The intellectually gifted and spiritually blessed Smartha Saraswats who flourished on the banks of the River Saraswati in the Himalayan region, north of Kurukshetra were forced to migrate initially because of the drying up of the sacred river. Subsequently, the repeated assaults made by Muslim invaders in the 15th century forced them to move southward. Upon reaching Kanara, their loyalty, integrity and intelligence earned them high positions in the service of the royals of Nagar. But it also inspired envy and anger among other groups in the court who sought to discredit them in the eyes of the ruler. This influenced the Chief to ask the Saraswats to prove their credentials and show him their Guru. Unflinching faith came to the rescue of the troubled Saraswats making the elders of the community offer penance and intense prayer at the feet of Lord Mahabaleshwar in Gokarna whereupon His mercy vouchsafed a vision which turned real on the following evening on the banks of the Kotiteertha. The sannyasi – Shrīmat Parijnanashram Swamiji -who came as a divine emissary, carrying the idol of Lord Bhavanishankar (which is consecrated at the Bandikeri Math) agreed to become the Guru of the Saraswats and meet the ruler of Nagar. Parijnanashram Swamiji hailed from the ‘Ashrama Sampradaya’. ‘Ashrama’ was one of the 10 lineages established by Adi Shankaracharya to systematize the Sannyasa Parampara which would carry on and project the correct perception of Sanatana dharma. Traversing the entire length and breadth of Bharatavarsha (India) thrice on foot this ‘Advaita-Sthapanacharya’ –Adi Shankara- established four Maths to promote Advaita Siddhant. After him His shishya-s continued His exemplary work.
While the king of Nagar acknowledged the obvious credentials of Parijnanashram Swamiji, he still wanted these to be ‘endorsed’ by the Jagadguru of Shrīngeri. Swamiji agreed to this condition as well and proceeded thereto. The Acharya was away and the officiating priests shut the temple, failing to recognize and accord due courtesy to the holy visitor who waited patiently for the deity’s darshan. Devi Sharadamba then caused Her own effulgence to radiate from Swamiji’s visage making the priests beg forgiveness for their wrongdoing. Upon his hurried return, Jagadguru (who had a dream in which the Devi indicated what had transpired) heaped honours upon Swamiji and gladly made the official declaration sought by the Nagar king that this was, indeed, a worthy Guru of the Saraswat Brahmins. After this formal acceptance Swamiji returned to Gokarna where He established the Bandikeri Math, enlightened an eager samaja for over a decade with the priceless knowledge of the scriptures and 14 days after appointing a shishya and telling the devotees to love and venerate the Guru, attained Mahasamadhi.
In 1720, on Chaitra Shudhha Purnima, heeding the pleas of devotees that the Guruparampara should continue, Parijnanashram Swamiji ordained the only son of Shrī.Krishnayya Kulkarni from the Haritekar family and named the shishya Swami “Shaṅkarāshram”. In return, Krishnayya was entrusted with administrative functions in the Math and told that in future preference would be given to the ‘Shukla Bhat’ family ( this is a designation the family and its descendants were given) when choosing a shishya.
The composure and wisdom displayed by Shaṅkarāshram Swamiji when he had to ascend the peetha within two weeks of his ordination ,was evidence enough of His suitability for taking on the huge responsibility thrust upon him at such short notice. Striving constantly for the spiritual uplift of the people Swamiji constantly reminded them that both joy and sorrow were but passing phases and that their goal should be to attain mastery over the fickle mind. There are many incidents on record to show how Swamiji’s Grace and Blessings reached out to miraculously redeem the poorest of the poor when he prayed humbly and sincerely to the Guru for succour.
It was during His time that Basappa Nayak II of Nagar made land grants to the Math by a gift deed dated 1739. In 1757, Swamiji fell ill on His way back to Gokarna from Bhatkal, where the indifference displayed by the local Saraswat community had upset Him. The devotees entreated Swamiji to take some respite at Shirali, where the pious Nagarkatte family gladly hosted Him. In view of His falling health everyone pleaded that Swamiji should ordain a shishya immediately to carry on the lineage, but the Guru refused and soon after took Mahasamadhi, once again leaving the community without a spiritual Master.
