Head pontiff Swami Sawroopanandendra Saraswathi of the Visakha Sri Sarada Peetham on Sunday, 25 December, distributed copies of the Bhagavad Gita and blankets to tribespeople in the Agency areas along the Andhra-Odisha border.
The seer selected Christmas day to distribute the Hindu holy book to counter conversions by “foreign origin religion” and groups.
Sunday’s camp at Paduva tribal hamlet was one of the tribal outreach programmes that Hindu religious organisations conduct.
“The foreign origin religion and its groups are targeting the tribal areas. To counter the conversions that are happening on a large scale, we have decided to distribute copies of the Bhagavad Gita to tribals on 25 December,” the seer said.
“If the local elected representatives come forward, we are ready to establish a school for tribespeople here. Sri Sarada Peetham is here to safeguard the interests of the tribesmen. We first spoke against the proposed bauxite mining in these areas that threatened the livelihood of tribespeople,” Swami Swaroopanandendra said.
He urged the tribals not to shed turmeric and vermillion and fall into the trap of other religions.
The Bhagavad Gita and blankets were distributed in collaboration with Gurudeva Charitable Trust. A medical camp was also organised.
The head pontiff also made the tribespeople chant the name of Lord Rama.
“We have plans to organise a huge yagam at the Peetham next year and we will make tribesmen a part of that sacred event,” he said.
“We will also construct Hindu temples in tribal areas in association with the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. We are already distributing cows to the tribals. Lord Hanuman is also a tribal. All tribals are the descendants of Lord Hanuman,” the seer claimed.
Sri Sarada Peetham has been organising annual trips for tribals to the Tirumala temple.
Sri Raja Syamala Yagam
Swamy Swaroopanandendra Saraswathy and Sri Sarada Peetham are popular in the two Telugu states.
The seer is famous as the one who had conducted Sri Raja Syamala Yagam for the chief ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, K Chandrasekhar Rao and YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, respectively.
Interestingly, both chief ministers shared the dais — a rare sight — in June 2019 to anoint Swami Swatmanandendra as the Uttaradhikari of the Peetham.
Kings usually conducted Raja Syamala Yagam before going to war. The yagam, it is believed, helped in YSRCP supremo Jagan Mohan Reddy becoming the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh in 2019 and also in the re-election of Chandrasekhar Rao as Telangana’s chief minister in 2018.
Notably, India’s lone temple dedicated to Goddess Sri Raja Syamala is on the Sarada Peetham’s premises at Chinamushidiwada in Visakhapatnam.
A second such temple is now coming up in Hyderabad. On 24 December 2018, KCR and his wife Shobha Devi visited the Sarada Peetham in Visakhapatnam after his re-election and offered special prayers to the Goddess.
“Until three decades ago, there was no temple in accordance with the Agama Shastras for Sri Raja Syamala Devi, the presiding deity of Maathangi Vidhya, which is one of the Dashamahaavidhyas,” Swamy Swatmanandendra Saraswathi told South First.
“Thirty years ago, Sri Swaroopanandendra Saraswathi met a Himalayan sage while on a Chardham (four holy temples) padayatra. The sage bestowed on the seer the highly potent method of worship and propitiation of Goddess Sri Raja Syamala, complete with the mantra, yantra (mystic diagram), tantra (technique), mudra (mystic sign), nyasa (text) and aavaahana (invocation),” he added.
The junior seer further said from that day onwards, Si Raja Syamala Devi resides in her benign form as Sri Sarada Swaroopa Raja Syamala Devi, the presiding deity of the Vishakha Sarada Peetham.
Sri Raja Syamala is worshipped in accordance with the traditions of Shri Vidhya, the ancient Vedic traditions and applications of ‘Vedic Tantra’ practices.
Jagan follows Vizag seer
Swami Swaroopanandendra advises and fixes the auspicious muhurta (time) for Jagan, a Christian. The chief minister often visits the Peetham.
Jagan first visited the Peetham in January 2015 after narrowly losing the 2014 polls. The Ashram was surprised when he accepted its invitation to attend the Peetham’s anniversary celebrations.
He first visited the Simhachalam Temple on the seer’s advice before reaching the Peetham.
He attended the 2016 anniversary celebrations also. He then spent two hours at the Peetham, clad in silk robes that the seer had given him. He also participated in the purnahuti of the various yagams held as part of the anniversary celebrations.
Jagan also participated in a special homam on the banks of the River Ganga in Rishikesh. He spent long hours performing the homam after taking the ritualistic dip in the Ganga.