Shree Kashi Math Samsthan


 
 
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The Math

GSB :

The reason why the Goud Saraswath Brahmins, who worship all Gods, are Vaishnavas: The most precious knowledge for a Goud Saraswath Brahmin is that Lord Vishnu is the SUPREME Being. Nobody knows the divine Leelas of Lord Vishnu (Hari) because it is incomprehensible and beyond one’s imagination. That is why, Goud Saraswath Brahmins are Vaishnavas even though they worship all Gods.

Shrimath Madhwacharya’s connection with Shree Kashi Math Samsthan :

The ancient story about the Goud Saraswath Brahmins is not very clear on this. When Shrimath Madhwacharya visited Goa he found countless Goud Saraswath Brahmins already lived in Goa at that time as they had been invited there in prior times by the famous Saraswath Shree Parashuram (Incarnation of Lord Shree Vishnu).
Originally Goud Saraswaths were divided as Vaishnavas and Advaitas.It was only after the Vaishnava Goud Saraswath Brahmins interacted with Madhwacharya that they took the path of Dvaita Siddhanta of Shrimath Madhwacharya.

Shree Kashi Math Samsthan disciples today are followers of the Vaishnavite philosophy propounded by Madhwacharya.

 

SHREE KASHI MATH SAMSTHAN

Deities :

The Mathadhipathi (Head of the Math) offers daily prayers to theCharaprathishta(Moving Installation) idols, the Presiding deities of worship in Shree Kashi Math Samsthan – Lord Shri Veda Vyasa and Lord Shri Raghupati (Rama) and Shree Narasimha (Ugra Roopa) which is popularly known as Shri Vyasa Raghupati Narasimha.

Swamijis of Shree Kashi Math Samsthan, by tradition, personally worship the deities three times a day – morning, noon and night. Whatever be the state of health, H.H Shrimath Sudhindra Thirtha Swamiji has continued this tradition. Acccording to custom, Swamiji takes bath three times a day, once each before the three Poojas.
Dharma Peeta and Gurukula (centre of education) is not for everyone. The goal is the same, but the results are different.

In the Gurukula : The student must practice Brahmacharya (Celibacy), learn the Shastras (scriptures) from the teacher and engage in deep study of the Vedas. The Guru’s role will be that of householder with the experience of the world. The generous Guru will teach poetry and drama, in addition to the Vedas.

Whereas in a Dharma Peetha : A Sanyasi is one who renounces everything. Sanyasis are Parivrajaks (wandering monks) because, to avoid attachments, they do not stay in one place. Sanyasis of Shree Kashi Math Samsthan are honest and free from desire. Their faith is deep and unfathomable and they are the best among Vaishnavas.

 

Shree Kashi Math Samsthan is the abode of Dharma. The knowledge of Lord Vedavyasa and the ideals and noble qualities of Lord Raghupati are incomprehensible. The Yatis of Shree Kashi Math Samsthan are attachments the knowers of truth.

 

The Mathadhipathi :

The spiritual head or the Mathadhipathi is also the administrative of the Math and its properties. As a Math specific to the Goud Saraswat Brahimins, the Mathadhipathis seldom mingle with members of other communities. The Mathadhipathi is not a mere spiritual head of the community. In the past, the Mathadhipathi exercised powers over secular matters of the community too. There have been occasions when the Mathadhipathi has excommunicated members for violation of his edicts.

 

Guru System :

As per customs followed in Shree Samsthan a Swamiji initiates a worthy vatu into Sanyas and accepts him as His Patta – Shishya. It is only after the Guru-Swami (Mathadhipathi) attains Mukti, that the Shishya Swami assumes control over the Math and looks after the affairs of the Math.

 

 

Intiating A Shishya :

According to the traditions of the Shree Kashi Math Samsthan, a Swami {Guru) initiates a worthy Vatu (a young Brahmin boy) into Sanyas (renunciation of the world and its attachments). The individual is selected from a large number of candidates after given due consideration to his horoscope, religious bent, character and education etc. After the selection, he is then declared a Shishya Swami.

