were nominated to serve the Institute and those who volunteered to work, “May all who work for the progress of the Institute perform more effectively and enthusiastically so that cooperation from all sides and in all aspects come fluently, is our desire for which sincere prayer is offered at the Lotus Feet of Sri Vyasa Raghupati and our Revered Gurudev.” Swamiji not only inspired the disciples and offered prayers to Lord Vedavyasa for the progress of the Institute, but also offered financial support too whenever there was need. Swamiji even made arrangements for the Institute to receive a steady income so that it can run smoothly. In short Swamiji not only sowed the seed of the Institute but also nourished it properly.  Swamiji always cared to congratulate those who put in efforts for the progress of the Institute and bless them with good fortune of enabling them “to bring up the Institute to a great position in the whole of Bharat.”

Thanks to our Dharma Guru’s prayers and blessings, the Institute has now, in Swamiji’s own words, “an existence.” It has earned a name of which the whole of G.S.B. community can be proud. It is now housed in a three storeyed building situated at Kuthapady, Ernakulam, having calm and peaceful surroundings suitable for a Centre of learning. The Institute possesses a valuable Reference Library containing about 15000 books of Indological importance, and a precious collection of Palm-leaf manuscripts. Sree Sukrtindra Conference Hall is another prized possession of the Institute which has already witnessed several Seminars.The Conference Hall contains a beautiful Photo Gallery where photos of Srimad Sukrtindra Tirtha Swamiji and Srimad Sudhindra Tirtha Swamiji are displayed. The Institute has been recognized by the University of Kerala and Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, as a Research Centre in Sanskrit.  The Journal of Sukrtindra Oriental Research Institute has become popular among academicians. The Institute has published 60 books of Indological importance.

            Of course all the achievements of the Institute were possible not because of our merit but because of Swamiji’s Grace! A lot of work remains to be done to elevate the Institute to the status of a “Centre of Excellence” as always desired by our Swamiji. It is the duty of the disciples to put in all efforts in order to fulfill Swamiji’s  desire. Realising our Swamiji’s unfulfilled wishes would be the highest tribute we can pay to Swamij who attained Jeevanmukti on 16th January 2016.

Click here for: Malayalam Translation

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* The author is Hon. Director, Sukrtindra Oriental Research Institute, Kochi-32