20. Shri Indirakanta Tirtha
Birth Place : Bhatkal
Name at Birth : Ramakrishna Narasimha Puranik
Birth Date : Saka 1793 Prajapati Samvatsara Magha Shukla Saptami Thursday (15/02/1972)
Sannyasadeeksha : Saka 1808 Vyay Samvatsar Vaishakh Shukla Dashami Thursday (13/05/1886) at Partagali Matha
Guru : Shri Padmanabha Tirtha (19)
Accession : Saka 1814 Nandana Samvatsara Ashadh Krushna Truteeya, Tuesday (12/07/1892)
Shishya : Shri Kamalanatha Tirtha (21)
Mahanirvan : Saka 1864 Chitrabhanu Samvatsara Chaitra Krushna Saptami, Tuesday (07/04/1942)
Vrundavan Place : Partagali Matha
Period as Shishya : 06 years 02 months 00 years
Period as Guru : 49 years 09 months 06 days
Period in service of Matha : 55 years 10 months 26 days
Age : 70 years 02 months 24 days
New Construction : 1) Shri Bete Venkataramana Temple Honnavar (Takeover) (28/02/1922)
2) Shri Muralidhar Matha Karwar (Stone Idol) (30/04/1923)
3) Shri Lakshmivenkatesh Matha Manki Honnavar (Takeover) 11/02/1946
History of Swamiji
वेदवेदान्तर्कादिशास्त्रज्ञो यो निरोदनः ।
तं श्रीमदिन्दिराकान्ततीर्थं वन्दे तपोनिधिम् ॥
A family of Pundits by the name Puranik used to reside in the village of Bhatkal. The family had produced very many illustrious scholars in its entire history. The son born in this lineage to Narsimha and Lakshmi Puranik on Thursday, Magha Shukla Saptami of Saka 1793 (Prajapati Samvatsara) eventually became the 20th Guru of the Gokarna Matha, Shri Indirakanta Tirtha.
Svamiji's brilliance, determination and vigilance was apparent even in his early childhood. Such was his intelligence that even before was taught the alphabets, he had already learned several Sanskrit hymns & verses by-heart! His household environment was conducive to studies. He was radiant, fair complexioned, and handsome; qualities he had till the very end.
When Shri Padmanabha Tirtha Svamiji decided to accept a disciple, a meeting of the followers of the matha was called to discuss the subject whereby the son of Narasimha Puranik of Bhatkal was agreed upon as a suitable candidate. After gaining approval from the parents, the Matha committee brought the 15 year old boy to Partagali; arrangements were made for his initiation ceremony; and finally on Vaishakh Shukla Dashami of Saka 1808 Vyaya Samvatsara, he was initiated into Sannyasa by Guru Shri Padmanabha Tirtha and given the name Shri Indirakanta Tirtha.
After this, Guru Svami arranged for the proper education of his disciple. A vidvan pundit was appointed for this purpose. Additionally, Guru Svami himself conducted special lessons for his disciple. Vedas, Vedangas, Poetry, Grammar, Literature, Logic, Mimamsa, etc., were all studied by Shri Indirakanta Tirtha Svamiji. He studied Gita and Brahmasutras in great detail and did a comparative analysis of the Dvaita, Advaita and Vishishtadvaita schools of Hindu philosophy. Owing to his keen intellect, affinity for studies, readiness to strive for hours at end, and sheer determination; Shri Indirakanta Tirtha soon became renowned as an erudite scholar.
One source of his universal acclaim were his discourses. Born in the Puranika lineage, which had been in the profession of giving interactive discourses on the puranas for generations, giving discourses was in his blood. Had he not become a sannyasi, he would’ve continued the family tradition & surely would’ve gained acclaim as a great orator through his discourses. However, as a sannyasi, the knowledge he had acquired exceeded the knowledge requirements of an ordinary pauranika discourser by leaps & bounds. He had plunged into the depths of the spiritual oceans to surface endless pearls of wisdom. He had set aloft on the path of knowledge, yoga, and moral duties within just a few years. The Guru Svami was proud of his disciple’s erudition and command of spiritual subjects. He encouraged his disciple to conduct discourses on the puranas. These discourses proved to be of such high character that everyone from laymen to scholars came to appreciate them; Guru Svami himself included. When he visited Bhatkal, his poorvashrama father was present for his discourse. Listening to him speak, the former father was moved to tears thinking that I not lost a son but rather gained a great deal more. Shri Indirakanta Tirtha Svamiji’s discourses later on proved to be a centre of attraction for not just the followers of the matha but the society as a whole. It became a matter of habit for him to conduct a discourse in the evenings wherever he would travel. Through these discourses, he wanted to guide the upcoming generations which had begun to go astray from the path of righteousness in the wake of modern trends & changing times. He used all the tools at his disposal to keep the society in line with dharma just as it continued to adapt with the times.
