(Last Updated on : 14/11/2013)
Swami Anandashram was the ninth guru of the Chitrapur Saraswat Community. In the year 1915 He succeeded his guru Swami Pandurangashram
. He remained the Head of the community. As He had to take the charge of the Math just after 8 days of His initiation, He had no time to learn under the tutelage of a guru.
After the initial periods of financial imbalance, His regime is characterised by advancement and prosperity of the community. Swami Anandashram made His regular visits to the various centres of the community all over the country. The strict social norms implemented by his predecessor,Swami Pandurangashram, under his regime were made more lenient.
On June 29, 1902, to the priest Haridas Ramchandra Bhat and his wife Janakidevi, Swami Anandashram was born as Shantamurti Haridas Bhat. Shantamoorthy was accepted as the shishya (disciple) of Swami Pandurangashram on June 5, 1915. On June 14, 1915 Swami Anandashram was appointed as the head of the community at the tender age of 13. Thus it was not possible for him to hold the sole authority over the community. Even He did not get any time to learn the Sanskrit
Scriptures, Administrative responsibilities etc. under the guidence of a guru.
This had been foreseen by Swami Pandurangashram that this kind of difficulty his disciple might have to face. Thus He ordered that until Swami Anandashram received due education and necessary training, the administrative responsibilities would be taken care of by the Shukla Bhats of the matha. The priests in the Chitrapur Math
took care of the general education of Swamiji. Swamiji set out for Rishikesh
in 1927, located at the foothills of the Himalayas
, to the ashram(Hermitage) of Swami Krishnacharya Saraswati under whom he studied for many days. Swamiji learnt the Brahma sutras and other texts under His guidence.
The Chitrapur Math faced discriminating financial constraints, during the initial period of Swamiji's reign. This was took place mainly due to the advent of World war II, severe drought conditions in the Kanara districts and the country in general and Financial burden occurring due to the last parts of India's Freedom struggle. Swamiji gave priority to that financial problem.
To tackling this financial situation, Swamiji took some immidiate steps. These were: 'Suspension of the Rathotsav(Car Festival), Introduction of Sadhana Saptahas and framing of a new constitution'. Suspension of the festival, the Rathotsav appeared to be the only logical solution as damage control over the rapidly dropping financial situation. Instead of the Rathotsav, a Sadhana Saptaha(Week of prayer) was introduced. During a week in the month of December every year this event was held, usually from December 24 to December 30. On December 24, 1940, the Sashana Saptaha was first introduced. The Sadhana Saptaha furnished the community to ponder upon themselves and thus help in enlightnening the community.
In 1932, at Shirali a representative Maha-sabha was held, which laid the solid foundation for co-operation between members of the community. A constitution was redacted under H. Shankar Rau and others, which was supposed to regulate the expenditure of the math. The Standing committee recommended that the Rathotsav be suspended. The Standing Committee not only act as a body that passed resolutions but also followed up on the resolutions with hard work.
During the decade from 1935 to 1944, important milestones achieved which are as follows:
To pay off old debts and rebuild old buildings, Rupees One Lakh(Rs.100,000) was collected.
Harijans and other backwards members of society were allowed to enter the Temple premise.
Various funds that are aimed at a particular cause was established.
Abeyance of the Rathotsav(Car festival) and introduction of the Sadhana Saptaha
Many social reforms were introduced under Swami Anandashram. The community was allowed by Him to go abroad without any fear of exclusion. Furthermore, by Swami Pandurangashram most of the people who were excluded from the group on grounds of foreign travel or marriage outside of the community were accepted back to the community. Till the end of the 19th century, the community had lived in the Kanara districts of Karnataka
The young generation migrated to the urban areas of Bombay, Bangalore
, Madras, Delhi
and Calcutta, in search of greener meadow. Their busy schedules and other allegiances resulted in the urban community estranging from the Chitrapur Math. Swamiji for them travelled to all these urban areas and brought the members of the community close. This resurgence of interest may be as a result of a few factors in the Guru Parampara and the Chitrapur Math: Economic Depression (the economic condition of the urban areas began to look bleak) and Encouragement from parents (the younger generation were encouraged by the older generation to take part in the activities of the matha. Under Swami Anandashram, to the integration of the community this also contributed.)
During the Swami Anandashram's regime, the high priority for rebuilding and refurbishment of old buildings were given for that were in a broken-down condition. For developmental activities, some of the number of funds were introduced: Vantiga Capital Fund which was 'the capital corpus fund used for a variety of uses including the daily expenditure of the Chitrapur Math', Religious Instruction Fund and Priest Subsidy Fund which were used to 're-establish a Sanksrit School(Pathshala) and the Priest training centre in Shirali', Social Amelioration Fund that was framed during the first Sadhana-saptaha in 1940. This fund was aimed at 'collecting money for the smooth conduct of Social functions like satsangs,ashiravachans(Spiritual discourses) etc'.
Various reconstruction and renovation works were taken under the personal supervision of Swamiji. At the Bhandikeri Math at Gokarn, major refurbishment work was undertaken that included the dedication of the samadhi(shrine) of Adi Parijñanashram. A community hall was built and the inner chamber of the Shri Ganapati Temple,Mallapur was redeveloped. Some land was purchased in Malleshwaram,Bangalore and a matha(Monastery) was constructed under the aegis of Swamiji.
There are a number of books that have been published under superintendence of Swamiji. They are: 'Chitrapur Sunbeam' a periodical that had the following aims:
'Propagation of Dharma, Publication of the Matha accounts, news and other notes and a means of periodical contact between the the matha and the "little community which created the matha". An annual directory 'Directory of Vantiga Payers' lists all the vantiga donors. Many miracles are attributed to Swami Anandashram. Most of this instances are found in the Birth Centenary edition of H.H.Shrimat Anandashram Swamiji(June/July 2002) of the Chitrapur Sunbeam(Chitrapur Ravikiran) where devotees also themselves have given accounts of their experiences with Swamiji.
To continue the sacred Guru Parampara, in 1959 the devotees humbly suggested to Swamiji to accept a shishya(Disciple). And the successor was found in Ravindra Shakarnarayan (Shukla)Bhat, who was the 12 year old son of Shantabai and Shankarnarayan Laxman Bhat. As Parijñanashram, Swami Anandashram ordained his shishya. For a period of 7 years, He would study under His guru after which He would succeed Him as the Head of the community. With his shishya by his side, His Holiness Swami Anandashram, on 16 September 1966 attained Maha-Samadhi(died) at the Shri Chitrapur Math in Malleshwaram, Bangalore. He was 64 years old then. Swami Parijñanashram III, His shishya became the crowned head of the community.