Jagadguru Swami Ramabhadracharyaji : A Saint who serves wisdom and humanity with divine passion
Great Souls born to salvage humanity and establish knowledge and wisdom. India has seen numerous saints who transform the time and guide the masses and classes for good. On Makar Sankranti, a saint was born and become the light house of Indian religion. He has inner eyes to understand the pain and need of humanity and vocal divinity to enlighten every soul. Jagadguru Swami Rambhadracharyaji is a hope for indian culture and devoted his whole life for dharma. Religion World brings his life and works specially on this pious birthday.
Jagadguru Rāmānandācārya Svāmī Rāmabhadrācārya incarnated in a most pious Sarayupārīṇa Brāhmaṇa family of Vaśiṣṭha Gotra in Shandikhurd village of Jaunpur district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. He took birth in the wee hours of the Makara Saṅkrānti day of January 14, 1950 (Māgha Kṛṣṇa Ekādaśī, Vikrama Saṃvat 2006), born to mother Śacī Devī Miśra and father Paṇḍita Rājadeva Miśra. He was named as Giridhara (a name of Lord Kṛṣṇa) by a cousin of his paternal grandfather, who was a devotee of Mirābaī.
Loss of physical eyesight
The one Lord of the universe, Śrī Rāma, wished Giridhara not to see the horrors of Kaliyuga, but regale in the sight of mother Sītā and Lord Rāma through divine internal vision; the very same vision with which Arjuna and Sañjaya saw the universal form of the Lord in the battlefield of Kurukṣetra. At the age of two months, the lotus-eyes of the infant were infected with Trachoma. Modern medicine was unavailable in the village in those days, and local treatment was tried. Giridhara lost his physical eyesight for ever, and has since then perceived everything through his divine sight. He never had to read or write in any way, and nor did he have to ever use the Braille system. Mastering a scripture by listening to just a single recitation and composing beautiful poetry by dictating is nothing for somebody who has the grace of the Lord Rāma.
Giridhara’s initial education was started at home by his grandfather, Paṇḍita Sūryabalī Miśra. With a remarkable memory, Giridhara memorized the entire Bhagavad Gītā in Saṃskṛta (approximately 800 verses) with chapter and verse numbers by the age of five years. By the age of eight years, he had memorized the entire Rāmacaritamānasa of Saint Tulasīdāsa (approximately 10,800 verses) assisted by the efforts of his grandfather. Later, he went on to memorize and master the Vedas, the Upaniṣads, the Bhāgavata Purāṅa, major works of Saṃskṛta grammar, and all works of the poet-saint Tulasīdāsa. His Upanayana Saṃskāra was performed on the Nirjala Ekādaśī day of June 24, 1961. On this day, besides being given the Gāyatrī Mantra, he was initiated (given Dīkṣā) into the mantra of Rāma by Paṇḍita Īśvaradāsa Mahārāja of Ayodhyā.
In 1966, a teenaged Giridhara Miśra joined the Ādarśa Gauriśaṅkara Saṃskṛta Mahāvidyālaya in Jaunpur to study Saṃskṛta grammar and other subjects for five years. Possessing the Ekaśruta ability to remember everything which one listens to once, he topped his class for five years. In 1971, the handsome and young Giridhara enrolled at the Sampūrṇānanda Saṃskṛta Viśvavidyālaya in Vārāṇasī for higher studies. In 1973, he visited New Delhi to participate in various national-level Sanskrit competitions in the Akhila Bhāratīya Saṃskṛta Adhiveśana, and won five gold medals in Vyākarana, Sāṅkhya, Nyāya, Vedānta and Antyākṣarī. Impressed by his unparalleled genius, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi offered to send him to the USA for treatment of eyes, but Giridhara Miśra politely turned down this offer. In 1973 and 1976 respectively, he topped the Śāstrī (Bachelors) and Ācārya (Masters) examinations in Vyākaraṇa from the Sampūrṇānanda Saṃskṛta Viśvavidyālaya with gold medals. In an unprecedented move, he was declared Ācārya of all subjects taught at the university for his all-round scholarship. Working with Paṇḍita Rāmaprasāda Tripāṭhī, he completed his doctoral Vidyāvāridhi degree (PhD) in 1981 from Sampūrṇānanda Saṃskṛta Viśvavidyālaya with the Saṃskṛta dissertation titled Adhyātmarāmāyaṇe Apāṇinīyaprayogānāṃ Vimarśaḥ, a deliberation on non-Paninian usages in the Adhyātma Rāmāyaṇe. Later in 1997 he was awarded the post-doctoral Vācaspati degree (DLitt) by the same university for the Saṃskṛta dissertation Aṣṭādhyāyyāḥ Pratisūtraṃ Śābdabodhasamīkṣaṇam, in which he explained the grammar of Aṣṭādhyāyī in lucid verses.
