By a humble devotee

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Table of Contents

Title Preface Disclaimer
Finest Soul of our times- by The Hindu Saint who stressed on quality of life – by Greece princess and Indian girl student The Wandering Sannyasi by Acharya Vinobha Bhave Meet of minds- Memorial in making







Our Temples – discourses by periyava The Vedas– discourses by periyava The State Of Jeevanmukthi– discourses by periyava Man’s Duty– discourses by periyava





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This book is a part of the author’s continous attempt to highlight the life and teaching of His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal of Kanchi Mutt. Pramacharya or Periyava as he is popularly th known amongst his devotees was one of the greatest sage to walk on this earth in the 20 century. His Holiness was a very remarkable person. Deeply imbued in Sanskrit lore, especially the Shastras and the Vedanta, he was at the same time a scholar in several branches of learning ranging from art, architecture, archaeology, politicsm, economics, numismatics to inscriptions. He was a linguist who could speak several languages, besides his own which is Kannada. Though austere by himself and immersed in penance by fastings and vigil, puja and contemplation, his accessibility to all who go to him for advice and guidance is well known. He is endowed with singular powers of memory and his expositions of abstract and abstruse philosophic truths are marked with a facility of expression and a singular capacity to convey their meaning even to the ordinary and uninstructed laymen. He had proved himself as an able administrator, under whom the management of Mutt has assumed unprecedented importance and influence. The book comprises of 2 different parts- one deals with the life of Periyava in the eyes of various types of people who surrounded him and talks of memorials planned to be built in his honours. The list of such persons includes media, eminent personalities and devotees. The second part contains some important teachings of Periyava. The idea is to stress the wider acceptability and reach which he has achieved.

Hariharan M B Chennai, INDIA 03 July 2008

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This book is a collection of various articles and teachings of His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal of Kanchi Mutt from various sources. The author has only facilitated the compilation work including but not limited to identification and presentation of such articles. No attempt has been made to change the original writing and the same has been presented as it is. All will agree that it is not possible to contain the life of a great soul in the limited medium of human expression. While this book aims at making wider audience benefit from the life and teachings of this great soul, it lays no claim to have even covered a drop of his ocean like life.

This book is not for sale and only meant for private circulation. No part of this work may be reproduced in
any form or by any means without the author’s written permission. No part of this text may be copied, printed or edited without author’s permission. Any person to whom the author has forwarded an electronic version of this book may forward the same to others, after obtaining the consent of the author.

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Finest Soul of our times- by The Hindu
Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, established by Bhagwan Sri Adi Sankara about 2500 years ago, has been adorned continuously by saints and sages and many of them have been Jeevan Mukthas. Sri Mahaswami, the present 68th Pontiff is one amongst them. Ever since the 13 year old Kannada speaking Swaminathan of Villupuram ascended the throne of the Kanchi Kamakoti Sankara Mutt in 1907 as the 68th Pontiff with the hallowed name of Sri Chandra sekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal, the Tamil word Periyava has come to refer to His Holiness alone, now also called Sri Mahaswami. The very mention of Periyava evokes from everybody, Hindu or non-Hindu, not only love and admiration but genuine awe and respect. What is the magic that has worked this miracle? The prestige of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam founded by Adi Sankara (who was the first Sankaracharya) in the VaisakaSukla Full Moon Day in 481 BC in his 28th year, has always been high because of the sages who came to adorn it as Matadhipatis. But, in its 68th Acharya, His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal who completed 99 years on June 4, 1993, the Kamakoti Sankara Peetam has got a Matadhipati acknowledged by all as one of the noblest and finest souls of all times. Had he not taken to a life of renunciation at that tender age, Periyava would certainly have blossomed into a statesman, a literature, a scientist, a patron of music, arts and sculpture and a linguist, all combined into one and would have taken his rightful place alongside the giants of modern science and history. Ever since he became the Matadhipati in 1907 he has been guiding aspirant souls from all over India and even abroad. Periyava is almost entirely self-taught but what will astound everybody is the intensity of his Guru-bhakti towards Adi Sankara, the exponent of Advaita. Says Periyava: "It was by the Avatara of Sri Sankara that the Vedas, the smritis, etc. were resuscitated. It is by their resuscitation alone that the observances connected with auspicious days such as Rama Navami, Nirisimha Jayanti, Krishna Jayanti, Uttarayana Sankranti,Sivaratri, etc. have been revived. The Jayanti of Sri Sankara is the Jayanti that has imparted to all Jayantis their character as Jayantis. On the fifth day of the bright half of the month of Vaisaka falls Sri Sankara Jayanti. Like the pure white jasmine (Vasanti - madhavi) creeper, that causes delight, let this fifth day of the bright-half month in the spring season (Vasanti-Madhavi) embellish and delight our intelligence". If ever there was one among the mystics and saints of modern India, who has systematically discouraged belief in magic with respect to himself, it is Periyava. There are thousands who have on one occasion or the other felt the impact of the "magic" of Periyava's personality that has helped them to turn a new leaf in life. Paul Brunton who was directed to Bhagawan Ramana by Periyava was one such. A savant from Angarai village who gave up a good government job long ago at Periyava's command to propagate the 'Bhagavatam' is moved to tears when he speaks about the Paramacharya. It took Valmiki 24,000 'slokas' to narrate the story of Sri Rama. Veda Vyasa was able to compose the entire Mahabharata in a lakh verses. But can any one, even Veda Vyasa himself, pack (asks the savant) all that Periyava has meant to countless men and women in all the 87 years of his ministration into a Kavya' of any length? All the same Periyava like Mahatma Gandhi and C.Rajagopalachari, is a staunch votary of the work-ethic. He himself holds the office he has been called to from 1907 onwards as a trust for the spiritual welfare of one and all. He never deviates from any of the tenets laid down by the distinguished predecessors even

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in minor details - the only legendary figure reputed for such strict observance of 'Swadharma' that comes to mind is Sri Rama. Periyava has been wearing khadi ever since it came into vogue and it is well known that he discourages ostentation in marriages and advocates selfless social service and harmonious community living all around. Mahatma Gandhi met Periyava in Nellisseri in Palghat District in the early Twenties - C.Rajagopalachari was with the Mahatma then. Periyava spoke in Sanskrit to Gandhiji - but nobody knows to this day what transpired between the two Mahatmas then except that the meeting was called a memorable one by Gandhiji himself. Not that Periyava could bring himself to agree with everything that Gandhiji or Rajaji said or did. But it is plain that Periyava held Gandhiji and Rajaji in the highest esteem. Sri Mahaswami has extensively traveled on foot throughout the country and has addressed gatherings of all kinds, from the learned pandits to illiterate villagers on the need to practice the eternal verities exemplified in the Vedas and the Shastras. His Holiness has always discouraged denominational squabbles and has striven hard to inject a sense of unity among the followers of all faiths in India transcending caste and linguistic barriers. Periyava's effort in these more than eight decades for the renaissance of Hindu religion and all Indian arts is such as to merit classifying Sri Mahaswami among the greats of History, but what is special glory is that he has been achieving all this without the backing of military might or money power. It is not a tribute then to the intuitive wisdom of the simple Tamil people that they chose long ago to identify this Kanchi Acharya as Periyava which also means 'great'. Periyava is ever on the alert to discourage attempts to weave stories of magic and miracle around himself. The central theme of all his lectures is Vaidika matham - religion propounded by the Vedas which His Holiness envisions as the hope and succour of the future generations not only in India but throughout the world. His Holiness is therefore never tired of making efforts to preserve the Vedas and Vedic learning and is personally supervising the activities of the Veda Rakshana Nidhi Trust created by him for the purpose. He propagated Sanathana Dharma of Hinduism. Those who go to have a glimpse of Periyava see not only his humility but also his native humour and logical approach. Periyava's utterances are always marked by simplicity and restraint - which are expressive of an inner harmony that is in its measure as absolute as any that the greatest saints have achieved. Strictly religious, deeply spiritual and intensely human, Periyava is also unbelievably generous and forgiving - words will be of no avail to describe the grace that flows from his eyes!

