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Periyava of Angarai


HIS DEVOTEES and admirers across the country will sadly miss His Holiness Sri Govinda Damodara Swamigal who attained Sidhdhi in Triplicane on January 19, at the age of 75. His Aradhana is taking place on February 1 (Sunday) in Agraharam, Pazhoor, off Karur Road, seven km from Tiruchi in Tamil Nadu. Known in his Poorvashrama as Sri Kalyanarama Sastrigal of Angarai village (near Tiruchi), fellow devotees of Kanchi Paramacharya used to refer to him even before he took to Sanyas in July 1992 as `Angarai Periyava' only and never by his name. Though he had a big family to support and no other means of livelihood, this savant from Angarai gave up his Central Government job 50 years ago and took to uninterrupted `seven-day' recital of Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhattadri's Narayaneeyam in the forenoons followed by a discourse on it in Tamil in the evenings on the suggestion of Kanchi Paramacharya and brought immense relief and solace to families of countless devotees since then. From 1973 to 1991, he did this `Saptaha Parayanam' preceding the auspicious Janmashtami every year in the immediate presence of Kanchi Paramacharya. It was delightful to see the Sage of Kanchi sitting nearby and listening to the discourses in rapt attention, as if it were for the first time he was hearing the glories of Lord Krishna!

One of Angarai Periyava's admirers happened to be none other than a Poorvashrama younger brother of the Sage of Kanchi himself, by name Sadasivan but lovingly known as `Sivan Sir' who advised his own large circle of friends and devotees to go for advice and solace to Angarai Periyava. And they obeyed Sivan Sir's advice implicitly all through.

As for himself, this Savant was averse to publicity of any kind — he was indifferent to fame or name or circumstance of affluence or its opposite — he was fond of quoting the praise of Vedanta Desika by his son extolling such qualities of head and heart in his illustrious father and held that as the ideal of his own life.

No account of Angarai Periyava will be complete without a mention of V. Janakiraman who served His Holiness faithfully for 47 years without break. Angarai Periyava was the very personification of simplicity, compassion and wisdom.

K. VEDAMURTHY

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