Sri Kanchi Mahaswamigal and Sri Vidyaranya Swamigal
Sri Kanchi Mahaswamigal and Sri Vidyaranya Swamigal
by Pujya Sri Atmabodha Tirtha Swamigal (Sri Kumbakonam Swamigal)
Translated from Tamil by P.R.Kannan
Sri Kanchi Mahaswamigal, while camping in Satara, Maharashtra during 1978-79, called Sri Annadurai Iyengar, Sandur Maharaja Sri Ghorpade, Hospet Industrialist Sri H.R.Ranganna Gowda, Mumbai Dilip magazine founder Sri R.V.Raghavan, Sri A.R.Rajagopal and Delhi Sri Srinivasa Iyer, and expressed his desire to establish Sri Vidyaranya Vidya Peetham in Hampi or nearby Hospet in memory of Sri Vidyaranya Swamigal, who has contributed immensely to our Vedas, Vedanta, Music, Vyakarana and other Bharatiya Vidyas. Accordingly these devotees of Kanchi Acharyas arranged to commence the functioning of Sri Vidyaranya Vidya Peetham Trust in a modest rented building in Hospet, Karnataka in 1979 on Vasantha Panchami day in the month of Thai (Thaisha or Pousha).
Sri Vidyaranya Swamigal, who belonged to Bodhayana Sutram, has done yeoman service to our motherland by writing commentary for all the four Vedas. In order to enable Vedic students, who have completed Veda Samhita study in their respective Vedas, to pursue higher studies in Padam, Kramam, Jata, Ghanam and Lakshana and also Veda Bhashyam (commentary), Brahmasri Krishna Sarma of Tiruchi was appointed teacher for Krishna Yajurveda. Brahmasri Balakrishnapatti Subramania Ghanapathigal for teaching Rigveda, Brahmasri Sankaranarayana Srouthigal for Samaveda, and others also joined the institution. Nemmeli Brahmasri R.Balakrishna Sastrigal also taught Sastras for some 3- 4 years. Ten students of Bodhayana Sutra were chosen from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for study of Krishna Yajurveda. Sri Mahaswamigal sent me from Satara to this Peetham for studying Samaveda Bhashyam during 1979 and blessed me with a copy of Brahmavid Asirvada Paddathi (a Vedantic text by Sri Vidyaranya Swamigal), and instructed me to study it daily in my prayer; and I am reciting the same daily in front of Sri Acharyas.
Further in order that Sri Vidyaranya’s works on various Sastras are propagated throughout the world, a library called Sri Vidyaranya Kosha Dhama was established there. For this purpose special Trusts were set up at Jamshedpur and Jabalpur, and Sri Vidyaranya’s works were collected from Pune, Kashi and other such places. Now an interesting development took place. Sri Mahaswamigal would unveil the next stage in the plan only after completion of the initial stage. After about ten thousand books were collected in the library, Sri Mahaswamigal asked for a certain announcement to be published in newspapers all over India. Those who wish to read the works of Sri Vidyaranya Swamigal should apply to Sri Vidyaranya Vidya Peetham at Hospet. One book at a time would be sent to them free of cost. The reader should study at least two books in a year and convey the essence through a writeup in Samskrit or Tamil. Many people participated in this unique scheme and submitted their theses. Sri Mahaswamigal went through them all and had them examined by a committee of scholars. The writers were all honoured in a special function with certificates, gold medals, shawls etc.
Mulgund Brahmasri Sripada Dikshitar, a great devotee of Sri Mahaswamigal, had his darshan during the camp at Hampi. Sri Mahaswamigal asked him to camp at Hospet for 4 - 5 days and deliver lectures on Sri Vidyaranya’s works in Kannada language. This instruction was implemented, with Sandur Maharaja arranging a vehicle every month for Sri Dikshitar’s transport from Mulgund to Hospet and back. Sripada Dikshitar was also given suitable honorarium for each discourse. This way even ordinary Kannada people were introduced to Sri Vidyaranya’s works and his greatness.
