Ramanna’s discipline, affection (Part 3)

Introduction to books

I have mentioned above that Ramanna made me read Kannada Rāmāyaṇa, Bhārata and other books regularly. Bhāgavata and Ranganātha-rāmāyaṇa - both these books were very dear to him. He had many poems from Āndhra Rāmāyaṇa committed to memory. He used to quote them at times during many conversations. Once a Vaiśya[1] came to visit him. Ramanna asked (in Telugu) :

“What made you come? It has been a long time since I last saw you.”

Him: “Just like that Sir.”

Ramanna: “Ūruke rāru mahātmalu vārādhamālu...”, meaning “Great people or wretched people do not come without any purpose.”

Him: “What sir, you are calling me adhama[2]?”

Ramanna: “You are a mahatma. Not adhama. There will definitely be some purpose.”

He had come for some work regarding a loan. This banter was a prelude to it.

Another incident. Whenever Ramanna visited the market, some Vaiśyas used to greet him. Ramanna used to bless them this way:

“Mahārājuguṇḍappa”.

“What sir, you are taking the name of your father! What good will it be for us?” - they asked.

It was a pun: (1) “Mahārājugā uṇḍappa - Be like a king” (2) “Mahārāju guṇḍappa- (Hail) King Gundappa.”

Kaḍaga[3]

Ramanna had made me wear Kaḍagas made of solid gold on both wrists which were thick. Many people from vaiśya community in Mulbagal wore golden Kaḍagas. But it was only gold coated. From inside it was a thick ring of copper. The outer covering was shining with gold. He used to tell the vaiśyas:

“It should be pure. Look at my kid’s hand - solid gold. Yours is hollow from inside, artificial from outside.”

Gurrala Venkatappa

I have told you that Ramanna liked Telugu Ranganātha-rāmāyaṇa. Due to this book, he had a student, goldsmith Gurrala Venkatappa. Ramanna had taught and explained the meaning of Ranganātha-rāmāyaṇa to Venkatappa. Due to this favor, Venkatappa was very keen to show his gratitude in some way or the other. But Ramanna refused repeatedly, saying “I will not take anything from you”. At last, Venkatappacharya planned for a pilgrimage to Kashi[4]. He told Ramanna:

“You have refused to accept anything from me. But now I am going to Kashi as a pilgrim. When I return, I plan to bring Prasāda of Lord Viśveśvara. You should not say no to it. Please specify in what form do you want?”

Ramanna happily agreed and said, “You may bring a Śivaliṅga”. “In our house, we have Sāli-grāma[5] passed on from our ancestors: we also have a small Spaṭika[6] liṅga - very small one. If you can get a bit bigger Bāṇa-liṅga[7], it will be of help in pooja. My brother has taken the one we had at our house.”

Likewise, I remember Venkatappa giving the Śivaliṅga to Ramanna that he brought from Kashi. How did he give? He got a silver Pāṇivaṭṭu[8], Nāgābharaṇa[9] made for it. He took my grandfather to his house, put two sēru[10] of rice on a banana leaf, placed the Śivaliṅga in it, and presented it to him along with tāmbūla[11] and five rupees as Dakṣiṇā[12]. Additionally, he invited five Vaidika Brāhmaṇas[13] and organized Anna-santarpaṇe[14] in our house. Once Ramanna got the Śivaliṅga in our house he performed Ekādaśa-vāra (11-fold) Rudrābhiṣēka and Sahasra-bilvārcane[15]. It went on for 45-48 days. Anna-santarpaṇe and Hūvīḷya[16] for married women - took place. The whole family was excited. My grandfathers from Kolar had come to our place for a day or two. 

Sarvaṃ yasya vaśād-agāt smṛti-pathaṃ kālāya tasmai namaḥ

Everything due to whom, just became memories (lit. took the path towards memory), I bow down to that entity, Time.

Maṭha[17]’s Loan

Mulbagal’s Majjigehalli Maṭha had taken a loan from Ramanna. As a guarantee/surety to the loan, they had pledged the golden armour/casing of the deity. When the loan was given, Sheshanna was not aware of this. Madhwaraya Acharya, a volunteer of the maṭha while on some work in Kolar, met Sheshanna and while talking to him, incidentally, blurted out about the loan. At that moment, Sheshagiriyappa did not tell anything to Acharya.

After 3-4 days, Sheshagiriyappa sent four 100-rupee notes to Ramanna, saying “Take this in lieu of the loan that you have given to the maṭha, return the god’s armour immediately. Maṭha’s property should not be at our home.” - and addressed a letter to him. Ramanna abided by it. It was an interesting incident. He welcomed the Swamiji of the maṭha to our home, performed pāda-pūjā[18], and while he was leaving, Ramanna placed the golden armour into his Mēnā[19]. He placed the expensive objects into a metal plate filled with rice, and along with flowers, Tāmbūla, coconuts and Dakṣiṇā, he returned it to the maṭha. This took place on a day in the morning between 10-11am. The same night, Dīpārādhane was celebrated in the maṭha. I remembered to have received two big Araḷu ūṇḍe[20] as Prasāda.

This is the third 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] Person belonging to business community.

[2] A person who is mean, or of insignificance.

[3] Wristlet

[4] Kashi / Varanasi is one of holy cities of Hindus, abode of Lord Śiva/Viśveśvara on the banks of river Ganga. Every Hindu customarily visited the place at least once in his lifetime.

[5] A small black stone that is worshipped, found in the Gaṇḍakī river.

[6] A white crystal

[7] A special type of Liṅga, worshipped by demon Bāṇa.

[8] A pedestal such that the water can drain off easily after the Abhiṣēka.

[9] A jewel modelled as a snake, since it is associated with Lord Shiva.

[10] A unit of measuring 

[11] A combination of beetal leaf, areca-nut, lime, fruits, and other sacred items arranged in a plate and given at auspicious occasions.

[12] Gift or money usually given to the priests, or women as part of the tāmbūla

[13] Vedic scholars

[14] Distributing food to the saints, scholars and needy.

[15] 1000 leaves of bilva tree offered to Lord Shiva

[16] Giving turmeric, kumkuma, flowers and tāmbūla to married women.

[17] A religious center for saints

[18] As a sign of respect, sages and saints are welcomed by washing their feet and taking their blessing.

[19] A palanquin for very respectable people usually carried by designated bearers.

[20] A sweet made of puffed paddy.

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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