The Archakas of Mulabagal

The Anjaneyaswamy Temple of Mulabagal is extremely famous. Folks from the Mysore-Bangalore region who went on a pilgrimage to Tirupati would typically travel via Mulabagal, visit the Anjaneyaswamy Temple, take his Prasadam and resume their journey. According to one legend, this town derived its name “Mulabagal” because it lies to the east[i] of Tirupati. Apart from this main Temple, there were numerous other Anjaneyaswamy Shrines in the town. There were two in the Agraharam of the Madhva Brahmanas. My other university apart from my home was the Anjaneyaswamy Temple, located very close to my school. Whenever we had free time or made time, my friends and I used to spend most of our time in the ramparts of this Temple. My younger grandfather Sri Ramanna was one of the Trustees of the Anjaneyaswamy Temple. I’ve heard that he offered an armour named Vajranga (literally, “diamond armour”) to Anjaneyaswamy, and that he had left behind an endowment to perform various Pujas for two days in the Dhanurmasa (typically between mid-December and mid-January). He was a great devotee of this Deity. He would visit the Temple every evening for Darshan. If somebody fell sick in our home, the treatment we relied upon was this: a Prasadam comprising the flowers offered to Anjaneyaswamy, and the Angara given to devotees after worshipping him with incense. The courtyard of the Temple was really vast. Although the temple was named after Anjaneyaswamy, there were seven or eight temples of Vishnu within the complex of considerable size. The Temple faced westwards. Its main door was massive. Its dome was splendid and eye-catching. The front yard was spic and span at all times. It was a joy in itself to stand there and look around. When you turn left after entering the main door, you find a Pushkarini. Next to it was a small flower garden. When you walk forward from the Pushkarini and turn eastwards, you find a Ranganathaswamy Temple. The Murti of this Deity was taller than an average human. It was extremely beautiful. There was a Navaranga in front of the sanctum sanctorum and a Mukha Mantapa in front of it. There was a door to the southern portion of the Navaranga, which opened to reveal the Shrungara Mantapa. On the Mukkoti Dwadashi[ii], the Vaikunta Utsava was celebrated here too like it is celebrated at Srirangam near Tiruchinapalli. In the morning, the Utsava Murti (Procession Deity) would be taken out and Puja would be performed. Hundreds of devotees would assemble at the place in groups and take the Mangalarati and Prasadam. Opposite the Ranganathaswamy Temple was the Varadarajaswamy Temple. Walking alongside it, when you reached the rear portion of the Anjaneyaswamy Temple and circumambulated westward, you found an enormous and beautiful wedding hall. This was directly in line with the Pushkarini. When you walked further ahead from there, you came across the Venkataramana and Padmavati Temple. The Murti in this temple was also larger than life and very beautiful. The Navaranga and Mukhamantapa in this temple are expansive. After having a Darshan of this Deity, when you arrived at the central courtyard, the first thing that struck your eye was the large, half-moon shaped portico used for festivals. As if leaning against it was a huge Tulasi Shrine. Adjacent to this shrine were the Balipeeta, and flag post. In front of this was the Mukha Mantapa of the Anjaneyaswamy Temple. When you proceed from the left within this Mukha Mantapa, you first find the Alankara Mantapa. On festival days, the Murtis would be nicely decorated and placed in this Mantapa. Deeparadhana (lighting lamps), Mangalarati, and Mantrapushpam would then take place with great splendor. All the four walls would be colourfully painted with scenes from the Ramayana. This entire scene was not only visually appealing but was also inspirational. Next to the Alankara Mantapa was the temple of Sri Sanjivaraya—it was yet another Anjaneya Temple. When you turn southward from there, you found the temples of Kodandarama, Narasimhaswamy, Venugopalaswamy, etc. Adjacent to these was the Superintendent’s office. Facing it, you found bugles and a large silk-cotton tree. When you climb four or five steps from the aforementioned Mukha Mantapa, you enter the Anjaneyaswamy Mukha Mantapa. Beyond this is the sanctum sanctorum. And there he is in all his eye-arresting resplendence. The powerful Veeranjaneya Swamy. He stands there lifting his left arm high up in the air in a heroic pose of smashing a demon down on the ground. Manojavam Maarutatulyavegam Jitendriyam Buddhimataam Varissttham | Vaatatmajam Vaanarayuuthamukhyam Shriiraamaduutam shirasaa namaami|| To the south of the sanctum sanctorum was the kitchen. Close to the kitchen was a well. The water from this well was exclusively used for Anjaneyaswamy’s Abhishekam. Our sojourns were typically focused in this vicinity. We would obtain some Prasadam. The water had a divine taste. But most important of all was the opportunity for idle chatter, to climb trees, bite into raw fruit and throw it away, to get chided by the watchmen—this was our pastime.