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Saint who stressed on quality of life – by Greece princesses and Indian girl student
A GIRL student from an Andhra school gets a prize amount of more than a thousand rupees for her brilliant academic performance and one Telugu teenager chooses to send the entire amount to Sri Sri Mahalakshmi Mathrubootheswarar Trust (SSMM Trust) in Kotturpuram, Chennai, to go towards their Orirukkai Satabhdi Manimantapam construction expenses. She writes she was inspired to make the contribution as a token of her own loving reverence for the centenarian Sage of Kanchi about whom elders in her family have told her so much! A lad of 25, Ph.D. when landing a lucrative job, sent the first month's salary in full, as a token of his and his dear parents' homage to the revered Acharya. An NRI who kept a dollar aside every day during puja and sent $365 (Rs. 17,000) last year, when he came to Chennai to see his aged parents last month, made it to the Kotturpuram office of the SSSMM Trust to contribute another sum of $500 (Rs. 24,000). A devotee who sends Rs. 10 every month by Money Order from a mofussil place is sad beyond words that his monthly contribution cannot be continued after he breathes his last! Visitor's books kept in the site of the Manimantapam in Orirukkai (according to a perceptive correspondent who went there to report about the progress of the work since her last visit two years ago) ``overflow with the joy of the devotees, of the work taking shape.'' Princess Irene of Greece was one such visitor who calls the project ``a fitting tribute to a saint who spent his entire life for the welfare of humanity." Who is this saint to whom a princess from a far off land and culture is as much devoted as that teenaged girl from Andhra born and bred in the religion of the saint himself? Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigal of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Sankara Matam, who attained Mahasamaadhi on January 8, 1994, (just a few months before he completed 100 years of age) continues to inspire young and old, Indian and nonIndian devotees alike to this day, as the daily throng of visitors to his Adhishtanam in the Kanchi Sankara Matam and to the site of the Satabdhi Manimantapam in Orirukkai on the banks of river Palar in Kancheepuram eloquently testify. Years ago, Arthur Koestler was asked by the Sage of Kanchi what the purpose of his visit to India then was. ``Is it merely to observe the country and the people, or is it to guide them in some healthy manner?'' When the writer said he had come to see and learn and with no other purpose, His Holiness observed: ''One's own passive interest, too, exerts an influence. Even without any specific activity, the angle from which you approach a problem or country produces Shakti — an active force.'' When Koestler said he was sorry it should be so, and added but nobody could avoid throwing a shadow", pat came the response from the Sage of Kanchi: ``But one's sincere sympathy thrusts its own radiance". Koestler records: ``And as the Sage said that, a smile transformed his face into that of a child. I had never seen a comparable smile or expression; it had an extraordinary charm and sweetness.''

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Milton Singer, from the University of Chicago, recalls that the Sage's intellectual vigour and coherent views of the problem of poverty in India, and of the future of Hinduism and its relation to industrialisation made a deep impression on him. Says Milton Singer: ``The Swami did not think that the popular criticism of caste, ritualism and otherworldliness was historically accurate or realistic. Indians, His Holiness said, have always been an active and practical people, who have fought many wars and developed numerous arts. The doctrine of the unreality of the world is an abstract theory which refers to `a higher level of experience' and does not discourage practice and activity. ``We do not stop eating because we believe in the atomic theory of matter! As far as his own lifestyle was concerned, the Sage said that a simple diet of leaves, fruit and milk was sufficient and healthy for him. Who will doubt this at the celebration of the Swami's Centenary?" asks Milton Singer! (He wrote it in 1993). Another famous English writes and journalist, Paul Brunton (who wrote ``A Search in Secret India'' later) was told by the Sage of Kanchi that the inward transformation of a man was the precondition for a better world. ``Oh! You must have transformation from within... If you scrap your battleships and let your cannon rust, that will not stop war. People will continue to fight even if they have to use sticks... Nothing but spiritual understanding between one nation and another and between the rich and the poor will produce goodwill and thus bring real peace and prosperity.'' How pertinent in our present global context! Then the Sage was asked by Brunton: ``Is it your opinion then, Swamiji, that men are becoming more degraded?'' Replied Swamiji: ``No, I do not think so. There is an indwelling divine soul in man which in the end must bring him back to God. Do not blame the people so much as you have to blame the environment into which they are born. Their surroundings and circumstances force them to become worse than they really are. This is time of both the East and the West. Society must be brought into tune with the higher purpose.'' Hence the repeated calls of the Sage to focus on the ``quality of life", rather than on the so-called ``standard of living." His Holiness was hardly 13 when he was installed as the 68th Pontiff of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam on February 13, 1907. The circumstances in which Swaminathan (as he was named by his parents who belonged to the Hoysala Karnataka Smarta family) came to be called Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati was narrated in an article, ``What life has taught me'' in the Bhavan's Journal by His Holiness himself thus: ``My mother desired to see and console her sister whose only child had become an ascetic (by being installed as the 67th Acharya of the Peetam)... We travelled by rail to Kanchipuram and halted at the Sankaracharya Math. There I had my ablution at the Karuara-Koshta-Tirtha. A carriage of the Math had come there from Kalavai with persons to buy articles for the Maha Puja on the 10th day after the passing away of the Acharya Guru (the 66th Acharya). But one of them, a hereditary maistry of the Math asked me to accompany him. A separate cart was engaged for the rest of the family to follow me. ``During our journey, the maistry hinted to me that I might not return home and that the rest of my life might have to be spent in the Math itself! At first I thought that my elder cousin, having become the head

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of the Math, it might have been his wish that I was to live with him. I was then only thirteen years of age and so I wondered what use I might be to him in the Institution. ``But the maistry gradually began to clarify as miles rolled on, that the Acharya, my cousin in the purvasrama, had fever which developed into a delirium and that was why I was being separated from the family to be quickly taken to Kalavai. I was stunned with this unexpected turn of events. I remained in the kneeling posture in the cart itself, shocked as I was, repeating Rama Rama, the only spiritual prayer I knew, during the rest of my journey. ``My mother and the other children came sometime later only to find that instead of her mission of consoling her sister, she herself was placed in the state of having to be consoled by someone else!" The 87 long years of his reign as the 68th Sankaracharya of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam form a glorious chapter by itself in the history of Hinduism and that of our own country. It will be in the fitness of things to conclude this tribute to the centenarian sage of Kanchi by recalling ``Maitreem Bhajata" the Benediction specially given by His Holiness and sung by M.S. Subbulakshmi at the United Nations General Assembly on October 23, 1963:

``Cultivate friendship which will conquer all hearts. Look upon others as thyself. Renounce war; forswear competition. Give up aggression on others which is wrong. Wide Mother Earth, our Mother is here ready to give us all our desires. We have the Lord, our Father, compassionate to all. Ye peoples of the World! Restrain yourselves, Give, Be kind. May all people be happy and prosperous". Shreyo bhooyat Sakala Janaanaam!

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The Wandering Sannyasi by Acharya Vinobha Bhave
Our forefathers had made provision to enable villagers to have access to kinds of knowledge which no one is the village possessed. This is the tradition of the wandering Sannyasi. The Sannyasi travels continually among the villages for the greater part of the year, remaining in one place only for the four months of the rainy season. The villagers thus get the full benefit of his knowledge. He can teach them both the knowledge of the world and knowledge of self. A Sannyasi is a walking university, a wandering Vidyapith, who goes at his pleasure to each village in turn. He will himself seek out his students, and he will give his teaching freely. The villagers will hive him clean, pure `sattvik' food, and he will need nothing else. They will learn whenever they can. There is nothing more tragic than that knowledge should be paid for in money. A man who possesses knowledge hungers and thirsts to pass it on to others and see them enjoy it. The child at the breast finds satisfaction, but the mother too takes pleasure in giving suck, for God has filled her breasts with milk. What would become of the world if mothers began demanding fees for feeding the babies? Nowadays, in a city university, nothing can be had without at least one or two hundred rupees. But the `knowledge' which is purchased there for money is no knowledge at all : knowledge bought for cash is ignorance. True knowledge can only be had for love and service; it cannot be bought for money. So when a wise man travelling from place to place, arrives at a village, let the people lovingly invite him to remain a few days, treat him with reverence and receive from him whatever knowledge he has to give. This is quite a feasible plan. Just as a river flows of itself form village to village, serving the people; just as the cows graze in the jungle and return of themselves will full udders to give the children milk, so will wise men travel of themselves from place to place. We must re-establish this institution of the wandering teacher. In this way, every village can have its university, and all the knowledge of the world can find its way into the villages. We must be re-invigorate the tradition of the `vanaprasthashram' so that every village gets a permanent teacher from whom no great expenditure will be incurred. Every grihastha's home must be a school, and his field a laboratory. Vanaprastha must be a teacher and every wandering Sannyasi a university. The students are the children and young people who give an hour or two to learning and spend the rest of the day in working. This seems to me to provide a complete outline of education from birth to death. Our Jagadguru of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetha has, been for the last forty years moving from village to village mostly on foot, occasionally in the palanquin, the usual mode of conveyance adopted from ancient times. Latterly he has dropped even this mode of conveyance and always goes on foot. He holds the strong conviction that walking is least harmful to the insects and other being on the road, especially as ahimsa of an absolute kind is enjoyed by our Dharma for Sannyasins. Even to the most obscure corned of a village in our State he has gone and stayed and met and conversed with the people from the humblest to the highest in society. His stay in every village has been a source of inspiration, illumination and instruction to the people. He is a walking Encyclopaedia of variegated knowledge, such as History, Archeology, sociology, not to speak of our religious literature and branches of learning. Conversation with him has been a liberal education. By his stay every villager becomes a better, person mentally, morally and spiritually. Every man, woman and child has received his blessings and enjoyed the delight of words falling from his lips. The person stricken by sorrow has received consolation and courage from his sympathetic look and words. Those who come complaining with difficulties in life were encouraged to

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meet the situations with golden words of advice. The village institutions have received help and encouragement. The yield from the lands have become better. Timely rains have gladdened the hearts of peasants. In fact wherever he went he has spread joy, comfort knowledge and spirituality.