LIFE AFTER VIRAKTA DĪKṢĀ
Dr. Giridhara Miśra did not enter into matrimony, and has followed Vīravrata – the vow of the brave – lifelong Brahmacarya. He took Vairagī initiation (Virakta Dīkṣā) in the Rāmānanda Sampradāya on the Kārtika full-moon day of November 19, 1983. Following the tradition of the Sampradāya, he was given an apt Vaiṣṇava name – Rāmabhadrādāsa, meaning the servant of the auspicious Rāma. In 1987, he established Tulasī Pīṭha (the seat of Tulasī, the plant dear to Vaiṣṇavas) at Citrakūṭa, modern-day Uttar Pradesh, where Lord Rāma spent twelve out of his fourteen years of exile. As the founder of the seat, the title of Śrīcitrakūṭatulasīpīṭhādhīśvara was bestowed upon him by saints and intellectuals.
Jagadguru (Saṃskṛta, literally the preceptor of the world), is a term used in the Sanātana Dharma used for somebody who possesses complete knowledge and understanding of Vedic scriptures. The term has traditionally been conferred upon Ācaryas of Vedānta who composed Saṃskṛta commentaries on the three principal scriptures of Vedānta (also called the Prasthānatrayī) — the Brahma Sūtra, the Bhagavad Gītā and the principal Upaniṣads). In medieval history, there were six such Ācaryas who were bestowed with the title of Jagadguru — Śaṅkarācārya, Nimbārkācārya, Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Rāmānandācārya and Vallabhācārya. After Vallabhācārya, the Jagadguru tradition in Vedānta was lost – nobody wrote Saṃskṛta commentaries on the Prasthānatrayī for the next five centuries.
Jagadguru Rāmānandācārya founded the Rāmānanda Sampradāya and composed the Ānandabhāṣya on the Prasthānatrayī. He was Lord Rāma’s incarnation in Kaliyuga.
। रामानन्दः स्वयं रामः प्रादुर्भूतो महीतले ।
The successors of Rāmānandācārya are bestowed with the title of Jagadguru Rāmānandācārya. Svāmī Rāmabhadrādāsa was chosen as Jagadguru Ramānandācārya in 1989, and was ritually anointed in Ayodhya on August 1, 1995. He then wrote Saṃskṛta commentaries titled Śrīrāghavakṛpābhāṣya on Brahma Sūtra, Bhagavad Gītā and eleven Upaniṣads. Svāmī Rāmabhadrācārya thus revived the Jagadguru tradition after 500 years, and also gave the Rāmānanda Sampradāya its second interpretation of Vedānta (after Ānandabhāṣya).
The grace of Sarasvatī
As a young child, Giridhara used to compose poetry in Prākṛta and Saṃskṛta effortlessly. While learning from his grandfather, he used to compose verses reflecting his emotions and view on the subject. Throughout his life, Jagadguru Rāmabhadrācārya speaks 22 languages, and is a spontaneous composer and poet (Āśukavi) in many Indian languages. He has to-date composed more than 80 Granthas and innumerable minor works. His magna opera include four epic poems; commentaries on Prasthānatrayī, Aṣṭādhyāyī and Rāmacaritamānasa; and a critical edition of the Rāmacaritamānasa.
A university solely for the differently-abled
Jagadguru Rāmabhadrācārya, who has himself been through the harsh ways our society treats the disabled, took a decision to establish an institution of higher learning solely for the disabled. After starting a primary and secondary school for the differently-abled, he established the Jagadguru Rambhadracharya Handicapped University in Chitrakut in 2002. Svāmī Rāmabhadrācārya is the life-long chancellor of the university. The university offers graduate and post-graduate courses in Sanskrit, Hindi, English, Sociology, Psychology, Music, Drawing and Painting, Fine Arts, Special Education, Education, History, Culture & Archeology, Computer & Information Sciences, Vocational Education, Law, Economics and Prosthetics & Orthotics. The education is provided at nominal cost to visually impaired, hearing impaired and mobility impaired students as defined by the Disability Act of the Government of India, 1995. To date Jagadguru Rāmabhadrācārya guides the day-to-day functioning of the university.
