[Chaturamnaya] Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati, Shankaracharya of Sringeri Sarada Pitam (3)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 14 16:17:40 CDT 2013

(Continued from previous posting)
Dr Govindaswami on his return to
Bangalore reported that Sri Chandrasekhara
Bharati was quite normal and that the plane
of consciousness in which he lived was incomprehensible
to the ordinary human mind.
There were others — scientists and doctors
— who were sent to observe the mental state
of Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati. All returned
with the firm conviction that he was normal
and that his mental state was beyond scientific

The math officials and close devotees were
worried about the reputation of the math.
They therefore decided that it was time that
a successor to Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati was
nominated. The Swami himself was happy
and concurred with the suggestion. The thirteen
year old Srinivasa of Bangalore was chosen
as successor, given the sannyasa name
Abhinava Vidyatirtha and anointed junior
pontiff of the Sringeri Math on 22 May 1931.

What little connection Sri
Chandrasekhara Bharati had with the math
was now totally snapped and he lived in
Narasimha Vana, ever engaged in tapas, most
of the time immersed in antarmukha. For a
period of seven years from 1931, Sri
Chandrasekhara Bharati did tapas at
Narasimha Vana. Finally he came out of his
seclusion in 1938. News that Sri
Chandrasekhara Bharati had come out of his
antarmukha state and was giving darshan travelled
fast and crowds began pouring into
Sringeri. His face shone with the radiance of
the sun and people who met him were aware
of the power of his towering spirituality. The
silent power of the sage drew people from all
over the country but Sri Chandrasekhara
Bharati loathed crowds. He felt best when
left to himself. People came to him with their
problems and expected him to solve them.
Mundane issues like marriage, jobs, illness and
domestic problems were those that were presented
by the majority of visitors. The Swami
felt constricted. He again began to confine
himself to his room and did not come out even
when a big crowd was waiting for him.

One day, one of Sri Chandrasekhara
Bharati's close devotees, Krishnaswami Iyer,
the author of Dialogues with the Guru, approached
the Swami and made bold to ask
him as to why he should not give darshan to
the people who eagerly sought it. The Swami
replied that he was not interested in the
worldly problems which were fleeting and
were the products of maya-, and they were
not interested in what he possessed. Therefore,
what was the point in giving darshan?
Krishnaswami Iyer pleaded that in the crowd
there would be at least a handful who might
be interested in the highest spiritual goal and
who might crave upadesa of the Swami. To
which the great Yogi replied, "True, if there
is such a person, interested in the truth and
wants my help, he will somehow find a way
to meet me. Like you who are in my presence
now, for example." This was quite true,
because genuine sadhakas who needed the
Swami's guidance invariably succeeded in
getting his darshan and guidance.

In response to requests from devotees Sri
Chandrasekhara Bharati decided to go on
tour, his second one. Accordingly in 1938
he visited Bangalore and stayed at the
Shankara Math for about eight months. He
had a temple constructed for Goddess
Saradamba in the math premises and performed
kumbhabhishekam. He gave lectures
on Vedanta which were attended by a large
number of ardent devotees.

A day before Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati
left Bangalore, a close devotee was moved to
tears. When the Swami questioned him, the
devotee replied that in all these days he had
become attached to the Swami, his Guru, and
now he could not bear to be separated from
him. Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati asked him,
"Who is that Guru who has given you such
joy?" "Yourself, your Holiness", replied the
devotee. The Swami observed, "Then, I have
no right to call myself a Guru. If this is what
I have taught you, then it is better that you
miss my presence. It is obvious that you consider
this body as your Guru. If I have taught
you that this body is the Guru then I am utterly
useless. In reality the body has got nothing
to do with Atma, the true Guru. The Atma
is beyond time and space, beyond arrival or
departure." The devotee understood the
truth. Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati believed
in imparting to his devotees nothing less than
the highest truth of the Vedanta.