Temple Staff


Anjaneyaswamy temple in Mulbagal


The staff of this large temple was equally large. The temple gardens held a similar attraction as did the temple and the dome. Wide roads on all four directions and small, clean roads in between. Little fences by the side of these roads. Gardens comprising numerous varieties of flowers inside the fences. All of these were visually appealing and brought cheer to the mind. This was the result of the vision and expertise of the Archakas of the temple. It didn’t happen because of a Government mandate. The Government simply carried on the tradition of the temple handed down from an ancient time. The Amaldar visited it once or twice annually, took the Darshan and left. His position was merely that of a supervisor. The everyday administration was in the hands of the Archakas. As far as I know, the chief among the Archakas was Sri Ramacharya. He had a matrimonial alliance with the Archakas of Tirupati. He would often visit Tirupati. Sri Ramacharya was one of my father’s close friends. Each time he returned from Tirupati, he would come home and give us a miniature of the Srinivasa’s Sacred Feet, Chandana, Vada and other items of Prasadam without fail.

Magnanimity of Feeling

  The Archakas of the Anjaneyaswamy Temple belonged to the Vaikhanasa[iii] tradition. The fold of Srivaishnavism comprises two main traditions: the Paancharatra and the Vaikhanasa. I personally think that the Vaikhanasa is the more magnanimous of the two. Its adherents are not hypocrites. They are not imbued with hatred towards Shiva. One of the ancestors of Sri Ramacharya was Sri Gaurishastri. Perhaps his original name was Gaurishashastri (Gaurisha means “lord of Gauri or Parvati). This in itself is evidence of magnanimity. Shivasya hridayam vishnuh vishnosca hridayam Shivah|| In the heart of Shiva resides Vishnu and in Vishnu’s heart, Shiva || The Vaikhanasa Archakas of my town conducted themselves according to the preceding verse. They were all experts in the Agama Sastras[iv]. They were deeply learned in Sanskrit literature, they had mastered the Veda and they lived a spotless life.

Professional Competence

  The Archakas of the Anjaneyaswamy Temple were not only experts in the Agama Sastra, they were also extremely competent in administrative tasks. Keeping the Mantapa environment of the temple at pristine cleanliness, enhancing the lushness of the garden, safeguarding the jewelry and precious clothing of the Deity, protecting the vessels and utensils, conducting Utsavas and other celebrations on schedule—they expertly executed these tasks. They had earned the trust, confidence, and respect of the entire town. They possessed genuine affection for the people. DevatAkshetra mAhAtmyam arcakasya tapObalAt || The glory of a place of pilgrimage lies in the strength of the Tapas of its Archakas. These Archakas were the living epitomes of this proverb.

My Puja of the Devatas

  If I remember correctly, Sri Sanjeevappa was Sri Ramacharya’s father. He was equally renowned. I had been completely bowled over by the grandeur of the decorations during the Vaikunta Dwadashi festival. Accordingly, I wanted to install a Deity in my home and decorate it on a similar grand scale. And so I began to torment my younger grandfather to procure a Vigraha (or Murti, misleadingly referred to as “idol”). In this endeavor of performing my personal Puja, I had the encouragement of my grandmother and maternal uncle. Ultimately, Vidwan Sri Sanjeevappa got me a Vigraha of Sri Paravasudeva (or Krishna, the son of Vasudeva). It was extremely cute. To decorate it, I cut the edge of an ornately embroidered Kashmir shawl that my grandfather had given me and draped it around the Paravasudeva Vigraha. The moment my father learned of this, I ate a hearty feast of blows. But I’m obtuse. Sri Paravasudeva was frequently in my sighting until I had children of my own.

