Sri Gurubhyo Namaha
The 34th Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Sringeri, Sri Chandrashekara Bharati Mahaswamiji was well known to have been an Advaitin and Sanyaasin of the highest orders. Here is an anecdote from the book “The Saint of Sringeri”, written by one of his great disciples, Sri Krishnaswamy Iyer, who after Sanyaasa came to be known as Sri Jnaanananda Bharati Swamiji and authored many a work on Sanatana Dharma and Advaita. The anecdote is to me a rather piercing reminder of the unique greatness of the Advaita Siddhaanta, apart from being an illustration of the grand Vairaagya and humility of the Jagadguru Himself.
The text between [..] in the post below is added by me for the sake of context.
Some years after Sri Sastri [the then administrator of Sringeri Mutt] retired from the active service of the Mutt, the Government of His Highness the Maharaja of Mysore took upon itself the burden of managing the properties of the Mutt and conducting its secular affairs. Though the Government prepared the budget every year, it added, out of respect to His Holiness [Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekara Bharati Mahaswamiji], a note that any of the items might be altered at the will of His Holiness. Sri Sastri when he went to Sringeri felt very glad at this consideration shown to His Holiness’ wishes and had a talk with the officer then in charge.
Sastri : I note that it has been provided in the budget that any item may be altered by His Holiness as He likes, Has he at any time done so?
Officer : No.
Sastri : Have you informed His Holiness that there is such a provision?
Officer : Certainly, I have told Him several times.
Sastri : What did He say?
Officer : He would not say anything. Sometimes He would simply say, “You may do whatever is proper”.
Sastri : Why don’t you ask Him what is proper?
Officer: I have asked Him. Even then the reply has been the same. If I pressed for more definite directions He would say, “The budget itself is alright. You may act according to it”. I realised therefore that it was no use troubling Him and for some time past I have given up asking Him.
In the evening, Sri Sastri went to His Holiness.
Sastri : I was very glad to see that in the Government budget it had been provided that Your Holiness might alter any item at Your will. Have You ever thought of altering it?
His Holiness : Why? Everything is going on properly. Where is the need for my intervention?
Sastri : I do not ask about the need. There may be some kind of expenditure which Your Holiness may deem it proper to incur though it is not provided for in the budget.
H.H : Why should I mention any new kind of expenditure?
Sastri : I did not mean even that. During all these years, did not any thought ever come to You that some item of expenditure not provided for in the routine budget might be properly incurred?
H.H : As you are so particular I shall answer you. Some months back a thought did occur to me that it would be well to have special Abhisheka to Sri Chandramoulisvara with Ekadasa Rudra Parayana and to feed not less than a hundred Brahmanas on the occasion.
Sastri : Was this mentioned to the officer?
H.H : Why should I mention it?
Sastri : If You had mentioned it, he would have carried it out.
H.H : That is just the reason why I did not mention it.
Sastri : I do not understand this logic. What is wrong in asking the officer to carry out a good idea that comes to Your mind?
H.H : The wrong is not in the asking but in the idea coming into the mind.
Sastri : Is it wrong to entertain an idea to do a good thing?
H.H : It is.
Sastri : How is that?
H.H : Any kind of mental activity which leads to external activity is necessarily wrong.
Sastri : Even if it is useful? Is it so?
H.H : The arising of a thought is by itself wrong. Further when it is our object to minimise our mind impulses, it is not proper to give room for fresh impulses. If I had asked the officer to carry out this idea, he would certainly have carried it out. Immediately another idea would crop up demanding its fulfillment. In this way, the ideas will go on increasing and the desire to have them carried out will also go on increasing leading to ever increasing external activities. If however we effectively curb the very first impulse the further stages will be eliminated. That is why I did not think it proper to entertain the idea that came into my mind and curbed it.
Sri Sastri was very much surprised at the mental attitude of His Holiness. At the same time, he felt impelled to carry out His Holiness’ idea, He had a talk with the officer and learnt that in a particular item there was some unspent balance.
Sastri : There is such a balance unspent. What do you propose to do with it?
Officer : What can I do with it? It is there.
Sastri : You may mention to His Holiness that such a balance is available under this head and ask Him as to its disposal.
Officer : What is the use of asking Him? He will not say anything.
Sastri : Whether He says anything or not, is it not your duty to inform Him about it?
Officer : I shall certainly it to His Holiness and try.
He then went to His Holiness.
Officer : There is a provision of so much amount for this particular head of expenditure in the budget prepared by the Government. But only this much had to be actually spent and there is a substantial balance. I pray for your Holiness’ directions as to what to do with it.
H.H : You may do as you think proper.
Officer : I do not know what is proper. Hence my troubling Your Holiness.
H.H : You may think it over again and do as you decide.
Officer : I have thought over it more than once but I got no solution and this is not a matter in which I can consult anybody else.
H.H : I suppose the balance may be kept unspent.
Officer : No doubt so. But it will certainly be better to spend it away in some good purpose on your Holiness directions.
H.H : What good purpose?
Officer : I do not know. That is why I ask.
H.H : Sri Sastri has come. He has had a long experience in the mutt. If you think it necessary, you may consult him and act according to his advice.
The officer accordingly approached Sri Sastri himself for advice and Sri Sastri thought it proper to advise him to arrange for a special Abhisheka to Sri Chandramoulisvara and for the attendant Brahmana Santarpana. The function was duly performed and His Holiness was informed about it. When His Holiness met Sri Sastri later on, He said:
H.H : “Out of great affection for me, you have chosen to carry out an idea which came into my mind long ago. On hearing of it, I felt in spite of myself a wave of pleasant satisfaction in my mind. I realise from this that I have not yet learned to be completely detached in mind. I must thank you, for giving me this opportunity to know that my mind was still weak”.