Friday Review

Living in Saranagati – the sage of Annakara

Great Gurus make our lives worth living. This they do in their own inimitable ways. They possibly help us discover the true meaning of life and what we really need to aspire for. One evening in the late 1970s, at an old-time house in Lloyd’s Road, Chennai, I walked into the radiant presence of a saffron clad, deeply endearing sanyasin amidst the chants of the Rajarajeswari Ashtakham and the melodious rendering of Tulsi Das’s ‘Sri Ramachandra kripalu bhaja mana…’.

There was compassion and an ethereal sweetness in her. Her devotees called her Sri Sathguru affectionately. She, of course, was a Vidvat Sanyasin and was given the name Swami Gnanananda Sarasvathi when she took sanyasa in 1975.

Sri Sathguru was born on August 14, 1929, at Annakara, Kerala. From her childhood she was in daily communion with the Divine whose voice guided her in every activity. She had profound mystical experiences of the self being dissolved in the vast reality. A model pupil, she won the admiration of her Christian teachers.

Married into a prosperous family in Kochi at the age of 18, she lived like an ideal grahasta, being the mother of five children, discharging her duties to her family scrupulously and with loving care, while all the time performing intense tapas and meditation. Her spiritual sadhana is a testament to the truth that one can be a householder and yet be a ‘jivanmukta,’ a totally liberated soul, living in the Divine.

Her six simple words, “Just let God manage your life,” became the Mahavakya of saranagati (total surrender) for her devotees. Not dereliction of duty and being fatalistic in approach, but doing our duty correctly and leaving the rest at His feet.

After formally embracing sanyasa, she set up the Sri Gnana Advaita Peetam in 1976 with the mission of transforming the abstract philosophy of Advaita into a living rhythm through the path of Saranagati. Sri Gnana Advaitha Peetam rests on the four pillars of Truth, Dharma, Ahimsa and Purity.

Rooted in the love for humanity and ‘Krishna anubhava’ she spread the word of God as taught in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita and upheld the encompassing and liberating concept of ‘vasudaiva kutumbakam,’ the world as God’s family. She took ‘vidvat sanyasa’ which is embraced not by seekers but by realised souls which are ‘dyed in ochre.’ With the‘aadhara sruti’ of Vishnu Sahasranamam and Sathguru’s spiritualised aesthetic sensibility, Sri Peetam has an aura of a peace that passeth understanding.

Sri Vishnu Mohan Foundation under the aegis of Sri Peetam, has organised countless programmes, religious, academic, philosophical/intellectual, all in the light of the pole star of the spirituality of the Sathguru. Collaborating with various institutions , it reaches out to the aspiring in need of guidance, fosters reflection, inculcates the supreme value of ‘samarpanam’ (dedication/offering) and enlightened action. The annual conference on Peace and Reconciliation is a signal instance of the larger concern of Sri Peetam for the welfare of the world.

Sri Sathguru gave up her mortal coils on October 18. But she is a beacon to the aspiring and devoted, with Swami Shrihariprasad bearing the torch of Sri Gnana Advaitha Peetam and the Sri Vishnu Mohan Foundation.



(Former Head of the Department of English, Madras University)

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 5:27:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/Living-in-Saranagati-%E2%80%93-the-sage-of-Annakara/article16091737.ece

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