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Sri Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji - a Seer with Global Vision
Dr Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle/Dombivli

 Jan 17, 2008

The ‘Paryaya’ at the Udupi Sri Krishna Math, scheduled on January 18, 2008, has evoked a lot of interest not only among the local people and devotees of Sri Krishna, but all over India and even the world at large. This is chiefly due to the fact that the pontiff of the Putthige Math, His Holiness Sri Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji, a world renowned Seer will be ascending the ‘Paryaya Peetha’ at Udupi for the third time.

Sri Sugunendra Swami, the Seer with Global Vision has made a mark as an exponent of Sri Madhvacharya’s philosophy in a number of foreign countries including the United States and has made great impact on the people and leaders of the world. He is the first pontiff in 800 years of the history of the Ashta Mathas founded by Sri Madhvacharya in the thirteenth century, to travel abroad. This has also brought forth avoidable controversy, whether a seer who had crossed the seas, forbidden by the ancient Hindu shastras, could worship Sri Krishna at Udupi during his two year Paryaya period (2008-2010).

The bi-annual ‘Paryaya’ ceremony confers the right on the pontiffs of the Ashta Mathas in rotation to worship the image of Sri Krishna in the Udupi temple that was consecrated, installed and worshipped by Sri Madhvacharya himself. Along with this honour, the Paryaya Swami also inherits the right to administer the temple complex for two years of his tenure as the Mathadhipathi.  On 18th January 2008, Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swami, the 30th pontiff of Sri Putthige Math will ascend the ‘Paryaya Peetha’ for his third bi-annual term.

Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swami of Jagadguru Sri Madhvacharya Moola Maha Samsthana of Sri Putthige Math, Udupi, has a string of distinctions to his credit. He is the youngest among those who have been initiated into sanyasa at Udupi. Moreover, he was the youngest pontiff to ascend the Paryaya Peetha at Udupi.

Sri Putthige Math, Udupi

Prior to his initiation into monastic life, Sri Sugunendra Swami was known as ‘Hayavadana’. He was born in 1961 at Maniyur in Udupi Taluka. His parents Govindacharya and Kamalamma were known for their piety and devotion to Sri Krishna. Right from his childhood days Hayavadana developed a great interest in religious and spiritual matters.

When the pontiff of Putthige Math, His Holiness Sri Sri Sujnanendra Theertha Swami decided to select a disciple to succeed him, he chose Hayavadana after meticulously processing about five hundred horoscopes to the esteemed position.  Thus, Hayavadana came to be initiated into sanyasa at the tender age of thirteen and came to be known as Sri Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swami in 1974.

A renowned scholar saint, His Holiness Sri Vidyamanya Theertha Swamiji was the spiritual and academic teacher of Sri Sugunendra Swami, who kept a close watch on strict self discipline and religious studies of the young sanyasi. Following the attainment of Samadhi by Sri Sri Sujanendra Theertha Swamiji, Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swami succeeded him as the pontiff of the Putthige Math at a very young age. Incidentally, he also ascended the Paryaya Peetha for the first time at the age of fifteen in 1976. His second Paryaya was on 18th January, 1992.

During his earlier two stints as the ‘Peethadhipathi’, Sri Sugunendra Swami had earned the admiration of not only the devotees of Sri Krishna, but the general public as well. During his second Paryaya, Sri Sugunendra Swami constructed the magnificent Welcome Tower (Swagatha Gopuram) at the entrance of Udupi at Kinnimulky in typical South Canara style of architecture in 1992.

Sri Sugunendra Swami at the Peace Summit at Mount Hiei, Kyoto, Japan in 2007

Sri Sugunendra Swami is a Seer with extraordinary talents and caliber. He has won the hearts and minds of the devotees of Sri Krishna not only in India but also abroad. He has won world-wide fame and respect through his learned discourses and scholarly writings and publications.  He has authored many books on religion and philosophy. His learned works include ‘Suguna Maala’ in Kannada and ‘Suguna Digest’ in English.

Besides religion and spirituality, Sri Sugunendra Swami has also manifested his love for culture. He has directed several dance dramas like ‘Vishwaroopa Darshana’ and ‘Aananda Mukunda’. It was in recognition of his great service to the cause of religion and his love for cultural awakening that the honour of chairing the ‘Sarva Dharma Sammelan’ in India was conferred on him at a very young age. He also played a crucial role in the World Conference of Philosophers held in India and the World Conference of Hindus held abroad.

Sri Sugunendra Swami is well versed in Vedic scriptures and has become an international spiritual celebrity. He has visited a number of foreign countries including the United States for the propagation of Hindu philosophy and spirituality as interpreted by Sri Madhvacharya. He is respected by the world leaders as the ‘messenger of peace’. He also visited Arab countries where he was honoured. He told the Arab world that India accepted that God is one and he had many manifestations, including Krishna and Allah, which all led to the same destination, an echo of the belief of another great spiritual teacher of modern India, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the revered guru of Swami Vivekananda, the first modern Hindu missionary to the West.