The magnanimous Nagarkatte family gladly donated their homestead for erecting the Samadhi-sthal. (This Samadhi is referred to as the “Hodi Samadhi” now.) But the Divine had decreed much more than that for the sacred land situated in the Parashurama-kshetra. So a unanimous decision was taken to consecrate the idol of Lord Bhavanishankar at the hallowed spot and thus it transpired that the sanctum that would draw devotees from all corners of the earth, the mother’s nest which would attract all Her fledglings to rejuvenate their flagging morale – the Shrī Chitrāpur Math – came to be established here!
In recognition of the large-hearted seva offered by the Nargarkattekars who gave up their own home to build the Math, their family members are accorded the distinction of receiving the prime honour ( the “pailo veedo” as it is called) during the Rathotsav at the Math premises.
Since Shaṅkarāshram Swamiji had taken Mahasamadhi without appointing a shishya the Saraswat community, which earnestly wanted a spiritual Mentor to guide them, once again faced the backlash generated by anger and envy from troublemongers , till the ruler of Nagar actually threatened to lock up the Math and confiscate its assets if they did not find a successor to the peetha immediately. Providentially, someone recollected that a Saraswat youth initiated by Swamiji Himself was steeped in sadhana at Kollur. When the elders rushed to the great soul with the earnest appeal that He should become the next Mathadhipati, He graciously consented, came to Shirali and ascended the peetha as Parijnanashram Swamiji II.
Swamiji’s inspired teachings on the tenets of dharma helped greatly to heighten the devotion of the laity towards God, Guru and the Math. Many are the instances recorded at the time of the miraculous cures and inner transformation brought out by a Blessing or even the Darshan of this great Yateeshwar.
With time and advancing age as Swamiji’s activities began to diminish, the samaja entreated Him to ordain a shishya to carry forward the holy parampara. Upon His consent the elders of the community began looking for a worthy successor and came upon an eminently suitable young sadhak from a Shukla Bhat family of Mallapur. After the father agreed to let his son take on this sacred role, Swamiji came to Mallapur and performed the Shishya-sweekar ceremony, ordaining the initiate Swami as “Shaṅkarāshram”II. When the time came to drop His mortal coil, Swamiji advised the shishya Swami to preach to His people with love as if they were His own children and after assuring Him of spiritual eminence in His holy mission, peacefully attained Mahasamadhi. This Samadhi is to your left when you are facing the Hodi Samadhi and shrine of Lord Bhavanishankar at Shrī Chitrāpur Math, Shirali.
A great scholar and Yogi Parama Pujya Shaṅkarāshram Swamiji was revered as the very incaranation of Lord Dattatreya. His total absorption in spiritual pursuit made him very frail in physical health, causing His bhakta-s to beseech Him to ordain a shishya soon. Swamiji consented and the search for a suitable initiate began. There was a very promising youngster in the Talgeri household. After the family had agreed , Swamiji performed the Shishya –sweekar ceremony , gave the Shishya Swami the holy Upadesh and the name “Keshavashram”.
Just as it was with the earlier Masters, many miracles have been attributed to Swamiji : Once when His body was suffering from high fever, Swamiji transferred the shivers it was undergoing to His danda ( the sacred staff carried by a sannyasin), but only for the period of His Anushthan! Another story devotees recall is of how the vada-s dipped in smoking oil refused to rise because Swamiji had not been served His customary gruel (conji) . Since it was a day commemorating Parama- Guru Parijnanashram Swamiji, Shishya Swami had mistakenly hoped Swamiji would partake of the delicacies on the menu instead of the customary gruel. “How can the oil get heated when the heat (of hunger) within has not been assuaged”, is how Swamiji light-heartedly brushed off the wondrous incident!
