Varanasi, considered the nation’s spiritual capital, is the dream destination on a pilgrim itinerary. The majestic Ganga, the presence of numerous temples, including that of Lord Vishwanatha, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, and many other aspects make it special.
The city has gained added significance with the arrival of Sri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswati, 70th head of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Pitam, on July 5, when he commenced the Chatur Masya Vratam at the Sankara Math, Hanuman Ghat. He performed Vyasa Puja on July 3 at Triveni Sangamam in Prayag Raj before arriving here. He was accorded a huge reception in which the erstwhile king of Kashi and the prince and the Mayor participated.
The penance period ends today, Friday, with Viswarupa Yatra when the Sankaracharya will proceed to the Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple, where the Viswarupa chapter from the Bhagavad Gita will be recited. The Sankaracharya has observed the Vratam in Varanasi nearly 50 years after his guru Sri Jayendra Saraswati did the same in 1974. It was way back in 1934 that the 68th pontiff Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati (Mahaswami) stayed in Varanasi for the Chatur Masya vratam.
The Sankara Math at Hanuman Ghat has been a beehive of activities. At another level, it is a confluence of cultures and languages as people from all parts of the country are converging here. Agnihotra Sadas, Special National Sadas along with the annual Panchanga Sadas, Advaita Vedanta Sadas, Chatur Veda parayanam with the support of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, discourses by eminent vidwans, harikathas, etc., have been some of the events happening in the past three months. In August, the 88th Jayanti of Sri Jayendra Saraswati was celebrated in a grand manner.
Unique was the Kashi-Ganga Tirtha Sivagama Vidwath Sabha in which 120 Sivacharyas participated. The Vyasa Bharata Agama Sadas was held on the lines of the conference that took place at Ilaiyathankudi in 1962 in the presence of Mahaswami and Sri Jayendra Saraswati. A programme on Kashmir was also conducted. About 500 Veda vidyartis belonging to Kashi, participated in the Bhagavad Gita Lekhana Yagnam (August 25-28) and wrote the entire Bhagavad Gita. Each day, the Sankaracharya addressed the children.
The past week has seen a huge pick-up in footfalls with the conduct of Vishwa Shanti Maha Yagna - Laksha Modaka Mahaganapati homam, Atirudra homam and Sahasra Chandi homam (September 21-28) on the river bank, for global welfare and harmony. “This Mahayagna is being performed to draw people to the path of dharma (righteosuness),” observed the Sankaracharya during the conclusion of the Atirudra homam. Ritwiks from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu performed the rituals. Cultural activities were organised in the evenings. Young vidyartis, who excelled in the study of scriptures and the Vedas, and pandits were honoured at the various sadas events, which included the release of many books.
On October 10, the camp will move to Ayodhya, where Navaratri will be celebrated. Updates are available on the website and devotees can catch up with camp events live at kamakoti.tv
Voyage with a purpose
Over the last 22 months, the Acharya and his aides have traversed Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, covering about 5,000 km on road, braving severe heat and heavy rainfall.Apart from the Chandramouleeswara puja, which spans several hours daily, the Sankaracharya meets guests, blesses devotees, holds discussions on administrative matters, presides over seminars and participates in events.
As such, it is normal for sanyasis to travel. They are referred to as Paramahamsa Parivrajaka (wandering ascetic). The present Acharya’s guru and paramaguru travelled extensively for many years, spreading the Advaita philosophy and reaching out to people in remote areas. “Foremost among the duties of the Math head is to preserve the legacy of Adi Sankara and show devotees the many aspects of the heritage. Puja of Spatika Lingam ushers in prosperity and auspiciousness. Larger groups of people benefit when the guru goes on a long journey of this kind and performs the puja. There have been requests from various quarters and hence this Vijaya Yatra, which was on the anvil for quite some time. COVID intervened and the proposal was put on hold. The response has been overwhelming with followers thronging the camps ,” inform Math sources.