Dr. Bannañje : Life Sketch

‘Does the world rejoice the song of one not born as a sage?’

Dr. Bannañje’s talk is like a garland of pearls. Direct, clear, precise and focused. His writings are similar too. Neither less, nor more. Elegant in form, tasty in content and with an aroma, that makes us read and re-read the writing. His talks – writings in Saṁskṛta as well as Kannaḍa, have enriched the languages. The very name Bannañje opens out a series of firsts; shaped many subjects.

‘Bannañje’ Saṁskṛta – Saṁskṛti (culture) – Saṁskāra (etiquettes) are links of traditions.  Newness entwined in old, glimpsed in the Kannaḍa mirror. A Vēdanta cart with mathematics and psychology as wheels. A mature philosophical weighing scale that balances logic and intent. Striding the path of truth – fearlessness – devotion, attracting every region that seeks truth, from every nook and corner too, of this world, without gimmickry, as the poet of Upanishads; melts like butter, on sighting good attributes; entrusting the fodder of problems to Ācārya Madhva, he has milked answers with divine passion.

‘अत्यशक्येतु निद्रादौ पुनरेव समभ्यसेत्’

‘(atyaśakyētu nidrādau punarēva samabhyasēt)’

 Without allocating time for sleep, studying unconcerned whether day or night, trailing off to sleep only when tired, sleeping amidst those immersed in worldly thoughts, a mendicant who awakens us, being contemplatively alert on the One who transcends this world. Turning his back on and shutting out any light from crowns – decorations; an ascetic who loves anything that comes to him ‘as is – where is.’ A yogi who brings relief to those who suffer from the agony of uncertainties. A roving encyclopedia whose contributions are so vast that even universities turn coy; a wandering, bag-less ascetic who is accessible to anyone who seeks him and who pacifies their cerebral hunger.

‘Bannañje Childhood’

Bannañje (Bannagaḷige an̄jada – one who is un-deterred by adversities), dawned as light on this earth, on the 3rd of August, 1936. His father, Paḍumunnūru Nārāyaṇācārya, had forsaken the embellishment from the royalty of Mysore as ‘Rājaguru’ preferring the daily view of Udupi Kṛṣṇa. All those who were audience to his inspiring lessons on n’yāya, Vēdānta and alaṅkāra, were truly fortunate ones. His mother was Satyabhāmā; the young lady waited, much like Śabari did, for 14 years after her marriage, for her groom lost in scholastic pursuits. Their wedlock resulted in the birth of eight children but of these, only two survived. The fist son Rāmā and the last one, Gōvinda. The two were separated by 20 years. Their bonding was as harmonius as that between Rāmā-Lakṣmaṇa and this was their big treasure.

‘Bāla Mukunda’s appearance’

Little Gōvinda was just three years old. One day, early in the morning, being fed, he had just fallen asleep on his mother’s lap. Eyes closed, he was enjoying the song being sung by mother: “Meditating on Śrī Hari was I, why did you wake me?” The child was staring at the sky, amidst the open courtyard. A veil of white light seemed to appear from nowhere. Mukunda stood there with a flower in his hand and a gentle smile on his lips. The child on the lap was astounded. Without flapping his open eyes, he stretched out his arm exclaiming, ‘Mother! Look yonder …’

Sighting nothing, mother innocently enquired, ‘What, my child? What is present there …?’

It was of no avail describing what he saw, to eyes that spotted nothing, thought the child, and remained silent. What was indelibly imprinted within, is reminisced by that child even to this day, with tears welling up in his eyes.

“Lost to Prevail”

Inception –  external studies commenced in an Udupi school. His paternal uncle, Śrī Śrīnivasācārya taught him to chant Viṣṇusahasranāma with clarity. At a tender age, ‘seeds of philosophy’ took shape. Admission to school took place in the fourth standard. From there he leapt to the sixth standard, on promotion.

