Sri Balakrishnananda Saraswathi Swamigal was born in a place called ‘Kaalaiyar Kovil’ in Sivaganga District, Tamil Nadu to a very pious and devout couple who were following the path of Bhagavatha Dharma. He was the disciple of Sri Bodhendra Saraswathi Swamigal, the 60th Jagathguru (head) of the Kanchi mutt, Kanchipuram. His adhishtanam is present in Govindapuram in South India. Right next to it, there is the samadhi or adhishtanam of Sri Balakrishnananda Saraswathi Swamigal. He assumes great significance to us, since He was literally the epitome of the ‘Divine Name’. He is also famously known to people as Sri Alangudi Periyava’s Guru.
Sri Swamiji often spends time near the holy adhishtanam in Govindapuram chanting Nama. He would often quote Sri Balakrishnananda Saraswathi Swamigal’s life story as an inspiration in many ways. His Guru Bhakthi! He had unflinching faith and devotion towards Sri Bodhendra Saraswathi Swamigal and did not leave Govindapuram till the end, till his jeevan mukthi. He spent his entire lifetime chanting Nama, keeping his Guru’s Nama Siddhantha and preaching on the Holy Name as His sole life scripture.
His divine affinity to Nama! He had the Divine Name on his lips at all times. He would never waste a moment on any wordly matter and would always be immersed in sweet, nectarine Nama.
And his wish to be near his Guru, in life and beyond by having his Samadhi right next to Sri Bodhendral’s. Sri Swamiji would refer to this with a beautiful phrase – “Charana Chaayai Vaasam” – Refuge under the Holy Feet and wish to be the Guru’s dust.
Swami Balakrishnanda was spiritually inclined and aloof from wordly matters right from his childhood. He knew Srimad Bhagavatham fully by-heart. He would always sing aloud and chant Nama with a veena in his hand.
In a place called Srivanchiyam in Tiruvarur District, Swami was giving a mesmerising lecture soaked in devotion and grace on Srimad Bhagavatham. When the part where Sri Akrura comes to escort Sri Krishna from Brindavan and the Gopis cry in pain due to separation, Swami Balakrishnanada stops halfway, enters into a trance and starts writhing in pain and cries out loud asking Sri Krishna to stop just like the Gopis of Brindhavan.
Swami’s very life story is an example for how one should lead a life in the path of Bhagavatha Dharma. Once while touring few places near Tanjore, Swami set out for his daily Bhiksha (food alms) with Nama on his lips. Swami rested at the thinnai of a house for the night. The lady of the house, came out to draw the morning kolam. She saw Swami outside and ran in to call her husband out to prostrate before the sadhu. Swami heard her husband call out, ‘Veliyil utkarndhirukkum sanyasi, Nama Solindrukara illa chumma ukanthundrukana?’ (Is the sanyasi outside chanting Nama or is the man sitting idle?)
Swami was shocked! He wondered how one could say something like that, since it is told as per shastras that one needs to immediately offer respect as soon as one sees a sanyasi. When Swami questioned the couple regarding this, they asserted that their Guru was Swami Bodendra Saraswathi Swamigal, and he has told them, that if one doesn’t have the Divine Names of the Lord on his lips, he needn’t be prostrated to, even if he is a sanyasi.
On hearing this, Swami, taking Swami Bodendra Swaraswati, as his Guru, spent the rest of his life filled with nothing but Nama Sankirtan. He had no personal belongings except for one dress to change. He would get bhiksha daily for food. He spent most of his time on the banks of river Kaveri singing the holy names. Swami’s last wish was to have his Samadhi just below his Guru, Bodhendra Saraswathi Swamigal’s adhishtanam. Considering this last wish, the British arranged for it to be done accordingly as the land belonged to them at that point and erected a plaque with wordings – To fulfill the last wish of the Hindu Monk…..!