'He will always live in the hearts of the millions of children who have studied in schools and colleges established by him and the faithful Hindus to whom he was a symbol of the invincible spirit of glorious Hindu Dharma,' says Tarun Vijay.
IMAGE: Jayendra Saraswati, the sankaracharya of Kanchi, who passed into the ages on February 28, 2018. Photograph: PTI
It was 1992. In the wake of the Ayodhya movement, I met the Kanchi seer Jayendra Saraswatiji for the first time.
I asked him: "People say a lot about the way Hindu sanyasis work. They don't help the so-called lower castes, they don't serve people, but only preach. What do you have to say?"
I was the editor of Panchjanya at that time and perhaps he didn't expect a question like this.
He paused and said: "We don't have to answer everyone. Ask them what they have done and tell them to find out what we are doing. Then you may repeat this question."
Then he laughed -- a very innocent, child-like, laugh.
I again asked: "Isn't it a reflection on Hindus that even after centuries they have not been able to get back the Ram temple?"
He smiled and said, "Why do you forget the centuries of resistance and success in protecting Dharma? It's a long struggle and soon the temple will be there. I have full faith."
On both counts, the Kanchi seer was right, and so perfectly.
Not only have I found hundreds of educational and medical centres of excellence run by Hindu monks in various parts of the country -- serving wonderfully, with humility to all, without discrimination -- I also discovered they were helping to erase caste-based hatred and apartheid.
As far as the Ram temple in Ayodhya is concerned, I think the Kanchi seer saw it coming in his last days -- and we all feel more hopeful now, more than ever before.
The Kanchi shankaracharya, Jayendra Saraswatiji, started India's best eye hospital, the Sankara Nethralaya.
Described as 'Temples of the Eye', the Sankara Nethralayas serve all -- Hindus, Muslims, Christians -- in huge numbers, from down south to Punjab and up to the north east.
It is Kanchi Shankaracharya Jayendra Saraswatiji's great vision and commitment to serve the people, providing world class medical service at minimum cost.
He was an embodiment of Dharma -- in the footsteps of the living legend, Paramacharya, the 68th Shankaracharya, Chandrasekharendra Saraswati.
He inspired and saw to it to have the best schools, colleges and medical centres across the country.
He established temples with such finesse and grace that they serve Hindus in a great, harmonious, manner, showcasing the best and brilliant in Dharma traditions.
The Sankara Nethralaya Web site tells us: 'It was in 1976 when addressing a group of doctors, His Holiness Sri Jayendra Saraswati, the sankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, spoke of the need to create a hospital with a missionary spirit.'
'His words marked the beginning of a long journey to do God's own work.'
Strangely, often, the secular Hindu class attacks the saints and priests of Hindu Dharma, but never highlight their services to humanity, provided without discrimination, given to everyone.
The Kanchi seer was ahead of his times.
He began training Dalit archakas (priests) years earlier. He visited their temples and consecrated those centres of faith. He joined Kumbhabhishekams organised by them.
His special attention on the north east -- by establishing schools, hospitals and centres of Vedic studies -- is exemplary and an inspiration to all those who want to serve India and protect Hindu Dharma.
When we started the Sindhu Darshan festival in Leh in 1996, he was happy, saying this would bring the glory of the Indus back to the nation. He wanted it to be a collective event of Hindus and Buddhists.
In spite of being a harsh, cold, climate, he visited Sindhu and performed a special Sindhu Pujan, which he never forgot and always mentioned whenever I met him.
When the Kanchi seer was invited to Rashtrapati Bhavan, Colonel Ashok Kini -- President A P J Abdul Kalam's ADC -- tweeted today: 'Dr Kalam made the saint sit on his chair. When I asked, why was this honour. His reply: "I want this chair to get blessed and whoever sits on this chair in future must get blessings of this saint".'
Jayendra Saraswatiji virtually lived India.
He lived Dharma and served all with the great ideals and incorrigible faith in Advaita in his heart.
He will always live in the hearts of the millions of children who have studied in schools and colleges established by him and the faithful Hindus to whom he was a symbol of the invincible spirit of glorious Hindu Dharma.
He represented an era and his passing has left a blank that will be difficult to be filled.