Also documented is the startling incident of how, years after Swamiji’s Mahasamadhi, when Parama Pujya Pandurangashram Swamiji visited Mallapur and had the slab removed for some repair work, the flowers, bilwa leaves and tulsi placed within almost a century earlier were still so fresh that their fragrance filled the air!
Fifth in the lineage of our Holy Guruparampara, Keshavashram Swamiji was able to stir the samaja with His enlightening discourses and spiritually radiant persona. This made the laity gladly contribute a portion of their income for the upkeep of their beloved Math. So the revenue of the Math increased and some fields and land were acquired during Swamiji’s able Mathadhipatya which lasted for over four decades.
While a self-realised Master does not ascribe too much importance to ‘miracles’ they happen most naturally because of the Divinity He exudes so effortlessly. So it was but natural that a child of a devoted couple from Murdeshwar, who had not uttered a word since birth, began to speak soon after attaining Swamiji’s darshan. Another devotee from Mangalore, whose pockets were empty, set out on foot to visit Shirali for Swamiji’s blessings. After a while, total exhaustion forced him to rest under a banyan tree. His feet were swollen and painful and he thought he would breathe his last before seeing Swamiji. Slipping into slumber he dreamt that the merciful Swamiji Himself was applying fragrant medicinal oil to heal his feet. Upon waking he was dumbstruck to note that not only had the pain and swelling disappeared, the scent of the oil still lingered in the air! Grateful beyond description he rushed to the Math and fell at Swamiji’s feet with overwhelming gratitude and bhakti.
When age began to make its presence felt, the devotees requested Swamiji to appoint a shishya. The worthy candidate was found in a Shukla Bhat family of Mangalore and in 1804 Swamiji performed the sacred Shishya –sweekar ceremony at Shirali and named the prime disciple “Vamanashram”. For almost two decades Swamiji groomed the shishya Swami in Yogabhyas , spiritual study and all the skills required for the demanding role of Mathadhipati and in 1823 attained Mahasamadhi in Shirali. This Samadhi is to the extreme left when you are facing the Hodi Samadhi.
Extremely compassionate and totally immersed in sadhana , Parama Pujya Vamanashram Swamiji could not pay too much attention to the administrative matters of the Math. A manager, hailing from the Shukla Bhat family was put in charge, but he was not able to do his duty efficiently. The elders of the community felt it might be more prudent to request Swamiji to ordain a shishya who could be entrusted with the administrative responsibilities of the Math.
There was, at the time, in Swamiji’s retinue a bright young man called Parameshwar from the Nagarkar family. Earlier, penury had forced him to serve as an errand boy in a household at Mangalore, where a visiting astrologer had predicted that this young man should not be treated as a menial for he was cut out for a much larger role which would earn him eminence and public regard. The priest at Vittal, where Swamiji was camping, also noticed the exceptional qualities of the boy and told Swamiji that he may be a suitable candidate for ordination as a shishya. When this was endorsed by the elders of the samaja Swamiji agreed to conduct the formalities upon returning to Shirali. In 1836, the shishya designate was duly inducted with the ceremonial Shishya-sweekar and given the name – “Krishnashram”.
Swamiji, however, did not comply with the community’s request to let the Shishya Swami take over the administrative functions. Perhaps He was aware that the shishya would have to soon take on the role of Mathadhipati as well. For soon after, Swamiji fell gravely ill with small-pox and after declaring that His mission was complete and blessing everyone took Mahasamadhi in 1839 at Mangalore. Since tender coconut water was administered to Vamanashram Swamiji in His last days, this is the seva devotees offer at the Samadhi-sthal to this day.
The Saraswat samaja flourished during the time of Krishnashram Swamiji because He was a great scholar and spiritual leader, as well as an able administrator. Under His Guidance the competent manager Lajmi Vankataramanaiyya functioned efficiently, resulting in a substantial increase in landed property of the Math and ornaments for the adorning of Lord Bhavanishankar!
