LESSONS OF SHAKATAPURAM
1. My family had an occasion to go to SHAKATAPURAM, a village, 28 kms from SRINGERI, in CHIKMAGALUR, MANGALORE DT, and KARNATAKA STATE, INDIA.
2. That place was supposed to be occupied by SRI VIDHYA PEETAM, HEADED BY SANKARACHARYA, COMING IN THE LINE OF ADI SANKARA, and HIS DISCIPLE THODAKACHARYA. Naturally I was eager to search the web site for the details of the Mutt, Geographical locations, parampara etc. However I was startled to know that virtually there was no INDEPENDENT INTERNET domain for the Mutt, however, some one narrated in the web-site about the ADISANKARA AND THODAGA CHARYA, joshi mutt etc yet the details were poor. I had an inkling of thought that why such an ancient Mutt, in the dynasty of BADRI ASHRAM, JOSHI MUTT(as spelt by “some one” who hosted a site)and ADI SANKARA -- had no self-created domain details.
3. As a matter of fact, I was given to understand that, the Said Swamiji, used to regularly visit Mumbai, Baroda etc often and collected sizable funds, for the Mutt. In one such sojourn, on account of an invitation to hold a function there, we were to attend it and the observations during the stay there are narrated hereunder.
4. I got down at UDUPI (see my blog about this place, somewhere below) , and proceeded to Shakatapuram (may be Shankatapuram also). It’s about 3 hrs from UDUPI by car. Incidentally, I felt that Karnataka did have more mutts, especially around chickamagalur, may be lands are available or allotted easily. In my IRS service I had noticed few politically strong mutts, building colleges and dwellings, for profit, yet running them as TRUSTS, as headed by Sanyasis, who underwent tax-raids under IT Laws. May be (with these flash back) when I saw the sprawling extensive land I was really amazed.
5. There were rooms built for visitors, in a 3 storied unfinished constructions, with below average facilities. Virtually your cell phone may not get the signals there, both ways. Even 10 kms away you may not find, aqua drinking water bottles, unless you may have to make a special arrangement. You are dependent for food and coffee and other sustenance, with a remote village style kitchen (don’t imagine HARYANA DHABAS). May be Kitchadi is major tiffen and coffee you may get (no doubt its coffee!) around 8 o clock, since Milk Has to reach there. Lunch is a kind of limited meal, and all that stuff, would cause, certainly, stomach problems. All around the places, inside the territory, the grounds are made of hard terrain pebbles scattered carpets (!). FOOT WALK is the only transportation mode and it’s painful unless your feet are strong. OFCOURSE BHAKTHI IS TOUGH AND BHAKTHAS SHALL BE TAUGHT TO FACE THE ORDEALS IN THE PROCESS OF REACHING THE DIVINE. Bhaktha can reduce his facilities and would require his savings for contributions to Mutt, under varied guise.
6. Now take a bare foot walk (even if you go by auto, still you may have to do more foot walk round and round, so forget about Auto), towards the TEMPLE, constructed by the Swamiji. A small Gopuram entrance (not ancient temple, just raised from 1998 only.) and walk on pebbles and climb up, on a stair case and descend down and walk again on pebbles. That staircase is architecture of a kind (like a Fort entrance).
7. When you walk further,400feet, you enter a platform and then into THE TEMPLE. The structure is like that of USA Indian temples. Three doors in a row and walkable thro, with Ganapathi as first, Krishna in second and Rajarajeswari in third. Kalasam in all the three (small) and not exposed to sky. The roof is covered with sheets and like USA temples its fully covered. It’s covered by low level pipe fencing, for Swamiji to walk around. A small Chariot for daily contribution by Bhakthas.There is back entrance for Swamiji to enter the temple from back and exit. The structure of Deity is so simple and plain, without any palatial architecture. Behind this building you can see THUNGA(BADRA) RIVER flowing.
8. Bhaktha cannot go by the back entrance and has to take a detour from the sides of the temple, on the pebbles terrain, to the back side, where Swamiji resides with Architectural, Poona hall, Golu Mantap, Sangeetha hall, simmasanam (Throne), etc. The majestic building of 2 storied and marble floored, of high architecture and value, Mahogany doors fitted with Brass carved knobs and bright metal hooks and sleeves, is the place where Swamiji stays and functions. The building is well secured and beautiful paintings and pillars, attractive silas (sculptures) and settings and effective princely and godly symbals, do reflect, the residence of a KING, which are not seen in any of the visitors block, Temple or administrative offices on the left of the Swamiji residence. I saw some of those flashes in Jaya samaraja Wadiyar Palace. I did not see such things even in Sringeri Peetam, which is supposed to be BHOGA PEETAM. In the south east direction Yaga sala is constructed with all types of YAGA KUNDAM (where different yagams are performed).
9. The Swamiji who was a student of Dharwad University, created and entered the thrown of Sree Vidya Peetam, and I think he is the first. Young sishyas and staff do not part with enough information about the Pontiffs seniors and elders who were there. There was One Ramachandra Theertha, who left that place leaving behind the Krishna sila and the place and thatched roof, in distressed financial conditions, and settled and died, at TAMBARAM, CHENNAI, TAMILNADU. Now this place in Tambar am is stated to be a branch. This mutt is supposed to have extensive lands, which were taken away by the Govt, under the LAND-CEILING ACTS and lost all revenues. The loose ends could not be fitted properly.
