The Saraswat Mutt samsthans
There are four mutts for Saraswats of South India
The mutt traditions
Smarta system Smarthism is an ancient Brahminical tradition. The word Smartas means those who follow the Smriti or dharma Sastras. They worship five forms of God Shiva, Vishnu, Ganapathi, Surya and Shakti and this system is called Panchayatana. The five-sect system of Smartas is that in which the deities can be chosen as ones own personal and preferred deity (Ishta Devata). This sect is the liberal branch of Hinduism that believes in attainment of salvation through Jnana yoga. Adi Sankara's Advaita teachings closely follow the traditions of Smartas. Kavale and Chitrapur mutts belong to this tradition.
Vaishnava system Worship of Vishnu and his various avatars especially Rama and Krishna in a profoundly devotional form is the basis of Vaishnavism. Vaishnavism is based on the Dwaita philosophy (profounded by Madhavacharya) and recognises Vishnu as the Supreme Being. The individual souls do not attain equality with God but only serve Him to reach His abode as ultimate liberation. Kashi and Gokarn mutts belong to this tradition.
GAUDAPADACHARYA or KAVALE MUTT official website www.shrikavalemath.org.in
The Kavale Mutt or Kaivalya Mutt is oldest of the Mutts of Saraswats and belongs to the Smarta tradition. After migration to Gomantak, due to lack of communication facilities, the Saraswats settled in Goa lost contact with their roots in saraswat desh. Being Brahmins, the Saraswats needed a spiritual leader. In 740 A.D, at the request of the Saraswats of Gomantak, Swami Vivarananda of the Gaudapada tradition from Kashmir founded the Mutt at Kaushasthali and the whole Saraswat community in Goa and Konkan became followers of this Mutt. This Mutt is named after Srimad Gaudapadacharya the first amongst the eminent Acharyas of the Adwaita tradition, whose shishya Shri Govindapada gave deeksha to Adiguru Shri Shanakara and Shri Vivarananda Saraswati who started the Guruparampara for GSBs.
The original Gaudapadacharya Mutt founded at Kushsthali, was destroyed during the Portuguese rule in Goa in 1564 AD. The 57th guru Vidyananda Saraswathi and his two successors stayed at Golvan in Ratnagiri and the 60th guru Ramananda Saraswati at Chindar. His successors Sadananda Saraswati and Bhavananda Saraswati stayed and attained samadhi at Varanasi and never visited Goa. The community members earlier approached Bhavananda Saraswati and pleaded with him to come back to Goa. Bhavananda Swamy (the 62nd Guru) sent his disciple Sachchidananda swamy (the 63rd Guru) to revive the mutt in Goa. The Swamy stayed at Sonavade in Ratnagiri till the time the Mutt at Kavalem was ready. The mutt headquarters was then shifted to Kaivalyapura (present Kavalem, Ponda district) in 1630 AD and presently known as Kavale Mutt. The Mutt is in close proximity on the right side of Shree Shantadurga Temple, Kavlem.
The mutt has its branches at Kashi (Varanasi), Brahmavartha near Allahabad, Nasik, Walkeshwar (Bombay), Khanapur, Sankhali (Goa), Sonavade, Chinder, Golvan, Sadashivgad, Halage (near Karwar), Gokarn, Panaji and Belgaum. The mutt has followers in North Canara, Goa and Maharashtra. The mutt has followers in North Canara, Goa and Maharashtra. Rajapur Saraswath Brahmins, who migrated from Goa to Balavali and other villages in Rajapur Taluk of Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra state and maintains a separate identity, also belong to this mutt.
GOKARN PARTAGALI JEEVOTTAM MUTT
The group of Saraswats migrated along the sea shore were mainly Vaishnavas and acquired a reputation for trade and agriculture. There were large settlements at Manglore and Bhatkal and smaller settlements at other coastal towns. Ramachandra Tirtha of the Udupi Palimar mutt initiated a Saraswat boy as sanyasi calling him as Narayana Tirtha in 1475. Sri Narayana Tirtha (a Saraswat) of the Udupi Palimar Mutt during the 15th Century extensively conducted propaganda in Goa, that many Saraswats in Sasashti region became Vaishnavas. Though the Palimar Swamy, Ramachandra Tirtha wanted Narayana Tirtha to succeed to his Mutt, it was not liked by the Tulu Vaishnava brahmins who were followers of the Mutt. Hence a new Mutt for Vaishnava Saraswats alone was founded at Bhaktal in 1476 AD. This Mutt enjoyed the patronage of the Keladi rulers and the Vaishnava Saraswats of Goa and most of those from undivided Canara were its followers. By fame and capacity of the third Guru, Swami Jeevottam Tirtha, the Mutt came to be also known as Jeevottam Mutt. His successor Purushottam Tirtha shifted to Gokarn and the mutt was called Gokarn Jeevotham mutt.