It was in Sri Virupaksha Mahalinga temple in Hampi that Sri Vidyaranya had performed severe penance. There Devi Sri Rajarajeswari used to give him direct darshan. The temple for Sri Vidyaranya is situated behind the Virupaksha temple on the banks of Tungabhadra river. It was the practice that the students and teachers of the Vidya Peetham would go to this temple and conduct Veda Parayanam and Vidvat Sadas every Thursday. Thus everyone had the good fortune of having darshan of Sri Vidyaranya. Sri Virupaksha temple on the banks of Tungabhadra river is very famous. Sri Mahaswamigal used to say that the Kishkindha area described in Srimad Ramayanam is indeed this land part.
The concise and wonderful book ‘Brahmavid Asirvada Paddhati’ by Sri Vidyaranya Swamigal contains the essence of Prasthana Traya (Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and Bhagavad Gita) and is in the form of a prayer. Sri Mahaswamigal arranged for rendering of this in mike every day; the broadcasting speaker was placed on the tip of the Gopuram.
Sri Mahaswamigal had special interest in archaeological research. He desired that all the stone inscriptions of Sri Vidyaranya Swamigal be collected and published. He set up Uttankita Vidyaranya Trust for this purpose with headquarters in Bengaluru. The trust succeeded in bringing out the first part of the collection of inscriptions within a span of one year. Sri Vidyaranya Vidya Peetham, which functioned from rented premises in Hospet Nehru colony at the beginning, is now operating on the Hospet-Sandur Road on the banks of a tributary of Tungabhadra river. The deep Guru bhakti which Sri Mahaswamigal had for Sri Vidyaranya Swamigal is evident from all this.
Sri Mahaswamigal set up Shashtiabdapoorthi Trust for spread of Veda Bhashyam and gave away honorarium to hundreds of scholars who studied Veda Bhashyam. The Trusts are all functioning very well, conducting Veda Bhashya Vidvat Sabhas and fulfilling the dreams of Sri Mahaswamigal.
Sri Mahaswamigal set up at Kumbakonam in 1965 the college of Veda Bhashyam for teaching Sri Vidyaranya Swamigal’s Veda Bhashyam. Govindakudi Appakutty Aiyar Trust, Kumbakonam is running this college. Dr.V.R.Lakshmikantha Sarma was the Managing Trustee for about 25 years. During that time, Melakkaveri Brahmasri S. Panchapagesa Sastrigal taught the three Veda Bhashyas and was also Principal. He taught for about 40 years to more than 100 students Vedas, Vedanta and Veda Bhashyas and made them experts in the field. Sri Panchapagesa Sastrigal took Apat (emergency) Sanyasa and attained Sidhi with the Diksha name of Sri Sri Sri Panchapagesa Brahmendra Saraswathi Swamigal, who taught me the Prasthana Traya Bhashyas (ten Upanishads, Bhagavadgita and Brahmasutram) of Sri Adi Sankara Bhagavadpada from 10.03.1999 to 13.03.2004 (Anusham, Sri Mahaswamigal Nakshatram day) as directed by Sri Kanchi Acharyas. The present Sri Kanchi Acharyas are putting in great efforts to continue with encouragement of Veda Bhashyam studies. Every year students from all over India are taught respective Veda Bhashyams by Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. R. Krishnamurthy Sastrigal (Retd. Principal, Sanskrit College, Chennai-4); the students come out very successfully in our Srimatham examinations, and all of them are honoured with shawls and cash award of rupees one lakh each with title “Veda Bhashya Ratnam”. Sri Kanchi Acharyas have said out of deep devotion that they are continuing with the great legacy left by Sri Vidyaranya Swamigal. (His important works are listed below). Let us reap all benefits with the blessings of these great souls.
Sri Vidyaranya Swamigal, the fourteenth century statesman, savant and saint, was known as Madhavacharya before taking Sanyasa. Legend has it that pleased with his meditation and Purascharana of Gayatri mantra, Devi Rajarajeswari gave him darshan and asked him what boon he wanted. Sri Madhavacharya asked for a lot of money; Devi said that it was not in his destiny. Immediately he took Sanyasa and became Sri Vidyaranya; then there was a shower of gold coins like it happened with Adi Sankara. He utilized all that wealth in the founding of Vijayanagara empire. He was adviser in spiritual as well as temporal affairs to the first three kings of Vijayanagara, viz. Harihara I, Bukka I and Harihara II.
Sri Vidyaranya Swamigal adorned the Sringeri Sarada Peetham as the 12th Jagadguru Sankaracharya.