The Parivrajaka Heart of DVG: The Luminous Inner Life of a Wandering Mendicant

This article is part 22 of 24 in the series DVG Profile by S.R. Ramaswamy

Luminous Personality

I have seen DVG from close quarters for about twenty-five years. In all these years, I have never once seen his intellectual enthusiasm or his method of intellectual inquiry come to a halt. His personality was truly luminous. It felt as if the more I observed, the greater was its expansiveness and depth. As the years rolled by, DVG’s old friends—friends for decades—began to pass away one after the other. This would cause him distress from time to time. In one such mood, DVG wrote a letter to V.C. sometime in mid-1970: “A Jnani has been described as an ekākī nispṛhaḥ śāṃtaḥ -- alone, detached and tranquil. My friends kicked the bucket one after the other. Now I have attained aloneness. However, I haven’t achieved detachment. Perhaps it might come in future.”  

In his series of memoirs, DVG has recollected the people who bore a great influence and impact on shaping his mind since childhood: K. Ramachandra Rao, K.A. Krishnaswamy Iyer, M.G. Varadacharya, D. Venkataramayya and others. All of them are truly extraordinary people viewed from any perspective. However, the fact that DVG actively sought their company indicates the magnanimity and spiritual yearning that was innate in his nature.

The chief reason for DVG’s deep respect for the High Court (it was known as the Chief Court back then) Judge H.V. Nanjundayya was the largeness of his heart. Even with regard to convicted criminals, Sri Nanjundayya showed magnanimity and would reduce the severity of punishment as far as possible. This was his argument: “He may have committed a mistake. However, the fruit of the punishment that we award him will be suffered by his wife and children. Poor things, what mistake have they committed?”

When DVG was involved in the renovation of his house, he had the opportunity of getting acquainted with an old man.

His name was Shivapicchai Mudaliar. His profession was that of a mason but his inner calling was that of a wandering mendicant. A pair of clothes that covered his body, ten or fifteen rupees for the bus or train fare, a trowel, a weighing stone, a peg and other implements—he would be armed with just this and board either a train or bus. He would get down at its last destination. If he found some construction work there, he would remain until he finished it. If there were some temples in that place, he would have a Darshan. After this, he would depart for some other town. He had no fixed rule of going to a predetermined place. He would take up work only when his pockets were empty. Once he had earned enough money for train fare, he would set out for a Tirtha-Yatra. In this manner, he visited all sacred places of pilgrimage throughout Bharatavarsha.

Shivapicchai Mudaliar received his spiritual initiation at the hands of Vakulabharana Paradeshi, a Sadhu hailing from the Andhra region who stayed in Halasuru [Ulsoor].

When DVG asked, “Sri Mudaliar, when do I see you next?”, he said, “When the Swami arranges it.” DVG: “Which is the next place in your Yatra?” He said: “In whatever direction God points me to.”

DVG would recall this and say, “This particular experience is far greater than all the experiences I acquired through books. It is unforgettable.”

DVG’s close friend, Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar, in his famous work, the essay collection titled Garudagambada Dasayya, has vividly described the different kinds of Dasayyas. DVG had asked Sri Gorur to introduce him to a few of them. DVG would repeatedly praise the absolute inner security and freedom of Dasayyas, Jogis, Bairagis and Fakirs.

We are wanderers, leave us free from the
Troubles of the town, friends |
We come from afar, stay in a Chattra in your town
And move forward today, friends ||

DVG had penned this Wanderers’ Song [Daarigara HaaDu] as early as 1922-23 itself. From one perspective, this song can be regarded as an exposition of his nature. The root of his independence of thought, undeformed mental composure, intrinsic quality of holism, and other lofty traits can be traced to his immersion in spirituality. The socio-political environment or the fear of his opponents did not bother or deter him. His vision akin to the Wanderers encompassed the horizon. The strength of his character emanated from this all-encompassing vision; from that strength emanated his fearlessness and sturdiness of inquiry and examination. To the Wanderers:

There is no obstinacy to accomplish something,
No fear that the path is so tough |
Within the Inner Life we lean upon the Word of the Guru
And take delight in their sayings, friends ||

It is therefore unsurprising that the life of any person within whom this standard of self-confidence, straightforward and transparent conduct resides, will be magnanimous, pleasant and sweet.

It was the aforementioned verse that was greatly dear to V.C. He would constantly recall it; he had translated it to English as well.

***    

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:

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

Prekṣaṇīyam is an anthology of essays on Indian classical dance and theatre authored by multifaceted scholar and creative genius, Śatāvadhāni 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...

Yaugandharam

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

Vanitakavitotsavah

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

Vaiphalyaphalam

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

Nipunapraghunakam

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

Bharavatarastavah

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...

Bharatilochana

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...

Vagarthavismayasvadah

“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...