*  * *

Tottimane - Image courtesy:- Google Image Search


Another famous name among the Archakas was Sri Srinivasacharya or “Bandemane” Sheenappa. He was the father-in-law of Sri Ramacharya’s elder brother, Srinivasacharya. Sri Sheenappa was a prominent figure in our town. He had an expansive Tottimane—a traditional construction with wide courtyards and pillars with space for storing rainwater. He also owned land. His home was always filled with guests. His grandson is the recently-departed “Panditaratnam” Agama Vidwan Sri Venkataramanacharya. Two other famous Archakas were Sri Hanumappa and Sri Venkataramanacharya. They not only performed Puja and other services to Anjaneyaswamy but also did the same in the Kodandaramaswamy and Vittaleshwara Temples. Both were noble people.

Sri Krishnappa

  It is absolutely important to recall the name of yet another Archaka, Sri Krishnappa. He was a learned Vidwan. His son, Sri Shyamadasa eventually went on to earn renown as a Harikatha exponent. Sri Shyamadasa learned Sanskrit and Telugu under the tutelage of Sri Venkatarama Shastri. Sri Venkatarama Shastri and the Archaka, Sri Krishnappa were close friends. Every afternoon at around three or four, both would sit next to each other on the stone bench in front of Sri Krishnappa’s home. Both of them had two boxes each made of nutmeg wood. One box contained marbles made of clay. They would pick up a marble, utter “Sri Ramaya Namah” and put it in the other, empty box. In this manner, which the first box became empty, it meant that they had uttered the name of Sri Rama one thousand times. As this Japa (chanting) was in progress, they would strike a cordial conversation with folks who passed by. “Hey Potter Gunagaa, are you fine?” “Washerman Subba, has your donkey’s leg healed?” “Limestone Mada, I heard you burned your hand?” These folks had faith in astrology and our Dharmashastras. Sri Krishnappa replied to each person with genuine affection and friendship. In this manner flowed the twin feelings in the lives of these Elders: of Bhakti towards Sri Rama and affection towards the world.

This is the English translation of the ninth chapter of D V Gundappa’s Jnapakachitrashaale – Vol. 5 titled “Vaidikadharma Sampradayastharu.” 


[i] The Kannada word for East is “Moodalu.” The word “Baagilu” means door. Hence, Moodala+Bagilu=Moodalabagilu. The corruption of this word gives us “Mulabagilu.”

[ii] This is also known as the Vaikunta Dwadashi celebrated in the Dhanurmasa every year in all Vishnu Kshetrams including Tirumala, Bhadrachalam etc.

[iii] The Vaikhanasa tradition is of untold antiquity is one of the principal traditions of Hinduism and primarily worships Vishnu and all his avataras, associated deities, etc. The tradition mainly follows the Taittiriya branch of the Krishna Yajur Veda and the Vaikhanasa Kalpasutra. Its name derives from the Sage, Vaikhanasa. Several prominent Vishnu-related temples in South India follow the Vaikhanasa tradition of worship. This includes the Sri Venkateshwara Temple at Tirumala, Sri Veeranjaneya Swamy Temple at Mulabagilu, Sri Chennakeshava swamy Temple at Tarakaturu, Machilipatnam, Sri Sundara Varadaraja Perumal Temple at Uthiramerur, Kanchipuram, etc

[iv] Loosely speaking, Agama Sastras comprise the entire body of knowledge governing temple traditions.



Devanahalli Venkataramanayya Gundappa (1887-1975) was a great visionary and polymath. He was a journalist, poet, art connoisseur, philosopher, political analyst, institution builder, social commentator, social worker, and activist.



Sandeep Balakrishna is a writer, author, translator, and socio-political-cultural analyst. He is the author of "Tipu Sultan: The Tyrant of Mysore" and "The Madurai Sultanate: A Concise History." He translated Dr. S L Bhyrappa's magnum opus "Avarana" into English.

Prekshaa Publications

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the fourth volume, some character sketches of the Dewans of Mysore preceded by an account of the political framework of the State before Independence and followed by a review of the political conditions of the State after 1940. These remarkable leaders of Mysore lived in a period that spans from the mid-nineteenth century to the...