Sixth standard too was completed. There was a desire to submerge in Saṁskṛta. Śrī Koḍaṅgaḷa Anantarāma Upādhyāya taught him ‘Rāmōdanta pāṭha’ and the foundations of the born poet were firmed. Along with the lessons, Śrī Bannañje wrote a critical commentary in Saṁskṛta on ‘Rāmōdanta.’ Śrī Viṭhṭhalācārya, who was also the teacher for Śrī Abhayacaraṇadāsa Prabhupāda, the founder of ISKCON, was his guru for the initial phases of scriptural studies. ‘N’yāyaśāstra’ that was valued highly in the Vēdic environs, drew his attention to that front. His own father held the title of ‘Tarkakēsari.’ He was widely respected as the teacher for several pontiffs of Udupi Maṭhas. The child deemed that he too would require the strength of logic, which enables everyone to rise and stand. In order to learn logic, he sat for the entrance test. Although he passed the test, he could not secure the threshold of 40 marks to qualify for admission to the college. The repeat attempt too did not yield results. All those who had read from his notes during the joint studies, joined college.

“Choose any two to answer; write without exceeding the pages; time limit of three hours” were like fences that did not permit the soul to grow, thought the boy; he did not recoil at their sight. He turned his back and never looked at the portals of a school again, as student. He resolved firmly that if ever he were to step into a school, it would be only to teach the teachers. The boy’s hunger for studies was satisfied through reading all books that he could lay his hands on. Time stood still; neither sleep nor food became important. The process of knowledge assimilation proceeded unhindered. Only when one takes up studies for the sole purpose of studies is this possible. As per his desire, proceeding with such studies, he continued to live a life of ‘unemployment;’ this seemed to have divine blessings.

“New Attire”

 The resolve to get rid of the traditional outlook, took root, at the age of thirteen. He decided that it was important to understand something first, before doing it. Many questions emerged. Those who he thought ‘knew,’ slipped out of sight. Answers from some others, were unconvincing. His father himself, was surprised by his desire for knowing things. To the boy who came to pester him, he gave the ‘mūla mantra’, to resolve any such issue confronting him –‘Where ever the question arose, is where the answer too is. Seek it there!’ … ‘What does it mean, to question everything that existed before?’ to which the boy’s answer was ‘What means what? Is it wrong to question?’ The young man became inward looking …

 “Penance”

Like the pancāgni vidya, he surrounded himself with books, with his inner eyes open, he absorbed the teachings of visionaries like Śaṅkara – Rāmānuja – Madhva -Jaina- Baud’dha – Jesus – Paigambar etc. He delved into the discussions on Vēda – Vēdānga by scholars like Sāyaṇa – Veṅkaṭamādhava – ṣaḍ guruśiṣya – Uvaṭa – Yāska etc.  He studied the works of authors like John Woodroffe – Raymond Moody – Max Mueller – Fritjof Capra – Alexis Carrel – Velikovsky etc.,   He explored the limits of Kāṇāda -Pāṇinīya -Gadādhara -Jagadīśara‘s n’yāyaśāstra. He spanned the range of poetry and drama. He measured the depths of contemplation that sages – scientists had descended to. Some three – four friends, got together to form a platform of thinkers. Anguish – elation – annoyance – humour, were all steeped in culture. On a small benched conference, criticism – discussion – humour sparks, poetic forums continued to perform. Even those that did not follow the language, found this group entertaining.

‘Support from Elders’ 

Complaints poured in about the son, at home. The lad is turning atheist. He is becoming a deviant, influenced by cinema. He has a fondness for food. He questions traditions. This way, hundreds of accusations were heaped at the portals of the house. When these accusations came to the notice of father and mother, ‘The youngster is growing, let him grow, nothing will happen,’ father used to say … elder brother Rāmā encouraged him to write and also was a platform for him to speak…

To the fruit which was to ripen later, the required warmth came from Palimāru Śrīpāda Śrī Vidyāmān’yatīrtha. He translated scholarly texts such as Tātparya candrike by himself in the guru’s presence and won his commendation. Even before being taught, he made others relish the taste of n’yāyasudha. Valedictions were just a ruse for the inner light to be externalized. The one who wandered across the country, the humanist Pējāvara Śrī, for a few months, became the sheath that held the warmth for his studies. When discussing Vēda – Purāṇa – Itihāsa – Upaniṣat, his Guru Śrī Vidyāmān’yatīrtha would listen intently and motivate him, patting him on the back. People steeped in traditions, maḍi (practiced in the routine, as a fetish for exclusive external cleanliness), the back-biting tales of those who did not like him, the impoverished Maṭha, none of these soured their relationship. “I appreciate your proclivity to state the truth, at such a young age,” was how Kāṇiyūru maṭha avadhūta yati Śrī Vidyāsamudra Tīrtha had stated, patting him on the back…

