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Self-realisation is his motto



P. Varaha Narasimha Murthy. -- Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam

The morning bathers on the banks of the Godavari in Rajahmundry were aghast too see a corpse floating towards them. They shouted `savam, savam' (corpse) and, in a voice choked with emotion, told a woman standing on the ghat, "It seems to be the body of your husband." They used to be all the more horrified as the woman smiled at them. A little while later when the man came ashore, they would understand the reason for her smile.

That was Pappu Varaha Narasimha Murthy, the present vice-president of the Sankara Matham, who was then serving there as Deputy Commercial Tax Officer. He used to perform `jalasanam' (asanas under water) in the Godavari every morning. While his wife used to bathe in the lower ghat, he used to go upstream and come back downstream in the savasanam posture.

Today at 78, he can still perform asanas under water, rest on his head with his legs up in the air (sheershasana) and drink water through nose. He learnt the Vedas from the noted scholar, Bhamidipati Narasimham, after retirement from service, and two decades later he continues to teach them to senior citizens who come to him to learn them. He is, perhaps, the only Vedic scholar in the region who has the knowledge to conduct the Aswamedha yaga.

Born to Appayya Sastry and Dhanalamma at Logisa Agraharam in Vizianagaram district in 1927, Narasimha Murthy had his schooling there and later did his B.Sc. from the M.R. College. He joined as a clerk in the Commercial Tax Department and served in Visakhapatnam, Madras, Rajahmundry, Tuni, Hyderabad and other places. During his tenure as Deputy Commercial Tax Officer at Rajahmundry, he came in contact with the renowned journalist, R.M. Challa, and used to participate in recitation of the Upanishads.

Narasimha Murthy is concerned about the variations in the epics by different authors and strongly recommends research on the Udhgrandham written by Kavyakanta Ganapathi Muni attributing the differences to the authors, who were forced to write them in accordance with the whims and fancies of the kings. He has also been seeking clarifications from seers, whenever he happens to meet them.

He has authored two books - Vyasa Kusuma Manjari Vol. I, and Vol. II, which were released in July 2003 and January 2004 respectively. The manuscript of the third volume has been sent to the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams for consideration. The books depict his simple style and easy-to- understand language.

He was felicitated with a `Swarna kankanam' (golden bracelet) for his yeomen service to the Sankara Matham. He was given the gold `Simha thalatam' in January this year, and the title `Tatwa Choodamani' was conferred on him in July.

"He has a very sharp memory and can recall dates and events pertaining to his childhood with accuracy," say his three students who are at present learning the Vedas from him.

In the last two decades about 15 senior citizens have learnt the Vedas and a few learnt yoga from him. Retired people have the time and inclination to learn such things. "I also offered to teach yoga to young boys and girls in the neighbourhood, but they did not evince much interest. One cannot blame them as they are too busy with their academic pursuits and do not wish to sacrifice the little time at their disposal."

He shrugs off encomia saying "I haven't achieved anything great" which speaks volumes of his humility. `Self-realisation is my motto', says the down-to-earth man.

How does he achieve it? Pat comes the reply: "Through regular practice of meditation for over one hour every day".

B. MADHU GOPAL

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