Two Indian Saints with Similar Teachings and Different Ways

What is remarkable is that the fundamentals of the teachings of Paramacharya and Bhagawan are the same.

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Kanchi Paramacharya [ Image Credit:]

Kanchi Paramacharya and Bhagawan Sri Ramana Maharshi are two great saints who lived in Tamil Nadu in India.

Kanchi Paramacharya was born in 1894 and remained as the Head of Kanchi Sankara Mutt in Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu from 1907 to 1994 (around 87 years ). Bhagawan Sri Ramana Maharshi was born in 1879 and stayed in Thiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu from 1896 to 1950 ( 54 years ) as an ascetic.

There are still people living amongst us who have seen Kanchi Paramacharya and Bhagwan Sri Ramana Maharshi in person and heard them, now keeping memories fresh in their mind about these two great saints. .

Different ways :

Bhagawan left his place and reached Thiruvannamalai when he was a teenager and he had no guru ( teacher ) and Kanchi Paramacharya too was chosen as Head of Kanchi Sankara Mutt when he was a teenager , as his predecessor passed away without nominating his successor. Of course, Paramacharya has the traditional practices of Kanchi Mutt to follow, ,whereas Bhagawan has no such tradition to fall back upon.

While Bhagawan and Paramacharya were contemporaries for several years with Paramacharya staying in Kancheepuram and Bhagawan staying in Thiruvannamalai with distance between both the locations of around 200 kilometre, Paramacharya and Bhagawan never met in person. However, many disciples of Paramacharya have said that Paramacharya directed a number of devotees to visit Bhagawan in Thiruvannamalai and seek his blessings.

Paramacharya was the Head of Kanchi Mutt, with responsibility to administer the Mutt in all respects , conducting pujas and rituals as per the tradition of the Kanchi Sankara Mutt and delivering lectures to the devotees on Advaita philosophy and value systems in life. Kanchi Paramacharya travelled mostly on foot all over India and met a cross section of devotees spreading the Advaita philosophy and noble thoughts in simple language that even laymen can understand .

On the other hand, Bhagawan never left Thiruvannamalai and stayed there for 54 years.

Whereas Paramacharya followed the traditional practice of the Kanchi Mutt, Bhagawan developed a tradition. It is not clear whether Ramanashram in today’s style was intended to be organised by Bhagawan or the ashram developed slowly and steadily and inevitably on it’s own.

Another significant happening in Bhagawan’s life was that his respected mother joined him in Thiruvannmalai after the passing away of her husband. It is reported that some people objected to a widow ( Bhagawan’s mother) staying with him, as Bhagawan was an ascetic . Bhagawan brushed away such criticism with contempt and his mother stayed with him till her end. Bhagawan visited the Samadhi of his mother frequently to offer prayers.

However, as per the traditional practices of Kanchi Mutt , Paramacharya detached himself from his family totally and fully.

Similar teachings :

What is remarkable is that the fundamentals of the teachings of Paramacharya and Bhagawan are the same. Both Bhagawan and Paramacharya advocated prayers and meditation as a way of realization of God, which according to both the sages should be realized in the inner selves of men and women.

Further, the compassion and love for everyone around including animals was a unique attribute of both the sages. By such approach, obviously, the feeling of love and compassion in the mindset of individuals would promote peace of mind and promote a sense of detachment from worldly happenings in an appropriate way.

While the similarities of teachings of both these great saints can be extensively discussed , the fundamental aspects of the teachings is that everyone should direct his / her efforts to identify and realise the “bliss ” in inner self, which is often termed as “Ananda” in Sanskrit language

This basically reflects on the cardinal principle of Advaita philosophy that Jeevatma and Paramatma are the same and individuals should not seek to reach Paramatma elsewhere except in the inner self.

This approach succinctly reject the so called” rational” explanation sought to be given by some people about the origin and end of life and so called hell and heaven, which are sort of physical methods to explain away the concept of life and after life

Both the saints simply asked the devotees to realise the inner self , which means Jeevatma identifying with Paramatma and being one with it.

Obviously, when an individual elevates his mental thought process by sustained meditation to realise the Paramatma in inner self and emerge successful, that should be the end of the thought process. Trying to analyse the life process beyond this would be a futile and wasteful exercise that would lead to nowhere. This is the essence of Advaita philosophy, which both these great saints eloquently explained.

There is no doubt that these great saints will be remembered all the time in future , as their advocacies are universal and applicable to all human beings all over the world , wherever they may be.


N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause and to promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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