Sri Sugunendra Swami with  US President George Bush and the First Lady

During 2007, Sri Sugunendra Swami attended the Peace Summit at Mount Hiei at Kyoto in Japan along with other world religious leaders. He is globally respected for his progressive vision and as a champion of ecology and protection of environment. The Swamiji had the unique distinction of being elected as the President of the World Conference on Religion and Peace.

Among the pontiffs of the Ashta Mathas, Sri Sugunendra Swami has manifested progressive outlook and dynamism. He has been credited with the construction of the Gita Mandir at Udupi, Sri Putthige Sanskrit Vidya Peetha at Putthige, the Govardhana Mandir at Bangalore and Sri Krishna temples in Kolkatta, New Jersey, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and in several other places in India and abroad.

Sri Sugunendra Swami has also set up Vishwa Madhva Sangha based in the United States for the propagation of Indian spirituality far and wide. While on his foreign tours he had also met heads of state and government including George Bush, President of the United States and Vladimir Putin, President of Russia.

One of the greatest contributions of Sri Sugunendra Swami in popularizing the Bhagavad-Gita was the ‘Laksha Gita Lekhana Yajna’ launched by him. The aim of the programme was that one lakh people would transcribe all the 700 slokas contained in the Bhagavad-Gita offering their prayers to Lord Vishnu and seeking solutions to their problems. A unique feature of this Yajna was that all were free to participate in it without any distinction of caste, creed or gender.

Inspired by the phenomenal success of ‘Laksha Gita Lekhana Yajna’, Sri Sugunendra Swami embarked on the construction of the Gita Mandir which was his long-cherished dream. The Gita Mandir is a standing testimony to his dedication and dynamism. Its foundation stone was laid by the then President of India, Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma and was inaugurated by King Birendra of Nepal in 1993. The imposing and splendidly artistic multi-storeyed edifice houses the Dhyana Mandir, Madhva Mandir, Akshara Mandir and the Vishwaroopa Dharshana. The hollowed chambers of the Gita Mandir have all the Shlokas of the Bhagavad-Gita sculpted in Sanskrit by a Christian on a black granite stone. Another hall in the Gita Mandir contains thousands of Bhagavad-Gita copies published in various languages all over the world

Sri Putthige Sanskrit Vidya Peetha is another brain child of Sri Sugunendra Swami. The aim of this institution is to produce full-fledged priests, well versed in the science and arts of performing various rituals with spirituality. Sri Putthige Sanskrit Vidya Peetha, which provides education from the Pre-University level up to M.A. in Sanskrit, is affiliated to the Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidya Peetha, Dehradun.

The Swamiji’s multifarious activities were not confined to religious and spiritual spheres alone. He has a strong social commitment and visualizes the total welfare of people. Realizing that the problem of unemployment is not only the bane of society but also the root-cause of many  evils, Sri Sugunendra Swami established an institution  named ‘Suyoga’ to impart training to the un-employed youth in the rudiments of selected vocations.

In order to solve the problem of pilgrims who face difficulties in search for accommodation, Sri Sugunendra Swami has constructed a big guest house, ‘Indraprastha’ at Udupi.

The third Paryaya of Sri Sugunendra Swami, beginning on 18th January 2008 is expected to be an international event with wide-ranging media coverage throughout the world. A large number of priests, devotees, scholars, statesmen, artists and tourists from different parts of the world are expected to be present at this elaborate and significant Paryaya ceremony.

The preliminaries for the grand Paryaya ceremony from 18th to 22nd January 2008, have already commenced. Following his pre-paryaya tour abroad as well as within India, Sri Sugunendra Swami received a grand welcome in the temple town of Udupi on the occasion of the ‘Pura Pravesha’ on 28th December 2007. He offered “navagraha danas” and prayers before entering the Sri Krishna Math.

The grand Paryaya ceremony will commence on 18th January 2008, with a procession at 2.30 AM reaching Sri Krishna temple at 5.30am. The ‘Sarvajna Peetharohana’ and the ‘Akshaya Pathra Sweekara’ will take place at 5.50 am. At 6.10 am, the Paryaya Swami will receive homage from dignitaries and VIPs. At 11 AM there will be a ‘Mahapooje’. In the evening, the Paryaya Swami will deliver discourses between 5.30 to 7 pm followed by various cultural programmes. Various cultural programmes in the evening will continue till January 22, 2008.

 The devotees of Sri Krishna and admirers of Sri Sugunendra Swami within India and abroad earnestly hope that the controversy surrounding the eligibility of Sri Sugunendra Swami to ascend the ‘Paryaya Peetha’ and worship Sri Krishna following his crossing the seas, believed to be a taboo in the ancient Hindu shastras, would end soon, and the Seer with Global Vision would ascend the ‘Paryaya Peetha’ on the scheduled day for the third time on 18th January 2008.

