Sri Gurubhyo Namaha
In Sringeri, the Jagadgurus have their own personalities but share the fact that all of them are great tapasvis, yogis, and jnanis.
Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha was the 35th Jagadguru of Sringeri and adorned the Peetham from 1954 to 1989, for a period of 35 years. He was well known as a jivanmukta and a yogi par excellence. He undertook several yatras across India and Nepal, remaining out of Sringeri for a period of 17 years.
The following excerpt is from the book – “The Multifaceted Jivanmukta”, available for free download from Vidyatirtha foundation website – http://svfonline.net/. It is a benedictory address given by the Jagadguru on 1 st February, 1968, at Shivamogga, at the end of His first yatra.
One can understand the mind of the Guru through this. The characteristics of an ideal sanyasi, parivraajaka, teacher, an ideal bhakta on a pilgrimage, come out in these few paragraphs.
[The Jagadguru’s words]
“When I set out, I had no inclination to undertake such a long tour, save an occasional desire to visit Varanasi, bathe in the holy Ganges and have the darśana of Lord Viśvanātha. I wished to behold, if possible, the Himalayas once, visit Badrinath and Kedarnath. Again, the urge to worship, if feasible, Lord Paśupatināth in Nepal was lurking somewhere inside. However, I made no efforts in this regard.
When devotees exhorted me now and then to undertake a tour, I thought, “Let Īśvara’s will prevail,” and consented. Even then, I had not thought of where to go, when and how. Somehow, things started to fall in place and the tour started, went on and is finally coming to an end. To a large extent, it could be said that the tour has been completed satisfactorily. Looking back, it is clearly evident that all these were, in fact, possible due to the glory of Śaṅkara Bhagavatpāda and my Guru’s grace.
Initially, the tour spanned Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. While in Andhra, I thought of observing the next cāturmāsya at Ujjain, the abode of Śrī Mahākāleśvara. Unexpectedly, this was possible due to the Rājamātā of Gwalior. Navarātri too was
celebrated in a grand manner at Gwalior with the patronage of the Rājamātā. At Ujjain, the inclination to visit Nepal and have darśana of Paśupatināth intensified. Even this came to pass. Then, I wished to experience both the pleasure and pain of touring the
Himalayas. This too fructified!
In the meandering and constantly ascending path to Kedarnath, the terrain was strewn with pebbles, boulders, smooth granite slabs and offered variety. Sharp pebbles pricked the feet; the heels were sore due to hard rocks; at places, it was slippery due to thin films of streaming water. As the day wore, the vagaries of weather – sharp afternoon sun, rain during dusk and a chilling wind with light snowfall as the night advanced – were in full view.
Accompanied by growing darkness, the fall of snowflakes was like a shower of ‘droṇa-puṣpa’ (Leucas aspera or Thumbai) on the face and a bed of sugar for the feet. The snowfall was incessant. The leg joints were stiffening. It was nearing 9 o’ clock at night. On one side of the narrow path was a ravine, over 500 feet deep, with the torrential Gaṅgā below. On the other was the rocky steep mountain. Diminishing visibility led to uncertainty regarding where to tread.
To compound this, having briskly trekked far ahead of the entourage, I was alone, with none in sight or earshot. Turning back was not an option. Catastrophe was just one false step away – either bang on the butting rock or fall on the lap of Mother Gaṅgā! Lo and behold, a person approached me from the direction of the temple with a lantern and escorted me! What else if not the glorious divine sport of Śaṅkara Bhagavatpāda?
One day, as the tour was headed towards Varanasi, many dissuaded me, “Communal clashes and violence are prevalent in Kashi. The atmosphere is not conducive.” I could not decide. Praying to Lord Viśvanātha alone is our way, strength and duty. I pondered,
“O Visveśvara, why this? I cannot come when You call me! When I come, You should give me darśana. Why don’t You fulfill my intense urge?”
Musing like this for a while, I proceeded for about 40 miles towards Kolkata, when two eminent persons from Kashi came and wanted Me to return to Varanasi. I declined; they insisted; I acceded. Evidently, the Lord’s grace was there. What a grand welcome awaited me at Kashi! I was immensely fortunate for the Lord’s darśana and the glory of the pūjā! Reminiscing about these itself accentuates happiness, satisfaction and thrill.
From there, I went to Kolkata. Even there some hurdles and hardships surfaced. “For saṁnyāsins like me, what is fame or infamy, triumph or defeat? Let Īśvara’s will prevail” – thinking thus, I proceeded. On the very next day after I reached the city, a wonderful
transformation was seen in the atmosphere. There was no end to the love and deference of the large gathering. Aren’t these the glory of Bhagavatpāda, tell-tale signs of Guru’s grace?
Once, while at Gaya, I went to Buddha Gaya, without giving prior intimation to the authorities there. However, it appeared that someone must have informed them. They rushed to welcome me and showed their respect. A praiseworthy aspect seen there was
the cleanliness of the entire premises, so maintained with utmost faith and devotion. I wondered why our temples too should not be like that. Can unclean places be deemed temples or prayer halls?
On another day, on the way to Nepal, I happened to visit a Buddhist Vihara. There was an assembly of saints and sādhus. Thronged by men and women, it appeared like a mixed congregation. On viewing that, their Guru took serious exception. He shot, “What is this inappropriate behavior? Can you all mingle like this in the presence of elders? Should you not maintain decorum?” In a trice, the men and women segregated. Their discipline and deference to the code of conduct are worthy of appreciation. Such characteristics in our gatherings are still on our wish list.
From my tour, I see three aspects standing out:
(1) I have personally witnessed and abundantly experienced the limitless grace of Īśvara and the greatness of His powers.
(2) Though due to historical, geographical and social reasons we perceive some mild differences in the appearances, costumes and customs of our people, the society is fundamentally united. This is applicable not merely for those living in the south of the
Himalayas, but also for those in Nepal, the sole remaining Hindu nation. The people of Nepal have immense faith in Hindu religion and are extremely proud of being Hindus.
(3) Touring the country is good for all, essential too. Our perspectives widen and our broadmindedness proliferates. Else, narrow feelings like, “We are great; our people alone are great; this world is nothing without us,” get rooted.
All in all, the sanātana-hindu-dharma will never cease to exist. With intense faith, if we feel, “We should prosper; the purpose our birth should be fulfilled,” and with a pure mind, we strive in the ordained path, by the grace of Bhagavatpāda, we all will, without
any doubt, attain fulfillment.”