Kavya Kantha Vasistha Ganapati Muni

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Ayyala Somayajula Ganapati Sastri (1878-1936), popularly known as Kavyakantha Vasistha Ganapati Muni was a Practitioner-Scholar of traditional Hinduism.

Life

Ganapati Muni was born on 17th November 1878, in Kalavarayi near Bobbili in Andhra Pradesh. His parents were Sri Narasimha Sastry and Narasamamba, a devoted Brahmin Family. Brought up in a deeply religious family, he was traditionally trained in several subjects. Along with scholarship his focus remained on spiritual seeking, first devotion being Lord Siva[1].

Views and Reforms

Ganapati Muni was a rare combination of traditional scholarship, reformatory zeal, patriotism, spiritual sadhana and original thinking. Arguably he was one of the greatest personalities of his times[2][3].

Ganapati Muni strongly opposed untouchability. Pancama Mimamsa and Pancajana Carca are his works devoted to a critique of categorizing people as untouchables and pancamas (fifth varna). Being a scholar and spiritual seeker himself, had initiated thousands of Hindus from all communities into Mantra Sadhana. Pleased with his initiatives and contributions the Adi Hindu Society, a Dalit Hindu community conferred on him the title Muni. He demonstrated through his life and works, that amity between sections of society can and should to be achieved through constructive reforms, and not through group campaigns that further deepen the divide.

Contrary to the mainstream view of traditional scholars, Ganapati Muni also was against the notion of Veda as Apourusheya and believed that Veda must be regarded as man-made and identified as the work of seers. His works Maha Vartikam and Sabda Pramana Carca substantiate his views.

Ganapati Muni's original contributions include his correlation of Renuka (mother of Parasurama and wife of Rishi Jamadagni) story of Purana with Chinnamasta a Sakta Mahavidya[4].

His Bharata Caritra Mimamsa is a seminal work that proposes Mahabharata to be contemporary with one phase of the Vedic period, and traces Mahabharata characters in the Veda-Purana literature right from Rig Veda.

Titles/Awards

  • For his scholarship and poetry Ganapati Sastry was awarded the title Kavyakantha (Voice of Poetry) in 1900[5].
  • He was conferred the title Muni (seer) by Adi Hindu Society in Hyderabad[6].

Disciples

Ganapati Muni had many disciples, whose lineages continue till date in south India. A few prominent names are below -

  • TV Kapali Sastry the author of Siddhanjana
  • Daivarata the author of Chando Darsana

Works

In contrast to the noted writers of his time like Sri Aurobindo and Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy, most of Ganapati Muni's works are in Sanskrit[7]. This is one of the primary reasons for his limited fame, in spite of his progressive views on several issues concerning the society such as caste discrimination, and untouchability.

Hymns (Stotra grantha)

Ganapati Muni composed several stotras or prayers to several Devatas -

  • Sri Guru Stuti (prayer to the Teacher)
  • Herambopasthanam (prayer to Ganapati)
  • Uma Trisati (three hundred verses in praise of Goddess Uma)
  • Uma Satakam (hundred verses in praise of Goddess Uma)
  • Uma Aksharamala (the prayer to Goddess Uma with the alphabet garland)
  • Uma Sahasram (thousand verse prayer to Goddess Uma)
  • Devi Stotra Manjari (prayer to Mother Goddess)
  • Sri Tripura Sundari Geetam (song in praise of Goddess Tripura Sundari)
  • Amrutamba Pancaratnam (five verse prayer to Amrutamba)
  • Saundaryamba Nirvana Shatkam (six verse prayer to Saundaryamba)
  • Renuka Shatkam (six verse prayer to Goddess Renuka)
  • Renuka Saptakam (seven verse prayer to Goddess Renuka)
  • Indrani Saptasati (seven hundred verses in praise of Goddess Indrani, the consort of Indra)
  • Pracanda Candi Trisati (three hundred verses in praise of Goddess Pracanda Candi/Vajra Vairocani/Chinnamasta)
  • Mangala Gauri Stotram (prayer to Goddess Mangala Gauri)
  • Sri Ramana Catvarimsati (forty verses in praise of Ramana Maharshi)
  • Siva Satakam (hundred verses in praise of Lord Siva)
  • Siva Stava Raja (prayer to Lord Siva)
  • Siva Saptati Nama Stotram (seven verses in praise of Lord Siva)
  • Indra Sahasranama Stotram (prayer with thousand names of God Indra)
  • Indra Sahasre Prathaman Satakam (hundred verses from the Indra Sahasra)
  • Indra Sahasre Kataksha Stabaka (the "grace" section from Indra Sahasra)
  • Indra Vimsati (twenty verses in praise of God Indra)
  • Indra Saptakam (seven verses in praise of God Indra)
  • Sri Pavanastakam (eight verses in praise of God Pavana)
  • Sri Nrisimha Pancaratnam (five verses in praise of God Nrisimha)
  • Sri Yoga Anjaneya Pancaratnam (five verses in praise of God Yoga Anjaneya)
  • Sri Taraka Ramanama Stuti (praise of name Rama)
  • Sri Krishna Akshara Malika (letter garland in praise of Sri Krishna)
  • Rama Geeta (words of Rama)
  • Geeta Mala (garland of songs in praise of ten different Gods)
  • Siva Geetam (song in praise of Lord Siva)
  • Ramana Geetam (song of Ramana Maharshi)

Analysis (Tatva grantha)

