(Last Updated on : 17-01-2011)
After Swami Shankarashram II attained Maha-samadhi in 1785 in the month of Maagha, Swami Keshavashram became the Fifth head of the Saraswat Brahmin community. On the tenth day of the month, Swami Keshavashram officially took over the responsibilities of the math. Swamiji had the opportunity of being under His guru for 4 years. Swamiji as a very able administrator, acquire land and fixed property for the Chitrapur Math
. This act of his resulted in the expansion of the matha.
The administration and finance of the matha were supervised personally. Alongside being well versed with the scriptures, He had a keen mathematical artistry. He could consolidate the community as a whole in His 42 years (from 1785 to 1823 )service with the matha administration(38 years as the Mathadhipati and 4 as disciple to his guru).
Swami Keshavashram was the fifth Mathadhipati of the community. He was a good orator and the knowledge, the speaking skills were so persuading that the devotees clustered to hear his discourses from miles. From getting rid of their Dvaita Vaishnava practices, swamiji could convince many devotees. Thus under the Guru Parampara many devotees were unified and bore allegience to the Chitrapur Matha.
The devotees used to pay a portion of their income to Swamiji which resulted in the financial stability of the math that the matha had lacked for so long. The British, during Swamiji's reign, got hold of the Canara Districts where the community was primarily located. Swami Keshavashram posessesed very modern outlook and acknowledged that changing times demanded changes in society, Swamiji encouraged English education. Because of his decision, the Saraswats could occupy prestigious administrative posts during the British Raj.
Devotees in distress and in need always had been compensated due to his divine powers. Swami Keshavashram is thus attributed to many miracles. A pious devotee who had a mute son lived in the town of Murdershwar tried all sorts of therapy and medication to get the boy to speak. They were advised to take their son to seek the blessings of swamiji , when all the hopes seemed to dumb. But the man was so pious that he did not want to transfer his burden to Swamiji. Swamiji gave a vision in their dream and blessed their son. They went to Shirali to meet Swamiji. The boy in a miraculous manner got back his power of speech when Swamiji placed his hand on the boy's head.
Another incident proves the power of Swamiji to perform miracle. A physically challenged, poor devotee of Swamiji started his journey from Mangalore to the Chitrapur math with a desire to seek the blessings of Swamiji ewithout any money of food. The man became very tired during his journey. Very demoralized and doubtful of completing his journey the poor man rested under a Banyan tree
. Under the Banyan tree at night he dreamt that Swamiji came to him and was massaging his tired feet with oil. When he woke up, all the pain and agony had vanished and he could walk normally.
Shrimat Keshavashram Swami mainly focused on the wishes of the older community members. He played a strong role to encourage the members to join in the rituals of the matha. With this the community members became closer. Keshavashram Swami like previous swamis who generally visited the towns of Gokarn and Shirali, was different in this respect as along with these places he also adventured out to Bhanap villages. Bhanap villages were further south such as Kundapur, Mangalore, Bantwal, and Vithal. He accentuated to his community during these visits, that they should not engage in Vaisnava rituals in their daily lives.
The devotees appealed Swamiji to accept a shishya(Disciple) seeing Swamiji's frail and weak health. In a graceful manner, Swamiji accepted the offer. So the search was begin to find a suitable successor. From the Shukla Bhat family from Mangalore, the suitable successor was found in a youngster. In 1804, on the Shuddha Panchami (5th day) of the Ashadha month, the new shishya was ordained as Vamanashram. For another 19 years, Vamanashram would be under the guardianship of Swami Keshavashram.
Swami Keshavashram after 38 long years being the head of the community, attained Maha-samadhi on the Shirsha Navami(9th day) of the Margha month in 1823. With His shishya by His side He died. His samadhi(shrine) is located at Shirali.