H.H. CandrasEkhara Saraswati – (1884 – 1994) Also known as Kanchi Paramacharya (the 68th), he was a great spiritual leader, considered the reincarnation of Adi Sankaracharya. He taught that all religions were one and brought together the various spiritual leaders of monasteries across Tamil Nadu. Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvathi became the 68th Pontiff of Kanchi Math established by Adi Sankara, at the age of thirteen in 1907. A little earlier, his cousin who was appointed as the 67th Pontiff by the 66th Acharyal suddenly took seriously ill and attained siddhi. With his mother, young Swaminathan, as known before he took to the order, went to console his aunt but his mother and herself to be consoled as her son, the new Pontiff, had to sever permanently the family connection. The young Pontiff led a simple and austere life often undergoing grinding tests. He adhered strictly to the tenets of his spiritual office. Had he chosen any other line like mathematics, science, music, architecture, journalism or administration he would have certainly outshone others and reached the peak. He was an erudite scholar, knowledgeable also in science, history, archaeology, politics, and other fields. In 1914 the Acharya came to Kumbhakonam on the Sankara Jayanthi day he was then 20 years old. He set out from Kumbhakonam in 1919 on a `Vijaya Yatra’, a victorious tour of India, which lasted 20 long years. He went in his palanquin followed by 200 persons, 20 bullock carts, with elephants, camels and horses. He covered most of South India and many sacred cities in Northern and Central India. The devotees in their thousands showered their love and affection on him, who treated all the pomp and pageantry accorded to him as belonging to the Almighty God. He took over the management of the Math.Among his works are aRuL vAkku – in Tamil (translated into English by the author as well), arul urai, and dEvattin kural (the voice of god, on Dharma). He headed the Kanchi Mutt or peetam, where he lectured to thousands of audiences in his inimitable simple style, coupled with a great depth of ideas. “Sreyo Bhooyat Sakala Jananam” (Let the whole of humanity attain excellence)-which is the concluding phrase of his benediction, maitrim bhajata, to the United Nations as sung by Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi-is not just a grouping of words; it was always his one and only thought. In his honor, the Chandrasekhara Saraswati National Eminence Award which comprises a purse for 250,000 rupees, a silver lamp and a scroll is awarded to great musicians and persons of India. He lives to be over 100.
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