By compiling the speeches of the sage of Kanchi, Ra. Ganapathi has provided an immortal link.
In his last letter to G. Vaidyanathan, Secretary, Sankara Bhakta Jana Sabha, Ra. Ganapathi, prolific writer and compiler of “Deivathin Kural,” has narrated how difficult it was for him to gather the speeches of Paramacharya, add references to them and give them continuity. (‘Naan patta kashtam solli mudiyathu!’ he wrote.)
“Yes, but for Ra. Ganapathi, Kanchi Mahaswami’s speeches would not have reached the masses,” says Vaidyanathan. “He noted down Periyava’s talks and made cross-references, spoke to the people who knew the subject and got the required clarifications. Periyava would speak about one subject in one place and would leave it at that. Then again he would pick up the thread and speak in detail about it in some other venue. The challenge was to maintain the link. Ganapathi had a sharp memory and was alert in his observation. He would give final shape to the article and there would be no ambiguity in it!” he recalls.
“He used the same language that Periyava used so that the reader would feel as if he was listening to Periyava!” adds Vaidyanathan.
Maniyam Selvan recalls an incident when his father Maniyam painted a black and white painting of Siva Thandavam for Kalki Deepavali Malar in 1961. Periyava holding a small veena was in the forefront of this painting. Lotus petals, along with nagalinga flower were drawn in the place where the box of sacred ash was normally kept near his feet. The huge piece of moon on the head, the loose locks of hair, raised foot, abhaya hasta, agni and the vilva leaves were visible, but not Muyalakan or the right foot of the Lord. “Ra. Ganapathi Sir took this Deepavali Malar to Periyava, when the sage asked him to fetch my father during his next visit to the mutt. When Ganapathi Sir took my father to the Mutt, Periyava said, “You have opened my eyes!”
“In the original photograph of Periyava, his eyes were looking down at the veena he was holding. In the painting of Maniyam, however, Periyava’s eyes were looking straight. Father, though a bit embarrassed, said: ‘No Periyava. I thought it would be nice if your ‘paarvai’ (vision) fell on the devotees!’ Periyava replied: ‘Maniyam, what I saw in my inward vision, you had painted in the background showing the Siva Thandavam!
Maniyam drew the illustrations for the serial, ‘Jaya Jaya Sankara’ that Ganapati wrote in Kalki. “In 1970, when the Shankara Shanmatha Conference was held in Mylapore, I drew those 25 pictures all over again. My mother took them along when we (mother, myself and uncle) visited Periyava in Thenambakkam and showed them. He was immensely pleased and those blessings were precious! But for Ra. Ganapathi Sir, this would not have happened!” Incidentally, the cover paintings for two volumes of ‘Deivathin Kural’ were done by Ma.Se.
Even the rationalist Anna had praised Ra. Ganapathi’s way of writing. In ‘Than Varalaru,’ published by Bharati Pathippakam, in one of the chapters, where he writes about the loss of his beloved mother, Anna refers to the serial Ra. Ganapathi was writing in Kalki. In that particular week’s issue, Ganapathi had written about the demise of Sankara’s mother Aryambal and Sankara’s sorrow. Anna writes that he was moved by the writing, especially when he had lost his own mother at that point of time.
‘Deivathin Kural’ has been translated into English (‘Voice of God’) and also in many other languages. Educationist and philanthropist V. Shankar of Mumbai arranged to get them translated in Hindi and three volumes have already been released.
Sri Ganesa Sarma has been giving monthly lectures on the basis of “Deivathin Kural” in many different venues and the audience relish the simple way in which he interprets it.
Ra. Ganapathi suffered physically in the evening of his life but he was a true Karma Yogi.
Life with a purpose
Bharatanatyam exponent, Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, sends this message:
“‘Kaarana Janmam’ – it would be an apt description of Ra. Ganapathy’s presence on earth – a life endowed by the Almighty for a purpose. The “Deivathin Kural” volumes stand as an eternal beacon of light to showcase the spiritual thoughts that emanated from the centenarian sage of Kanchi.
Ganapathy, who remained a bachelor, was himself a sage, who shunned publicity. The former President R. Venkataraman rightly described ‘Deivathin Kural’ as ‘Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Upanishad.’
“When I went to pay my last respects to Sri. Ra. Ganapathy, I felt doubly blessed to know that my humble little book, ‘Kanchi Mahaswami’s Vision of Asian Culture,’ was the only work for which he had graciously given a Foreword. On the holy day of Mahasivaratri, he has joined the Lotus Feet of Kanchi Mahaswami, who was looked upon as Parameswara in human form.”