Paruthiyur Krishna Sastri
Kaushik, Texas, USA
we think of Sri Rama in epic poetry form we can think of Valmiki, when
we think of Sri Rama in music form, our mind automatically remembers Thyagaraja
Swami, and when we think of Sri Rama in story form, one will remember Brahmasri
Paruthiyur Krishna Sastri. Sastri was a comprehensive interpreter of the
Valmiki Ramayana slokas and his Ramayana stories are noted for the fascinating
way in which he portrays the life and virtues of Sri Rama, enshrining the
ideals that are ageless, teaching the lessons that are timeless, telling
the stories that are enduring, and depicting the truths that have withstood
the test of time.
Krishna Sastri' also known as Brahmasri Paruthiyur Krishna Sastrigal (1845
– 1911), a pioneer of Hindu religious discourses, was born in the calm
and tiny village Paruthiyur on the northern banks of Kudamuruti River,
near Sengalipuram, in Thiruvarur District of Tamil Nadu, to Lakshmi and
Ramasesha Sastri. Paruthiyur Krishna Sastri grew up to become the greatest
exponent of the Ramayana. He was a versatile Sanskrit scholar well versed
in Vedas and Sastras, Puranas and Ithihasas and all the scriptures. He
was a great poet, a writer, composer, singer, astrologer, philosopher,
a famous Harikathakalakshepa and Pravachan exponent. He was an avid connoisseur
of Hinduism and a Philanthropist known for his Dhaana and Dharma and above
all he was the greatest Bhakta with immense devotion to Sri Rama.
of his community in those days, Sri Krishna Sastri started his Gurukul
education at the early age of seven under Vaidyanatha Dikshitar Sengalipuram
Muthannaval (1830-1893). Within a few years he learnt prose, poetry, grammar,
Kavyam, Natakam, Alankaram and Veda Sastram, and could speak Sanskrit fluently.
Sri Muthannaval encouraged him to conduct discourses in the Ramayana and
presented him with a 'Srimad Ramayana' book. Krishna Sastri undertook higher
studies in Vedas, Sastras and music under Mahamahopathyaya Thyagaraja Mahi
Raja Mannargudi Raju Sastri (1815-1903) and specialized in Vedanta, Vyakarana,
Mimamsa, Tarka Sastra, Carnatic music and Naam Sangeerthan. By the age
of 18, Krishna Sastri took all the required examinations conducted by Thiruvananthapuram
Government for completing his education in the Vedasastras and received
all the awards of distinction.
But even before
this Gurukul life, Krishna Sastri had got his "Ramanama Mantropadesam"
from Marudhanallur Kodandarama Swamigal. Ever since then everything was
Rama for Krishna Sastri and what he did all his life was Ram Nama Japam.
Since his younger age he always wanted to build a Rama Temple. Villagers
have noticed little Krishna playing with his friends, building temples
and tanks out of sand on the banks of the Kaveri River.
and Thanjavur Maharajas offered Sri Krishna Sastri jobs for teaching Vedanta,
but Sastri did not accept and as advised by his Gurus he made a living
only through Pravachans (Explanation & Teaching of Scriptures). Sastri
became an authority on Valmikis's Ramayana to the extent that he came to
be called by people of his town as “Ramayana Sastrigal”. Brahmasri Paruthiyur
Krishna Sastri did Pravachans for over forty years of his life. Sastri's
Pravachans induced Bhakti, he never missed a chance to talk about the virtues
of Sri Rama. He used the Ramayana to illustrate several important ideas
and concepts from other scriptures, thus providing a clear link between
all our major scriptural works. Sastri was a pioneer who made Hindu Religious
Discourses an art and a respectable profession. Reading the original sloka
and presenting the meaning was the methodology followed by Pundits before.
Paruthiyur Krishna Sastri was the first exponent who gave various interpretations
and commentary to each verse and created a new style and was considered
the 'Father of Pravachans'.
One day while
coming around a temple in Paruthiyur doing his usual Rama Nama Parayanam,
a stone from the cracks of the temple hit his head and he was hurt. He
considered that God was giving him a hint to fix all the defects in the
Temples as he considered 'A Temple Saved Is as good as a Temple Built'.
Renovating and maintaining temples, building a temple for Sri Rama, doing
Dhana -Dharma and helping the poor, saying and singing the story of Rama,
propagating Sri Rama's virtues, inducing bhakti and good character in the
community was the goal of Sastri's Life.
* ''Nandhi Mangala Slokas''
* ''Kavivilasa Manidharpanam''
* ''Lakshminarayana Dhvisahasri''
* ''Sita Kalyanam''
* ''Ganga Sadhagam''
* ''Mahalakshmi Sadhagam''
* ''Meenakshi Sadhagam''
* ''Vishalakshi Sadhagam''
* ''Yeka Chakrapuram''
* ''Krishna Sastri Ramayanam''
* ''Krishna Sastriyin Balakandam''
* ''Ramayana Slokas''
He had composed
hundreds of songs in Tamil and Sanskrit on Rama, Mahalakshmi, Anjaneya,
Narayana and Shiva. Many of his works and palm leaf manuscripts have never
been found. He had written 100 slokas each on each of the Characters of
Sarasvati of Arsha Vidya Gurukulam says “Paruthiyur Krishna Sastri was
a pioneer in Ramayana Pravachana who paved way for other Pravachana Karthas
like Sengalipuram Dikshitars to follow. Sastri was not only a scholar he
was a devotee. This combination of vedic scholarship, devotion and humility
make a person command reverence from everyone who comes to know him”.
a freelance writer belongs to a Sastriya family of scholars and educationalists
from Thanjavur District. The author grew up in Chennai and had most of
the early education from the University of Madras and presently resides
in Texas, USA. Indian Art, Culture, Tradition, Hinduism, Temples, Spirituality
and Fine Arts are some of the author's favorite topics.