How a Sage’s blessing has the power to transform the fortunes of the bhakta is illustrated in the story of a poor devotee Nagarkatte Durgappayya, whose sincere and regular chanting of the Saptashati as per the directive of Swamiji ,brought him both affluence and high esteem! Once, when Swamiji was camping at Mangalore, the elders of the community broached the subject of appointing a shishya. Swamiji agreed and an exceptional young man from the Nagar family, who possessed all the requisites of a future Mathadhipati was selected for this sacred role. In 1857, Swamiji conferred the Holy Upadesh and performed the Shishya-sweekar ceremony at Shirali naming the initiate “Pandurangashram”.
Once, hearing about the Rathotsav (chariot-festival during which the deity is taken around in a carved and decorated wooden chariot erected especially for the occasion) to be held at Venktapur the young Shishya Swami asked Krishnashram Swamiji if he could go to watch it. The gentle admonition from Swamiji that a sannyasin, who was going to be the future Mathadhipati, cannot just go for such an occasion informally made the young shishya feel a bit disappointed. That was when Swamiji decided to hold a Rathotsav at Shrī Chitrāpur Math itself, much to the exultation of Shishya Swami and the gratification of the entire samaja. The grand Rathotsav, which began in 1862 was an annual celebration during Chaitra Shuddha Purnima. The highly-skilled artisans, deft in metal and wood-work, who were invited to design the chariot were given warm hospitality- a place to live, provisions and every facility for them to do their creative work undisturbed. There was a festive air all around and many small traders also set up their shops to sell their wares, while at the Math preparations to accommodate and look after the devotees who came from far and wide began much in advance. This much-awaited annual celebration was discontinued for a while during the time of Parama Pujya Anandashram Swamiji due to financial contingency. But our 10th Guru – Parama Pujya Parijnanashram Swamiji III – revived it and come April this week-long festivity at Shrī Chitrāpur Math is a much-awaited event even today.
Another incident devotees recall is of how traders of Shirali, who conspired to create a “black-out” by shutting their shops early on a day when the Lord’s idol was taken out from the Math in a procession on a ‘palkhi’ ( silver palanquin), had to face the wrath of God when their property was engulfed by an unexpected fire. But the merciful Swamiji forgave them, saying it was prarabdha that had misled their minds. The much-loved and revered Krishnashram Swamiji took Mahasamadhi in Shirali in 1863.His Samadhistands between that of Parijnanashram Swamiji II and Keshavashram Swamiji.
Named “Kalappa” by his parents to ward off any evil eye being cast upon his lustrous good looks, the extremely intelligent, strong-willed and quick-witted Pandurangashram Swamiji was barely 12 years old when He was ordained as the Shishya Swami. He received the invaluable Guidance of His Guru for just five years before Krishnashram Swamiji took Mahasamadhi and the young shishya became the eighth Mathadhipati whose longest-on-record tenure lasted for 52 eventful years!
A great spiritual leader, Sanskrit scholar, Yogi, proficient astrologer too and a most able administrator, Pandurangashram Swamiji had a lot of expansion and renovation done of the Math structure and the Samadhi-sthal-s therein. A lot of agricultural land was acquired and this enhanced the revenue of the Math substantially. A water tank – Shiv Ganga Sarovar -dug close to the Math added beauty and proved beneficial to the devotees. Many old shrines in Chitrāpur were re-built and an elegant two-storeyed structure, which Swamiji named ‘Panchavati’, was built on the Govardhan hillock..In addition, a road was constructed from the Shirali highway to Shrī Chitrāpur Math and with houses and even lamp-posts on either side, Chitrāpur began to look very picturesque indeed!
For easier communication with the world outside Swamiji’s thoughtfulness ensured that a post office was constructed, with an adjoining residence for the Postmaster… and to provide elementary education for the children of the local population, a Kannada school was started near the Math. A weekly marketplace was created to take care of day-to-day needs. There was little doubt that the far-sighted Pandurangashram Swamiji tried His best to make Chitrāpur a model village and this drew a lot of admiration from the laity and visiting dignitaries.