Marital life was harmonious. Spouse Ahalyā supported him with great understanding. They were blessed with six children and even though, on his shoulder, there was the burden of relationships, he did not spare any effort, as regards the pursuit of studies. Association with several newspapers and writers, gave his studies the needed fillip. Even when aspiring listeners were few and far between, he never left anything unsaid. To those seekers who came to organise programs in the maṭha, a little time was devoted to resolve their doubts. That he was class apart, in scriptural discussions, was unknown to many. Those who came from abroad in search, became his disciples. He was the glossary for books available in all libraries at that time. He turned over several palm leaf manuscripts and in the process rid them of dust.  Palm leaf study by itself was a great penance. It also turned out to be a bold step in his life.

“The Great Daring for an Authentic Text of Sarvamūla”  

Palimāru is not a very wealthy maṭha.  Despite that, with a bias towards knowledge there was never a dearth of charity and righteous activities, occasioned by the palm leaf box, on the pedestal. A text written in the thirteenth century was in that box. The first disciple of Ācārya Madhva, the writer of these compositions – Śrī Hr̥ṣikēśatīrtha’s own hand written rare manuscript was in it and there was also a strongly belief in it as ‘Śrīkara’. It was however not in a condition fit for reading. Torn at places and stuck in some others, the condition was hopeless. But, to the knowledge appetite of Bannañje, none of this appeared to be troublesome. Śrī Raghuvallabha Tīrtha, who was the then head of Palimāru maṭha, a mind reader, was also Ācāryas academic disciple for a long time. Since he did not sway to anyone’s opinions, the palm leaf manuscript reached Bannañje’s house for research purposes. All other assistance needed for that purpose, also was extended over the period.

‘Lantern Light: Surrounded by Scattered Palm Leaves”       

Whenever eyes closed, at times, there appeared undecipherable lines. The eyes by themselves pained, the neck stooped and back broke but determination never slackened. Research progressed day and night; Śrī Hr̥ṣikēśatīrtha’s palm leaf in tuḷu script was compared with three or four other palm leaf texts, while simultaneously reviewing several Sarvamūla books which were by then printed. When any doubt still lingered on the text, critical commentaries were reviewed for answers.  As a result of about twenty years of efforts, the original texts of Ācārya Madhva, were released for the first time, in five volumes spread over 2500 pages. Śrī Nārāyaṇa Rao of Gadag became the blessed one to defray the printing costs. Had this unique text remained unpublished, unauthentic texts that then ruled the roost, would have loomed to authentic proportions. The stench of that however, still lingers. Authentic text – authentic meaning spans the expanse of Vēdic Saṁskṛta – the world Saṁskṛta’s charm – the initial process necessary for understanding Purāṇas-Itihāsas; the new faces of research for those who wish to traverse the path of truth, these are direction posts. Once again, the entire palm leaves were recompiled, scanned and thereby protected. Those who can read the script today, can resolve their doubts. For future generations of researchers, who may have to rely on palm leaf or paper manuscripts for validation of their research, it saved the risk of remaining silent, for want of knowing the norms for research. When one hears of the problems and troubles faced even as heroic efforts were made in the research based on the rules laid down in the original sarvamūla texts, it is difficult for one to remain unmoved. Bannañje on whom the dust of the books and libraries had got stuck, did not get stuck in criticism.  “न विक्रिया विश्वसुहृत सखस्य (Na vikriyā viśvasuhr̥t sakhasya)”

“Vaidika’s Wordliness”

Having read the Kannada translation of Madhva Rāmāyaṇa, ‘D.V.G.’ expressed this desire, “Bannañje! I would like to see you”, through a letter. From ‘Bendre’ the wizard of words, came the praise “The meaning of my poems is stated by him. My position will be filled in by him.” Beḷḷi mīseya magu‘Man̄jēśvara Gōvinda Pai’ had blessed him on several occasions in various poetic forums, taken in by his brilliance. As fellow participant, Gōpāla Kr̥ṣṇa Aḍiga had deep appreciation for Bannañje’s poems. Seeing Bannañje’s Bhāṇabhaṭṭana Kādambari, Pu.Ti.Narasiṁhācārya  was dazzled by the Kannada in it. Bannañje was associated with all such poets and littérateurs, who were lovers of knowledge. As the editor of the weekly division of Udayavāṇi newspaper, he inspired several bright young writers. Several of them who had their first write-ups published in Udayavāṇi, have now become eminent writers themselves.