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Meet of minds- memorial in making
Mani Mantapam in Kanchi would be a temple dedicated not to any God but to learning itself! Vatsala Vedantam witnesses the impossible dream taking shape From time immemorial, the name Kanchi has evoked images either of a Kamakshi temple, a Kamakoti Peetam or a silk weaver’s ancestral home. One rarely thought of this hoary place as an international centre of learning. Where research scholars and students of world religions would one day assemble to exchange and generate philosophic thoughts. When the small temple town would regain its forgotten glory... After all, Kancheepuram did flourish as a centre of literary eminence at one time. It was home to a galaxy of distinguished poets and scholars. It even had institutions for advanced study known as ghatikas where thousands of students studied the various branches of the Vedas and scriptures. And, what more, Ramanujacharya, the 11th century saint and founder of the Vishistadwaita philosophy had his early education here and entered the ascetic order. Studded with temples, steeped in mythology, Kanchi is also the proud home of the hereditary trustees of Adi Sankara’s first peetham - the Kamakoti - also known as the Sarvagna Peetham. It also has the proud distinction of being the one and only southern mokshapuri of India - the place where one has to start or end one’s life in order to get deliverance from the cycle of birth and death.In all, Kanchi conjures romance and magic. So, when trustee Atmanathan spoke about this 300 foot long monument in stone - the dream child of a railway employee called Pradosham Venkataramier - that was rising in Orirukkai just beyond the temple town on the bank of the Palar river, and described how it would capture a 2500 year history “starting with Adi Sankara and his unbroken line of 70 descendants”, the magnitude of the Satabdhi Mani Mantapam slowly began to sink in. When he added that M S Subbulakshmi had initiated the project with a donation of Rs 30 lakh and the proceeds of all her recorded music, I knew that this was one dream that had to come true. Subbulakshmi and Sadasivam have supported several programmes in the past. Their house Sivam-Subham is again the nucleus for this dream. A massive 21st century temple that would recreate the architectural splendours of the Chola and Pallava dynasties? A temple dedicated not to any god - but to learning itself in memory of one of the most liberally enlightened of all those acharyas. Where there is no idol waiting to be worshiped. But where spirituality will unfold itself as “devotees” come to pray and stay to learn. Where thinkers and scholars and philosophers will be inspired by the erudition and greatness of one who looked like a mendicant and lived like a saint. The plain wooden sandals that he wore will be the only icons in this temple to remind visitors that such a saint scholar did live and walk in these parts. And, that is what Mani Mantapam is all about. A memorial to remind visitors that it is possible to be spiritual without getting bogged in narrow schisms. I decided to go to Kancheepuram to see this impossible dream taking shape. The road to Orirukkai en route to Utharamerur tells its own tale of religious integration. Driving down the scenic highway towards Kancheepuram, you can see a Jesuit missionary school showing the way to Sriperambudur, the hallowed birth place of the Sri Vaishnavite saint Ramanuja. Just as you can see the devout offering prayers in the opposite mosque even as you receive the prasadam from the present Sankaracharya in the Kamakoti Peetam. That is the magic of Kanchi where all religions blend and survive with no rancour. Which is why the late Paramacharya - Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi or Periyaval as

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he was fondly known - chided his followers who wanted this particular mosque shifted from the proximity of the Sri Matham by telling them: “I can at least hear the devotees over there praying five times a day. Why should I then move their temple?” There are many instances in his life to illustrate his liberal outlook. The story of a Christian devotee D’Souza who met him during one of his padayatras to tell him how he could not conduct his daughter’s marriage because he could not raise the money, is yet another instance of Periyaval’s religious attitudes. He calmly gave him a silver plate containing money, a gold chain with mangalsutra and other gifts just presented to him by a Hindu couple celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary! Perhaps, the Mani Mantapam is a fitting tribute to the sage of Kanchi. It will not only commemorate his liberal teachings. But, it may even generate more scholars and thinkers of his genre. You can hear them even as you approach the site situated on the northern banks of the Palar river. A hundred and ten artisans and sculptors chiselling away on huge slabs of stone. They come from far flung districts, some even from towns in far off Andhra Pradesh. Some of them are trained professionals from schools of architecture and sculpture. Many others are the talented descendants of traditional master sculptors, trained by their own ancestors. But, they are all dedicated to this massive work they have undertaken. To them, it is a labour of love where each one is making a significant contribution. They are all proud to be associated with this remarkable monument dedicated to the memory of a 20th century saint. Both in concept and execution, the Mani Mantapam is a one-in-a-million effort which seeks to revive the 1000 year old architectural grandeur of ancient dynasties. Our goal is to give a concrete shape to the teachings of the Paramacharya,” says Atmanathan who hopes that this temple of learning will be an inspiration to future generations. Its physical appearance has to be as magnificent as its goals. This is where the Ramakrishna Math comes into picture. It has donated giant granite slabs which have gone into the making of its impressive features like the Simha-Mukha Sthambam or the beautiful Saptha-Swara Sthamba or the huge vimanam (dome) resting on four pillars and embedded with real rudrakshas and surrounded by delicately curved stone chains. According to Ganapathi Sthapathi, chief architect of this project and a master sculptor par excellence, the Satabdhi Mani Mandapam will incorporate the best of Chola, Nayaka and Pallava traditions. Its four main hallways called the Maha Mantapam, Praja Mantapam, Prakara Mantapam and Paduka Mantapam will be supported by 151 magnificently carved pillars. The outer walls of the inner prakara and the inner walls of the outer prakara will depict the life and work of the 68th Sankaracharya, Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi, who ascended the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham at age 13 and reigned as the pontiff for the next 87 years. Popularly known as Periyaval, he was not cast in the usual mould of Sankaracharyas. Far from cloistering himself into a life of prayer and penance, he opened the minds of his disciples to the outside world where science and technology dominated. He enriched his own mind with studying subjects as far removed from his Peetham as photography, music and languages. Quick to know and appreciate the virtues of different cultures, he also preached the value of understanding one’s own culture first. Nicknamed “a walking saint” by his followers and admirers, the sage of Kanchi ushered in a new era in the history of the Kamakoti Peetham. This is what the Mani Mantapam hopes to portray to all those who will make the journey to Orirukkai. If a queen of Greece could be moved by the simple teachings of this Sankaracharya to return again and again to Kanchi to meet him, future scholars may be inspired by his life and example to emulate his ideas. Which is the reason why the only symbols to be placed in the Garba-Griha (sanctum sanctorum) will be

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the padukas or wooden sandals worn by the Sankaracharya? No godly figures will adorn its walls except the unbroken line of 70 Acharyas who guided the Peetham over these last 2500 years. The creators of Mani Mantapam hope to provide a visual commentary on one segment of India’s spiritual and cultural heritage. Not Saivism or Vaishnavism or any other ism will predominate here. According to them, it will be a meeting ground of fine minds and nothing more.

