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The Sage of Kanchi
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The Sage of Kanchi
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Preface

In these pages a humble attempt is made to present a biography of Sri Jagadguru Sankarachaya of Kamakoti Pitha, His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati, who has completed this year sixty years of spiritual rulership as the Sixty-eighth Head of the Pitha. A succession of events does not tell the story of even an ordinary person. One cannot understand the significance of the life of a Mahatma, an Avatara, from the outside. His thoughts, feelings, and deeds do not belong to him as an individual person; they embrace the universe in their extensive ambit. So, the life of the Jagadguru is what affects the entire world vitally and transforms it from within in order that it may move forward to the goal of perfection. It is a life of purity and wisdom which sanctifies mankind, and confers on it the blessings that are lasting. Adi Sankara has showered the world with surpassing benefits: the most precious of them is the succession of Acharyas in the Kamakoti Pitha. Ascending the Pitha at the age of thirteen, our Acharya has, during the last sixty years, ceaselessly" endeavoured to teach humanity by precept and example, to unfold to it the blessedness of non-duality (Advaita), to make it realize the need for preserving and augmenting the culture of the Spirit. May the meditation on the deeper spiritual values that a study of this biography will induce be the reverential offering that we will make to His Holiness.

Translations of two discourses of the Acharya have been added to the biography: one on 'Advaita', and the other on 'the Significance of Sankara-jayanti. The Sage of Kanchi has been included as the sixtieth article in the Preceptors of Advaita which is being published in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of the Acharya's Pitharohana.

mulajnana-mahadhvanta-
samghatotsadanakshamam,
bhavaye bhavatapaghnam,
srikanchipithagam mahah

"I meditate on the great Luminary presiding over the Sri Kanchipitha, who is capable of removing the dense darkness of primal nescience, and of extinguishing the fire of transmigration."

Introduction

Any one who has read the works of Sri Sankara would certainly want to know what sort of a person the great Master was. In all his extensive writings he nowhere makes any reference to himself. The only isolated passage where one could see an oblique reference relates, not to any detail in personal biography, but to the inwardly felt experience of the Impersonal Absolute. In this passage which occurs towards the end of the Brahma-sutra-bhashya, he observes: "How is it possible for another to deny the realization of Brahman-knowledge, experienced in one's heart, while bearing a body?" The reference here is to the plenary experience of Brahman, even while living in a body (jivan-mukti); and it is evident that the testimony offered here is from Sankara's own experience. The outlines of the story of Sankara's life could be gathered only from the Sankara-vijayas and other narratives. In spite of varying accounts in regard to some of the details, the image of the Master that one forms from these sources, taking into account also the grand teachings that are to be found in his own works, is that of a great spiritual leader, who renounced all wordly attachments even as a boy, who was a prodigy in scriptural lore and wisdom, who spent every moment of his life in the service of the masses of mankind by placing before them, through precept and practice, the ideal of the life divine, and who was a teacher of teachers, the universal guru. Even as such a magnificent image is being formed, the doubt may arise in the minds of many: Is it possible that such a great one walked this earth? Is it possible that in a single ascetic frame was compressed several millennia of the highest spiritual human history? This doubt is sure to be dispelled in the case of those who have had the good fortune of meeting His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati, the Sixty-eighth in the hallowed line of succession of Sankara Acharyas to adorn the Kamakoti Pitha of Kanchi. Anyone who comes into the august presence of His Holiness cannot but recall to his mind the image of Adi Sankara, the immaculate sage who was divine and yet human, whose saving grace was universal in its sweep, and whose concern was for all even for the lowliest and the last. For sixty years Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati has been fulfilling the noble spiritual mission entrusted by Adi Sankara to his successors bearing his holy name. Numerous are the ways in which he has given the lead for human upliftment through inner awakening. When one considers his life of ceaseless and untiring dedication to the task of stabilizing and promoting the renascent spirit of India so that humanity may be benefited thereby, one cannot but conclude that it is the unbounded Grace of Sankara that has assumed this new form in order to move the world one step higher on the ladder to universal perfection.

