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Shraddhaanjali For Pujyashri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal At The Hindu Temple Of New Hampshire

K. Arvind

Shraddhaanjali for Pujyashri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal
at the Hindu Temple of New Hampshire

गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुः गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः |
gururbrahmA gururviShNuH gururdevo maheshvaraH |
गुरुः साक्षात् परं ब्रह्म तस्मै श्री गुरवे नमः ||
guruH saakShaat param brahma tasmai shree gurave namaH ||
(Salutations to the Guru who is verily the Lord himself)

A shraddhaanjali was held on Saturday, March 3rd 2018 at the Hindu Temple of New Hampshire, for His Holiness Pujyashri Jayendra Saraswati Shankaracharya Swamigal (affectionately known as Pudu Periyava), the 69th Acharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam who attained siddhi at Sankara Matam, Kanchipuram, India on Feb 28, 2018. The highlight of the memorial service was a musical tribute to the revered Acharya by violinist Vidwan Sri Vittal Ramamurthy, Aastana Vidwan of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. The well-attended memorial service also included prayers, speeches and reminiscences of the revered saint known for his passion for dharma and seva, and for his and prasanna vadana (cheerful countenance).

Pujyashri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal

His Holiness Pujyashri Jayendra Saraswati Shankaracharya Swamigal, the 69th Acharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, attained siddhi on Shukla Trayodashi Feb 28, 2018, at the age of 83. Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal, a highly revered sage of our times was known as much for his community service or seva projects which included hospitals for the needy even in remote parts of the country and educational institutions (hear it in the words of late President of India Dr. Abdul Kalam here), and his egalitarian and inclusive approach breaking caste barriers, as for his support and spread of dharma and bhakti as the head of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, a venerated religious institution that traces its lineage to Adi Shankaracharya. He was groomed by the Peetam’s 68th Acharya Pujyashri Chandrashekarendra Swamiji (popularly known as Maha Periyava), to be his successor, and had the opportunity to absorb the ocean of wisdom of his brilliant centenarian Guru for over 60 years.  Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal was venerated in every part of the country whether North or South, and traveled from Kanyakumari and Kaladi (where he build a huge monument for Adi Shankara at his Guru’s command) in the South to  Kashmir and Sikkim in the North, from Cauvery and Krishna in the South to the Ganges in the North. He was as comfortable speaking many languages including Hindi and Telugu, as well as his mother tongue Tamil. Swamigal believed that all religions had a unifying theme at some level, though this common theme was masked by cultural differences, and espoused a “Love All Hate None” philosophy that is part of Vedic thought.  A peace lover, he tried to mediate in the intractable Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute to help find a solution. He had the respect of India’s prominent political leaders of his time including former President Sri Pranab Mukherjee, Late President Dr. Abdul Kalam, Former Prime Minister Sri A.B. Vajpayee, then Home Minister Sri L.K. Advani, and the Late Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Sri M.G. Ramachandran and others.

Saints undergo unbearable tests and tribulations which no ordinary mortal can bear, and these ultimately serve to demonstrate their strength, faith and greatness to the world. We have examples like Prahlada and Mirabai in our history. Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal also was subject to unjust and vicious attacks and merciless vilification in the first decade of this century. However, the noble Swamigal bore this unbearable cross of injustice with grace, urging his followers to remain steadfast in their faith, reminding them of a core axiom of sanatana dharma - “dharmo rakShati rakShitaH - धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः” (“Righteoushness protects those who protect it”). The great Guru emerged out of this agni pariksha as the victor and thus demonstrated the truth of this guiding tenet.

The Prime Minister of India Sri Narendra Modi has noted in his condolence tweet that Jagadguru Pujyashri Jayendra Saraswati Shankaracharya “will live on in the hearts and minds of lakhs of devotees due to his exemplary service and noblest thoughts.” The saint will also live on in the actions of his devoted successor known for his exemplary Guru bhakti, the 70th Shankaracharya Jagadguru Pujyashri Vijayendra Saraswati Swamigal, affectionately known as Bala Periyava.

An interesting auto-biographical video narrative of the saint in his own words (in Tamil) may be found here.

A beautiful video that captures the greatness of Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal may be found here. Many of the links in this article refer to locations in this video (which is mostly in Hindi). This video also captures Swamigal’s interesting answers to common questions relating to spirituality such as:

·       Is it right to question religious teachings?”, “Why does one need a Guru?”,

·       Why is a Guru who hails from a parampara a better Guru to follow?”,

·       Is religion just ritual?

·       Why go to a Temple if God is everywere?

·       Can we call centers of hi-tech knowledge the modern pilgrimage centers?

·       How can we protect Indian culture and traditions in this modern age?

·       Why do Sadhus wear saffron?


The Hindu Temple of New Hampshire held a memorial service (“shraddhaanjali”) in the Temple for His Holiness Pujyashri Jayendra Saraswati Shankaracharya Swamigal on Saturday, March 3rd, 2018. The well-attended service started with Guru Vandana and the chanting of swasti vachanam by ritwiks. Sri Veeramani Ranganathan, founder of the Temple, highlighted Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal’s dynamic nature and noted that Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal and his Guru Kanchi Mahaperiyava were not that different as some observers in the media portrayed them – if Paramacharya represented thought, then Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal represented action.

The highlight of the memorial service was a beautiful musical tribute to the revered Acharya by Vidwan Sri Vittal Ramamurthy. Sri Vittal Ramamurthy, a renowned and sought-after violinist who studied under music stalwarts Sangeeta Choodamani Smt. T. Rukmini and the legendary violin maestro Padmabhushan Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman (link to recent interview with Sri Ramamurthy by Smt. Jyoti Sharma), was appointed as Aastana Vidwan of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam by Acharya Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal himself. Sri Ramamurthy said he felt blessed to have had several opportunities to perform in the presence of the Acharya. He recalled how the Acharya was familiar with most compositions of Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar, and how Acharya actually used to sing along songs such as “Akhilaandeshwari” and “Kanchadalaayataakshi” as he played on the violin. These were among the songs that Sri Ramamurthy played during the shraddhaanjali. He was accompanied by a talented group of artists consisting of Sri Gowrish Chandrashekar (Mridangam), BN Chinmayee (vocal), and young Hari Shanmugam (Mridangam). Links to videos of the songs played during this melodious memorial concert may be found below:

·       Brova Baaramaa in raga bahudari.

·       Guruleka Eduvanti in raga gowri manohari

·       Akhilaandeshwari in raga dvijaavanti

·       Sri Kaantimathim in raga hemavati with alapana (vocal)

·       Vitalasanaho Swami (Bhajan) (vocal)

·       Kanchadalaayataakshi in raga kamala manohari

·       Maitreem Bhajata in raga yamuna kalyani (vocal)

Sri Rajesh Vaidheeswarran, who plays lead and volunteer roles in various service initiatives of the Kanchi Mutt such as Sankara Healthcare and Kanchi Kamakoti Seva Foundation, shared some reminiscences of his personal interactions with Acharya, and told the devotees how the Acharya guided him with affection and kindness to overcome his initial hesitation. Sri Lakshmi Munugoor praised Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal as a modern day Vivekananda, urged all to follow his example of seva, and exhorted all to stand up against injustice wherever they see it.

The memorial service concluded with a benediction and insightful speech on music (in Tamil) by Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal that was recorded in the 1980’s. 

धर्मो रक्षति रक्षितः

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