Sri Chaganti Koteswara Rao, born in Andhra Pradesh, India in June of 1959 is a renowned pravachana:karta, a scholar, philosopher, adviser to the State Gov. of Andhra Pradesh, India and decorated with an honorary Doctorate by Vadlamudi Vignan University on 29th of Aug, 2016 for his relentless endeavor to share the essence of Sanātana Ḍharma through his pravachanams. He has been commended with various titles like ‘Brahma:sri’, ‘Pravachana Chakravarti’, ‘Sharada Jnana Putra’, and more. He currently resides in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, India along with his punya murthy Ḍharmapatni Sri Subramanyeswary. He studied vedic knowledge under the renowned guru, a personality who sheds tears of joy speaking about great sages and rishis as the Gurus who forged Sanātana Ḍharma, who has spent his life learning two of the four Vedās, whose sampradhayam (culture) is so firm that even the era of Kaliyuga (Kali:yuga) he doesn’t wear a shirt except for an uttariyam (cloth worn over the left shoulder by a Gruhastu) because he considers his body to be the tool for Ishwara, through which he had learned and chanted the Vedās. His hands are so used to forming gestures in tune with the rhythm of the Vedā that even while speaking his hands makes gestures out of habit. Who has a glow emitting Vedic knowledge like the rays of Sun when he speaks with references from Śāstra, Puráńas(m), Vedic mantras, and Sanatana Vangmayam (literature), and that glow didn’t dwindle even by age or under medications. This was his determination and conscience to maintain the sanity of Vedā. He who has filled all his seven elements of his body blend with Vedic mantra and his heart filled with constant worship of Ishwara. He with his Aantaryagam (the inner fire of knowledge and inspiration to seek Ishwara) brought significance and recognition to East Godavari district in India and continued to reside in a remote village, even when so many followers are ready to serve him if relocated. He during floods lost his home yet declined funds when offered and requested those funds be used towards the renovation of the temple in that area and continued to reside in a cattle shed as he considered that to be a good enough place for him to stay and perform Sandhya Vandanam. He spent his time teaching children Vedā alongside his Ḍharmapathni who is always by his side supporting him as a punya Murthy (embodiment of purity) and that personality is Sri Krishna Avadhanulu.
Avadhani Garikapati Narasimha Rao, born in Andhra Pradesh, India on 14th September 1958 is a renowned Poet, scholar, speaker, Avadhani of Telugu, and Sanskrit Vyakarana (Grammer/vocabulary). His superior memory and extempore recitation of poems and translations are astonishing. He is a true extempore of literary composition. He performed a 21-day Avadhanam (literary performance of improvised poems and hymns of a specific meter) with 1116 Pruchchakas. He was honored with Loknayak Foundation Award, Ramineni Foundation Awards, and Gurajada Visishta Puraskar honors. His speeches are highly focused on current social wellbeing and on personality development through various stories, hymns, slokas from various Sanskrit, Telugu, and personal literary composition.
Swami Venkatesananda, also known as Parthsarathy was born in Tanjore on 29th December 1921 is a profound Yogic Sanskrit Scholar and a translator of Sanskrit Text to English. His most profound texts are the Vasistha’s Yoga, The Concise Yoga Vasistha, The Supreme Yoga: A New Translation Of The Yoga Vasistha, The Concise Ramayana of Valmiki, Enlightened Living: A New Interpretative Translation of the Yoga Sutra of Maharisi Patanjali, and many more.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, renowned known as Sadhguru was born on 3 September 1957. A true YOGI of this era. A yogi, mystic, writer, singer, artist, environmentalist, world-class spokesman, Golfer, Bicker, Spiritual Guru, A self-made entrepreneur, extemporary genius, one of the 50 most influential person in India, bestseller author, excellent vegetarian chef, has world-class restaurants to promote vegetarian authentic Indian Yogic food and the list goes on. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2017 by the Gov. of India. Spoke at countless world-renowned Academic institutions, United Nations, Peace Summits, World Economic Forums, British Parliament, and more. His organization “Isha Foundation” is 100% volunteer-run organization in many countries with over a million followers. He organized a massive environmental awareness campaign towards depleting water bodies in India like “Kaveri Calling” and “Rally for Rivers” and towards planting over million tree saplings and running call centers for Farmer and Rural Rejuvenation programs and preservation of Natural Fiber Textiles in rural India. Everything said so far is too little compared to the phenomenal impact this Yogi has created in this era.
A young five-year-old boy following His upanayanam, walked to a house seeking alms. He stood at the door and shouted ‘bhavathi bhikshan deehi’ (I humble request for alms). The lady of the house noticed and desperately ran into the house in search of food (since He is a brahmachari (Brahmā:chari) money shouldn’t be given, only food can be offered). There wasn’t any, the family was starving, and Her husband went in search of grains left behind on the ground after harvest, so was their poverty. The lady was anxious and in sorrow unable to find anything desperately searched, came out, and went in multiple times, unable to express Her own starvation. The boy noticed, but He waited patiently. Finally, she came out with something in Her hand, the boy opened his hand towards Her, and she dropped an old and dried amla fruit (gooseberry) in his hand as tears rolled from her eyes. The boy’s eyes filled with an ocean of silence, stared at that dried amla in His hand, He then looked up to the sky, and so it came, the Great Ganga Herself, pure and heavenly, like the day when She followed the Great Bhagiratha. It was a dhara (flow), splendid, pure, majestic, and from Vaikuntam where in Śrī Lakṣmī and Śrī Viṣṇu watched, watched carefully, to witness the magnificence flow. That day, that boy, in a single glance of compassion and confidence captured the undivided attention of Iśvara.
