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Date: Tue Mar 23 1999 - 03:52:16 PST


Today, is the great day, the Tirunakshatram day of Paravakkottai Sri Gopala
Desika Maha Desikan, Prakritam Srimad Andavan of Sri Poundarikapuram Andavan
Ashramam, Srirangam, the senior most among all the extant yathivaras of our
Siddhantam in point of age. He completes 78. Tirunakshatrams today. (He was
born on 17th March 1921, in the year Roudri, Panguni month and under Rohini

And, he is senior most in terms Sannyasa Sweekaranam also. He has completed 17
years of his illustrious rein in his Thureeya Asramam. (He took to Thureeya
Asramam on 20th February 1982). A remarkable aspect of his Asrama Sweekaranam
was that never before in living memory had anyone performed the  "Jeeva
Sraddham"   in the form of "Anna Sraddham"

In temples, we find two moorthams viz Moolavar and Utsavar.  If the spiritual
leaders of other establishments in our Sampradayam are like "Utsavars," the
pontiffs of the Guru Paramparyam of Poundarikapuram Andavan Ashramam can be
rightly considered as "Moolavars." He represents the very cream of the ascetic
order in general and this Ashramam in particular.

This Swami is always available in his Ashramam in Srirangam. The only place he
visits regularly is the Desikar Sannidhi belonging to the Ashramam at East
Uttara Street, Srirangam to which he goes on foot. Even when he undertakes
long sancharams, he walks the entire distance. Indeed, he is hailed as
"Nadamaadum Deivam."

His incomparable Virakti and Vairaghyam evidenced through his strict self-
abnegation, is matched only by his meticulous observance of Aachaaram and

When on an occasion during one of his sancaharms, he slipped and fractured his
foot, he could not even stand and was experiencing excruciating pain. But with
an incredible fortitude, he politely declined the offer of a wheelchair and
preferred to walk all the way bearing the unbearable pain. This proves how he
is unmindful of personal conveniences, let alone comforts and luxuries. 
What a self-abnegation!

His limitless compassion is not limited to his Sishyas but extends to even
insects visiting the Ashramam. Once, when we visited him during winter, swarms
of mosquitoes from the marshy surroundings were literally invading the
Ashramam premises. While the Sishyas were trying to ward themselves off from
them one way or the other, the Swami was seen quite unperturbed and unmindful
of the irksome pricks and let the mosquitoes have their way. We could see with
our own eyes, how he was observing "Ahimsa" in practical terms. 
What a compassion!

When some of us pleaded with him to have a telephone installed at the
Ashramam, he declined saying that it might interfere with his ceaseless
concentration on the Lord and his Anushtanams. It was with very great
difficulty that we could convince him that after all, this was required for
the benefit of his Sishyas who were like his children. 
What a Virakti!

When the news of the premature and violent death of his dear (poorvaasrama)
son in a bomb blast in Chennai was conveyed to him, he did not exhibit any
shock but was seen with utmost composure. He merely enquired "Oh ! Appadiyaa?"
and went on his 'kainkaryam as usual.' It requires a lot of imagination on our
part to comprehend his control of emotions which shows how a real yathi would
and should react in such tragic circumstances. 
What a Vairaaghyam!

The immeasurable breadth and unfathomable depth of his Gnaanam is acknowledged
and applauded by all Yathivaras who revere him as their mentor. 
He is hailed as the model Acharya and even called "Vasishta Maharishi," by one
and all.  Simple and unassuming, profound in knowledge and strict in observing
disciplines of Sannyasa  Dharma, he is easily accessible to all those who
yearn to learn. The present and previous Jeeyars of Ahobila Mutt and all other
Yathivaras extol his  virtues in nothing short of superlatives.               

Yet, his unostentatious demeanor reveal his Soulabhyam and make us feel
palpably his Soulabhyam.  It is rare to find such a happy blend of supreme
scholarship and incredible simplicity. Anyone who has had the opportunity to
visit this Maharishi will vouch for the veracity of this fact. 

Those who have had no such opportunity so far, will do well to mark their
calendar and program a visit to this Maharishi, if and when they go to India.
It will be an experience of a whole lifetime to see how an astute ascetic
living in the 21st century can still lead a life in strict conformity with the
eon-old values and prove how these values are still valid. 

Yet, he is not out of date or anti-deluvian. It is amazing to see how in spite
of his being strict on himself, he tenders practical advice that blend the old
world values with modern compulsions and how we can preserve our traditions in
spite of the baffling technological advancements that present seemingly
insurmountable imponderables.

His Tanian reads as follows:
"Srivasa Ranga Parakaala  Munitrayaatha
Lakshmaathma Rakshana yathitva yugaaga maantham /
Aachaarya bhakti Paribhootham Anarga Seelam
Gopaala Desika Muni Aasrayaamaha //"
" We seek refuge at the sacred feet of our revered Acharyan, Sri Gopala Desika
Maha Desikan, who received the sacred rites of Samasrayanam, Bhara Samarpanam,
Thureeya Asramam and the wealth of Ubhaya Vedantam from the three great
Acharyas, Srinivasa Maha Desikan, Sri Ranganatha Maha Desikan and Parakaala
Matam Swami. He shines with illustrious sadaachaaram and is resplendent with
his limitless Acharya Bhakti."
(Translation: Courtesy: Sri V. Sadagopan)

The intensity of his Acharya Bhakti is comparable to that of Madhurakavi Alwar
for his Acharya, Swami Nammalwar. If Madhurakavi Alwar was overwhelmed by his
Acharya Bhakti so much that he declared "Thevu Matru Ariyen," "I know no God
other then my Acharya, this Swami's Acharya Bhakti was literally brimful and
overflowing 'Acharya Bhakti Paribhootham" that he was rendered speechless even
to declare. The word "Munim" in "Gopala Desika Munim" is significant. The word
"Muni" is derived from "Mounam" -"silence."  If Madhura kavi Alwar was
"spotless" -"Thunbatra Maddhurakavi" in the words of Swami Desikan, our Swami
is "Anargha Seelam" (blemishless in character).

On this holy occasion, we offer a companion write up on how Swami Desika's
Tamil prabandha  pasuram "Inbattil Irainjuthali" in the "Guru Parampara Saram"
of "Srimad Rahasya Traya Saram" relates to the 10 aspects brought out by
Madhurakavi Alwar in his "Kanni nunn Siruthaambhu" prabandham.  We
reverentially dedicate it at the lotus feet of our Acharyan, Paravakkottai Sri
Gopala Desika Maha Desikan.

Please visit the Home Page of this Maharishi at - the URL  :

Let us offer our prayers to the Saranya Dhampathis that this beacon light of
an Acharya should live forever and in pink of health to guide us on the right

Anbil Ramaswamy