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Acharya Ekkirala Bharadwaja : Biography Part 1

JAI SAI MASTER

The 20th century is marked as period of great upheaval in the history of India. Patriotism was at its peak and efforts to gain Independence from the British had unified and gathered momentum on all fronts- political, social and economic. Yet, at the very same time imperialism had left its mark on the Indian psyche. The post-Independence era was a time of chaos and confusion on the social and administrative structure. The British system of education had succeeded immensely in amputating the new generation from its roots. Pride in the nation with its rich cultural and intellectual heritage, the glory that had been hers because of the deep philosophy and spiritual attitude of its people had all but disappeared. Scientific and technological advancement had side-lined religion and spirituality, which were considered unfashionable and shameful. The few who believed and had faith did so in secrecy.

The appearance of Acharya Sri Ekkirala Bharadwaja at such a time in the Indian landscape can be seen as a spiritual renaissance, the resurrection of the ancient Indian philosophy of life, which had always bestowed on us spiritual advancement, peace and contentment and glory throughout the world. The task was monumental. It needed tremendous courage, grit, a powerful intellect, wit and skill, a task worthy of the manifestation of the Paramatma- Acharya Sri Ekkirala Bharadwaja.

Sri Ekkirala Bharadwaja was born on the 30th of October in the year 1938 in Bapatla,  a sleepy coastal town of  Andhra Pradesh. He was the last of the four sons born to the devout Vaishnavite couple Sri Ekkirala Anantacharya and Smt. Buchimamba. At that point of time Sri Anantacharya was deeply absorbed in studying and interpreting the Vedas and substantiating them with modern scientific concepts. In our ancient scriptures Sage Bharadwaja the vedic seer, is said to have had an insatiable thirst for learning the Vedas. He is also credited with being the father of modern medicine and science, hence the name was fittingly chosen for the new born by his father.

Little ‘Dwaju’ as he was lovingly called, was an adorable and chubby child with a head full of curls. Unfortunately, fate intervened and he lost his mother at the tender age of two to a prolonged illness.  Sri Anantacharya bore this tragedy with courage and fortitude. As Sri Bharadwaja mentions in his book Pariprasna, “…….. he became mother, father, doctor and teacher to raise us”. Sri Anantacharya was a multi-faceted personality- an erudite scholar of international acclaim, renowned in the scriptures and other philosophical treatises, an ayurvedic medical practitioner, freedom fighter and an accomplished wrestler. His eminence though was almost overshadowed by his humility and his keen sense of service to society. Born to such an illustrious father, the progeny were bound to make their mark on the world which they surely did.

Even as a young child Sri Bharadwaja exhibited tremendous courage both physical and mental. He had an inquisitive attitude, a questioning mind, strong determination and phenomenal powers of concentration. Sri Anantacharya was careful to minimize outside influences on his children and so they were home-schooled under his adept tutelage. Young Bharadwaja took his matriculation exam directly at the age of 12 years at Varanasi. By the time he had attained 19 years, he was a post-graduate in English and teaching at the Sarma Degree College in Ongole, a town in Andhra Pradesh. Once, with the objective of confirming to himself that he could complete any job that he set for himself, however difficult, Sri Bharadwaja took up his brother Sri Veda Vyasa’s challenge to clear the UPSC examinations. Unsurprisingly, he got through with a mere 3 months preparation, which for most people takes at least an year of tough preparation. However, he gave up the resulting prestigious and luxurious career as it was against his personal goals. It was his firm belief that the evanescent period of youth was precious and was not to be frittered away in schools and colleges in the pursuit of aimless scholastic knowledge without developing the spirit of inquiry and analysis which is the basis of education. Instead, right ideals, the correct approach to knowing, respecting and cultivating our culture and tradition should be imparted. As a lecturer, Sri Bharadwaja would often incorporate life’s values and its guiding principles while explaining the subject which was of far more practical use later in their lives. Almost all his time after college hours was spent in discussing their needs and wants out of life, the spiritual basis of the human life, its correlation to ancient wisdom and modern day science, for which the students gathered in increasing numbers and heard with rapt attention and awe.  Several of them were so inspired that they even practiced spiritual discipline under the able guidance of Sri Bharadwaja.

After Sri Bharadwaja’s stint as a Lecturer at the college of Ongole, he taught for a short while at the Viveka Vardhini evening college in Hyderabad and then moved to Bapatla College. Here too he resigned after a brief period and stayed at the ashram of the Mother of Jillelamudi for an year. Later, he moved to the Vidyanagar College at Vidyanagar. We can only assume that each move to a new place was probably to spread the concept of human values to a wider student audience.