One can never comprehend such exceptional literary greatness from a young five-year-old boy, Śrī Śankara Bhagavatpaada (henceforth will be referred to as Śrī Śankara), literature even today baffles scholars. As we are about to get drenched ourselves, let’s wish that our lives became this flow as we journey through Kanakadhārā.
One should eradicate an ignorant notion that Śrī Śankara is a propagator of Śivam. It is Śrī Śankara who gave us the profound BajaGovindam, the Kṛṣṇa temples he revitalized, the panchayatana of Smartism sampradaya (5 approaches of worship including Ganapati, Viṣṇu, Surya, Śiva, Śakti), and in every literature he always performed his vandanam (salutations) to Govinda as his Guru. At a yound age he composed over100 magnificant literary compositions. More than 11 of those composition were attributed to Śrī Mahā Viṣṇu. This very Kanakadhārā is also referenced in the famous Astalakṣmī Stotram, popular in Vaishna Traditions.
After Vedā Vyasa “bAdarAyaNa”, Śrī Śankara is the second brightest star of the figurative Hindu night sky.
Apparently, during Buddha’s time there was no Vedic scholar who could match his charisma and outreach, nor was anyone capable enough to bring out the universal and lofty philosophy hidden behind the yajnas or in the Upanishads. Or we don’t know enough of this period and every history textbook is parroting the same old theory, and the holy savior Buddha came and threw them off. I, for one, do not believe we have the full story of this period, and it is a one-sided story of the apparent triumph of Buddhism. What is not believable about this story is how Vedic philosophy suddenly fell from grace when the Upanishads were supposedly just on the horizon before Buddha’s time? Even the Brahmana and Aranyaka texts which are much older than Buddha have symbolic interpretations of yajnas and recommend no animal sacrifice. Our Vedic ancestors were not given to frequent bouts of new trends in religion. They had maintained the Vedic culture for more than 2500 years before Buddha. It is just not convincing enough that a radical internal revolution would be needed at any time in Indian history.
OK, so that was my rant about the biases and very possible errors of history-recording.
In any case, going with the conventional story, Śrī Śankara was born at a time when Buddhism, Jainism, and other heterodox systems were stronger, and traditional Vedic adherents were dwindling. To his credit, he systematized the Vedānta doctrines existing since the time of Vedā Vyasa, through other illustrious AcAryas such as Gaudapada and Govindapada.
Śrī Śankara was a child genius who had mastered the required Vedic expertise by the age of 8. Then he took sannyAsa and traveled all over India and revived the dormant Vedānta traditions that existed everywhere. In this respect, he can be rightly called a great integrator of the Indian subcontinent. He integrated a larger portion of the subcontinent than any other person before he had done single-handedly. Note that I did not say “conqueror”. Śrī Śankara integrated the entire mind of the subcontinent by showing that the Vedic heritage of the different regions of India was valuable and had some intrinsic higher purpose than a mundane one.
He reinforced the logic and systematization of Vyasa’s Brahmasutra and updated his commentary with the latest arguments and logical counter-arguments to defeat anti-Vedic objections. Vyasa still depends on Upanishadic “shraddhA” on several aspects of his philosophy. Śrī Śankara thoroughly uses hard and pure logic and experience to support the Upanishad statements and put forth his arguments. This counters the objection of non-Vedic opponents that they don’t even believe in the Vedās, so for them, statements like “vedAh pramANam – Vedās are an authority” are totally meaningless. So Śrī Śankara based his entire exposition on actual experience and indisputable logic, and then also backed it up by Upanishad references.
The one astounding fact about Śrī Śankara is that he traveled to all four corners of the subcontinent and was so influential at every location that his originally established monasteries (maTha) are still functional and prestigious (notwithstanding the occasional politics and underhanded activities in recent times). All this he accomplished before he hit the age of 32! So in his 20s, he was constantly moving around, debating hundreds of scholars of all ages in various towns, defeating them, and changing their thought process permanently. And to imagine that he didn’t have access to the internet, nor to airplanes, trains, buses, cars, or even a personal horse or bullock cart. He would have been traveling through dense jungles full of wild animals and tribes without a constant source of food. (2017)
“Like the rhythmic dance of Śiva allures the ganas, may his words flow to bring us solace and lure our minds and hearts to Ishwara”
Reference Entry (APA Style citing):
Sri Chaganti Koteswara Rao. (Apr 2016). Wikimedia Commons. File: Chaganti_Koteswara_Rao.JPG. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaganti_Koteswara_Rao.
Sri Chaganti Koteswara Rao (Orator). (n.d.). The official home for Brahmasri Chaganti’s Discourses. Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India. Retrieved from http://www.english.srichaganti.net
Sri Garikapati Narasimha Rao. (March 2015). Wikimedia Commons. File: Garikapati Narasimha Rao in March 2015.JPG. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaganti_Koteswara_Rao.
Sri Garikapati Narasimha Rao (Sep 2020). Wikipedia Garikapati Narasimha Rao. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garikapati_Narasimha_Rao
Sri Chaganti Koteswara Rao (Orator). (n.d.). Kanaka Dhara Stotram [Audio Part 19, Recorded by Srichaganti.net]. Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, India. Retrieved from http://www.english.srichaganti.net/KanakaDharaStrotram.aspx
Swami Venkatesananda. (n.d). goodreads. File: Swami_Venkatesananda.JPG. Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6537009.Swami_Venkatesananda#:~:text=Swami%20Venkatesananda%20(Parthsarathy%20as%20he,take%20part%20in%20religious%20observances.