Preceptors of Advaita
THE SAGE OF KANCHI
T. M. P. Mahadevan
M.A., Ph. D.
8. At Kanchi
After touring intensively in the southern districts, especially in Tanjavur, visiting even the remote villages, in pursuance of the implementation of programmes for religious awakening among the people, the Acharya arrived at Kanchi on the 22nd of June 1953 and made a stay of three years there.
The Acharya wanted to select a successor to the Kanchi Kamakoti Pitha and train him for the great tasks and duties associated with the headship of the Pitha. The choice fell on a young disciple, Subrahmanyam by name, the son of Sri Mahadeva Aiyar who was an official of the Southern Railway at Tiruchi. From his early boyhood, Subrahmanyam had been receiving Vedic education at the Matha itself. He was about nineteen years of age in 1954. The Vedic rituals connected with initiating him into sannyasa and imparting to him the mahavakya-upadesa by the Acharya took place at Kanchi from the 19th to the 22nd March 1954. Thousands of people had gathered in the holy city for witnessing the unique ceremony on the 22nd of March. The young disciple stood hip-deep in the Sarvatirtha Tank as soon as the Acharya had arrived there and discarded the insignia and attire of the purvasrama. Then he donned the kashaya cloth and repaired to the shrine of Sri Visvesvara where the Acharya imparted to him mahavakya-upadesa. He was given the yoga-pattam, ‘Sri Jayendra Sarasvati’. From that day onwards he has been with the Acharya as the First Disciple, receiving the necessary guidance in the performance of the many duties associated with the Pitha and its ever increasing sphere of spiritual service to the people.
On the 18th of May 1954, the Acharya’s shashti-abda-purti (sixth-first birth-day) was celebrated all over the country. In a message to the disciples who had gathered at Kanchi that day, the Acharya asked them to do their utmost to preserve the Vedic lore, to spread the spirit of devotion among the people and to make endowments of lands, etc., for charitable purposes. To mark the auspicious occasion Sri Sankara’s Brahma-sutra-bhashya with notes was published by the Kamakoti Kosasthanam.
The Golden Jubilee of the Acharya’s ascension to the Kamakoti Pitha was celebrated on the 17th of March 1957, at Kalavai where he had ascended the Pitha in 1907. In the course of a message, the Acharya observed:
“We know today that half-a-century has passed. There is not much use in reviewing all that we have been able to do in the past fifty years. On the contrary, we should bestow our thoughts on what we have to do in the remaining years that are given to us by God in this life. What is it that has to be done by us? What has to be done is to gain the state of freedom from all action. But, in the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord declares repeatedly that the state of freedom from action cannot be obtained by remaining quiet (without performing our duty). It is by performing action that the state of actionlessness can be realized. What is that action which is very intense, by which actionlessness is to be achieved by us? In answering this question, we recollect and remind you of the Bhagavatpada’s command: ‘Let action be performed well; thus let God be worshipped!’ Let us then perform our allotted actions. It is the performance of allotted actions that constitutes service to the Lord, worship of Him and becomes the means to obtain His Grace. Therefore, performing our respective duties and thus worshipping the Lord, we shall gain the Supreme Good.”
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Sage of Kanchi
Preceptors of Advaita