Contents

The Sage of Kanchi 11
1Introduction 11
2Early Life 12
3Ascension to Sri Kamakoti Pitha 17
4The First Tour of Victory 22
5Study and Training 23
6All-India Tour (1919-1939) 25
7Consolidation and Furtherance of Our Ancient Dharma 59
8At Kanchi 71
9Since 1957 73
Sixty-One of the Many Blessings Conferred By His Holiness on the World 98
Seventy-Six Chaturmasyas 106
Jagadguru Sri Chandra sekharendra Sarasvati 109
1On Advaita 109
2On the Significance of Sankara Jayanti 120

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The Sage of Kanchi

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Preface

In these pages a humble attempt is made to present a biography of Sri Jagadguru Sankarachaya of Kamakoti Pitha, His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati, who has completed this year sixty years of spiritual rulership as the Sixty-eighth Head of the Pitha. A succession of events does not tell the story of even an ordinary person. One cannot understand the significance of the life of a Mahatma, an Avatara, from the outside. His thoughts, feelings, and deeds do not belong to him as an individual person; they embrace the universe in their extensive ambit. So, the life of the Jagadguru is what affects the entire world vitally and transforms it from within in order that it may move forward to the goal of perfection. It is a life of purity and wisdom which sanctifies mankind, and confers on it the blessings that are lasting. Adi Sankara has showered the world with surpassing benefits: the most precious of them is the succession of Acharyas in the Kamakoti Pitha. Ascending the Pitha at the age of thirteen, our Acharya has, during the last sixty years, ceaselessly" endeavoured to teach humanity by precept and example, to unfold to it the blessedness of non-duality (Advaita), to make it realize the need for preserving and augmenting the culture of the Spirit. May the meditation on the deeper spiritual values that a study of this biography will induce be the reverential offering that we will make to His Holiness.

Translations of two discourses of the Acharya have been added to the biography: one on 'Advaita', and the other on 'the Significance of Sankara-jayanti. The Sage of Kanchi has been included as the sixtieth article in the Preceptors of Advaita which is being published in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of the Acharya's Pitharohana.

mulajnana-mahadhvanta-
samghatotsadanakshamam,
bhavaye bhavatapaghnam,
srikanchipithagam mahah

"I meditate on the great Luminary presiding over the Sri Kanchipitha, who is capable of removing the dense darkness of primal nescience, and of extinguishing the fire of transmigration."

Introduction

Any one who has read the works of Sri Sankara would certainly want to know what sort of a person the great Master was. In all his extensive writings he nowhere makes any reference to himself. The only isolated passage where one could see an oblique reference relates, not to any detail in personal biography, but to the inwardly felt experience of the Impersonal Absolute. In this passage which occurs towards the end of the Brahma-sutra-bhashya, he observes: "How is it possible for another to deny the realization of Brahman-knowledge, experienced in one's heart, while bearing a body?" The reference here is to the plenary experience of Brahman, even while living in a body (jivan-mukti); and it is evident that the testimony offered here is from Sankara's own experience. The outlines of the story of Sankara's life could be gathered only from the Sankara-vijayas and other narratives. In spite of varying accounts in regard to some of the details, the image of the Master that one forms from these sources, taking into account also the grand teachings that are to be found in his own works, is that of a great spiritual leader, who renounced all wordly attachments even as a boy, who was a prodigy in scriptural lore and wisdom, who spent every moment of his life in the service of the masses of mankind by placing before them, through precept and practice, the ideal of the life divine, and who was a teacher of teachers, the universal guru. Even as such a magnificent image is being formed, the doubt may arise in the minds of many: Is it possible that such a great one walked this earth? Is it possible that in a single ascetic frame was compressed several millennia of the highest spiritual human history? This doubt is sure to be dispelled in the case of those who have had the good fortune of meeting His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati, the Sixty-eighth in the hallowed line of succession of Sankara Acharyas to adorn the Kamakoti Pitha of Kanchi. Anyone who comes into the august presence of His Holiness cannot but recall to his mind the image of Adi Sankara, the immaculate sage who was divine and yet human, whose saving grace was universal in its sweep, and whose concern was for all even for the lowliest and the last. For sixty years Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati has been fulfilling the noble spiritual mission entrusted by Adi Sankara to his successors bearing his holy name. Numerous are the ways in which he has given the lead for human upliftment through inner awakening. When one considers his life of ceaseless and untiring dedication to the task of stabilizing and promoting the renascent spirit of India so that humanity may be benefited thereby, one cannot but conclude that it is the unbounded Grace of Sankara that has assumed this new form in order to move the world one step higher on the ladder to universal perfection.

Contents

The Sage of Kanchi 11
1Introduction 11
2Early Life 12
3Ascension to Sri Kamakoti Pitha 17
4The First Tour of Victory 22
5Study and Training 23
6All-India Tour (1919-1939) 25
7Consolidation and Furtherance of Our Ancient Dharma 59
8At Kanchi 71
9Since 1957 73
Sixty-One of the Many Blessings Conferred By His Holiness on the World 98
Seventy-Six Chaturmasyas 106
Jagadguru Sri Chandra sekharendra Sarasvati 109
1On Advaita 109
2On the Significance of Sankara Jayanti 120

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