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July - September 2023

Yogī Sadāśiva Brahmendra Sarasvatī by Dr. V. Ramakalyani

Sadāśiva Brahmendra Sarasvati has proved the infallible contents of the Yoga aphorisms by transforming them into his own practice. He lived a life of an ascetic and blessed the society with his knowledge, through his works. He learnt Yoga under his preceptor and has composed unique works and songs which reflect his ideals.

Sadāśiva Brahmendra is supposed to have written several works but only a few of them are available at present. Brahmasūtravṛtti , titled, Brahmatatva-prakāśa, Yogasūtravṛtti, titled Yogasudhākara and Ātma Vidyā Vilāsa are his most important works. Yoga Sūtras (YS) was written by the sage Patañjali. Yogasudhākara, a commentary on Pātañjala Yogasūtra, is not merely a written commentary but a living one, as in this, Yogī Sadāśiva Brahmendra Sarasvati has explained the Yoga aphorisms with his sādhanā. Sadāśiva Brahmendra Sarasvati was a contemporary of Śrīdhara Ayyāval and Jagadguru Śrī Bodhendra Sarasvati of Kanchi mutt. Many anecdotes are interwoven by unknown devotees in Sadāśivendra stuti. Śrī Sadāśiva was undoubtedly a Siddha Yogī par excellence.

Date of Sadāśiva Brahmendra

There exists a copper plate inscription of 1738 A.D., whereby grants of land were made, at the desire of Sadāśiva, to his fellow pupil, Gopäla kṛṣṇa Śāstri, by the then ruler of Pudukota State. About that time, Sadāśiva was said to have been roaming in the forests adjoining Tiruvarangulam, a few miles away from Pudukota. Dr. V. Raghavan says, “The name of no Sanyāsin is held in greater respect in South India than that of Sadāśiva Brahmendra , who lived in the latter half of the 17th century and the 18th, and whose final disappearance from the world was at Nerur in the Tiruchi District, on the banks of the river Cauvery where even today his festival is celebrated. He has written brief commentaries on the Brahma Sūtras, Yoga Sūtras and some minor advaita works. Besides hymns in verses, he has left us songs in praise of several deities and the Absolute, all very popular with devotees and musicians.”

Ekoji, who established the Mahārāṣṭra Kingdom in Tanjore, had three sons, namely Sāhaji, Sarabhoji and Tukoji. Sāhaji ruled Tanjore during 1684-1710. In 1693, he renamed Tiruvisalur (also popularly known as Tiruvisainallur), situated on the northern bank of Kaveri, as Sāhajirājapuram, by laying out an agrahāram and bequeathed it free of tax to 46 select brahmanas, who were well-versed in Vedas, and their families to live in. Sadāśiva was the son of Mokṣam Somasundara, who was one of the forty six donees of Sāhajirājapuram.

Sadāśiva’s Preceptor:As had been the custom in India during those days, Sadāśiva, was married to one Kāmākṣi at an early age. He abhorred the afflictions which he would be subjected to in family life, and took a decision to go in search of a spiritual preceptor. After a long search, he found his preceptor in Paramaśivendra Sarasvati at Kāśi, under whose expert guidance he began his practice in Yoga science. In due course Sadāśiva became an adept in Yoga by the grace of his guru, who gave him his dīkṣā name, Sadāśivendra Sarasvati. He was said to have composed a short poem , Ātma Vidyā Vilāsa, consisting of 62 verses in Āryā metre on the glory of self-realisation. He also composed several lyrical kīrtanas, which displayed his ear for music and bent of mind with lofty ideals, which, as expressed in his poems, were to quench his thirst for realization.

Life-style of Sadāśiva: Sadāśiva was in the habit of defeating in arguments and debate many scholars and thus shaming them to silence. When some people complained to the guru, he admonished Sadāśiva,’When will you learn to keep your mouth shut?’ At that instance, he imposed on himself a vow of life-long silence. One day he took leave of his guru and went out as a homeless and speechless mendicant, to realise what he set forth himself in the ĀtmaVidyā Vilāsa. Hence-forward he led the life without opening his mouth to speak, but expressing his thoughts through gestures or by writing on the ground when absolutely necessary.

One early morning Sadāśiva was lying in a harvested field at Tiruvisalur village. One of the two passers-by said, ‘Unmindful of the prickly hay of the newly harvested field, he is lying in a trance unaware of his self ! Is he not a Great Soul?’ The other retorted, ‘By mounting his head on the embankment, he enjoys the pleasure of a pillow for his head! Is he a Great Soul?’ After a while when both were returning the same way, they found Sadāśiva lying in the field without any support for his head. When this incident came to the knowledge of Venkateśa Dīkṣita, his fellow-pupil, he gave vent to his thoughts in the following couplet :

‘Even to those who hold the world as equal to straw and who have mastered all the secrets, it is difficult to cease to be slaves to the strumpet fame.’

