Thumbnail sketch biography of Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati
- Compiled by Paul Mason


Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati

Swami Swaroopananda was born Pothiram Upadhyay in 1924, in the Jabalpur area of Madhya Pradesh. At nine years old he left home to visit the holy places of India, including Varanasi where he eventually studied with Swami Karpatri (aka Hariharananda Saraswati), a disciple of Guru Dev Swami Brahmananda Saraswati. At 19 years old he became a freedom fighter in the 'Quit India' movement (1942) and was known as 'Revolutionary Sadhu' (serving two prison sentences for same of 9 months & 6 months). In 1950 Guru Dev made him a dandi sannyasi.

Guru Dev at Bandha near Jabalpur
Guru Dev, Shankaracharya Swami Brahmanand Saraswati
at Bandha, near Bheraghat, Jabalpur M.P. India , Guru Purnima day, July 3rd 1947
[from far left of photo, standing - Shri Kirti Bhanu Rai,  unknown guard,  Pandit Shri Ishwar Dutt Shukla ji, unknown,
Guru Dev, Shankaracharya Swami Brahmanand Saraswati (seated)
Swami Karpatri, Pandit Shri Dwarika Prasad Shastri Ji, unknown guard, 
Shri Jugal Kishor Shrivastava, far right, standing
sitting to left front of photo is Pothiram Upadhyay (later initiated Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati), sitting to right unknown]
Photograph courtesy of Shri Umesh Shrivastava

After Guru Dev's passing in 1953, Swami Shantanand was enthroned Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math on 12th June 1953. But Swarupanand took up with a new guru,Swami Krishnabhodashram ji Maharaj. who was separately established Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math on 25th June 1953 by Swami Karpatri. thus began interminable succession disputes.

Swami Swarupanand became president of the 'Ramrajya Parishad Party' (set up by Swami Karpatri), and on Krishnabhodashram's demise the post of Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math passed to Swami Swarupanand. There were now two Shankaracharya ashrams in Joshimath, Swami Swaroopanand's being on the site of Trotakacharya's cave, just below the ashram that Guru Dev Swami Brahmanand had built in the 1940's.

In 1982 Swami Swaroopanand inherited the title of Shankaracharya of Dwarka.

His name has been linked with the politics of the Congress Party and is perceived to have been an ally of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and a friend to Sonia Gandhi.

Contact details for Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati:
Shri Vidya Math, Kedarghat, Varanasi, 221001, Uttar Pradesh. INDIA

Sri Rajarajeswari Mandir, Paramhansi Ganga, Jabalpur, Jhonteshwar, dist. Narsinghpur, Madhya Pradesh 482 002, INDIA.
http://jagadgurushankaracharya.org/
Sharda Peeth, Dwarika, Gujarat, INDIA

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Transcripted excerpts, pertinent to the lifestory of Guru Dev Shankaracharya Swami Brahmanand Saraswati, from an interview of Shankaracharya of Dwarka, Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, by Robert Kropinski in Vrindaban, India, 1985.

Shankaracharya Swaroopanand Saraswati: I was also his disciple, Brahmanand Saraswati's. He was my Guru. He would not accept any offerings from his disciples.
Disciple should be such that he gives to his Guru everything. Then nothing belongs to the disciple, everything is Guru's. Guru should be such that he does not take anything from the disciple. He thinks only good of his disciple.

Q: My Lord, Shankaracharya Brahmananda Saraswati Ji Maharaj, who is our pujyapaad (whose feet are worthy of our respect), who is brahmaleen (absorbed in Brahma, the omnipresent form of God) who is presiding over the Jyotirpith, who is the teacher of the entire universe - that he used to instruct mantras to his disciples. I would like to know which mantras were those?

Shankaracharya: The Lord, Shankaracharya Brahmananda Saraswati Ji Maharaj strictly adhered to the varna (caste) and ashram (four stages of life) systems. He believed in one's varna by birth. Whosoever came to him to become a disciple, he used to ask him which form of God he was in love with. Whichever form the new disciple had an interest in, that form he would explain to the new disciple. [Guru Dev] used to explain, either you should depend on your own inclination or else, he, after understanding your previous life and which form of God you worshipped then, would instruct the initiate accordingly.
Without having an ishtadevata (a personal form of God), no one could have a mantra from him. The very meaning of mantra is ishtadevata. Therefore, along with every mantra, thinking or reflecting over the form of the ishtadevata is essential. Therefore, in all the modes of worship, one reflects over one's ishtadevata before chanting or meditating with one's mantra.

Q: The religion that Guru Dev preached was connected with five forms of God-Devatas-such as Pancha Devupasana and so what relation has it with Vedic Sanatan Dharma (worship of God) as well as in regard to the varna (caste system) and ashram (four stages of life) systems?

Shankaracharya: The Lord, Adi Shankara was a great exponent of Vedic Sanatana Dharma. God, he taught, is grouped into six forms. He preached six types - five based on forms of God like Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, etc. and one, Nirakar, without form. However, the worship of God without form being extremely difficult was reserved for renunciates. That is what Adi Shankaracharya had instructed.
Bhagavan Shree Shankara revived Vedic Sanatan Dharma. He said God has six forms. So accordingly, Maharaj Ji gave upadesha (initiation) to meditate upon those forms for the sake of our worship.

Q: Brahmananda Saraswati did not charge any fees when he used to initiate?

Shankaracharya: This is a principle. A quotation from Goswami Tulsidas:-
"The guru who charges or takes money from his disciples in return for initiation, steals disciple's property and goes to damnable hell."
For that reason Gurudeva used to give upadesha (initiation) without any fees. He used to say "If I accept any gift from the disciple (or fees), then his sins are transmitted to me."

Publications

Shankaracharya Swami Swarupananda

The Path to Eternal Truth Vol.-1 (Teaching on Love, Joy, Happiness and Abundance)
by His Holiness Jagadguru Sankaracarya Swami Sri Swarupananda Sarasvati Ji Maharaja
Hardcover (Edition: 2005) Shree Series Books
ISBN 0975833618

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