Swami Shankar Purushottam Tirth Maharaj was the Sanyas Guru of Swami Vishnu Tirth Maharaj. A Sanyas Guru is a spiritual teacher who initiates one into the system of, sanyas, or renunciation. He lived in the Siddhayoga Center of Benaras after his own initiation into Sanyas by Swami Bharati Krishna Tirth Maharaj, who was the Shankaracharya of Jagannathpuri at that time. The following is a brief account of his career.
Swami Shakar Purushottam Tirth Maharaj, originally known as Shri Venukumar Chattopadhyaya, was born in Lakshmipur in the District of Tripura in East Bengal in the year 1890. His parents were religious people and this had a definite bearing on the inclinations of his mind from the beginning of his life. He also carried strong spiritual seeds accumulated by virtuous deeds in his past life. He had a natural tendency to live in the company of holy men and to be absorbed in spiritual pursuits. His mother died when he was only five years old, but he consoled his other three brothers by telling them this: ''It is true that human beings have their individual mothers but there is a Divine Mother who is the mother of all. She in fact is the mistress of this world and is the beginning and end of all. Our mother has merged into Her. She will certainly give us the best care and remove our sufferings.''
Shri Venukumar, in fact, thus forgot his worldly mother and became a lifelong worshiper of Divine Mother Kali, whose blessings he sought throughout his life. After dedicating himself completely to her, he visited many holy places and stayed in a number of spiritual centers. In spite of these efforts, his desire to have a direct experience of the Divine Mother remained unfulfilled. Ultimately he received the blessings of Swami Narayan Tirth Maharaj at Madaripur who captivated him for the remainder of his life.
Swami Narayan Tirth Maharaj initiated him into the Shaktipat system and he enrolled as a Brahmachari there. For eight years he served his Guru continuously with untiring labor. East Bengal is a unique country because nearly the entire area is covered by water for about eight months out of the year. To collect dry firewood, beg for food from nearby areas and provide meals for a number of guests visiting the Ashram at such a time was never an easy job. Furthermore, since his teacher was a great disciplinarian, the disciples were punished for even their smallest faults. Shri Venukumar was, however, very open minded and patient. Ultimately, Swamiji declared Venukumar to have stood successful to the test and blessed him to go out and propagate the Shaktipat system in the world.
Shri Venukumar, who had come to be known as Brahmachari Atmananda Prakash, traveled far and wide and met a number of holy persons. He continued to do his spiritual practices and finally requested Sanyas initiation from Swami Narayan Tirth. Swamiji directed him to Swami Bharati Krishna Tirth of Jagannathpuri, the Shankaracharya of Govardhan Math. Swami Bharati Krishna Tirth kindly accepted Brahmachariji and named him Swami Shankar Purushottam Tirth Maharaj after initiating him into Sanyas.
Swami Shankar Purushottam Tirth Maharaj laid the foundation of a center in Uttar Kashi near the bank of the Bhagirathi River. He called this center the Shankar Math. Since his following consisted mostly of people from West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the disciples were worried that Swamiji would not be able to spend much time with them. Therefore, another center named Siddhiyog Ashram at Varanashi was built for him shortly after this.
Swami Shankar Purushottam Tirth Maharaj initiated a number of disciples into the Shaktipat system and wrote several books in Bengali such as Yoga Wani, Japa Sadhana, and Guruvani which were later translated into Hindi. He also wrote a short treatise in English entitled Who Am I? Swamiji gave up his mortal body in 1958 in Calcutta and merged with Divine Mother Kali. The books Guru Vani and Yoga Vani have also been translated into English and are available from:
Swami Narayan Tirtha Math 82A-HI Bayville Ave. Bayville, NY 11709 (516) 628-8200 Tel/FAX
Version 1.0, Janruary 1996
Copyright Narayan Prakash and Kurt Keutzer, 1996
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