Udipi Swamij, Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamini is the 30th in a great lineage of heads of the Jagadguru Shree Madwaachaarya Moola Mahaa Samsthaanam, Shree Puthige Matha, Udupi, beginning with Shri Madwaachaarya himself. Recently, the Swamiji was on a brief visit to the UK to attend a World Conference of Religions for Peace. On 23rd March, 2012, he was the honoured guest at a special SIS satsang, which despite the short notice was attended by over 30 SIS members and their families.
As it was Ugadi, the new-year’s day in AP, Karnataka, Maharashtra etc., the evening began with a Vishnu puja, along with recitals of Vishnu Sahasranamam, Hanuman Chalisa etc by all those present. When the Swamiji arrived, he was welcomed with traditional Purna Kumbam. The Swamiji then did the karpura-arti and completed the Vishnu puja.
He was thereafter kind enough to receive a pada puja and gave a brief but erudite anugraha bhashan. Given below is a summary of the points made by him.
- We all perform a graha-pravesham when we move into a new house. One might wonder, ‘why?’, because we would have already entered the several times, before buying it, while renovating it, etc. and might even have already started living in the house. Graha-pravesham is really not about our entering the house, but, about the God entering the house; about praying for godly presence and for gurus, acharyas and other noble souls entering the house regularly. It is for the same reason that we perform pujas. The Swamiji was therefore very pleased that SIS members have regular satsangs for pujas and for reciting Vishnu Sahasranamam, Lalitha Sahasranamam, etc.,
- As the head of a Mutt whose presiding deity is Lord Krishna, the Swamiji was particularly pleased to meet SIS members on Nandana New Year’s day and pass on his blessings and good wishes.
- Lord Krishna was the great Jagatguru to have set foot upon earth. In Bhagavat Gita he gives us the simplest rule that we need to follow in living our lives. ‘Ya imam samvadam adyeshyate’ – by one who recites this dialogue, i.e., the dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjuna, ‘aham istah syam’ – I am worshipped. The saamvada, or the dialogue, has as its subject matter, Dharma; it deals with karma yoga and gives us the knowledge of Brahman. One who studies or recites Bhagavat Gita, by doing so, invokes and worships Him. But how? Bhagvan adds, ‘jyanayajnena’, by the ritual of knowledge. In the very next verse, the Lord also extols the virtue of listening to Gita with faith: that is just as good as performing good deeds, or ‘punya karmanam’. Adi Sankaracharya says the same thing in Bhaja Govindam. ‘Bhagavat Gita Kinchidadheeta’, a little study of Gita, liberates one.
- In Gita, Lord Krishna, also sets out what we should pray for.
‘Chaturvidha Bhajanthe Mam Jana, Sukruthino, Arjuna:
Artho, Jijnasur, Artharthi, Jnani cha bharatarsabha’
- Artan means someone who distressed: his prayer is straightforward - God, please unburden me of my problems.
- Artha means things that are desired, e.g., wealth, power, etc., Arthi is one who is praying for it. When one seeks to accomplish something, one needs the wherewithal – money, position etc.: so, one seeks it from the God.
- Jijnasu is one who is seeking jnana, or knowledge. He offers his prayers and also performs daily and periodical duties, nithya and naimittika karmas, so as to seek a clear mind and knowledge of Ishwara.
- Jnani is the fourth. This is the ultimate bhakti and it is the most difficult thing to do. Jnani is one who knows the ultimate truth. In that state, he seeks union with the Ultimate Reality.
Udipi Swamiji concluded his short bhasan by saying that among the four types, according to Gita, the last, jnani, is the dearest to Him. While it is not easy, that is what we should all strive for –bhakti not for the sake of achieving anything other than for itself.