Udupi Paryaya: Sri Sugunendra Theertha advocates upholding Indian family system, gives practical tips

10:08 AM Jan 17, 2024 | Team Udayavani |

Sri Sugunendra Theertha Sripada, the revered Swamiji of Sri Puthige Matha, has embarked on a remarkable spiritual journey that spans continents. From a young age, his life has been dedicated to the service of Lord Krishna, leading to the establishment of temples and the propagation of Indian culture and spirituality on a global scale.


In an interview with “Udayavani,” he shared insights into his early initiation into Sanyasashram, the evolution of his mission abroad, and his efforts to preserve the rich fabric of the Indian family system.

Early Initiation into Sanyasashram:

At the tender age of 13, Sri Sugunendratheertha Sripada embraced the path of Sanyasashram. Selected through meticulous horoscope readings, his parents played a crucial role in deciding to dedicate one of their eleven children to the service of Lord Krishna. The young Swamiji reflects on his initial unawareness of the responsibilities that came with the title of Swamiji and the eventual acceptance by his parents, driven by the noble cause of serving the divine. ” At the age of 13, we were clueless about the responsibilities shouldered by a Swamiji. My father agreed to my accepting the ascetic life but my mother initially resisted. Finally, my father persuaded my mother, by saying ‘We have 11 children. Let’s give one for the service of Lord Krishna.’ My mother agreed. Then the Guru accepted us as a disciple,” His Holiness said.

Sarala Sanskrit Communication:


As the Adhvaryu Swamiji of Sarala Sanskrit, Sri Sugunendra Theertha Sripada has been effectively communicating in Sanskrit for four decades. Emphasizing the accessibility of Sanskrit, he notes its inherent connection to Indian languages, enabling even those unfamiliar with the classical language to understand.

“Since Sanskrit words are embedded in Indian languages, even those unfamiliar with Sanskrit can comprehend it. Hence, we conduct lectures in Kannada, Hindi, and English, in addition to Sanskrit, to reach a diverse audience. We have also delivered an essay in Sanskrit for an international audience. The acceptance of Sanskrit as a familiar language extends even to foreign audiences,” Swamiji added.

Global Outreach and Temple Establishment:

Swamiji also talked about how his foray into Dharmaprasara abroad began in 1997. His Holiness said that he recognized the universal thirst for knowledge about religion and spirituality when foreign visitors expressed a keen interest in spiritual discussions and decided to extend his mission beyond borders.

“In 1997, foreign visitors approached us, and as we could converse in English, we addressed their religious and spiritual queries in the same language. This led to the formation of ideas in their minds. Recognizing the widespread curiosity about these matters, we realized the importance of reaching out systematically.  Motivated by their hunger for religious learning, we decided to spread our teachings wherever there is devotion to God, transcending national borders,” his holiness said.

“Our journey commenced in America, where we established 15 Sri Krishna Vrindavan temples. While some are currently in rented spaces, our ultimate goal is to build a total of 108 temples globally,” Swamiji added.

Laura Bush’s Appreciation of Indian Cultural values:

The Swamiji recounted a surprising interaction with Laura Bush, wife of former US President George Bush, during a visit to the White House. Surprised to learn about the intricacies of the Indian family structure, she raised questions about the coexistence of grandfathers, grandmothers, great uncles, uncles, their wives, daughters-in-law, sons, and daughters under one roof—a phenomenon uncommon in America. “In India, how can there be such a harmonious gathering? This is not possible in America. We should establish a ministry for this,” she had remarked, the Swamiji recollected.

The Swamiji questioned, “If foreigners are genuinely concerned about Indian family values, why should we let go of such precious cultural wealth?”

On Preserving the Indian Family System:

Sri Sugunendratirtha Sripada also outlined practical suggestions to uphold the Indian ideal family system. He advocates for regular family gatherings, emphasizing the importance of shared meals to strengthen bonds and understanding.

The Swamiji said “Our concern is this: Let no one forsake our traditional family values; we are phasing them out. We advocate for every child to receive these five Samskaras.

  • Ensure that, at least once a day, all members of the household sit down and eat together. This fosters stronger bonds and understanding, preventing animosity from growing as we drift apart. Organize a family gathering at least once a year.
  • Rather than merely praising children’s achievements, encourage them to aspire for more.
  • Instill the habit of serving elders in children from an early age.
  • When visiting temples and bhajan mandirs, take children along.
  • Teach children to respect their elders. The Guru teaches children to respect their elders, and children should salute their parents every morning. Mothers should extend salutations to fathers, and fathers should reciprocate. Only then will children develop the respect they need for their elders as they grow up.”

Additionally, he underscores the significance of imparting values that contribute to a harmonious family life.

Fourth Paryaya and Koti Gita Lekhana Yajna:

Outlining Swamiji’s vision for the fourth Paryaya, he discussed the Koti Gita Lekhana yajna, a significant project aiming to involve one crore devotees in learning the sacred Bhagavad Gita. The plan involves devotees coming to Udupi to write the Gita and dedicate it to Geetacharya.

“During our second Paryaya, two lakh devotees wrote and dedicated Gita verses. This time, our goal is to conduct the Koti Gita Lekhana Yajna with participation from one crore devotees. Devotees are invited to come to Udupi, recite the Geeta, and dedicate it to Geetacharya. Gita Parayana will take place daily at Geeta Mandir from sunrise to sunset.

“By the end of this Paryaya period, a Mahayagya featuring 700 verses of the Gita and an international-level Gita conference is planned. A daily lecture on one Shloka will be given. Additionally, we aim to dedicate a golden chariot modeled after the teachings of the Gita,” the Swamiji said.

Distribution of Koti Gita Lekhana Yajna Books:

On a question about what would happen to the handwritten Bhagavad Gita books, Sri Sugunendratheertha Sripada expresses his intention to distribute all the books submitted during the yajna to the devotees themselves. He considers these books as precious memories of devotees’ contributions and their commitment to the spiritual cause.

The Swamiji also talked about the importance of shaping his disciple into ideal Yati, individuals who seamlessly integrate both worldly and Vedic knowledge. He envisions a future where the lessons imparted align with social values, fostering well-rounded individuals committed to the service of society.

Divine Interventions and Spiritual Experiences:

The interview delved into instances of divine interventions and spiritual experiences, illustrating Swamiji’s unwavering faith. From the successful transportation of Krishna idols to miraculous outcomes during crises, these accounts highlight the divine presence guiding his mission.

“An idol of Krishna had to be taken to New Jersey. However, the officials at Mangalore airport refused air transport. The next day was Pratistha Day. When we reached Kateel on our way back, we received a phone call from the airport, stating that they would allow the transportation of the idol. We believe this is Krishna’s will,” the Swamiji recollected.

In another instance of a miracle, the Swamiji recounted an incident at Bengaluru Airport. “A main idol had to be flown out from Bangalore airport. When the idol had been weighed, it measured 37 kg. According to airport officials, if it exceeds 32 kg, it will not be allowed. We weighed it again at the airport, the weight was registered at 32 kg, and the airport officials agreed. After arriving in America, it weighed 37 kg again. I am still curious about how this happened. We consider it to be the glory of the Supreme Being,” His Holiness said.

“In America, a thousand people can recite the Bhagavad Gita by heart, a skill learned through our online classes. Even elderly individuals are writing the Bhagavad Gita. All of these experiences are believed to be Krishna’s will,” he added.


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