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Our Temples – discourses by periyava

“Bhruvau bhugne kinchid-bhuvana-bhaya-bhanga-vyasanini Tvadiye netrabhyam madhukara rucibhyam dhrtagunam Dhanur-manye savyetarakara-grhitam ratipateh Prakosthe mustau ca sthagayati nigudhantaram ume.”
-Saundaryalahari, verse 47 “O Uma! In Thy slightly knit eyebrows, intent on dispelling the world’s fears, I imagine the bow of Rati’s lord (Manmatha), strung with the string of Thy shining bee-like pair of eyes, held in his left hand, with the middle parts of both concealed by the forearm and the clenched fist covering them.” In this verse of the Saundaryalahari composed by our Acharya, the eyebrows of the Divine Mother are described. Sri Acharya went to Kailasa and by the grace of Isvara obtained along with the five Lingas the

Saundaryalahari consisting of a hundred verses containing mantras and a description of the Mother’s
form from the crown to the feet. As he was bringing the script of the poem, Nandikesvara obstructed him and succeeded in seizing fifty-nine verses. Sri Acharya was able to retrieve forty-one verses which contain the mantras and completed the poem by adding his own composition of fifty-nine verses describing the divine form from the crown to the feet. In these fifty-nine also there are mantras embedded. Of these, the present verse praises that aspect of the Mother’s form which dispels the fears of all the worlds. For removing fear, it is usual to knit the eyebrows slightly. Therefore, in the verse, the Mother is described as being “intent on dispelling the world’s fears”. When the brows are knit for the sake of removing fear,they bend like a bow. If the brows are knit out of anger, the brows will be raised. Then, they will not resemble a bow. Because the Mother knits the brows slightly for the sake of removing fear, they bend like a bow. They are seen to resemble a bow. So, the Acharya says, “bhruvau bhugne

kinchit”: “bhugna” means, “slightly knit”. The two eyes extend upto the ears. The black pupils shine
like the black-bees. If it were asked, whose bow is this, the reply is that it is the bow of the Lord of Rati, Manmatha. Because he is the lord of beauty, his bow also is beautiful. The poets describe that bow as ikshu (sugar/cane). The string for that bow is constituted by bees. Thus, the pupils of the eyes that extend upto the ears are said to be like the bees that constitute the bow-string of Manmatha. In another verse of the Saundaryalahari, Sri Acharya says, “maurvi madhukaramayi” (bow-string made of black-bees, v.6). If the knit brows and the pupils of the eyes are compared to the bow and bow-string respectively, there is some difficulty, so thinks the Acharya. There is a region in between the two eyebrows. And between the two eyes there is the nose. These two partially hide the bow and the string.

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The Acharya gives a thought to this. There are ten names of Arjuna:

Arjunah, phalgunah, parthah, kiriti, svethavahanah, Bibhatsur, vijayah, krishnah, savyasachi, dhananjayah.
It is usual to recite these ten names when it thunders. This is because thunder is Indra’s bow, and Arjuna was Indra’s son. Of these ten names, Savyasachi is one. The meaning of this name is “one who can shoot arrows even with the left hand”. Ordinarily, one holds the bow with the left hand and shoots the arrow with the right hand. But Arjuna’s distinctive greatness was that he could hold the bow with the right hand and shoot with the left hand also. In the same way, Manmatha too is Savyasachi. If the bow is held with the right hand and the arrow with the left we know how it would be. So are the Mother’s eye-brows and eyes. Thus says the Acharya. Mushti is closed fist. Prakoshta is the forearm near the wrist.

Savyetaragrhitam means “held with the hand other than the left”. Here the description is “like the bow
held by Manmatha with the right hand”. It is when the bow is held with the right hand that the closed fist and the forearm will hide respectively the middle part of the bow and of the string. This will not be so if the bow is held with the left hand. Therefore it is that the Acharya says "savyetaragrhitam." The region between the eye-brows and the part of the nose between the two eyes are like the fist and the wrist. There is a place of pilgrimage called Madhuvana. In Tamil, it is known as Nannilam. The legend in regard to this holy place is that there the bees offer worship to the Mahalinga. Till today there is seen a honey-comb in the temple there. That is why the place is called Madhuvana. There was a Chola king by name Kochengat Chola. “Ko” means a king who wears a crown. “Chengan” means “red eyes”. In Sanskrit, he is referred to as “Raktaksha Chola”. That Chola king was a great devotee of Lord Siva. He undertook renovation works in regard to several temples. For such works the name is “yanai-erat-thiruppani”. This means “reconstructing the temple-disposition in such a way that elephants will not be able to enter”. From this it can be inferred that in former days the elephants could go in. In ancient times, great sages were worshipping the Mahalinga for their own sake on the banks of rivers, in forest regions and underneath trees. In those times, other people did not go near. But, in the Kali-age, in order to make available the worship of Lord Siva to others also, the kings arranged to build temples in accordance with Agamic rules. The kings made provision for those performing Siva Pooja daily. Thus, in places where the sages had been worshipping by themselves the Mahalinga, the kings built temples and appointed for worship those priests who had received the necessary initiation (diksha). Because in the Dharma Sastras, it is laid down that Brahmins should not worship for monetary emoluments, the arrangement for a section to receive initiation was made. Thus, in all of these regions, the Siva temples were constructed by the kings later on for the Mahalingas which were being worshipped in those temples according to the Agamic rules. In each of the temples, even today, there is to be seen a sthala-vriksha, a sacred tree. There are also such names as Thillai-Vanam and Tejani-Vanam. In Thiruvanaikkaval there is the jambu tree; in Kanchi there is a mango tree; in Mallikarjuna, Putarjuna and Madhyarjuna the tree is Arjuna. These are the Sthala Vrikshas in the places mentioned. When the renovation work was done for the Thiruvanaikkaval temple, there was only a bark left of the jambu tree. The Chettiyars of Kanadukattan, who did the renovation, were afraid that, that bark too might

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go, and so they had the ekaadasa rudrabhishekam performed for it. By the power of mantra that bark began to sprout and has become a tree again. Even now, there is a place called Vennaval near Thiruvanaikkaval,. Naval is the Tamil name for the jambu tree. Why did Kochengat Chola undertake the renovation work referred to as yanai-erat-thiruppani? He began to hate the elephant. In those days, if there was hatred for some one, it used to be said that, one should forego devotion to Siva. That, they thought, was the greatest harm that could befall one. Why did this king hate the elephant? In regard to this, there is a legend. We should believe the sthala puranas (legends about holy places). Just because some sthala puranas might have been fabrications, we should not think all the legends are so. In the Devaram hymns, the incidents connected with the holy places have been referred to. These incidents are related in the Puranas. The age of the Devaram is about one thousand and five hundred years by now. Relying on the evidence, which is much more ancient, the saints who sang the Devaram hymns recorded those incidents. Those who followed in the post-Devaram period have also alluded to the same incidents. Even now there are corroborative indications. In Thiruvanaikkaval, there is still a jambu tree. Beneath the tree, there is a Linga and figures, by the side of it, of an elephant in the pose of performing abhisheka, and of a spider nearby and seals of copper plate inscriptions. Similarly, in Madhuvana there is to be seen a honey-comb. The symbolic representations at Thiruvanaikkaval indicate the legend connected with that place, which is as follows: In those ancient times, there was a sage by name Jambu, who was performing austerities at that place. Because he was performing austerities lost in meditation for a every long time, an anthill covered his body, and plants and creepers grew as also a jambu tree. The Mahalinga, which he had been worshipping, was now being worshipped by a spider. Since the Mahalinga was in the open, the spider was weaving constantly a web over it so that the sun would not fall on it. An elephant was performing abhisheka to the Mahalinga everyday with the water from the Kaveri river brought in its trunk. By the spilling of the water, the spider’s web was getting destroyed. The spider got annoyed at this. It entered the elephant’s trunk and bit it. In Ayurveda it is said that the poison of luta is the most harmful. Luta means spider. The elephant killed the spider by razing it to the ground, and it also died on account of the poison. The spider was reborn as Kochengat Chola. Because the spider’s eyes were red with anger at the time of death, it was reborn as the Chola king with red eyes. Hence, the king was angry at the sight of elephants. And, he had done yanai-erat-

thiruppani for seventy temples. He was a great devotee of Lord Siva. His devotion to Siva has been praised even by Alwars in the Periya Thirumozhi. While mentioning that Kochengan built the Vishnu
temple at Nachiyarkoil, it has been stated that he was the builder of many Siva temples. "Place with devotion on your head the sacred feet of the Lord who is the consort of Nappinnai with roseate lips and who, in the past (at the time of His incarnation as Parasurama), destroyed all the kings and overcoming the might of enemy king, Karta Veeryarjuna, in the battle-field and cut off his head. Go to the temple at Thirunaraiyur which was visited for worship by the Chola kings of noble lineage who built seventy temples for the Lord with eight shoulders whose lips repeat the Purushasuktha of the Veda.”

