On this Guru Poornima day, we start a  section about the great Mahans and Bhaktas in the glorious past.  We take one Saint at a time and make an earnest attempt to give a brief history and life of the great Saint. 

 The first in the series is "Bhagavan Nama Bodendra Saraswati  Swamigal". A great Mahan who had lived and still lives, spreading the fragrance of the Divine Name throughout the world.  Can there be a more apt Mahan to reminisce on this happy occasion?

 kAshAya danda karakAdi vibhUshitAngAm
vairAgyabhAgya jaladE karuNAnidhE tvam |
samsArakUpapatitasya samAkulasya
bodEndra dEva mama dEhi karAvalambam ||

yasyassmaraNa mAtrENa nAmabhaktiH prajAyatE |
tam namAmi yati srEshTam bOdEndram jagatAm gurum ||

bhagavan nAma sAmrAjya lakshmI sarvasva vigraham |
srimad bodEndra yogIndra dEshikEndram upAsmahE ||

 Sri Bhagavan Nama Bodendra Saraswati Swamigal

In this Kali Yuga, all the great saints who have incarnated in this holy ‘Bharata’ Desa have chiefly shown us one of the easiest paths to liberation – singing the Divine Names of God. The chief among them was the great saint from South India by the name Bhagavan Nama Bodendra Saraswati Swamigal.

"We speak of the Sanskrit language. If someone leads an undisciplined, life we say that he does not possess good ‘Samskaras’. 'Samskara' means cleansing. Sanskrit is thus a language that is pure; it needs no cleansing."

Sri Sri Swamiji

We read and hear about the countless great scholars from our country who have mastered our scriptures and plunged themselves in their essence. But what is even more amazing is the number of Westerners who have researched into our Vedas, scriptures and the Sanskrit language. This article details such research attempts and is based on references from several authentic sources including the journal Vaidika Dharma Vardhini.

Though there might have been few previous such attempts by Westerners, especially Europeans, to learn the Sanskrit language in the past, we can say that they evinced greater interest from the beginning of 17th century. There was a Dutch missionary named Abraham Roger who lived in Kerala. He authored a book titled “Open the door” and brought Sanskrit to the attention of the western world. This book made many realize the greatness of Sanskrit and kindled their interest to know more. Many Missionaries compiled dictionaries for European languages and Sanskrit. All these works enthused the West to master this beautiful ancient language and they began reading Sanskrit works with deep interest. This slowly had a snowballing effect and even to this day, focused research and study of Indian scriptures is underway in various centres all over the world. There are several journals in foreign languages that are dedicated to the study of Indian scriptures and Sanskrit and several reputed universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard that teach Sanskrit.

Worldly love has a bias to form
Eternal love of Mahans extends beyond
And communes with the Formless!

Worldly love has a bias of youth
Eternal love of Mahans extends beyond
And communes with the Ageless!

Worldly love has a bias of expectation and selfishness
Eternal love of Mahans extends beyond
And communes with the One loved by All!

Long ago, in the holy Kshetra of Pandarpur(in present day Maharashtra), there lived a great devotee of Lord Sri Panduranga (who was none other than Lord Sri Krishna himself) by name Chokamela. Sri Chokamela’s hailed from a slum and as was customary those days the inhabitants were not permitted to enter the temple. Though Lord Panduranga saw no difference between his devotees based on their birth, colour, race, wealth, region or religion, the selfish world did! To the Lord, the only thing that mattered was the depth of one’s devotion.

The friends, relatives and neighbours of Chokamela led lives without any values, orderliness or sense of direction. They ate whatever they wanted; slept whenever/wherever they wished and were addicted to all sorts of bad habits such as alcoholism. Like a beautiful lotus that blooms in a stinking marsh, Chokamela though, led the life of a pure Vaishnava. He would wake early in the morning, have a bath, wear Tulsi maala and Gopi chandan and chant the divine names of the Lord. As he was not permitted to enter the temple of Lord Sri Panduranga, he stood near the compound wall and sang the divine names joyfully.

 His Holiness Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Swamigal was the 35th Jagadguru of  Sringeri Sri Saradha Peetam.

 Born on November 13, 1917 the young Srinivasa was an illustrious student.  At the age of 14, he was ordained into Sanyasa Asrama by the  then Peetadhipati and Jivan Mukta Sri Chandrasekara Bharati. An great tapasvi and and yogi, Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha Swamigal was an able administrator too. He traveled across the country spreading the ideals of Sanathana Dharma and Sri Adi Sankara. 

 A beautiful compilation of the Acharya's discourses has been published in a book called 'karuNai kaDal thandha kanivAna muthukkaL'.  The following is a short excerpt from this book.

Who is the Guru for 'Dasya' Bhava? Verily Anjaneya!

Rama always gave only the highest (kingdom) to everyone. All others got duped by Rama by accepting the kingdoms. Bharata refused Ayodhya Rajya but later accepted the Padhuka Rajya.

Sugreeva accepted Kishkinda Rajya and Vibhishana accepted Lanka kingdom.

What is meditation? Meditation is nothing but trying to constantly keep your mind fixed on a thought or an object perceived by your sense organ viz. the eyes.

The ear is also a sense organ. Thus constantly remembering and focusing your mind on a particular Mantra that has once been heard by your ear is also meditation.

The great Master Adi Sankaracharya propounded the Advaita School of philosophy and established monasteries based on the same. Later, Sri Ramasubba Dikshithar of Thiruvisanallur, in his interpretation of Adi Shankara's teachings concludes that Adi Sankara is a Vishnu bhaktha beyond par. However, the great Mahatma Appaiya Dikshithar gave a different interpretation to Adi Sankara's works and formulated the school of philosophy known as 'Shivadwaitha'.