Decent Of Dakhshinamurti

In the course of ages when the Dharma, the path to perfection is lost, in wild overgrowth of human passions, delusions and evil deeds, then the Lone Path-maker comes to clear the way & re-establish pilgrims in the right direction. For, that is His promise and nature of His mercy. Drawn from that, Sri Dakshinamurti also had to incarnate in the age of Kali when the dharma of Vedas was nearly extinct.

This time seeing the degeneration of people’s intellectual and spiritual standards, Lord could no more sit under the tree in silence and enlighten disciples through signs and symbols. He now came as Sri Shankara Bhagavadpada, the greatest Acharya resplendent with wisdom and renunciation, roaming the country from end to end, spreading his message like flames in all directions & consuming every opponent to the vedic tradition. To consolidate the work and leave a lasting legacy, the Lord laid down the ancient knowledge in the form of copious commentaries on the scriptures, small treatises and beautiful hymns blending deep philosophical thought with high emotional quality. Also, with great insight into the times, that were to come, the Acharya created Mathas & Pithas all over the country to serve as institutions devoted to study and preaching of this knowledge respectively.
Since study requires stability and application at one place in a particular environment, Mathas were fixed and few while the Pithas were mobile bodies formed by number of illustrious monks & scholars led by a master (acharya). Each Pitha in the due course developed its own following, field and characteristic pattern of work. Some, especially in North India were lost in the onslaught of foreign invasion and persecution, both physical and cultural. A few managed to survive and flourish.

Shri Dakshinamurti Pitha
One such blessed institution has preserved to this day the traditions of the Acharya, the Shri Dakshinamurti Pitha (Varanasi), a tradition that is at once vital and significant in its very name. True to it, this Pitha has zealously guarded the intellectual purity of its philosophy as given to us in the works of Acharya and his successor Bhagawan Sureshwara & Sri Padmapada and has stuck to the worship of Sri Dakshinamurti as almost a solitary example in the expanse of the North India.

When roaming about in large numbers became difficult, cumbersome and even at times dangerous, the Acharyas of this tradition started spending a major part of their time in a garden in the vicinity of Lord Sri Vishwanatha at Kashi. There, under a banyan tree, the Lord used to be worshipped in a Siva-linga. Later on a small marble image of Medha-Dakshinamurti was installed. In recent years, an enlarged shrine was built with a new marble image about three feet tall, sculptured & installed according to scriptural injunctions & thus endowed with divine beauty.

The known tradition of the Pitha records the following Acharyas:
1. Shri Swami Maan Giri Ji Maharaj,
2. Shri Swami Amegha Giri Ji Maharaj,
3. Shri Swami Ram Giri Ji Maharaj,
4. Shri Swami Satchidananda Giri Ji Maharaj,
5. Shri Swami Amareshvarananda Giri Ji Maharaj,
6. Shri Swami Ramananda Giri Ji Maharaj,
7. Shri Swami Nrisimha Giri Ji Maharaj,
8. Shri Swami Maheshananda Giri Ji Maharaj,
9. Shri Swami Yatindra Krishnananda Giri Ji Maharaj.
10. Shri Swami Punyananda Giri Ji Maharaj (Current Acharya Ji)

The Acharyas of this Pitha set an example of a high spiritual life of utter renunciation and humility coupled with deep scholarship and devotion to the Lord, Guru & scriptures. Kashi being the centre of Sanskrit learning and culture, the Pitha soon got converted into a regular Matha or establishment for monks and students. As many as seven free kitchens (Anna-kshetra) were run by the Pitha in Kashi feeding all who came there.

Expansion of the Pitha
Then came the tremendous flux in the world affairs, the introduction of technology and the aftermath of war. The country too went through dramatic changes. The ancient city of Indraprastha (Delhi) once again became the capital of free Indian Govt. At this stage, the illustrious Acharya of this Pitha Anant Sri Swami Narsimha Giriji Maharaj, Mahamandaleshwar also the Acharya of Sri Niranjini Akhara, happened to be invited by devotees at Delhi for satsanga. His inimitable lectures and loving saintly bearing inspired the minds of the citizens so profoundly that the swami had to yield to their requests every year and spend many months at a stretch in the capital. As a result of his contact for twelve years a permanent centre for preaching was established there in 1951 under the name of Sri Vishwanatha Sannyasa Ashram, situated on the sands of sacred Yamuna, with a spacious lecture hall, stately marble temples of Sri Vishwanatha & Sri Lakshmi Narayan, monk-quarters, library and free dispensary, Sri Sannyasa Ashram continues to be the source of religious fervour that has since then permeated the entire city. The importance and scope of the institution has been greatly enlarged by the establishment of a Sanskrita college known as Sri Vishwanatha Sanskrita Mahavidyalaya, providing free hostel facilities and education up to
“Acharya” (equivalent to M.A degree) of the Sanskrit University, with which it is affiliated.
Even before starting of this college, the Math at Varanasi had set an example & reputation of a well-established college by converting its hostel into Sri Dakshinamurty Sanskrita Mahavidyalaya with free hostel facility for forty monks and a student rolls running to double the number.

The Mahamandal
Thus the Pitha came to function in full swing through its centres of preaching and teaching. But a centre for training of monks was still lacking. This was felt greatly by the then Acharya of the Pitha, Mahamandaleshwar Swami Maheshananda Giriji Maharaj. Once during his travels he happened to visit Mount Abu and was very much impressed by the spiritual environment and many other qualities ideally suited for a training centre for monks. As the wish of the Swamiji grew stronger, it enlarged in size also, and at last through the will of the Lord, assumed the proportion of the organization that will spread the message of Sri Dakshinamurty in the western part of the country. As a result of this Sri Dakshinamurty- Pitha- Mahamandal was formed in 1962 with its headquarters at Mount Abu. The training of monks forms an essential part of its manifold aims that are just beginning to materialize in effective shape.