Swami Narayanarcharya, popularly known as Guruba among the Hindu community in Bhutan, passed away peacefully at the Laxmi Narayan temple in Lhayuel (Maugaon), Sarpang on August 4. He was 84.
Most of his devotees hold Swami’s relation with them as most prized possession. Swami Narayanachary’s health had deteriorated in the recent years. Due to cold, He suffered asthmatic bronchitis and pneumonia.
Swami Narayanacharya was a noted religious figure who served the Hindu community for about five decades. He managed the Laxmi Narayan temple since its consecration in 1973. Among his many contributions to Vaidic Sanatan Dharma, he not only taught the precepts of Vedic Sanatan Hindu Dharma but also transmitted the knowledge and instructions acquired from his guru to thousands of disciples.
He initiated the extension of the temple and supervised all the constructions. With support of the government and local community and on his unfailing leadership, extension works improved the temple facilities. Today, the temple has become one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Bhutan.
While taking charge of temple, he also started teaching Sanskrit and religious text in a small Pathsala started by his father. Today, most of his students are serving the Hindu community in Bhutan as pundits and purohits.
Another significant contribution to the Dharma was his supervision of a special weeklong recital of Srimad Vagawat puran, commonly known as Pitresti puran, organized by various families. The Pitresti puran is dedicated to the liberation of souls who, for various reasons, fail to find permanent peace. A Pitresti is not successful in the absence of a bona fide Acharya. During his tenure as Acharya, many Pitresti puran were conducted in Bhutan.
Simple and unassuming, Swami Narayanacharya maintained a strict discipline and austere life. Besides a Dhoti and shawl, he did not wear any stitched clothes in any weather conditions until he was forced to wear a hand woven woolen sweater on medical grounds, during his last days. He cooked the food personally for daily offering to the temple deities and for his frugal needs.
Swami Narayanacharya was born in 1935 in Pyakurel family in Rangthaling, Tsirang to his mother, Raghavi and father, Hari Narayan. His father was popularly known as Brahmachari for his ascetic life.
Swami received his early education from his father and later at Sanskrit Pathsala (school) in Bhutan. He did not have the opportunity for higher education unlike some pundits today. However, this was amply compensated by his extraordinary devotion to Lord Vishnu.
Swami Narayanacharya received the Dikshya, the initiation into the lineage of Sri Vaishnavism, a branch of Sanatan Hindu Dharma, from a highly accomplished yogi and guru, Swami Kamalanayana-charya (1868-1985), in early 1960s. His guru appointed him as pujari and in-charge of the first and newly constructed temple at Lhayuel in early 1970s.
Swami Kamalanayana-charya conferred the status of Acharya (who can continue to carry on the guru’s traditions) to him in 1977 in recognition of his loyalty, sincerity and dedication to the Hindu faith. His guru directed him to serve the people in Bhutan. He never failed. From the day he had become the pujari of the temple, he continued to perform his service till 7.00 pm on the last day of his life.
The post of Acharya is generally hereditary within a guru lineage unless the guru maintains celibacy. Accordingly, considering his poor health, Swami Narayanacharya had passed his mantle to his son, Madhav, who is now called Swami Madhavachary, in January this year at a simple ceremony.
Swami is survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter.
Achyut Bhandari and