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Anugraha Bhashanam - Bhumi Puja of Sri Ram Mandir at Ramajanmabhumi, Ayodhya

Anugraha Bhashanam of

His Holiness Jagadguru Pujya Sri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamigal, 70th Peethadhipati of

Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam on the occasion of

Bhumi Puja of Sri Ram Mandir at Ramajanmabhumi, Ayodhya

In our country, among the renowned cities which grant Moksham & Wisdom (Gnana), Ayodhya occupies the first place, while Kanchi adorns the top slot. Kanchi is one of the seven cities which grant Mukti. The Almighty now & then assumes various forms and comes down to earth to establish Dharma, instil good thoughts in peoples minds and to protect good people. This has been the reason for his many Avatars. One of them is Rama Avatara.

As a human being, he showed fellow human beings, the way to lead a life according to Dharma. He showed how to pursue Dharma with love & care, how people should participate in social activities, how they should respect the elders, revere once parents lead life with a good principle, be of help to others, protect the planet by not causing disturbance to good deeds and preserve other species, especially protection of cows (Go Samrakshana).

He set an example in following all the above aspects besides showcasing Bhakti- Gnana- Vairagya Margam and thus is celebrated as the ideal man & ideal Avatar. Who can be described as an epitome of Dharma, ethics and Sastras? The answer is Sri Rama often called Chakravarthi Tirumagan (Son of a Chakravarthi). He is the personification of all virtues and the principles of Dharma. Maha Vishnu incarnated as Sri Rama, Supreme Human Being, in the city of Ayodhya- a place that cannot be conquered, a place full of auspicious qualities and endowed with ultimate power. When all the Devas went to Vaikuntham and appealed to Sri Maha Vishnu to put an end to the trials and tribulations suffered by human beings on this earth, he said “ I shall appear there in an incarnation”. The celestials had a glimpse of the power which could wipe off the worries and longings of all the world. When Maha Vishnu, diety looked upon as protector, incarnated as the son of Dasharatha, the earth that is Bharat, attained immense glory and pride.

Sri Rama’s life is a model, a life aligned to Dharma, integrated with Bhakti embellished with valour, intelligence, humility, gratitude and magnanimity. Doing good to others was the main principle of his thoughts. Describing virtuous qualities of an ideal human being, Narada is asked who in these times has all these qualities. Sage Narada is asked because, he is well aware of all the worlds. He has access to every nook & corner where the good and bad live. He easily moves with people and propagated Bhakti. He inculcated pious thoughts in minds and has knowledge about the affairs of the world. To sage Valmiki’s question, Narada Rishi replies with the word “Rama”. Then sage Valmiki begins to enumerate the virtues of Sri Rama & that takes shape as Valmiki Ramayanam. This epic is popular in many languages spoken in this country and also outside India. There are many temples of Sri Rama in Tamilnadu. Poets like Sri Tyagarajaswamy, have composed hundreds of songs on Sri Rama. Rama Nama Japam occupies a vital place in the culture Bharata Bhumi. It is widely practised across the country.

Lanka, which Rama entered, was a prosperous land with wealth & riches. It boasted the Golden Pushpaka Vimana and had everything, which was considered, the best in the world. But Sri Rama was not tempted. Why? Rama declares that mother & Mother Land are superior to even heaven. To him therefore, Ayodhya, the city where he was born was the best. All the devotees of Sri Rama, who expected this auspicious moment, since a long time, share that pride.

Sri Rama reached Lanka by crossing a bridge and after a long time this occasion has been reached. His devotees are waiting with hope & prayer for a temple to come up at his birth place. Now efforts are on to raise a temple in that auspicious place. On this momentous occasion, Devotees must add strength to these efforts by chanting, writing Rama Nama 108 times. They should from where ever they are, involve themselves in the prayer so that the divine temple of Sri Rama is constructed without delay or hurdles.

We can perceive a link between Kanchipuram & Ayodhya on one hand and the Kanchi Math and the current efforts on the other. The connection between Kanchipuram & Ayodhya is mentioned in two chapters, 39th & 40th of Lalitopakhyanam- scripture which describes the greatness of Kamakshi Devi. Here we should talk about an ancient custom followed in this land- that of Kuladaivam. Families may live in different places but they have made it a practise to offer worship to Kuladaivam whenever possible. It could be a village in a remote corner. But when a baby is born, the family visits the temple and offers Puja and the baby is tonsured there, all according to the family’s custom. The Kuladaivam of Surya Vamsham was Goddess Tripursundari. There is a temple for the Goddess in Ayodhya.

