Life Sketch

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Birth, Ancestry: Sri Vuppuluri Ganapathi Sastry was born on the Sixteenth of December 1888 in his maternal grandfather, Sri Kalluri Ganapathi Sastry’s house, at Kakinada. Sri.Kalluri Ganapthi Sastry was a great Vedic Scholar and Salakshana Ghanapathi himself. He was a renowned scholar in the Vedas, Dharma Sastras, the Jyothisha Sastra and in the sixteen karmas (shodasa karma). He was a great mystic and a worshipper of different Gods and Goddesses.
Early Childhood: Sri Ganapathi Sastry excelled in all the village games and sports in his childhood. He used to come out first in everything that he did. In his childhood, he was entrusted to the care of his maternal uncle for English education. Sri Ganapathi Sastry, could not make any headway in the Western type of learning and after about a month’s efforts it was decided that he was ‘unfit’ for such studies. He was thereupon returned to his father for pursuing the traditional (Oriental) line of studies.
Father’s Disciple: His father, Sri.Vuppuluri Gangadhara Sastry was himself a great scholar in the Vyakarna Sastra, in the Bhashyas, Vedas, Srauta and in the Tarka  Sastra  among innumerable  other disciplines. He was an affectionate parent and a strict task-master. He used to wake up the young Ganapathi Sastry at about  3 AM everyday and start teaching the Vedas after sprinkling cold water on his eyes. Under the tutelage of his father, Ganapathi Sastry was soon transformed into an expert in Sanskrit grammar and adept in the interpretation of the Vedas. He went on mastering the Krishna Yajurveda, Sama Veda, Prakaranams, upto (Somantam) Kanda Thrayam, Smartha Prakiyas, the Jhothisha Sastra, Vidyaranyam. His mastery of these and other disciplines was such that he knew (and could interpret) the theoretical and practical as well as the Temporal and spiritual nuances of every single syllable thereof. 

Born in the family of distinguished Vedic Scholars of six generations dating back to the eighteenth century he shot up and shone like a bright star in the firmament bringing name fame and reputation not only to the family but to the entire country.  The country acclaimed him as authority in Vedas and Sastras (Veda Nidhi).
Further Training: He studied and mastered the CHAYANA PANNAMS, the ATIRAATRA and AAPTORYAAMA SAAMAS, as a disciple of Sri Bulusu Parvateeswara Somayaji of Vyaghreswaram and the AASWINAM and PARYAAYA SASTRAMS as a disciple of  Sri Bulusu Atchayya Somayaji. He mastered the intricacies and nuances of the rituals and participated in a number of Yajnams and Chayanams as the ‘Adhvaryu’ or ‘Hotha’. His participation in the first Yagna was at the tender age of eighteen. The Vedic scholars and big-wigs of his day were astonished at his  faultless rendition and performance even on his first debut and his knowledge of the Srauta Sutras, and Sastras, and the different steps of procedure. He understands and appreciates, as very few can, the theoretical and practical aspects and the temporal and spiritual significance of every ‘prayoga’ of the ‘kratus’. His contact with Sri Bommakanti Sitarama Sastry of Ryali, E.G. Dist., A.P.  a scholar in Tarka and Vedanta Sastras, enabled him to master ‘Uttara Meemamsa Sastra’ and ‘Prasthana Thrayam’. By way of concomitant learning, he imbibed many noble qualities of head and heart of his preceptor who was a philosopher of eminence and a great devotee of the Lord. He learned Philosophy from Sri Dendukuri Narashimha Sastry, Asthana vidwan of the Pithapuram Samsthanam.

Examination in Veda / Sastras:

