Sri Govardhan Muth (Peetham), located in the Eastern Indian state of Odisha is 2492 years old-established by Bhagvatpaada Adi Shankaracharya with an aim of rejuvenating the Vedic Sanatan Dharma and establishing the ?Dharma? regulated, unbiased and extortion-free regime. The details of the Peetham and its activities are elaborated here are as per the information maintained by the tradition and old records.
Bhagvatpada Adi Shankaracharya:
Bhagvatpada Adi Shankaracharya was born in Kaladi (Kerala) on Vaishakha Shuddha Panchami in B.C. 507. He accepted the holy stage of Sanyas (Ascetism) at the tender age of eight. Till the age of sixteen he composed the commentaries on Prasthanatrayi i.e. Upanishads- Bhagvadgita-Brahma Sutras, authored various Prakarana Granthas like Vivekachudaamani, Aparokshaa-nubhuuti etc. and composed various hymns in the praise of the qualified form of deities and also on the unqualified form of Brahma. During this period he defeated peak scholars like Kumaril Bhatta and Mandana Mishra in Shastriac debates and also defeated and impressed Buddhist scholars by his unparalled knowledge of Vedas and wisdom. The Samrat Sudhanva who then reigned over the undivided India accepted discipleship of eighteen years old Adi Shankaracharyaji and initiated the epoch making work of enmeriting the Vedic Dharma. Adi Shankaracharya established four monasteries in the four cardinal directions of Bharat. The Puri Govardhan Peetham at Puri in Utkala, the Sringeri Peetham at Sringeri in Karnataka, the Sharada Peetham at Dwaraka in Gujrat and the Jyotish Peetham in the Badari region. He ordained his able disciples as the ?Jagadguru Shankaracharya? of these Peethams and laid the constitution regarding the mode of ordination.
Poorvamnaya Sri Govardhan Peetham:
Bhagvatpada Adi Shankaracharya established the eastern monastery associated with Rigved called as ?Poorvamnaya Sri Govardhan Muth- Bhogavardhan Peetham? on the shore of Mahodadhi (Bay Of Bengal) in the Holy shrine of Puri in B.C. 486. The whole of the Eastern India viz. Bihar, Jharkhand, Chittasgarh, Andhra till Rajmahendri, Orissa, Bengal, Nepal, Bangladesh (Undivided India), Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Sikkim, Bhutan, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Uttarapradesh till Prayaga including Gaya and Varanasi are considered as the territory of Sri Govardhan Peetham. On the auspicious day of Vaishakha Shukla Dashami B.C. 483 the Holy Lotus Hands of Adi Shankaracharya restored and reinstalled the holy idol of Lord Jagannath and on the same day he ordained his first disciple ?Padmapadacharya? as the first ?Jagadguru Shankaracharya? of Puri Peetham. Adi Shankaracharya installed the seat of transcendental wisdom in the Peetham and established Lord Ardhanarishwar and Lord Govardhan-nath. The Peeth is world-renowned as one of the 51 Shakti-Peethas also where the naval-part of Bhagavati Sati fell. As per the tradition, the Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Puri Govardhan Peetham presides over the Mukti-Mandap and inaugurates the Internationally reputed ?Rath Yatra?.
Padmapadacharya'sterm was full of vigour and illuminatory activities. He authored the illustrated book named ?Panchapadika? and wrote a commentary on the the work name ?Prapanchasara? written by Adi Shankaracharya.
The following Shankaracharyas also had very illustrious terms. One of the Shankaracharyas of Puri Peetham named Shankar Swami promoted Vachaspati Mishra to write a ?Teeka? on the Brahma Sutra Shaankara Bhaashya. This ?Teeka? named as ?Bhamati Teeka? is very much lauded in the field of Vedanta. Similarly the reknowned ?Shridhari Teeka? on ?Shrimad Bhagavatam? was composed by Shridhara Swami who belonged to the Govardhan Muth Guru-Shishya tradition, who resided in its branch at ?Shankarananda Math?.
The 142nd Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peetham Swami Madhusudan Dev Tirtha was reknowned to have the Siddhi of Goddess Vimala who is the presiding diety of the Govardhan Peetham. Thus even the British Government regarded him in very high esteem in this matter. The spread of the ?Shaktipat? tradition which is presently prevalent internationally is solely attributed to Madhusudan Dev Tirtha Maharaj.