-- Periya Thirumozhi, 6, 6, 8.

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The Vedas– discourses by periyava

Of the fourteen dharma-sthanas (the sources of knowledge of dharma), six are auxiliaries, four are subauxiliaries, and the Vedas are four, namely, Rig, Yajus, Sama and Atharvana. The greatness of the Veda is limitless. Yet, on the empirical level we may understand its greatness in a way. Of the holy places in the world Kasi is believed to be the greatest. While speaking about other holy places, it is said that they are equal to Kasi. From this, the greatness of Kasi is evident. This place (i.e. Varanasi) is referred to as the Southern Kasi. Uthara Kasi is on the Himalayas. Vriddhachalam is known as Vriddha Kasi. Sometime ago I stayed at Bugga. That place is also called a Kasi. If there is a place referring to other sacred places, it is said: "This one is equal in greatness to Kasi, this other one is even a little greater".” There is a verse about Kumbakonam.

Anyakshetre kritam papam Punyakshetre vinasyati Punayakshetra kritam papam Varanasyam vinasyati Varanasyam kritam papam Kumbhakone vinasyati Kumbhakone kritam papam Kumbhakone vinasyat
The purport of this is that Kumbhakonam is holier than Kasi. By saying so, it is made evident that Kasi is holy in a special manner. By giving Kasi as the standard of comparison, its greatness gets increased. About a hundred years ago a great man composed a sloka about Kasi.

Kshetranam utthamanam api yad upamaya ka pi loke prasashthi Chittadravyena mukthikrayam abhilashatam yadbhutha panyavithi, Saksad vishvesvarasya tribhuvanamahita ya pura rajadhan Ramya kasi sakasi bhavatu hitakari bhuktaye mukthyaye nah
--Mahisha sataka vyakhyanam. That which has become famous by being cited as the example for the most sacred places is Kasi. There, if one gives the money, which is, bhakti (devotion) one could easily get mukthi (release). The market

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where this is obtained is Kasi. This is what is stated in this sloka. Similarly, the Veda which is great by virtue of its contents has received esteem in empirical usage also. The Ramayana is a well-known epic. It is in different forms. The story of Rama has been told in plays, musical compositions, poems, etc. Everyone talks about the Ramayana. In Tamil, Kambar has sung the Ramayana in the vritta metre. Arunachala Kaviroyar wrote in the form of a play. There are versions of the Ramayana in all languages such as Marathi and Telugu. Kalidasa wrote the kavya “Raghuvamsa”. It mostly relates to the story of the Ramayana. King Bhoja composed the Ramayana campu. Bhavabhuti wrote the Uttararamacharitha. Ramabhadra Dikshita wrote a play called Janaki Parinaya. There are several types of Ramayana: Ananda Ramaykana, Tattvasangraha Ramayana, etc. To the question, why is the Ramayana so all-pervasive? One who has written the story of Rama replies thus: Just as sugar is put into the payasam prepared in any house, so the Ramayana is a necessary ingredient (of anything that is good). When there is no Pooja possible, some recite the Ramayana in its place. When the greatness of Ramayana which is so all-pervasive is referred to, it is said that it is the Veda.

Veda prachetasadasit sakshad ramayanathmana
The Mahabharatha is also called a Veda.

bharathah panchamo vedah.
Even as the Ramayana is held in esteem, the Vaishnavas hold in esteem the Thiruvaymozhi. It is said, “Maran Satagopan did the Veda into Tamil”. Thus, that too is regarded as a Veda. In Tamil the most famous work on ethics is the Kural; and it is described as a Veda. Thiruvalluvar wrote the Thirukkural. At that time there was in Madurai the last Sangam. There was a plank given by Lord Sundareswara. Those who had the necessary fitness could sit on it. If anyone did not possess the fitness, the plank would reject him. We are not inclined to believe this. But we are ready to believe that if a coin is put in, a ticket comes out of the machine kept for the purpose. Thiruvalluvar went to the Madurai Sangam taking his Kural with him. Generally scholars bestow no esteem on others. Because of this, one who is dull-witted cannot claim that he is a learned person. When taken in this way, the scholars’ attitude does some good. But that tendency should not be allowed to exceed the limit. That would be wrong. The members of the Madurai Sangam asked Thiruvalluvar to place the manuscript he took with him on the plank. It accommodated that manuscript alone, and threw out the other scholars who attempted to get on to it. This made the scholars realise the greatness of the Kural; and each one of them composed a verse praising the great work. One of them said thus: “It is not easy to weigh the relative merits of Sanskrit and Tamil and say that one is superior to the other – because Sanskrit possesses the Veda, while Tamil has the Kural of Thiruvalluvar”. (Thiruvalluvar


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It is well known that Thevaram and Thiruvachakam are regarded as the Tamil Veda. These fall within our religion. The Christians brought their scripture to this country. They named it Sathya Veda. Thus, when we consider the usage current in the world it is clear that the Veda is accorded special esteem. It is a well-known practice to refer to an established great test while speaking about the greatness of other texts. At the end of the Dvapara age and at the beginning of Kaliyuga, i.e. about 5,000 years ago, Sage Vyasa classified the Veda into four parts. He was responsible for the coming into being of Uttharamimamsa, the eighteen Puranas, the Bharatha etc. He divided the Veda into branches, taking into consideration the ability of a single person to study and benefit by it. Each branch is called a sakha. Vyasa’s four disciples, Sumantu, Paila, Jaimini and Vaisampayana, learned from him the four Vedas namely, Rig, Yajus, Sama and Atharvana. Vyasa taught the Puranas to Suta. Therefore, in the Puranas it is mentioned that Suta spoke them. In the Rig Veda there are many sakhas. Of them, only one Sakha is extant. It is known as the Aithareya

sakha. For the Yajur Veda there were 101 sakhas. Of these, only three are extant. There were 1000
Sakhas for the Sama Veda. Only two of them are available now – Gautama sakha and Talavakara sakha. Not even one sakha of the Atharvana Veda is at present available. In Orissa (Utkal) in the North, there are eighteen sub/divisions of Brahmins. Of them, one group is known as Atharvanika. From the name we come to know that the forebears of this group should have studied the Atharvana sakha. Vyasa divided the Veda into 1180 sakhas. At present only eight remain. (Although there were many more, Vyasa thought that number was enough for Kali age. That number itself has been so considerably reduced now.) In a sakha are contained all topics that are necessary for a Brahmin to perform his karmas from birth to death.

Ekam sakham adhithya srotriyo bhavathi.
The kings of those days used to grant what are known as srothriyam villages to a scholar who had studied an entire sakha. No tax would be levied on such villages. As those who studied the Veda had no other profession, it was known that they could not pay kist. Even now there is no-tax on srothriyam villages. It is only in our country that there have been generations of families who perform duties relating to spiritual welfare, without engaging themselves in secular professions. Therefore, our country has a greatness which will never be destroyed. Those foreigners who have come to know of our country’s greatness through Vivekananda and others hold us in high esteem. Paul Deussen of Germany says that there is no one greater than our Sankaracharya. He has studied well the Advaita sastras. He has sent a photograph of his to be placed in Kaladi, the birthplace of the Master. It is in our country that there is the power, which makes for instructing the Truth that is the Self. Those who study the Veda will not endeavour to ensure for themselves the means for empirical comfort. So, in order to keep them above want, the kings gave them a little land and levied no tax on it. Hence it was that in our country there were many srothriykas (those who had studied the Veda)

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The State Of Jeevanmukthi– discourses by periyava

Our Acharya taught Advaita in order that all beings may be redeemed. We who have come in that tradition are visiting all sorts of places. When we do so, we are reminded frequently of Him and of His Advaita teaching. Now all of us have met here. At this time, the memory of Sri Bhagavatpada comes to all of us. This is an important fruit of the tradition he has left for us that we should be constantly wandering about. This is not alone. There is also another purpose. The Acharya established our religion and the way of dharma from the Cape to the Himalayas. He has also given us a command. His command to us is that we should expound the various topics connected with our religion, when we perform the Pooja of Sri Chandramouliswara at the different places to which we go. For this purpose, He has also made us bear His name. Therefore our main task is to spread the teachings of the Bhagavatpada, being in the Sanyasa Asrama. We call those as Acharyas who have established religion. It is usual for those who have established religion to refer to our Acharya as the Bhagavatpada. It is not our habit to utter the name of those whom we revere. There is the wish in us, i.e., in all beings, right from the ant onwards, that we should remain without dying but each and every being dies again and again and also is born again and again. We have heard from the epics that there were many great people who have conquered death. In recent times, it is known that there was one such great person of that nature, Sadasiva Brahmendra. Now also there may be some great ones but they do not come to us and tell us what is the medicine that will remove the disease called death. It is this highly potent medicine that the Bhagavatpada has taught us. We can acquire it even while living. We do not have the sufficient power for getting it after death. Those of us who died formerly have taken birth again. Is that not so? Even because of this, what I stated just now is clear. Similarly one who is not surviving cannot die. Because we died previously, we should have taken birth. If we probe thus still further our head will reel. Let that be. I said that we couldn’t acquire the medicine for not dying after death and that is known from the fact that we have taken birth again. In the same manner, we know that even in the previous births, when we were living we did not discover this path. The reason for this is this: Is that not so? Thus the disease known as birth and death haunts us all and has been baffling us. Lord Krishna says to Arjuna in the Bhagavad