If a Shishya Swami passes away while the Guru is alive, the latter initiates another Vatu into Sanyas.

The SANYAS DEEKSHA ceremony is celebrated for two days at a most auspicious time. The day prior to the ceremony, the head of the Shishya is cleanly shaven as a part of a ritual, leaving behind just a small tuft of six hair (In ancient times, a person who desired to become a Sanyasi had to pluck all his hair himself. However, as it was cruel, as a token to the past ritual, only six of the hairs are plucked.). The next (the day of ceremony) early morning the Shishya, accompanied by priests, goes to the bank of a holy river. The Shishya takes a bath in the river and rituals are completed before the Shishya wears saffron clothes and forsakes the white one he was wearing until then.

The rituals are as follows:
Followers and spectators assemble in large numbers on the banks of the holy river. The priests guide the Shishya to pluck all six hairs one by one and offer them to the water. Then, his sacred thread (The sacred thread (Jannuve), which has three strands, is put on at the time of Upanayanam. It is meant to be worn throughout life. Jannuve reminds all of us that we are indebted (a) to parents for giving birth to us and for rearing us; (b) to teachers and sages for giving us knowledge; and (c) to Devas (Gods) for making available (in plenty and for free) natural resources. The sacred thread signifies that we are indebted and that we are duty-bound to the aforementioned throughout our life. One is absolved of that debt only when one renounces the world.) that the Shishya wore until then, is removed to symbolize renunciation and severance of all worldly connections. Other rituals prescribed in the scriptures (such as a ceremnonial bath and Vishnu homa), are also performed. The Shishya importantly also performs his own funeral rites to symbolize a break from past attachments and the beginning of a new life.
Then the Shishya is given saffron clothes to wear, a loin cloth to cover the shoulders and the chest, and another piece of cloth to cover the shaven head. In addition, he is given a Danda (purified bamboo stick/staff) to hold. The Danda symbolizes spiritual authority. Shishya is then given a Kamandalu (pitcher) to carry holy water. The Danda and Kamandalu represent the essential features of a Sanyasi.

The route from the river to the temple is colourfully decorated with arches, mango leaves and flowers. The procession is accompanied by bhajans, musical instruments, dance, fireworks and frequent joyous shouts in praise of Shree Kashi Math Samsthan and the Mathadhipathis.

At exactly the selected most auspicious time, Guru Swami initiates his Shishya into Sanyas. Guru Swami reveals to Shishya Swami the sacred Pranava Mantra to be chanted throughout life. Guru Swami then gives a new name to Shishya Swami.

The Guru offers the Aarati to the Presiding deities of Shree Kashi Math Samsthan, Sri Vyasa Raghupati. As soon as Guru Swami finishes waving the Aarati, the Shishya waves another Aarati to the deities to symbolize the continuity of the lineage. Then, both Guru and Shishya take their seats on beautifully decorated high thrones to give audience to the visitors, devotees and followers. After the midday Pooja to the deities of the Shree Kashi Math Samsthan and temple, there will be Samaradhana for devotees attending the function. Then the followers offer Guru Kanike and Patta Kanika to both Swamiji s and seek their Blessings.

It is always a great and grand event that lingers in one’s memory for a long time as a unique and memorable event.
Life Of Sanyas :
According to the traditions of the Shree Samsthan, the Swamiji is a Brahmachari (observing celibacy) and leads a life of renunciation and follows all the rules and regulations of life, food and daily routine prescribed by usage and custom. H.H Swamiji is conversant with the Vedas, Puranas, Shastras and the customs and usages to be followed by his followers.

It is the duty of the Swamiji to see that his followers follow their Dharma (Swadharma) and conduct the religious rites and rituals prescribed for them. It is also the duty of the followers to accept the spiritual authority of the Swamiji and reverentially abide by the guidance given by the Mathadhipathi in religious matters.

