Shrimath Keshavendra Thirtha Swamiji , who was
a Shastra Jnani (an expert in scriptures), was
initiated into Sanyasa by His Guru H.H Shrimath
Yadavendra Thirtha Swamiji. He became the
second head of Shree Kashi Math Samsthan after
His Guru, the first Mathadhipathi attained
Mahasamadhi in the year 1608 A.D. The
assembled disciples there said that they were
really blessed. Shree Kashi Math Samsthan
gained more fame even though He was just a
young ascetic. He had countless Goud Saraswath
Brahmin disciples residing in Vasupura (Basrur)
and Hejmadi. The Goud Saraswath community
saw a bright light due to His supernatural
powers. They exclaimed, ‘The Guru is our wealth
and we are elevated and prosperous”.
Sri Keshavendra Thirtha Swamiji, accompanied by
the idols of Sri Vyasa and Raghupati, and His
disciples went on a pilgrimage to the famous
Kshetras. The disciples played auspicious musical
instruments such as blowing the conch and
playing the drums, visited Rajata Pita (Udupi),
and Gokarna. They went to Sheshadri (Tirupathi),
had a dip in Papa Vinashini Thirtha and had the
Darshan of Lord Venkatramana (Srinivasa). Then
they went to Kumbakonam to visit the Parama
Guru’s (Guru’s Guru) place where Sri
Keshavendra Thirtha prostrated to the Vrindavan
of Shrimath Vijayindra Thirtha and left for
Rameshwaram. He told the disciples to take a
bath in the Rama Setu (sea) in order to attain
salvation. Then they went to Kanchi, Ayodhya,
Mathura, Dwaraka and Haridwar. Then they
reached the Moola Math at Kashi(Varanasi), had
a holy bath in the Holy River Ganga, and then had
the darshan of Lord Sri Rama (Installed by His
Guru Sri Yadavendra Thirtha Swamiji). He had a
Holy Dip in the Ganges, meditated and did
penance every day. He practiced religious
austerities and took a vow of silence most of the
time. He read the eighteen Puranas and offered
them to Lord Vyasa and Raghupahi. He had only
one longing, i.e to visit Badri. So He prayed to
the Almighty, “Solve my problem, bestow and
show me the holy feet of Lord Vyasa”.
Sri Keshavendra Thirtha Swamiji stayed at Kashi
(Varanasi) for a long time. No One knows the
Leelas (divine plays) of Lord Narayana. One early
morning, during a holy dip in the Ganga, as per
the usual custom, He picked up some Holy Sand
from the river bed to apply on the forehead. While
doing so he felt something hard, probably a box
made of metal. On opening it, He was
overwhelmed with joy to see the idol of Lord
Vedavyasa. In this idol, Sri Vedavyasa was in a
Padmasana. His face shone intensely. He had
matted hair tied over his head. His hands showed
the Mudras of Jnana and Abhaya. (Since then, it
has been a custom for Swamijis of Shree Kashi
Math to take a holy bath in the Ganges with the
image on their head.) Looking at the idol of Sri
Vedavyasa, Sri Swamiji extolled, “Oh Vedavyasa,
Hail Hail Badarayana! Son of Parashara and
Satyavati. You appeared before me and gave
Your darshan”. Then He brought the idol to the
Math, accompanied by chanting of the Vedas,
installed it on a throne situated on a high
pedestal. Vyasa was the predominating deity and
always gave Him joy. He further developed the
physical environs of the Math. With the worship
of Vedavyasa there was an increase in the Fame
of the Math. He gave Anna Daana to the poor.
He founded the Math building at Basrur in
Kundapura taluk. Another building at Hemmady in
the same taluk was built by the followers of
Shree Samsthan, the residents of Hemmady, who
donated the same to Swamiji. He travelled widely
and bought some land in Kashi, adjacent to the
existing Math premises with the intention of
expansion in the future.
The following details obtained from certain court
documents, cover hitherto unknown or little
Facts about the second to the seventh Swamijis
of Shree Kashi Math Samsthan. These are
twenty-two documents in the form of sale deeds,
affidavits etc. filed in Muslim Courts of
Mohammadabad (the name by which Kashi was
known in official circles during Muslim Rule) and
court declarations. These were in the Persian
language, and were subsequently translated into
Kannada (the copies of the Kannada versions of
all these twenty two documents are in the
Possesion of H.H Shrimath Sudhindra Thirtha
Swamiji). These bring to light some of the
hitherto unknown facts of Shree Kashi Math
Samsthan and some of the earlier Swamijis of
Shree Samsthan. Some of these are found very
useful in deciding some of the controversial
matters and misconceptions regarding the history
of the Shree Samsthan. An attempt is made here
to clear these misconceptions with the help of
these documents.