The origin for Sri Bharadwaja’s theistic outlook of life however had its beginning many years before. Endowed with an inquisitive mind, sharp intellect, keen observation and logical deduction, steadfast determination and a highly developed sense of integrity, truthfulness and wit, his dynamic spirit urged him on the quest for the ultimate truth, the meaning of life and death, which was instigated by the sudden demise of his beloved nephew at the very moment of Sri Bharadwaja’s Brahmopadesam during the sacred thread ceremony. The quest gained impetus after he came across a book by name The Way of Zen and culminated finally at the sight of Sri Sai Baba’s majestic idol at the Samadhi Mandir in Shirdi when on a chance trip in the year 1963 as a companion to his elder brother Sri Veda Vyas.

This experience is best explained in Sri Bharadwaja’s own words, “What does his face, especially his look and smile, indicate of his attitude? Was he elated that so many visited him to pay their homage, adore and worship him? Or was he overwhelmed with compassion for them? Or, in that mood, was he oblivious of his separate existence, his gaze fixed on the divine mystery, the one omnipresent spirit? Or was it a look of recognition of that ancient spirit, of his contacts with those teeming crowds that had contacted him through their countless previous lives? And, was that smile of reunion pregnant with his joy of their future possibility of reaching the spiritual summit? Or was he just oblivious of all this, lost in his ceaseless contemplation of the one spirit, in his at-one-ment? And is the mysterious Monolisa-smile a manifestation of that peace which passeth understanding? Or is there a possibility that at a higher level of consciousness all these attitudes could coexist without the one interrupting the other?”

This last thought flashed with a particular intensity and my spirit leapt forth to comprehend how, in that state, he was viewing all this existence: “Is the universe of myriad forms an image projected in his consciousness? And am I, then, too, a thought in his Mind and are all these my thoughts parts of it?” The intuition took off and wafted my being into far-off states. I knew of nothing else. My being was still, taut with a particular illumination and my thoughts were both existent and non-existent. I am aware how absurd these words must look to anyone. But what else can they be when I verbalize what cannot be conveyed?”

After this life-changing experience of Samadhi in Shirdi on February 9, he began to travel extensively, both to gather as much information as possible about this marvelous saint Sri Sai Baba and also to contact mahatmas in various places in the hope of finding such a powerful saint as Shirdi Sai Baba so as to dedicate his entire life to his service. He spent 12 long years in investigating into the life and times of Sri Sai Baba of Shirdi, met many devotees in different towns and cities who had been his contemporaries and had benefitted by his presence and blessings, and were still fortunately alive to share their memories, reminiscences and divine miracles of this mahatma. Sri Bharadwaja personally met many of the devotees of Baba like Sri Marthand Mahalsapathi, Sri Booty, etc. and carefully noted down their experiences. Thereafter, he validated their narratives by re-visiting them after a short gap to capture any afterthoughts and impressions as also to ascertain their authenticity. At the end of this consistent, arduous, labour of love he brought out the book named, Sri Sai Leelamrutham in Telugu, Sri Bharadwaja’s native language and subsequently rewrote it in English as Sai Baba the Master in which Sri Sai’s biography and divine miracles are explained in the context of a unique spiritual Master appropriate to this age. Every word and every phrase of these books is profound in depth and meaning. Now translated into several languages this book serves as the single most sacred book in many homes in India and abroad.

Meanwhile Sri Bharadwaja also contacted many saints throughout the length and breadth of the country, Sri Ma Anandmayee, Sri Swami Purnananda of Srisailam, Sri Rakhadi Baba of Ganeshpuri, Sri Samartha Narayan Maharaj of Harihar, the Saint of Poondi, etc. to name a few. Characteristically, every saint gave him a special reception, however, Sri Bharadwaja’s humbleness and his devotion to his chosen Guru is personified in the following statement where he states that, “…….I could win their (saints’) gracious attention only after specifically praying to Baba for the same.” Due to which, “……my faith in Baba, if anything grew deeper and has been constant all through.” Most of these meetings and his experiences with different saints were published as a series of books under the title, The Saints that I have Visited.

