Maths and Shri Swamijis



We have three religious seats, Gurupeethas, which are called maths. They are Shri Kaivalya, Shri Gokarn and Shri Kashi Maths. And each one of them is headed by a Guru whom we call as Shri Swamiji. They are sanyasis who have severed family ties at the time of taking sanyas and with this they belong to the world as a whole in general and Samsthan in particular. Each math has its own followers, history and culture.

Area of Operation :
All the maths are independent of each other and their area of operation does not overlap. Starting from the Southern tip of India, Shri Kashi Math has the large following in the States of Kerala and Dakhsina Kannada and Udupi Districts of Karnataka, and Shri Gokarn Math, Udupi District, Uttara Kannada District, Malenad and Goa, and Shri Kaivalya Math has the followers in Goa, Konkan and Belgaum District. In fact there are no boundaries as such and cordial relations exist among the Swamijis themselves as well as the disciples. Occasionally, they attend one another's programmes, meet each other and exchange views on matters of common interest. Among themselves, when they write to each other, such letters are called prema patras or love letters and when the Swamijis write to their disciples such correspondence is called rayasa patras or commands and when the disciples write to the Swamijis they are called binnaha patras or letters of requests or appeals. It is told to us as a permanent instruction by our elders and parents that when we pay a visit to the Swamiji we must not go empty-handed. A garland of flowers, fruits and at least one coconut has to be offered after we bow before Swamiji. Our speech should be soft, courteous and full of respect preferably with folded hands. We also carry a shawl or a fresh handkerchief to receive from the Swamiji blessings in the form of phala-mantrakshate, normally in the form of fruits, a coconut and the sanctified rice with sandal wood paste sometime. We take this as the most sacred blessings from our Guru Maharaj.

Adwaita School : 
Historically among these three maths, Shri Kaivalya Math established around 8th Century AD, is the most ancient one. This belongs to Smarth Sampradaya that advocates that both Shiva and Vishnu are equal. This math also believes in the Adwaita philosophy propagated by Shri Guru Gowdapadacharya, which in simple terms tells that Atma or the individual soul is not different from Paramatma or the Soul supreme. In other words it pronouces, "I myself am God!" which indicates that all of us must endeavour to rise to that level and see divinity in everything.

Dwaita School :
The two other maths, Shri Gokarn and Shri Kashi took shape almost six to seven centuries later. Both of them belong to Vaishna sampradaya that proclaims that only Lord Vishnu is supreme. Both of them had accepted Dwaita Philosophy propagated by Shri Madhwacharya (around 13th Century A.D.), which emphatically tells that God and individual souls are two distinct and different entities.

Living Gods :
Whatever be the philosophical approach of both the schools of thought, they have the deitis of daily worship which have a great religious appeal to the disciples. These deities are offered poojas three times a day, morning, after-noon and night and at that time the disciples throng to have a darshan of the swamijis performing the pooja as, in the normal course, the Swamijis themselves are regarded as living gods, with abundant supernatural prowess. They are brahmachari sanyasis on the one hand and rulers on the other hand with all the royal splendour - the silver throne or the colourful royal umbrella. As spiritual masters they rule over our mind and heart. An enlightened Swamiji is always a great asset to the society as a whole, as their word carries tremendous weight and respect.

Spiritual Wisdom :
Swamijis always wear saffron to signify sacrifice which is a key to human happiness. They hold Danda, the sacred staff as a mark of their authority on religious and spiritual matters. In fact they rule our mind and heart and spirit. They spark of spiritual wisdom, in this materialistic world, but only one in a thousand will receive a message. And for others blessings will be sufficient to inspire them in the path of devotion to God.

Contribution :
The greatest contribution of our Swamijis is their building, infusing and retaining the religious faith among the GSBs in spite of all the onslaught of modern world with different outlook and values. They bless our endeavours, guide our actions and so they have become an integral part of our lives. On account of their presence and guidance, the community as a whole does not feel the burden of antiquity. In this respect at least they deserve our full appreciation and reverence.

Conclusion :
There is an expectation from some quarters that our maths also should embark on welfare activities on a large scale as done by other religious institutions. Maths are our ancient universities to impart the most sacred spiritual knowledge. Once welfare activities on a large scale are started, responsibility of managing and running them directly or indirectly falls on the shoulders of the Swamijis, and in this complex world should they be burdened with these additional duties, which they are not expected of as sanyasis. The opinion is very much divided here.