Hotels in India » Religion-culture in India » The Kanchi Kamaksti Mutt

The Kanchi Kamaksti Mutt

Princes and Potentates, Presidents and Prime Ministers, Gurus and Commoners often flocked to the Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt for enlightenment. What did they find in this spiritual personality with a frail body? The answer is traceable to the hoary history of the guru tradition dating back to the dawn of Hinduism.

Adi Sankara was considered an incarnation of Parameshwara. He had synthesized the feuding Hindu sects and had even absorbed Buddhism in the Hindu fold, so much so that critics described his Advaitic Monism as disguised Buddhism. Adi Sankaracharya was born in Kaladi in Kerala. He had walked the length and breadth of India spreading the Davaitic Mission. He unified the then prevailing six systems of philosophy devoted to the worship of Shakti, Ganapathya (Ganapathi), Kaumarya (Subramanya), Surya, Shiva, Vishnu and came to be known as Sankaracharya. He stood for oneness without difference of caste, community or creed. The most favourable quote from Adi Sankara was Aksam Pathitham Thoyam, Yatha Gacathi Sagarami Sarvadev Namaskaram, Kesavam Prathi Gachathi. (Just as all the mighty rivers ultimately flow into the ocean, through whatever mode a devotee worships, he ultimately reaches the One Lord Kesava). He considered entire humanity as the children of God. A Chandala accosted him as he was coming out of the Holy Ganga. The venerable Acharya asks him to make way. The Chandala posed the question. “What should make way? Is it the Body or the Atman?” The great Acharya realized that it was Lord Shiva Himself who has assumed the form of a Chandala to teach the world that there is no distinction between man and man.

Adi Sankara, founded Mutts at Badrinath in the north, Dwarka in the west, Puri in the east and Sringeri in the south syhmbolizing the cultural unity of India even 2000 years back. He came to Kanchipuram towards the end of his life and installed the Sri Chakra in the Kamakshi temple. He founded the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam as the central and last Mutt before he departed at Kamakshi temple itself in 476 BC. There is a shrine devoted to the Adi Sankara at the very entrance to the temple at Kanchipuram.

The Kanchi Kamkoti Mutt has had continuous lineage of Acharyas from 476 BC onwards. Srimad Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharya Varya Srimad Chandrasekarendra Saraswati Swami was the 68th Pontiff who spread the Gospel for 100 years before he departed in 1994. He attracted people from all over the world. Paul Brunton was one of his earliest admires. Arthur Koestler was another. The Queen Mother and the Princess of Greece found solace in the mystic eyes of the Acharya and frequently visited the Mutt for comfort. Indira Gandhi sought benediction from His Holiness when she was out of power. Inspired by the blessings of the Acharya, she adopted the “Hand” as the symbol for the Congress party. Way back in 1927, Mahatma Gandhi met the Acharya and was so moved by the spiritual presence that he told Rajaji that he had his fill and was not in need of dinner that evening. The Acharya conveyed significant messages even through silence. The message he gave the country on 15th August 1947 or in the aftermath of the Chinese war of 1962 will be read with interest even today as giving hope and succour when the Nation was in need of enlightenment. Maithrim Bajatha was a shloka (verse) specially composed by the Acharya urging nations to cultivate peace and friendship. The shloka was rendered emotionally by M.S.Subbulakshmi at the United Nations in 1964. The Acharya was the embodiment of harmony – the perfectly stringed lute that makes celestial music. Christians and Muslims offered their pranams (respect) at his feet. He traversed the entire Indian subcontinent from Rishikesh to Kanyakumari like Adi Sankara. His favourite advice was Bhuthadayam Vishtharaya (Mayyour compassion expand to all beings). The Kamakoti Mutt at Kanchipuram believed in the motto that merit lay in helping others, sin in harming others.

In recent years the Kanchi Mutt has dedicated itself to social work apart from spititual enlightement for the masses. Centres have been established by the Mutt in far flung places like Assam and Gujarat. Hospitals are run and there is a deemed University in Kanchipuram devoted to the cause of higher education. Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swami and his younger disciple Sri Sankara Vijayndera Saraswati Swami were both chosen by the Paramacharya in 1954 and 1983 as the 60th and 70th Pontiffs.