History & Culture

Meet the three LIFCO awardees

(From left) Radha Vijayasarathy, MD and Vijayasarathy, chairman, LIFCO Group, Justice G.R. Swaminathan, Madras High Court, Dr. M. A. Venkatakrishnan (retd. HOD, Sanskrit College), T.V. Rangarajan, Alwar Thirunagari Jeer Swamigal, A.M. Rajagopalan, K.B. Devarajan, Justice Ramasubramanian, Hyderabad High Court and Justice Kribhakaran, Madras High Court   | Photo Credit: R_Ragu

LIFCO publishers awarded the title Sri Ramanuja Sevasri to A.M. Rajagopalan, K.B. Devarajan and T.V. Rangarajan for their contributions to Visishtadvaita. Know more about the three awardees .

Restoring temples: Ninety-five-year old A.M. Rajagopalan, founder- editor of Kumudam Jothidam began his writing career in The Hindu. The job involved extensive travel. AMR, as he is popularly known, has a degree in Politics and Indian History, and wherever he went, he visited ancient monuments and temples, gathering information about them. After a 22-year-stint in The Hindu, he joined Indian Express, writing in both the Express and Dinamani. In Dinamani, he was assigned the astrology page, and so he studied astrological texts. His astrological predictions made him a much sought-after astrologer. He had always wanted to bring to the notice of the public, the sorry state in which he had found many temples, and Kumudam Jothidam offered him the opportunity to do so. Whenever he wrote an article about a neglected temple, readers immediately donated funds for restoration. AMR offers free astrological consultations, and his clients donated liberally too, to temple repairs. “There is a Narasimha temple in Devar Malai, near Karur, and when I wrote that it needed restoration, funds poured in from readers. There was a rich industrialist, who came to me for consultation, and as always, I refused the money he offered. Some years later, when he was driving past Devar Malai, he learnt that I had been involved in renovation efforts of the Narasimha temple, and so he contributed five lakhs . Had I accepted fees from him, it would have run into a few thousands. But by abstaining from charging fees, I indirectly contributed to this ancient temple,” says AMR. Visishtadvaita stresses the importance of archa worship, which makes the upkeep of temples important, and AMR’s relentless work in repairing temples is his major contribution to the Visishtadvaitic cause.

Teacher to many: K.B. Devarajan began studying Visishtadvaita from the age of eight, and has learnt from scholars like Tirumalai Vinjamoor Singaracharya Swami, Prativadhibhayankaram Annangarachariar Swami, Velukkudi Varadachariar swami and Akkarakkani Sampathkumarachariar swami. His formal initiation into Sri Vaishnavism (samashrayana) was from Sri Mudaliandan Peria Swami. After acquiring a B Sc in Physics, Devarajan took up a job in Ambattur. He taught children at the Ambattur pathasala run by A.K. Sadagopachariar. “In ten years, I taught 2,500 children Vishnu Sahasranama. I also learnt many granthas from Sadagopachariar.” Devarajan gave his first religious discourse in 1979, and since then there has been no looking back for him. His first upanyasam also earned for him his first title — Senchol Selvan, conferred by Annangarachariar Swami. Many other titles followed. Devarajan wrote a dance drama titled Ramanuja Vaibhavam, which was choreographed by Kuchipudi exponent Veena Murthy Vijay and produced by Sangeetha Sambhrama, a Bangalore-based cultural organisation. With a grant from the Ministry of culture, it has been staged in Bangalore, Jaganmohan palace in Mysore, Salem, Sriperumbudur, Mumbai, Chennai (Krishna Gana Sabha) and is soon to be staged in Kolkata and Baroda. Devarajan has also composed 15 kritis including kritis on Sri Vaishnava Acharyas Ramanujacharya, Vedanta Desika and Manavala Mamunigal. Many have studied traditional granthas from him, and today four of his sishyas — his son Srivallaban, Thenthirupperai Aravinda Lochanan, Akkarakani Srinidhi and Thenthirupperai Parthasarathy give discourses. In fact, all four students and the teacher have given Tiruppavai discourses in the same year in Chennai.

Nurturing sampradaya through publishing: Growing up in Thiruvaiyaru, T.V. Rangarajan came to Madras for his collegiate education and then worked for an eveninger, where he brought out many specials relating to the Sri Vaishnava sampradaya. For the centenary of His Holiness Sri Tirukkudandai Andavan, Rangarajan digitised a Tiruppvaai upanaysam series of the Pontiff. His Holiness Sri Srimushnam Andavan asked him to condense the content and bring it out as a book. Sri Srimushnam Andavan suggested that Rangarajan should head a magazine devoted to Sri Vaishnavism, and thus was born Vainavan Kural.The magazine was launched with blessings from the Pontiffs of Andavan Ashramam and Ahobila Mutt. Sri Andavan swami told Rangarajan that the magazine should eschew sectarian differences, and so the masthead of the magazine does not even have the distinguishing Sri Vaishnava mark — the tirumann. Contributors to the magazine are from both Tenkalai and Vadakalai traditions. Vainavan Kural is now into its 10th year and they also have an English edition. Rangarajan and his brother Kalyanaraman, who is the publisher of the magazine, have brought out many rare books. In 1921, V. K. Ramanujachariar, who studied under His Holiness Sri Terazhundur Andavan, had written a book on Bhagavath Vishayam, with many details including information on grammatical usages. The book was unavailable for many decades. The present Sri Karyam of Ahobila Mutt, Dr. S. Padmanabhan located a copy, and Rangarajan published it in 2012. It is part of the prescribed syllabus for the Vaishnavism course in Madras University and SASTRA university. A book explaining all references to Lord Narasimha in the Divya prabandham and Navalpakkam Vasudevachariar’s presentation of Sri Bhashya in simple Tamil are among the many valuable books published by Vainavan Kural. Rangarajan plans to have a few pages devoted to Sanskrit lessons in each issue of Vainavan Kural.

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Printable version | Oct 14, 2021 10:28:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/meet-the-three-lifco-awardees/article25622512.ece

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