Three Jnanis : A Jagadguru, a Bhakta, and an Avadhuta

Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

This is a recollection of the experiences of a Jnani Bhakta of Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahaswamiji, a Jnani and a Yogi, who adorned the Sringeri Peetham as the 35th Peethadhipati. The third Jnani, an Avadhoota (“avadhoota” refers to a peculiar class of Jnanis who are rather unorthodox in theirABHINAVA VIDYATIRTHA SWAMI SRINGERI ways) was the Jnani Bhakta’s Upadesha-Guru. This anecdote can possibly be found in parts in books on the Jagadguru published by the Vidyateertha foundation. This is a reproduction, therefore. I have only suppresed a few names (included that of the devotee-jnani), changed a few words into Sanskrit, and also added a few words in brackets [] to facilitate the context and clarity.

Sri Krishnarpanamastu,

(Naga Panchami day (Aug 8, 2016), Vardhanti of Jagadguru Sri Vidhushekara Bharati Mahaswamiji)


(Sri Bhakta [name suppressed, will refer to this person as Bhakta instead],  is a rare type of person. Though engaged in his duties in the estates of ___, he remains unaffected, as a lotus leaf on water. Acharyal (Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Mahaswamiji) Himself has frequently said that Sri Bhakta is constantly centred on the Atman. He belongs to a family that has long connections with the Sringeri Math. For his part, he has been repeatedly carrying out many tasks to aid the Math. It is hoped that his contact with Acharyal, as described in the sequel , will engender spiritual propensities in the interested reader.)

My father and uncle were employed in the Math even in Paramacharyal’s (Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekara Bharati Mahaswamiji) time and we stayed at Vidyaranyapuram, near Sringeri. I was around nine years old when Acharyal was initiated into Sanyasa. I had the occasion to witness the ceremony. The sight of Acharyal seated motionless on the Vyakhyaana Simhasanam, with a Saligramam on His head, and Paramacharyal offering worship is still vivid in my mind’s eye.

I was studying at Bangalore when Acharyal came there for a couple of years for studying. When He returned to Sringeri, with a halt at Arisikere, I accompanied the camp. In 1939, I was present when the Kumbhabhishekam was performed at Bangalore Shankara Math. Both Paramacharyal and Acharyal graced the occasion after which Acharyal returned to Sringeri and Paramacharyal proceeded to Kalady.

After studies I took up employment. __ Agencies Ltd were the managing agents of ___ and I worked as a Manager. My headquarters were at Bangalore but I had to frequently go to the estates comprising 360 acres. I began to get dissatisfied with my conditions of work for I found the environment non-traditional. Dejected, I sought Acharyal’s advice. “Do not quit your job”, He instructed, “for if you do so now, you will stand to lose not only materially but also spiritually”. I abided by the suggestion. The management changed and the official climate improved to my satisfaction. In fact, to this day I am doing the same job, but of course, my designations have changed.

My father-in-law’s younger brother had built a house at Bangalore. He wanted a Lingam for his Puja and approached me. I left for Sringeri and placed the request before Acharyal. His Holiness went upstairs and brought two Lingams. One as a Spatika (crystal) Bana Lingam, while the other was a Narmada Lingam. He gave me the first and said, “Worship it. You will get Jnanam”. The second one was to be given to Sri _. What induced Acharyal to act as He did is unknown to me. I commenced daily worship of the Lingam. As for Sri _, he is doing fine in a materialistic sense.

Later, I felt an urge to have some traditional lessons from Acharyal. I went to Sringeri and made known my desire. Right away, His Holiness agreed and said that He would begin the lesson at 3’o clock in the afternoon. Some Sanyasis and Pandits also came for the classes . The text taken for exposition was Dakshinamurthy Stotram of Bhagavatpaadaal [Shankaracharya]. Having given a lucid explanation of the first verse, Acharyal decided to explain the second verse on the next day. Actually- He was having a sore throat. Still, He chose to teach me saying, “I have a sore throat. But you have come all the way from Bangalore for this. Hence I will teach”.

