Sringeri – On a Spiritual trail
Sringeri, located in the Western Ghats on the banks of the Tunga river, was identified by Sri Adi Shankaracharya as the perfect place to start the first and premier “Math” or “Mutt” (Hindu monastery).
Why did Shankaracharya choose Sringeri?
In 8th Century AD, Adi Shankaracharya was looking out for a place to start an institution to spread the truths of Advaita Vedanta and Sanatana Dharma (eternal dharma). While he was walking near the banks of the Tunga river on a hot and sunny afternoon, he saw something very unusual. A Cobra had spread out its hood over a frog in labour pain, to protect her from the scorching Sun. Struck by this sight which infused love between 2 natural enemies, he chose Sringeri for setting up the Math. He then spent 12 years at Sringeri, of his total lifespan of 32 years, which goes to prove his deep regard for the holy spot.
History of Sringeri
Sringeri gets its name from sage Rishyasringa, born with a horn on his forehead to sage Vibhandaka. Legend has it that he was invited by Dasharatha, the King of Ayodhya to officiate in the “Putrakameshti” yajna, which is performed to beget a male child. Thus was born Shri Ram and his 3 brothers. The temple at Kigga near Sringeri town, dedicated to Lord Shiva, has a Shiva Linga with a horn believed to be Rishyasringa merging into the Linga.
Sringeri, the Abode of Acharyas and Abode of Grace
Right from Adi Shankaracharya to the present Acharya, who is the 36th descendant, the “Dakshinamnaya Peetham” also known as Sharada Peetham, has had an unbroken succession of spiritual luminaries. Shankaracharya wanted to reorganise the entire Indian monastic system by founding 4 Maths or Peetham in each of the cardinal directions of the country viz.Sharada Peetham at Sringeri in the South ; Kalika Math at Dwarka in Gujarat (West) ; Jyotir Math at Uttarakhand (North) and c) Govardhan Math at Puri in Odisha (East). The Math at Sringeri has always commanded the highest veneration among all 4 Maths, being the first one to be established.
Sri Bharati Tirtha is the present Jagadguru of the Sringeri Sharada Peetham since 1989. He is a Sanskrit scholar and arguably the foremost scholar of Vedanta and Shastras in the current age.
The Temples of Sringeri
The temples at Sringeri are architectural wonders too with exquisite sculptures and carvings, that will mesmerise you. The 12 pillars inside the Vidyashankara Temple are closely linked to astronomy…
The main Temple is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati or Sharada, who is the presiding deity of Sringeri. The temple was built in the 8th Century AD but the current structure was renovated in early 20th Century. The Acharyas seek her guidance before any task is undertaken. Here Sharada is a “Guru Rupini” meaning she is in the form of the Guru. Through the Jagadguru she dispenses Her grace.
Next to Sharada Peetham is the Vidyashankara Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and was built in 14th Century AD. This temple combines the Hoysala and Dravida architectural features. It stands on a richly sculptured basement. There are 6 doorways leading into the temple. The 12 pillars in the mandapam are named the Raashi (Zodiac signs) pillars and are so arranged that the sun’s rays fall on each of them, in the order of the solar months. The “Spatika Linga”, in the possession of the Acharya, is believed to be brought from Mount Kailas and handed over to Shankaracharya by Lord Visweshwara of Kashi.
In the same complex, there are temples dedicated to Shankaracharya, Janardhana, Bhuvaneshwari, Rama, Brahma, Hanuman, Garuda, Samadhis of previous Acharyas and other smaller Temples
- When Shankaracharya established the Sringeri Math, he built 4 guardian Temples to protect the village from any danger or diseases viz. Kala Bhairava (East), Anjaneya or Hanuman (West), Durga (South) and Kali (North). These 4 Temples are located in the close vicinity of Sringeri.
- A visit to the Sri Rishya Shringeshwara temple at Kigga (9 kms from Sringeri) is a must. The unique Shiva Linga bears a horn (as described earlier).
Facilities at Sringeri:
There are several Guest Houses in the vicinity of the Sringeri Math where pilgrims can stay for a very nominal fee. Both lunch and dinner in the form of “Annadana” is served at ‘Sri Bharathi Theertha Prasada’ near the Sharada Peetham between 12noon and 2:30pm and 7:00pm to 8:30pm respectively. The Annadana is served to almost 8,000 people which includes many schools,colleges, hospitals, etc.
Other main attractions:
- Do not miss the Sirimane Waterfall about 15 kms from Sringeri via Kigga. Sirimane has a perennial source of water which never goes dry even in the harshest of summer.
You can take a bath under the cool flowing waters of Sirimane falls. It is considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Western ghats.
- A few metres away from the VidyaShankara Temple, take the steps to go down towards River Tunga. Here you can sight loads of fishes in all shapes and sizes waiting to be fed “puffed rice” by the devotees. Near the river bank, is a small temple dedicated to the Cobra, who protected the frog in labour pain.
The bridge from VidyaShankara Temple called Vidya Tirtha Sethu connects the two banks of Tunga river. This bridge links the Temple and the Ashram of the Acharya situated amidst lot of greenery also housing the Deer park. The Ashram of the Acharya is called “Narasimha Vanam”. Whenever the Acharya is in Sringeri he meets the devotees and offers them blessings, in the same complex.
- In the video below, Jagadguru Sri Sri Bharathi Tirtha MahaSwamiji of Sringeri Math is performing the Abhisekham of ChandraMouleswara
How to reach Sringeri?
Sringeri is located about 350 kms from Bengaluru (7 hours drive with couple of breaks in between) via Hassan and Chickmagalur. The road from Bengaluru to Hassan is a superhighway and thereafter its a 2 laned highway but quality of the roads right upto the destination is excellent. The nearest airport is Mangaluru, which is about 100 kms from Sringeri (about 3 hours drive). You may also drive down from Udupi to Sringeri via Agumbe (80 kms). Agumbe called the “Cherrapunji of the South” is blessed with rich bio diversity and scenic beauty.
YaatraTales.com has collaborated with Brindavana homestay at Vidyaranyapura (Sringeri), located about 500 metres from Sharada Peetham. The carefully chosen property is a home away from home which offers all basic amenities except luxuries like Cable Television and Wi-Fi. You will wake up to the chirping of birds in the morning or to the chatter of monkeys, if you like a siesta. The calm and serene environment will awaken your spiritual senses, while watching the Tunga river flow close by. Cool during the summers and cozy during the winters, this is an ideal location when you want to rediscover yourself and immerse in meditation and spirituality. The pure vegetarian food is home cooked using ingredients from the neighbouring farms with fresh milk obtained from the “gaushala” or cattle shed. You may never want to return to the city life after such an experience !! For Homestay enquiry, write to Jyotisnagesh@gmail.com
Acknowledgement: “The Greatness of Sringeri” published by Sri Sharada Peetham
Please view the snaps of Sringeri and surrounding areas …