Director, Akshardham Centre For Applied Research In Social Harmony
Akshardham, Gandhinagar


the Wanderling

Bharati Krishna Tirtha (also sometimes Bharati Krisna Tirtha) was the Sankaracharya (Pontiff) of the Govardhan Math, Puri, from 1925 to 1960 AD. He is most noted for, first, as being the inventor of and author of Vedic Mathematics, a highly controversial set of strategies for mental calculation. Secondly, that he revealed the archives of the Puri Jagannath Temple contain within their ancient records a set of texts purporting Jesus of Nazareth visited India during his so-called 'lost years of the Bible.'

Born in March 1884, his parents named him as Venkatraman. During his school days Sri Venkatraman was extraordinarily bright young man, masterfully excelling over his peers in almost all academic areas. At the early age of fifteen he was awarded the title Saraswathi by Madras Sanskrit Association in 1899 because of his proficiency in Sanskrit. In 1902 he won the highest place in the graduation B.A. examination.

At the age of twenty Sri Venkatraman Saraswati passed the Masters Degree examination in six subjects Sanskrit, English, History, Philosophy, Mathematics and Science from the Bombay Centre of the American College of Science, Rochester, New York --- simultaneously scoring the highest honors in all, and considered by most as an all-time world record at the time.

In 1908, mostly stemming from a deep inclination toward things spritual since childhood, he proceeded to Sringeri Math in Mysore to lay himself at the feet of the renowned late Jagadguru Shankaracharya Maharaj Shri Satchidananda Shivabhinava Nrisimha Bharati Swami. No sooner had Bharati Krisna Tirtha done so than he was offered the post of the first Principal of the newly started National College at Rajmahendri and, under a pressure from a number of nationalist leaders, began the post. However, after three years, in 1911, he went back to Shri Satchidananda Shivabhainava Nrisimha Bharati Swami at Sringeri.

Starting at age 27, for eight years, from the year 1911 through to 1919, as a pure ascetic, Bharati Krishna Tirtha studied advanced Vedanta philosophy and practice of the Brahma-sadhana at the feet of Shri Nrisimha Bharati Swami. During those years of study he would leave the Swami going into the nearby forests on long solo retreats leading a purely saintly life living on roots and fruits in continuous Sadhana, devoting himself to the study of Vedanta. One day in doing so he attained spiritual self-realization.[1] In 1919 he was initiated into the holy order of Sannyasa at Varanasi by H. H. Jagadguru Shankaracharya Shri Trivikrama Tirthaji Maharaja of Sharadapeetha and was given the new name, Swami Bharati Krishna Tirtha. Three years later, in 1921, he was installed on the pontifical throne of Sharda Peetha Shankaracharya, and in 1925 he shifted to Puri when he was installed as Jagadguru Shankaracharya of the Govardhan Math, while Shri Swarupanandaji was installed on the Shardapeetha Gadi. In 1953, he founded an institution named Shri Vishwa Punarnirmana Sangha (World Reconstruction Association) in Nagpur, with Shri Chimanlal Trivedi as the General Secretary and the Administrative Board consisted of his disciples, devotees and admirers.

It was during his deep meditation retreats between the years 1911 and 1919 in the Shringeri forests that the super-normal perceptual state of Siddhis manifested and he became aware of the sutras he later associated with Vedic Mathematics. Apprently over that eight year period he worked on the sutras, writing all sixteen volumes by hand into school notebooks, treating each together as one independent volume.

Sometime during the period that he reached age 50 or so, for undisclosed reasons, Bharati Krisna Tirtha borrowed a rather large sum of money from Shri Manilal Desai, a money-lender of Dakor and devotee. As a security against the borrowed amount Bharati Krisna Tirtha pledged his manuscript notebooks which he packed away safely in a few tin trunk boxes and left in the care of Shri Manilal Desai. He was not able to repay the amount owed until 1955 or so. By then the boxes had fallen under the charge of Shri Manilal Desai's son Shri Laxminarayan. Once in his possession the son had them transported from Dakor to his residence at Asarva in Ahmedabad.

