shrI Bannanje Govindacharya

Great men are born once in a while and when they come, they make a unique contribution to the existing stock of knowledge in the area of their expertise. They enlighten the world by their works and make life worth living. The path they tread become a beacon to millions and such men attain immortal fame.

shrI Bannanje Govindacharya is one such Yugapravarthaka in the field Indian Philosophy. He is a scholar par excellence, in various scriptures, a poet, journalist, artist, a persuasive speaker, spiritual thinker and a treasure house of Madhva Thatwa Shastras. He is a revolutionary turned spiritual thinker.

He was born in a village near Udupi. He had a chequered educational career. A renowned sanskrita scholar failed in his sanskrita entrance test. Along with general education, he studied the Madhva Philosophy under the able guidance of his father S. Narayanacharya and His Holiness shrI vidyAmAnya tIrtha swAmIji of palimAr maTha. His father was not happy with his son's revolutionary ideas, but blessed him saying "Go your way, but never tread the wrong path". But the person who shaped shrI Bannanje's future was the late shrI vidyAsamudra tIrtha swAmIji of kAniyUr maTha, who foresaw what the young scholar was going to become and encouraged him saying, "Govinda, it requires fortitude to speak the truth. You have that in you. Do not lose heart. Speak out whatever you want to speak boldly. You have lot of things to contribute and enrich the existing fund of knowledge, but before you make up your mind to give, study deeply-study whole-heartedly. With the blessings of swAmiji and encouragement from his friends, shrI Bannanje grew from strength to strength and has come to be considered the vyAsa of the 20th century.

He began his career as a poet at the age of eighteen. He wrote his first poem and showed to the great D.R. Bendre who appreciated Bannanje's poetic talents and blessed him. Two years later he translated shrI madhavAchAryA's tantrasAra into kannada, and it is not just a translation, but it is a scholarly work. From then on, he never looked back. One of his towering works was the editing of the complete works of madhavAchArya. It was in the manuscript form written by shrI hrishikEsha tIrtha, one of the direct disciples of madhavAchArya and the first yathi of palimAr maTha. shrI Bannanje exhibited his great erudition especially, in preparing the footnotes. His great scholarship which began with the translation of tantrasAra, reached the pinnacle with his translations of the Upanishads. In these works, he has successfully tried to place before the readers a mirror image of the essence of Indian culture and philosophy. These books are the epitome of the innumerable pravachanas he gave throughout the length and breadth of this great land.

shrI Bannaje is a versatile orator. His matchless expertise in etymology and linguistics, unparalleled power of memory, his ebullient style, his acumen in treating and presenting different schools of philosophy convincingly in a comparative style and his objective views on various schools of thought have made him a matchless exponent of the Madhva Philosophy. He has already endeared himself to his audience. Wherever he goes, he conquers the hearts of his listeners.

shrI Bannanje had to come up in life in the hardest possible way. As a young man he walked out of the traditionally oriented circle steeped in blind beliefs and questioned ideas and practices which were not in tune with the principles of Sanathana Dharma. His detractors tried all means at their power to force him to have his back to the wall, but he refused to give in. He fought against everything that would harm the cherished ideals and practices of Bharathiyatha. He never compromised on matter of principle, retained his birth right to question everything he thought improper. Like Socrates he continued to ask questions and search for answers in which he succeeded to a fair degree. He motivated the youth to reason and to develop scientific temper.

His achievements are varied. He began his life as a poet, then had a long stint at journalism. He was the editor of the literary supplement of Udayavani. His divinely inspired gift of grace and talent made his bosses encourage him in his endeavor of propagating the sanathana principles among the people in various parts of our country. He toured all over south India giving discourses on the Mahabharatha, Ramayana and the Bhagavadgita in his own lucid and attractive style and won the hearts of millions of people.

He had opportunity to visit the United States of America to attend a series of religious conferences. He went abroad as the Cultural Ambassador of India and won a number of disciples.

shrI Bannanje loves a serene atmosphere conducive for contemplation. He is very simple and unassuming. It is a great experience to spend a few minutes with him. He never asserts, he never dominates, but listens to others. He believes firmly in "Ano BhadRa krathavOyantu vishwathaha" and probably this has made him a highly learned person. He is humility incarnate. "Vidya dadathi vinayam vinayaa Dyathi Patrataam" and shrI Bannanje is the best example to illustrate this principle.

shrI Bannanje devoted his life for the last four decades for the service of literature, literary research, editing original Sanskrit texts and he did it with great success through the thousands of discourses he gave throughout this vast country. Today shrI Bannanje is a house-hold name.

As a writer he has made a name with more than 50 original works which include two collections of poems in kannada namely "Mukkanna Darshana" and "Helade Ulidaddu". The second one is a living example to show how a great man can create great literature from silent ponderings. He has translated many texts like Dwadasha Stotra of Acharya Madva in Kannada and edited lot of original texts.

Recognizing shrI Bannanje's greatness as a thinker, writer and above all a persuasive speaker shrI vibhudEsha tIrtha swAmIji of shrI Admar maTha honoured him with the title "Vidya Vachaspathi" during one of his paryayas and the late shrI vidyAmAnya tIrtha swAmIji of shrI palimAr maTha decorated him with the title "Vidya Ratnakara". shrI Bannanje fully deserves the titles and more. Society has done very little for the man who has served so well and for so long. He is a karmayogi who belives in the greatest principle enunciated in the Bhagavadgita "Karmane Vadikarasthe Ma Phaleshu Kadachana".

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