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Brahmaśrī Dr R. Krishnamurthi Sastrigal

Vedamūrti Brahmaśrī Dr R.Krishnamurthi Sastrigal (63) hails from a family of distinguished Vedic scholars and anuṣṭhātas and a special mention needs to be made of his own father Salakṣaṇa-veda-vidvān Brahmaśrī Rajagopala Ghanapatigal of Mullaivasal who had dedicated his entire life to the teaching of Vedas and was always seen revelling in the recitation of the Vedas, especially the Upaniṣads, the bhāṣyas, the Rāmāyaṇa and the Mahābhārata day and night. Many were the accolades that Sri Rājagopala Ghanapatigal won from the then Pontiffs of the Kanchi and the Sringeri Shankara Maths. Earlier, Brahmasri Rajagopala Ghanapatigal had studyied Vedanta under Brahmaśrī Thetiyur Subramanya Sastrigal, a consummate scholar who had the great fortune of getting initiated into Srī-vidyā by none other than Jagadguru Chandrasehkara Bharthi Mahaswamigal of Sringeri Sharada Peetham.

Sri Krishnamurthi Sastrigal had the wonderful opportunity of undertaking advanced studies in Vedānta under two famed stalwarts of Advaita philosophy, Śāstraratnākara Brahmaśrī Polagam Rama sastrigal and Paṇḍitarāja Śāstraratnākara Brahmaśrī S.R.Krishnamurthy Sastrigal both of whom were serving the Madras Sanskrit College as Professors of Vedānta then.

Earlier, after completing traditional training in veda-adhyayana in the Yajus- śākhā under his father, Sri Krishnamurthi Sastrigal became a Vedānta-śiromaṇi at the Madras Sanskrit College, securing a gold medal. Studying Mīmāṁsā under prominent teachers, he went on to become a Mīmāṁsā-śiromaṇi from the University of Madras. Subsequently, Sri Sastrigal’s distinguished academic career was embellished with many honours including the ‘Veda-bhāṣya-vidvān’, ‘Vedānta-vidvān’ and ‘Mīmāṁsā-vidvān’ awarded by the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanam, Tirumala.

After earning a post-doctorate degree from the Madras University on Indian Philosophy, his quest for shastraic research led him to pursue a Doctorate in Philosophy; his Ph.D dissertation is a profound work on Iṣṭa-siddhi-vivaraṇa which bears the stamp of Sri Sastrigal’s erudition and insight.

Sri Sastrigal has a long and outstanding record of presiding over and participating in Vidvat-sadas (seminars) conducted by distinguished institutions like the Sringeri Math, the Kanchi Math and also the Maths of the Dvaita and Viśiṣṭādvaita schools of Vedanta. His expositions in the seminars have always evoked the admiration of great scholars and the Pontiffs of the various Maths. In recognition of his scholarship and method of exposition, Sri Sastrigal has been awarded the following coveted titles:

  • ‘Veda-bhāṣya-ratnam’ by the Kanchi Math.
  • ‘Vedānta-viśārada’ by the Shankaracharya of Sringeri Sharada Peetham.
  • ‘Advaitasiddhi-ratnākara’ by the Sudharma-rakshana Parishad, Tenali.

A partial list of the other titles and awards received by Sri Krishnamurthy Sastrigal is as under:-

  • Vedānta-vibhūṣaṇam from Sudharmarakshanaparishad, Tenali.
  • Saṁskruta-sevā-bhūṣaṇam from Advaita sabha, Kumbhakonam
  • Āmnāya-vidvanmaṇih from Tirumala Tirupathi devasthanam, Tirumala
  • Award from Maharishi Sandeepani Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratishthan, Ujjain for “Excellence in Vedic Studies”
  • Śāstranidhi from Sudharmarakshanaparishat, Tenali
  • Vedabhāṣya-ratnākarah from the Jeer of the Ahobila Math
  • Vedavidyāvāridhih from Srimath Anadavan ashrama, Srirangam
  • Śrī-adokṣajapraśasti from Sri Viswesha Thirtha Swamiji of Pejawar Math
  • Veda-nidhi from Sri Ganapati Sacchidananda Swamiji, Datta Peetham, Mysore

Serving as the Professor of Vedanta at the Madras Sanskrit College, Sri Sastrigal became its Principal in the year 1999 and continued to serve the institution until his retirement in 2002. After retirement, he set up a School for Veda-bhāṣya and Vedāntic Studies named ‘Brahma-vidyā Bhavanam’. At any time there are around a dozen students, who are ghanapāṭis and studying veda-bhāṣyas under him at the Bhavanam. Classes on the Upaniṣad-bhāṣyas, the Brahma-sūtra-bhāṣya, Prakaraṇa works of Advaita, the Viṣṇusahasranāma-bhāṣya conducted by Sastrigal are being regularly attended by interested seekers. Sri Sastrigal has also been conducting Bhāgavata-saptāhas.

Sri Sastrigal holds responsible positions in various famed institutions that spread the knowledge of Sanskrit and the Vedas. To list a few:

  1. Academic Council Member, Lal Bahadur Sastri Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Delhi
  2. Joint Secretary, The Sanskrit Academy, Chennai
  3. Member, Research Admissions Committee, Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha
  4. Expert Committee Member, Saraswati Mahal Library, Tanjore.
  5. Selection Committee Member in several Universities constituted for the Appointment of professors.
  6. External Examiner for the award of Doctoral degree in Banaras Hindu University, Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetham, Tirupathi and others
  7. Most favoured Examiner for Kal vaitta varam, a tough examination to test the memory power and concentration of vedic scholars
  8. Examiner for Veda-bhāṣya examinations conducted by the Kanchi Math.
  9. Responsible for organising and conducting the Veda-bhāṣya-sabhā and Advaita-sabhā at Kanchi Math every year.

Many are the papers, monographs and books authored or edited by Sri Sastrigal. Here is a partial list of the publications:

  • ‘Veda and its relevance in today’s life’
  • Critical Edition of the Alankāra-stava by Vinukonda Venkatarama Daivajna.
  • Kṛṣṇa-yajur-veda – in both Grantha and Devanāgari lipis.
  • Saṁkṣepa-dharma-śāstram
  • Yājuṣa-mantra-ratnākaram
  • Iṣṭasiddhivivaraṇa - Doctoral thesis published with English translation by Advaita research centre, Chennai.

Sri Sastrigal’s unique manner of exposition of the intricate concepts of Vedānta with apt examples coupled with wit and humour is dear to the hearts of his audience.