Through a series called ‘Kiṣkindhā kāṇḍa’ he picked on the quixotic nature of modern politics and society. Several papers and periodicals published Ācāryas poetry and articles. Poetry collections and a few poetic-dramas too were translated and published …

Combined with journalism, the cinema world too started to talk about Bannañje. Scripted by him, ‘Śaṅkarācārya’ and ‘Bhagavadgītē’ respectively became the first and second movies globally, to be made in Saṁskṛta.  The Saṁskṛta script of those movies, is remembered even now. ’Madhvācārya’ the movie, was in honour of the Ācārya from the land of Kannaḍa. Engaging in gardening, art, cinema, story-poetry-novel, discussions, lectures – discourses etc., he shaped himself. In this way, he moved ahead in life taking on whatever came to him in life. He allowed his children the freedom to choose whatever they wanted to do. Persistent churning over 60~70 years has spewed a lot of toxin. But, he became Nan̄juṇḍa (one who swallowed poison), without buckling … did not lose out. Did not employ proficiency to chase fame; continues even to this day, in the same vein. Truth is always bitter. This he has accepted, appreciated, applied to himself and shared with those who are dear to him.

“Tempest of Transformation”

“His Kannada may be good due to journalistic links, he might know a bit of Saṁskṛta. Just because he has mastered the art of attracting attention through his oration, it does not entitle Bannañje to scriptural contemplations,’ was the flippant opinion that prevailed in erudite circles. Śrīmadhvavijaya Vyākhyāna was published with an appendix containing hitherto missed out substantive discussions on the text. Weightage increased, in the minds of good scholars, regarding Bannañje’s erudition. When ‘Upaniṣaccandrikā’ was published, those who were hitherto indifferent, took notice of him. The publication of ‘Tātparyanirṇaya Bhāvacandrike’, saw his opponents desisting out of sheer ego. Those who judged scholarship from the external dressing, saw Bannañje become an un-swallowable morsel. He delivered his lectures and discussions, reading all critical commentaries in privacy.

The new generation appreciated the easy to understand scriptural narrations by Ācārya. For true seekers, who were bewildered on not being able to get answers to their queries, a new hope was born. The fight continues, to wipe out the dis-reputation that has stuck to the sect, on account of their quarrelsome nature. This is the very pain that Bannañje externalizes in many of his discourses. The greater disservice to the scriptures is from knowledgeable ones and not from commoners. He never comments on issues pertaining to individuals, at any time. He has brought out problems embedded in particular stances assumed and shown why they wrong.  Not being caught up in considerations of region, language, country, vesture, allegiance etc., he continues to support the path of the scriptures, laid down by Vyāsa and Madhva.

Accepting a more correct view that emerges over time vis-à-vis what has been hitherto held, reflects an excellent trait of the sincere researcher. Holding on to what has been accepted, without comprehension, in the name of tradition, merely becomes inert belief. The sharp reactions in the lectures are not from the arrogance that comes from reading. As one dedicated to the subject, with reasons, he has expressed the truth on several occasions, by way of his writings, art and discourses. Some falling to rancor and fame, sacrifice their life itself. There is hardness in the speech that emerges when their nature subjects even others to the sacrificial routine. When aroused as such, Bannañje opens out even more …

“Tiger’s Love”

Having won over all learned tigers, Bannañje lost out to the love of a forest dwelling tiger. He had nurtured a tiger cub in the house at Udupi. As it grew up, it got accustomed to the people at home and played with them. In any case, as it would have been dangerous when the tiger grew up, with assistance from a friend, it was taken to the house at Puttur and left there. In the meantime, they did not meet for several days thereafter. When he next tried to meet it, the tiger was not around; it had not survived. It had declined food, as its owner who loved it, had forsaken it; thereby it ceased to live. Though the animal was ferocious, its love was unalloyed was the lesson that Bannañje learnt and he was immersed in tears …

