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A Triple Tragedy

From: Ram Anbil (
Date: Mon May 07 2001 - 15:43:55 PDT

Dear Bhagavatas:
We have been struck by a triple tragedy in the passing away of three great 
Acharyas of Bhagavad Ramanuja - Swami Desika Satsampradayam, all in such 
bewildering succession. While we cannot afford to lose even one, we were 
struck with three thunderbolts all at once leaving us aghast and speechless. 
I do not know whether we can ever get over our grief. All we can do is to 
derive some consolation in the thought that that they have all returned to 
their permanent abode for performing Nitya Kainkaryam to the Divya 

Someone drew a comparison between these 3 Acharyas with the 3 Mudal AzhwArs. 
The difference, however, is that while the Mudal Azhwars were born on 
successive 3 days, these 3 Acharyas left their mortal coils on successive 3 
days. What a coincidence!

This grand old sire of Sri Bashya Simhasanam was verily a Maharishi.
In his heydays (until he got bedridden), no Srivaishnava event was complete 
without his active participation. He was a great inspiration even for 
Matadhipathis and Yathivaras in point of Jnana, Bhakti, Vairaghya and 
Anushtana. Srinidhi Swami as his name indicates was truly a “Srinidhi” 
(treasure) to our Sampradayam. He was an Aasu kavi - one, who could compose 
marvelous poems instantaneously, an Aparavatara of Gatika satham Ammal who 
is reputed to be capable of composing 100 verses in one “Gatikai”.

Sri V.S.Karunakaran Swami is an illustrious son and successor of the Swami 
in all these aspects. He and his brother were constantly beside their father 
looking after his comforts. Recently, during his discourse on “Kaliyan Kanda 
Raghavan” at Tiruvellore temple, when someone paid rich tributes to him, 
Karunakaran Swami acknowledged them saying that all the praise were due to 
his father. This was in the manner in which Sri Govindan, the cousin brother 
of Bhagavad Ramanuja acknowledged praise as belonging to Emperumanar.

Like Nammazhwar’s “Unnum Sorum, Parugu neerum, Thinnum vetrilayum ellAm 
Kannan”, for Seva Swami, Swami Desikan was all this and more. His very 
breath was Swami Desika; the one thing that filled his thought, word and 
deed was  “Desika, the whole of Desika and nothing but Desika”.

“Seva” means “Service” He was the very personification of service in the 
cause of Srivaishnavam in general and Swami Desika in particular. During the 
7th Centenary celebrations of Swami Desika, he took the silver bell (Ghanta) 
throughout the length and breadth of the country, to propagate the glory of 
Swami Desika. He named one of his sons as “Ghantamani” in deference to Swami 
Desika known as “Gantavatara”. This G. Mani is a member of our “Sri Ranga 

Indefatigably, he wrote and discoursed day in and day out on Swami Desika 
and his works and arranged to translate and release them in all the 13 
languages of India so that all could appreciate the greatness of Desika and 
become “Desika- minded” as he himself was. A prolific writer, there is no 
subject which he had not touched but whatever he wrote bore the stamp of 
Swami Desika.

It is said that “Vidya” and “Vinayam” never go together. But, in his case, 
his masterly erudition was matched only by his easy and absolute 
accessibility. His “Soulabhyam’ was such that anyone can approach him at 
anytime to get doubts cleared. He would "stoop to conquer" our hearts!
I had the bhaghyam of moving with this Mahan very closely and consulting on 
very many issues. He was verily a “ready reckoner” who can be trusted to 
offer sage advice with appropriate Pramanams. Once, while I attended his 
discourse in “Mani Mandapam”, he honored me by asking me to release his 
popular “Sri Desika Seva diary”.

He called the temple constructed and maintained by him as “Mani Mandapam”. 
>From Mani Mandapam, he has graduated himself to adorn what he used to call 
the “Thirumaa Mani Mandapam” viz Srivaikuntam.

We have great pride in publishing his Sampradaya lessons earlier in 
“Saranagathi” and now in “Sri Ranga Sri” journals- a series that had drawn 
appreciation from both kids to elders alike for being informative and 

His depth of knowledge, courage of conviction and his powerful manner of 
delivery, which could transform esoteric concepts as to be easily understood 
by even lay folk like me - were the hall marks of this stalwart.

Of all the Upasanas, the one relating to Lord Nrisimha is said to be the 
most rigorous, demanding as it does strictest adherence to Achara and 
Anushtana. His incomparable Achara and Anushtana made him eminently 
qualified to do this in an exemplary manner. I wonder whether there can be a 
better Nrisimha Upasakar than this Swami. The innumerable Yagams, Yagnams 
and Homams he has been performing for our benefit and the benefit of mankind 
mark him out as a compassionate Srivaishnava – true to the essential traits 
of a Srivaishnava.

I was an eyewitness to the occasion when H.H.Azhagiyasinghar "knighted" him 
as the “AasthAna Vidwan” of Ahobila Matam. On his return to Madras from a 
countrywide Sancharam, H.H. came to what he called a “homecoming” (Naan 
pirantha agathukku vandirukkiren). He was about to commence his Anugraha 
bhAshanam at the front yard of the Ahobila Matam at Triplicane, Madras.

Referring to the qualities of head and heart of Mukkur Swami, H.H. announced 
the appointment and asked  “Do you know the duties of an AasthAna Vidwan?” 
and himself proceeded to reply that “inter-alia, he should keep himself 
“eveready” (pun intended) to report to Acharya with utmost celerity, 
wherever he happened to be at the moment and assist him on any subject on 
which he may require consultation and produce suitable Pramanams in 
support”. I believe that Mukkur Swami had never once failed in this.

He was not only majestic in appearance:there was also a peculiar majesty in 
his voice. Once, I attended his series of discourses on Sri Vishnu 
Sahasranamam at Venus Colony, Mylapore. He was expounding on just 2 words 
“Viswam Vishnu” for over 2 hours daily for about a whole week. The 
staggering volume of information and the sheer force of delivery held the 
huge audience captive as if in a trance -  much in the manner of how the 
Gopis and cows were captivated by the sonorous and mellifluous music flowing 
out of the flute of Lord Krishna.His books of 4 Volumes entitled "Kurai 
Onrum Illai" will serve as immortal guides to any reader.

He was the youngest of the 3 Mahans who left us in bereavement. But, their 
successive ascent to Paramapadam is an S.O.S. call to all of us not to be 
complacent but to flock to the feet of Acharyas who are fortunately alive 
and available to us today and hasten to learn our “swarupam”, resort to 
“Prapatti” and “Save our Souls” right here and now. I believe, only this 
will be a fitting tribute to the great Mahans.

Anbil Ramaswamy

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