Māgaḍi Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri

This article is part 3 of 6 in the series Māgaḍi Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri

Śri Ḍoṅgre Vīreśvara Śāstri who hailed from Maharashtra was Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri’s classmate during one of the batches. In later years, he served in various institutions in a number of capacities: in Andhra Pradesh, as professor of Vedic exegesis; in the Sanskrit section of Deccan College in Pune, as a senior scholar; and in the Pāṭhaśālā established by Svadharma-svarājya-saṅgha in Hyderabad, as professor. Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha based in Tirupati honoured him with the title ‘Mahāmahopādhyāya.’ He passed away on 14.08.2001.

Śri Rāmacandraśāstri Sūri was another great scholar who studied under Navīnam Veṅkaṭeśa Śāstri. He was unmatched in the learning of Logic and Philosophy. Hailing from Honnavar-Kavalakki province in Karnataka, he secured the President’s Certificate of honour. He passed away on 7.1.2009.

Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri’s education flourished amidst such luminaries.

Memory plays a pivotal role in the study of regular subjects. On the other hand, the study of traditional sciences such as epistemology, logic, and Vedic exegesis requires immense intellectual acumen and original insight, alongside retentive power. Such study is doubtless daunting. In this regard, Śri Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri used to remark: “As students, we thoroughly enjoyed our time of education. We felt enthralled when our preceptors introduced us to a new system of logic.” Whenever there was free time in his study of śāstra treatises, Śri Śāstri would join the group of students studying the Vedas. In this manner, the system of education was by itself an ever-ongoing celebration of knowledge.

Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri completed the study of Vedānta in 1938. He came out with flying colours.

Personal Life

By 1927–28, Śri Śāstri was already married. Śāradamma, his wife, hailed from a family of scholars. She was the daughter of Koḻatūru Viśveśvara Śāstri, a person known for his prodigious learning in Dharma-śāstras[1] and Vedic rituals. Viśveśvara Śāstri taught the procedure to conduct Vedic rituals as per Yaujurveda at Chamarajendra Sanskrit Pāṭhaśālā. He authored the work ‘Yājuṣa-prayoga-pārijāta.’

We get a good sense of those times and our ancestors’ commitment to conduct through an incident: Śri Viśveśvara Śāstri used to officiate in Vedic rituals conducted in a number of respected families; this helped him in securing livelihood. One among the regulars was ‘Ganjam,’ well known as a family of diamond merchants. Once, Śrī Ganjam Subbarāmayya had to travel abroad on business work. Crossing the ocean is not allowed by the scriptures and since Subbarāmayya had committed this transgression, Viśveśvara Śāstri terminated his role as the officiator of rituals at their house. But even after this, all members of the Ganjam family had undiminished regard and affection for Śri Śāstri. This feeling of reverence was passed on to the next generations. Ganjam Bhīmāji held Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri in high esteem.

Koḻatūru Rāmakṛṣṇa Śāstri, Śāradamma’s elder brother, is well known as a singer and music composer. He was an authority on the traditional treatises of classical music. He authored many invaluable works such as Gāna-śāstra-prakāśike and Meḻa-rāga-kṛti-darpaṇa.

Śāradamma was a woman of refined sensibilities. Adept in household work, she drew great pleasure in attending to guests. She had utmost respect for elders. In sum, she was the perfect match for Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri. Naturally, Śri Śāstri found abiding contentment in family life. Śāradamma passed away on 10.08.2010.

The couple had two sons: Jagannatha, the elder son worked for the Controllerate for Quality Assurance in Electronics. He practised music under Vidvān Hebbaṇi Veṅkaṭaramaṇa Śāstri and Vidvān Sītārāma Śāstri. Ramamurthy, the younger son, worked for Kirloskar Company.

Study of the Scriptures Continued

Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri completed his study of Vedānta and associated texts of Logic under the tutelage of Śri Navīnam Veṅkaṭeśa Śāstri. What remained incomplete was his studenthood. The reason being Candraśekhara-bhāratī Mahāsvāmi who ordered, “Students of this calibre are rare. Let him study the science of Vedic exegesis, too.” In this way, the Mahāsvāmi’s directive fulfilled Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri’s heartfelt desire! And thus began another course of study, which lasted six years.