Gita, II.27. Jatasya hi dhruvo mrityur dhruvam Janma mritasya cha.
If we find happiness in the process of repeatedly dying and taking birth we need not seek for the medicine which will give us the state of deathlessness. We do not see this to be the case. For man there was set up a body by someone, somewhere. As long as that lasts, hunger and thirst will continue to afflict him. In order to pacify them, everyone has to go in search of many things. Because they are helpful for our purpose, there arises in us the desire for them. If there is some hindrance in the way, we get angry. It is in order to remove the disease consisting of hunger and thirst that all of us go

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through so much difficulty. If it is some other disease, it can be removed through some medicine. But this disease cannot be removed that way. It arises time and again, and continues to give us trouble. If some Siddha can give us medicine for remaining without hunger, there will be no need to suffer in this manner. Some days ago I was at a place in Chittoor district which is a Theertha for Bugga. Near that place there are two springs, called Kailasa kone and Sadasiva kone. The word “kone” in Telugu means a mountain stream. There are Siva temples at those places. I went there. They are merit affording and very pure waterfalls are there. All around there is a quietude as well as peace. When performing ablutions and taking bath there it would occur to the mind “Let us stay here itself, hereafter we need not go anywhere. There cannot be a better place. Yet why do we come back from there? Is it not because of the torture of hunger? Those areas are so fine and mentally satisfying. Since this came to my memory I spoke about it. When for a man there happens relation to a body, it is called birth; when the body relation is removed, it is death. I said that as long as this body lasts hunger would not leave us. Then it means that when the body goes the trouble will disappear. There seems to be an easy way of achieving this. Now a days, when some people are guilty of some great mistake, or have to face some unbearable sorrow they take a revolver, shoot themselves. Can this be a way of removing the relation with the body?No, it cannot. Although this gross body goes, there is some sort of another body. One has to be wandering somewhere with that one. Again one must take another lowly birth. Committing suicide is not the right way. The dharma sastras say that suicide is a heinous crime. We have suffered such difficulties earlier by committing many sins. Along with them, if the sin of suicide also joins, births and sufferings will only increase. Even at the present time, committing suicide is thought to be a great crime. If one person murders another he is sentenced to death in the court. What for is this? By sentencing him to death will his sin be removed completely? Not at all. That punishment is not for his good. If he continues to live he will murder many more. Is that not so? Better than the death of many in that manner is the death of one. That is why the punishment is given. Let this be. The body is a great disease. Committing suicide is sin. Remaining without death is the supreme state. All this I have said. What is the way to reach that state? It is this that the Bhagavatpada has taught us. In each and every religion the respective preceptors have taught a particular method for gaining this end. The Saivas sponsor a method. Another method is taught by Vaishnavas. Different from these two, others show a third method. Many other means have been expounded. The Bhagavatpada does not discard any of them. They are all acceptable. But through them there can only be a temporary remedy for this disease. The root-cause of the disease will remain attached to us. A man gets malaria. We give medicines like quinine. If these are given the fever stops. But will this do? If we are able to get some medicine, which will remove the cause of this fever so that it will not recur, will that not be supremely valuable? Curing the disease called the body through the methods taught in other traditions is like taking quinine. For temporary relief we must take that also. Accepting all the various means the Bhagavatpada teaches another method, which is superior to all of them. I have already stated that we cannot take this medicine after death. At that time all our faculties like the eyes, the legs, etc. would be devoid of any power. The Purusha suktha is chanted every day at the time of the Pooja. In that suktha the following

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PERIYAVA – A GLIMPSE AT HIS LIFE & TEACHINGS Nanyah pantha vidhyathe yanaya
The meaning of this mantra is: He who has known this Self very well becomes one who has attained the state of deathlessness even in this birth. For gaining this state there is no other way. Amritha means

moksha. To those who have gained moksha there are no birth and death. Therefore moksha is called amritha. The disease called the body is not something, which has come to man anew. It has come from
countless time and without our knowledge. We require only the experience of those who have had this disease cured by taking the appropriate medicine. Even like this disease the medicine which is meant for this is also stated in the beginningless Veda. We write a book. Before the writing it was not there. The

Veda is not like it. It was not written by someone. The conclusive view is that it is like the perennial teaching. I shall tell you about it when there is time. In the passage cited above there is the word iha (here). Therefore even while this body lasts, it is clear, the state of deathlessness can be gained. This way alone is the best. Why? If as is stated in other traditions this state is to be gained in another world, we cannot know about it now. Those who have gained it will not come back and tell us about that experience. The purport of the passage is that Self-knowledge is the means to the state of immortality. I said that the disease consisting of hunger and thirst is common to all beings. In order to satisfy it there are required instruments such as eyes, tongue, etc. The mind too is needed. Through the mind we come to know which objects are good and which are bad. With the help of these instruments we acquire many objects. In order to protect them there is required a house; in order to help us a wife, son, relations, friends and others. Without stopping therewith, we begin to have great conceit in them, thinking they are ours. If there is pain for the instruments—eyes, legs, etc. we imagine that the pain has come to us. If the body gets emaciated, we think that the suffering is ours. From this, is it not clear that we have not understood our true nature? Although sometimes we say “This is my mind”, “this is my eye, my body”, etc. separating ourselves from them, yet at the same time the conceit of identity does not leave us as is evident from such statements as “I am tall”, “I am short”, etc. The medicine, which will destroy this, is Self-knowledge alone. It is customary always to find the proper medicine for a particular disease. If one takes on oneself on account of ignorance, the troubles which are not there and suffers as a consequence, the proper medicine for that is the knowledge that these do not belong to one. If we realise that the body is not ours then the disease called the body will go of its own accord. For the sake of this, one need not commit suicide nor is there required a search for some other means. By these methods, the connection to the body will become only all the more. This I have stated already. The Bhagavatpada has taught us
that we should realise bodilessness even while the body is there. This is immortality (amritha), release (moksha).

Tadethat asarirathvam mokshakhyam
--Sutrabhashya (I, I,4) This is what he has said. You may have many friends. So long as you think they are yours you will regard what are their happiness and misery as yours. Let us suppose that at some time later they themselves become our enemies, then we will not have any relation with their happiness and misery. May be, we may think that they should experience some misery. Why is it so? In regard to them, the conceit “mine” has gone. In the same manner, we must treat our body. Here before us there hangs a plantain/stem. If that dries up do we dry up? We must often think of our body as a piece of flesh, which

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is tied up, nearer than the plantain/stem. Because we have the conceit “I”, “I” it has taken root in us. We must constantly reflect thus. Desire, anger, hatred, fear, all these belong to the mind and not to me. Hunger, thirst, etc. belong to the body, they are not mine. If we do so then the deep-seated conceit will disappear little by little. In the Upanishads it is taught that our Self is extremely pure. Iswara is the one Reality that is all-pervasive, pure and blissful. Everyone should realise that we are truly that Isvara. The body, etc. that are seen by us are different. We are different. Thus we must know the distinction.

