Many Jaya Jaya Sankara to Shri Jai Shankar for the share. Pudhu Periyava Thiruvadigale Sharanam. Rama Rama
The Greatness of HH Pudhu Periyava
An era has just ended in the hoary history of the Kanch Kamakoti Math, with the Maha Samadhi of Sri Pudhu Periyavaa… Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal , the 69th Peetadhipathi of the Kamakoti Peetam. There is an overwhelming sense of loss and despair amongst the devotees of the math and the Acharya. It is even more significant if one dispassionately considers the deep impact that Sri Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal had left on every aspect of the math functioning.
He was chosen as the successor to Maha Periyava (as his predecessor Sri Sri Chandrasekarendhra Saraswathi Swamigal was known to all) at the young age of 20 and for almost four decades lived under shadow of the towering Maha Periyava.
It is a very difficult thing in any human activity to be the second in command, while the number one is in absolute control and is a larger than life kind of personality, which the Maha Periyava was, very deservingly of course. He was a very disciplined deputy and was known for his total devotion to the Maha Periyava, a fact that those closely linked to the Math can vouch for.
The four decades that he was with his senior, were very difficult times for the Sanadhana dharma (Hinduism if one were to use a contemporary terminology), as this state had often had elected governments, where the ruling party was inimical to the faith in general and to the math and its followers in particular. Caste based politics and the resultant bitterness was far too obvious to escape the notice of even a casual traveler to the state. The math had to break out of its traditional moorings and reach out to the people at large, as missionaries of the Abrahamic faiths were creating havoc in the coastal and southern districts of the state of TN, causing great level of anxiety to the people and the government. Unfortunately, the successive state governments did precious little to stem the rot and were almost mute spectators to the gross misuse of religious freedom enshrined in the constitution.
It was in these circumstances that Sri Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal decides to break the perceived shackles of Sanyas and enter the social world to put a brake on the large scale conversions that were taking place resulting in levels of social unrest hitherto unseen and unheard of. He realized at the very beginning that the only way we can stop this was to shed the faith of the caste based discriminations and erase the dividing line between the math and the Hindus of so called lower castes. This strategy, expectedly, met with stiff resistance and derisive comments not only from within the math but also from Hindus outside, especially the upper caste Hindus (more importantly a section of the Brahmin community). What was not observed correctly and appreciated by most commentators was that in braking the caste based discrimination and uniting the Hindus under one identity, he had inevitably invited the wrath of the minority missionaries and the so called secular brigade.
Unmindful of all this, Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal went about his tasks of uniting the Hindus through service, through such organizations like Jan Kalyan, Jan Jagran, etc. He was given unconditional support by the RSS, Hindu Munnani and Viswa Hindu Parishad etc., making it even more uncomfortable for the minority outfits. Given the source of limitless funds and other resources, the minority institutions could play havoc with the hapless math and the Acharya, which they did with aplomb.
Meanwhile, Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal initiated various activities like revival of old dilapidated temples, revision of wages for poojaris/archakas of small village temples, educational institutions for the economically weaker sections, health care through numerous hospitals etc. The last two were going to earn him bigger enemies who were raking in crores through their own private institutions in these fields. Here again the minority community question was inevitably linked, especially the Christian lobby. That’s what finally landed him in the mess that was Sankara Raman murder case. He touched those areas that were invariably linked to the minority-politician nexus which has an unimaginably huge muscle power in our country, especially in states like TN, where anti-Hindu parties have been in power for long.
What am I talking about?? Yes, a Hindu seer dared to stand up to this nexus and refused to budge and paid with his reputation, dignity, health and the overall image of the Math and himself. Here comes the irony. In this hour of despair he didn’t have anyone of substance backing him unconditionally, something unthinkable in other faiths. Those avowed devotees of the Math were more than ready of believe the media’s concocted stories. The political class was seeing what was politically convenient and taking such a stance. BJP and RSS with the other Hindu outfits were the only ones which were even prepared to consider getting to the truth.
