[Advaita-l] Book review: Shri Shri Satchidanandendra Sarasvati (Life History & His Contributions to Shankara Vedanta)

balu davey baludavey at gmail.com
Tue Dec 9 23:39:33 CST 2008

I request more information about Holenarasipur and how to approach it
from Chennai
with regards
Balakrishna Davey
2008/12/9 Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>:
> It is our ancient custom to recount the biographies of our saints and scholars.
> In the tales of the itihasa and puranas or the digvijaya of Shankaracharya we
> can see the practical application of the theories of the shastras.  We mustn't
> think that the heroes of sanatana dharma belong solely in the legendary past
> for even today Punya Bharat is the home to sages of the greatest magnitude. One
> such luminary was Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati of Karnataka. (1880-1975)
> The story of his life and great deeds was written in Kannada by Shri
> Lakshminrsimha Murti, a disciple, under the title Gurucharitamrita.  Now thanks
> to our list member Shrimati Savitri Devaraj, it is available to English
> speakers as well.  She was kind enough to send me a copy and here are my
> thoughts about it.
> Y. Subbaraya was born in a typical Brahmana family of that time.  His parents
> though not great scholars themselves were faithful astikas and did their duties
> dilligently. And the village Yellambalase where they lived though small and off
> the beaten track was filled with pious people. It was an environment that
> instilled a devotion to dharma and jnana in young Subbaraya that would last a
> lifetime.  This was a very uplifting part of the book for me.  We see the boy
> growing into a young man and steadily increasing in Vedantic knowledge.  From
> the beginning, he did not just repeat what he had learnt but thought
> analytically about each topic.
> Although he supported himself by various teaching jobs, Vedanta continued to
> remain Subbarayas main interest and in 1920, he formed the Adhyatma Prakasha
> Karyalaya as a vehicle to spread knowledge about Shankaracharyas teachings and
> his own views on the same. His fluency in Sanskrit, Kannada, and English led
> him to become a prolific author.  This book gives useful information on the
> title, contents, and publication dates of his many works and the various
> dharmic activities of the Karyalaya.
> In 1948, Y. Subbaraya took sannyasa with the name Swami Satchidanandendra
> Saraswati.  The description of this event in this book reminds us that Vedanta
> cannot remain a matter of books.  It has to be put into practice with vairagya.
> Swamijis critical approach (combined with the utmost reverence. He did not make
> controversy for its own sake.) led him to conclude that the two major lines of
> interpretation of Shankaracharyas thought, the bhamati and vivarana schools
> unnecessarily complicated and even obscured the teachings of Advaita Vedanta.
> He felt sadhakas should concentrate on the bhashyas alone and only turn to
> other works if absolutely needed.  As you can expect this was contested by more
> conservative scholars.  Personally, at this point I don't know if I would agree
> with Swamiji.  However it is clear that he was no deviationist and his ideas
> are well within the bounds of traditional Advaita Vedanta and were accepted as
> such by the vidvans. The book explains the nature of the controversy and tells
> of some of the participants but I would have liked more information.  Happily,
> the book also contains English excerpts from one of Swamijis Sanskrit works on
> the topic called vedantavidvadghosti ("Vedantins Meet")  This will give the
> reader an introduction to his style and salient arguments.
> By the time Swamiji attained mahasamadhi in 1975, he and his organization
> (which is still going strong today) were responsible for introducing the
> thought of Shankaracharya to literally thousands of people.  By introducing new
> readers to the life and teachings of this great soul, I am sure this book will
> help increase that number further still.
> "Shri Shri Satchidanandendra Sarasvati (Life History &  His Contributions to
> Shankara Vedanta)" (294 pages) is available for Rs.150 (India) or $5(foreign)
> from Adhyatma Prakasha Karyalaya Holenarasipur 573 211 India.
> --
> Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
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