[Advaita-l] HH Sri Narasimha Bharati Swamiji of Sringeri

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Sun Nov 13 10:39:56 CST 2016

Today is the Jayanthi of Sri Vruddha Nrisimha Bharati Mahaswamiji, 32nd

प्रह्लादवरदो देवो यो नृसिंहः परो हरिः ।
नृसिंहोपासकं नित्यं तं नृसिंहगुरुं भजे ॥

He is Hari who protected Prahlada The lion that quells the foes of faith
and truth The worshipper of the Supreme Lord Nrisimha I offer my
salutations to Sri Nrisimha Bharati!
Sri Nrisimha Bharati was born in 1798. Even as a boy, he had walked all the
way to Kasi to learn the Sastras from learned Pandits. After assuming the
headship of the Peetham, the Acharya strenuously applied himself to
securing high proficiency in several branches of learning, besides
mastering the details of the administration of the Mutt. He conquered
hunger and sleep. When he was hardly fifty years of age, he gave up normal
food and subsisted on a handful of boiled pagal (Momordica charantia). He
spent practically the whole day in meditation and Puja. While he was in
Bangalore in 1858, Commissioner Bowring, who had heard of the austere and
godly life of Acharya, wished to see for himself the truth of the reports,
and one day at one A.M he went incognito to the Acharya’s camp and slightly
drew aside the curtain in front of the Puja hall. Oblivious at what was
happening around and with his head bent down, the Acharya was offering
flowers to Chandramoulishwara. The Commissioner contemplated on the
spectacle with reverence and wonder. His letters to the Acharya are
eloquent expressions of his esteem.

The Acharya’s will was indomitable and he never swerved from any decision
he had taken. Never aggressive, never impatient, he gently set about
working till his purpose was accomplished. From constant meditation on God
Narasimha, his mind assumed a character of stern sublimity and struck awe
and reverence in the minds of those who approached him. His heart was
however very tender, and would easily melt at the sight of distress.
In 1838 the Acharya went on a tour to Rameshwaram and halted in the third
corridor of the great temple of Ramanatha. Among several wells round the
shrine, Koti-tirtha was considered to be the most important. When the
Acharya went there for a bath, He instructed His personal attendants to
draw the sacred water from the well for His bath, but the staff of the
temple objected to it. They maintained that only they had the rights to
draw the water from the well and offer it to others. They were very adamant
and unyielding. Finding their behaviour disrespectful, and wanting to teach
them a lesson, His Holiness went to another well to the south of the inner
shrine, known as Sarva-tirtha and concluded his bath with the water from
this well. He announced to the people assembled that hence forth it would
be enough for pilgrims to conclude their baths with the water of
Sarva-tirtha due to which the water of Koti-tirtha was forsaken by pilgrims
and it became filthy and insanitary for want of use.
In 1872 in the course of the second tour in the southern districts the
Acharya came to Madura. There the erring priests came to him and implored
him to forgive them for their insolence. The Acharya being tender at heart
again went to Ramesvaram in 1873, caused the Koti-tirtha to be drained and
pouring sanctified water into the well from his pitcher declared that the
Koti-tirtha had now become purified. The pilgrims could once again have
their bath from the water of this well. The Koti-tirtha was restored once
again to its lost glory. There are many such instances where the Acharya
had gently but firmly corrected the wrong doings being committed at various
places and led the devoted on the right path.
Maharaja Krishna Raja Wodeyar III invited the Acharya to Mysore in 1822.
The Maharaja issued several orders to exempt the articles brought to the
Mutt from taxes and further confirmed the right of the Mutt to property of
the disciples who passed away without heirs. When Mysore came under the
British Administration, the Acharya went on a long tour of pilgrimage to
the north. Collector Alexander Nisbet welcomed Acharya at Dharwar in 1842
and provided him with considerable escort during his pilgrimage to Nasik,
Dwaraka, Kurukshetra, Kasi, Badarikasrama, Jagannath, etc. The Acharya’s
progress through the North Indian states was marked by demonstrations of
respect and devotion. The Gaekwad of Baroda issued an order to help the
progress of Acharya’s party. Annual cash contributions and offerings to the
Mutt were promised by a number of rulers including Jayaji Rao Sinde of
Gwalior (1848 – 1849), Shaji Raja Bhosle of Akalkot, Narasinga Rao Sitole
Deshmukh and Raja of Kutch. Meanwhile, the Maharaja of Mysore wrote several
letters to the Acharya’s camps in the north requesting his return to
Mysore. In 1854, the Acharya paid his second visit to Mysore and initiated
the Maharaja into study of Shiva Gita.
The Acharya performed the Chaturmasya of 1855 at Bhavnagar. The subsequent
visit to Hyderabad State extended over three years, and was marked by
unprecedented manifestations of the Acharya’s high position and spiritual
attainments. The first proclamation issued by the Nizam’s prime minister
referred to the ‘auspicious tour’ (savari mubarak) “of the most holy
personage who could dispense blessings from where he stayed, but in the
fullness of his grace had condescended to tour the kingdom of Hyderabad.”
The Government of the Nizam issued a series of proclamations containing
orders to various officials of the Deccan to aid the entourage of the
Acharya and ensure the Acharya’s smooth tour of the State.
When the Acharya returned to Sringeri after his northern tour, he was sixty
years old and it occurred to him that he should nominate his successor and
give him suitable training. Fixing his mind upon a promising boy, he came
to Mysore. The boy, Shivaswami, was under guardianship of his brother
Lakshmi Narasimha Sastri, a pandit at the court of Mysore. Young Shivaswami
was ordained into Sanyasa Ashrama under the name of Sri Sacchidananda Shiva
Abhinava Nrisimha Bharati Swami.
The Jagadguru and his successor-designate then started on another extended
tour. Leaving Srirangapatnam, they visited Nanjangud, and Chamarajanagar
and then toured the districts of Coimbatore, Salem, Tiruchirapalli,
Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Tirunelveli, Thiruvananthapuram, Chingleput,
Madras, North Arcot, Cuddapah and Kurnool. During this tour, which lasted
twelve years, the Mysore, Madras and Indian Governments had made proper
arrangements for the reception of the Acharyas and providing suitable
escort. In a memorandum, Commissioner Bowring desired all officers to
receive Him with becoming attention. In a letter to the Government of
India, the Commissioner observed “The Sringeri Guru is the acknowledged
spiritual director not only of the greater proportions of the Hindus of the
southern India but also for leading Marathas, such as Holkar and the former
Peshwas. It may be said that his influence is far greater than that of any
spiritual guide in India, and I presume that it is for this reason that he
is regarded with such unlimited respect. The Guru Nrisimha Bharati is a
venerable man of 72, who has been a great traveler and has a considerable
reputation for learning. He is deservedly respected, being very unassuming
in manner and having a well established character for benevolence and
During these twelve years, the Jagadguru had made all arrangements for the
suitable training of his successor. He returned to Sringeri in 1877 and
entered Mahasamadhi in 1879.

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