Posted: Wednesday, August 20th, 2008 | Views: 10407
Holy place [Temple]  -   Sringeri, Chikmagalur District
104 kms from Mangalore
How to reach:  The travel mode can be by Bus, Omni Bus, Private car or taxi service.
Best time to visit: October - May
Address: Administrator,
Sringeri Mutt and Its Properties,
Sringeri, Karnataka 577139
Phone: 91-8265-250123, 251627, 250594, 250022, 250192
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Sringeri is the first of the four pithas established by Bhagavan Sri Sankaracharya. Sringeri is the modern rendering of Sringa Giri or the Mountain of Rishyasringa, a great rishi whose tomb is still preserved, and thousands of pilgrims brave the hard path and repair there worship at the holy shrine. Situated in the Western Ghats on the banks of the Tungabhadra, Sringeri is the seat of spirituality established by Adi Shankara in the Eighth century.

Sringeri was discovered by Sri Sankaracharya as a place where even natural animosities did not exist, as he saw a frog in labor protected from the scorching rays of the sun by a raised hood of a cobra. He installed at that place the Goddess of learning, Sri Sharada.

He also established a Matha for the propagation of Advaita philosophy, and his first sishya Sri Suresvaracharya was made the head of the Matha. From then onwards, Sringeri has become famous as a center of learning, philosophy and sublime spirituality. It is one of the holy places of India and it attracts many pilgrims.

The reigning deity Sharadamba, consort of Lord Brahma, epitomises supreme knowledge. She is seated on top of the Sri Chakra consecrated by Adi Shankara who established four maths to carry forth his teachings Sringeri in the south, Puri in the east, Dwarka in the west and Joshir Math Badri in the north.

Many festivals are celebrated with pomp here but the Sharannavarathiri is an important one. Marking the victory of the goddess Mahakali over Mahishasura, the festival occurs in September-October. The goddess emerged victorious in her fight on the 10th day, which signifies the victory of righteousness. This festival has been celebrated from the time of sage Vidyaranya in the 14th Century.

On Amavasya, the goddess is decked out as Jagat Prasutika or the Universal Mother. During the next nine days, she is decorated and placed on a different vahana (vehicle) showing her in various forms - Brahmi on the swan, Maheshwari on the bull, Mayuri on the peacock, Vaishnavi on Garuda, Indrani on the elephant, Chamundi on the lion, Aswavahini on the horse and as Mohini and Rajarajeshwari.

Adi Shankara was born in Kalady on Vaisakha Panchami under the asterix of Thiruvadirai to the Namboodri brahmin couple, Sivaguru and Aryambal.

Shankara lost his father at a young age. He was a brilliant student of scriptures and aspiration for a spiritual life seemed to come to him naturally. Legend has it that once when he was attacked by a crocodile while bathing in the Periyar (Poorna) river, Aryambal gave him permission to take sanyas, as that was the only way to escape the jaws of the crocodile.

Shankara on his wanderings but assured his mother that he would be with her during her last days. History tells us that he heard her call when he was journeying in the North and immediately came to Kalady. As desired by her, he prayed to Lord Vishnu who made his presence felt by giving darshan as Krishna to the dying lady. An ancient Krishna temple stands at that spot to this day.

Apparently, the local Namboodiri brahmins refused to take part in Aryambal's funeral if Shankara, a sanyasi, were light the pyre. They would not give him fire for igniting the pile.

It is believed that Shankara produced fire from his palm for the cremation. An ancient deepa-sthambha stands a mute witness to this drama enacted 1200 years ago.

After taking sanyas, and bidding farewell to Aryambal, Shankara reached the banks of the Narmada, and prostrated before Govindapada who accepted him as his disciple. Govindapada was himself the disciple of Gowdapada, spoken of as an incarnation of Adi Sesha. Mastery over the scriptures came within a short time, and Shankara left on his holy wanderings. He is said to have travelled all over India thrice and won several philosophical contests. A large group of disciples began to gather around him. The most well known were Sureshwaracharya, Padmapada, Hastamalaka and Totakacharya.

Adi Shankara's life is entwined with miracles, but his compassion for the `other' person comes through in his writings as well as in the narratives about his life. He was known for his keen debating skills and the debate he had with Mandana Mishra, and Mandana's wife Ubhaya Bharati is famous.

The four Mutts founded by Adi Shankara have been instruments of integrating India. In the North, he founded the Jyotir Mutt at Badrikashram where the Alaknanda flows and installed Narayana and Poornagiri Shakti as the presiding deities. Totakacharya was made in charge of the institution. In the East, he established the Govardhan Mutt at Puri on the Bay of Bengal with Purushottama and Vrishala Vimala Shakti. Hastamalaka took charge as the first Pontiff. In the West, we have the Kali Mutt at Dwaraka presided over by Siddheshwar and Bhadrakali Shakti. Padmapada became the first Shankaracharya for the Mutt.

A wonderful legend marks the founding of the Sringeri Mutt in the South. Adi Shankara was traversing the hilly regions on the banks of the Tunga in Karnataka. The mid-day sun was scorching from above and a cobra was spreading its hood as a cover for a female frog that was in labour. The great teacher had a vision of the true instrument that binds all creation, an Advaitic whole.

Immediately, he set to work and founded the Sringeri Mutt by sculpting the Sri Chakra on a rock and installing Mother Sarada on it. As promised earlier, Ubhaya Bharati came to reside here as a presence of Brahmavidya. Adi Shankara gave Sureshwara the charge of the Mutt and also the spatika lingam of Chandramowliswara and the image of Ratnagarbha Ganapati (crystal embedded with a ruby). For 12 years, he stayed here.

The great teacher passed away in 820 A.D. at Kedarnath on the Himalayas but the news reached Kerala only five years later. King Udaya Marthanda Varma of Kollam who heard of this in 825 immediately declared it as the beginning of the Kollam Era. Shankaracharya's fame spread far and wide, biographies were written and the institutions founded by him prospered. However, the public almost totally forgot the place where he was born, the tiny village of Kalady on the Periyar.

It was the 33rd pontiff of the Sringeri Mutt who rediscovered Kalady. Sri Sacchindananda Sivabhinava Nrisimha Bharati was born in 1858 as Sivaswami in Mysore. Orphaned at an early age, he was taken in by the 32nd Pontiff, Sri Ugra Nrisimha Bharati who gave him sanyasa at the age of eight. Nurtured by his guru, Sri Nrisimha Bharati mastered the scriptures and the administrative intricacies and ritualism associated with the Mutt's far-flung branches and Mother Sarada at Sringeri. He was engaged in meditation upon the personality of Adi Shankara and wished to consecrate his birthplace. He created an interest in the subject by instituting an annual five-day Shankara Jayanti.

A fortuitous occurrence helped the search when Seshadri Iyer of Kerala became the Dewan of Mysore. Drawing the needed directions from Vidyaranya's Shankara Vijaya, the Swami asked Seshadri Iyer to undertake the task of finding out the birthplace of Adi Shankara. Iyer immediately began enquiries and identified Kalady in Kuttanad taluk. Then there was speedy progress. The cremation site of Aryambal was discovered too. The Maharajahs of Mysore and Travancore as also leaders of the community came forward with the necessary help and monetary aid to Sringeri Mutt for taking over the area and building a temple. Temples for Sapthamatrukas including Brahmi (Sarada) and Adi Shankara were constructed and were consecrated on 21 February, 1910.

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