Embodiment of Enlightenment: Experiences with His Holiness Śrī Kāñchi Kāmakoti Sankarācharya Śrī Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahā Swāmiji
An embodiment of simplicity, Śrī Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahāswāmiji, 68th pontiff of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, adorned the Peetam for 87 years from February 1907, when he was just 13. He travelled across the country mostly on foot, in keeping with the Math's tradition, meeting people and showering his blessings. His erudition and compassion endeared him to everyone, irrespective of class, creed and nationality. His foremost vision was the preservation of the Vedas, tradition and Dharma.
Taking one meal a day and sleeping in makeshift rooms, cowsheds and withered palanquins, he advocated simplicity and shunned extravagance. His exposition of the Vedanta, our sastras, agamas, puranas and epics appealed to scholars and laymen alike. They were very simple in language but rich in appeal and content. He was a great humanitarian, deep in his heart. He attained mahasamadhi in January 1994 at Kanchipuram.
The renowned Muruga bhaktar Kripānanda Variar composed this eulogy of the late Maha Swamiji.
There are in the world numerous religions, numerous parties, numerous castes, numerous races, numerous philosophies. But everyone in the world, without any difference, desires to be happy. Nobody in the world thinks of inviting unhappiness. The happiness got by money, education and position is not lasting. True enlightenment alone confers eternal happiness. Enlightenment is Being, where Being itself is knowing. Arunagirinathar refers to the eternal bliss of those who know that fog of misery is entirely dispelled by the fire of enlightenment.
Śrī Kanchi Kamakoti Sankaracharya, who is called Perival (Great One), is an embodiment of this enlightenment which is Eternal Bliss. He also causes to be crushed away the unhappiness of devotees by his mere glance. Even without the devotee's expressing his distress, His Holiness believes deep into his thoughts, knows his misery and showers grace, the cloud of compassion that he is.
He benign face is smeared with sacred ash - ash which is the burnt residue and which in its burns the residual karma of the devotee. His lotus-like eyes, dripping the honey of compassion; His mouth ever fragrant with the Vedas; His pure body adorned with rudraksha; His frail limbs reflecting great tapas; and his beautiful feet chasing away the karma of devotees -- such is the form of His Holiness, a darshan of which is the greatest fortune for one born on this earth.
His great love towards humanity knows no bounds. At the same time his great detachment is being maintained strictly. This curious mixture of love and detachment will be doubly impressed in the minds of the true devotee if only one sees His Holiness in the correct perspective.
He makes us see the right path, and so is a margadarsin. He sees ahead with his prophetic vision, and is therefore a dirghadarsin.
Once His Holiness was camping at Sri Sailam which enshrines one of the jyothir lingas. Preliminaries in connection with the Kumbhabhishekam of the Sankara Math were is progress there. The father is one Śrī Radhakrishnan, Tamil pandit in a high school in Trichy, was serving in the Math for quite for long time.
Just three days period to the Kumbhibhishekam His Holiness called him and blessed him. He asked the manager to give the required cash to that gentleman was deeply pained. He considered himself to be highly unfortunate, not being allowed to stay at Sri Sailam to see the Kumbhibhishekam. But he did not say anything against and came down to his daughter's house in Madras. That very day he passed away peacefully.
If only that gentleman had stayed in Sri Sailam the Kumbhabhishekam itself could not have been performed because of pollution. There are numerous incidents of this sort.
At one time, His Holiness was doing puja for Chandramoulisvara. The image of the Divine Mother was attired in a beautiful silk garment. Thousand of devotees were witnessing the puja.
The Puja came to a close. His Holiness gave prasada to each and every one of those assembled. When the turn of the mother and child came, His Holiness went to the Puja Mandapa, took the silk garment off the Divine Mother and gave it to that child, his own face wreathed in child like smile. the mother just wondered how His Holiness came to know of the desire of the child sitting in a remote corner.
The greatness of His Holiness cannot contained even in tomes after tomes of panegyrics. Like the perennial River Kaveri which takes its origin Coorg and flows down through forests and deserts, His Holiness who takes his origin from the Supreme comes to us all himself, town after town, village after village without our having to go to Him. Wherever he goes he elevates the people of the place.
It is not necessary that His Holiness should go to a place bodily to elevate a person. Just as the sun, which is millions and millions of miles away from us, causes the tiny lotus to blossom, His Holiness causes the hearts of far distant devotees to blossom. Just as the lotus takes its birth in slush as we take our birth in the slush of desire, somehow His Holiness makes us blossom into the beautiful lotus. The Himalayas never move. But the waters of Ganga born of the Himalayas are ever moving for the benefit of humanity. So also His Holiness is unmovable as he has completely severed himself off from desires and attachments. Anyhow, from the mouth of his unmoving flows the Ganga of wisdom.
It is usually said that those who live in the age of Rama and Krishna are blessed. There is no doubt that we who live during the time of the Embodiment of Enlightenment that is called Kamakoti are thrice blessed. The dust that is trodden by the feet of His Holiness becomes a place of pilgrimage. Let our minds be ever turned towards Him who has become Siva through tapas.