In just the same way, to all animals that came to his house on their own like peafowl, squirrels, dog, cat etc., he has provided shelter and this introduces us to a facet of his nature as a person who catered to the interests of all beings …

“Telepathy with Snake”

It is the culture of Bharat to see God in all trees – plants – animals that are beneficial to both man and nature. It is for this reason that pupil tree, gooseberry, basil, cow, snake etc., gain regard. Even if snakes do not possess ears, they are special creatures that are able to read the mind’s vibrations. This truth has been experienced by Bannañje through several experiments.

One day, there was a big cobra lying in a grass stack in the corner next to the cow shed. The lady of the house had to milk the cow. She had to go over to the shed to provide fodder and feed, to the cows. Scared now, to step in. Ācārya who was starting for the office learnt of this issue. He assured her that he would drive out the snake before leaving home. He stood at the door of the shed … He sent a mental message …

“सर्पापसर्प भद्रन्ते गच्छसर्प महाविष |

जनमेजयस्य यज्ञान्ते आस्तिक वचनं स्मर||

(Sarpāpasarpa bhadrantē gacchasarpa mahāviṣa |

Janamējayasya yajñāntē āstīka vacanaṁ smara ||)

Emerging from the grass stack, it went adjoining the tube meant for draining the waste water residue, that remains after cleaning the ground. Unable to cross the wet dung smeared there, it retreated to the stack. Ācārya then changed the order of the ślōka –

“गच्छसर्प सर्प यथागथम् (gacchasarpa yathāgatam)” … “Retrace the path you came by” – as soon as this was uttered, the snake as it came in, changed and took the path that it had come in from and reached the orchard outside. There are many such experiences of incidents with snakes. That one can also send messages to distant snakes, as per the experiments conducted by Ācārya, was in an article of Ācārya, published long back in a paper… In the orchard next to the house, although snakes were seen many times, they never caused any problems. As an protection to the house, the snakes stay in the hedges and also guard the orchard.  Towards environmental balance, we need to remember, snakes are a great gift of nature …

“Dog’s Dedication”

At the town-hall of Mangalore, there was a discourse series on Bhārata. People had bought tickets and thronged the hall. Every day, a dog used to come there to listen to the talks. It used to come prior to everyone and lay below a chair in the first row. Made no noise. Initially, nothing was known of it. Later on, the organisers noticed it. Curiosity grew. It appeared that it did not have its owner. Once everyone had left, it used to walk out slowly, all alone. It was learnt that it came from a place 4-5 kms away. Due to some misfortune, it had fallen prey, to a mad dog bite. It however did not bite or harm anyone. A few days before the talks ended, it breathed its last in front of the dais. Even Ācārya was disturbed.

‘Light Shines on the Gloomy Nandyāla’

Ācārya has never believed in miracles. He stresses that everything works as per the rules of nature. At times it uses us as part of its mathematical design. Mantra – tantra – beliefs just dovetail whatever has to happen. We merely call that as miracle.

Nandyāla is an important Nandikṣētra (Nandi region) in Andhra. The owner of Śobha lodge there, was a devotee as well as a disciple of Ācārya. His house used to be the resting place, on long journeys, for the pontiffs of all the eight maṭhās. It was a well-known house for service and hospitality and thereby once or twice every year, for about 10-15 days, Ācārya’s lectures were held there. Both mornings and evenings, there would be interesting talks on Upaniṣats. For several years this knowledge ritual continued. In July 2007, it had rained heavily in Nandyāla. An experience from the cloud burst that happened in Nandyāla. Electricity – phone – cable – water and all contact, vanished on the third day.   There was forecast of continued light showers for the next three days. Petrol – diesel – battery, all that could have provided light, became inaccessible. Children who had left for school, citizens who had gone to the office, workers who had left for work were all held captive on the first and second floors of their respective buildings. Food articles that floated down from the shops facilitated the feeding of those who were delocalized. The host’s house was at a slightly elevated place in the town. The river which skirted the town as it flowed, started to flood the town. Houses of the employees of the host’s guest house, were all surrounded by water. All grains that were stored in the lower rooms of the guest house were destroyed in the flood. Access to all items in the first floor was hampered as those who could assist in this process were in distress from the water flow around their houses and on the paths in between. At night, the host came over to the darkness flooded room where Ācārya was staying. He poured out his woes, “Even if I swallow my pain, I am unable to provide any relief to the sufferings of my workers. It is only Wife – kids that is their wealth. There is no way, it is impossible to know what has happened and how they are. I do not see any way out.”

