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Friday Review » History & Culture

Updated: August 19, 2010 18:14 IST

Of a great lineage

V. BALASUBRAMANIAN
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DEVOUT AND HUMBLE: Rama Dikshitar. Photo: M. Srinath
The Hindu DEVOUT AND HUMBLE: Rama Dikshitar. Photo: M. Srinath

Noted religious scholar and orator, Rama Dikshitar, now in his mid-seventies hails from Sengalipuram, one of the several hamlets in Thanjavur District. Listening to him during the interview at his grandson’s residence in T. Nagar, was no different from listening to his discourses. His intonations, the pauses and chanting were reminiscent of the glorious days of Rama Dikshitar’s uncle, Sengalipuram Anantharama Dikshitar, and father, Sengalipuram Narayana Dikshitar, trendsetters in the field of religious expositions. “Being part of such a hoary tradition is a unique privilege. What more can I ask for,” begins Rama Dikshitar.

“Kanchi Maha Periyaval would describe our family, which has been performing Agnihotra for almost 60 generations, as one steeped in tradition. All men born in the family have been into Vedadyayanam and till date the trend continues,” he remembers.

Rama Dikshitar was never formally trained in discourse. “It was on- the-job training, as they call it. Accompanying my uncle and my father on stage was all I did. I was just seven. And imbibing the subjects, the slokas and their interpretations was a matter of course.” He was trained in Niyamadhyayanam in Gudalur for a year under the tutelage of Gudalur Ramachandra Sastrigal. Mudicondan Vaidyanatha Sastrigal trained him in Yajur Veda.

“‘Raman is very naughty, climbing up trees and hanging precariously from the branches, but when it comes to chanting the Vedas he is the first to begin and go on perfectly,’ Maha Periyaval would comment,” recalls Dikshitar, in a voice choked with emotion. The boy went on to learn Sastras from Niyamathampettai Sundaresa Sastrigal, and Siddhampalur Kalyanasundara Sastrigal stayed in his ancestral house to make him an expert in Vyakaranams.

“Merely narrating stories which people already know is pointless. The focus should be on spreading Dharma,” his uncle advised him and Dikshitar follows it to a T. Rama Dikshitar’s range of subjects include the Ramayanam , Mahabharatham,Tiruvilaydal Puranam, Skandam, Bhagavatham, Devi Bhagavatham and Soundaryalahari.

“We were camping at Sanskrit College, Mylapore, and I was assisting my uncle in his discourses, when all of a sudden I was called upon to present a disquisition on ‘Sri Krishna Jananam’ at the Madhava Perumal Temple. The 90-minute treatise was well received and people started taking notice of me,” he says.

Rama Dikshitar has reasons to feel proud of his two sons -- Sridhara Dikshitar, his eldest, is running a Veda Patashala, in Kumbakonam, where he teaches Vedas in gurukula style and Jayakrishna Diskhsitar (aka) Vittal Das Maharaj, his second, is already mesmerising millions globally, on subjects such as, Bhakta Vijayam, Ramayanam and Bhagavatham.

Although Rama Dikshitar has received several titles from organisations across the country, it is surprising to note that neither the Central nor the State Governments over the years has recognised the erudition of the scholar. Rajaji believed that Rama Dikshitar was a worthy successor to the Sengalipuram Seniors in his family.

Recently, Vittal Rukmani Sansthan, Govindapuram, has brought out his Srimad Bhagavatham as a 6 CD pack in Mp3 format. (Contact 94444 55745 for copies.)

Rama Dikshitar is also an expert in astrology, again a blessing he received from his uncle as Upadesam. “But I don’t practise it,” he clarifies.

Multi-tasking is Dikshitar’s forte. Be it a fridge, two wheeler or car that doesn’t work, he sets it right in no time! Where did he learn all this? He smiles guilelessly and points his finger upwards.

“Realising the Supreme and yearning to merge with it should be the goal, everything else in the world is transient. These scriptures are tools to salvation,” is the savant’s concluding statement …

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