He was followed by 143rd Jagadguru Shankaracharya Bharati Krishna Tirtha, who was a scholar and Yogi par excellence. He was in forefront in the Indian Freedom Struggle and he was the one who gave clarion call of ? Britishers Go Back?, this slogan was later taken up by Gandhiji. Swami Bharati Krishna Tirthaji Maharaj was arrested and jailed in the Karachi jail for 2 years and in the Patna Jail for his active involvement in the Indian Freedom Struggle. He authored 3000 shlokas and various books like ?Sanatan Dharma?, ?Bhagvan Shri Krishna?, ?Vasant Panchami?, etc. of then the book ?Vedic Mathematics? was an epoch making book in the field of science and mathematics. He taught the principles of Vedic Mathematics to the national and international scholars. His thoughts later helped in revolutionising the computational techniques by use of the Binary System.
Later Swami Niranjan Dev Tirtha followed as the 144th Jagadguru Shankaracharya of the Govardhan Peetham who was considered as the lion in the field of Dharma and Shastras. His participation in the ?Cow Protection Movement? is remembered everywhere. He agitated for the ?Ban on Cow – Slaughter? by fasting for 72 days which is a world record. He was the president of the illustrious ?Dharma Sangha? established by His Holiness Swami Hariharananda Saraswati (Karapatri Swami).
From 1992, Swami Nishchalananda Saraswati Maharaj followed as the 145th Jagadguru Shankaracharya of the Govardhan Peetham. His work in the field of Dharma, Mathematics, Tantra, Patriotism and humanity is well-known by his illustrious books numbering to fifty. His participation in the reconversion of Hindus who were by force or deceivance converted to the other faiths, in the protection of Sri Rama Sethu is well-known. He has composed 6 books on Vedic- Mathematics and a book on the science of health and happy life.
The Jagadguru Shankaracharyas of Puri Peetham never relented to any kind of lust and fear from the petty political or business-classes thus the Govardhan Muth was always ignored by such classes.
Activities of Sri Govardhan Peetham:
The Aditya Vahini, institution of young males and Anand Vahini, Institution of females, is governed by the Peeth Parishad which has senior citizens as its members, presided by Jagadguru Shankaracharya Maharaj himself. These institutions render the religious and social services in about 15 states of India. The services reach till the remote rural and forest areas also. The medical and voluntary service of Aditya Vahini in the Puri Ratha Yatra is lauded by one and all.
The Peetham runs a Ved Path Shala to impart the Vedic Education to the students in the traditional manner. Presently around 30 students learn Vedas in this Pathashala.
The Peethan runs the Sanskrit school upto standard seven. There are around 25 students learning in Sanskrit in this school.
Around 80 students learn around 70 yogasanas 8in the Yoga Vidyalaya. These students have stood first in various competitions at the State level yogasana Competition.
The Vyayam Shala trains the athletes in various exercises. The athletes of the Vyayam Shala have stood first in various state and inter- state body-building competitions.
A dispensary is run by the Govardhan Peetham for the health-care of the pilgrims and the residents of Puri. It is equipped with spite of the art instruments and machines and is run free-of-cost. Establishment of a big hospital isalso in pipeline.
The cow-shed i.e. ?Go Shala? extends services to around 40 cows. The service to cow is not done with the objective of milk or milk-products. It is done purely as the religious service towards cow. It aims at breeding pure Indian breeds and future aims at providing such pure breeds to the farmers. It also aims at developing various methods of medicine-making and manure-making from cow-urine and cow-dung.
Peetham annually conducts 4 camps :
The three-day National Convention during the Guru Poornima Mahotsava; The three-day camp at Ganga Sagara during the Makara Sankranti Parva on the eastern coast of India; The 15 day camp at Allahabad during ?Magha Mahotsava?; The three-day Sadhana and National-Security Camp in the North India.
All these activities are done fully in accordance with the shastraic and patriotic spirit with the objective of safeguarding the Hindu merits, humanity and world-peace.
(Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, Sri Govardhan Peetham, Puri, Orissa.)