“Let us all join and pray,’ said Ācārya.

He taught him the verse from Bhāgavata that was sung by Chaturmukha Brahma. He explained its meaning.

विश्वस्ययः स्थितिलयोद्भवा हेतुराद्यो

योगेश्वरैरपि   दुरत्यय  योगमार्गः

क्षेमं विधास्यति सनो भगवांस्त्र्यधीशः      

तत्रास्मदीय विमृशेन  कियानिहार्थः ।।

(Viśvasyayaḥ sthitilayōdbhava hēturādyō

yōgē śvarairapi dura tyaya yōgamārgaḥ

kṣēmaṁ vidhāsyati sanō bhagavānstryadhīśaḥ

tatrāsmadīya vimr̥śēna kiyānihārthaḥ।।)

‘The one who is the cause for birth – sustenance – death in this world, preceded everything. What purpose analyzing all this serve? It is only He that has to protect us.”

Ācārya, disciples and the house dwellers, all got together and fully involved, meditated. The disaster which lay in front of their eyes, was poignant in prayer. The whole night passed by. The rain stopped before dawn arrived. Water level had receded. The district officials had got the flood gates opened relating to the side where the river flowed. Snakes, crows, sparrows, dogs – cats, squirrels were lying here and there on the road, half alive. Thousands of lives remained. Nature had consented to the prayers.

ऋषीणां पुनराद्यानां वाचमर्थोनुधावती (r̥ṣīṇāṁ punarādyānāṁ vācamarthōnudhāvati)”

“Ten Different Faces”

Acarya, as a Prāṇōpāsaka (worshipper of Prāṇa dēva, the life force) persistently does the Dhanvantari meditation. He has cured thousands, from ailments, from the energy that emanates from his palms. He has given sight, relieved aches; he has explained in his discourses that this science is within everyone’s easy reach. He always highlights that hand is God’s gift to us; we must use it beneficially! ‘ये तत् पूजाकरौ करौ’ ‘अयं मे हस्तौ भगवान्’ (‘ye tat pūjākarau karau’, ‘ayaṁ mē hastau Bhagavān’)

Bannañje stresses the chanting of Viṣṇusahasranāma as very important. The reason for this is the emphasis by Śrīmadācārya वैष्णवं विष्णु गीता च ज्ञेयं पाठ्यं च तद्वयम् (Vaiṣṇavaṁ viṣṇu gītā ca jñēyaṁ pāṭhyaṁ ca tadvayam)’. He has shown from his own practice that by chanting this Viṣṇusahasranāma, even severe conditions of diseases and ailments of those nearby or also, distant ones, can be cured. ज्वरान् सर्वान् व्यपोहति (jvarān sarvān vyapōhati)’ is how Caraka muni too put his seal of approval. This sahasranāma has the power to cleanse all the 72,000 nāḍis (nerve or energy channels) of the body. The immortal thousand forms are depicted in this stōtra. Acarya states with certainty that just as all those who possess a nose can perform Prāṇāyāma, all those who have a tongue can chant Viṣṇusahasranāma. At no time would anything bad accrue on uttering the nāmas. He enlightens, ‘God is an object to be loved, love Him.’ न देवतोषणं वृथा (na dēvatōṣaṇaṁ vr̥thā)’.

Gardening is an aspect that enthuses him. Whenever he returns home, he asks his family members, regarding plants and trees, ‘How are the children?’ He becomes buoyant and shares his glee lost in himself, childlike, when sown or planted flora sprout, flower or when trees bear fruits aplenty. Ācārya is an exception to the saying ‘One who has mastered the Vēdas, is inert to nature or in worldly company.’ In the company of the worldly, as a supremely worldly one himself, he stands at the peak of spiritualism.