The Mutt headquarters was later (after the samadhi of Swamy Shrikanta Tirtha) shifted to Partagali village on the banks of the sacred river Kushavati in Goa and thus came to be known as Gokarn-Partagali Mutt. Partagali is about 45 km from Margao. The nearest railhead is Canacona Railway Station. The Vaishnava Saraswats of Goa and most of those from undivided Kanara were its followers. Vira Vithala is the deity worshipped by the Swamis of the Mutt. The mutt has its establishments at Bhatkal, Gokarn, Basrur, Dicholi, Partagali, Revona, Mangalore, Ankola, Karvar, Varanasi, Wadala (Bombay), Vasco, Gangolli, Venkatapur, Honavar, Yellapur, Badrinath and Siddapur.
The mutt is situated in the sylvan surroundings of the Kushavati river and has many traditional buildings including Vrindavan, Prayer halls and Visitor rooms.
There is a giant Vata-vriksha (Banyan tree) about 200 meters north of the Mutt with 220 aerial roots covering an area of 235 x 225 feet and is believed to be over 1000 years old. It can accommodate about 1000 people in its shade. The Vatavriksha and the Ishwar linga in front of the mutt are worshiped by the people of Partagali. The mutt, in 1977 instituted an award called Vidyadhiraj Puraskar to be given away annually to a GSB of outstanding performance in any field of human endeavor. The replica of the Vata-vriksha is chosen as the momento for the award.
The second Swamiji Shrimat Keshavendra Tirtha while taking a bath in the holy River Ganga in Varanasi got another idol of Shri Vyasa which today is the presiding deity of the math. The 7th Swamiji Shrimat Madhavendra Tirth entered the samadhi when he was still alive in Walkeshwar, Mumbai in 1775 and every Swamiji of the guruparampara has carved a name of his own among the saints of the GSB Samaj. Shrimat Bhuvanendra Tirtha, 17th Swamiji and Shrimat Varadendra Tirtha, the 18th Swamiji, were gifted Ayurvedic physicians.
Internal strife (1834-1851)
Shrimat Vibhudendra Tirtha was the fourteenth Swamiji of the Kashi Mutt Samsthan.The Swamiji had initiated a boy into sanyasa and called him Shrimad Sumateendra Tirtha on 15 March 1815. Later when the Guru Swamiji was camping in Manjeshwar in 1834, the Shishya Swamiji was in Kochi. The Swamiji felt that his end was near and immediately sent for his Shishya Swamiji. However, due to the non-availability of suitable, rapid transport facilities, the Shishya-Swamiji could not come to Manjeshwar in time. In order to ensure the continuity of the pujas of the deities of the Kashi Matha Samsthan, the Guru-Swamiji initiated one Abaya Bhat as next the Swamiji (named him Shrimat Vasudendra Tirtha) and attained Samadhi on 27 February 1834. His Vridavana is in the Kashi Mutt premises in Manjeshwar.
Some time after the passing away of Shrimat Vibhudendra Tirtha, a difference of opinion arose between his two Shishya-Swamijis. It went to such an extent that the younger Swamiji, Shrimad Vasudendra Tirtha demanded the division of all the movable and immovable properties of the Kashi Mutt as well as the followers of the Mutt and filed a suit in the Calicut court to that effect.
The two shishyas being the official and legal heirs of the entire Kashi Mutt, the court agreed with the younger Swamiji and issued the necessary decree for the division of the Mutt. But before enforcing the different provisions of the decree two events happened, which prevented changing the course of the history of Kashi Mutt.
In the meantime Shrimat Vasudendra Tirtha was camping in Shri Venkataramana Temple, Kundapura. He was about to get the decree enforced, thereby dividing the Mutt into two Mutts and also to select a Shishya. It was at this time that news reached the Swamiji that his co-Shishya, Shrimad Sumateendra Tirtha, attained Samadhi in Alleppey. His Shishya, being a minor, a question arose as to who would be his guardian. The minor promptly and with great foresight requested Shrimat Vasudendra Tirtha to be his guardian.
Now the latter obliged. Further, he gave up the idea of division of the Kashi Mutt and even went a step further. He voluntarily and with a broad mind delegated all his rights to his share of the property of the Kashi Mutt sanctioned to him earlier by the court decree mentioned earlier, to his ward, the minor Swamiji. He did not proceed with his plans regarding the initiation of some one else into sanyasa and accepting him as his shishya.