Where the practice of Dharma and maintaining ethical standards were concerned however, Swamiji was extremely strict. Flouting of rules led to fines which were utilised for community welfare, while the offender had to do prayaschit – for purification and atonement. Travelling abroad led to ex-communication (crossing the waters was considered tantamount to ‘losing caste’). Of course Swamiji wanted His people to be strong-rooted enough to hold their own in a motley of drastically different cultures and lifestyles before they stepped out of their cocoon, but one section of the samaja was unable to understand this, leading to some antipathy within the community. Swamiji however remained unruffled and continued to pray for their welfare.
Instances of miraculous cures, solving of legal disputes and many worldly problems with just a word of Blessing or the holy tirth from Swamiji are legion. Oft-quoted are two incidents – one of a great devotee and the other of a sceptic – both of whom were granted visions with Swamiji manifesting Himself as Lord Dattatreya. Needless to add, the bhakta was besides himself in ecstasy, while the non-believer who had come to scoff stayed back to pray for the rest of his life!
The negligence of some people in adhering to Swamiji’s precepts made Him initially vow not to initiate a shishya, but in 1915, when He suddenly took ill, He declared that He had received a sacred Directive from the Divine and was ready to ordain one. Shantamurti, the second son of Haridas Ramachandra Bhat was found most suitable and Swamiji bestowed the youngster with Ashrama sannyas with the name “Anandashram” and gave the holy Upadesh soon after.
Within eight days of this momentous Shishya –sweekar , at an auspicious moment Pandurangashram Swamiji took Mahasamadhi leaving an extremely pure and worthy disciple to take on the mantle of Mathadhipati. Pandurangashram Swamiji’s Samadhi-sthal is to your right when you face the Hodi Samadhi in Shrī Chitrāpur Math, Shirali.
With a visage and temperament as calm and unruffled as the name in His Purvashram (Shantamurti), Anandashram Swamiji ascended the Peetha and became the ninth Guru of the Chitrāpur Saraswat community almost immediately after His initiation. Hungry for knowledge, Swamiji immediately requested the erudite Shastri Shrī Kaikini Subraya Bhat to be His guide as He assiduously began a study of Vedanta, Sanskrit, grammar, logic. But even after acquiring proficiency in all of this, Swamiji acutely missed the physical Presence of His Guru who had left Him too soon. The burden of tackling the administrative affairs of the Math also took away a lot of time He would have gladly spent in spiritual inquiry. This made Swamiji decide that some time in solitude was mandatory and He requested the compliance of Vittal Subray Bhat. But this was not the glorious destiny the Divine had planned and so, after a solitary night spent incognito on a Jain Patel’s verandah, when devotees found Him and pleaded that He should return to His grieving ‘flock’, the gracious Swamiji agreed.
The routine returned and Swamiji performed all His duties as Mathadhipati with grace and élan, but the thirst for deeper spiritual pursuit and the need to find an able Acharya continued to bother Him and He prayed to the Gurushakti to show Him the way forward. The answer came when Swamiji visited the Adi Math at Gokarna, where He met the scholarly Swami Krishnacharya Parmahamsa of Rishikesh. The mutual regard and promise of learning a lot from the Swami made Swamiji want to go for a while to Rishikesh. The laity supported their Guru’s sankalpa and Swamiji was able to undertake this yatra. The Ashirvachans Swamiji gave en route at stopover-camps at Hubli, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi made the ecstatic samaja rejoice at the amazing brilliance and spiritual radiance of their beloved Guru!
