The greatness of the Rama Nama has been established and proved again and again by great saints and devotees in the world. Great saints like Swami Ramanand ,Tyagaraja, Kabir, Swami Bodhendra and others spread the Rama Nama or the Rama mantra throughout India and showed people the easiest way of attaining moksha or liberation is by chanting the name of Rama. It is said that in the Kali Yuga, the most effortless way of attaining liberation is by devotion and chanting the Name of God. Swami Bodhendrar stressed on the efficacy of devotion as a means to liberation and undertook the Nama Siddhantha – spreading the Name and devotion of Sri Rama as the Mukti Marg ( path of salvation) of the Kali Yuga – the times that we live in.
Swami Bodhendrar Saraswathi was the 17th-century pontiff or Acharya of the Kanchi mutt. He was born in Mandan Miśra Agraharam at Kanchi to Kesava Panduranga and Suguna. This devoted couple did not have children and they prayed to their Guru, Swami Vishwadikendhra Saraswathi, who was then, the pontiff of Kanchi Mutt. He blessed them and soon a male child was born to them. They named him Purushothaman. Purushothaman was a bright child and at the due age, the sacred thread ceremony was performed for him. The parents took the child for darshan of the Guru. When the Guru enquired who the child was, the father replied it was the Guru’s child. The Guru asked Kesava to give him the boy if he really thought so. A child offered to the Kanchi Mutt would become asanyasi and that would mean the family lineage would come to an end. So Kesava sought his wife’s consent. Suguna replied that she and the child belonged to him and he belonged to the Guru and hence there was no need to seek her permission to offer the child to the Guru.
Kesavan happily offered his son to his Guru and went back. The Guru arranged for a teacher to teach Purushottaman all the Vedas and Shastras. Purushothaman studied with another boy called Gyanasankaran. They had great love for each other. Purushothaman finished their studies when he was 18. His Guru had promised to teach him the Brahmavidya personally. However, at that time, the Guru was in Kashi or Benaras on a yatra. So the boys decided to walk to Kashi. Gyanasankaran was good in astrology and predicted his own death shortly. He told his friend that if he died, Purushothaman should perform the final rites and then give up his own life in the Ganges so that they could be together even after death. As per his prediction, Gyanasankaran died and Purushothaman performed the final rites and continued his journey to Kashi to meet his Guru. He told his Guru of the happenings and sought his Guru’s permission to give up his life in Ganges.
Swami Vishwadikendhra Saraswathi had planned to make Purushothaman the next pontiff of the Kanchi Mutt as the boy was suitable and worthy of the position. He told the boy of his plans for him and offering him a solution by which he could fulfill the wish of his friend and also fulfil the Guru’s dreams for him. He explained that accepting sanyasa was like a death and rebirth. He gave Purushothaman sanyasa and named him Bagavannama Bodhendrar.
Swami Bodhendrar stayed in Kasi for some time and learnt everything from his Guru. His Guru then asked him to go back to South India and do Nama pracharam or spread the Divine Name of God. His Guru asked Swami Bodhendrar to halt at Puri in Orrisa and visit a great saint and collect a book from him. At the home of this saint, Swami Swami Bodhendrar witnessed a miraculous event which changed him permanently and his perception and understanding of the Power of the Holy Name of Rama.
Swami Swami Bodhendrar undertook the great task to show the people the power of Bagavan Nama – Name of Sri Rama. He also undertook establishing the supreme efficacy of reciting the names of Bhagavan in many of His writings. He wrote books named ‘Namamritha Rasayana’ and ‘Namamritha Rasodhaya’. It was due to his efforts that the ‘Bhajana Sampradhaya’ – or singing the divine names of God -became established as an institution in the religious life of the Hindu Community in South India.
(Contd in blog 2……)