In the course of lessons, an aged Sanyasi by name ___ put some questions which were based on Tarka (the science of logic). Acharyal said, “These lessons are meant for Bhakta. Hence I am giving only those details that will benefit him. Tarka is not important for him. If you seek to understand the text from the standpoint of Tarka, then I am willing to explain that one point itself for 14 years giving a different interpretation on each day”.

This shows how Acharyal is always willing to cater to the requirements of the questioner. On the third day, Acharyal said, “This is enough. In fact what I taught you on the first day was itself sufficient for you. I took up the second verse on the subsequent day to ward off any possible feeling you may get that absence of continuation on the second day is inauspicious”.

My uncle, Sri ___, was in charge of the guest house. He told me of a peculiar person who had come there. I went into the said person’s room. This marked my contact with the Avaduta, Parabrahma. He was sitting unmindful of the body. He had an unkempt appearance, with long nails and a beard. On seeing me he said, “Bring Prasada”, I went and brought some idlis, gave them to him and said, “Namaste”. “Happy man”, he replied. “How about realisation [Atma jnaana]?”, I queried. “You will get it”, he remarked. “How?”, I persisted. “The mind will tell you”, was the poignant reply. The conversation ended there. I met Acharyal and reported what had transpired. He was silent for a while and gazed fixedly. “He is a Raja Yogi with Vedanta anubhava”, said Acharyal finally, with a tone of absolute certainty. A clearance had been given. Had not Acharyal told me earlier that by worshiping the Lingam that He gave me I would get Jnana? The means were now beginning to operate in full force.

Acharyal left for His first major South India tour. Prabrahma was at Sringeri at that time. Acharyal had left instructions to the Math officials to cater to his requirements. I went to Sringeri and met him again in May. On my prostrating before him, casually he said, “Prasada. Yellow water”. I brought some Sharbath from a hotel. “Happy man”, he said, accepting my offering. “What is meant by Atmaanusandhanam?”, I asked. “That is the Atma”, he answered, “Om is its Anusandhaanam. Say Om. When you repeat Om, all your nerves must vibrate from head to foot”. The dialogue ended there. I offered my salutations and returned.

Later, he initiated me to the Mahavaakyas [the important verses of the Upanishads which reveal the identity between the Atman and Brahman] and caused me to be centered on the Atman. Since then, I merely respond to stimuli but remain focused on the Atman.

When I narrated some details to His Holiness at Kutraalam, He said, “Brahma is a Atma-jnaani”. It takes a great sage to realise the worth of an Avadhuta. In fact, Brahma’s ways were so misunderstood that for many years he was confined to a lunatic asylum!

I have a habit of writing whatever comes to my mind to His Holiness. Sri __ once asked Acharyal, “Is no reply to be sent to his letters?”. “No”, responded Acharyal, “He has not sought one”. But whenever I have gone to have Darshanam after sending some epistles, He has remembered my writings. In fact, He has often cited parallel experiences corresponding to what I had detailed in my missives.

So powerful is Acharyal’s Atmanusandhaanam that it has a profound impact on those nearby, provided they suitably attune themselves. I vividly recall one such instance. I was accompanying Acharyal on His Kundapur camp. I was going in the pilot jeep when I noticed that Acharyal had ordered His car to stop. His Holiness asked me to sit in the front seat of His car and sent His attendant Mahabala, to the jeep. No conversation ensued. Acharyal lost Himself in the contemplation of the import of the Upanishads.The effect on me was extreme, to say the least.


  1. Thank you Sir. Re-collecting HH Sri Sri Abhinava Vidya Theertha Mahaswamigal daily is a blessing in itself.

    I have named my elder son Abhinav in reverence to the great Jagadguru whose anugraham we seek always.

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