Starting from 1941, Śri Navīnam Veṅkaṭeśa Śāstri used to reside in Mysore. He used to come to Bengaluru now and then on work as an examiner and to participate in scholarly assemblies.

Śrī Subbāvadhāni was the professor of Vedic exegesis when Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri was a student of this subject. Hailing from Tirthahalli in Shivamogga, Subbāvadhāni had mastered epistemology and logic under Candraśekhara-bhāratī Mahāsvāmi and Vedic exegesis in the Bengaluru Śaṅkara-maṭha. For a decade, he was the professor at College for Vedic Exegesis in Pune. Being the resident scholar of the royal court of Mysore, he helped edit texts on the subject of his expertise such as Śābara-bhāṣya and Tantra-vārtika published by Ānandāśrama, Pune. He passed away in 1948.

Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri’s study of Vedic exegesis and allied texts of Logic began under the guidance of Subbāvadhāni. A year had elapsed. And then occurred the incident narrated at the beginning of this article.

Accident

Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri had an abiding interest in music during those days. He regularly attended concerts organized by the Bangalore Gayana Sabha in ‘Śaṅkarayya Hall,’ which was near his residence. Once, he’d returned home after attending a concert. It was not yet dark. Since the rainy season was nearing, he climbed on to the terrace to arrange and repair the tiles of the roof. While at it, he slipped and fell to the floor with a thud. Multiple bones in his body were fractured. Dr. Śeṣācalam who was considered a colossus of medicine performed surgeries along with his team. Śrī Śāstri was in coma for six months. The doctors realized there was a greater danger than fractures in the limbs. It was recognized only upon taking the X-ray for the eighth time: there was a fissure in the top portion of the backbone.

Only a few years had elapsed since Śrī Śāstri’s marriage. His son was but a baby of three years. Śrī Śāstri hence had the responsibility of fending for the family. Atop was this spell of clinical trials. There was no clue about how long it would last. Doctors opined it would go on for as long as two years. In such a scenario, resuming studies was a distant dream. But, as described previously, the Mahāsvāmi’s magnanimity and inclination to foster scholarship made it possible for Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri to complete his studies.

Śrī Śāstri remained bed-ridden for nearly for one and a half years. Finally, he recovered. But a hand and a leg remained unresponsive throughout his life.

Śrī Śāstri’s accident deeply disturbed his neighbours—particularly the womenfolk. I have heard that several families of the locality offered special worship to the Supreme, praying for Śrī Śāstri’s speedy recovery.

Lakṣmīnarasiṃha Śāstri resumed studies soon after he recovered. He completed the course of study in the next five years.

During the Navarātra celebrations at Sringeri, the Jagadguru presented a golden bracelet to Śrī Śāstri and honoured him with the title ‘Paṇḍita-pravara.’

For a long period of one and a half decade, he studied with single-minded devotion and mastered four disciplines: Advaita philosophy, Vedic exegesis, Classical Epistemology (Prācīna-nyāya) and Neo-Epistemology (Navīna-nyāya).

In no time, he was appointed as professor of literature at Māgaḍi Karaṇikara Veda-pāṭhaśālā in Vanivilas road, Bengaluru. Among his colleagues were Maṇivinakurike Puṭṭanarasiṃha Śāstri, the well-known scholar of Yajurveda, and Veṅkaṭakṛṣṇa Avadhāni. He served in this Pāṭhaśālā for three decades.



[1] A body of texts that deals with dharma, the principle of eternal sustenance. The topics it generally deals with fall under four broad categories: ācāra (general conduct), vyavahāra (social conduct, law and order), prāyaścitta (rites of atonement for transgressions), and daṇḍa (punishment for transgressions).

To be continued.

 

Author(s)

About:

Dr. S R Ramaswamy is a renowned journalist, writer, art critic, environmentalist, and social activist. He has authored over fifty books and thousands of articles. He was a close associate of greats like D. V. Gundappa and Rallapalli Anantakrishna Sharma. He is currently the honorary Editor-in-Chief of Utthana and the Honorary Secretary of the Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs.

Translator(s)

About:

Shashi Kiran B N holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master's degree in Sanskrit. His interests include Indian aesthetics, Hindu scriptures, Sanskrit and Kannada literature, and philosophy. A literary aficionado, Shashi enjoys composing poetry set to classical meters in Sanskrit. He co-wrote a translation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh’s Kannada work Kavitegondu Kathe.