Deposition on behalf of Lord Rāma in Ayodhyā case
In the year 2003, Jagadguru Rāmabhadrācārya deposed as an expert witness for religious matters in the Allahabad High Court. As the infant Rāma is a minor, Jagadguru Rāmabhadrācārya, being a descendant of sage Vaśiṣṭha and thus a Brāhmaṇa from the Gurukula of Lord Rāma, defended the Lord in the case. Portions of his affidavit and cross-examination are quoted in the final judgement by the High Court. In his affidavit, he cited the ancient Hindu scriptures (Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa, Rāmatāpanīya Upaniṣad, Skanda Purāṇa, Yajurveda, Atharvaveda, et cetera) describing Ayodhyā as a city holy to Hindus and the birthplace of Rāma. He cited verses from two works of Tulasīdāsa – eight verses from the Dohā Śataka which describe the destruction of a temple and construction of mosque at the disputed site in 1528 CE, and one verse from Kavitāvalī which mentions the disputed site. Refuting the theory of the original temple being to the North of the disputed area (as pleaded by the pro-mosque parties), he described the boundaries of the Janmabhūmi as mentioned in the Ayodhyā Māhātmya section of Skanda Purāṇa, which tallied with the present location of disputed area as noted by Justice Sudhir Agarwal. The verdict on September 30, 2010, ruled in the favour of Lord Rāma – the prayers of crores of Hindus were answered, and Jagadguru Rāmabhadrācārya’s testimony was vindicated.
Critical Edition of the Rāmcaritamānasa
The Rāmcaritamānasa, consisting of around 10,800 verses, was composed by Tulasīdāsa in the late sixteenth century. Over 400 years, it became extremely popular in northern India. Numerous editions of the epic are in existence, including older editions like the Venkatesh Press and Khemraj Prakashan editions, and newer editions like the Gita Press, Motilal Banarsidass, Kaudorama, Rameshvara Bhatta, Jvalaprasad, Kapurthala and Patna editions. Commentaries include Mānasapīyūṣa, Mānasagūḍhārthacandrikā, Mānasa-mayaṃka, Vināyakī, Vijayā and Bālabodhinī. There are many places where these editions differ in the number of verses, the original text, and spelling and grammar. Some editions, including the Motilal Banarsidass edition, contain an additional eighth Kanda as a supplement. In the twentieth century, critical editions of the Mahābhārata and Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaṇa were published by Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute and Maharaja Sayajirao University, but no critical edition was available for the Rāmcaritamānasa, an epic of similar importance for crores of Hindus. Svamī Rāmabhadrācārya, who has done more than 4,000 recitations of the entire Rāmcaritamānasa since childhood, took upon this onus. He came out with a critical edition of the Rāmcaritamānasa, after studying as many as fifty different editions during eight years of his research. This edition is known as the Tulsi Peeth edition and was printed in 2006. It is believed by the Rāghava Parivāra to be the exact word of Tulasīdāsa.
Saint of our times
Saint, commentator, poet, visionary, leader, orator, singer, educationist, reformer, example for the disabled — the list is endless. नेति नेति Not thus, not thus. No description of Jagadguru Rāmabhadrācārya can be ever perfect and complete. He is the saint of our times and we are honoured to see him in flesh and blood.
Social Work Initiatives by Jagadguru
Jagadguru Rambhadracharya Handicapped University
Humanity is my temple, and I am its worshipper. The disabled are my God, and I am their grace seeker — Jagadguru Rambhadracharya
Jagadguru Rambhadracharya Handicapped University (JRHU) is the first university of its kind not only in India but also in the whole world. The university offers graduate, post-graduate and doctoral courses exclusively to disabled students. It was founded by Jagadguru Rambhadracharya in 2001, and established by the Government of Uttar Pradesh by the JRHU Act which also declared Jagadguru Rambhadracharya as the life-long chancellor of the university. The university is approved by the University Grants Commission and is entitled to donations being exempt from Income Tax under section 35 AC of the Income Tax Act of India, 1961.
As per the Census of India 2001, 2.1% of India’s population consisted of disabled people. However, non-government estimates by Access Ability and Disability World put the number as high as 8% and 10% respectively. Of these, only 5% are covered under the formal education. The National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) statistics indicate that only 0.51% of disabled children in India are covered under mainstream school education, while the number for university education is even lower at 0.1%. Only limited educational institutes cater to the special need of disabled students, and just reservations are not enough to provide appropriate professional education to the disabled. Feeling an urgent need to address these issues, Guruji founded JRHU as a university exclusively for the disabled.