Sadāśiva roamed about south India as an avadhūta and was impervious to cold and heat. He was once carried away by floods and was buried in deep sand for several weeks till he was dug out by chance. He was as alive and brilliant when he was taken out as ever before. Once when he entered the tent of Nawab’s zenana unintentionally, the irate chief cut off his right arm. As he found that Sadāśiva was completely impervious to the wound inflicted on him, he was amazed a n d s o u g ht h i s p a rd o n . S a d ā ś i va Brahmendra did not feel the absence of right arm and when he touched the stump with his left arm, a new arm grew up in its place. The various miracles of Sadāśiva Brahmendra are part of the legends of south India.

Śrīdhara Venkateśa Ayyāvāl was residing as a householder at Tiruvisalur and, apprehending that the great wisdom of a truly realised soul was going waste, he was said to have pleaded with Sadāśiva, by saying that a vow of silence was necessary to counter the worldly bickering but is a vow of life-long silence necessary to sing the praise of God? If only he opened his mouth, the humanity at large would be the beneficiary of his enlightened wisdom. On the spot, Sadāśiva was said to have sung the immortal piece “Brūhi mukundeti..” and he silently left behind several compositions.

Then he started wandering on the banks of Amarāvati and Kaveri, in the Coimbatore district, where he was lost in deep meditation, without knowing what is happening around him. When his preceptor Paramaśivendra heard about him, he seemed to have regretted in the following couplet :

“Hearing the words of people ‘your pupil is wandering like a frantic person’, as his preceptor, worrying much, I should not become like him.” Sadāśiva did not give in to any one’s plea except perhaps silently to Ayyāvāl on literary matters and to Vijaya Raghunātha Tonḍamān’s (1730 – 1769) single minded devotion, as he clung to Sadāśiva for about 8 years with steadfastness. The Daśara c e l e b ra ti o n s a n d t h e w o r s h i p o f Dakṣiṇāmūrti in the palace temple were instituted on the lines laid down by Sadāśiva. The sand, on which Sadāśiva has written the instructions, was carefully brought to the palace shrine and is still preserved as the holy relic of the great sage.

Sadāśiva, the Propagator of Bhakti

As a staunch propagator of bhakthi, among the many immortal songs of Sadāśiva , the beautiful and thought provoking song in Sāma raga “मानस संचर रेण मानस संचर रे” must be mentioned; some more of them being “ ूह मुकुेत”(Suradi), “िपब रे रामरसम् “ (Yamunākalyāṇi), “ जरेगोपालम्” (Hindolam), “ भज रे यदनाथम ु ”् (Peelu) , “ गायत वनमाली (Hamsadhvani) , डत वनमाली” (Sālakabhairavi), “रता न ह न ह रे” (Vāsan),
“चाना िकल” (Cārukesi), चेतः ीरामम् “ (Sindhubhairavi) and so on

When Śrīdhara Ayyāval was proceeding to Tiruvidaimarudur for Pradoṣham (his last visit) on the way he saw Sadāśiva Brahmendra singing the following:

“All this is nothing but Brahman; What is to be spoken, what is not to be spoken; what is to be composed, what is not to be composed; what is to be read, what is not to be read; what is to be known, what is not to be known.”  Then he sang the following going around Śrīdhara Ayyāvāl:

“Always, at all places, meditation on Hamsa (Jnani of the highest order) is to be done; thus the cause of Mukti (Liberation) is to be pursued.”

Ayyāvāl told Muthurāmakavi who accompanied him,’ The whole Universe is a stage where all of us are characters of a play. Brahman is the Sūtradhāri of this play. A jñānī (spiritually realized person) knows this. That is why, Sadāśiva Brahmam stands apart as a witness to what is going around him and watches everything as a play.’

This song and Ayyāvāl’s comment reveal that Sadāśiva Brahmendra had attained Brahmajñānam. Brahman was realised by him due to his life-long yogic practice and meditation. Sadāśiva Brahmendra entered the supreme universal Divine Consciousness by thought-free, non- relational awareness and dissolving himself consisting of the body, prāṇa etc. This is the integration of the individual Self with the Universal Self.

That is why Jagadguru Śrī Sachidānandaśivābhinava Nṛsimha Bhārati Mahāsvāmi praises Sadāśiva Brahmendra as follows :

We salute Sadāśivendra, who is the Sun to the darkness of ignorance, who is the full Moon to the ocean of wisdom and who cleanses the multitude of sins of the humble.’