Bharatiya Kavya-mimamseya Hinnele is a monograph on Indian Aesthetics by Mahamahopadhyaya N. Ranganatha Sharma. The book discusses the history and significance of concepts pivotal to Indian literary theory. It is equally useful to the learned and the laity.

Sahitya-samhite is a collection of literary essays in Kannada. The book discusses aestheticians such as Ananda-vardhana and Rajashekhara; Sanskrit scholars such as Mena Ramakrishna Bhat, Sridhar Bhaskar Varnekar and K S Arjunwadkar; and Kannada litterateurs such as DVG, S L Bhyrappa and S R Ramaswamy. It has a foreword by Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh.

The Mahābhārata is the greatest epic in the world both in magnitude and profundity. A veritable cultural compendium of Bhārata-varṣa, it is a product of the creative genius of Maharṣi Kṛṣṇa-dvaipāyana Vyāsa. The epic captures the experiential wisdom of our civilization and all subsequent literary, artistic, and philosophical creations are indebted to it. To read the Mahābhārata is to...

Shiva Rama Krishna

சிவன். ராமன். கிருஷ்ணன்.
இந்திய பாரம்பரியத்தின் முப்பெரும் கதாநாயகர்கள்.
உயர் இந்தியாவில் தலைமுறைகள் பல கடந்தும் கடவுளர்களாக போற்றப்பட்டு வழிகாட்டிகளாக விளங்குபவர்கள்.
மனித ஒற்றுமை நூற்றாண்டுகால பரிணாம வளர்ச்சியின் பரிமாணம்.
தனிநபர்களாகவும், குடும்ப உறுப்பினர்களாகவும், சமுதாய பிரஜைகளாகவும் நாம் அனைவரும் பரிமளிக்கிறோம்.
சிவன் தனிமனித அடையாளமாக அமைகிறான்....

ऋतुभिः सह कवयः सदैव सम्बद्धाः। विशिष्य संस्कृतकवयः। यथा हि ऋतवः प्रतिसंवत्सरं प्रतिनवतामावहन्ति मानवेषु तथैव ऋतुवर्णनान्यपि काव्यरसिकेषु कामपि विच्छित्तिमातन्वते। ऋतुकल्याणं हि सत्यमिदमेव हृदि कृत्वा प्रवृत्तम्। नगरजीवनस्य यान्त्रिकतां मान्त्रिकतां च ध्वनदिदं चम्पूकाव्यं गद्यपद्यमिश्रितमिति सुव्यक्तमेव। ऐदम्पूर्वतया प्रायः पुरीपरिसरप्रसृतानाम् ऋतूनां विलासोऽत्र प्रपञ्चितः। बेङ्गलूरुनामके...

The Art and Science of Avadhānam in Sanskrit is a definitive work on Sāhityāvadhānam, a form of Indian classical art based on multitasking, lateral thinking, and extempore versification. Dotted throughout with tasteful examples, it expounds in great detail on the theory and practice of this unique performing art. It is as much a handbook of performance as it is an anthology of well-turned...

This anthology is a revised edition of the author's 1978 classic. This series of essays, containing his original research in various fields, throws light on the socio-cultural landscape of Tamil Nadu spanning several centuries. These compelling episodes will appeal to scholars and laymen alike.
“When superstitious mediaevalists mislead the country about its judicial past, we have to...

The cultural history of a nation, unlike the customary mainstream history, has a larger time-frame and encompasses the timeless ethos of a society undergirding the course of events and vicissitudes. A major key to the understanding of a society’s unique character is an appreciation of the far-reaching contributions by outstanding personalities of certain periods – especially in the realms of...

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhānī Dr. R Ganesh. As a master of śāstra, a performing artiste (of the ancient art of Avadhānam), and a cultured rasika, he brings a unique, holistic perspective to every discussion. These essays deal with the philosophy, history, aesthetics, and practice of...


