Acharya’s Sandals sent to Banaras Hindu University!

BHU Stamp

Compiled by London swaminathan

Date: 11 November 2015

POST No. 2321


Time uploaded in London :– 14-01

( Thanks for the Pictures  ) 


The respect which His Holiness Sringeri Shankaracharya had for tradition was so deep that he would not give his approval for an innovation even though it was not against the Sastras (scriptures)

Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya (1861- 1946) sent Dattatreya Krishna Tamale as the representative of himself and others to request His Holiness SRI SACHIDANANDA SIVA ABHINAVA NARASIMHA BHARATI SVAMINH (as the Mutt Chief 1879-1912) to come to Banaras in person and lay the foundation stone for the Hindu University there. He came to Sringeri with a letter of introduction from P.N Krishnamurthi, the then Devan of Mysore. After paying his respects to his H H, he opened the topic and conveyed to H H the earnest prayer of the Pandit and the public of Northern India generally to favour them with a visit which had long been overdue.

MM Malaviya

Tamale: it is long since an Acharya of Sringeri paid a visit to our parts and people are eagerly looking forward to Your Holiness’ visit at least on this occasion.

HH: I am very glad to hear of the noble work which the Pandit has taken up and of the earnest longing of the people there to see me. It is certainly proper that we should consent to carry out your request. But the distance that separates us from Banaras is very great and the date fixed for the laying of the foundation stone is so near that it is not possible for us to conform to our daily duties and yet reach Banaras in time. I am sorry I have to disappoint you.

Tamale: in our anxiety to have your Holiness at Banaras in time for the function, we have deeply thought over this aspect also and have come to a decision. We intend arranging for a special train or a special fleet of motor cars to take your Holiness and retinue without any hindrance to  the performance of the daily rites. I request therefore your Holiness will be pleased to comply with our request.

HH: it certainly gladdens us to know the deep devotion and enthusiasm of the people there to have us visit them. But we are constrained to point out our difficulty. Any kind of vehicle is prohibited for a Sanyasi. It is well known that our founder Sri Shankaracharya Bhagavatpada travelled throughout our country only on foot except on rare occasions when he availed himself of his power of yoga when he had to traverse long distances urgently. His successors also never used any vehicle. It was only during the time of Sri Vidyaranya that the Royal insignia like the palanquin, umbrella, thrown, crown etc were assigned to the head of this mutt. It is not possible to concede that our predecessors who were fully conversant with the Sastras accepted without reason or justification such an innovation.

sringeri previous

It has to be surmised they accepted it not with any selfish motive but only with a view to attract ordinary people who were easily amenable to outward forms. So far as the later Acharyas are concerned, they did right in accepting the same, as it had the sanction of their predecessors. It is definitely stated the obedience to the word of Guru will not operate as a violation of any vow.

Astautaanya vratagnaani aapo muulam grutam payah

Havi braahmanakaamyaa sa gurorvacanam ausadham

Such is our justification for using palanquins.

Now you suggest another kind of vehicle, a train or a motor car. It does not seem to us travelling in either of them more objectionable. The only thig is that our predecessors have not been using it.  Further even though an act may be meritorious, it is not proper to do it if it is likely to be censured by the people. As no Acharya till now has travelled in a train or in a motor car, the people are likely to censure such an innovation.


Asvargyam lokavidvishta dharmayaasaret na tu

We are unwilling, therefore, to be the first to adopt this new kind of travel. When Sri Rama who was God incarnate and knew quite well  that Sita was without ant blemish , chose to exile her in deference to a stray popular calumny, how much more careful must be such as ourselves in adopting a method not sanctioned by tradition? I hope you appreciate my position. If instead of asking us to go to Banaras, you take with you the sacred sandals of our revered Guru and have the function done in their holy presence, I am sure all your objects will be fulfilled.

Tamale: I bow to your Holiness’ decision. I am sure that the devotees in the North will be struck with admiration and pleasure when they hear about your Holiness’ firm respect far more than they will be if your Holiness had conceded to our request.


A Model of Sandals (not the orginal one)

(It may be mentioned that Sri Tamale accordingly took the sandals for the function at Banaras and that after its completion Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya came in person to Sholavandan (in Madurai District) to pay his respects to and thank HH and return the sandals)

Source: Golden Sayings by Shri Jnananda Grantha Prakasana Samiti, Thenkarai, Madura District, Year 1969


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