The multilingual scholar who made Tirupati proud


He was a scholar honoured by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) by being carried on a caparisoned elephant around the famous Sri Govindaraja temple here.

Kozhiyalam Satagopacharya received the rare honour way back in 1961-62. Followed by scholars chanting hymns and to the traditional drum beats of percussionists, the procession led by the then Executive Officer C. Anna Rao also dropped him at his residence. His achievement?

He rendered the Ramayana discourse for a full year at the jam-packed Anjaneya shrine located in front of the temple.

While his centenary was observed by his disciples at Mylapore (Chennai) on Saturday, his home town Tirupati too went nostalgic.

It is a rare coincidence that the 100th year of this scholar, who shares the lineage of ‘Abhinava Ramanuja’ Kozhiyalam Swamy, runs concurrent with the millennial celebrations of Sri Ramanuja.

Born in July 1916 in Therani on the banks of River Kusasthali on the Tamil Nadu border, the Sanskrit scholar taught for more than 25 years in the TTD’s Sri Venkateswara Oriental College. The multilingual scholar used to give a Tamil lecture on ‘Tiruppavai’, participate in Sanskrit debate and immediately switch over to chaste Telugu for a discourse on the ‘Ramayana’. Tamil and Telugu commentaries on ‘Sri Venkateswara Ashtothara Sathanamavali’, Vedanta Desika’s ‘Dayasatakam’ and a Sanskrit commentary‘Vidhitraya Paritranam’ on Sri Venkatadhvari were some of his notable contributions.

He mastered spoken English too within a few months. Satagopacharya made news those days by preparing and rendering the welcome address for the then President Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan at the Kendriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha. The President was all praise for his erudition, his disciples recall even today. Describing him ‘an authority on Nyaya, Mimamsa and Vedanta’, the then Lok Sabha Speaker Madabhushi Anantasayanam Ayyangar used to refer scholarly material to him.

His abject poverty never had any impact on him. “He never let money or the absence of it cast a shadow on us,” recalls his son K. Srinivasan, Secretary of the Navajeevan charitable group that runs an eye hospital, home for the visually challenged and an old age home, feeding 1000 people a day.

Though he got an appointment as a reader in the Vidyapeetha, he breathed his last before joining duty.

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