Delving into Paramartha at Rishikesh, interacting with Swami Krishnacharya and many other Sages was a period of great fulfillment for Swamiji and upon His return to Chitrāpur, He once again took on the mantle of working selflessly for the welfare of the samaja. Swamiji’s erudition and undeniable aura used to make hundreds of devotees pour into Chitrāpur for the annual Rathotsav. Noting the problems caused by the heat, scarcity of water, lack of adequate medical facilities and infrastructure, the mounting cost and dwindling supplies all made Swamiji decide in 1939 to discontinue this chariot-festival temporarily. Instead, Swamiji introduced a novel concept – the Sadhana Saptaha- which was a carefully planned schedule for week-long spiritual activity like bhajan, kirtan, japa undertaken by sadhakas in cooler months like December and this received a tremendous response from the laity.
There are many cases on record wherein straying or skeptical individuals where brought back to the right path by this Guru who was Compassion Incaranate. A striking story is that of Vittal Subraya Bhat himself who felt confusion and diffidence to accept Swamiji, who had in the early years been a ‘fellow-student’, a co-learner so to speak, as His Guru. But when he tried to go away to ponder upon this dilemma, the image of Swamiji appeared again and again on his mental screen till he rushed back to seek forgiveness from the Guru whose Greatness he had not been able to fathom earlier.
One illuminating piece of historical information comes from a portion of the Guruparampara-stotram written by Parama Pujya Anandashram Swamiji. In it Pujya Swamiji has listed the names of some of the great Gurus who were the holy Predecessors to our present Guruparampara which began in 1708 with the advent of Parama Pujya Parijnanashram Swamiji I at Kotiteertha in Gokarna. The Masters mentioned by Swamiji in His stotram are –
Parama Pujya Shrīmat – Achyutashram, Anandashram, Kaivalyashram, Nrsinhashram, Keshavashram, Vamanashram, Krishnashram, Pandurangashram - Swamijis and finally, Parama Pujya Shrīmat Parijananshram (I) from whom the present lineage is traced. Thus, we can safely state that the current 300 plus-year-old history of Shrī Chitrāpur Math is of the jnyata Guruparampara about which we have more extensive knowledge and records, while our actual ‘treasury’ – our sacred inheritance – as Pujya Anandashram Swamiji has revealed – goes much further back…
Heeding the tenets of Swadharma, studying Vedanta and striving for progress in Paramartha were the main qualities Swamiji tried to inculcate in the sadhaka-s. But the growing slackness in the laity prompted Swamiji to think (just like His Guru had) that ordaining a shishya and trying to keep the Samsthana flourishing was neither needed nor relevant. Upon insistence from a couple of senior sadhaka-s, however, Swamiji did make an announcement at the silver jubilee commemoration of His own ordination that He would ordain a shishya at a proper time. Later He announced that this would happen after the Chaturmasya-vrata of 1958.
Accordingly, on the 1st of March 1959 nine-year-old Ravindra Shankaranarayana Shukla was ordained as the Shishya Swami in the presence of a mammoth gathering of devotees at Shivaji Park, Mumbai. For seven years the devoted shishya was groomed lovingly and given lessons in Sanskrit, grammar, logic and the scriptures. In September 1966, Anandashram Swamiji shed His mortal coil and attained Mahasamadhi while chanting “OM” at the Bengaluru Math. His Samadhi-sthal is beside that of His Guru Pujya Pandurangashram Swamiji at Shirali.
Highly intelligent, progressive in outlook and with a keen thirst to know more about things both spiritual and technical, Parijnanashram Swamiji was a mere teenager when the Pattabhishek was performed and He became the 10th Mathadhipati of Shrī Chitrāpur Math. But the laity was awestruck by the extraordinary canvas of His mind upon hearing the very first Ashirvachan He gave upon ascending the sacred peetha. “It is our fervent prayer that the piety and devotion of the populace and their reverence towards the Math attain still greater heights. We earnestly hope that all the traditional ceremonies rites and rituals will, with the collaboration of the devotees and priests, continue with the same fervour. May Lord Bhavanishankar grant you peace, contentment and protection,” was the inspiring finale of Swamiji’s address.