Early in life he appeared for an examination conducted by the Pithapuram Samsthanam in Veda, Vidyaranyam, Vyakarna, Sutra Bhashya, Meemma and SRAUTAM among others. He secured 88% of marks after very strict valuation and yet he was placed in the second class. There was no examinee for that examination in the above aspects either before or after Sri Ganapathi Sastry.  Sri Vaidyanatha Sastry of Sankara Mutt in Bangalore accepted him as his disciple. During his short stay of a few months there Sri Ganapahti Sastry succeeded in attaining mastery in poorva Meemamsa Sastra and Bhattadipika. Sri Ganapahti Sastry thus became a great scholar, in all the disciplines.
Treasure Trove: The tradition of interpreting and expounding the meaning of the Veda in the Vuppuluri family dates back to about two centuries ago when in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, his great grandfather Sri Vuppuluri Gangadhara Sastry took it up as his chosen calling. He was legendary figure during his life-span of about 84 years. He was a great scholar in the Vedas and the Shastras. One day when he was sleeping in a Kali Temple situated in the midst of river Godavari near the village of Pattisam in East Godavari District, Lord Agnihotra appeared in a dream before him. The Lord directed him to proceed to the house of a certain Vaishnavite family in Kotipalli Kota, ask for the Vidyaranya texts (on palm-leaf) lying in their house and study them. He blessed Sri Gangadhara Sastry saying that he could master them without the help of a preceptor. Sri Sastry followed the Lord’s advice on the legendary treasure trove to the very letter and became one of the foremost exponents of Vedartha. His fame spread far and wide during his life time and he used to be called by the title of Brahma. He was a great mystic. The tradition continued in an unbroken chain from the last quarter of the eighteenth century to 17-7-1989, the day Sri Ganapathi Sastry left his mortal frame.
Greatness of Veda: ‘Padmabhushan’ Ganapathi Sastry was a past master in the art of interpretation of the meaning of Krishna Yajurveda. He sincerely believed that the Vedas were the repositories of the gems of spiritual wisdom. He considered them to contain a comprehensive doctrine of the spirit which can serve as guideline for the spiritual and cultural regeneration of India and which was great potentially for curing the ills of the modern world. His faith in the efficacy of the chanting of the Vedas was such that he firmly believed that chanting of the Vedas (Veda Parayana) could protect and sustain creation. His advocacy made a significant and distinctive contribution to the propagation of the age-old values of Indian culture.
‘Magnum opus’: His book entitled ‘Veda Sara Ratnavali’ published by the ‘Annavaram Devasthanam’ is a living testimony to his conviction that Vedic injunctions can be pressed into service in order to sub serve the ends of happy human existence on this planet. His writings convince us that the ancient Indian folkways and mores, customs and traditions and shistacharams of the sanatanic school are (by and large) but the encapsulated versions of Vedic wisdom.
Scheme in
His initiation of the various schemes for the Welfare of Vedic Scholars was motivated by his desire to propagate the Vedas and their message for universal human welfare. The credit for initiating numerous schemes of Vedic studies and recitals in or outside the temples of Andhra Pradesh goes to him in full measure.
Place of Women: On more than one occasion he expressed his view that a very high place was given to women in Indian culture.  He gave many a discourse and engaged in innumerable discussions on the subject and he invariably quoted the Vedas to prove his point.  The so called women’s lib is unnecessary in India when women are held in high esteem from times immemorial.  Women are compared  to the ‘Adi Shakti’, the mother of the Universe.  There is no other culture or country  in the wide world in which we come across such regard for women.  A full examination of the Vedas and Shastras is necessary to gain a complete and correct picture of the status accorded to women in India.  Sri Ganapathi Sastry oft quoted a Vedic hymn in favour of the education and emancipation of Indian women.
Spiritual Pursuits: He breathed the Vedas, thought about them and lived them.  They were the means for his salvation. They guided his temporal and spiritual region in life.  They were the be-all and end-all of his existence.  While worshipping and following the different deities, there was  no clash in his mind about any of them.  He fitted them into a grand cosmic design  in which every single element was in perfect harmony with every other ingredient.  It was glorious spiritual synthesis in which ritual and practice, whether it be of the sanatanic mould or one belonging to the religion of the saints, was accommodated side by side in a smooth graded hierarchy.  It was as if each one of them had acted as a beacon-light for him, beckoning him to engage himself in them.  He rose to the occasion and practiced them all in different spiritual planes with a deep sense of humility and dedication seeing the one in all and all in one, with the characteristic catholicity and native detachment of a true member of the ageless Indian cultural ethos. At least six hours of each day of his life was spent in spiritual pursuits meditation, yogabhyasa and other spiritual practices. He propitiated the goddess Bala through intense and concentrated devotion and austere practices.  Similar was his devotion to Lord Hayagriva, Lord Medha Dakshina Murthy, Lord Bhimeswara of Draksharam and Lord Venkateswara of Tirupathi.
Daily Regimen: His day used to start (during the last fifty years of his life) at about 1-30 A.M. He used a Big Ben alarm clock to wake him up.  The first thing he did was to engage in Yogabhyasa for about 2 hours.  After bathing a second time there followed many pujas, worships and chantings of numerous types and denominations.  This sequence was a must throughout his life.  He went  through the same routine even on the last day on his life when after completing his daily routine by about 8 A.M he wanted a trunk call to be made to Tirupati for finding out what had happened to his Vedic Schemes recently initiated by him.  Such was his concern for Vedas.  That was the last activity, the last issue on which he exercised his mind before breathing his last.
Honours: Numerous honours and titles came his way in recognition of his greatness as a scholar in numerous shastras and as an unparalleled exponent of Vedic meanings.  The Late Sri Vaidyanatha Sastry of the Sankara Mutt, Bangalore, and Mahamahopadhyaya Tata  Subbaraya Sastry of Vizianagaram were all praise for his scholarship.  They held him in high esteem and had great respect  for his views.  The Jagadguru of Kanchi and the Jagadguru of Sringeri (both of  them the senior Acharyas) had great regard for his scholarship.  He had occasions to meet them both on different occasions and receive their appreciation.  He pleased the Kanchi Acharya with the Sastrartha in the thirties when the Jagadguru was camping at Kakinada.

