PROFILE OF SRI KAKKADSAM.DESIKACHAR (1900-1982)
SON OF K.RAMASWAMY IYENGAR AND GRAND SON OF SRINIVASA CHAKRAVARTHY
By K. Srinivasa
It is true that places or inanimate objects by themselves do not acquire prominence but certain personalities get associated with them and make an impression. History has shown this to be true for empires, kingdoms and temple towns. In our own time, this is so much true of Pathakota, also known as Pazhahote and Halekote, is a small hamlet, situated about 60 km from Bangalore, on the Bangalore-Hosur-Madras National Highway (NH7), just about 3-4 km off the highway. With its scenic surroundings of coconut gardens, and a water body in the form of Dakshina Pinakini River, this village, offers excellent relaxation for urbanites, who look to a respite from their stressful, mechanical lives.
One of our elders, Nallan Chakravarthy Kakkadasam Desikachar came to be associated with Pathakota as his wife hailed from this village. He joined cause with well intentioned and motivated localites like Sriyuths N. Chakravarthy Iyengar, Krishnaiah, P.T. Venkatachar, S.V. Ramaiah, N.Ramachandrachar in developing and sustaining the aura of the ancient Pathakota temple.
Sri Desikachar was actually employed in the service of then Mysore state in a non-descript routine administrative job though he was a knowledgeable and gifted person. But he had a charismatic personality that transcended his ordinary job. He was also an excellent communicator, irrespective of whether it was an informal talk with a couple of people or an address to a massive gathering.
With his personality and abilities, he caught the eye of no less than Mirza Ismail, who was then the Dewan of the State. Sir Ismail was highly impressed with Sri. Disikachar?s mature and innovative handling of a few routine jobs. The Dewan was at that time scouting for a talented individual who could tour the length and breadth of the state to address public meetings and create awareness of the many progressive measures and reforms that touched the common man?s life in the model state of Mysore. He realized that Sri Desikachar was a gifted person and chose him for this high-visibility assignment. 'Suggi Mysore' was a journalistic delight to spread awareness on the multi- direction development of the state.
Thus, Sri. Desikachar, who was from a humble background and held an ordinary position came to be a spokesman for the princely state. Dewan Mirza put a Chevrolet car at his disposal for touring the state, an unheard of perquisite even for highly ranked officials. What a blessing on a person coming from a humble background, but with lot of competence! No one who had come in contact with him had gone unimpressed. There was originality in his thoughts and novelty in his actions. He was large-hearted and magnanimous.
As an ardent devotee of Sri Rama, Sri Desikachar found time in his busy work to work with local residents to develop the ancient Pathakota temple to a position of grandeur and eminence. Swamy Anjaneya, was not only the the presiding diety at the Pathakota temple, but was indeed the life force of the village and trustee of its people, ever since the venerable Hanuman idol was consecrated about 300 years ago. The idols of Sri Rama and Seetha thayar were actually added in the 1930s. A sabhangana and other structures were added and the temple grew cover a vast area of 2500 sft from the original extent of about 500 sft. Local elders vouch that Sri. Desikachar did not hesitate to spend his meager resources to provide the temple with requirements for annual utsavas. He added several vahanas at his expense that would cost a fortune at today?s costs.
During this growth, a long line of dignitaries like Sir C V Raman and Sardar Patel were among the famous visitors to Pathakota. Dewan Mirza himself visited Patahkota to see for himself the accomplishment of his blue eyed boy and his local team. The visit of Nallan Chakravarthy Rajagopalachary and his association with the temple will rank as a high point for all Chakravarthy families. What a glory did this motivated soul bring to a small town temple! This golden period continued uninterrupted for almost 10-15 years. Artists from different towns in Tamilnadu and Karnataka had an opportunity to take part and be honored in annual events.
Sri Srinath Chakravarthy, grandson of Sri Chakravarthy Iyengar, one of our trust members has shared with us photos of the current year?s Brahmotsava and we invite all visitors to take a look at the wonderful pictures elsewhere on the NCT website. Incidentally, Sri Chakravarthy Iyengar has authored an extensive history of Pazhakote temple.
Though the life and work of Sri Desikachar bordered on the aristocratic, he was born in a middle class family of five children, which was struggling to make both ends meet. His father, Sri Ramaswamy Iyengar, a vadyar (priest), made the bold decision to move from Kakkadasam to Anekal- Bangalore to provide education to the children. However, Sri Desikachar, who was affectionately called Raja, had a higher taste, aim, and horizon bordering on the demands of well-to-do children of his times. He did not relish the staple diet of rice made out of Marala kanti variety( reddish and course type) or ragi mudde which was the staple diet in such homes; nor did he approve of uppittu or kesaribath if they did not have a generous garnish of cashews and raisins. Indeed, his parents had to put in additional efforts to keep him content!!
Unfortunately, there is hardly any documentation on Sri Desikachar who can be an inspiration for all Chakravarthy youngsters in particular. I have drawn this account from my limited personal acquaintance and a few others who knew him. Sri Raghavachar , nct senior member, recollected the way Sri Desikachar turned out in his closed collar coat and Mysore Jari Turban. He remembers that Desikachar let his car be used for the jaanavasam at Sri Ragahvachar?s sisiter?s wedding. He also remembers attending a srivaishnava conclave Desikachar organized at Kakkadasam village.
Sri K S. Srinivasan, another senior nct member, had thoroughly enjoyed the many trips he made as an young boy with Desikachar and was a witness to his warmth and generosity.
No one can defy the cycle of events in life and in his later life this noble person faced many challenges. Sri Desikachar should have reverted to his parent department when changes occurred in the governmental set-up. But, after such a glorious life, he was in no mood to revert to routine life and he quit government service. This decision had a marked effect in his personal life as he was far from the breed of government officials who amass wealth by unfair means and he had to start life all over again. But he never compromised on his standards and pride in his work.
I personally recall his concern to ?have nots? in society. He used to advocate that blessed ones should come to their rescue in an organized way in their demanding circumstances like education, marriage, child birth etc. He used to say that even the donation a rupee from a population of 50-60 crores ( in 1970-1980) would be a great sum to support such a cause. He had written 100 pages detailing the proposal and used to solicit the opinion of many on his proposal. I wish Nallan Chakravarhy Trust had existed then to give expression to such creative ideas solely proposed without any self interest, and which aimed at serving the general public.
His knowledge of Bhagavadgeetha stood him in good stead and he gave several discourses in all parts of the state. He also took it on himself to spread Ramakrisna Ashram publications to every household in the state. It is during one of these sessions at Devanahalli that he breathed his last at the ripe age of 82, while explaining the Ramayana to an officer in a government office. There was no illness, no hospitalization, and he caused no inconvenience to anyone. He is one of the Gems of Nallan chakravarthys, who led a very illustrious life.
In writing this account, I was greatly helped by Sri Ramaswamy Iyengar, an admirer and close associate of Sri. Desikachar. I request people who may have any pictures or paper cuttings on the work of Sri. Desikachar to share them with our trust so that we can expand this article to be a fitting tribute to noble soul.