The university was first founded by the JRHU Ordinance promulgated by the Governor of Uttar Pradesh on August 7, 2001. The ordinance was later replaced by the JRHU Act passed by the UP Legislature on October 5, 2001. Classes at the university began on August 23, 2001. The First Statutes of JRHU were approved by the Government of UP on October 18, 2002. The JRHU Rules were framed by the Government of UP on January 15, 2002. In the same year, the university was accorded the membership of the Association of Indian Universities, New Delhi.
Vision, Objectives and Motto
The vision of JRHU is threefold. It aims to ensure greater participation of the disabled in higher and professional education. Secondly, it aims to provide disabled with disabled-friendly campus, classrooms and courses. As the third and most important part of the vision, it aims to prepare students of great character, who are enriched with traditional and modern knowledge. The objectives of JRHU are accessible, affordable and appropriate education for disabled students; provision of home-based learning for persons with disabilities; facilitation of access for disabled students from rural and remote areas; imparting traditional and modern knowledge for an enriched experience; training and research facilities for personnel engaged in rehabilitation and service of persons with disabilities; exchange of ideas and experiences regarding new techniques with national and international agencies, organizations, or individuals interested in teaching and research of disabled students; promotion of the disabled spiritually, socially and economically by providing suitable education and bringing them into the mainstream; and exploration of suitable placement opportunities for the disabled graduates. The logo of the university artistically represents the four different types of disabled people (visually impaired, hearing impaired, mobility impaired and mentally impaired), along with the Sanskrit motto । सेवाधर्मः परमगहनः । (IAST sevādharmaḥ paramagahanaḥ, meaning “the duty of service is extremely difficult”) and the photograph of the life-long Chancellor.
Special features and facilities
The learning of basic Sanskrit and Computer is compulsory at JRHU. The university believes that Sanskrit must be learned as it is the mother of all Indian languages and the essence of Indian culture, while knowledge of computers is necessary for the disabled to meet modern challenges. There is a high priority on character building and physical fitness. The learning methodologies are participative and interactive, and modern teaching aids suitable to the four types of disabled are used. The curriculum is enriched by seminars, symposia and Workshops at state and national levels to provide appropriate exposure to students.There are indoor and outdoor sports facilities specifically designed for disabled students,
and notes for courses are available in Braille for visually impaired students.Hostel facility which meets the special needs of disabled students is provided. Currently visual, hearing and mobility impaired students study at the university.
The tuition is free for academic courses, and subsidized for professional courses. Boarding and transportation is subsidized for all students. Lodging is free for visually impaired and subsidized for the hearing impaired and mobility impaired. Aids, appliances and gymnasium are available for use free of cost. Free counselling and guidance (for students and parents) and placement services in public and private sector are provided.
Faculties and courses
JRHU has 16 proposed faculties, out of which 8 are currently functioning – Humanities, Social Sciences, Fine Arts, Music, Computer and Information Sciences, Education, Vocational Studies and Management. There are 12 departments under these seven faculties – Departments of Sanskrit, Hindi, English, Economics, Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, History Culture & Archeology, Computer & Information Sciences, Music, Drawing & Painting, Fine Arts, Education, Special Education, Vocational Education and Management Studies. Undergraduate courses offered at JRHU include BA, BCA, BBA, BFA, BMusic, BEd and BEd Special (for hearing and visually impaired). Postgraduate courses include MA, MEd, MEd Special (for visually impaired) and MSW. The university offers diploma courses in IT and MS Office, and post-graduate diploma course in IT. Doctoral degrees are also offered in specific courses for doctoral research.
JRHU has a Rehabilitation and Development Centre which aims to serve rural disabled youth. It offers composite rehabilitation through trans-disciplinary approach. Major activities of the RDC include rehabilitation and health checkup camps for the disabled in rural areas near Chitrakuta, vocational training programmes, OPD facilities for hearing impaired, assistive devices facility (Prosthetics and Orthotics), resource rooms for visually and hearing impaired, and guidance and placement assistance.
The Instrument Maintenance Facility (IMF) Centre at JRHU is setup as per the UGC guidelines. It provides effective and economic repair and maintenance services for scientific instruments and computer hardware. It is engaged in staff development through training, and provides opportunity to exchange experience with other IMFs in India.
The Guidance and Placement Centre explores career opportunities for disabled graduates and post-graduates. It creates awareness about needs of the disabled in higher education. It strives for equal opportunities to the disabled in higher education, and also monitors implementation of legislation pertaining to higher education for people with disability.