Tam svaccharirat pravrheth munjadivesikam Dhairyena tham vidhyacchukram amritham
Katha Upanishad vi, 17. Just like drawing out pulp from the munja grass the Self should be separated bravely from the body. Then it will be seen to be pure and deathless. This is the meaning. We see a thing here – there are two: the object and the subject. What is seen is different from that which sees. The body is what is seen, therefore the one who sees, the Self, is different from it. He who thinks that the Self is what is seen is an ignorant person. This is stated in the Kenaupanishad:

Avijnatham vijanatham, vijnatham avijnatham
To them who think they know, it is not known. To them who think they do not know it is known. This is the meaning. Let this be. If we wish to remain without death, the disease consisting of the body, etc. should go. He who is without body is Iswara. So we should always have the contemplation “I am He”. Some persons would say verbally “Iam He” (soham, soham) while sitting and while standing up. Unlike this it is better to utter the statement after knowing its meaning. It is very easy to say that we should think that the body is not ours. It is difficult to realise this in practice. If somebody beats us is it possible for us to think that there has been no beating, that there is no beating, that there is no pain? By what means can we achieve this? If it is not possible to think that there is no body, we must begin to think that all the bodies in the world are ours. This is the remedial means. By thinking so, when others suffer we will think of going to their help. The happiness and sorrow of others will become ours. The thought that whatever we do is not for us will automatically arise. It is this that is taught by the Lord to Arjuna in the Bhagawad Gita. All things should be performed as an offering to God. Therefore we must toil for others always. Every action that we do must be offered to God. Always we must have the contemplation “I am He”. As I said yesterday, we must constantly raise the slogan, “namah parvathi pathaye”. This is the state of having left the body even while living. In the sastra this is called jeevanmukthi.

Asariram vava santham na priyapriye sprisata

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This passage of the Chandogya (viii, xii, I) gives the same teaching. The meanings are pleasure and pain never approach a man who lives without body. This is the meaning. The medicine taught to us by the Bhagavatpada for remaining without death is the same. This is given in the form of a verse by a great person. This verse has been cited by the Bhagavatpada in his Brahmasutra bhashya (I, I, 4).

Gaunamithyathmano satthve putradehadhi badhanat, Sadbrahmathmahamithyevam bodhe karyam katham bhavet.
The Self usually is distinguished into three. Gaunathma (the figurative self), mithyathma (the illusory self), and mukhyathma ( the principal Self). Our son, friends etc. their pain and pleasure are ours. This conceit is in every one. Have I not said this? This is gaunathma. Gaunathma means figurative self. We know we are different from the son, friends and others. Even then, the conceit that we are they come to us. So, this has been stated to be gaunathma. The conceit of “I” in the body etc. is mithyathma. Separating the pure Self and realising it to be Brahmin and that we are. That is mukhyathma. If the two gaunathma and mithyathma are given up the relation to the son, friends, the body, sense organs, etc. will be removed. Then there will arise the knowledge “remain as the true Brahmin". After that there is nothing that has to be done. This is the meaning of the verse cited above. Therefore all of us should endeavour to acquire this medicine which is true knowledge as taught by the Bhagavathpada, our supreme Preceptor. Then we shall gain always the pure state of bodilessness and the supreme bliss without any blemish. In order to achieve this, we must always think of God and perform good deeds. Sri Chandramauliswara should bestow His grace on us for this. This is our prayer.

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Man’s Duty– discourses by periyava

The souls that are in the world are called “living beings”. Living beings are those that are endowed with life (prana). “Prana” is life. Therefore, all beings endowed with life are called “living beings”. All living beings are always engaged in doing something or other. Every living being is ever seen to be busy doing some act or other. The ant is always on the move. The snail does something or other. The bird remains flying or eating something. Man goes to office and does his work. Or, he ploughs and rears crops. He is seen engaged in similar other works. Not even one person remains without doing some work or other. The Lord says this in the Gita:

“No one at any time remains without doing some work or other even for a moment.”
Thus, we observe in the world man is always doing something or other. For a man who lives in a small village, there are only a few things to do. For one who resides in a big town, there are innumerable things to do. Why should all be doing something or other thus? It is only when we are doing something that we are without misery. In order to be without misery, many things have to be done. In order to gain happiness also, many things have to be done. Nothing is so difficult as remaining quiet without doing anything. In order that we may thus do things, there is something within prompting us. That “hunger” prompts man saying, “Do this”, “Do that”. If we remain doing no action, the stomach pinches. One has to procure the medicine for removing the disease called “hunger”. There is great difference here from the diseases which, after having been cured, come after many days. For this disease, the medicine should be administered at each part of the day. In order to procure this medicine, everyone has to work. If the tiger kills the antelope or the cow, it is for curing this disease. It is for the same purpose that man acts many roles and tries to be clever. If he is hungry, he procures rice, cooks and eats it. For procuring rice, he works. If the body is to be preserved, one has to work. It is not possible to remain without work even for a moment. If one remains without any work, one’s body would become useless. If one is a wealthy person, it does not mean that he should sit idle without work. It is such a person that has many things to do. Anxiety haunts him always that the loans that he has given should be safe. In order to ensure this he has to attend to several things. More than a Brahman who lives by gathering rice grains by alms everyday, a wealthy man who has property worth ten lakhs is active. There is no end to work he does. Thus, there are many kinds of work that a man does. The things that he does for the sake of his own body constitute one kind. Another kind consists of things that he does for the sake of those who belong to him. Children, wife, father, mother and other persons have been entrusted to his care. There are things which he has to do for them. Over and above these, it may be that he owns a cow and a dog. If these attachments increase, there may be a cat. And, there are things to be done for the sake of the farmer who looks after his land, his servants and others. After these, there are items of business connected with the village community. Just as keeping the house neat and tidy is the responsibility of the family which lives in it, managing the affairs of the village is the responsibility of its inhabitants. A family

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may consist of ten members. In a village there may be a thousand persons. Just as a man should attend to matters connected with his family, he should also attend to the affairs of his village. And then, there are many things, which have to be done for the welfare of the community. Thus, there are several categories of action. Of these, cleaning the teeth, washing the clothes, bathing, eating, etc., are for the sake of one’s body. Building a house, cleaning it, acquiring the accessories for running it, etc., are for the sake of the household, i.e., they are for the sake of those who belong to one’s self. Digging a canal, repairing a tank, building a hospital, making adequate arrangements for the treatment of patients, etc., are for the sake of the village community. All know the things that are to be done for the country’s welfare, these days. Among the things that we do, there are, besides those that are for feeding ourselves, the duties towards others. Those who have the ability should protect the weak and the disabled. This is the way of the world. The weak and the disabled are entrusted to the care of those who have the ability to protect them. A man who has the ability brings up his child. When he becomes old and decrepit, he is taken care of by his son. Thus, the process of change is natural to the world. This is characteristic not only of humans but also of birds and other living beings. Birds and animals look after their young ones. This characteristic is seen among small creatures also, such as insects, cats and monkeys. Things go on happening in the entire world. Man does many things. He gets involved in each of them. He earns money. He seeks co-operation. He digs canals. He builds hospitals. He attends to the affairs of government. He devises ways and means for removing the sufferings of people. Sacrificing some of his own interests, he works for the common-weal and also attends to his own affairs. He goes to his fields. He works in his office. Thus, he does many things for earning a living. The things that are necessary for men are of three categories. For satisfying hunger there is required food; then, for protecting one’s self from the sun’s heat, cold weather, etc. and for covering one’s body, there are required clothes; and, for shelter and rest, there is required a house. These are of greater necessity than other things. Besides these a man acquires is for the sake of maintaining his children, arranging for their marriage etc. Apart from what a man has to do for acquiring the three essential things, he has to be active in regard to other things also. He has to procure his daily food, repair his house when it gets damaged, and stitch his clothes when they get torn. But he also secures the essential things required for the others entrusted to his care. He procures food for the appeasement of the daily disease, hunger, eats and makes others eat. There is a particular aptness in describing hunger as disease and food as medicine. Sankaracharya enjoins this in a Sloka.Thus: “Take treatment for the disease called hunger”. A man with disease would take only that amount of medicine that is necessary for the cure of the disease. He would continue to take the medicine that is good to taste. Besides, he would go in for the medicine that does not involve great cost. Similarly, one should take only that quantity of food which is essential for the satisfaction of hunger. And plain food should be enough. This is the meaning expressed in the Sloka.

