Location: Kalavai, a small town in the Vellore district of Tamil Nadu, India.
Date: February 13, 1907.
A young boy of thirteen is chosen to become the 68th Pitadhipathi of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Pitam, in the illustrious parampara of Acharyas who adorned the Pitam established by Sri Adhi Sankara more than 2500 years ago.
That boy is none other then His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal. To millions of devotees he was simply ‘Periyava’- the revered one or Maha-Periyava. ‘Periyava’ in Tamil means a great person. That term however has acquired a special meaning because it has come to refer to His Holiness. It is a term that at once conveys endearment, reverence and devotion. It would never be mentioned in a casual manner. Mahaswami and Paramacharya are his other well-known appellations.
The Paramacharya was the Pitadhipathi of the Mutt for 87 long years. During this period, Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Pitam acquired new strength as an institution that propogated Sri Adhi Sankara’s teachings. The devotion, fervour and intensity with which the Paramacharya practised what Adhi Sankara had preached, is unparalleled. He lived a Spartan life. Throughout his life, the main focus of his concern and activities was rejuvenating Vedha adhyayana, the Dharma Sasthras and the age old tradition which had suffered decline. ‘Vedha rakshanam’ was his very life breath and he referred to this in most of his public discourses and private conversations. His prodding regular support to Vedha Patasalas through the Vedhic scholars, holding regular sadhas which included discussions on arts and culture- these led to a renewed interest in Vedhic religion, Dharma sasthras and Sanskrit. His long tenure as Pitathipathi was the golden era of the Kanchi Camelot Pitam.
Paramacharya was a walking university. Scholars of all sects, not only from all over India but also from countries abroad came to him and deemed it a blessing and a privilege to go back enlightened after meeting him. His regular visitors ranged from the most ordinary village fold to the highest in the land. Presidents and Prime ordinary village folk to the highest in the land. Presidents and Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens, Highnesses and Excellencies came to spend a few moments with him and seek his blessings.
That the Paramacharya was an extraordinary phenomenon can be seen from this incident. When he was in his late eighties he left Kanchipuram and undertook a padha yathra through Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra. Before he returned to Kanchipuram he made all arrangements for the construction of an exquisite Nataraja temple at Satara (Uttara Chidambaram). The uniqueness about this temple is the fact that the states of Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra came together to build the 5 doorways to the temple. The state of Kerala supplied the entire wood required for the temple. It was only his grace and moral influence that made this possible.
The Paramacharya’s catholicity of outlook was extraordinary. He was the Advaitha Acharaya. He was the authentic spokesman of Hindu religion and its Dharma Shastras and of Sanathana Dharma. He even believed that it was Vedhic religion that had prevailed all over the world in ancient times. But, just as he had high regard for the Acharyas of other philosophical doctrines like Ramanuja nnd Madhva and the Nayanmars of Saiva Siddhanta, he had great respect for Jesus and Mohamed Nabi, the prophet. He could be so considerate as to express the view that those who indulged in proselytisation did so out of their conviction that their religion alone could secure redemption.
February 13, 2006 marks the beginning of the 100th years of the Paramacharya’s Sanyasa Swikarana (entering the ascetic order) and Pitaarohana (becoming the head of the Sri Kanchi Kamokottipitam). Sri Kanchi Mahaswami Peetarohana Shatabdi Mahotsava Trust has been specially formed to celebrate this significant milestone in the spiritual history of India.
The main objective of the Trust is to spread the thoughts and the message of the Paramacharya across the world, not just to his devotees, but even to others who might never have had the opportunity to have his dharsan. With this objective in view the Trust has undertaken on priority the translation into English and other major Indian languages of his discourses in Tamil (upansayam). To begin with, we have chosen ‘Deivathin Kural’-Voice of God in Tamil. It is a collection of the Paramacharya’s discourses starting from 1932. These are seven volumes each of about 1000 pages. His talks cover a wide range of topics apart from all aspects of Vedhic dharma and Hindu religion which is the main focus. It is a veritable encyclopedia of Hindu religion and dharma to which people refer for authentic information on these aspects.
‘Deivathin Kural’ is a monumental work by Sri Ra Ganapathy and it occupies a special place among many books written about Paramacharya. Sri Ganapathy painstakingly collated all of Paramacharya’s talks, conversations, casual comments, answers to questions etc covering several aspects of our ancient religion, dharma and culture. Sri Ganapathy not only collected the material but also collated and organized under various subjects everything that the Paramacharya had spoken about a subject over many years at several places.
The purpose of the English translation is two fold. One is to reach Paramacharya’s thoughts and message to a wider audience. The second is to use the English translation as the basic text for translation into other Indian languages. The original in Tamil portrays in large measure the simplicity and clarity of thoughts and expressions and the unique story telling style of the Paramacharya. It has been our attempt to capture it in English. As readers will know this is not an easy task. In one of his talks, while explaining the need to protect the Vedhas in their original form, the Paramacharya himself has, in his characteristic style, referred to the limitations of any translation.
The Paramacharya’s observations are a warning to us and we are deeply conscious of our responsibility. Effort has been made to address the average reader through this work in simple language. Since the English version is to be the base from which translation into other Indian languages will be done, suitable diacritical markings have been used for Sanskrit and Tamil words. Wherever necessary the actual Sanskrit words and Slockas have been given with diacritical markings and the meanings are also given along with the words. This should make it more convenient for the reader than a separate glossary at the end.
It is usual to share one’s good and memorable experiences with others. When two devotees of the Paramacharya meet, it turns out to be an occasion for sharing of experiences. Entire train journeys could be spent talking only about him and his various qualities. He has indeed created a huge family, truly a Vasudaiva Kutumbhakam. It is the hope and wish of Sri Kanchi Mahaswami Peetarohana Shatabdi Mahotsaa Trust that readers will experience the Paramacharya through these pages, which in itself would be an elevating experience.
His talks do more than providing insight into Vedhic Dharma and Hindu religion. There is indeed hope that inspite of the declining moral values all around, dharma will prevail. It should also be clear that mere wishful thinking will not make that happen. All of us have a duty and responsibility towards making it happen. The many schemes which the Paramacharya introduced are simple and effective. If any thing, we have to revive many of his practical ideas and implement them.
The blessings of H.H. Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal and H.H. Sri Sanara Vijayendra Saraswathi Swamigal, the 69th and 70th Acharyas of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Pitam have provided encouragement to this Trust to embark on a project of this magnitude. It is their Sankalpa that the Paramacharya’s message should reach every Indian wherever he may be. We are overwhelmed by the responsibility they have placed on us.
Millions of the Paramacharya’s devotees sincerely believe that He is alive even today and He is guiding us on the path of dharma. It is his spirit that acts as the beacon in these troubled times. It is through his grace that this work is being published.
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