इदं किञ्चिद्यामलं काव्यं द्वयोः खण्डकाव्ययोः सङ्कलनरूपम्। रामानुरागानलं हि सीतापरित्यागाल्लक्ष्मणवियोगाच्च श्रीरामेणानुभूतं हृदयसङ्क्षोभं वर्णयति । वात्सल्यगोपालकं तु कदाचिद्भानूपरागसमये घटितं यशोदाश्रीकृष्णयोर्मेलनं वर्णयति । इदम्प्रथमतया संस्कृतसाहित्ये सम्पूर्णं काव्यं...


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इदं खण्डकाव्यमान्तं मालिनीछन्दसोपनिबद्धं विलसति। मेनकाविश्वामित्रयोः समागमः, तत्फलतया शकुन्तलाया जननम्, मातापितृभ्यां त्यक्तस्य शिशोः कण्वमहर्षिणा परिपालनं चेति काव्यस्यास्येतिवृत्तसङ्क्षेपः।


इयं रचना दशसु रूपकेष्वन्यतमस्य भाणस्य निदर्शनतामुपैति। एकाङ्करूपकेऽस्मिन् शेखरकनामा चित्रोद्यमलेखकः केनापि हेतुना वियोगम् अनुभवतोश्चित्रलेखामिलिन्दकयोः समागमं सिसाधयिषुः कथामाकाशभाषणरूपेण निर्वहति।


अस्मिन् स्तोत्रकाव्ये भगवन्तं शिवं कविरभिष्टौति। वसन्ततिलकयोपनिबद्धस्य काव्यस्यास्य कविकृतम् उल्लाघनाभिधं व्याख्यानं च वर्तते।

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the third volume, some character sketches of great literary savants responsible for Kannada renaissance during the first half of the twentieth century. These remarkable...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the second volume, episodes from the lives of remarkable exponents of classical music and dance, traditional storytellers, thespians, and connoisseurs; as well as his...

Karnataka’s celebrated polymath, D V Gundappa brings together in the first volume, episodes from the lives of great writers, poets, literary aficionados, exemplars of public life, literary scholars, noble-hearted common folk, advocates...

Evolution of Mahabharata and Other Writings on the Epic is the English translation of S R Ramaswamy's 1972 Kannada classic 'Mahabharatada Belavanige' along with seven of his essays on the great epic. It tells the riveting...

Shiva-Rama-Krishna is an English adaptation of Śatāvadhāni Dr. R Ganesh's popular lecture series on the three great...


ಮಹಾಮಾಹೇಶ್ವರ ಅಭಿನವಗುಪ್ತ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ವಿದ್ಯಾವಲಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯಲಾಗದ ಹೆಸರು. ಮುಖ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಶೈವದರ್ಶನ ಮತ್ತು ಸೌಂದರ್ಯಮೀಮಾಂಸೆಗಳ ಪರಮಾಚಾರ್ಯನಾಗಿ  ಸಾವಿರ ವರ್ಷಗಳಿಂದ ಇವನು ಜ್ಞಾನಪ್ರಪಂಚವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಭಾವಿಸುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾನೆ. ಭರತಮುನಿಯ ನಾಟ್ಯಶಾಸ್ತ್ರವನ್ನು ಅರ್ಥಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಇವನೊಬ್ಬನೇ ನಮಗಿರುವ ಆಲಂಬನ. ಇದೇ ರೀತಿ ರಸಧ್ವನಿಸಿದ್ಧಾಂತವನ್ನು...


“वागर्थविस्मयास्वादः” प्रमुखतया साहित्यशास्त्रतत्त्वानि विमृशति । अत्र सौन्दर्यर्यशास्त्रीयमूलतत्त्वानि यथा रस-ध्वनि-वक्रता-औचित्यादीनि सुनिपुणं परामृष्टानि प्रतिनवे चिकित्सकप्रज्ञाप्रकाशे। तदन्तर एव संस्कृतवाङ्मयस्य सामर्थ्यसमाविष्कारोऽपि विहितः। क्वचिदिव च्छन्दोमीमांसा च...

The Best of Hiriyanna

The Best of Hiriyanna is a collection of forty-eight essays by Prof. M. Hiriyanna that sheds new light on Sanskrit Literature, Indian...

Stories Behind Verses

Stories Behind Verses is a remarkable collection of over a hundred anecdotes, each of which captures a story behind the composition of a Sanskrit verse. Collected over several years from...