TN Governor pays rich tributes on Kanchi Sankaracharya

Governor of Tamil Nadu Banwarilal Purohit presided over the ‘Shradhanjali Celebrations’ offered to Pujya Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Sankaracharya Swamigal at Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Kanchipuram. The Governor said, “I feel privileged to be in the holy town of Kanchipuram to pay my respectful homage to the memory of His Holiness, the most venerable Sri Jayendra Saraswathy Swamigal on the occasion of Shraddanjali the first Aradhana Mahotsavam. It is with great fondness and nostalgia that I recall my meeting with Swamiji on the 27th of February, a year ago.

Born as Subramaniam Mahadeva Iyer in a village called Irulneekki which in Tamil means dispeller of darkness, he was discovered in his teens as a worthy successor by His Holiness the Sankaracharya of Kanchi Shri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal known popularly as Paramacharya. He spent about a decade and a half under his tutelage and then started undertaking long tours across the length and breadth of the country.

During the course of his travels, he saw the difficulties faced by the common people and devised several programs to alleviate their suffering. He started Mission Hospitals where patients, regardless of their social background, would have access to free or affordable healthcare. He brought to life some of the world’s best eye-care facilities through hospitals in Chennai, Assam and Odisha in Sri Adi Shankara’s name. He built Vrdhasramams for the elderly, Annadhana Kudams for the Hungry and Yatri Nivas Homes for the poor traveler. Seeing that children were moving away from traditional values, he started the Sankara Schools providing affordable education steeped in moral values to children. Noticing that ancient temples were not getting the attention they needed, he performed numerous Kumbabhisekams infusing new life in neglected rural areas.

He supported and built many Ghosalas to household and abandoned cattle. Knowing that the Vedas are the fundamental gospels of India, he nurtured them through various initiatives. He organized the performance of Homams and Yagams for the welfare of humanity. He set up and rejuvenated Gurukulams that taught the Vedas. He also established several schools where children learnt the Vedas in addition to contemporary subjects. He also took several initiatives to develop and encourage the local language in the places he visited. Pattasalas offering free education, food, clothing and shelter were set up in Nepal and many North-Indian cities, Tamizh Pattasalas in Tamil Nadu are also some examples of this.

To preserve and propagate Indian classical music, he organised the purchase and renovation of the houses of the Thanjavur Trinity so that they are preserved for posterity. He also organized several festivals that brought the common man closer to Carnatic music. He inspired famous musicians like M.S. Vishwanathan and T.M. Soundarajan, to compose and sing Bhakthi songs so as to attract people to classical music. Seeing the decline of the use of Nadhaswaram in religious and secular functions, he started Nadhaswaram schools in Andhra Pradesh so that there always is a steady flow of skilled artists playing this Mangala Vadyam.

So great was his concern about disenfranchised and disempowered communities that he frequented their colonies during his tours. In addition, he often used to visit urban slums to provide succor to these populations. Apart from food and clothes that he usually gifted them, he also donated sewing machines and other items commonly used by women in the household. He had a phenomenal memory and would surprise the visitor by mentioning his name and personal details even after a long time gap. He composed many songs in Sanskrit and Tamil about his Guru and the Gods.

He started movements like Jana Kalyan etc. in order to spread the right knowledge of Hindu religious principles among the common public as well as to integrate the backward sections with the mainstream Hindus. Jana Kalyan movement works constantly towards providing vocational skill development and self-employment support. Many are the institutions founded by Swamiji, notable among them being the Chandrasekharendra University at Enathur near Kanchipuram, which houses a special library of ancient palm-leaf manuscripts and digitised texts, and manySankara colleges.

Healthcare is another area where Swamiji showed keen personal interest and helped establish hospitals and medical centres in many places across the country. Sankara Eye Hospital, Chennai, Sankara Deva Netralaya, Guwahati, the recently opened Sankara Eye Hospital at Berhampur in Odisha, Child Trust hospital and Sankara Hospital in Chennai and Hindu Mission hospitals spread over many places are a few examples. In times of natural calamity, Swamiji used to personally visiting and supervising the relief and rehabilitation efforts organised by the Mutt and blessing those in misery. His visits to Latur in Maharashtra, Bhuj in Gujarat and the flood affected areas of Uttarakhand are cases in point.

Thus his entire life was devoted to the service of humanity, dharma, and goodness, transcending divisions such as religion, race, money, caste etc. Indeed His Holiness Pujyasri Jayendra Saraswati Sankarachariya Swamigal will always be remembered as the great soul who brought relief, happiness, and most importantly spirituality to crores of lives. An epitome of modesty and simplicity, his calmness and silence attracted millions to him. The tallest intellectuals, the mightiest leaders and the most respected men and women from all walks of life queued up for his darshan and to hear his profound words. Even his detractors were silenced by the power of his intellect and the radiance of his divinity. 

It will not be incorrect to say that the Math attained great heights under his stewardship. Sri Swamiji leaves behind his eminent and worthy successor Sri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Swamigal as the new head of the Peetham who has been well groomed and is fully equipped to hold aloft the banner of the Kanchi Kamakodi Mutt established by Adi Sankara several centuries before. He has proved himself through his selfless services dedicated leadership in the last one year. A large contingent of countrymen dedicated to the service of the Mutt and the Indian nation now await his command.

Swamiji or Puddu Periyava, as he was affectionately called by devotees is very rarely seen in this mortal world. His immortal work reminds us of how fortunate we are to have been with him, and received his blessings. As a homage to his enormous sacrifice, let us all take a pledge to carry forward his visionary projects, which were aimed at uplifting India, Indian culture, themIndian people and Sanathana Dharma.” On this occasion, Pujyasri Vijayendra Saraswathi Swamigal,  Govind Giriji Maharaj, and other dignitaries participated.