Swami Brahmananda Saraswati

Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math (1941-1953)
known as
'Guru Dev'

Compiled by Paul Mason
© Paul Mason 2021

Four ashrams are associated with the life of Guru Dev, Gyan Mandir in Uttar Kashi, Shri Brahma Niwas in Benares, Jyotirmath in Joshimath and Brahma Niwas in Allahabad.

Gyan Mandir

Guru Dev left home at the age of nine in search of a spiritual teacher. Five years later, at the age of fourteen, Guru Dev found Swami Krishnanada Saraswati in the remote valley of Uttarkashi, high in the Himalayas and joined the Swami’s ashram as a brahmachari (celibate student). While it is not entirely certain, it is believed that Krishnananda had his ashram in the building known as Gyan Mandir. Under Swami Krishnananda’s guidance, Guru Dev obtained full enlightenment (Brahmi Chetana) at the age of twenty-five.

Gyan Mandir would later play another key role in the legacy of Guru Dev. When Guru Dev died in 1953, his disciple Maharishi Mahesh Yogi removed himself to Gyan Mandir, where he resided in solitude for many months before embarking on his life-long mission of teaching Transcendental Meditation throughout the world.

Gyan Mandir
Uttranchal 249193

30°43'58"N 78°25'44"E


Link to >> webpage on Gyan Mandir, Uttarkashi

Shri Swami Krishnanand Saraswati Ashram - 'Shri Brahma Niwas' of Benares

In 1936, several years before he became the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math in 1941, Guru Dev had an ashram constructed in Benares, which he dedicated to his guru, Dandi Swami Krishnananda Saraswati. The formal name of the building is 'Shri Brahma Niwas'. This became Guru Dev’s principal ashram throughout his life. It was here that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi became Guru Dev’s secretary and later his disciple. It is also where Guru Dev was installed as Shankaracharya, where his body lay in state after he died in 1953 and where his successor, Swami Shantanand, was installed as Shankaracharya.

Shri Swami Krishnanand Saraswati Ashram

D.61/29 / D61/171
Siddhagiri Baag,
221010 Varanasi

25°18'39"N 82°59'36"E


Link to >> webpage on Shri Brahma Niwas, Varanasi

Jyotir Math

The first Shankara, Adi Shankara, established four maths, or seats of learning, one in each region of the Indian subcontinent, and placed one of his four principal disciples as the head of each math. The northern math, known as Jyotir Math, is a short distance from the cave in which Adi Shankara obtained enlightenment. When Guru Dev was appointed Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, that seat had been vacant for some 150 years or so, and there was no longer an ashram standing. As one of his first tasks as Shankaracharya, Guru Dev had a new ashram constructed on the site of the original Jyotir Math ashram.

Although Guru Dev spent much of his time at the Benares ashram or touring through north India, the Jyotir Math ashram was his formal seat, though he spent little time there.

Swami Vasudevanand Ashram,
Jyotir Math, Joshimath,
Uttaranchal, 246443

30°33'18"N 79°33'35"E


Link to >> webpage on Jyotir Math

Brahma Niwas at Allahabad

Guru Dev had frequent occasion to travel to the holy city of Allahabad. In 1950, he had an ashram constructed there, which, like the Benares ashram, is known as Brahma Niwas.

Shri Shankaracharya Ashram,
Shri Brahma Nivas, 15, Alopibag,
Uttar Pradesh 211006

 25°26'39"N 81°52'13"E


Link to >> webpage on Shri Brahma Niwas, Allahabad

Statue of Guru Dev 
Dhyan Vidhya Peeth, Shankaracharya Nagar, Rishikesh
January 1979

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