[This article was previously published in the April 2018 AHYMSIN Newsletter.]
As one would visit their long lost ancestral home that is how the pilgrimage to the sacred Sringeri Sharada Peetham felt to me—coming home to this ancient seat of the Bharati Lineage, dating back for more than 1200 years. It was a trip of a lifetime, a trip enough to savor a lifetime, this lifetime. Visiting this island of knowledge as the very source of Adi Shankaracharya’s teachings, paying obeisance to the great Guru Lineage...
At the Sringeri Peetham, there is a certitude of intimacy with the divine, a bliss unknown elsewhere, an uncanny trust into the subtle yet sublime presence of the Guru Force. An emotion that cannot be expressed, a feeling that needs to be experienced, an experience that must be felt…
Adi Guru Shankaracharya is considered an incarnation of Lord Shiva himself, who took birth on this earth for the salvation of the people to uphold the Sanatana Dharma. Having taken sanyasa at the age of 8 years, he had organized the traditional teachings into a new monastic tradition, the monastic tradition that I have been initiated into. He also established four centers of teachings across India for the monks to learn, practice, and spread the teachings. A story is told of the time when Shankaracharya was looking for the right place to establish the first Mutt. He came across a frog and a snake, enemies by nature, living peacefully together at Sringeri. Such is the energy of this sacred land.
Where no shoes can touch the sacred grounds of the temple complex, barefoot we ventured to the river ghat and felt an instant connection to all of nature and the many fishes, as we stepped foot in the sacred waters. To join in this aspiration of moksha, liberation from the avidya and overcoming the mirage of maya is to traverse from this shore to the other shore. And with our mantra vibrating in our heart and mind, we crossed the setu over the Tunga River for Shankaracharya’s Darshan.
We observed meditation at this sacred place while awaiting the darshana of the 36th Jagadguru Shankaracharya – Shri Bharati Teertha Mahaswami Ji. He had been called by his Guru and the 35th Jagadguru, “the bright star that descended to give light to the world”. We exchanged the details of our spiritual journeys and writings of our Gurus. His own spiritual practices have been modeled on adherence to Adi Shankara’s guidelines for achieving the goal of spiritual life. Through daily svadhyaya, applying the principles through nididhyasana, thereby, worshipping God through the performance of one’s duties with meaningful competence.
Before parting, he asked whether we would be staying with them and attended to our comforts and meals for overnight residency at the Peetham. Later that night, we joined aarti at the Ma Sharadamba Temple (the presiding deity of knowledge) and spent some time in meditation at the Samadhis of the previous Jagadgurus. We also participated in the worship of the Chandramouleeswara Lingam by the Shankaracharya himself.
Immersed in the backdrop of Vedic chants and temple bells, by the side of the glorious and pious Tunga River, we felt absorbed into the sacred aura that immediately heightened our consciousness. Where students recite the Vedas aloud under trees; where Pandits perform daily pujas within the ancient Shiva and Shakti temples; where hundreds of seekers prostrate at the feet of the Adi Guru within the temples and at the samadhis of all the Gurus in the tradition, one goes back to the Vedic times.
It was an honor to receive a rare invitation from the Jagadguru to visit the Sringeri Sharada Peetham again. With a deep desire to go back to the roots of the Lineage, we hope to revisit this land that emanates great love and peace that needs to be imbibed and internalized.