Vijaya M. Sane, said to be a professor with Kalabhavan Polytechnic in Vadodara, had a great interest in tracing down the location of the boxes containing the hand written manuscripts, using his contacts with higher-ups in the Gujarat Government and Gujarat Police Department, finally located the residence of Shri Laxminarayan in Ahmedabad and got the boxes confiscated and searched. The boxes were found to contain nothing but useless scraps, old shoes, and other trash. After that Professor Sane contacted Shri Laxminarayan personally. Shri Laxminarayan said that a German scholar offered him a large amount of money for the sixteen volume VM manuscript material and that he sold the contents of the boxes to the German scholar, after which he stuffed the boxes with rubbish. Professor Sane tried his utmost to trace the whereabouts and identity of the German scholar, with the help of Honorable Shri Hitendrabhai Desai, Chief Minister of Gujarat at that time, but his efforts have never met with any degree of success.

After the confirmation that all the volumes were lost, most likely sometime in 1956, Bharati Krisna Tirtha was requested by his ardent devotees to make them available again by rewriting them. On their request, in 1957, in his old age, failing health and weak eyesight, he recreated the volumes. In 1958 the type-script of the VM was left in U.S. for publication. During that same year he traveled the country for several months visiting luminaries and lecturing to a wide spectrum across America.[2]

Bharati Krisna Tirtha attained Mahasamadhi February 2, 1960. His book Vedic Mathematics was published in 1965.




Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.


(please click)




(please click)


Footnote [1]

"(F)or eight years, from the year 1911 through to 1919, as a pure ascetic, Bharati Krishna Tirtha studied advanced Vedanta philosophy and practice of the Brahma-sadhana at the feet of Shri Nrisimha Bharati Swami. During those years of study he would leave the Swami going into the nearby forests on long solo retreats leading a purely saintly life living on roots and fruits in continuous Sadhana, devoting himself to the study of Vedanta. One day in doing so he attained spiritual self-realization."

In 1879, five years before Bharati Krishna Tirtha's birth, another boy, also given the name Venkatraman, was born. A lifelong spiritual journey would befall both. During the years 1911 through 1919 that Bharati Krishna Tirtha was going into the forests living on roots and fruits in continuous Sadhana, well over a thousand miles away the other Venkatraman had long since been living a pure ascetic life-style having entrenched himself in a cave high up on the side of the holy hill Arunachala. At age 17 he had a self-realization experience that toyed along the edges of a near-death experience, afterwhich he traveled to Arunachala. In 1912 he was overcome by an all encompassing second experience. The following is how that second experience has been described:

"While walking back from Virupaksha Cave one day he was suddenly overcome with physical weakness. He lay down and the world disappeared as if a bright white curtain was drawn across his vision. His breathing and circulation stopped and his body turned a livid blue. For fifteen minutes he lay as if in a state of rigor mortis, although still aware of the Self within. The current of awareness that was his daily experience persisted even with the shutdown of all bodily systems. Then suddenly, he explained, he felt a rush from the Heart on the right to the left side of his chest and the re-establishment of life in the body."(source)

As time went on the self-realized saint of Arunachala became known as the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. In 1919 Bharati Krishna Tirtha, a masterful and avid scholar of The Texts, was initiated into the holy order of Sannyasa. Ramana, considered one of India's greatest saints and a holy man practically without equal, was himself NOT formally initiated into Sannyasa. He was Awakened to the Absolute at age 17 basically out of nowhere with little or no formal religious background, and definitely without a personal guru. Underlining that status, it should be noted, when Bharati Krishna Tirtha visited the ashram of Sri Ramana he sat on the floor like everyone else, even though Ramana had arranged for a raised seat for him to sit.


Footnote [2]

In 1959, Sri Daya Mata had traveled to India to meet and talk with people of note related to the Fellowship as well as visit some of the hallowed and sacred places from which the Fellowship sprang. During her travels she stopped to see Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha who had visited the Self-Realization Center in California the year before. As reported in the article titled "Remembering Paramahansa Yogananda," appearing in Self-Realization Magazine, (Winter, 1992, p.16) the following transpired:

"In 1959 I discussed this (Jesus being in India during his so-called 'missing years' of the Bible) with one of India's great spiritual leaders, His Holiness Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha, the Shankaracharya of Puri. I told him that Guruji (Paramahansa Yogananda) had often said to us that Christ spent some of his life in India, in association with her illumined sages."

His Holiness replied:

"That is true. I have studied ancient records in the Puri Jagannath Temple archives confirming these facts. He was known as 'Isha,' and during part of his time in India he stayed in the Jagannath Temple. When he returned to his part of the world, he expounded the teachings that are known today as Christianity."





(please click)