Dasharatha had a dream in which he had Darshan of the Goddess. He got the divine message that to get progeny, for which he had been performing homams and pujas as a penance for many many years would materialise if he went to Kanchipuram and performed all the Pujas and homams. Dasharatha narrated the dream to queen Kausalya Devi and left Ayodhya for Kanchipuram where he spent a week – seven nights. He did to perfection all the Pujas and homams including offering of Silks (Vastram) and honouring scholars and men of wisdom. He fulfilled all vows and observed strict penance for seven days and nights, when he sang stotras in praise of the Goddess Kamakshi.

Goddess Kamakshi who was pleased with the exemplary devotion of the King blessed him by uttering auspicious words from the sky – ‘You will beget four sons endowed with my Amshas (aspects). Thus blessed the Goddess.

Another connection is in the form of natural element. Among the Pancha Bhuta Sthalams, Kanchipuram is Prithvi Kshetram. The concept prevails in Shakti worship too and here Ayodhya is Prithivi Kshetram. Thus there is a rare link between a place in south of India and a city located in the banks of river Sarayu up North. In other words, Kanchipuram shines as the place where prayers were done for the birth of Sri Rama.

Both Acharyas of Kanchi Math were fully involved in the endeavour to build a temple in Rama’s birth place. They made all efforts over a long period of time to make this good deed happen. The attempts of Kanchi Math have worked in three ways – Sama Margam, Samara Margam & Samarasa Margam. Sama Margam which stand for “together” – unity in speech thought & deed. “Samaram” does not indicate battle. It could denote concerted efforts, intense efforts & the plunge into the task with Bhakti & fervour. Samarasam or Samam Rasam would point to the belief that there is goodness in everything and all are entitled to trust & honour. Also it would indicate an attitude of give & take. Just as it happens in a family, the members would sacrifice for a common cause in such a situation there prevails only acceptance and bond giving no room for setbacks. This kind of multi pronged efforts has been there since the 1950’s. It picked momentum in 1980’s.

As a result of people’s Bhakti and the direct & indirect efforts of many individuals a good solution has been reached. Arrangements are being made to begin construction of the temple, successive governments have been making attempts to find a solution. Representatives of such Governments have met and discussed the issue with both Mahaswami & Sri Pudu Periyava. In this context, one should mention Sri George Fernandes, then Railway Minister, clad in the traditional Panchakacham, had darshan of Mahaswami at the Math in Kanchipuram and discussed the issue. Krishnakanth, Andhra Pradesh Governor, accompanied by two dignitaries – Bihar Governor Mohammad Salim & Madhya Pradesh Governor MA Khan met both Periyavas regarding Ayodhya. On Another occasion Subodh Kanth Sahay, Central Minister came for consultation. There was Sahabuddin who came in the company of Subramaniam Swamy. Pudu Periyava made great efforts to create an amicable atmosphere between both communities. As recent as on 25th February, 2018 when Dr. Subramaniam Swamy had darshan of Sri Pudu Periyava, he said that the temple is going to come soon at Ayodhya and that His Holiness should perform Pujas there. Sri Pudu Periyava was very pleased and had conveyed his blessings. A broad smile and a subtle clap at that moment was an unforgettable sight.

Sri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister at that time. Sri Pudu Periyava left no stone unturned to create an understanding among the different parties. He made untiring efforts to make the situation relaxed and harmonious. The valuable aid of Tamil Nadu’s influential personalities was also obtained in achieving this conducive atmosphere.

The year was 1986. Mahaswami was at the Kanchi Math and Sri Pudu Periyava was at Allahabad -Prayag where the consecration of Sankara Vimana Mandapam was scheduled. Around this time in February first week, the gates at Ayodhya complex opened for darshan of Sri Rama. Pudu Periyava at once left Prayag and reached Ayodhya via Pratapgarh & Sultanpur. He stayed there around February 7-10 and returned to Allahabad – Prayag via Rae Bareilly and Amethi. On February 7th when Pudu Periyava reached Ayodhya, Mahaswami arranged shipment of a beautiful umbrella (Chatram) and Chamaram to Ayodhya.These were auspicious symbols to be dedicated to Sri Rama. Two persons Sri Ramamurthy Sastrigal & Sri Neelakantha Dikshitar carried the Chatram & Chamaram, flew to Lucknow and went to Ayodhya in time to hand them over to Sri Pudu Periyava.

After dedication of Chatram & Chamaram both emissaries of Mahaswami stayed in Ayodhya for a week and recited Valmiki Ramayana & Thulasi Ramayana in Hindi. That the Kanchi Math was the first to offer respects to Sri Rama through Pudu Periyava as ordained by Mahaswami is a very special moment in the historical connection between the Math & Ayodhya. Later on, Sri Pudu Periyava had a huge piece of land acquired. It is situated on the banks of Sarayu. A Math was built and in it were installed the idols of Sri Kamakshi, Sri Rama & Adi Sankara. A Veda Pathashala is functioning in the premises now. Well aware of the requirements of the local population, Pudu Periyava who treated both social & religious service with equal dedication, established an institution to impart education in vocational subjects such as tailoring. The good work is continuing till today. The heads of Kanchi Math have thus involved themselves in the spiritual & economic progress of the people of Ayodhya.