The Hindu community in TN should have risen as one and resisted the media’s preplanned character assassination of the seer and forced the powers that be to behave. They failed him collectively. More blatant was the Brahmin community’s response. A whole lot of them were ready to believe the media than see the opposite side’s version. That some of the worst detractors of the Math and Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal, at that time, were people from the community itself, is the most bitted fact. This attitude comes from their appointing themselves judges of how the Acharyas should conduct themselves and how the Math should be administered. This is from a community wherein not even 10% of the people observe their daily chores as stipulated in the shastras (nithyakarma anushtaanam), a good percentage take alcoholic beverages regularly, consume non-vegetarian food, a vast majority skip offerings to their ancestors via tharpanam, shrardham, etc.
The worse is most of them compare Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal with his predecessor the Maha Periyava and make derisive comments against the former. First, the comparison itself is completely unfair to both and is completely lacking in common sense as they both were working on different planes and at different times and very, very different set of circumstances. The efforts of Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal in getting all Hindus (okay, a majority if not all) to identify with the Math as a representative of the Hindu faith, are incomparable. His contribution in getting rid of the Math’s Brahmin Tag, was singularly responsible for people of all communities identifying with the Math. It is the result of his efforts that brought a vast cross section of the Hindu society to oppose the activities of DK, DMK and other Anti-Hindu activists, whenever the latter crossed the boundaries of decent politics and were bordering on selective outrage.
Their animosity towards him multiplied when political leaders and religious scholars from across the nation consulted him on the Ayodya issue which he offered to help resolve. While many Muslim organization from UP as well as TN welcomed his efforts and offered to accept his recommendations, the Anti-Hindu political outfits in TN were systematically instigating an opposition to his effort, with clearly a vote bank mindset.
In a nutshell, one can see clearly, how the forces opposed to national interest could use the media and the powers that be to malign an important religious head of the majority community and thereby weaken the faith’s popular support thereby aiding in conversion. It is an irony that the so called forward castes failed to see this and instead put him on the accused stand and made him stand the trial by media.
Despite my great hesitation, I have to give a piece of my mind to my Brahmin friends, many of whom had declared him guilty even before the case was in court, just going by the media outrage. Many disgruntled elements within this community, who had either disagreement with the Math in general or with the seer in particular, exploited this opportunity and poured venom in the guise of writing commentary. And of late, there are many who go around claiming to be great devotees of the Maha Periyava (the numbers have grown exponentially after his Maha Samadhi), which is good if they restrict to expressing their devotion to him. The unkindest cut of all that Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal had to stomach was that good percentage of these so called devotes of the Maha Periyava were great critics of Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal and were almost dismissive of him.
To them, I ask, “Who are you to judge him? What is your qualification to do so? Do you know the kind of positive transformation he had brought about in the way the Math was perceived by the common Hindu outside the so called devotee crowd that you make up? How many of you live the way the shastras recommend? Have you ever cared to go to the institutions run by the Math and learnt how they are administered and how the funds are made available? Have you ever gone to any of those hospitals run by the Math and found out for yourselves as to how patient care is offered there and how the beneficiaries perceive these?? Many of you may not have any answers to these questions, because, you go by what the media vomits as news and sit in your living room and pass judgements against a man who dared to challenge those very forces and showed he could succeed.
It is the quirk of fate or irony of justice in this country that he had to go through the worst for daring to oppose those forces and his greatest failing was that he thought he had us behind him. For sure, we were behind him, but not to support, but to push him down.
We are ungrateful people who never deserved Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal. We did not respect his sincere efforts at bringing in the changes that were desperately needed. We did not have the guts to stand by him when forces inimical to our national interest were hounding him out. We now shed crocodile tears at his passing away. Shame on us for our hypocrisy.
He must be giving his famous disarming smile looking down at us from wherever he is now. At least from now on, let us carry on the good work started by him and compensate for all the dishonor and insults that we have heaped on him. I would dare say that, no single Acharya from the Sankara lineage could have contributed so extensively in critical social areas as His Holiness Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal had done in the last three decades (or longer). More than ever before, we needed him now as the forces inimical to the nation and Hindu religion are gathering great strength and momentum to give one last shot at denying this nation its Hindu identity. We have to defeat this at all costs and for that we need a few more Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal.
Jaya Jaya Sankara Hara Hara Sankara!