Shrimat Sudhindra Tirtha Swamiji
Born on 31-3-1926 in Ernakulam, Kerala (Poorvashram: Sadashiva Shenoy), he was an Intermediate science student when selected. Shri Swamiji is a gifted orator and poet in Sanskrit. He has composed quite a few stotras and prayers especially the Sree Vyasa Sahasranama.
Pattashishya (Up to
19th July, 2000) : Raghavendra Tirtha
Internal strife (2000)
Sree Raghavendra Tirtha was appointed as the successor to Sree Sudhindra Tirtha. But consequent to some unfortunate incidents he was removed from the position on 19th July, 2000. Subsequently another boy was initiated into sanyasa as Samyamindra Tirtha and accepted as Shisya on 20th June, 2002 as the new successor.
The matter found its way to the law courts. After prolonged judicial proceedings, the Fourth Additional District Judge of Tirupathi, Sundara Ramaiah finally gave his verdict favouring the senior swami. The court upheld the status of the senior swami as the ‘Matadhipathi’, accepted the junior’s abdication and directed him to return all belongings of the Math and refrain from interfering in its affairs. The items to be returned include the Vyas Raghupathi idol which signifies authority of the ‘Matadhipathi’. Subsequently Raghavendra Tirtha had challenged the judgment in the High Court, where too he had lost. Sri Raghavendra Tirtha then approached the Supreme court. The Supreme Court of India in 2010 rejected the Special Leave Petition of Kashi Math Junior Swamiji Raghavendra Theertha and upheld the High Court order recognizing Senior Swamiji Sudheendra Tirtha as the legitimate head of the Math.
Shri Vyasa :
According to Bhagawat Purana, Shri Vedavyasa is the seventeenth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was born 5000 years ago as the son of Parashara and Satyavati. Vedavyasa recompiled the sacred texts of the Vedas so that they might become more easily understandable to men. It was thus that there came to be four Vedas. Vedavyasas real name was Krishna Dvaipayana. He came to be known as Vedavyasa because he divided the Vedas. These sacred texts came to be known as Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. Vedavyasa taught the four Vedas to four of his disciples. Paila was taught the Rig Veda, Vaishamapayana the Yajur Veda, Jaimini the Sama Veda and Sumanta the Atharva Veda. The Puranas are known as the fifth Veda. Vedavyasa composed the Bhagavata Purana and initially taught it to his son Shukadeva. Vedavyasa later taught the Puranas to his disciple Romaharshana who was the father of Suta, the narrator of the Bhagavata Purana. In addition to his works on the Vedas, he also composed the Mahabharata, the longest epic ever seen by mankind. His hermitage (ashrama) was on the banks of the river Saraswati.
Guru Poornima is associated with Shri Vyasa who is regarded as Adi Guru to all the sages, saints and sanyasis.
Shiva Purana mentions that Lord Shiva had requested Lord Vishnu to assume Veda Vyasa avatar to preserve and propagate the holy word that is Vedas. Shri Adi Shankaracharya worships him as Lord Vishnu while Shri Madhwacharya giving his mantra states that by worshipping Shri Vyasa alone one will get all round knowledge.
Shri Sudhindra Tirtha Swamiji felt that for Bhagwan Shri Vedavyasa, the greatest author the mankind has ever seen, did not have a befitting monument at the national level. Mobilising the support of the disciples in the span of 10 years he erected a great and magnificent temple in Haridwar at the Vedavyasa Ashram, which is a marvel in the arena of temple architecture and is considered as one of the tourist and pilgrims' attraction in Haridwar.
Dakshina Kannada and Udupi Districts: Basrur,
Bantwal, Hangarkatta, Hemmady, Karkal, Konchady, Kota, Naravi, Nayampalli, Shirva and
The Kashi Mutt is also running schools to foster Sanskrit learning and train purohits at Karkal and Basrur.
Among all the branches of the math, the
following two need a special mention :
The first Walkeshwar Temple was constructed in
1127 AD by a GSB minister, Lakshman Prabhu, in the court of Shilahar Kings in Thane. It
was reconstructed by the then famous Rama Kamat in 1715 AD.
On the western bank of the tank there is a Branch of the Shri Kashi Math, a famous religious seat of Gowda Saraswats. There are two samadhis in the Math Premises.
1.Shri Madhavendra Tirth(7th Swamiji, Samadhi year 1775). It is believed that Shri Swamiji is still alive in the state of samadhi to grace the disciples.