Firstly, let us consider Document No.9. This is
dated 4th Shavval 1078 A.H.* (corresponding to
Sunday, 8th March, 1668) and issued under the
seals of Kazi Sayyad Inayatulla and Kazi Sheikh
Vaviyulla, Daroga Dost Baig and Mufti Sheikh
Dost Mohammed and Sheikh Ambilo. It relates to
a declaration given by a respectable person,
Rama Bhat, son of Narayana Bhat and renamed
as Keshava Thirtha after becoming a sanyasi, in
the administrative office in Banaras, regarding a
plot of land with a building on it. This building
had three halls in the north, west and south and
a separate W. e. on the plot and all these were
covered with wooden planks at the ceiling. There
was also a vacant space in the plot, which
measured 17 yards (eastwest) x 15 yards (north-
south) and was situated in the Brahma Ghat in
Banaras. The four boundaries of the plot are
shown below in Fig. 2. The shaded portions are
the walls erected by Shrimath Keshava Thirtha.
k2 (1)
The declaration goes on to state that the said
plot was in the possession of one Smt. Shanvai,
wife of Ananta Bhat and that Shrimath Keshava
Thirtha bought it from her for Rs.600 (Rupees six
hundred only). The sale deed, with the seal of the
Kazi Sadulla, was in the custody of Shrimath
Keshava Thirtha. However, it got destroyed due
to rain water falling on the place where it was
kept. After some days Shrimath Keshava Thirtha
demolished the old building and constructed a
new building with wooden ceiling on the eastern
side. Halls were built with tiled roof on the east,
south, north and west. There was even an
underground room below the western hall. A
separate W.C. was constructed near the southern
boundary of the plot. He was the sole owner of
the plot and the buildings.
Two witnesses (Ganesh Bhat, son of Dilare Bhat,
son of Narasing Bhat, and Bavan Bhat, son of
Ananta Bhat, son of Amarish Bhat) testified to the
fact that Shrimath Keshava Thirtha had
purchased the said plot from the said woman and
that he had constructed the said buildings on the
plot after demolishing the earlier ones.
The said Bavan Bhat further testified that his
name was shown as a witness on the said sale
deed. Subsequently, Shrimath Keshava Thirtha
declared that he is legally donating the said plot
along with the structures standing thereof,
without expecting any money to his chela
(shishya) Yadavendra, son of Taman Bhat, son of
Narayana Bhat. The said Yadavendra took
possession of the same. Yadavendra who was
also present in the assembly of worthy people
declared that he took possession of the said plot
with buildings and the concerned records.
Shrimath Keshava Thirtha has been described as
one with wheat complexion, wide forehead, wide
eyes and brows, high nose, having a small and a
big black mole on the centre of the nose, a big
black mole on the right side of the head, another
black mole on the left side of the nose and a
fourth one on the right chin. Both of his ears
have been punched (to wear ear rings). He has a
tall figure and his age is given as 85 years (The
year of his birth works out to be 1583).
The following facts come to light from the above
(1) Shrimath Keshava Thirtha bought a plot of
land in the Brahma Ghat in Banaras for Rs. 600
from a lady named Shanvai, wife of Ananta Bhat.
(2) He demolished the old building and
constructed a new one on the plot.
(3) This plot was adjacent to the residence of
Upendra sanyasi.
(4) In the poorvashrama, Shrimath Keshava
Thirtha was one Rama Bhat, son of Narayana
(5) Yadavendra was initiated into sanyasa by
Shrimath Keshava Thirtha and made him his heir.
(6) In the poorvashrama, Yadavendra was the son
of Taman Bhat, son of Narayana Bhat.
It may be mentioned that this Yadavendra was
different from Yadavendra, the first Swamiji of the
Kashi Matha Samsthan and Shrimath Keshava
Thirtha’s Guru Swamiji. Yadavendra mentioned in
the above document may be called Yadavendra II.
The other name mentioned, Upendra sanyasi is
the same as Shrimath Upendra Thirtha.
Thus it is known that Shrimath Keshava Thirtha
(Sri Keshavendra Thirtha Swamiji) had two
shishyas, UPENDRA THIRTHA (who further
developed the Moola Math at Kashi) and
YADAVENDRA (II) THIRTHA, both of whom had
two plots adjacent to each other at Kashi.
Shrimath Keshavendra Thirtha Swamiji had equal
love and affection for both his Shishyas.
After donating the Kashi Moola Math premises to
His Second Shishya Yadavendra Thirtha (II), the
Guru Swami left for Basrur. Sri Keshavendra
Thirtha Swamiji lived in Basrur (South Kanara)
and it became a holy place. Most of the Goud
Saraswaths continued to be compassionate and
practiced the knowledge of truth. Sri Keshavendra
Thirtha Swamiji stayed in the Basrur Shri Math till
he became very old. Swami Keshavendra Thirtha
had attained Samadhi in Basrur on Sunday
February 27, 1670 A.D at the age of 87 years
(Phalguna Bahula Triteeya of Saumya
Samvatsara, Sh. Sh. 1591). His Vrindavana is in
the premises of Basrur Shri Kashi Math