Pujyasri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Sankaracharya Swamiji
AN EMBODIMENT of simplicity,
Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamiji,
68th pontiff of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, adorned the
Peetam for 87 years from February 1907, when he was just 13. He
travelled across the country mostly on foot, in keeping with the
Math's tradition, meeting people and showering his blessings. His
erudition and compassion endeared him to everyone, irrespective of
class, creed and nationality. His foremost vision was the
preservation of the Vedas, tradition and dharma.
Taking one meal a day and sleeping in makeshift rooms, cowsheds and withered palanquins, he advocated simplicity and shunned extravagance. His exposition of the Vedanta, our sastras, agamas, puranas and epics appealed to scholars and laymen alike. They were very simple in language but rich in appeal and content. He was a great humanitarian, deep in his heart. He attained mahasamadhi in January 1994 at Kanchipuram.
The Acharya's "Pidi Arisi Thittam" (handful of rice scheme) was conceived with the poorest in mind. Every household was requested to keep aside a handful of rice and a humble coin before starting the day's cooking. Both the rice and the money were collected by a volunteer agency. While the rice was to be cooked in temple premises, offered as prasad to the deities first and then to the needy, the money would serve a socio-religious cause.
Pramacharya's Ten Commandments
The Paramacharya also listed 10 simple commandments (Dasopadesam) and urged his followers to lead a purposeful and wholesome life. This included going about doing one's duty with a sense of social responsibility and god-consciousness, offering the best of everything to God, unconditional love for everyone, practising philanthropy, cultivating the ability to discriminate between good and evil and looking upon assimilating wisdom not wealth as the goal of life. Passion is the cause of birth and time is the cause of death. What is created by passion is destroyed by time. If passion is strong, the seed sprouts. If time comes, the tree dies. If there is no passion, there is no production. If there is no time then there is no destruction, says the Mahaswamigal. Therefore we have to conquer Kaala (Time) and Kaama (passion). As his prayer to mankind, in an international message in the form of a song, he urged that minds be won in a friendly way. He wanted us to eschew war and jealousy. The Mahaswamigal insisted that the cause of poverty and sorrow the world over is want. Men of means should plan things in such a way that their prosperity is shared willingly with the poor. In the absence of desire, there is no sin and no misery.