He met the Sringeri Acharya in Secunderabad later and received the title of ‘Veda Bhashyalankara’ from him. ­He was made the State ‘LAUREATE’ in Vedas in 1981. ­He was the ‘Asthana Veda Vidwan’ of the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam. ­The citizens of Kakinada conferred on him the title of ‘Saptagiri Vidwanmani’. ­The title of ‘Veda Bhashya Visharada’ was conferred on him in Machilipatnam more than half a century  ago. ­Other titles were ‘Sanga Vedartha Vachaspati’, ­‘Amnaya Saraswathi’,  and ­‘Kala Saraswathi’, ­‘Andhra Ratna’.

The Senior Acharya of Kanchi Kamakoti  peetham used to direct the Chief Ministers to him for advice on spiritual matters. Sri Sastry’s name travelled far and wide. ­He was conferred the title of Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in January 1985.

He brought great dignity and distinction to his different roles as state Laurate in Vedas, Asthan Veda Vidwan of the T.T.D. and Member (Veda) of Religious Advisory Council, Government of Andhra Pradesh. When he met Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, President of India, during one of his annual camps at Bolarum, the President commented that scholars of his (Sri Sastry’s) eminence are becoming rare.
His Last Days:  Sri Sastry’s obsession to serve the cause of the Vedas had grown in intensity in his nineties.  It was so intense  that he had eventually decided to shift his residence from Kakinada to Secunderabad and spend his last days there near the scat of the Government. The calculation was that he could thereby effectively participate in the periodical deliberations of the Religious Advisory Council and serve (better) the cause so dear to his heart. 

The Last Day: (17.7.1989)

He got up at 1.30 AM as usual and engaged himself in the ‘Yogabhyasa’ till about 4.00 AM.  After answering calls of nature and again a bath, he took up the worship of numerous other deities as was his wont every day.  This programme was completed by about 7.30 AM.  After completing his routine, he called his daughter Mrs. M. Saraswathi and asked her to make a phone call and find out what had happened to another of the Vedic Schemes newly introduced by him. On being told that only a part of the scheme was likely to he accepted, he felt irritated and disappointed. He sat on his bed lost in thought for a few minutes.  His devoted fourth daughter  had brought to him a plate  containing two teaspoonfuls of paste made of coarse broken wheat for his consumption.  He extended his fingers to the plate and suddenly fell back and breathed his last.

The next day was Guru Purnima. Elaborate prior arrangements were made for a ‘Panditha Sabha’ to he attended by Vedic Scholars from all over the State. Alas! it was not to be. His last rites were performed by his sons in the presence of a large number of Vedic Scholars who began to arrive for the Panditha Sabha. It was what he would have desired! and the last issue which exercised his mind was a new Vedic Scheme (initiated by him) designed to perpetuate the Vedic Heritage!





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