2. Shri Varadendra Tirth (18th Swamiji: Samadhi year 1914)
The Math holds annual Saptah Mahotsav for 7 days (uninterrupted bhajans) starting from Nag Panchami in the month of Shravan since 1927 AD.
Shri Vyasa ashram,
More than an Ashram, it is a great temple close to Saptarshi Ashram, on the outskirts of Haridwar.
There are life-size idols of the mythological
Saptarshis and also the trimurtis, Brahma Vishnu and Maheshwara. Interestingly, the
traditional dwarapals or the guards are not the Jaya Vijaya here, but the characters in
the Upanishads, the famous students, Nachiketa and Satyakama. Shri Swamiji has taken
personal care to bring in many facets of Puranas and Mahabharat as a tribute to the great
Vyasa who authored those immortal books.
The temple celebrates its annual foundation day on Phalguna Shukla Navami (mostly in the month of February) every year. The temple indirectly depicts the glorious heights that the GSB community has attained and deserves a visit by everyone.
The group of Smarta Gowda Saraswats (mainly Kushasthalikar and Keloshikar families) who migrated to Karnatak at the time of the Muslim invasion in the 1400s were mostly the educators and administrators. This migrant group moved a little inland to North and South Kanara. Some of them secured prominent positions as accountants in the courts of the Hindu rulers of the time. One such Hindu king of the Keladi kingdom, was so impressed by the diligence and skills of his Saraswat accountant, that he decreed that each village in his kingdom, be administered by a Saraswat. Eventually these Saraswats took on the name of the village as their last name. Once they had migrated to the Kanara district, the Shenvis were not able to sustain their unity with the Saraswat Brahmins they had left behind in Goa. Eventhough they continued to believe in Smarta tradition, their connection with the Kavale mutt was cutoff since the Kavale mutt at Kushathali was destroyed in 1564 AD and Swamijis shifted to Varanasi and were not available locally.
This group considered themselves superior in intellect and cutoff connection with other groups in Goa claiming that they are direct decendents of Kashmiri saraswats and eventually formed their own sub-sect, called the Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins (also referred as Bhanaps) and continued their Smarta tradition.
Although the Saraswats were well respected, they were not readily recognized as true Brahmins by the local Brahmins, accusing that the Saraswats have no spiritual guru in reality. The King issued a decree stating that unless the community showed their guru, they will be outcast. The Shenvis felt that it was necessary to seek a spiritual preceptor for their community. They pleaded with a Saraswat Sanyasi, Parijananasharma Swamy, visiting from North India, to become their Guru. He consented to guide the community and established a new Mutt for them in Gokarn in 1708 AD. The Chief of royal court, however, still had his prejudices and would not be satisfied unless he had a personal interview with the Swamiji and the Jagatguru Shankaracharya of Shringeri accepted Him as a Swamiji of the Community. Swamiji, therefore travelled from Gokarn to Nagar and the Chief was satisfied with Swamiji who thereafter proceeded to Shringeri. There the Jagatguru was so much pleased with his learning, piety and yoga that he readily acknowledged Him as religious head. His regime lasted till 1720. His samadhi is in Bhandikeri, Gokarn.
Shri Shankarashram Swami was ordained by Shri Parijnanashram Swami in 1720 AD as the second guru. In 1739 AD, the ruler Basavappa Nayaka II donated land in Gokarn to build a mutt in reverence to their primary deity, Shri Bhavanishankar. Shri Shankarasharm Swamy when in his advanced age, was on his way from Udupi to Gokarn and while in Chitrapur, at the residence of Nagarkattikars an ardent devotee, he fell seriously ill and attained Samadhi in 1757 AD. When the question of location of His Samadhi came up, the Nagarkattikars readily offered their house for the Samadhi and a temple. A mutt was erected there at Chitrapur near Shirali in Uttara Kannada and soon it became headquarters of the Mutt.
The last Swamiji Parijnanashram-III attained Samadhi in Bangalore in 1991 without appointing a successor. On February 27, 1997 Swami Sadyojat Samvit Giri was ordained as the reigning Guru of Chitrapur mutt and was named Shrimat Sadyojat Shankarashrama. The coronation ceremony was attended and blessed by H.H. Jagadguru Shankaracharya.
The worshipped deity of the Chitrapur Mutt is Bhavani Shankar and follow the Smarta tradition.
When the British ruled India, the Bhanaps took to English education earlier than others. Subsequently, they were able to obtain key jobs at the district offices and the Collectors offices in Mangalore, Honavar and Karwar and also were employed as administrators in Cotton and Textile export industry in Kumta, Hubli and Dharwad.
The number of Chitrapur Saraswats is about 25,000 according to 2001 census.