वृक्षो रक्षति रक्षितः(Vr̥kṣō rakṣati rakṣitaḥ)’

It was around 1975; in a deadly accident people in the oncoming vehicle survived. The left handed Ācārya, lost strength in that hand. For months he could not write, but, did not accept defeat. He continued writing with his right hand. Being unable to accomplish much, he went on to encourage his daughter and pupils to sing verses that were composed during the times of Ācārya Madhva. He too sat down and with his affected hand, tapped the tāḷa (a set rhythmic beat), in support. Śrī Gururāja Mārpaḷi composed the songs. The songs were ready and requests for singing poured in from various houses. It soon grew as a practice, to visit houses that invited them, sing in groups and it was done with passion. Bedridden on account of back ache for many months, way back then, he used that time to convert the devotional songs of Ānanda Tīrtha to Kannada. It might be reckoned that he thus felt relieved from pain.

‘सोत्साहानां नास्त्यसाद्यं नराणाम्’, ‘आवासे वा प्रवासे वा सर्वावस्थांगतो जपेत्  

(‘Sōtsāhānāṁ nāstyasādhyaṁ narāṇām’, āvāsē vā pravāsē vā sarvāvasthāṅgatō japēt)

‘When just standing, sitting or travelling, at all times, one should recount the nāmās.’ This is awareness of God and should never be missed on any day, as instructed by our elders. While moving away from one’s town, engagement in the chanting meditation of Pan̄castuti, Sahasranāma and Gurustōtra, should go on without let. At first, reminiscing on Puṇḍarīkākṣa, whatever be their situation, they meditate. Bathing in water cleanses the external body. However, chanting the mantra Puṇḍarīkākṣāya namaha, is like a bath that cleanses, the exterior and interior; body and mind; everything turns auspicious.  Those who realise this and meditate, become cleansed. If one continues to account for time – space – situations – flaws, one’s time would have passed by.  In this way, great people show us the way and through their actions they keep telling us what is required for us. One just needs ears that will hear. ‘वाग्यतः सर्वदा जपेत् (Vāgyataḥ sarvadā japēt).

Scaling the seat of speech Ācārya has completed one cycle of saṁvatsaras. Till now he has never taken support of books or note slips. Godess Śarada has blessed him bountifully to act as he wills. Anyone will get carried away with the unhindered flow of subjects, one after another. Even so, Ācārya’s talks never pose problems on historical or truthful beliefs. But, when people who are close to him say the wrong things, he disagrees. His agreement, any day, is only with truth.

The right celebration of Kṛṣṇa’s birthday is only on the aṣṭami day of the siṁha month; Kṛṣṇa did not turn around to please Kanaka; none of the scripts in use today, pertain to Saṁskṛta (some have never understood this even now); Gaṇapati’s birth was from Śiva only; no other incarnation but that of Kṛṣṇa itself, is Śrīnivāsa and Viṭhṭhala; a number is non dual and non-varying; Omkāra is not a part of a sutra; every letter in Saṁskṛta is filled with cryptic meaning; among balanced words there are two types; Pāṇinīya and apāṇinīya (as per the norms of the Panini system or outside it), padapāṭha (disambiguation of Vedic text) is not apauruṣēya (intuitional or non-contemplative origin), dynamism is in imbibing  the grammatical norms of each place and splitting the words; professional knowledge is imperishable; even the ancients had forayed into the essential concepts of science; English language is incapable of completely conveying the quintessence of the culture of Bharat, only mis-interpretations have resulted from this; Mahābhārata was composed by only one Vyāsa; Mahābhārata was not written by Gaṇapati – all the foregoing have been established firmly by Ācārya. Ācārya’s path is an uncompromising one – व्यवसायात्मिक बुद्धिरेकेह (Vyavasāyātmikā bud’dhirēkēha)

Composing prāṇāgnisūtra, sūtras of mimamsas that were in vogue in ancient days, he became known as a sūtrakāra. He wrote bhāṣyas(commentaries) for these and became a bhāṣyakāra too. He composed critical commentaries for important texts like Tātparya Nirṇaya; he brought to life the tradition of Śastras by writing annotations and critical commentaries. Through his translations he fed to his readers, the sweet filling of Saṁskṛta. Through interesting poetry that has a Vēdic touch to it, he won a place in the hearts of poetry lovers. By way of analytical literature, he treaded a new path in writing; he also became the path and goal too. ‘प्रजातन्तुं माव्यवच्छेत्सीः (Prajātantuṁ māvyavacchētsīḥ)’

