Pandurangashram



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Fast Facts
200px-Swami_Pandurangashram.JPG
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Nāgar Kālappa
Function: 
Guru
Traditions: 
Shaivism Dharma
Main Countries of Activity: 
India
Date of Birth: 
1863
Place of Birth: 
Mangalore,Karnataka,India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
No
Date Left His/Her Body: 
June 14, 1915
Other Related Gurus: 
Guru/Teacher--- Swami Krishnāshram, Swami Raghunāth Shāstri

Biography

His Holiness Swami Pāndurangāshram( Devanagari: पाण्डुरङगाश्रम् , Pan.du.ran.gā.śram) was the EIGHTH guru of the Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin community(Head of the community). He was the guru for a period of 52 years from 1863 to 1915(The longest on record so far). He had succeeded his teacher Swami Krishnāshram after the latter attained Mahā-Samādhi(died) in 1857.

Swami Pāndurangāshram was a Sanskrit scholar, a Yogi and was a Jyothishi(Astrologer) as well.[1] He believed in the Dharma(the correct way to live one's life) and was trained in the Sanskrit Scriptures under 'Swami Raghunāth Shāstri[2] and 8 other special scholars from Kashmir.[3]

Under his administration, several infrastructural changes were brought about in Chitrapur Village in Shirali and it was made as a "model village" with aspects of town-planning. Moreover all the samādhis(Shrines) of the previous Mathādhipatis(or Gurus) were reconstructed.

He brought about many social changes in the community. He was a firm believer in Dharma and reprimanded those who did not follow it. He imposed a ban on foreign visits and excommunicated anyone who went abroad.

Swami Pāndurangāshram attained Mahā-Samādhi in 1915 and was succeeded by his shishya(disciple) Ānandāshram. His samādhi(Shrine) is located within the premises of the Chitrapur Math in Shirali.

Taking Charge

Swami Pāndurangāshram was born to Nāgar Shāntapayya and his wife on the 6th day of the month of Jyēshta in 1847.[4] He was named Nāgar Kālappa.[5]As a child he had enlisted among the students of the Chitrapur Math. He was a bright,intelligent and handsome young boy. His quick perception, superior intelligence and strong willed nature made him a favourite with the incumbent head of the community, Swami Krishnāshram.[6]

He was ordained as the shishya(disciple) of the incumbent Mathādhipati(Head of the community) Swami Krishnāshram at the tender age of 10 in 1857. For 5 years he received guidance under the tutelage of his guru. He was formally crowned the Mathādhipati after Swami Krishnāshram attained Mahā-Samādhi on the 8th day of the month of Mārghshīrsha in 1863(See Months of the Hindu Calendar).[7]

Even as a shishya, Swamiji showed his flair for administration. It was he who had mooted the idea of organizing the Rathōtsav[8](See Rathōtsav). He played an important role in the smooth execution of the first Rathōtsav.[9]

[edit] Infrastructure Development

Swamiji was proactive in collecting vanitga(Donations) from devotees and used it for developmental activities of the matha and the community in general.[10] After becoming the Head of the community, Swamiji started to begin his plan of development. The plan of action was 4 fold.

* Reconstruction/Renovation of Samādhis
* Planned construction of Chitrāpur Village
* Development of the Chitrapur Math
* Renovation of Temples and mathas(Monasteries)

[edit] Reconstruction/Renovation of Samādhis

Renovation of the samādhis(Shrines) of the previous Swamijis of the Guru Parampara was an important part of Swamiji's agenda of development. All the samādhis had so far been built with thatched roofs. Under the renovation drive, the thatched roofs were replaced by proper tiled roofs. The samadhi of each guru was reconstructed such that the guru was made seated in the Lotus position(Padmāsana or Tāmarashāsan).[11]

[edit] Chitrapur Village Development

Swamiji had wanted Chitrapur village to be a model village. Its infrastructure was vastly imroved.[12]

* A road was constructed from the main road up to the entrance of the Chitrapur Math which had street lights on either sides.

