Shrimad Varadendra Tirtha
Shrimad Varadendra Tirtha was the eighteenth Swamiji of the Kashi Matha. He had spent ten years in Banaras Matha premises, studying Sanskrit and became a great Sanskrit scholar and authored many compositions in praise of Lord Rama, Lord Krishna and other dieties. His poetic genius found expression in wonderful compositions such as Malabandha, Chakrabandha, Nagabandha etc.
Shrimad Varadendra Tirtha had a personality of multifarious activities. He was a patron of fine arts, music and literature. He was a scholar in mathematics, astrology, palmistry and Ayurveda and was an accomplished linguist. He knew Sanskrit, Malayalam, Konkani, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, English, Latin, French, Portuguese, Urdu, German and Japanese languages. His was a unique personality, with versatility combined with strength of character. He was an ardent lover of children and reared animals (deers) and birds as pets.
Modern engineering had great facination for him. Mechanical gadgets had interested him. He had repaired wall clocks and time pieces. In order to print the various manuscripts on religious works lying in the custody of the Kashi Matha, the Swamiji founded a printing press, Sachchidananda Mudranalaya in Basrul. This was in operation for four years. His mastery over the printing craft had amazed the people around him. His efforts in composing, printing and book binding were appreciated even at the Basel Mission Press, the pioneers in the art of printing in Mangalore. At his printing press he composed the entire manuscript of Brahma Mantra Samhita for printing.
The Swamiji wanted to have a central library at Basrur, where he intended to store all the books lying in the various Matha buildings distributed all over India. He planned to construct a building for the purpose. But before the plan was executed, the Swamiji had to visit Kochi and different places in South Kanara district. Thus he left Basrur in 1900.
When the Swamiji was camping in Kundapura, he learnt that the telegraphic transmitting machine had gone out of order. Immediately he asked some of his men to bring the machine and he set it right to the astonishment of all.
The Swamiji was very industrious. He had even constructed a loom, weaving narrow width fabrics (ribbons), where religious symbols like Om, Swastika etc. and names of Gods were constructed by weaving, using differently coloured yarns. A half-finished ribbon (uttareeya) was found along with the loom in the Kashi Matha premises in Bantval, years after the passing away of the Swamiji.
Shrimad Varadendra Tirtha Swamiji performed the installation and renovation ceremonies at various templeS. For example, the installation ceremony at Shri Lakshmi Venkatesha Temple, Udupi was done by him on Vaishakha Bahula Dviteeya of Durmukhi Samvatsara Sh. Sh. 1818 (Wednesday, 29th April 1896). The foundation stone of this temple had been laid earlier by Shrimad Bhuvanendra Tinha Swamiji. The idol of Shri Lakshmi Venkatesha (3 feet tall) was made by Shri Lakshmana Shanbhag, the famous sculptor of Karkala. One of the compositions (Malabandha) of Shrimad Varadendra Tirtha Swamiji has been carved on a rock pillar in the temple.
Shrimad Varadendra Tirtha had initiated one Shrinivasa Prabhu of Kochi into sanyasa on Shravana Shuddha Chaturthi of Paridhavi Samvatsara, Sh. Sh. 1834 (1912) and called him Shrimad Sukriteendra Tirtha. This was performed in Tiruchirapalli on the bank of the sacred river Kaveri. Earlier, the king of Travancore had honoured Shrimad Varadendra Tirtha Swamiji after inviting him to his palace and presented him with a gold Vidwan Shrinkhala and an address.
Subsequently, the Swamiji came to Bombay and camped in the Matha premises in Walkeshwar, Banaganga, till his death, which occurred in Ashada Shuddha Dwiteeya of Ananda Samvatsara, Sh. Sh. 1836 (Wednesday, 24th June 1914). His Vrindavana is by the side of that of Shrimad Madhavendra Tirtha, the seventh Swamiji of the Kashi Matha Samsthan in Walkeshwar.