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We have thus seen that man has to do several things both for his own sake and for the sake of others. Besides these, he does also certain extraordinary things. We shall see what some of these are. One man sets up a cross and builds a church. There nothing is seen which would appease his hunger. Another person wears a garland of rudraksha beads and smears his body with the sacred ash. With these, will he be rid of his hunger? Or will these add anything to his dress? Yet another man puts on the mark of Vishnu. These doings do not fall within the essential things of which we spoke. These are not necessary for the satisfaction of hunger, or for one’s care. These are things that are extra. A man takes a panchapatra (small vessel of water) and uddharani (spoon), and makes some noise, and does something. He performs what is known as Sraddha; he invites Brahmins and feeds them. By these acts will his hunger be satisfied? Will the rains come to make his fields fertile? Nothing of that sort will happen. Bringing stone from hills, man builds temples. The temples are not used for providing him with shelter. The temples remain locked during the nights. They are not even useful for seeking shelter against rain. Of what use are they? Some persons perform several deeds in the name of religion. Some fight for the sake of religion; even heads get broken. Do not such actions appear as necessary over and above what are required for man? Smearing one’s body with the sacred ash, wearing rudraksha beads, building temples, performing

sraddha feeding the Brahmins—can we not say that all these are extra actions? Of what use are such actions? As if these are not enough, there are bhajan parties functioning in this city (Madras) since some
years past. What they do involve a great strain for the throat. There is no relation whatsoever between their bhajans and their office work. The act of bhajans goes on without being necessary. Do not all these actions appear to be quite unnecessary? But are these really unnecessary? Why should they be performed? What is their use? We shall now ponder over these questions. Why does man earn money? Will it not do if he gets his hunger satisfied everyday? If he goes to some household and asks for food, he gets it. He could eat also in charity homes. No one thinks: “There is food to be had; why receive pay?” If a choice were offered between one measure of cooked rice and ten rupees, a person would choose the latter. Why? Is it not that he requires only food? What for is money? Cooked rice would be useful for one meal a day. Uncooked rice could be kept for another meal. But money could be used for fulfilling one’s needs ten times. A man prefers that which could be used for several days. To a boy who goes to school, his mother gives cooked food for his mid-day meal. If we are travelling to a distant place, we take with us rice and other accessories. In former times there were no railways. There were no quick means of transport. On account of these, our troubles only increase. Train fare, hotel charges, bus fare, charges for coffee, etc. all these involve expenditure of money. Besides these, if we go to a new place we spend money for buying new things. All these expenses are incurred nowadays. In former days when one travelled, there was no expense at home for food. And, by walking, there was strength for the legs.

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I remember now, of one who lived long ago in this manner, spending very little. There was one Krishna Iyer in a place called Chittur near Palghat. He started a Bank. Out of the income from the Bank, he founded and maintained a Vedic School wherein over seventy students studied. In those days the students who completed their studies there used to come here and continue their studies in the Sanskrit College founded by V.Krishnaswamy Iyer. Among those who thus started schools there was another by name Muthu Ganapathi. He lived in Thiruvaiyaru. He arranged for Vedic study for about a hundred or a hundred and twenty boys. He also saw to their proper boarding, etc. He used to levy a penalty on those who were working under him when they committed mistakes, fund the money thus collected and maintain the school out of the interests therefrom. One day, an officer visited that school. Seeing the boys, he said, “Oh, what a waste! Why should these boys be rendered useless for life? What is the use of impounding them like a herd of sheep for ten years? No way is being shown to them to earn a living. If they had been taught English, they would have benefited greatly.” A person who was then by his side replied: “By keeping these boys here without sending them to learn English, half the expenses are saved. If they had been made to study English, money would have been spent on costly dress, hairdressing, a bicycle, etc. All that money has now been saved. Had they learnt English and begun to earn, half their salary would go to meet these unnecessary expenses. Now, that has been avoided. As for earning the other half of such salary amounts, we are showing them the way here. Even if they fail to learn anything here, they will gain by not having turned their attention to English.” These instances have been given in order to show that there were people in those days who lived great lives by spending economically. We are at the foot of a mountain. We have with us one thousand rupees. And that too in cash consisting of paise-coins. A number of thieves approach us with evil intentions. A great turmoil is about to take place. If we could cross the mountain and reach the other side, we would be safe. In such a situation, a person comes and asks for exchange of cash for a thousand-rupee note. What would we do then? Immediately, we would give him the bag containing the cash and receive the note and crossing the mountain get to safety. Only, that note should be such that it would be valid in the country beyond the mountain. Our story is similar to this man’s. If we make use of our present strength and resources and do things that would be useful later, we shall meet with no difficulties. One may ask: “We should be happy here. How is it certain that we shall exist later? The answer to this question is “Suppose we exist, should we suffer?”

Nasti chen nasti no hanih Asti chen nastiko hatah
In this verse, this is what is stated. The astika says: “We shall exist even after this life; therefore, we should do good works now.” The nastika asks: “Where is the certainty that we shall exist?” The reply is: “If we do good works now, we shall gain if we exist afterward, and we shall not lose if we cease to exist.” On either alternative, there is no misery for the astika. If it is true that we shall exist, it is the

nastika who will be in trouble.

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Therefore, it is always good to do good works. When we have to go on a journey to another place, we should keep ourselves in a happy mood. If we do not do things that will make us happy after we have departed from this body, we shall have to suffer. The things that we have to do in order to avert this suffering we can learn through discretion. If there are no immediate results for the acts that we do at present, the results will come later. What has stated has been explained a long time ago by our great men with reference to the soul. That every action has a reaction is declared clearly in our Sastras. It is, therefore, necessary that we should do some things that would be useful even after the present birth. What I referred to earlier as extra things are those, which we do for the purpose of being happy always. Acts such as wearing the sacred ash and rudraksha beads, and performing sraddha, are done for keeping ourselves happy always. The more we do such things, the more they will do us good. Besides the things that we do for the sake of our welfare in the present life, we should do those things also which will secure our welfare for crores and crores of years, in fact, forever. The currency of our country will not be valid in Russia. If for all countries there is a single king, there will be a single currency bearing his insignia which will be valid everywhere. For all the fourteen worlds, there is a sovereign ruler. He is God; His is currency, which is legal tender in all His dominions. That currency will be valid everywhere and always. What is that? That, verily, is dharma. Before leaving Ayodhya for the forest, Rama went to Kausalys to take leave of her. Is it not the practice that a mother gives edibles to her son who is starting on a journey, so that he may eat them on the way? What is to be given to a son who is to be away for fourteen years? Kausalya did not know what to give. After pondering deeply she said, “O Raghava! There is nothing that I could do to protect you. There is only dharma. That dharma will protect you, which you have been preserving with courage, constancy and regularity. That is the only blessing that I can give.” If we preserve dharma, it preserves us in turn. The dharma that protected Rama is the dharma, which is the Law in God’s universal empire. Besides, what we do normally for the sake of children, parents, village, country etc. we should also do those things which would bring lasting happiness to the soul. Let us see what those things are: Whatever we do, we should do dedicating it to God. God is the limit of all knowledge. If we dedicate our deeds to Him, those deeds would give us lasting happiness. If those deeds are not novel, but the ones, which our forebears had handed down from generation to generation, their performance, would be easy. Even if we have to do something bad, if we do it, not for filling our stomach, but as something extra, dedicating it to God, that will become dharma. Which dharma should we follow? We are soaked in the dharma, which has been followed by our great men for generations, for a longtime. As a matter of experience, we can say that they gained happiness. It is enough if we follow that dharma. If we cast about for something new, it will be a vain endeavour and there will be the doubt whether that new thing is good or not. Therefore, to follow the dharma which is meant for us and which our great men adopted as the rule for their lives is good.

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It is thus clear that we should do something extra which is not for the sake of our stomach, or for our family, or for our village, or for our country. That thing should be what has been handed down to us through generations. We should do that, after dedicating it to God, and with courage and regularity. That is dharma that will give us happiness forever. Whatever we do with our mind, speech and body—the three instruments of action—all that should bear dharma. We should acquire dharma, the spiritual currency, in exchange for all the money that we possess. All the powers that we have must be expended in augmenting dharma. The dharma that is thus acquired and augmented will be valid at all times and in all places. What Kausalya described to Rama, as his talisman is that. Rama had to face formidable obstacles. He overcame them through dharma. Man should always do things that will uplift him. Among the animals, all except man are invertebrates. They are referred to as trick animals. It is man alone that grows vertically. His form shows that he is superior to the other animals. If he follows the way of dharma, even the animals would support him. If he adopts the path of adharma, even his brothers would desert him. This is illustrated in the story of Rama. Because Rama followed the way of virtue, even monkeys helped him. Because Ravana adopted the ways of vice, even his younger brother broke away from him. Although Ravana was in his own kingdom, surrounded by his armies, he could not be saved. For a man of virtue, there is wellbeing everywhere. Therefore, it is dharma that will protect one. Apart from what we do for satisfying our desires, anger, etc. apart from what we do for earning a living, we should do extra deeds—those which were done by our forebears—with courage and regularity. They will give us happiness.

-End of book-

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