 (I sincerely thank Sri B. Gopalacharya, Principal of Sri Putthige Sanskrit Vidyapeetha and close associate of Swamiji for being gracious in providing information and pictures of Sri Sugunendra Swamiji when I visited the Putthige Math, Udupi on 4th January 2008 - Dr Eugene)

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Comments on this article
Rohit Ubhayaker, Kumta/MumbaiThursday, June 25, 2009
Dear Sir, What a wonderful article you have drafted. It is indeed a great article on a Jagadguru - a World Teacher, much in the tradition of great Jagadgurus like Lord shri Krishna, Shri Buddha, Shri Adi Shankaracharya, Jesus Christ, amongst others. Great job, Sir.
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padmanabha shenoy, udupiSaturday, January 19, 2008
Thank you Mr.D'souza for your informative article in right time. As I heard that kanakadasa a devotee of Lord Krishna whom Lord Krishna has blessed by giving him "darushan" eventhough he was not given entry to the temple at that time. All Matadisha's should understand this that lord Krishna will be not happy with the differnces they are showing right now to Sri Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamigi. my hearty wishes and all the success to Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamigi.
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donfrank, MangloreSaturday, January 19, 2008

An informative and a good article. Thanks Dr. Eugene. However, we christians read so much good about the Hindu religion and their swamijis/scholars/gurus etc. Even in schools we have learnt so much about Hindu religion and their holy men from the official school text books. But we should enlighten our non-christian brothers about our Christian religion and holy men as well, because our non-christian brothers are not fully aware of the good work done by our people.

Another thing is that Hindu leaders and holymen are allowed to preach and propogate their religion freely in all the western and Christian countries and no one stops them. But why in India the Christians are persecuted? I request Dr. Eugene to write about our faith,our priests,nuns and lay people who are doing a wonderful job. Every one will come to know about our great religion as well. Peace and tolerance will prevail. God bless you Dr. Eugene. We expect many good articles from you.

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Purushottama, ByndoorFriday, January 18, 2008
A very informative narration indeed. Thank you Dr. D'Souza. The achievements of the Swamiji can not be denied . The only hitch seems was the technical issue of maintaining the sanctity of the Sanctum Sanctorum by one who has not strictly adhered to the Shashtras. Now whether the Swamiji has done anything right or wrong by breaking a tradition of 8 centuries we do not know and it should be left to posterity to decide. Swamiji should continue his good work for the Society.
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Alfred J. Rebello, Kundapur/DubaiSaturday, January 19, 2008
While I appreciate Dr. Eugene D'Souza, Moodabelle, Dombivili, writing about the Swamiji Sugunendra Theertha, I invite all the writers who write only about their own religions also to write about other believers as well so there will be better understanding among the communities/religions. But, one thing is eating my mind, why some of the same believers opposing him?
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Austin Santhosh, Haleangadi/BahrainSaturday, January 19, 2008
Thank you Dr. D'Souza for this wonderful article. I had met Puththige Swamiji when he has visited Kannada Sangha Bahrain. He is really great! I am happy that we have got such great personalities in our district.
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D'Souza, MudarangadiFriday, January 18, 2008
Thank You for the nice informative article. I wish to add that Sri Sri Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji's father Shri "Govinda Master" was a well respected Kannada Teacher at St. Francis Primary School at Mudarangadi, Udupi taluk.
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Sitaram, PhoenixFriday, January 18, 2008
Wonderful article on His holiness. Thank you Dr Eugene D’Souza for preparing this nice garland for Swamiji.
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CGS, QatarFriday, January 18, 2008
Its an informative and unique article on Sri Sugunendra Swamy of Puthige Mutt by Dr.Eugene D'Souza.We christians are unaware of Ashta Mutts of Udupi and its Seers.No doubt Sri Sugunendra Swamy is a Seer of Global vision and broad minded who has a respect to all creeds and religions.Wonderful article!Keep it up Dr.Eugene!!
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Dinesh Kumar, Mangalore/SharjahFriday, January 18, 2008
Well written Dr. Eugene, I reflect the same views as of Mr. K.S. Mayya. Yesterday I happen to read the article and interview written by Mrs. Gopika Sathish Mayya in Gulf Kannadiga dot com!
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Dr. Eugene I was amazed to read all the information in detail about Sri Sugunendra Swamy. Really it is very informative and beautifully drafted. Today nobody is having a time to collect all this type of information that too about other religion. I hereby appreciate your sincere efforts and publishing in Daijiworld. May god bless you Dr.Eugene
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K. S. Mayya, Mangalore/South KoreaThursday, January 17, 2008

Dr.D'Souza...I salute you. It is the interest you took in compiling various facts and figures that is comendable. Call me whatever you want, but as a follower of other religion you took keen interest in knowing about a scribe from another religion.

It is actually commendable. I am fully aware that the training for christian preisthood also involves training on the preachings of other religion. I think this is very important in a multireligion society like ours.

The fact is that you felt it was important...and I wish every other faiths show similar interest in knowing other religion...looking for the positives. It is a very good sign and I hope it will catalyze similar goodwill and curiosity that will lead to a very mature Indian society. Once again...hi5s to Dr.D'souza!

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