A Colossus Who Was A Picture Of Piety And Commitment
With the departure from our midst of Paravakottai Srimath Andavan Sri Gopala Desika Mahadesikan of Sri Poundareekapuram Asramam to adorn Srivaikunta, a great saga of commitment to the Desika Sampradaya has come to an end. The illustrious Acharya breathed his last on Saturday, the 12th November 2011 (Aippasi - Krishna - Dwitheeya), of course, at Srirangam.
The nonagenarian sage who was born in the year 1921 (Roudhri - Panguni - Rohini) was initiated into Sanyasa way back in 1982. He held the fort for nearly 30 years, all along holding the Desika Sampradaya flag aloft with verve and vision. That he was a picture of piety and stickler for principles is common knowledge. His unswerving dedication to the cause of the Sampradaya is legendary and his austerity is unparalleled.
Such was his austerity that never once did he move out of Srirangam during his extensive tenure but his knowledge on current affairs — not only national but also international — was incredibly astonishing, to say the least. He always kept abreast of the happenings around the world — from Mexico City to Melbourne, London to Los Angeles — especially, those concerning Srivaishnavas.
His caring and compassionate demeanour will forever remain etched in the memory of those who have had the opportunity to receive his blessings, even for once. He was a great source of encouragement for those who were involved in spreading the works and philosophy of Swami Desika and on a personal note I recall with gratitude the privilege of receiving the honour from him in recognition of whatever little I am blessed to do for the Sampradaya. That evening was a divine and humbling experience for me as I had the opportunity to exclusively spend over a couple of hours with Swami until it was time for Sandhyavandhanam.
He had a special liking for our Sri Vedantha Desikar Devasthanam and was always keen on knowing about the happenings in the temple. The centenary celebration of the Vedaparayana Sabha of our temple was held in 2005. Two of us from the committee went to the Asramam to request Swami for Sri Mukham for the souvenir to be brought out on the occasion. Not only was he pleased to give one but also enthusiastically enquired about our plans for the event. He gave some valuable advices and suggestions for the same and later expressed his overwhelming joy for the grand manner in which the milestone event was celebrated.
His amazing will-power was to the fore when he continued to conduct Kalakshepam in spite of his utterly failing health even until a few months from the time of his passing away. He always used to insist on the righteous path and he was especially uncompromising on performing Sandhyavandhanam, having tuft and doing Veda Adhyayanam.
It would be stating the obvious to mention that the Acharya of erudition, austerity, orthodoxy has done phenomenal service to the Sampradaya. But, for the record, some of them are listed below:
- Performed Samasrayanam and Saranaagathi to thousands of Srivaishnavas for three decades.
- Sponsored the 12th tier of Srirangam Raja Gopuram built by the 44th Srimath Azhagiyasingar.
- Published numerous works of Swami Desika in a lucid style so as to be understood even by common people. Most significant among them are commentary to Kalakshepa works such as Srimath Rahasya-thraya Saaram and Chillari Rahasyangal.
- Published Desika Sthothras with exhaustive and exquisite commentaries.
- Authored a treatise in tamil on Srimath Ramayanam titled ‘Ramapiraanai Karpom’ with remarkable style and substance.
- Regularly conducted Vidwath Sadases and honoured and encouraged scholars.
The colossus of an Acharya is no more with us — resulting in a void in its truest sense. But the benefits of his vision and deeds will stay on, forever.
Meet you in the next Note.
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