Ramanna’s discipline, affection (Part 2)

Kāvyavācana[1]

 Thanks to such readings and recitations, people from our neighbourhood used to come and gather at our place. Attikunte Sripatiraya, Lingapura Narasappa, Koppara Varadayya, Kandācāra Rukmniniyamma and others. He is used to correct me if I made any mistakes while reading. Once, it was some episode from Mahābhārata. There was a gathering consisting of a group of saints. It was worded in the book as “Kaśyapa, Jābāli and other Maharṣis (great saints) were shining in Aṅgarāga[2]”. Rangacharya corrected it as “shining in Aṅgāra[3]”. My grandfather found it very amusing and retorted. “Was Jābāli a Mādhva? You will apply Aṅgāra to all. In that era, Madhvācharya had not even born yet.[4]” Everyone laughed. Rangacharya also laughed.

In this reading, it consisted of several sub-plots - Kīcakavadhe[5], entry of Krishna, etc. At the start of every such sub-plot, juice and refreshments was served. Thus, it was a very happy occasion.

Around 6 in the evening, Ramanna used to go to the market - for buying cow fodder. New sacks of grass: Wives of farmers used to clean and dry the grass, bundle them in a way that they could carry and brought those bundles to sell. It costed 2 or 2.25 or maximum of 2.5 annas[6] for each bundle. Ramanna would try to bargain further. May be this was one reason he was labelled a thrifty person. He unloaded the grass bundle and inspected for any hardened or wet grass being present in the bundle. This was another reason. Is inspection to this extent required just for grass?

Even though he was so strict, I was not aware of anyone who was afraid of him. We got good quality grass in abundance to our house. Ramanna used to open the bundle, sort the grass and stack them in front of the cows and buffaloes. He used to get the cows and buffaloes into the house and tie them at the designated spots. One interesting thing. He would  gently stroked the body and forehead of each of the cow, calf and buffalo. It seemed that the cattle were impressed by his gesture. That is why the elders of the village used to say “If cattle and buffaloes have to be taken care of, then it should be at the hands of Ramanna”

God’s Prasāda[7]

After caring for the cattle, he went to Āñjaneya-svāmī temple. He never missed going to the temple, not even a single day. At the temple, he offered Maṅgaḷārati, and brought home a piece of coconut as Prasāda. Along with it was, aṅgāra from the dhūpa[8] lit for the deity and one kēdage[9] flower. All the kids in the house were made to anoint the aṅgāra on their forehead. If any kid fell sick due to cold, fever, stomachache, or any other reason, aṅgāra was the only medication. He used to give the kēdage flower to my mother and ask her to adorn it over her hair. This was the daily routine. Specialty of Mulbagal Āñjaneya-svāmī temple was - everyday kētaki-sevā to the lord, i.e. kēdage flower decoration 365 days a year.

The Dharmiṣṭa[10]’s of our village used to make fun of my grandfather for bringing the piece of coconut every single day, saying “for sure Ramanna is very devoted. But more than that, it is the benefit of collecting the pieces of coconut. He gets it free of cost - since he is the trustee. He visits the temple everyday so that he does not lose his authority.” Ramanna also knew about people mocking him. Even he used to laugh at it.

The piece of coconut that he brought from the temple was used in the preparation of dinner. For many years now, Ramanna had stopped having dinner.

In those times, we used to get 6-8 coconuts for 1 āṇa. People are free to accuse him of being a miser for such an insignificant matter.  But there are two things to consider: (1) Ramanna was the one who had presented a diamond studded attire to the Āñjaneya-svāmī. Archaka[11] Sanjeevappa, Gourisha Shastri were close friends with Ramanna. As desired by Gourisha Shastri, Ramanna had presented the diamond studded attire in colorful cloth with floral prints. I had seen that when it had already become very old. (2) Another thing, he had set aside funds for one or two days of Dhanur-māsa-sevā [12]. After the pooja was performed in the name of our family, I very well remember having received the Prasāda at our house.

In Kārttika-māsa[13], one of the Mondays in Someśvara temple, it was Ramanna’s service. Rudrābhiṣēkha[14] and Dīpārādhanā[15]. Sahasrārcanā[16] in the abode of Śri Prasanna Pārvatī temple or to goddess Cāmuṇḍī. Along with it, he presented a saree and blouse for goddess Mahiṣāsura-mardinī. Every Monday, he visited the Someśvara temple. 

Strictness

Ramanna was very strict with the finances. He maintained accounts for everything. I have already mentioned that he had a money lending business. He was strict with not only recovering the principal, but also the interest that he was to get. I feel this is the prime reason for him to be tagged as “miser”. “If you have to fore-go the interest, then why should one take up this business?” - he would question.

Even some government officials would take loans from him. I was aware of that. But he never disclosed their names. He never dragged anyone to the offices or courts. He maintained a sense of magnanimity / respect in business.

This is the second part of the six-part English translation of Fourth essay in D V Gundappa’s magnum-opus Jnapakachitrashaale (Volume 8) – Sankirna smriti samputa. Edited by G S Raghavendra.

Footnotes

[1] Act of reciting poems.

[2] Anointing body with unguents/cosmetics.

[3] Mādhvā is a sub-sect/community founded by Madhvācārya, and as a part of their custom, generally they wear a mark on their forehead with cinder soaked in water.

[4] In essence, Rāmaṇṇa is making fun of Raṅgācārya(who is a mādhvā), that not everyone is a mādhvā, especially when the context in the epic is about people who existed long before Madhvācārya.

[5] Story of killing of keechaka(brother-in-law of King Viraat) by Bheema in Mahabharatha.

[6] Currency equal to ​1⁄16 of a rupee.

[7] Food distributed among the devotees after offering to the deity.

[8] Aromatic incense.

[9] A fragrant screw pine flower.

[10] Senior members of a village, responsible for administration and other semi-legal affairs of the village.

[11] Priest at the temple.

[12] Holy month in the Hindu solar calendar, part of the winter months. In most temples, elaborate pooja and festivities are performed early in the morning, each day sponsored by different devotees after which prasada/mainly Pongal is distributed among the devotees.

[13] Holy Month of Hindu Lunar calendar typically occurs during November/December.

[14] Special Abhiṣeka to Shiva with the chanting of Rudrādhyāya.

[15] Lighting of thousands of lamps.

[16] Reciting the thousand different names of deity.

Author(s)

About:

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.

Translator(s)

About:

Varuni KS has a masters degree in Electrical Engineering and is currently based out of Chicago, IL. She is trained in South Indian classical (Carnatic) music and has an abiding interest in Kannada literature.

 

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