Twenty five Years of Sri Vyasa ashrama

Preparations are on to celebrate the silver jubilee function of Vedavyasa Mandir at Haridwar from 18th to 22nd March 2013. The Mandir and the complex was established by H.H.Srimad Sudhindra Teertha Swamiji, Mathadipathi of  Samsthan Shri Kashi Math of Varanasi in 1988.  This  is an event to be celebrated not merely by the desciples of Shri Kashi Math, not even by all Gowda Saraswat Brahmins, but by the entire community of Sanathana Hindu Dharma in the country and elsewhere. Bhagavan Vedavyasa, an incarnation of the Supreme Lord is the author of Brahma Sutras,  Puranas, Itihasa including the Mahabharatha (which incorporates the Bhagavad Gita) and other scriptures which are at the core of belief and faith held by our people. He is also one of the principal diety of daily worship at the Kashi Math. Vedavyasa is therefore another name for the scriptural treasure of our country.

Over the last many years, Shri Swamiji has composed a number of hymns in Sanskrit on Sri Vedavyasa which includes Astothara(108) and Sahasranama(1000).  All these hymns are popular and are recited by worshipping disciples at Haridwar and other branch maths and temples all over India.

Sri Vyasa Mandir is located  on the western banks of river Ganga in Haridwar near the Saptarshi Ashrama and Gita Mandir at Sadhubela.. It has its own dedicated bathing ghat. There is a shrine dedicated  to Ganga Matha right on the  Ghat within the premises of the Mandir complex. After taking a ceremonial bath in the Ganga, one spends a few moments praying to Ganga Matha at the shrine. As you walk towards the main temple from the Ganga Mandir, you pass by the Navagriha Mandir on your right  and a garden of vegetables and flowers on your left.  Further up, as you climb up the steps to be on level with the higher plateau on which the main temple is built, you are in direct eye contact  with the sanctum sanctorum with Sri Vedavyasa on a pedestal and His son Shuka below at a lower level. Though you are still about 2oo yards away,you can clearly watch the Arati being shown to the diety,if you are climbing the steps at Arati time.

As you walk towards the temple past the buildings which house the Library as well as a guest house for the pilgrims, you reach the main entrance of the temple The sanctum sanctorum is an octagonal shaped shrine which houses the main diety of Bhagavan Vedavyasa on a pedestal with Shuka at a lower level. This shrine is surrounded by a wider octagonal shaped platform on which are installed the Vigrahas of the four Vedacharyas,viz. Paila( Rigveda), Vaishampaayana(Yajurveda),Jaimini (Saama) and  Sumantu ( Atharva Veda). These are strategically placed  at the four diagonal corners with their faces toward the main diety, Vedavyasa inside the sanctum, clearly in sight through a ornamental marble grill in the sanctum. Above the main sanctum is the photograph of H.H.Srimad  Sukriteendra Swamiji, the illustrious Guru of Srimad Sudhindra Teertha.  On the inside  of the walls of the main temple,there are statues of Saptarshis.Between the wall and the platform housing the Vedacharyas,there is a passage provided for circumambulation (Pradakshina) of the shrine. On the outsides of the wall, there are carvings and murals depicting the various Avataras of the Lord. The main temple is built on a raised platform which has to be climbed  through steps placed at the front ,the two sides and the back.

Surrounding this main temple and separated from it by a lawn is another octagonal structure which houses quarters for Swamiji, a hall with a Pooja room to house the diety during Swamijis camp,quarters for visiting priests, Saraswati Mandir,kitchen for preparation of Naivedya and offerings etc. Above these structures is an octagonal shaped gallery running all round, from where one  can have a panoramic view of the entire Vyasa Ashrama Complex.

Since inception in 1988, Trikaala Poojas are being offered to the dieties regularly everyday at 8 AM, 12 noon and 8 PM.  In the morning hymns from all the four vedas are recited by the Pandits.  Annadaana or free food is served  at noon everyday to visiting Bhikshus. There is a Goshala or cowshed within the Ashram Complex, besides a much larger one outside where cows are well looked after. Ceremonial poojas are offered to the cows everyday. The Ashram Complex  after meeting its daily needs of milk offers the surplus to outside.

It is a soothing balm for the eye to watch the gardens in the complex where tulsi, fragrant flowers of every colour are available for offering to the diety. There is  Ashwatta tree with its own shrine to Ashwattanarayana. .Recently   a well equipped auditorium complex,SMRITI BHAVAN  has been built and commissioned in view of the silver jubilee celebration. The whole Ashram Complex including the temple is regularly  cleaned  and is maintained scrupulously clean throughout.. Just outside the temple complex but adjacent to it is the Madhavendra Charitable Hospital and health care unit, established by Swamiji almost at the same time as the Mandir. The hospital offers free medical services to the people around.