It is a happy coincidence that the Bhumi Puja of the Ram temple at Ayodhya falls on August 5th which is Pudu Periyava’s Jayanthi. Pudu Periyava worked hard for the temple and neither did Pudu Periyava nor did Sri Rama leave each other. This is an excellent opportunity for us devotees to meditate on our culture, which has added glory to human civilization and above all on Sri Rama whose Avatar is our culture’s crowning glory.

Looking back at 1907, 13 year old Mahaswami (just before Ashrama Sweekaram) was taken to Kalavai. On the way he was subtly told that he might not be able to return to his place. Taken aback all that Periyava did was start chanting Rama Nama. He has mentioned it in an article. He cultivated the art of writing Rama Nama among children and gifted them coins of gold & silver. Even now devotees bring books having written 50 thousand and a lakh Namas. In the 1960’s (1967, 1968), both Acharyas spearheaded the consecration of Bhadrachalam Rama Temple. They stayed on the Godavari Bank, bathed in the river, supervised the renovation work and offered guidance. With such a rich tradition of links with Sri Rama Kshetram and temples, let us be aware of the need for the propagation of Bhakti & Culture.

Rama Ramjyam should dawn in this country which has people speaking different languages following various customs and beliefs but united for the progress of this nation. Glory and prosperity should prevail in this land where tradition and trend go hand in hand to preserve our ancient civilization, Bhakti & Sampradaya. Ayodhya is a name well known in India, but several countries including Thailand have a city in that name. That shows the all pervading glory of Rama Nama.

Let the auspicious event of Bhumi Puja act as a new beacon of light to guide humanity in general, Indians in particular, in the right path.

Let Rama Bhakti grow manifold and endow people with fresh vigour and energy.

Let our heritage be protected, Bhakti preserved and we get the strength to accomplish both.

Let us preserve Dharma which in turn will shield us by paving the way for many auspicious occasions.

Hara Hara Sankara Jaya Jaya Sankara

How Ayodhya should be planned

The re-structuring should have spirituality as its core. Generally tradition and culture are swept aside when growth becomes the focus. For instance in Tamilnadu, the ambience around the ancient temples has changed in many places. The so-called Raja Veethi, Mada Veethi and Sannadhi Street, which surround a temple, have gradually lost their sheen. Development happens at the cost of these precious cultural markers. Their shape and size change in the process, losing much of their originality. The activities of the temple also get scaled down. They may not be totally stopped, but they get shrunk. Festivals and other cultural events and services get reduced. These aspects should be taken into account when the city of Ayodhya is expanded with the Ram temple as the hub.

The new structure should accommodate all our cultural hallmarks such as our fine arts, music, dance, the Vedas, Upanishats and Epics. It should have a garden (Nandavanam) exclusively used for Puja purposes and exhibitions to showcase our Sastra, History and Dharma. Also it should give importance to the needs of devotees. Needs here would mean basic amenities for pilgrims.

Ayodhya should be developed as a typical pilgrim town worthy of worship. Just as a commercial city is developed to suit business needs, Ayodhya should emerge as a superior pilgrim centre with facilties such as bathing ghats, dormitories, drinking water etc.

Sri Rama is an icon who has different dimensions. He is at once God and the ideal Man, a symbol of culture, courage and valour for the millions of his lovers. In short, Ayodhya should be a model city fulfilling national and international aspirations.

The time has come for all to come together and work in a coordinated manner to recreate the holy city of Ayodhya. Private & Public entities should join hands in a constructive partnership.

The Almighty has bestowed on us many treasures many objects to facilitate our growth and development. Peace & Prosperity prevail when people remain calm, amicable and share the gifts of God with proper understanding. Troubles increase during times of adversity when the understanding is flawed, approach is hasty and greed overtakes the mind. This is the exactly the situation in which India finds itself in this past month. Good traits and values alone will help people including the poor to reap the benefits of the Almighty’s benevolence. It is culture, which will help us appreciate this aspect and build understanding.

Sri Rama who is an icon, an emblem of our culture. Hence it will be appropriate and in fitness of things if the divine city of Ayodhya is recreated in such a way that it conveys to people, the noble qualities of Sri Rama- his devotion & philosophy.

Reply to recent opinion that Ayodhya is in Nepal

As far as we are concerned, at this point of time it should be borne in mind that Janakpur in the land of Nepal is as important to us as is Ayodhya. It is Sita Devi’s birth place and a place that was ruled by King Janaka. Hence Janakpur deserves our deep love, respect and affection. Ayodhya is in India and located at the banks of river Sarayu. The views expressed by certain people in this context should not be taken amiss. The opinion may be strange but should not be looked upon with hostility.

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