35th AchAryA of Sringeri: Incidents from AchAryA’s life #1

Sri Gurubhyo Namaha.

Here are a few instances in the life of the 35th Sringeri AchAryA, Jagadguru Sri Abhinava VidyAteertha MahAswAmin. This is excerpted from the book “Exalting Elucidations”, which is a collection of conversations, discourses, and incidents related to the Jagadguru on various topics including Dharma, Karma, Yoga, Jnaana, etc. Some of these instances are somewhat miraculous in nature. Hoping that values like humility, Guru Bhakti, complete surrender to Guru, compassion, etc. are valued and imbibed is however the reason for this post. Indeed, these topics are listed under the title “Guru” in the book.

I have purposely left the names of the disciples involved in these incidents unspecified. Most of these names can be found in the book.

Click the appropriate link to jump to the corresponding incident –

1. Teaching through dreams
2. A BrahmachAri’s ShraddhA
3. Attitudes of AchAryAL and ParamAchAryAL towards each other
4. AchAryAL’s guru bhakti and humility 



[Teaching through dreams : An incident narrated by a disciple]

Apart from AchAryAL’s gracing me with meditative experiences and peace of mind, I have also had the good fortune of being taught by Him. He was concerned with imparting knowledge to His disciples that He even put up with a lot of inconvenience. When AchAryAL was at Bangalore in the year 1983, He taught me the MAndUkya-upanishad with the KArikAs of GaudapAdAchAryA and BhagavatpAda’s (ShankarAchAryA’s) commentary. This He did in spite of His ill-health. I have also heard portions of the Panchadashi, Yoga-vAshishta, Bhagavad GitA BhAshyA (ShankarAchAryA’s commentary on the Bhagavad GitA), Sutra-BhAsyA (ShankarAchAryA’s commentary on the VyAsAchAryA’s BrahmasutrAs), etc., from the holy lips of my Guru. He not only resolved doubts by eventually answering them with lips but also by dispelling them by His mere presence. Quite often, I have noticed that He has clarified points which I have sought to ask Him even prior to my actually asking Him.

His grace has not been confined to my waking state alone. In the later half of 1974, I had a series of dreams in which AchAryAL expounded the sixth chapter of the BhagavadgitA along with BhagavatpAda’s commentary. He explained some verses one night and, on the next night, continued from where He had left. This went on till the end of the chapter was reached. At that time, I had not come across BhagavatpAda’s commentary on the GitA at all. Later, when I procured a copy of the same, I found that it contained what AchAryAL had taught.

During May 1975, I submitted to AchAryAL that I had, on successive nights, dreams of AchAryAL gracing me by teaching BhagavatpAda’s bhAshyA on the sixth chapter of the BhagavadgitA. AchAryAL asked, “Do you recall the clarifications that you heard?” “By AchAryAL’s grace, I remember those fully as also the words of the bhAshya on the verses dealing with the practice and fruit of meditation”, I replied. AchAryAL sent for the GitAbhAshya. He then asked me to recount the commentary on one of the verses. I obeyed. AchAryAL read out a passage from BhagavatpAda’s introduction to the chapter and asked me to explain it. Without making any comment on my response, He instructed me to resolve, according to what I had heard, an apparent contradiction in a verse. Finally He asked in which of the two senses a word had been used in the BhAshya.

When I finished replying, AchAryAL was all smiles. Patting me on my shoulder, He said, “Your answers fully conform to what I would have told you if I were teaching you the bhAshya now. There is no doubt that God graced you by teaching you through those dreams. Because of your devotion to Me you see Me as having effected them but I am just an ordinary man. I can particularly appreciate your experience because I had a similar experience of Lord ShivA teaching Me yoga in successive dreams when I was young”.


[A BrahmachAri’s shraddA : Incident narrated by a disciple]

In the year 1984, AchAryAL was scheduled to leave Sringeri for KAladi (ShankarAchArya’s birthplace) via Bangalore. A brahmachArin from Rishikesh came a little after noon for AchAryAL’s darshaNa. AchAryAL had already left for His afternoon bath. The brahmachArin told me, “I have seven questions pertaining to Yoga and VedAnta which I wish to pose to His Holiness. They are very important to me. I contacted numerous scholars, practitioners of Yoga and samnyAsins at Rishikesh, Uttarkashi, Haridwar and KAshi but none was able to satisfy me. A scholar at KAshi directed me to Sringeri, saying, ‘If the Jagadguru of Sringeri cannot satisfactorily answer you then there is none in the world who can.’ That is why I have come most eagerly to Sringeri”.

I told him, “AchAryAL will be starting on a tour today. If you wait here, you can have His darshaNa just prior to His departure. However, there is no time today for you to have a lengthy private session with Him”. He said, “I will gladly wait to behold Him even if it be for just a moment.” He then told me one of the questions that he had in mind and requested me to tell AchAryAL about him. I fulfilled his request shortly after AchAryAL completed His bhikshA (literally, ‘alms’, by which a SanyAsi is supposed to eat).

