Sringeri Sri Sharada Peetham




Sringeri Sharada Peetham is the southern Advaita Vedanta matha or monastery established by Adi Shankara in the 8th century AD. The matha is on the banks of the Tunga River in Chikkamagalur district, Karnataka, India, 105 kilometers from Mangaluru and 303 kilometers from the state capital, Bengaluru.
Traditionally, Adi Shankara (8th century) is regarded as the greatest teacher and reformer of the Smartha. According to Alf Hiltebeitel, Shankara established the nondualist interpretation of the Upanishads as the touchstone of a revived smartha tradition. The Sringeri Sharada monastery founded by Shankara in Karnataka is still the centre of Smartha tradition.

Sankara is believed to have envisioned this place as the holy site where a snake unveiled his hood like an umbrella to protect a frog from the hot sun. According to tradition, it is one of four major temples established by Sankara.

As per Hindu legend, the place is associated with sage Rishyasringa, son of Vibhandankamuni. He did severe penance at this place, leading to the name Sringeri. The temple was renovated during the regime of Vijayanagara Empire during the 14-16th centuries and later during 1916.

Sureshwaracharya, who was Maṇḍana Miśra in his purvashrama, was installed as the successor of Shankaracharya before the latter resumed his tour to found his three pithas at Puri, Dwaraka and Badrinath. The math holds one of the four Mahavakyas, Aham-Bramhasmi. The math has a very great lineage of Jagadgurus, stretching back straight to Sri Adi Sankaracharya himself. The present and 37th Jagadguru acharya of this peetham is Anantha Vibhushitha Sri Bharathi teertha Mahaswami. His guru was Sri Abhinava Vidhyateertha Mahaswami. The Successor-designate was appointed in 2015, and given the Yogapatta (spiritual name) Sri Vidhusekhara Bharati Swamai
During the Maratha–Mysore War in 1791, Parasuram Bhau of the Maratha Empire marched on Bednur. Pindaris and Lamaan irregulars, who received no regular remuneration but who harassed and looted the enemy, plundered Sringeri. They were acting independently, not as part of the army commanded by Raghunathrao Patwardhan who was a Caste Hindu. The Sringeri math was very rich- being a safe depository for riches because it was sacred to Caste Hindus.

The Pindari and Lamaan irregulars raided the temple and matha of the Sharada Peetham, killing and wounding many people, plundering the monastery of all its valuable possessions, and desecrating the temple by displacing the image of goddess Sharada. The Shankaracharya petitioned Tipu Sultan for help. A collection of about 30 letters written in Kannada, which were exchanged between Tipu Sultan’s court and the Shankaracharya were discovered in 1916 by the Director of Archaeology in Mysore. Tipu Sultan expressed his indignation and grief at the news of the raid:
“People who have sinned against such a holy place are sure to suffer the consequences of their misdeeds at no distant date in this Kali age in accordance with the verse: “Hasadbhih kriyate karma rudadbhir-anubhuyate” (People do deeds smilingly but suffer the consequences crying).”

Tipu Sultan immediately ordered the Asaf of Bednur to supply the Swami with 200 rahatis (fanams) in cash and other gifts and articles. The Marathas were remorseful. They recovered and returned most of the valuables, although some were lost.

Tipu Sultan’s interest in the Sringeri temple continued for many years.

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