After a few days' stay at Nanjangud the
Swami proceeded straight to Kaladi. Here,
the Swami found the quiet and peace
conducive to his tapas and spent most of his
time in communion with the Self. It was at
Kaladi that he began writing his famous commentary
on Shankara's Viveka Chudamani.
Thousands had his darshan and benefitted.
The Swami then decided to return to Sringeri
after staying at Kaladi for ten months. It was

For about five years after this, Sri
Chandrasekhara Bharati led a normal life. He
taught Shankara's bhashyas and Vedanta to
some select disciples, contributed articles on
religion to a math journal, held scholarly discussions
with pandits and granted interviews
to genuine seekers. But he did not involve
himself in the affairs of the math.

Again, sometime in 1946, Sri
Chandrasekhara Bharati went into seclusion
at Narasimha Vana. He snapped contact with
the outside world, yet people went to Sringeri
in large numbers to have his darshan. They
waited for weeks just to have a glimpse,
though it might be from a distance, of his
smiling visage. A smile or a nod from him
was enough to fill their hearts with peace.
Many people have reported that by a mere
darshan of the great Swami, their problems
have been solved. Thus flew six years.

The Last Years

It was 1952. The math authorities and
Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati's devotees
planned to celebrate the sixtieth birthday of
the Swami in a grand manner. The Swami
firmly turned down their request. He could
not bring himself to allow an event that celebrated
his body which he considered to be
false. The Swami finally agreed, for the only
reason that Ati Rudra and Sahasra Chandi
homas which were beneficial to the world at
large would be performed on the occasion.
The yagnas were conducted in April 1953,
months after the Swami's actual birthday;
the Swami did not take part in them. He
did not stir from his retreat at Narasimha
Vana, but he gave darshan to the thousands
of devotees who had assembled for the
yagnas. In the year 1954, the Swami was his
usual self and more accessible to devotees.
He also participated in the Vinayaka sadas
held on the occasion of Vinayaka Chaturthi
— something which he had never done for
a long time.

Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati was particularly
genial and gracious with everyone
during the year 1954. People were surprised,
as they witnessed the Swami call each of
his attendants and the math staff and enquire
of their welfare and of their family. With kindness
and solicitude he spoke to devotees and
blessed them. When a devotee wrote
to him as to when he could have his darshan,
the Swami wrote back saying he could
come immediately, certainly before Mahalaya
Amavasya, which in that year fell on 26

On 25 September, he handed over the
books in his possession to the librarian and
spoke to all devotees who sought his presence.
In the evening he stood before the
Samadhi of his Guru, the great Sivabhinava
Narasimha Bharati for sometime. He ate a
frugal meal that evening and retired for the
night but did not sleep. Every now and then
he got up and went round his Guru's
Samadhi several times and repeated slokas
from Sadasiva Brahmendra's poem, Atma
Vidya Vilasa and chanted other stotras.

On September 26, 1954, well before
dawn, Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati started
for the river Tunga for his bath. His attendant
reminded him that hot water was ready
for his bath. It was dark and rainy. The
Swami said, "Today is a punya divasa (holy
day) being Mahalaya Amavasya. Let us bathe
in the river", and unmindful of the drizzle,
went down to the river. The attendant
rushed behind with clothes for the Swami.
Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati descended the
steps and went into the river. The attendant
had begun washing clothes with his back
turned to the Swami. The Swami had a dip
in the cool waters of the Tunga and sat on a
stone slab for his pranayama. The next
minute the attendant heard a loud thud and
splash of water. Turning round he saw the
Swami's body, in padmasana, floating downstream.
Stunned, he screamed for help,
dived into the water, went after the body
and caught hold of it. Swimming against the
water current with the Swami's body, the
attendant repeatedly screamed for help.
Presently another assistant who had rushed
from the quarters jumped into the water and
helped to bring the body to the river bank.
It was a quarter past four in the morning.
The junior Swami, Sri Abhinava
Vidyatirtha, math authorities, staff, devotees,
all came. Doctors who examined the
Swami found not a drop of water inside the
body of that Maha Yogi. The face was calm
and serene with that ineffable peace reigning.
It was icha marana. Sri Chandrasekhara
Bharati had of his own accord left his mortal

(To be continued in the next posting)

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