* Houses were built in files on the side of the roads. Gardens were made on either side of the central road. The roads were swept clean everyday.

* Schools were constructed for the children.
A Post Office was built with all facilities including staying quarters for the Post Master.
Separate market was constructed with stalls for selling commodities. This allowed people to go only to one place to do their shopping.

[edit] Chitrapur Math Development

The stable financial state allowed several changes to be brought about in and around the Chitrapur Math.[13]

* A tank (Shiv-Ganga Sarōvar) was dug near the math premises.
* A bhojan shālā(Kitchen and eating place) was constructed.
* New living quarters were built at the premises where devotees who visited could stay for free.
* At the Govardhan Hill nearby, a building by name "Panchavati" was constructed.

[edit] Renovation of Temples and Mathas

The mathas(Monasteries) at Mallāpur,Gokarn and Mangalore were in a bad state. Under Swamiji's supervision, mathas were renovated.The temples that were in a dilapidated condition, were renovated.[14] Temple renovation was done by the people in the respective villages(in a decentralized manner) where the temple existed. Trusts were established where people contributed to and this money was used by the trust to renovate that particular temple.

[edit] Social Reforms and controversy

Swami Pāndurangāshram brought about social changes to society. These changes were to reinforce the values the ancestors of the community.

[edit] Dharma: The way of life

Swamiji was a person who believed in strict obedience to Dharma. He wanted all his devotees to strictly adhere to curtailing ones senses and not falling to temptations. He would reprimand those people who would disobey to follow the Dharma.[15] He reasoned that ultimately it was Dharma that could help one attain the ultimate aim of Moksha.

[edit] Ban on Foreign Visits

The most important reform of his that caused a lot of tension within the community was Ban on foreign visits.[16] The community members had migrated to greener pastures in Bombay and Madras during the British Rule that helped them gain important posts.[17] This meant that people had to go abroad on duties. Swamiji excommunicated anyone who would travel abroad.

Swamiji believed that foreign visits would expose a man to temptations of other cultures which would blatantly oppose Dharma. A person's life would be filled with gross materialism and a new culture of forgetting ones roots and even neglecting aged parents, would creep into society. A person would readily forget his spiritualism for the sake of financial benefits.[18]

This was something that the Swamiji just could not stand and so he would readily excommunicate anyone who went abroad. If anyone associated with a person excommunicated, then that person too would be excommunicated. This strong stance from Swamiji was a subject of great criticism.[19]

[edit] Miracles

Swamiji is attributed to many a miracle. Many people have experienced that when devotees are in dire distress, his grace would redress the problems they faced.

[edit] Kulkarni sees Lord Dattātreya

In the town of Sirsi there once lived a pious brahmin by name Kulkarni. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Dattatreya. He had once visited Swamiji at the Chitrapur Math when Swamiji had given him a mantra to recite everyday(Called the Gurumantrōpadesh or the mantrōpadesh(advise to recite a mantra) of the guru). Kulkarni would recite the mantra as well as read all the Sanskrit scriptures on a regular basis. He had this ardent desire to have a darshan(have a sight) of Lord Dattatreya[20] and to capture the essence of the Trinity.

To seek the darshan of the Lord, he went to Gangapur which was one of the places Lord Dattātreya is said to have travelled to(See Lord Dattatreya's travels). He spent many days intently praying to have a vision of the Lord but alas this could not happen. He then went to Narsoba(another place where the Lord is said to have travelled to) and prayed intently there too. Here too he was met with failure.

In an act of desperation, Kulkarni took a vow that he would not eat nor drink unless and until he had a darshan(vision) of Lord Dattatreya. On the eighth day of his penance, Kulkarni had a dream of Swami Pandurangāshram beckoning him to come and meet him at Shirali. Though thoroughly exhausted, the devotee reached Swamiji and fell at his feet. When Swamiji placed his hand on Kulkarni's head, he had a grand vision of Lord Dattatreya "glowing resplendently like the sun".