Some of his initial attempts were in-line with the prevalent dogmas but he soon realized that an attempt to stay rigid about principles in a time when rapid westernization was polluting the intellectual landscape would only backfire. The efforts of the newly Western-educated young Hindus for so-called reformation of the Hindu society had begun to take a centrally-coordinated & well-organized form, and the Svamiji sensed that it would be virtually impossible for any man or institution to stand averse to these movements; for all opponents would be deemed enemies of progress and shunned— including the thus far revered religious orders. Svamiji foresaw what was to come and thus in his later years, he struck a compromise of sorts not with the so-called spirit of reform which was often beyond all reason, but with the times themselves; and through his discourses and actions reassessed various aspects of the sanatana way of life thereby ensuring that the dharmapeetha itself will not be reduced to obsolescence.
On Ashadh Vadya Truteeya of Saka 1814, that is 12 days after his Guru took samadhi, Shri Indirakant Tirtha Svamiji acceded to the Gurupeetha and ruled for the next 5 decades in a period of great socio-religious turmoil. He had to face several crucial problems which were unprecedented in the entire history of the matha. These questions, of diverse natures, had all been born out of changing social environments. The degradation of moral values in the community in the wake of changing times concerned Svamiji who brilliantly opted the path of social outreach to tackle the issue. He travelled to various cities and villages of interest more frequently than any Acharya had in the past— a total of 25 tours for social causes! Wherever there was a Sarasvata settlement, he visited. His first tour started the very year of his coronation as the Guru and his last one ended 6 months prior to him attaining samadhi. This was a Dharmayajna in and of itself. But not all of his time was spent touring. He spent a great amount of time at the Partagali matha interacting with & guiding people who visited him for varying reasons— then be it knowledge seeking followers, or zealous young people trying to convince Svamiji about their proposed ‘social reforms’, or simply common villagers coming to him with trivial disputes requesting a decision. He welcomed them all with a warm smile, spoke freely with compassion, and gave decisions & guidance, but not without encouraging discussions. This was a vagyajna of sorts.
Svamiji’s travels can be broadly categorized into 2 types: tours for social revival, and pilgrimages. For the first type, he travelled to many villages and cities such as villages in the south & north Canara districts, Calicut in Malabar region, Kasarvane, prominent Goan villages, Shahapur, Belgaum, Hallyal, Kolhapur, Rajapur, Ratnagiri, Mumbai, Pune, etc., multiple times. For pilgrimages he travelled all across India. To the south, he visited places including Tirupati, Tiruchanapalli, Madurai, Vishnukanchi, Shivakanchi, Rameshwar, Dhanushkodi, Kanyakumari, Anantpur, Guruvayur, Udupi, Gokarna, etc. In the Konkan region he visited Ganapati Pule, Parashuram of Chiplun, Kolhapur and Pandharpur. Going northward, he visited Mathura, Vrindavan, Haridwar, Hrishikesh, Prayag, Kashi, Gaya, Ayodhya, etc. In central India, Kshiprakath, Ujjain, Gomati, etc., were visited. In the east he went to the temple of Jagannath whereas in the west he went to Akola, Girnar, Somnath, Dvaraka, etc. In the Himalayan regions he visited pilgrimage centres such as Badari, Bilvakedar, Rudraprayag, Nandaprayag, etc. Thus, Svamiji visited almost every major pilgrimage all over India & also extensively toured most major cities & villages which were hubs of Sarasvata activity.
After the Ramanavami celebrations in Saka 1864, the drama festival of the youngsters began as usual. It is a longstanding tradition for the Svamiji and his disciple to watch the play for sometime. That day the play being performed was ‘Simhacha Chaavaa’ (The Lion’s Cub). Svamiji sat on his throne for a while but he began feeling uneasy & a fever had begun to steadily rise so he decided to retire to his chambers. Later, the temperature rose greatly. The next day he completed his bathing, worship & other rituals. After bhikshasveekaara, he vomited blood. The news spread like wildfire & followers gathered from even the most distant places.
He felt some ease on Chaitra Vadya Saptami but that was a glimmer of false hope. His health worsened rapidly that evening. At midnight he was seated in the Shri Ramadeva temple with the support of a pillar; veda mantras and Bhagavadgita were loudly chanted. The great Guru departed for Vaikuntha sitting in front of his object of devotion, Shri Ramadeva and surrounded by the recipients of his compassion— his countless devotees.
Thus, after a 5 decade long reign, the great Acharya left the mortal plane in Saka 1864 (1942 CE) on Chaitra Vadya Saptami in the Partagali Matha.