Sri Hariyappacharya Swami was a truly magnanimous person who extended patronage, patience, and friendship towards other sects. He did not prohibit the Sahapankti bhojana[i] with Smartas and other sects. He became worship-worthy for all people on account of his conduct, integrity, and selflessness.
After Sri Hariyappacharya Swami passed from this world, Sri Hebbani Srinivasacharya became the Swami of the Sripadaraja Matha. I have recounted his name earlier. He was the Guru who taught me Sandhyavandanam.
Before he took the Sanyasa Ashrama, Sri Srinivasacharya was the chief officer of the Sripadaraja Matha. In this capacity, he was the client of my grandfather, Lawyer Seshagirayya. On the days of my Thread Ceremony, Sri Srinivasacharya was seated in the Mantapa where the ceremony was being performed. My grandfather asked him:
Sesha: “Sri Srinivasacharya, is there a difference in the Sandhyavandanam Mantras between your sect and ours?”
Srini: “There’s no real difference in the portion of the Vedic Mantras. The Veda is the same for everyone. Right?”
Sesha: “In which case, why don’t you teach the morning Sandhyavandanam to my boy every day? Our family’s Purohita has other work every morning; he has to travel to multiple places. If we wait for him to teach our boy, it’ll be about eleven or even afternoon. That’s too late for morning Sandhyavandanam. Is it convenient for you to teach him?”
Srini: “With pleasure. I’ll definitely come. From tomorrow.”
There was little by way of difference between Smartas, Vaishnavas, etc in those days. People were endowed with magnanimity, patience, and friendship.
Sri Venkatarama Bhatta, Sri Venkatanarana Bhatta and Tippa Bhatta hailed from the Mulukanadu sect; they were Yajur Vedins. Sri Subba Bhatta and Sri Krishnam Bhatta hailed from the Badaganadu sect; they were Rg Vedins. Sri Shyama Bhatta hailed from the Seernadu sect; he was a Rg Vedin. Sri Chandrashekhara Sastri hailed from the Uluchukamme sect; he was a Yajur Vedin. Be it these differences, be it the differences of Smarta and Madhva, none of these factors prevented the Vaidikas of our town from respecting one another, from developing deep friendships.
After the demise of Sri Srinivasacharya Swami, the Sripadaraja Matha was headed by Sri Dwaipayanacharya Swami. In his Purvashrama, he had passed the B.A. and B.L exams and adorned the position of Sub Registrar. He was a great Vidwan. Even while he was in Government service, he retained tradition and carried on discourses and lessons. He was endowed with a very serene disposition. He was the son of Sri Hariyappacharya Swami when he was still a householder. He lived a full life, strong in body and completely devoted to Sanyasa. I had the great fortune of listening to his discourses and watching the method of his Puja.
After his demise, Sri Krishnamurti Acharya Swami became the head of the Matha. Prior to becoming a Sanyasi, he was a Member of the Mysore People’s Representative Assembly for a few years and did much good to the world. Because I’m younger to his brother (in his Purvashrama), I have earned the fortune of being blessed by him.
Sri Hebbani Srinivasacharya’s second son, Sri Venkataramanacharya passed B.A. and B.L. and became an advocate in Kolar. He reached the feet of God at a young age. He was older to me by two years. We were classmates. He distinguished himself from a very young age in Sanskrit literature, Logic, and Mathematics. I was like a family member. Nobody in their home displayed any difference in treatment towards me in the matters of food, play, and study.
I have used the Purvashrama names of the four Swamis in this essay. Their Sanyasa names are as follows:
- Sri Sri Sudhinidhitirtha Sripadangalu—Sri Hariyappacharya Swami
- Sri Sri Medhanidhitirtha Sripadangalu—Sri Hebbani Srinivasacharya Swami
- Sri Sri Dayanidhitirtha Sripadangalu—Sri Dwaipayanacharya Swami
- Sri Sri Satyanidhitirtha Sripadangalu—Sri Krishnamurthi Acharya Swami
It was rare for the Madhva Brahmana Pandits of Mulabagal to teach the subjects of Vyakarana (Grammar) and Sahitya (Literature). My Guru, Sri Kashi Raghavendracharya was the only Pandit to teach me these subjects. He arrived at Mulabagal around 1898-99. Prior to his arrival, it was Sri Venkatarama Sastri (or Natti Sastri) hailing from the Badaganadu sect who taught Sanskrit Grammar and Literature. I have written about him elsewhere[ii].
Madhva Brahmana students would come for their Grammar and Literature lessons to these Smarta Vidwans. Sri Venkatarama Sastri would teach his Madhva students with the same devotion and dedication as he taught others. He would also chide them on several occasions. But this scolding wasn’t meant to hurt. A big reason for this was his stammer. Several moments would elapse before the words emerged from his mouth: by then, the heat of his anger would’ve subsided.
I have written about Sri Hebbani Seshacharya, a prominent Madhva Vidwan elsewhere.
Yet another towering Vidwan of the Sri Madhvacharya School was Sri Hebbani Ramannacharya. People had great regard and reverence towards him. Apart from being a great Vidwan of philosophical texts, he was endowed with simplicity and humility. Towards the end of his life, he accepted the Sanyasa vow and spent his time giving discourses and teaching before reaching the feet of the Divine.
This is the second and concluding part of the sixth essay in D V Gundappa’s magnum-opus Jnapakachitrashaale – Vol. 5 – Vaidikadharma Sampradayastharu. Translated from the original Kannada by Sandeep Balakrishna.
[i] Literally, “eating in the same line.” The general meaning is “eating together.”
[ii] See: “Natti Shastri: The Uncelebrated Life of the Stammering Guru.”
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