In this picture, you can see My Veda Guru, Smt. Kunda Channagiri and a bit of my classmate. On the wall in the picture, is a photograph of her Veda Guru, Pujya Anakama Mara aka Sri Padmanabha Aithal. He is the Adiguru of the Sadyojatha Charitable Trust : Veda, Vedanga, Vedanta Gurukula.
While I have oft spoken of my guruji, I have never written much about him, though I have heard so much.
Sri Padmanabha Aital was a scholar of the Vedas, Vedangas, Upanishads, Dharmasastras, Purnanas, Ithihasas and so much more.
He spoke and wrote in Sanskrit, and would speak Kannada only if it was absolutely necessary.
He would make up at 12 midnight and chant the entire Bhagavad Gita every day as well as all the entire Rg Veda in the course of every fortnight.
His food consisted of ganji (a liquid), elakki baalehannu (tiny bananas) and very little rice. He established the Sadyojatha Temple in his home, in Padukeri.
He had hundreds of young boys learning vedas from him as well as many adults who would consult him on all matters relating to the dharma sastras.
Most of the boys who learned Vedas from him wanted to be priests and learned Vedas from that perspective.
My guruji, had approached and been turned away by many, many veda gurus, because she was a woman. When she was 37 years old and had lost all hope she ‘took a chance’ and approached Sri Padmanabha Aithal.
He asked her what her goal was and she said that it was brahmagnyanam. He was so delighted with her, he performed a maanasika upanayana samskaara and accepted her as a student.
This raised the hackles of many who questioned his decision… and he defended it quoting extensively from the dharmasastras. He said that a guru should have atma dristi and not deha drishti.
He helped daughters perform the funeral ceremonies of their parents when they had no brothers.
On the request of my guruji he created a kanya samskaara for girls which is equivalent to the upanayana samskaara for boys.
Two japanese students came and studied the whole mahabharata from him in sanskrit. They helped my guruji with the techniques and technology of recording his lessons for posterity.
He used to take 6 hour long classes on the Upanishads, where he first taught my guruji all the 3 bhasyas by the Acharya-traya – Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhwa. Then he would ask her for her views and then he would state his own position on the text being taught.
He was always in manana (deep thought) about the Gita or Vedas etc and if he gave one interpretation in the morning, then he would give another even more beautiful one in the evening.
I have heard one of the interpretations and it is so kind and reflective of the gentle and divine nature of his mind.
(It is also my understanding that he taught part of the Vedas to Sri Sri Ravishankar of the Art of Living fame and also the Chitrapur Mutt Swamiji…, I am open to correction on this point.)
At the right point of his life he took sannyaasa and became known as Pujya Sri Anaakama Mara. He insisted that he should not be taken to the hospital should he fall sick, but some of his disciples did that anyway. After he recovered and came home he spent his days chanting the Rudram and other Vedas till his last day. He spent his last days in Bangalore, in my Guruji’s gurukula at Vidyaranyapura.
I have seen his phenomenal collection of books when my guruji’s little students were helping to re-organise the library and I was over-awed just by the titles.
It was his teaching that humans must do everything we can to achieve God in this life, because we can’t be sure of a human life next time.
It is the recording of the lectures of this saintly scholar that my guruji is trying so hard to recover : Recovery of Hard Disk containing Guruji’s lectures on Vedas and Upanishads : so that his teachings may be preserved in his own voice for the likes of us.
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