India is a land of spiritual leaders and for centuries, India has been home to some of the most influential spiritual leaders of the world. These spiritual leaders have played a vital role in shaped the, the culture and the society of the country. Swami Vivekananda, one of the disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, was the prominent Indian spiritual leader who had a major impact on modern Hinduism. He propelled the idea of Vedanta to common masses. His teachings on spirituality, self-realisation and the power of meditation have been widely accepted and followed by millions of Hindus.
Read more:The untold story of Swami Pranavananda
Jagadguru Shri Rambhadracharya is another Indian Hindu spiritual leader who was highly respected teacher, scholar, and author, known for his vast knowledge and deep understanding of the ancient texts of Hinduism. He is the founder of the Rashtriya Sant Samiti, an organisation for religious and social welfare. He has made significant contributions to the Ayodhya Ram Mandir verdict.
Rambhadracharya, the Jagadguru, appeared as a litigant in favour of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi and invoked the Jaiminiya Samhita from the Rigveda. His quotes were accurate and detailed in regards to the direction and distance from the Saryu river in relation to the disputed site. After opening texts, all particulars were found to be correct and it was discovered that the site in question was located precisely where Rambhadracharya had indicated. This miraculous feat of Indian wisdom astounded the judge and resulted in a change in the verdict. It is considered to be a power of the divine that a person who cannot see since childhood, can quote from the vast world of Vedas and Shastras. His arguments and inputs were crucial in the court’s decision to allow the temple to be built.
Shri Rambhadracharya is a polyglot, who had command over 22 languages. He has produced an impressive amount of written works, including 100 books and 50 letters, along with four lengthy epic poems. He is highly acclaimed for his expertise in Sanskrit grammar, Nyaya and Vedanta.
Birth and early life
Rambhadracharya was born on the day of Makar Sankranti, 14 January 1950, in Shandikhurd village, Jaunpur district, Uttar Pradesh. His parents Pandit Rajdev Mishra and Shachidevi Mishra were also devotees of Krishna.
At two months old, Rambhadracharya lost his vision due to an infection with trachoma on 24 March 1950. His father worked in Bombay, so his grandfather was the one who provided him with his early education. He would often tell him stories from Hindu epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata in the afternoons. His grandmother used to call him ‘Giridhar’ which is one of the names of Lord Krishna.
When Rambhadracharya was three years old, he wrote his initial poem in Awadhi Bhasha (a form of Hindi) which he recited to his grandpa. The poem was about Yashoda, Krishna’s foster mom, getting into an argument with a Gopi(milkmaid) for harming Krishna.
In only 15 days, when he was five years old, Giridhar was able to commit to memory the 700 verses of the Bhagavad Gita, including the chapter and verse numbers, with the aid of his neighbour Pandit Muralidhar Mishra.
At the age of seven, Giridhar was able to commit to memory the 10,900 verses of the Ramcharitmanas of Tulsidas in 60 days with the assistance of his grandfather. On Ram Navami in 1957, he fasted and recited the entire epic.
Giridhar’s parents had plans for him to become a Kathavachak(story teller), but he wanted to pursue his education. His father searched for possible schooling options in Varanasi, including a special school for the blind. His mother, however, refused to send him to the school, as she believed blind students are not treated properly there. Giridhar had not attended formal schooling until the age of seventeen, but he had already learned many literary works by “listening” as a child.
On 7 July 1967 he enrolled in Adarsh Gauri Shankar Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya in Sujanganj village near Jaunpur to study Sanskrit Grammar (Vyakaran), Hindi, English, Mathematics, History, and Geography. He recounts this day fondly in his autobiography. He remembers this day as the day when the “Golden Journey” of his life began.
Notable milestones in the life of Jagadguru Rambhadracharya
Rambhadradas was appointed as Jagadguru Ramanandacharya on 24 June 1988 by the Kashi Vidya Parishad in Varanasi. His appointment was ratified by the mahants of the three akhadas, the four sub-sects, the Khalas, and saints of the Ramnyas sampradaya at the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad on 3 February 1989. He was then officially anointed as Jagadguru Ramanandacharya in Ayodhya by Digamber Akhara on 1 August 1995, after which he became known as Jagadguru Ramanandacharya Swami Rambhadracharya.
In 2015, Rambhadracharya was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan. He has been honoured by numerous key figures and politicians, such as APJ Abdul Kalam, Somnath Chatterjee, Shilendra Kumar Singh, and Indira Gandhi, as well as several state governments including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Himachal Pradesh.
Read more: Jagadguru Ramanandacharya: The “Ramavatar” who fought caste system
Rambhadracharya is the founder and lifetime chancellor of Jagadguru Rambhadracharya Viklang Vishwavidyalaya in Chitrakoot, a university that provides undergraduate and postgraduate courses particularly for those with four forms of disabilities.
Giridhar, when he was eleven, was prevented from attending a wedding procession with his family. Due to them believing his presence would be a sign of misfortune. This made a lasting impression on him and is reflected in the opening lines of his autobiography, “I am the same person who was thought to be unlucky to be at the wedding, yet now I am the one who inaugurates the greatest of wedding ceremonies and welfare functions. All of this is only possible through the divine grace of God, who can turn anything from a mere straw into a powerful thunderbolt and vice versa. May God bestow a long life upon the divine soul, who took birth in the holy land of Bharat.
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