ahymsin newsletter, issue - 17, February - march 2010  

Swami Veda, Mahamandaleshwar

Mahamandaleshwar Swami Veda Bharati fed nearly four thousand sadhus and other guests at a festive bandara in Haridwar on Tuesday, March 2nd. The bandara, part of the Kumbha Mela festivities now taking place in Haridwar, was one of his duties as a Mahamandaleshwar..


What is a Mahamandaleshwar?

Swami Veda was consecrated as a Mahamandaleshwar in 1999. The following is an invitation and historical background of the position written at the time of Swamiji's consecration. It also includes the reason Swami Veda finally accepted the position.


By the Grace of Gurudeva Swami Rama of the Himalayas you are cordiallyMahamandaleswara svb
invited to participate in the consecration (pattabisheka) of Shri
Swami Veda Bharati ji to the position of Mahamandaleshwar in the Niranjani
Akhara of the Swami Order presided over by the Acharya Mahamandaleshwar Shri 108
Swami Punyanandaji Maharaj on the 15th of March 1999 at Taponidhi
Panchayati Niranjani Akhara Mayapur, Haridwar---INDIA
Phone: 91-133-427-804

10.00 am Worship: Rudra-abhisheka given by other Mahamandaleshwars
11.15 pm Bhandara-feeding the sadhus

What is a Mahamandaleshwar?
The position is somewhat paralleled to that of PHRA MAHA (Head Monk) in
the Thai Buddhist monastic orders. The title means the Head of a Circle
(Mandala) of the Swamis, however without any defined regional or
administrative boundaries.

The Swami Order is divided into two different parallel structures. The
structure established by Shankaracharya divided the Swamis into:
a) Dasha-namis (those of ten names), Bharati, Saraswati, etc
b) Four regional seats, with a fifth one in the Holy City of Kanchi-puram,
together with their subordinate Sects.

The other, the Akhara System, was consolidated for historical reasons by
Shri Vidyaranya Muni, who is historically the most important name in
Vedanta and in the Swami Order after Shankaracharya. He was not only a
great yogi, philosopher, savant, holding the position of Shankaracharya
in Shringeri (? 13th Century A.D.), he was also the founder and spiritual
guide of the Vijayanagar empire.

Nowadays, the Shankaracharyas remain the influential guides in the
Southern regions of India. The system weakened in the North many
centuries ago, again, for historical reasons. The seven Akhara sub-orders
hold sway in the North, guided by their Mahamandaleshwars. The largest,
the Niranjani Akhara, to which Gurudeva Swami Rama also belonged, is one
of the two oldest and largest. It has at present 16 Mahamandaleshwars.

Among themselves they also have a head (acharya Mahamandaleshwar). As
stated above, there are no territorial or administrative divisions.
Frequently the Mahamandaleshwars meet and confer, and agree upon
matters of common interest. The Mahamandaleshwars of the Niranjani
Akhara are the most learned; still passing on different areas of
knowledge, composing original philosophical Sanskrit texts, establishing
and guiding institutions. They also maintain financial support for the
Akhara of their Order.

Absolutely unsolicited, Swami Veda Bharati is being conferred the
position and thereby joins a peer group of the highest leading Swamis of

Swami Veda was totally surprised when he was approached with an offer of
the position, repeatedly asked, and finally decided to accept in the hope
that thereby he may have another instrument at his disposal to serve his
Guru's mission.

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