I promptly submitted the information conveyed by the student to AchAryAL who replied, “The question that he conveyed to you is good and pertinent. As there is no time to spare today, he could, if he wishes, meet Me at Bangalore and pose his queries to Me there. If I happen to know the answers, I shall tell him. Else, I shall readily admit that I am not in a position to help him”. In about half an hour, AchAryAL came out to the front veranda of SacchidAnanda vilAs, His abode. Some devotees, inclusive of the brahmachArin, were there.

The brahmachArin prostrated before AchAryAL. His Holiness looked at him with compassion, raised His right hand in a gesture of blessing and said, in Hindi, “May you be happy”. He then moved on. I quickly conveyed to him what AchAryAL had told me. Almost before I finished, he said, “The answers to all my questions became fully known to me the moment His Holiness blessed me”. In the car, of His own accord, AchAryAL informed me, “When I saw that brahmachArin, I was struck with his sincerity. So I requested AmbAL (SharadAmbAL – the presiding Devi of Sringeri), ‘Please provide him the answers he desires now itself’. The kind of sincerity that this spiritual aspirant has, deserves to be rewarded.” When I submitted to AchAryAL what the brahmacharin had said, AchAryAL joined His palms and said “AmbAL is so gracious”.


[Attitudes of AchAryAL and ParamAchAryAL towards each other: Incident narrated by a disciple]

In 1946, AchAryAL once went to behold ParamAchAryAL (Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekara BhArati Swamiji, the 34th AchAryA of Sringeri) taking me with Him. As He approached the door of ParamAchAryAL’s room from one side, He noticed that His Guru was reading a book. Not only did AchAryAL not enter, He did not even want to stand next to the door on the side where He could be seen. So, He walked round the building and came to the other side of the door. Then, He moved a foot of His slightly forward, leaned , peeped in and, finding that ParamAchAryAL was still reading, immediately stepped back. Then, he stood motionless and silent. After a few minutes, He again looked inside as before and withdrew. About 15 minutes passed thus before ParamAchAryAL happened to notice Him on looking up prior to turning a page.

Immediately, ParamAchAryAL called our Guru(AchAryAL) in. AchAryAL entered and respectfully submitted that I had come for darshaNa. ParamachAryAL rose, walked out of the room and began talking to me. To enable us to converse in private, AchAryAL moved out of earshot. ParamAchAryAL was scheduled to take VedAnta class for our Guru. SO, after some time, our Guru returned to have a word with ParamAchAryAL. As He approached, ParamAchAryAL told me, “The Guru is coming. Do namaskAra.” As instructed, I prostrated before AchAryAL. Then, ParamAchAryAL and AchAryAL spoke to each other for a few moments. Thereafter, AchAryAL walked backwards till He was out of His Guru’s range of sight; He was unwilling to even turn his back towards ParamAchAryAL. Such was His reverence for His Guru. ParamAchAryAL, on the other hand, declared to me while AchAryAL was leaving, “Do not think He is just a SwAmigal. He is God. He is my Guru”.


[AchAryAL’s guru bhakti and humility : Narrated by a lady devotee]

During AchAryAL’s first visit to Madras, my elder sister and her husband performed pAda-pUjA at the place where he was camping. Blessed with the pAda-pUjA-prasAda, my sister submitted to AchAryAL, “My mother who is now 86 years old has poor vision. In her life, she was fortunate to have had the darshaNa of Their Holinesses Sri Nrisimha BhArati MahAswAmigal (32nd Jagadguru of Sringeri), Sri SacchidAnanda ShivAbhinava Nrisimha BhArati MahAswAmigal (33rd Jagadguru of Sringeri), and Sri Chandrashekara BhArati MahAswAmigal. But for her ill-health, she would have come here and had Your darshaNa! I seek Your grace on her behalf”. AchAryAL was overjoyed and said, “What a blessed soul your mother is! She had the rare opportunity to have the darshaNa of three great Gurus! It is not fair that I should expect her to come here and see Me. It is I who would visit her. I should meet the one who has met My purvAchAryA’s!” (purvAchAryA’s – predecessor’s in the Sringeri Guru lineage). His Holiness then paid a visit to my sister’s house in T.Nagar. He posed kind enquiries to my mother, spoke to her for some time about the pUrvAchAryAs, blessed her and left. I was humbled by AchAryAL’s obvious compassion in visiting my mother and His reverence for His pUrvAchAryAs!.


  1. Respected Sirs – Although I have read the book many times before, I was able to read these incidents again with the same keen interest as I had before. My name is Anantharaman and I live in Australia. I pray for Jagadguru’s blessings for my two daughters and myself.

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