Padmaśrī, Vidyāvācaspati, Vidyāratnākara, Honorary Doctorate and the like, were among the hundreds of awards and recognitions that decorated him. When awards eluded, he never bowed down. When they moved his way, he did not boast of them. On being taunted he did not slip; when praised he did not prance. To imprudent people who insulted with arrogance he fed the potion of indifference. In criticism if there was any substance, it led to mental contemplation; if not, in mirthfulness he withdrew to silence. As long as one resists the idiotic act of throwing stones at slush, it augurs well doesn’t it? ‘स्थितधीर्मुनिरुच्यते (Sthitadhīrmunirucyate)’

She came as his disciple for the Śloka ‘सततं कीर्तयन्तो मां (Satataṁ kīrtayantō māṁ)’ and elucidated what occurred to her in contemplation. तत (Tata) means the stringed instrument Vīṇa. Can we not then interpret it as ‘I shall see the goodness within such of those who hold the Vīṇa and sing like Nārada!’” Bannañje had then deeply lauded her interpretation. He praised her as the Guru who had found a new meaning. Even during lessons he would show his grace by stating, ‘I shall delve into contemplation in proportion to your queries.’ “वारिव सन्तो हि गुणांश तोषिणः (vārīva santō hi guṇānśa tōṣiṇaḥ)

There was a book release of ‘Vālmīki kaṇḍa Rāmāyaṇa’ at Māsti Mandira. None had been invited for the book release. But, the guest who came without being invited, a true ‘Atithi’ stepped up to the dais. A Rāma devotee monkey, who came in the form of Hanumān, opened the book. It ate the fruit given to it. Without creating any commotion, he transported all devotees who had assembled there, to a sentimental world. Even today, this video recording is available on YouTube. कारणं कारणस्ततोपि (Sa Kāraṇaṁ kāraṇastatōpi)”

A poem which is a self-portrait of Ācārya is also a beacon to us.

‘Won a woman, she became Vedanta

Won Vendanta, it became a woman |

As termite infested inner page of a book

The ‘my’ness in me turned to mud ||’

Each step in living is an echelon of lessons. A cradle of inner contemplation. New relationships that are forged are embroidered pictures. The mound built in this way, of Acarya’s contemplation, chiseled, carved and erected the magnificence of voice. The bird’s eye view became as big as the test of the bird’s learning.

Bannañje talks that have been recorded run into about 25,000 hours of content. This is a wealth that saw its light only after the technical world opened its eyes. Who is aware of anything prior to that? What remains is about 10%. Writings, speeches, pictures that went by are un-estimated … what is estimated is this much. This itself is enough for a hundred lifetimes. May we be blessed to be born with him, again and again. Ācārya in his childhood was also a good artist.  In order to isolate himself for Vedanta he put that to an end too. भद्रं नो अपिवातय मनः (bhadraṁ nō apivātaya manaḥ”

Discipline, punctuality, subtlety, simplicity, awareness, deep contemplation, vast memory, motivated life, curiosity, comprehension, devotion, ideology, passion- if all these fuses into one, that would be the making of Bannañje.

The name Bannañje Gōvindācārya by now is not a mere noun. When described through commentaries, analysis, and criticism it is an endless saga of knowledge. To imbibe the speech principle one should meditate on, a tone that reverberates over and over again in the ears, ‘Bannañje Gōvindācārya.”

“भुयिष्ठान्ते नम उक्तिं विधेम (bhūyiṣṭhāntē nama uktiṁ vidhēma)”

पदवाक्यप्रमाणज्ञं महवरातं तपोनिधिम् |

गोविन्दपण्डितं वन्दे गोविन्दपदतल्लजम्  ||

Padavākyapramāṇajñaṁ mahavarātaṁ tapōnidhim |

gōvindapaṇḍitaṁ vandē gōvindapadatallajam ||

 

About Dr. Bannanje Govindacharya