30 e-books in English by Sri Sri Swami Akhandananda Saraswatiji Maharaj (Web Links)

maharajjiMaharaj Shri, a synopsis.

1008 Sarvatantra Svatantra Sri Sri Akhandananda Saraswatji Maharaj (1911 – 1987), (aka Maharaj Shri) of Walkeshwar (Mumbai) and Vrindavan was perhaps the most scholarly and eloquent exponent of Advaita Vedanta in the 20th century. The only one who comes close in sampradayic (not Svatantra) scholarly output is the renowned late Maha Periaval, Sri Sri Candrasekarendra Saraswati, Shankaracharya of Kanchi Peetham.

Akhandanandaji was invited several times to be the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math in the Himalayas (one of the 4 amnaya peethas established by Adi Samkara Bhagavadpada), after the videhamukti of Swami Brahmananda Saraswatiji Maharaj his diksha guru. (His jnana guru was Oriya Baba Maharaj). He declined each time. ‘You all did see that on the Lupercal I thrice presented him a kingly crown, Which he did thrice refuse. Julius Ceasar Act III, Scene 2. To prevent such constant importuning he stood in the Sarayu River and formally did ‘danda tyaga’ to become an ati-ashrami.

Despite that, besides Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi, Maharaj Shri was the only one (that I know of) before who senior dandi swamis of the Shankara Sampradaya formally prostrated. Only those with an intimate knowledge of Old India and the strict protocols of the Sankarite monastic orders would know the significance of this.

In addition, Maharaj Shri was a Krishna bhakta and mantra siddha without peer. Besides being a rare ‘sad darsana acharya’ he was also especially learned on the Yoga Sutras and the Samkhya Sutras both from a scholarly standpoint and insight gained through anusthana siddhi.

A renowned public speaker on Advaita and the bhakti marga he was also without peer in his exposition of Bhagavat Saptah as a lifelong devotee of Bhagwan Sri Krishna. He did Astha Dasakshara Sri Krishna Mantra japa for 12 long years – a minimum of 8 hours every day and attained sakshatkara of his Istha. He writes in a soulful passage, “That Sri Krishna that others only speak of, I have seen Him with my eyes open. He came and put his hand on my head (in traditional Hindu) blessing and asked me to study Advaita. Then I commenced my studies.”

Blessed with eidetic memory, on one occasion he said off handedly, “I am old now, but at one time I had committed to memory and could expound on the similarities and differences of some 60+ major extant sampradayas and paramparas of Sanatana Dharma. He famously was considered to have committed to memory some 300 commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, dozens of commentaries on the Upanishads and 30+ commentaries on the Brahma Sutras. He was a child prodigy. Decades ago I remember reading that while other young children had to memorize 4 shlokas before breakfast, Maharaj Shri used to memorize 40 so acute and energetic was he.

I had suggested to a renowned Sanskrit pandita from Karnataka to go and be with him. The learned gentleman later took ‘kutichaka’ dandi sannyasa, but before that he came back and translated several of Maharaj Shri’s books on bhakti into Kannada as a service to South Indian sadhakas.

Maharaj Shri’s lectures on scholarly Advaita, the prastana traya and the Advaita prakarna granthas are available in multiple volumes. Apart from these there are the dozens of volumes on bhakti marga. He was the only one despite being an Advaitin to be routinely invited by the Mathura / Vrindavan Krishna bhaktas to come and conduct ‘bhagavat saptahs’.

Of particular note are Maharajshri’s 3-volume some 600+ page commentary on the Catuh Sutri of the Brahma Sutras and his 4-volume some 1200 page commentary on the Mandukya Karikas. Alas these are not available (as yet) in English. Towards the end of Volume 3 on the Catuh Sutri, Maharaj Shri thunders, “Look here it is a fact that there is a siddhi known as ‘parakaya pravesa’. And even today there are people living who have attained this siddhi. I know who they are, but I am not about to tell you”. He said this in the 1970s. Only those familiar with the Madhaviya Samkara Digvijaya by Vidyaranya Swami of Sringeri Matha and / or the life of Adi Shankaracharya would be able to appreciate the significance the Maharaj Shri’s statement.

For those interested in an authentic scholarly or popular exposition of Hinduism nee Sanatana Dharma such as few can provide in this ‘age of dharma’s decline’ as the Buddhists say, one can visit Maharajshri’s website. Or you can write / call my good friend Dr. Vipin Chawla (see below). He would be honored to be of assistance. (He is in Silicon Valley and the cat’s whiskers a la IT and investment banking and hence easily accessible). J