CHENNAI, INDIA, July 9, 2003: Sri T.S. Sambamurthy Sivachariar attained the lotus feet of Goddess Kaligambal on July 7, 2003, at 4:15 am in Chennai and was cremated with all rituals on July 8. Sri Sambamurthy was a diabetic, on kidney dialysis and had had heart by-pass surgery. He stopped eating solid food on January 3 of this year and subsisted on liquid food until his passing. He breathed his last while holding the icon of Goddess Kaligambal which from his shrine room.
Born on February 11, 1925, on Uthiram, in the town of Thirumazhisai, Tamil Nadu, South India, son of the renowned priest Sri Shanmuga, he was trained in the priesthood at home under the tutelage of his father and relatives. Upon his marriage, he commenced his priest work. During his long lifetime, Sambamurthy Sivachariar was instrumental in raising the stature of the Hindu priestly profession around the world. Having been greatly reduced in size and stature over the last two hundred years by the forces of secularization and worldliness, Sambamurthy Sivachariar held tight to the priestly traditions while training his sons and sons-in-law as humble, devout and knowledgeable servants for the temples of Lord Siva, the Goddess and the other Gods of the Hindu pantheon. As head of a large number of Sivacharyas, Sri Sambamurthy traveled the globe dedicating temples and seeing to it that traditional ritual worship was followed. Sri Sambamurthy garnered the respect of everyone who met him, even those not normally generous in their regard for priests.
Such was Sri Sambamurthy's expertise that by age 76 he had participated in more than 2,000 kumbhabhishekams, the most complex of all temple ceremonies, all across India and in many other countries. Sri Sambamurthy presided over a number of special peace yagnas, fire ceremonies, for India's welfare in times of famine and disasters. Outside of India, he dedicated temples in Washington D.C., Texas, Boston, Hawaii, U.K., Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Australia and Thailand. He also represented Hinduism at world religious conferences and received dozens of awards. Most recently he represented the Saivite priesthood at the Millennium Peace Summit of World Religious and Spiritual Leaders held at the United Nations in August, 2000, and was Hinduism Today's 2001 Hindu of the Year recipient. Hinduism Today reporter Sivakamasundari Shanmugasundaram wrote of him, "I can easily say that Sri Sambamurthy commands the respect that he does all over the world because of two things, his spiritual demeanor and serenity and his unparalleled devotion." Every day without fail he performed an hour of personal worship of God. Every Monday he observed silence, no matter what the event transpiring or the VIPs present. He was a strict vegetarian, and observed all the rules of personal purity necessary to do the priestly work. Though he probably had more visa stamps in his passport than most international businessmen, he made no special attempt to profit from his popularity. In fact, when the government of India offered to give him the very valuable priest's house of the Kaaligambal Temple, where he was head priest, he refused, saying it should be retained for the next head priest.
Sri Sambamurthy was a leading member of the South India Archaka Sangam, the foremost association of Saiva priests. He and his sons also actively trained his family's young men in the priesthood. Sri Sambamurthy was a forward-looking priest, aware of the needs of a global Hinduism. He offered to train and ordain anyone as a priest who was willing to dedicate their life to the worship of Lord Siva and follow the disciplines of the priesthood. In this manner, he would establish new lineages, especially in other countries, of people born there. As a result, many priests trained by him are serving around the world. He was honored and respected worldwide because of the extraordinary effort he made to meet the spiritual needs of Hindus around the world.
His passing was covered in many news media, including India's Raj and Jaya TV, the dailies Dinar Mala and others, the Hindu, and in Canada, London, Reunion, Mauritius, Kuala Lumpur and other areas.