Through constructing and opening of this Vyasa Mandir, our Swamiji Srimad Sudhindra Theertha signalled the northward orientation( Uttaraabhimukha } of our GSB samaj, so said Sant Bhadragiri Achutdas.  This significant comment has many connotations.

Firstly, the Mandir Complex provided a convenient and comfortable staging post for our people coming from South e.g. from Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu , Andhra Pradesh, Goa and  Maharastra, for their pilgrimage tours to Kashi, and the Chaar Dhams.  The number of of our people undertaking such pilgrimages has no doubt increased manifold since 1988. Pilgrims who have stayed at the Vyasa Mandir have felt a divine serenity inside the Mandir complex  which has heightened their pilgrimage experience.

Another meaning of northward orientation is Jnana or God knowledge. These twenty five years have seen annual and regular Vyasa Upasana tours by our people from Mangalore, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kochi for conducting  programmes of prayer to Bhagavan Vedavyasa through hymns and poojas and bhajans as per guidance of the Swamiji. A number of Bhagavatha Saptahas-the traditional week long recitation and discourse of Srimad Bhagavatha- have been held at the Vyasa Mandir by scholars not only from our community but also by others. Writeups on Vyasa Mandir have appeared over the years in several newspapers and periodicals such as Bhavans Journal, Dilip, etc.  Bhagavan Vedavyasa is the rallying point for the entire Sanatha Hindu clan. Hence the name and fame of the Mandir has spread far and wide. Many lyrics and bhajans in Konkani and Kannada have been written. This is as it  should be. Our Swamiji wanted the Vyasa Mandir to be accessible to the entire Asthika Hindu samaj and not merely to the GSBs.

A third meaning of northward orientation is the subtle reference to the roots of the southern GSBs viz. Aryavartha in North India  and the return of the wandering pilgrim to his roots.

It is worthwhile to ponder over the prayer offered to Vedavyasa on the occasion of the consecration of the Mandir in 1988.{ Refer to  ” A fervant Prayer” elsewhere ). Swamiji prayed to Bhagavan Vedavyasa that whosoever passed in front of Him for having darshan of the Lord should be endowed with Jnana and Abhaya-God knowledge and freedom from fear- and that this should cover not only GSBs but all our countrymen, that Uttar Pradesh which is home to so many holy places should be cleansed of negative vibes and be transformed to Uttam Pradesh, and all people should be enabled to lead more meaningful lives.

This is an unique prayer offered to the Lord by our Swamiji in the interests of all, not parochial, nor regional, nor selfish.” Whenever Dharma has been in peril, You or Your messengers sent by you came and set things right” said our Swamiji  in the prayer. No doubt the peril may not yet be over. However by giving out such a call, Swamiji  demonstrated clearly His intentions. That clearly marks Him out be a chosen  representative of the divine will, more particularly of Bhagavan Vedavyasa. This is further supported by the fact that Swamiji  built and consecrated in 2002 a Bala Vedavyasa Mandir at Kalpi,the place of appearance of the Lord ,as well as a branch of the Kashi Math at Badarinath  in 2004.

A significant and noble first step taken by H.H.Srimad Sudhindra Teertha Swamiji through establishing the Vyasa Mandir complex  twenty five years ago  has not only benefitted  thousands of people over the years, but also created a vast pool of grass root workers and thinkers in different places in the country among GSBs as well as others for  propogating  the timeless message of Bhagavan Vedavyasa. May this movement gather more force and momentum in the years to come so that the prayer of our Swamiji may be realised  in full.

On this auspicious occassion of the silver jubilee celebrations, we prostrate at the Holy Feet of Swamiji and offer our sincere  gratitude to His Holiness  for providing such a wonderful place as the Vyasa Mandir. We offer our prayer to the Supreme Lord to confer on our Swamiji  further strength and health to continue such noble work in even greater measure for a long long time.

2 thoughts on “Twenty five Years of Sri Vyasa ashrama

  1. I was not lucky to visit Sri Vyasa Ashrama but the concise
    write up has given me an idea of the monumental work going
    on during the last 25 yrs.and the clear presentation makes
    me feel to go and see as early as possible. I pray God and
    our Gurus to bless me with the opportunity to visit the
    same during my lifetime. OM & Prem.

  2. an excellent article on vyasa mandir and our swamiji who has brought our community to a closer level and also imparting spiritual knowledge.with prostration to shri.sudheendra thirtha samiji.
    m.gangadhar pai

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