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Abhinava Vidyatheertha

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Abhinava Vidyatheertha
Sringeri Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha
Sringeri Jagadguru Shankaracharya
Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha
Personal
Born
Srinivasa Sastry

13 November 1917
Died21 September 1989
ReligionHinduism
NationalityIndian
OrderJagadguru Shankaracharya, Dakshinamnaya Sringeri Sri Sharada Peetha
PhilosophyAdvaita Vedanta
Religious career
GuruChandrashekhara Bharati
SuccessorBharathi Teertha

Abhinava Vidyatheertha (also addressed as Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha) was the 35th spiritual head (1954-1989) of the Sharada Peetha.[1] established by Adi Shankaracharya on the banks of river Tunga in the town of Sringeri in the south Indian state of Karnataka. He was one of the most significant Hindu spiritual leaders of India during the 20th century.

Early Years and Sannyasa[edit | edit source]

Srinivasa Sastry (pre-ascetic name of Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha) was born[2] to Kaipu Rama Sastry (father) and Venkatalakshmamma (mother) on 13 November 1917 in Bangalore (Bengaluru), where he was educated up to the eighth grade. After his upanayana (the sacred thread ceremony)[3] on 4 May 1930 in Goddess Sharada Temple in Sringeri, he studied Sanskrit and Krishna Yajurveda in the patashala (school) of the Sharada Peetha in Sringeri. His guru, Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati, the then pontiff of the Sharada Peetha, initiated him into sannyasa (asceticism) on 22 May 1931, assigned him the yoga-patta (monastic name) Abhinava Vidyatheertha, and nominated him his successor-designate.[4]

Spiritual Practices[edit | edit source]

Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha was trained in the tradition and customs of the peetha by his guru. Having received initiations into Hatha-yoga and Nada-anusandhana (concentration on inner sounds) by Lord Shiva in his dreams[5] and into Kundalini-yoga by Goddess Sharada through a vision[6], the young ascetic practised and attained proficiency in meditation with his guru's guidance and, gradually, he attained Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa Samadhis. His spiritual practices culminated during December 1935[7] in his realisation of Brahman and attainment of jivanmukti (liberation while alive).[8]

Scholar and Preceptor[edit | edit source]

In the 1940s, he was formally taught[9] Vedanta sastra by his guru after he had completed the study of Tarka sastra. Directed by his guru, he took to presiding over the annual assembly of scholars at Sringeri.

Since 1970s, he taught Tarka and Vedanta sastras to his successor-designate, Sri Bharathi Teertha. He also trained multiple batches of students in the sastras. He held philosophical discussions with scholars who visited him and delivered discourses on spiritual topics in multiple languages.[10][11][12][13]

Tenure as Pontiff[edit | edit source]

On 26 September 1954, Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati attained videha-mukti (disembodied liberation).[14] Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha was coronated as the 35th Jagadguru Shankaracharya (pontiff) of Sringeri Sharada Peetha on 16 October 1954.[15]. Of the 35 years (1954-1989) as the pontiff of Sringeri Sharada Peetha, the Jagadguru toured all over India for over 17 years[16] spreading the message of sanatana dharma and expounding the scriptural truth. Through his public discourses in Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit, he reached out to the masses.

Across India, he established branches for the matha in various locations. He consecrated many temples including the Sri Ramanathaswamy temple[17] at Rameswaram and the Annapurna temple[18] at Varanasi, instituted religious and educational centres, and founded cultural, social and charitable organizations. He founded the Veda-Poshaka-Sabha[19] which examines and certifies students versed in the Vedas. To sustain and propagate Sanskrit, he started the Sura-Saraswathi-Sabha[20] which conducts certification courses at various levels in Sanskrit. He founded the first high school for girls in Sringeri on 12 July 1972 and the Jnanodaya School in Bengaluru on 10 April 1988.[21] He was the patron of Shankara College for Arts and Science[22] at Kalady. To provide free healthcare for the needy in and around Sringeri, he established in 1979, the Sharada Dhanvantari Charitable Hospital, the first hospital in Sringeri.

He maintained a cordial relationship with the leaders of various spiritual and religious sects. He convened the Chaturamnaya-sammelana,[23] summit meet of the Jagadguru Shankaracharyas of all the four Amnaya Peethas (seats of Vedic wisdom established by Adi Shankara), the first since the time of Sri Adi Shankara, in Sringeri on 1 May 1979. Besides Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha and his successor-designate, Sri Bharathi Teertha, of Sringeri Sharada Peetha, Sri Swaroopananda Saraswati of Badri Jyotir Math, Sri Niranjana Deva Tirtha of Puri Govardhana matha and Sri Abhinava Saccidananda Tirtha of Dvaraka Pitha participated in that meet.

He made himself available for extended hours to sincere spiritual aspirants seeking clarifications in matters such as dharma, meditation and vichara. In response to requests from devotees, he initiated them into mantras and specific forms of worship. People from various walks of life such as royals, political leaders, scientists and diplomats paid him visits and received his guidance and blessings. His Highness Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar[24] of Mysore, His Highness Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev[25] of Nepal, Presidents of India[26][27] - Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan and Dr. Zakir Husain - and Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi[28] were among the dignitaries who met him.

His Successor[edit | edit source]

The desire to study the shastras under the Jagadguru drew Sri Sitarama Anjaneyulu, a young boy from Narasaraopet, away from home and to the Jagadguru in 1966, then at Ujjain. On 11 November 1974, the Jagadguru initiated Sitarama Anjaneyulu into sannyasa and gave him the monastic-name Bharathi Teertha and nominated him as his successor-designate[29]

Videha-mukti[edit | edit source]

Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha attained videha-mukti[30] (disembodied liberation) on 21 September 1989 in Sringeri. A large number of people including the then Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi[31] and his cabinet ministers paid their last respects to the departed Jagadguru. On 22 September 1989, after the final rites, the body of the Jagadguru was interred adjacent to the shrine of his Paramaguru (his guru's guru), the 33rd pontiff, at Narasimhavana in Sringeri. A shrine[32] there has since been consecrated by his successor Sri Bharathi Teertha on 12 May 1993.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Jagadgurus - Sringeri Sharada Peetham".
  2. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 23 
  3. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 32 
  4. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 62 
  5. "Yoga,Enlightenment and Perfection". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. January 1999. p. 39 
  6. "Yoga,Enlightenment and Perfection". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 71 
  7. "Yoga,Enlightenment and Perfection". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. January 1999. p. 171 
  8. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 167 
  9. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 209 
  10. "Didactic Treatises - Sringeri Sharada Peetham".
  11. "Mutti Neri - Sringeri Sharada Peetham".
  12. "Atishaya Anubhavamrutha - Sringeri Sharada Peetham".
  13. "Enlightening Expositions - Sringeri Sharada Peetham".
  14. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 227 
  15. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 231 
  16. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 693 
  17. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 858 
  18. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 874 
  19. https://www.sringeri.net/activities/propagation-of-sanatana-dharma Veda-poshaka-sabha
  20. "Sri Surasaraswathi Sabha | sarasvatī śrutimahatī mahīyatām".
  21. "About Us – jnanodaya Institution".
  22. "Sree Sankara College Kalady, Accredited with B+ by Naac, Affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala".
  23. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 432 
  24. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 422 
  25. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 415 
  26. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 409 
  27. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 410 
  28. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 412 
  29. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 455 
  30. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 681 
  31. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 687 
  32. "The Multifaceted Jivanmukta". svfonline.net. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation. September 2017. p. 678 


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