[edit] The Sick boy from Mangalore

There once lived a poor devotee in Mangalore whose son was dying from an illness that seemed to have no cure. Abject poverty prevented the boy from gaining access to top quality medical care. Usually when Swamiji visits a place, the devotees light up the streets with diyas and flowers. But this family could not afford this either.

When Swamiji visited their household, he gave them sandalwood paste(Gāndh) which was smeared on the head of the boy. He also gave the dying child teerth(holy or blessed water) which he drank.Miraculously, the boy recovered immediately.[21]

[edit] Legal Cases

Swami Pāndurangāshram is said to have acted as the agency of Lord Bhavānishankara in helping devotees entangled in unfair legal cases to be freed from conviction by his sincere prayers.[22] There are many cases that occurred some of which created a great sensation. The most notable was the forgery case of Kallē Manjunāthaiya.

[edit] Forgery Case of Mr.Kallē Manjunāthaya & Mr.Rām Rao

In the town on Bantwāl, there lived a Document write by the name of Kallē Manjunāthaiya who worked under the then Sub-Registrar Mr. Rām Rao. One day a brahmin came to him to create a document regarding property. Manjunāthaiya created the document and got it registered by Rām Rao. But without the knowledge of Manjunāthaiya, a forged document was placed at his table which was then registered. A case of forgery was later discovered. The two of them were called to the Sessions Court at Mangalore facing trail for forgery of important property documents. They were helpless as all the evidence pointed against them.

Rām Rao went and fell at the feet of Swami Pāndurangāshram, who happened to be in Mangalore at that time. He pleaded to Swamiji to pray for justice to take place. Swamiji went to the samādhi(Shrine) of Swami Vāmanāshram at the Mangalore matha(monastery) and prayed intensely for justice to Lord Bhavānishankara.

This case had created quite a stir in Karnataka and soon the trial was nearing an end with the Sessions court judge having the opinion that the accused were guilty. It was days before judgement that the Judge was suddenly transferred. When the successor arrived, the heard the entire case and then, to the amazement of all the people, pronounced Kallē Manjunathaiya and Rām Rao innocent.[23]

A description of the other court cases can be obtained. here(July 1954 edition of Sunbeam under title "H.H.Shrimat Pandurangashram Swamiji")

[edit] Shishya Sweekar

As time passed by, the devotees got anxious about the continuation of the Guru Parampara and asked Swamiji to accept a shishya(disciple) who would succeed him as the Head of the community. Swamiji remained silent to all their pleas. Swamiji was greatly perturbed by the disobedience of community members under his reign:[24] The people who firmly abided by the Dharma and maintained the tradition of the ancestors, were few in number. The large number of excommunications that the Swamiji was forced to do also played its part in his silence. The devotees had pleaded him to accept a disciple Eight times and all the eight times he had remained silent. He would always pray to Lord Bhavānishankar(The community deity) to give him strength to hold firm in his decision.[25]

But the Lord had ordained otherwise. In the month of Vaiśākha(around time of June) in 1915, Swamiji made a decision to accept a shishya. The son of a priest named Haridās Rāmchandra Bhat was the one anointed. His name was Shantamoorthy. He was ordained as Ānandāshram during the Shishya Sweekār ceremony(A ceremony where the guru accepts his disciple).[26]

[edit] Mahā-Samādhi

Just Eight days after the Shishya Sweekār of Ānandāshram, Swami Pāndurangāshram's health deteriorated and he attained Mahā-Samādhi(died) on that day(2nd day of the month of Jyeshtha).[27] He was 68.

His period of reign of 52 years was the longest ever on record. His samādhi(Shrine) is located inside the Chitrapur Math premises and to the left to the samādhi of Swami Shankarāshram I.[28]

Sources: 
WIKI

Teachings

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