Prof. S K Ramachandra Rao - Adherence to the Tattva and Jīva-saṃskāra

Adherence to the Tattva – Fundamental Philosophy

The alepayoga[1] that the Bhagavad-gītā talks about was not just a topic that Rao preached. He had put it in to practice in his own life. Let us keep aside the aspect of running behind awards and recognitions. He never sought even the things that should have been lawfully and morally his. When I recall all this in my mind, I sometimes feel dejected about the extent to which our society becomes insensitive. One of the governmental organizations that he worked for had even forgotten to pay him! Rao also did not ask for any payment. At a much later point in time, the Manager of the institution realized this lapse and paid Ramachandra Rao all the dues of his salary.

Among the several works that Ramachandra Rao has penned, there are many where his analytical skills and original analysis are seen. Śaṅkara and Adhyāsa-bhāṣya and ŚaṅkaraA Psychological Study stand as good examples for those. There are many works of his that are renditions of traditional literature in a manner that today’s society can understand and relate to. However, even in such works, the kind of talent and skill he has displayed are unparalleled. Moreover, there was no one else who could take up tasks of that magnitude and execute them with such great efficiency. In fact, the research work on Vedic literature and the several encyclopaedic works that he brought out through the Kalpataru Research Academy are sufficient to make his name immortal.

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One example for Ramachandra Rao’s ethical stance is the manner in which he gave up the post of a Professor at the All India Institute of Mental Health[2]. It was a highly reputed job; something that many could only aspire for. However, there were two reasons for Rao to develop aversion towards the job. He was not given the kind of promotion that he was supposed to get in the natural course – it was because of some issues internal to the institute. While this was only a minor reason, the other important cause for his resignation was that social sciences, Āyurveda, yoga-śāstra, and other allied indigenous streams of knowledge associated with psychology were not encouraged. The institution did not allow the blending of these streams. Ramachandra Rao was not in the favour of delimiting teaching. He disliked the very attitude and the narrow treatment of subjects.

This sort of irritation is not rare. Those who join an institution merely for the sake of a job might accustom themselves to such circumstances. However, Ramachandra Rao lived for values. He never wished to compromise on human values and ethical position merely for the sake of earning a livelihood. It was unimaginable for a person like him to continue in that job.

When we, his close associates, heard that Ramachandra Rao had decided to resign from his job, grew a bit anxious. When he informed DVG about this, it saddened him a lot.

After this, Rao worked as a professor at several reputed institutions – Indian Institute of Science, R V Teachers’ College, Collison College, Bangalore University, etc. During his period at all these institutions, he was known as a great teacher and trained several groups of students in a remarkable manner. Yet there was little opportunity for such institutions to put his multi-dimensional talent to the right purpose.  Therefore, even during the days that he was employed by different institutions, he continued to deliver lectures, write articles, and edit works. He had gotten used to doing this kind of work. It was his activities related to teaching and writing that ultimately brought him great contentment. Even after he freed himself from the post of professor of psychology at the Bangalore University, he worked as the Head of the Vivekananda Chair [3] of the Mysore University and served as a Visiting Professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies.

Enriching Literature

The series of books that Ramachandra Rao published through the Kalpataru Research Academy (established by Daivajña Somayaji, an expert in jyautiṣa) are not only the pinnacles of his work but are also great contributions to the scholarly world. Āgama-kośa, Pratimā-kośa, Ṛgveda-darśana – these series of works have explored the āgamas, vedic literature, and architecture in all their details. The works are deep and profound. Even thinking of the magnitude of the task makes us spellbound. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that only a person with expertise in different streams of knowledge can take up such a herculean task.

It is the fortune of the scholarly world that a person like Ramachandra Rao, though from the traditional background of śāstras, took up so many writing tasks.

It appears like Ramachandra Rao took to writing in the Kannada language only after he was about thirty years old. In the years prior to 1956, he had authored only a few articles, and all in English. It is not surprising that he had a good hand at writing English. It was in about 1954–55 that Rao felt that it was necessary to write in Kannada too. He mastered the technique in writing Kannada in a short time. It was Rao’s practice to involve himself to the best of his abilities and put in immense effort to achieve whatever he felt was his duty.