Alongside guiding the spiritual advancement of the laity, Swamiji initiated a number of schemes and measures for community welfare. The Chitrāpur Gram Vikas Yojana to make this hamlet into a self-sufficient township with agricultural, industrial and commercial growth, was mooted by Him. The plan was to start small-scale industries around the Math like a printing press, handloom and power-loom units, agro-industries and the construction of “Anandashray” – a cosy home for the old and infirm from the community funded by donations from devotees.
Swamiji also undertook the renovation of the Dhyana Mandir built at Panchavati by Pujya Pandurangashram Swamiji and a beautiful garden was created around it. A deer park and a bird sanctuary were also set up in the spacious grounds of the Govardhan hillock. His profound interest in telecommunication also prompted Swamiji to set up a wireless shack for ham-operation at Panchavati.
His keenness to strengthen the cultural foundation of His people and to ensure that the knowledge of certain specific rituals and rites associated with the Rathotsav does not dwindle and vanish and most importantly, as a tribute to His Beloved Guru, Swamiji re-started the Rathotsav which had begun way back in 1862 and then been discontinued from 1939. The chance discovery of an intricate deepamaalika while searching for accessories for the Rathotsav sparked off Swamiji’s desire to set up a museum. Thus began His single-handed crusade, sometimes even on foot, to collect precious idols and artifacts lying in a state of neglect in abandoned family homes or shrines in deep jungles. The museum also housed a library of rare manuscripts and books.
In order to make the Math self-supporting, Swamiji created coconut plantations on the property at Bengre and Kembre and also set up a goshala , which ensured milk supply to the Math. In Bengaluru, a six-storeyed complex was built on the unused land around the Math resulting in a sizeable regular income.
While Swamiji was trying His best to turn Chitrāpur into a picture-perfect village, to motivate the youth to stay physically and mentally fit, to encourage the laity to study Sanskrit and understand the deeper significance of rites and rituals, to keep history and culture alive, to stabilize the finances of the Math and through the ham-activity to actually take the first step towards connecting the community to a wider world, there were some individuals too dry and rigid at heart to comprehend or digest the greatness of a Guru, who was leaps and bounds ahead of their narrow and extremely conservative mindset. Sensing their total inability to accept positive changes that must happen with the passing of time, Swamiji decided to relinquish His position as Mathadhipati and left Shirali to settle at Karla, Lonavala in Maharashtra.
The mission of a Master does not cease just because He has renounced His formal designation. Establishing a trust fund called “Shree Trust” Swamiji founded a school for the physically and mentally challenged at Virar. Another Trust -“Shantisukhada” was also created to work for tribal welfare in the region around the ashram.
In the Ashirvachan He gave at a ceremony organized to commemorate His 44th birthday on the 15th of June 1991, Swamiji stated that He had tried and fulfilled many wishes of His Guru (Pujya Anandashram Swamiji) except that of totally uniting the samaja and had hence been prompted to sacrifice what He did. On the 29th of August Swamiji took Mahasamadhi in Bengaluru and soon after, He was given Samadhi with all rites and rituals at Karla.
Many are the miracles experienced by devotees when blessed by the abundant Grace of the Gurushakti. In February 1993 Swamiji’s earnest desire to have a Dhyana Mandir and install the idol of Devi Durga Parameshwari in it was fulfilled. When the Samadhi was exhumed at the time for the formal installation of the Shivalinga upon it, the over-powering scent of sandalwood filled the air! Devotees were wonderstruck to find the two fragrant roses, the bilwa leaves and the tulsi placed on the mastaka within a mala of 108 small rudraksha beads were all intact, with not a shred of evidence of any form of degeneration or decay! Not just that, even the vastra that had been placed around the flowers and leaves was still damp from the water on them! After all the overwhelmed bhaktas had Darshan of this miraculous fact and the Linga-pratishtha was done, the Sanjeevani Samadhi was sealed once again.
