Freedom from earthly passions


As the 34th head of the ancient Sharada Math at Sringeri from 1912 to 1954, he scripted a glorious chapter in the annals of the ancient seat of learning. By his erudition and total detachment from wordly matters, he was a living embodiment of all that represents the ancient, universal, immutable, all pervasive human order, otherwise called  Sanatana Dharma.

Born in 1892 into a family of learned scholars, Narasimha, as he was known before taking to the holy order, inherited the brilliance of intellect of his grandfather, a renowned scholar. Besides, he also displayed the qualities of patience, fortitude, humility, reticence and above all, a marked sense of detachment from a very young age.

These traits did not go unnoticed, with no less a personage than the then reigning pontiff, Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharati silently choosing him as his successor . Accordingly, he arranged for the education of the young Narasimha in the Vedas, Shastras and related disciplines both in Sringeri and Bangalore.
As per his wishes, upon his demise in 1912, the young Narasimha succeeded him to the leadership of the Sringeri Math when he was hardly 20 years old, under the name of Chandrashekara Bharati.

Shy and withdrawing by nature, the onerous responsibilities of the headship of an institution revered and visited by thousands, with its attendant distractions were anathema to his innate desire for solitude and meditation. But he did shoulder the tasks with dexterity.

With the passage of time, his yearning for undisturbed communion with the higher powers made him withdraw from earthly issues. He immersed himself in meditation and gradually ascended to such a plane of absorption that he became totally oblivious to the outside world, including his bodily needs.

Not surprisingly, this was construed as a mental aberration by a society which could not even visualize, let alone understand the workings of a mind that had gone beyond human limitations. His transitions from his so called “abnormal states” to “normal” states were notable for the words of wisdom that poured forth from his lips, which thankfully have been recorded for posterity by a few close devotees.

Perhaps, the outstanding feature of his life is that he put into practice the very doctrines that he disseminated through his teachings. He was a living example of religious tolerance, discipline, ethics and spiritual attainments. He transcended limitations of time and space and practically demonstrated the possibility of “freedom from all earthly passions” while still embodied and finally chose to soar into eternity in 1954 and still continues to illumine the lives of the devout.

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