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Jīva-saṃskāra: Culturing of Life

Ramachandra Rao’s mind traversed a huge world of books. An important aspect that needs to be mentioned here is that he always valued ātma-saṃskāra – culturing one’s self. He had this nature from a tender age. Rao, in his mind and heart, considered Jagadguru Candraśekhara Bhāratī Svāmī as his guru and this too wasn’t just by chance. It only reflects the great saṃskāras he had. It was because he had these features in his personality, he had a profound vision for life, internal calm and total control of his mind and senses.

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Ramachandra Rao, although born in a family that adhered to dvaita philosophy and practises, was unbiased in his interaction with the world. This was a quality he inherited from his father, Krishna Rao. Even when Ramachandra Rao deviated a bit from traditional practices, though such circumstances were rare, his father did not object. At best, he would say, “You think about it and do as you think is best.” Rao often recollected these words of his father.

Rao’s association with matured gurus such as Yajnavithala Acharya and Palghat Narayana Shastry had cultured his mind. His gurus were not only thorough in their learning of the specific subject but were also filled with impeccable qualities.

Rao always wore a pleasant demeanour and all his interactions with the world were pleasing. It is not that Rao cultivated this nature with great effort or restraint. This was, in fact, a natural result of his internal culturing, maturity and profundity of personality.

In a couple of instances, the rigid stances that Ramachandra Rao took, came out as a result of his deep study and research. Though valid from a philosophical perspective, they had disturbed the sentiments of many. In such instances, he did not get into combative arguments and instead, openly expressed his sadness. When he discovered that someone was pained for no evident cause from his side, he still behaved in a generous manner.

However, there were only one or two instances of this nature. The only purpose with which I recollect these is to indicate Ramachandra Rao’s magnanimity.

In a few rare instances, Ramachandra Rao happened to speak in a manner where it could appear as though he had compromised his generous self. He did so when he found that something was good enough from the perspective of scholarship or thoroughness and there was undue criticism hurled at the subject. This, in fact, was not in line with his true nature. Yet, he later felt bad and repented for his behaviour. For him, serenity was a value he nurtured.

As mentioned before, these are extremely rare and exceptional circumstances. At most times, he followed the principle ‘para-guṇa-pramāṇūn-parvatīkṛtya’ - recognizing and appreciating a quality in the other person, which might be as small as an atom -  and this is in everyone’s experience too.

Yet another quality that stands as evidence for the fact Rao belongs to the ranks of stalwarts of the ārṣa-saṃskṛti [4] is the devotion that he had for his teachers and seniors such DVG and Rallapalli Ananthakrishna Sarma. He had this feeling throughout his life. It was not just on public platforms; even in private conversations, whenever there was a mention of any of their names, Rao’s face would get filled with an expression of submission and gratefulness. When we recall his humility even today, our eyes get wet. It is the noble values for life that he practised made him a person of such a great stature.

To be continued...

The current article is an English adaptation of the Kannada original which has appeared in the Dīptaśṛṅgagalu, authored by Nadoja Dr. S R Ramaswamy. Thanks to Sri Hari Ravikumar for his edits. Full form of the article is a part of 'A Tapestry of Pen Portraits' published by Prekshaa Pratishtana in December 2020.


[1] Working without a feeling of attachment

[2] Now called NIMHANS

[3] The chair was a newly established one

[4] Sublime tradition of the Indian seers.

 

Author(s)

About:

Nadoja 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 stalwarts like D. V. Gundappa, Rallapalli Anantakrishna Sharma, V Sitaramaiah, and others. He is currently the honorary Editor-in-Chief of Utthana and served as the Honorary Secretary of the Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs for many years.

Translator(s)

About:

Arjun is a writer, translator, engineer, and enjoys composing poems. He is well-versed in Sanskrit, Kannada, English, Greek, and German languages. His research interests lie in comparative aesthetics of classical Greek and Sanskrit literature. He has deep interest in the theatre arts and music. Arjun has (co-) translated the works of AR Krishna Shastri, DV Gundappa, Dr. SL Bhyrappa, Dr. SR Ramaswamy and Shatavadhani Dr. R Ganesh

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