In the years that followed, a samaja which had been used to the protective umbrella of their revered Guruparampara constantly reassuring them and steering their spiritual destiny, felt bereft and ‘headless’. Finally, taking a cue from the past some of the seniors in the community prayed at the Adi Math at Gokarna for the Blessings and Aadesh of the Lord. The Indication they received, from among the names they had offered, was to approach a young Saraswat sannyasi doing rigorous sadhana at the ashram of Pujya Ishwarananda Giriji Maharaj at Mt. Abu.
Now this was the same Sameer Kodical (the name in his Purvashram) who had gone to Chennai 12 years before this Prophecy came, seeking the Permission and Blessings of Pujya Parijnanashram Swamiji before proceeding to Mt.Abu. At that time the Saraswat samaja was in great turmoil because of the incapacity of one section to understand the gigantic stature and power of their far-sighted Guru. Perhaps that is why the Karunamayee Gurushakti willed that this intense youngster should do his sadhana in peace, away from the unrest that had gripped the community, so that he could ready himself fully to rise to the multi-faceted- role that he would be expected to play when he was summoned by the Divine - to ascend the peetha and become the 11th Mathadhipati of a distraught people pining for a Guru to carry forward the glorious lineage and uplift them from the travails of samsara. After some persuasion, the young Swami agreed and the 27th of February 1997 heralded a fresh awakening, a spiritual renaissance in the tiny, but truly blessed Chitrāpur Saraswat community.
From the time Parama Pujya Sadyojāt Shaṅkarāshram Swamiji became the Mathadhipati with the blessings of several sages, among them the globally revered Jagadguru Shankaracharya – Shrī Bharati Tirth Mahaswamigal of Sringeri, Swamiji has inspired devotion and an eagerness in every section of the samaja to strengthen the connection with one’s spiritual inheritance – the Guru, Math and God.
Devotees visiting Shrī Chitrāpur Math in picturesque Shirali, or going to any of Swamiji’s camps all over the country, discover the joy of namasmaran- chanting the name of the Lord. Many sadhaka-s have received mantra-deeksha from Pujya Swamiji. Watching Swamiji they learn how to meticulously perform the shodashopachara-puja. Listening to Swadhyay-s conducted by Swamiji they begin to understand the deeper meaning of our ancient scriptures. At the interactive Paramarsha sessions they are able to clear long-standing doubts and at the guided meditation that are able to put aside all worldly cares and revel in some priceless moments of bliss!
Emphasizing the importance of total fitness of body, mind and spirit Prarthana and Yuvadhārā are two global platforms created by Swamiji to enable children and young adults to draw immense strength from their roots and develop a sound value-system so that they can reach out for the sky, without the deep insecurity or panic that grips today’s youngsters while grappling with stress and strain of competitive living.
Functioning under Swamiji’s invaluable Guidance a number of charitable Trusts ( like the Srivali Trust and the Parijnan Foundation), run by a growing number of professionals from different fields keen to do voluntary service, have kindled hope of a better life for hundreds of locals in and around Shirali – caste, class no bar.
Hygienic water supply, a high school (where free tuition, uniforms and a midday meal are provided), a free dispensary, a tailoring and embroidery unit (Samvit Sudha) to promote woman empowerment, a gymnasium, a community hall, a museum (the Shrīmat Parijnanashram Vastu Sangrahalaya) an easy-loan scheme coupled with expert advice for farmers and fisherfolk (Parimochan), the Shrīmat Parijnanashram Handmade Paper Unit offering employment to locals are just some of the welcome changes that have revitalized a sleepy hamlet, made the natives stay back rather than migrate and added novel zest to the sadhana of ‘citibreds’ who are discovering the joy of seva.
The utter humility and total surrender with which Swamiji attributes the success of each of the milestone events that have caused a major rejuvenation of the spiritual aspirations of the entire samaja, to the Gurushakti and the Divine Sankalpa of His Guru – Parama Pujya Shrīmat Parijnanashram Swamiji III – is a true eye-opener about how an ideal shishya never allows the veil of personal glory to make Him lose sight of His Divine Goal!