One of the oldest Mutts in TamilNadu is the Upanishad Brahman Mutt in Kanchipuram, near the Sri Kailasanathar temple.The Mutt derives its name from Upanishad Brahmayogin or Upanishad Brahmendral or Sri Ramachandrandra Saraswathi. He is called by the name of Upanishad Brahmayogin since he wrote commentaries on all the 108 upanishads of Hinduism in deference to the wishes of his father. The commentaries are now preserved in the Chennai Adayar Manuscripts Library.He had written close to 45,000 granthas and two other books covering various aspects of Advaita Vedanta and Bhakti.
He was born as Sivarama in 1747.Upanishad Brahmendral was deeply devoted to Lord Rama. When he lived in Thanjavur, his speeches and music had impressed the young Thyagaraja who was around 10-12 years at that time. He was also the composer of Sri Rama Tharanga and Rama Ashtapathi.
He later settled down in Kanchipuram and established this Mutt at this place known as Agastya Ashrama. He is also supposed to have been visited by saint Thyagaraja in 1839 in this Mutt. This letter of invitation is now being preserved in Madurai by the descendents of Venkataramana Bhagavatar of Valajapettai. The other great musician Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar is supposed to have visited this place in 1809 and it was during this time Sri Upanishad Brahman composed his Rama Ashtapathi.
This Mutt still preserves the pristine glory and once you enter it, you are taken to the 16th century.
Since Upanishad Brahmam was also a great Rama Upasaka, he installed a huge Rama yantra in this mutt. This yantra made of stone can be seen in this Mutt near the Seeta Rama Sannidhi. The Rama idol must be a very very ancient one as we infer from looking at it. There is also a sannidhi for Yantrotdharaka Hanuman – Hanuman along with his Yantra.
This is also said to be the place where Sri Lalitha Sahasranama was taught to sage Agastya by Lord Hayagriva. Even today, there are two Shiva Lingas inside the Mutt near a sacred Punnai tree – Agastya Linga and Hayagriva Linga (Agasteeshwara and Hayagreevaeshwara).This place was known as Agastya ashrama in the past. Normally, Hayagriva is considered as a form of Vishnu. This could be the only place he is seen as Shiva swaroopam.There vigrahas worshipped by Upanishad Brahman are also kept inside the mutt. There are also few underground chambers which were used by the Swami’s for their meditation. Kanchi Paramacharya used to come to this Mutt and sit for long hours in meditation.
Sarva Teertham Tank and Samadhi of Sri Upanishad Brahmam
The Samadhi or Adhistanam of Sri Upanishad Brahman is located near the Sarva Teertham tank in Kanchipuram. This tank is around 0.5 kms from the Sankara Mutt. It is surrounded by several Siva Temples.It has a Kashi Mukti Mandapam. The only other Kashi Mukti Mandapam which is well known is at Tiruvaiyaru Siva Temple.What Maha Maham tank was to Kumbakonam, Sarva Teertham tank was for Kanchipuram. Unfortunately, the spiritual significance of the tank has been lost now.
There are 5 other Samadhi of saints in the same temple who are to be identified. The one of Sri Upanishad Brahman can be easily identified by the presence of the Rama Idol behind the Shiva Linga.
There is another one beneath a thumbai tree which is considered very sacred.
This temple immediately needs complete maintenance and support. It needs to be ensured that we do not lose this treasure and a great place of Meditation.
Location: Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India