10. The present pontiff, self-proclaimed to the Peetam created in the name of Adi sankara around 1993; its also said he was a minor and so after the completion of the studies took over the mutt. The pontiff stays here only for 3 or 4 months around Mar-June and goes on tour to North mainly, all the other seasons. There are devotees in North India, Chennai and other places, who contribute to his call and that is what you see ,the developments of various structures around the place ,since 1998..
11. People travel far and wide to this place, enduring all difficulties and pour money, for various poojas, chariot running, varieties of homams (even for love success) and money is sought after from Bhakthas in all fronts, with the help of, the retired officials at the helm of affairs of administrations, including a chartered accountant I heard, whom I never met. Even a Lady is in the administration as she is the wife of another administrator, who all works zealously in raising funds.
12.. In India I heard there are 236 SANKARACHARYAS, apart from varieties of saffron and non-saffron clad entities, who has a sizable crowd behind them. Mainly WOMEN in India fall a prey without any thinking and build up the empire. The real Sanyasis like RAMANAR, MAHAPERIAVAL and so many get compared to the other side of certain category, which is unfortunate for MAHANUBAVULUS. Or else there cannot be 236 sankaracharyas, when ADI SANKARA created only four plus one mutt in India and there are disputes even among them. Even here, it is stated that the present incumbent is the descendant of Adi sankara and Thodakacharya, who left the Idol Krishna (which is the one inside temple?) and at the same time the magnitude of the parampara, is not to be seen anywhere, inside the Shakatapuram and the present incumbent holds the fort.
13. As a matter of fact, I found (whether accidental or incidental) that, at the Swamiji enter in Temple or Mantapam, sishyas welcome by proclaiming , (not as ,other ADI SANKARA MUTTS) in an unique style in Sanskrit, which give the true meaning of “WORSHIP’ and not IN A STYLE GIVING THE PARAMPARA direct descendant. Even the letter pad shows THE PLACE as BADRI in Sanskrit and BADARI in English. (Please note the variation). In other words, a new structure is coming up like any private individual temples, in India and the developments are neither renewal nor renovations. I remember often Paramacharyal telling that it’s better to renovate historical temples, rather than building new ones for History. Of course no one would listen to elders of Satya and Dharma in Kali yugam, as they never grant “boons” to the desires of the people. Those who do grant such boons and the grantee feels success, instantly becomes staunch follower and do create their tribe, unaware of the fact that, UNLESS WRITTEN NOTHING SHALL BE CREATED BY ANY ONE HERE.
14. I HAVE SAID TO SO MANYTHIS. If one were (like you and me) to sit somewhere and make hundred people come in queue, and every one were granted the boon they need by you in words and gestures, you will definitely get” ten disciples”, who in turn would procreate the tribe. I am not NASTHIKA but pure ASTHIKA, yet I feel that GURU is a rare personality and cannot one find him so easily, and tough as PAUL BRENTON DID FIND PARAMACHARYA AND RAMANA. People aspire for success without knowing that their destiny is already written and Prayers to lord would show them the way, rather than from running pillar to post. The good sanyasi, Guru, does not need anyone to follow and comes to Grahasthas for the need if any which is the duty of a SAMSARI to perform on true SANYASI. Adi Sankara came at the right time to a poor lady’s house for Bisksha, and granted a golden amla to her to redress her poverty and KANAKADHARA STOTRAM to the world. When do our people realize this? There is nothing wrong in trying to find out who is who but in that process one shall NEVER TO FALL A PREY.
15. Finally, in Shakatapuram, I gave couple of hundreds for which no receipts were issued. It was canvassed for a SUVASINI POOJA wishing to take my wife and 4 others in our team, which was agreed. Money was not spelt at the beginning, and was told that a Ram Nama book shall be filled and given (1100times in columns) and after that Friday Poojas, 5 suvasinis will be given inside the poojas room prasadams and they can participate in poojas. Later I was asked to give Rs 1100, for this Poojas which I gave. No receipt was given for cash payment. Except some flowers thrown at the ladies from gold plates thro Swamiji, nothing else was given. In Durga Temple Tirunelveli, for lesser cost, cotton sarees are given with other flowers etc. Let it be.
16. After an hour ,on 13th Friday 2009,when I went for receipt I was told that, since it’s a religious contribution, under the Income-tax act, it’s not possible to issue receipts and but for donations no receipts are issued to anyone. I was appraised about Income-tax, in length. Then I have to teach them Income tax law as a senior retired official of the dept of Finance. I have to tell them that what they are up to is incorrect. As a Trust, they have to issue receipt even for the contribution of one rupee and the the claim of exemption under the Income tax has got nothing to do with the issuance of receipt. After 24 hrs, the receipts were sent thro my team-mate and not given directly. May be they don’t like it and found a less obvious method to start the practice. However these incidents shall make one understand the way in which the functionaries are being conducted and may be the paradigm of trusts trailing over there require a close watch, by Bhakthas. Since were my understanding of the facts were right, being anew the trust if exist, may not be entitled for exemption u/s 10 or u/s 80 G ,of the IT Act at all. Hence they are not serious about it and followers as usual do not bother about it since, the reason is obvious, in India. Or else there may not be any necessity for advocacy to get receipts for purchase!
17. SHA (N) KATAPURAM visit was over and gave rich experiences of real religion from the rear guard. This is the personal experience and views of an Asthika for facts of life and there is nothing to hurt any feelings of any one and at the same time, it’s to cater to the attention and needs of basic concept of our religion and to show that there are no deity bigger than one at home and there are no deity bigger than your parents and love without desire of material facts would lead them to choose the best.
18. Thank you
ABHEESHTAM AKILAM DEHI, DEHI ME PARAMESWARI.