Sri Bharadwaja mentions that apart from directing his spiritual life, Sai Baba “…….has been actively guiding me in my material life also”, which is apparent in the issue of his marriage. Having mentally and physically trained himself to a life of celibacy, Sri Bharadwaja was completely opposed to marriage and even considered it an obstacle to his life’s goal. Chirala Swami, the Swami of Chintapalli forests and finally Baba himself steered him into accepting holy matrimony which in retrospect turned out to be a boon for mankind. Accordingly, Sri Bharadwaja entered wedlock on March 6, 1975 with Alivelu mangatayaru garu who herself was a disciple in the service of the Holy Mother of Jillelamudi. A few short years later they were blessed with a daughter and a son.

To be continued…..

JAI SAI MASTER

 

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Posted by on January 29, 2012 in Sri Sai Master

 

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Jai Sai Master!!!

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Jai Sai Master!!!

In my last post I mentioned three paths given by Acharya Ekkirala Bharadwaja for attaining the highest goal of this blessed human life.

There are however two more ways, which were kindly brought to my attention by…..

The Dattatreya tradition holds all sadgurus, prophets, sufi saints and such in high esteem. They are regarded as guides, helping all mortals to attain to God. The Acharya says about them, ‘He (Sadguru) is the direct witness to the truth of mystic wisdom.’ (Swami Samarth). The many saints that the Acharya has brought to light for us like Sri Pakalpati Guru of Chinthapalli forests, the Swami of Chirala, Sri Rakhadi Baba, etc through his  series of books entitled The Saints that I have Visited, have shown that they are the One Spirit of Wisdom. These Masters incarnate on earth from time to time to reinterpret the scriptures and religion so as to make it intelligible and easy for laymen of that time and place to follow them. The sadguru sampradayam or study of the lives and teachings of these Masters is thus invaluable.

Self-styled Gurus abound in today’s society misleading many a naïve population into a pseudo-spiritual world. The true and real Guru’s do not lend themselves favourably either to fame or organization. To be fortunate enough to recognize a true saint requires stalwarts in the same field. In the absence of such exponents there is a time honoured tradition of being directed towards the right Guru through sincere and devoted reading of the Sri Guru Charitra. Such a distingiuished work, originally available only in Marathi and Sanskrit has been brought out it in many languages solely due to the efforts and grace of Acharya Bharadwaja.

These five paths thus become the prominent hallmarks of the venerable Acharya’s teachings.

Jai Sai Master!!!

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Acharya Ekkirala Bharadwaja’s Teachings

 

Pujya Sri Acharya Ekirala Bharadwaja says in the Sri Guru Charitra that ‘…….human life (is) a search for lasting contentment, peace and bliss and (is) a struggle for complete unfoldment of its vast spiritual potential.’


In my limited view the Acharya has pointed out three paths for achieving these goals. One way is the path of bhakti or devotion. In this regard he has shown us an invaluable sadguru, a saint par excellence, whose biography has been detailed in the Sai Baba the Master authored by the Acharya. He describes Sri Shirdi Sai Baba as being a manifestation of Lord Dattatreya who is a representation of the holy Trinity- Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar; or in other words- Creation, Sustenance and Dissolution. In him we see an avatar in keeping with the times. In these times religious discord and communal disharmony, of war and strife and decline in humanitarian values, we see a saint who showed through word and deed and many, many divine miracles- the oneness of all beings on this earth. He reinterpreted the religious scriptures so as to be easily implementable by all. His deep love for all creatures won people’s hearts and brought about a remarkable change in their lives and attitudes. Indeed, devotion for such a glorious being as Sri Shirdi Sai Baba springs up spontaneously in our hearts.
The second path is that of meditation. The Acharya authored two books on meditation and its methods- Dhyana Yoga Sarvaswam and Budha Dhyana Hridayam. The first book gives simple ways which can be followed during the course of a day, for focusing our attention and the five senses either on our chosen object of devotion or the One consciousness that pervades all creation. Meditation is a core part in the path towards enlightenment in Buddhism and the Buddha enumerated several methods to increase mindfulness, concentration, tranquility and insight, which are described in the Acahrya’s second book on meditation.

The third way is the art of questioning and searching for the Ultimate Truth or satyanveshna. Edi Nizam deals entirely with this concept. The opening lines of this small but invaluable book are universally pertinent. Any aim or goal needs a complete understanding of the following three components which are : ‘1) The nature of the goal desired (2) Training the mind and thereby the five senses and body in keeping with the goal desired (3) Understand the obstacles in the path of such a training and accordingly overcoming them. ‘


The Acharya has left the choice of the path to be taken to us, and yet, ultimately the goal achieved is only One, that of liberation, which is nothing but everlasting joy
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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Uncategorized