To extend horizons, JRHU has signed memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with five institutes across the country – IIIT Allahabad, Sri Sadguru Seva Trust Chitrakuta, Department of Cerebral Palsy at NIMS Hyderabad, Department of Psychology Allahabad University and National Institute for Visually Handicapped Dehradun.
The university organized a national camp on contemporary painting, Rang Shade, from January 7 to 14, 2008. It held the National Workshop on Art in March 2008. A total of 354 students were awarded graduate and post-graduate degrees in the second convocation held on March 7, 2010. On the third convocation held on January 14, 2011, 380 students passed out.
Request for Contribution
An autonomous institute, JRHU does not receive government funding and is solely run by the money raised by Katha programmes of the Chancellor, Jagadguru Rambhadracharya. We request you to kindly come forward and join this noble effort for providing education to the disabled by contributing. Your affinity to this noble cause and your genuine sympathy for the disabled gives us courage to approach you to help us in this noble cause. JRHU shall be grateful for whatever assistance you can provide so that we can continue with this noble scheme, thereby holding out hope to the hopeless.
Shri Tulsi Peeth Seva Nyas is a religious and social service institution based at Janki Kund, Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh. The institution was established by Guruji on Tulsi Jayanti day, 1987. Tulsi Peeth is situated at the place where Lord Rāma had given His Pādukās to brother Bharata. It is witness to the divine fraternal love between the Lord and one of his foremost devotees. Today, Tulsi Peeth is one of the leading publishers of literature on Hindu religious themes in India and the world.
In 1983, when Guruji was 33 years old, he performed his second Payovrata, a six-month penance during which he took a diet of only milk and fruits and spoke only Sanskrit, at the Sphatik Shila in Chitrakoot. Hemraj Singh Chaturvedi, also known as Nanhe Raja, was the Yuvraj of Chitrakoot at that time. He was so impressed by Guruji that he donated a 60 feet by 80 feet land area besides mother Mandākinī at Janki Kund to Guruji. At the insistence of Buaji (Gita Devi), Guruji got a small Āśrama constructed which had only four rooms. Guruji started visiting this Āśrama and performed some Kathās also. In 1986, he underwent his third Payovrata which lasted nine months at this Āśrama. Śrī Śrī 1008 Rāmacaraṇadāsa Phalāhārī Mahārāja wanted Guruji to stay with him at his Āśrama in Prayāga, but Guruji thought it would be a bondage for him. Meanwhile in 1988, Umacharan Gupta of Manikpur promised to build a bigger Āśrama and a temple at Janki Kund. He insisted that Guruji stay there permanently. Guruji agreed and on 11 March 1987, the ”Kanch Mandir” was opened. On August 2, 1987, Guruji formally established Tulsi Peeth at Janki Kund. The title of Śrīcitrakūṭatulasīpīṭhādhīśvara was bestowed upon Guruji.
Tulsi School for the Blind (तुलसी प्रज्ञाचक्षु विद्यालय)
This is a small school for visually disabled students, which was established on August 23, 1996. It is managed by the principal Niruben who is herself visually disabled. Niruben is a great singer and also knows the entire Bhagavadgītā by heart, with the verse numbers. Next to the school is a hostel for the students. The students are given both school education and industrial training, at no cost.
- Service to literature (साहित्य सेवा): Tulsi Peeth is involved in active study and propagation of works of Gosvāmī Tulasīdāsa (including Rāmacaritamānasa), Vedas, Upaniṣads, Vedāṅgas (including Vyākaraṇa), Rāmāyaṇa, Mahābhārata, Gītā, Purāṇa including Bhāgavata, Nyāya and other Sanskrit and Hindi literature. Tulsi Peeth publishes the monthly magazine Shri Tulsi Peeth Saurabh from Ghaziabad, and has published many works of Guruji including the Prasthānatrayī commentaries.
- Service to the saints (संत सेवा): Tulsi Peeth performs service to cows through the Sitaram Gaushala where cows and calves are reared and cared for, and service to saints through the Sitaram Bhandara where all Sadhus and saints are provided with free Vaishnava food every day.
- Service to the society (समाज सेवा): Tulsi Peeth runs and maintains the Tulsi School for the Blind which is ably managed by the principal Niruben. Tulsi Peeth also organizes regular Disability Camps where differently-abled persons are handed over aids like crutches, tricycles and prosthetic limbs for free. Free food and lodging is provided to all the camp participants and their family or helpers.
Text and Photos Courtesy : http://www.jagadgururambhadracharya.org/