[Advaita-l] A great scholar Mahamahopadhyaya Padmasri Pullela Sriramachandrudu garu passed away

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 25 10:34:36 CDT 2015

As many might be aware, Mm Padmasri Prof. Pullela Sriramachandrudu garu passed away yesterday. Bhaskar ji asked me about his works privately and marked it to some other Advaita list (of which I am not a member). I thought members on this forum might also want to know about a great Advaitin scholar and so am posting my private email to Bhaskar ji here:
Mahamahopadhyaya Padmasri Pullela Sriramachandrudu garu first studied Vyakarana and other Vedangas and Vedanta at / near his home and then later completed Vedanta Visarada in Madras. Later he obtained three MA degrees - in Sanskrit, Hindi and English - from Benares Hindu University. His contributions to the field of Sanskrit studies can be classified under five heads:
I. Original literature in Sanskrit / Translations into Sanskrit - He has written a play, translated Geetanjali into Sanskrit (in Mandakranta vrittas and dedicated it to Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru), translated verses from Parsee into Sanskrit etc. There is a small booklet containing six essays in Sanskrit about the various Sastrakaaras (Panini, Varamihira etc.) which is very popular in academic circles. He is also a versatile and accomplished poet. There is one poem on Aditya (written for good health of his family-member) that I have, which is replete with poetic beauty and references from Arunam etc.
II. Editing books in Sanskrit - He has edited (and sometimes translated into Telugu) some major works of Sanskrit for the first time. The most famous being the Kasika project in Sanskrit Academy wherein he edited Kasika with Nyasa and Padamanjari. There are many works in Sahitya, Alankarasastra etc. wherein he edited the works.
III. Translating Sanskrit works into Telugu - His major translations are:
Vedanta - Brahmasutrasaankarabhaashya, Bhagavadgitasaankarabhaashya and translation of seven upanishads (the major ten except Cha. Up., Br. Up. and Tai. Up. - which was already translated by some other scholar) following Saankarabhaashya, Sarvadarsanasangraha and many prakarana granthas.
Vyakarana - Laghusiddhantakaumudi; parts of Vakyapadiya.
Sastras - Yogasutras and prakarana granthas in various Darsanas.
Alankaarasaastra - Dhvanyaloka (with Locana of Abhinava Gupta), Kavyaprakasa, Kavyalankarasutrani of Vamana etc. I am writing this off-hand and do not have the list of books readily at hand, but Alankaarasaastra is one area where he has made almost all the important works available in Telugu.
Puranam - Agnipuranam for sure, I am not sure if he also translated some of the other Puranas.
Ramayanam - Word to word. Though this is a big and voluminous work (and described by some -erroneously in my view - as his Magnum opus), unlike his other works this translation lacks detail. For instance in the famous sloka कौसल्या सुप्रजा रामा . . . he has omitted the grammatical explanations etc. that he does explain in person or in Sabhas or to students.
Mahabharata - He wrote a 1,000 page+ work on Mahabharata touching all the major topics and issues of contention. For instance, in this work he made a bold claim that contrary to the practice in Telugu speaking areas for a 1,000 years and more, Yudishthira cannot be called as Dharmaraja (the latter name is so popular that many know only the name Dharmaraju in AP and Telangana).
Natyasastra with Abhinavabharatee - His last work that I know of. Natyasastra is an encyclopedic work that requires mastery of various fields like literature, music, dance, architecture, sculpture etc. Many people say that one person cannot do justice to it. If such a project were difficult enough, he has translated Abhinavabharati as well. To my knowledge this has not been translated into any language earlier. This commentary is so difficult to understand that Sri Harsha in his Naishadheeyacaritam says that the fort of Nishadas is, like Abhinavabharati, impossible for anybody to crack!
The total books written by him exceed 175. It is not an exaggeration to say that single-handedly he made Sanskrit literature accessible to Telugu speaking people.
IV. Institution Building - While he built the Sanskrit Department in OU into a formidable one, he was also instrumental in building three other institutions: Sanskrit Academy, Sura Bharati Samiti and Sanskrit Bhasha Pracara Samiti. In each, he was instrumental in doing monumental works. Kasika with Nyasa and Padamanjari edited by Sanskrit Academy has already been mentioned. It remains the single greatest work of Academy till date, thirty years after it was completed. He founded Sura Bharati Samiti in 1971 and during his tenure as Secretary for nearly twenty years, the Samiti brought out nearly 50 books in Sanskrit, Telugu and English. The Upanishad translations are part of the Samiti's publications. Many rare works were published - especially of Panditaraja Jagannatha - during his stint at the first two institutions. Till date Sura Bharati Samiti teaches Sanskrit to enthusiasts, (the total number trained is estimated to be more than 3,000 - many have gone ahead and finished MA and Ph.D.), arranges monthly lectures in Sanskrit, publishes works and promotes Sanskrit. In Bhasha Pracara Samiti, as Kulapati he built it into one of the major Sanskrit organizations in erstwhile AP and Telangana. Pracara Samiti remains the most popular in the two Telugu states for the general public learning Sanskrit through distance education and writing various exams like Pravesa etc. The life of every Sanskrit scholar in Hyderabad, and in Telugu speaking areas was touched by the activities of Pullela vaaru - such is the quantitative and qualitative effect of the institutions he built.
V. Teaching - One theme is common in all the activities of Acarya: Teaching. Whether writing books, giving lectures, or urging others and editing works, writing forewords etc., or teaching in the class, in Samiti or at home - the Acarya strived to teach. His translations have detailed explanations; a man of such great learning seems to still understand the possible doubts of a beginner. Wherever a reader encounters a difficulty, he is sure to find an explanation. For instance in Sarvadarsanasangraha, where many concepts of Nyaya are used, the explanations constitute a prakarana grantha in Nyaya itself! He has personally taught many stalwarts. Almost the entire Department of Sanskrit in OU constitutes his students (there is only one recent recruitment who did not directly study under Acarya); more than 90% of the Sanskrit teachers in Hyderabad (schools, colleges etc.) constitute his prasishyas or the fourth generation of sishyas; famous scholars like Brahma Sri Vedamurtulu Prof. Korada Subrahmanyam garu and Dr. K. Arvinda Rao IPS (former DGP of united AP) studied Brahmasutrasaankarabhashyam at the lotus-feet of Acarya.
As if his known achievements are not enough, he had other qualities which not many knew about. For instance he was much accomplished in Jyotisha, which fact is known by very few people. Another aspect is his discipline and robust constitution - the sheer magnitude of writing so many works is daunting for any other person. Yet, many of his works constituted difficult texts (like Dhvaynaloka etc.) and in each of those, his depth was such that it was consistent not with a commentary but also the sub-commentary. For instance when he discussed shadvidhalakshaNaa in Kavyaprakasa, one can see annotations from Udyota of Nagesa as well. It is said that he made it a point to write, maintaining his high standards, at least 40 pages every day - such was his discipline.
Often words like Pumbhavasarasvati are used too flippantly, but in the present case it is our good fortunate to have seen Goddess Sarasvati herself in masculine form.
I know that this does not even begin to give a glimpse of the monumental achievements of Acarya (more so by writing without having the list of books hand, their gunas etc.), but it is offered in the spirit of one amongst the thousands of small lamps in a great temple.
RegardsN. Siva Senani

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