The Swamijis of the Shree Samsthan have their own Aradhyadevata, whom the Swamiji worships thrice daily with all devotion and ceremonies in accordance with the Agama Shashtra. Shri Vedavyasa, Raghupati & Narasimha are the Presiding Deities of the Shree Samsthan since its inception. H.H Swamiji takes these idols along with all Paraphernalia with him whenever and wherever He camps. There he keeps the idols in a separate room, decorates them with flowers and worships them with all adoration. A large number of followers witness the puja and after which they receive benedictions from the Swamiji.

The Swamiji is also reverentially called upon to install Idols of Gods with due religious ceremonies in new temples built by the followers or is requested to reinstall (Punah Pratishtha) the images in old temples after renovating them.

 

Chathurmas :

CHATHURMAS means four months (in actuality, to live in one place during the rainy season). In olden times, Hindu saints stayed in one place to observe certain VRATAS (vows), self study, study self discipline and engage in discussions and discourses to enrich their knowledge. This tradition continues even now in Shree Kashi Math Samsthan. The devotees and citizens of the locality where Swamiji undertakes this VRATA welcome a CHATHURMAS. It provides them an opportunity to come together, to work as a team, to offer prayers, to conduct Poojas and enrich their knowledge by seeking guidance from Shree Swamiji on a daily basis. Important festivals are celebrated during this period.

The principles of Sanyasa Ashrama Dharma, namely, the duties of sainthood, require a Swamiji to observe the Chathurmas Vrata for four months. The period starts with the first half of Ashadha (a month of the Indian Calendar, normally beginning between June and July)and ends in the first half of Kartika (another month of the Indian calendar; occurs four months after Ashadha)every year.

Chathurmas Vrata involves observing austerities with dietary restrictions, divine contemplation and intense meditation with the aim of attaining Holy Communion with God. The process includes a host of religious rites and rules and regulations which have been prescribed in detail. For Swamijis who are always on the move to spread the basic principles of Sanatana Dharma (religion based on eternal values) among their widely dispersed devotees, Chathurmas Vrata is often the only period of uninterrupted and concentrated Tapasya (meditation).

VASANTHA MASA is when Shree Swamiji stays for one month in one locality during spring. He also stays in one place for one month during VYASA UTSAV in winter.

 

Vrindavan (Final Samadhi):

Another custom followed in the Shree Kashi Math Samsthan is that a Shishya Swami assumes control over the Math Samsthan as the Mathadhipathi after His Guru attains Maha Samadhi.

The mortal remains of the departed Guru are placed in the earth after suitably embalming the body with preservatives like common salt, camphor, heaps of Tulsi leaves, etc., usually in the Math premises or in temples associated with the Math. Subsquently, a memorial structure is constructed over the site and an image (idol) of Lord Hanuman is installed on it. A sacred Tulsi plant is kept in front of the image, the principle being that the holy soul of the departed Swamiji reached Lord Vishnu (supposed to have His divine presence near Tulsi plant) through Hanuman (Mukhya Prana). The entire place is known as Vrindavan or the (final) Samadhi of the Guru. Arrangements are made for daily Poojas in the Vrindavan and the Punya Tithi (death anniversary) of the Swamiji is duly celebrated with special Pooja and Abhishekam for the blessings to the Math Samsthan and its followers.

However, when Swamijis of Shree Kashi Math Samsthan attain Mukti in Kashi (Varanasi), a formal Vrindavan is not constructed whereas only a Hanuman idol is consecrated dedicated to the departed Swamiji. The mortal remains of the Swamiji are kept in a box made of rock slabs and lowered into the holy river Ganga (which was born of Lord Vishnu’s toe). This is called Jala Samadhi. Swami Upendra (I) Thirtha, Raghavendra Thirtha (Mukti 1725) and Upendra (II) Thirtha (Mukti 1791) have attained Jala Samadhi.

During the first few days after Guru’s Samadhi, the Shishya in order to overcome the loss of his Guru, installs the Guru’s Padukas (Wooden footwear) in God’s room. Thereafter, things improve.

 

 

 

The reader should realize by now that Goud Saraswaths are ancient people and our Dharma is eternal. Let us commit ourselves to protect it.