Following is the list of Ganapati Muni's works on principles of existence

  • Sadacara Bodhini (knowing the righteous conduct)
  • Tattvaghanta Satakam (hundred verses explaining spiritual principles)
  • Tantra Hridaya (Secrets of Tantra Sastra), an incomplete work
  • Aksharavali (sequence of letters), depicting the divine manifestations of each letter of the Sanskrit alphabet - similar to a beeja nighantu
  • Sri Ramana Geeta (Summary of Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi)
  • Saddarsanam (translation of Ramana Maharshi's Tamil Work Ulladu Napardu)
  • Vishwa Mimamsa (Analysis of the Universe), an encyclopaedic work on Indian Spiritual Philosophy but incomplete in parts
  • Dharmanusasanam (righteous conduct)

Aphorisms (Sutra grantha)

Here is a list of the Muni's works in the sutra/aphorism form -

  • Mahavidya Sutram, the aphorisms on the celebrated Dasa Maha Vidyas of Sakta Tantra. In these Ganapati Muni establishes the continuity between Vedic Mantra Sastra, Upanishad Vidyas and the Sakta Tantra.
  • Rajayoga Sara Sutram, essentials of Raja yoga
  • Indresvara abheda Sutram, proposing Indra as the Isvara
  • Caturvyuha Sutram, explaining the four vyuhas of Vaishnavas
  • Rudrakutumba Sutram, explaining the Rudra family of Devatas
  • Srusti Sutram, explaining the creation theory
  • Isvara Mimamsa, analysis of Isvara
  • Kriya sakti Sutram, explaining the active energy (one of the three forms of energy as per Sakta - will, knowledge and action)
  • Siddhanta sara Sutram, explaining four-fold grace of Indra
  • Manisha sangraham, analysis of Self
  • Atha Santi Tapo Bodhanam Phala Nirupanam, explaining the result of austerity, peace, knowledge
  • Gayatri Vyakhyanam, commentary on Gayatri Vidya
  • Yoga Vyakhyanam, interpretation of Yoga Sastra
  • Sita Vyakhyanam, about Sita of Ramayana
  • Krishna Vyakhyanam, about Sri Krishna
  • Tattva Samanya Mimamsa, analysis of common principles
  • Tattva Mimamsa, analysis of essential principles
  • Pramana Pariksha, analysis of epistemology
  • Samavaya Pariksha, analysis of matter-attribute inseparability
  • Abhava Pariksha, examining the concept of nonexistence
  • Pancjana Carca, a critique of untouchability
  • Gotra Pravara Nirnaya, on the determinism of vedic lineage and family divisions
  • Vivaha dharma Sutram, analysis of marriage rite
  • Sabdapramana Carca, analysis of Sabda Pramana
  • Pancama Mimamsa, critique of creating a fifth division of society (apart from four varnas)
  • Darsana Mala, on causation theory
  • Ganapati Darsanam, on Lord Ganapati
  • Sakti Darsanam, on Mother Goddess
  • Samrajya Nibandhanam, a proposition of code of governance for the country (India)
  • Viswa Mimamsa, an encyclopaedic work on metaphysics
  • Tattvanusasana Sutram, a survey of different forms of Yoga Vidyas
  • Dharmanusasanam, an encyclopaedic work on natural righteous order
  • Devata Mimamsa, analysis of the concept of Devata
  • Vasistha Darsanam and Sarvartha Darsanam, analysis of Sankhya's three pramanas (incomplete)
  • Adi Sastrartha Sutram, analysis of the approach/philosophy of Vedic Seers
  • Vasistha Kama Sutram, analysis of erotica and sexuality
  • Maha Vartikam, analysis of the concept of impersonal origin of Sruti

Commentaries(Bhashya Grantha)

Here is a list of the commentaries written by the Muni. Most of these are incomplete works.

  • Rigveda Laghu Bhashyam, a brief commentary and method of interpretation of Rig Veda
  • Rigveda Bhashyam, commentary of Rigveda
  • Viswa Mimamsa, on word and eternity
  • Indra Nama Nirvacana, on the name Indra
  • Aindra Sahasranama Bhashyam, commentary of his own Indra Sahasranama Stotra
  • Jaiminiya Sutra Bhashyam, commentary of Jaimini Mimamsa Sutras
  • Isopanishad Bhashyam, commentary of Isa Upanishad
  • Upadesa Sara Bhashyam, commentary of Ramana Maharshi's Upadesa Sara
  • Gurumantra Bhashyam, commentary of Guru Mantra to invoke Ramana Maharshi
  • Agnercatushto Vibhutayah, analysis of four forms of Agni
  • Daivarata Darsanam, analysis of Daivarata's Chando Darsana
  • Matru Tattva Prakasika, Sanskrit translation of Sri Aurobindo's work "The Mother"
  • Sariraka Mimamsa Tippani, critique of Adi Sankara's Brahma Sutra Bhashya
  • Vaidika Padanam Arthah, enlisting the meanings of over a hundred Vedic words

Other Works

  • Bharata Caritra Mimamsa, an exhaustive analysis of the historicity of Mahabharata and its characters, surveying evidence from classical literature starting with Rigveda
  • Purna, a historic novel woven around the story of Satyasena and Pradyotana the rulers of Anga and Magadha

Ayurveda -

  • Cikitsa Anusasanam
  • Prana Toshanam

Jyotisha -

  • Hora Nirnaya Samgraham
  • Shodasa Sloki
  • Tribhava Phala Candrika
  • Ganaka Kanthabharanam

Biographies

1. Nayana in Telugu written by Gunturu Lakshmikantamu 2. Biography in Telugu written by Poluri Hanumad Janaki Rama Sarma, published by Ramanashramam, Tiruvannamalai

References

  1. Nayana by Gunturu Lakshmikantamu, reprint 1998
  2. M P Pandit, Adoration of the Divine Mother
  3. T V Kapali Sastry, "The Maharshi"
  4. Nayana, P250
  5. Nayana, P54
  6. Nayana, P326
  7. Collected Works of Vasistha Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni, Ramanashramam, Tiruvannamalai