Jagadguru Sri Shivarathri Rajendra Mahaswamiji
“Education is a basic necessity to realise freedom and democracy.“
Rajagurutilaka Jagadguru Sri Shivarathri Rajendra Mahaswamiji, the 23rd pontiff of the Sri Math, was born on 29.8.1916 and ascended the holy seat on 24.02.1928 when he was hardly twelve years. He took up the responsibilities of the Math along with his guru Jagadguru Mantra Maharshi Shivaratheeshwara Mahaswamiji. He was a firm believer in the good of one and all. He was at the helm of affairs of the Math for more than half a century, a period full of events and activities. He sought nothing but worked for the welfare of all.
He completed his primary education at Suttur and took to studying Sanskrit in Mysuru at the tender age of eight. During this time, Swamiji used to engage in lengthy spiritual and academic discussions with spiritual leaders. With an aspiration to learn Sanskrit, Swamiji went to Varanasi. However, as per the desire of his predecessor His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeshwara Mahaswamiji and Sri Gowrishankara Mahaswamiji of Panchagavi Math, he returned to Mysore to continue studies and got himself engaged in social service also.
A scholar in Kannada and Sanskrit, Swamiji knew English also. He was a patron of arts and literature. He was thoughtful and sensitive to an astonishing level. Unlike others, he had mastered the art of turning every good thought of his into a reality. The wisdom of all his predecessors seemed to have culminated in him. Every step he took was a step forward in search of new areas of service. That is how he could build a galaxy of educational institutions. He served the society tirelessly, without any selfish ends.
His Holiness started Niranjanalaya, a hostel (at his own residence) for needy students in Mysuru. Primary Schools, High Schools, PU Colleges, Degree Colleges, Engineering and Medical College, etc. soon followed. He also established many Trusts and Societies such as JSS Medical Service Trust, Sri Shivarathreeshwara Rural Development Foundation, JSS Sangeetha Sabha, Shivarathreeshwara Endowment Trust, Akhila Bharatha Sharana Sahitya Parishath, etc. that catered to many social works.
Sri Rajendra Swamiji who succeeded the Math with a great legacy did not limit himself only to religious activities but responded to the problems of inequality, poverty and misery in society. The services of the Math were extended accordingly to the needs of society. Much before India attained independence, Swamiji had identified that lack of knowledge was the cause of several problems faced by the masses and started the JSS Mahavidyapeetha (1954) for providing education. Under the aegis of JSS Mahavidyapeetha, he began schools and colleges for Akshara Dasoha (education), hostels for Anna Dasoha (boarding and lodging) and hospitals for Arogya Dasoha (health services) that led to all-around social development. He was very compassionate to support the poor and the downtrodden and provided opportunities to thousands who needed shelter.
The early period of his pontification was not rosy. It was often said that he had to struggle relentlessly to get even a small work done. A single-minded dedication to a task aimed at the welfare of all prompted him to tread a path of sacrifice. His Holiness attained heavenly abode on 6.12.1986, and his shrine can be visited at Suttur.
Sri Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar conferred on His Holiness the title of ‘Rajagurutilaka’ in 1953 as a recognition of his immense contribution to society.
Posthumously, Sri Shivaratri Rajendra Mahaswamiji was awarded honorary doctorate by the University of Mysore in 1989.