Shringeri, 100kms from Udupi, is a wellknown centre of pilgrimage situated on the banks of the river Tunga and at the foot of the Sahya mountain – a part of the western ghats, in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka. It is as sacred as Kashi, Rameshwaram, Puri, Dwaraka, Tirupathi, Srisailam, Srirangam, Pandharpur, Badrinath and Pashupathinath. This place is held in high esteem also because of the Maha samsthan of Jagadguru Sri Shankaracharya.
It is here that Sri Adi Shankarachrya, the exponent of the Advaita system of philosophy, established the first southern centre (“Shringeri Math“) for propagating the Sanatana Dharma. Sharada being the Goddess worshipped here, this holy place is known as Sharada Peeth as Goddess Sharada is being worshipped here. While moving all over India, Sri Shankara selected a few places for establishing his spiritual centres. Shringeri is prominent amongst such places, the others being Puri, Dwaraka, Badrinath, Kashi and Kedarnath. Sri Shankara spent a longer period of his life at Shringeri. It was here that he wrote several of his treatises.
His Holiness Sri Bharati Teertha is the presentShankaracharya of the Shringeri Peetha. Sri Sharada temple is the oldest temple at Shringeri and Sri Vidyashankar temple, on the elevated banks of the Tunga, is a fine blend of architecture. This temple looks like a beautiful chariot and is renowned for its architectural excellence. The 12 pillars of the temple are said to represent the 12 zodiac signs. Every month the sun’s rays fall on the pillar representing the corresponding zodiac sign.
There are choultries and guest houses at Shringeri for the convenience of the pilgrims. There is also meals arrangement for food for them at the Math.
Origin of Sringeri Sharada Peetha
Sri Shankara Bagavthpada is the august founder of the Sringeri Sharada pitha in Karnataka. To this day, the pitha shines as beacon light to seekers of spiritual knowledge.
At Sringeri, he saw a strange sight on the bank of River Tunga. A serpent was protecting a pregnant frog with its outstretched hood from Scorching heat of sun.Overwhelmed by the sight of vicious foes being compassionate friends on this land, he decided to establish the first pitha at Sringeri. Here he spent 12 years teaching philosophy to his disciples. The serenity of sacred Sringeri is there for anyone to see even today.
Sri Sharada Peetha
Adi Shankara installed an image of Sri Sharada over a Sri Chakra engraved on a rock on the left bank of river Tunga. It is abundant grace of Sri Sharada, the presiding deity of Pitha, that has enabled each guru to nominate his successor and ensure an unbroken secession over past 1200 year.
Sharada represent the aspects with form of the supreme absolute. She displays in her hands symbol of jar full of nectar of immorality a book signifying the highest knowledge. A rosary with beads standing for the bijas from which the gross forms of universe emanate, and the chinmudra showing the awarness of the identity of jiva with Brahman.
The Crystal Linga
Since the days of Adi Shankara, the Acharyas have used for daily worship a Spatika Linga (crystal) of Lord Chandramoulishwara and a murthi of Rathnagarbha Ganapathi carved out of a small block of crystal with a ruby in the middle. The self-radiant moon which characterises the spotless linga is a phenomenon not to be seen anywhere else. It is belived that the linga from kailsh was was given to Shankar by Lord Vishveshwara at kashi. It is awe – inspiring to see the acharya worshiping the linga and murthi with great care and devotion at matha. When he goes on tour, the two murthis are carried with him for puja and for bestowing welfare to the devotes.
Visitors have been drawn to a strange phenomenon at the ancient hill temple of LordMalahanikareshwara in the heart of Sringeri town. A stone pillar at the entrance sounds hallow at the back and has a protrusion in the front this resembles the figure of Sri Ganesha and it is worshipped daily in the temple.
When H. H Abhinava Narashimha Bharathi the 24th Acharya in the early 17th century visited this temple for the frist time, he noticed the absence of any Ganesha image. Immediately taking up a piece of turmeric, he drew an outline of Ganesha on the pillar and offered puja. Ever since then, the murthi has been slowly but steadily bulging out in full relief making the granite stone hallow inside.
The Stambha Ganapathi and Lord Malahanikareshwara are worshiped by the present Acharaya on several occasions, such as Mahashivarathri. Several other festivals are also celebrated at Sringeri, including Shankara Jayanthi, Vyasa puja, Varalakshmi Vratha, Vammana Jayanthi, Vidya Shankara Car festival, Sri Rama Navami, Ratha Sapthami and Subramanya Shasthi.
Navarathri is the most important festival in Sringeri. Special Pujas and archanas are offered to Sri Sharada at the temple for nine days. A ceremonial procession takes place in the temple. His Holiness perfumes sahasranama puja to Devi Sharada every day and sits in durbar at night adorning himself in cermonial dress, following a traditional started by Sri Vidyarayanaya.
H. H Sachidananda Sihvabhinava Narashimha Bharathi established the practice of holding Vidvat Sadas during Ganesha Chaturthi festival which continued every year. On the occasion pandits and scholars debate on various branch of shastras. The Acharya presides every day during the 10th day discussion and reconciles conflicts points of view to the satisfaction of the audience. The discussion takes place in Sanskrit.
For information about Sringeri Math contact
Sri. V. R. Gowri Shankar, Administrator
Jagadguru Sri Shankaracharya Dakshinamanya
Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetham
Sringeri – 577 139, Karnataka, INDIA
Tel: +91-8265-50123, Fax: +91-8265-50792