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An Acharya for our times

Mathoor Krishnamoorthy: Taking Indian values overseas

BORN IN the Mathoor village of Shimoga in 1929, he went to Madras for higher studies and was enthralled by the stories written by Kalki. There was a small problem, though. He could speak in Tamil but did not know how to read the language. So he had to wait for someone to read out the stories to him. And then he decided to learn the Tamil script in order to read Kalki all by himself. "So I learnt the script in two days." Something in my eyes may have conveyed my disbelief, for he then said: "Only 27 letters in the alphabet, how much time can that take? Plus I already knew Kannada."

Meet Mathoor Krishnamoorthy, Executive Director, BVB, Bangalore.

Learning the Tamil script was only a small thing to this Sanskrit scholar who had learnt Indian epics and the Vedas along with his school lessons and agricultural activities. He soon translated several of Kalki's works into Kannada and later translated books from Tamil and Hindi into English.

He joined BVB, Bangalore, as its Registrar in 1969. In 1972, he joined its London centre and his finest memories belong to these 23 years from 1972 to 1995. The B.B.C., in those days, used to have a religious broadcast and prayers were read out from Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Sikhism. But since Hinduism was known as a religion without a text, this was not included in this programme. Till Mr. Krishnamoorthy spoke about the Sarva Dharma prayers. He rendered these prayers with meanings and these were prayers that spoke for humanity. Between the years 1982 and 1984, he presented 110 talks on Hinduism for the B.B.C.

Even today, he insists that the media should take a leading role in helping us to understand ourselves. "We feel inferior to other cultures because we fail to understand our own culture," he says. The attempt should not be to insulate cultures, but to be aware of our strengths.

During 1969, while he gave lectures on the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, it struck him that there was no poetic work on Gandhiji. If Gandhi's life and teachings could be rendered in a couplet form, he could build his lectures on them. Beerur Chidambara Jois penned the mega poem and Hosahalli Ramashastri sang them. This series of lectures in Kannada came to be called Mohana Tarangini.

Today, Mr. Krishnamoorthy is engaged in the 20-year project of bringing out 100 volumes on Gandhiji's works. And that is not all. At some point in time, he would like to write a book that traces the Rama-Krishna-Gandhi lineage for all three stood for truth, righteousness, and non-violence.

Barely 12 when he read Gandhiji's autobiography, this 73-year-old scholar holds the Bangalore centre together with his child-like enthusiasm. For those of us who have not been fortunate to meet Gandhiji, we must not miss this opportunity to meet people like Acharyaji who carry a large part of Gandhiji within them.


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