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Saturday, September 5, 2015

... Guruh Saakshaat Parabramha / Tasmai Shree Gurave Namaha

… some sixty-five years back … that was Vijayadasami day … the sky was cloudy … the ground was still slushy …yet...  in the evening, as I was playing with other kids of the neighbourhood, my pedananna  (elder brother of one's father) called me: “Radha … Radha” and in the excitement of the play as I didn’t respond to him … he coolly came from behind and caught hold of my hand … As I was wriggling to get out of his hold, he, pulling me gently out of the playground, said: “Basavasankararao mastaru, pillalu vachharu … hallo kurchunnaru, eroju badiki vellali kada, pada … the teacher and students have already come and sat in our veranda. Aren’t you to go to the school today? Let’s go!”

… enthused by the news, I followed him  happily … As we reached home, my aamma (wife of father's elder brother) led me into the house through the backdoor … After taking a ‘quick-bath’, as I adorned myself merrily in new clothes got stitched for the D-day, my aamma, combed my hair and finally led me to the veranda … As I reached the Simhadvaram … seeing so many new faces sitting in the veranda, I held myself back … perhaps out of shyness … and as I was wiggling at the door, someone from the middle, clad in a short-sleeved white shirt with uttareyam over the shoulder called me gently: “Arey, Gollamudi ra,  ela vachhi kurchoo! Arey Gollamudi come, come and sit here!”

… pushing me gently from behind, my aamma led me to that elderly man sitting in the middle among the children … He, taking me by his hand, made me sit by his side … and I, sitting by his side, looked around quietly, and seeing so many boys and girls attired all in pretty clothes and giggling merrily, cast my eyes down …

… in the meanwhile, my aamma brought a basin filled with rice and put it before the mastaru ... From behind, my nanna was hurrying up the mastaru, saying, “muhurtham datipothundi … kaneeyandi Pantulu garu ... hurry up mastaru, before the auspicious time passes away…” 

… pulling the basin filled with rice nearer to him, he recited the prayer, “Shuklam baradaram vishnum / Shashivarnam chaturbhujam / Prasanna vadanam dhyaayeth / Sarva vighno pashantaye” … and the children sitting around accompanied him in chanting. Then taking me onto his lap,  mastaru, holding my  right hand instructed me to recite “Om Namah Shivaya!” … and as I uttered what he said, he led me to write the same slowly with my index-finger on the rice in the basin … He repeated the same thrice ... and then, transferring me to the floor asked the children to chant the verse … “Sri Ramuni dayachetanu” … He asked me to join the chorus, which I might have … attempted shyly … either rightly or wrongly … don’t remember exactly now … 

… then I was asked by my pedananna to distribute the coloured slate-pencils to all the students ... As I was doing it meekly, my aamma and amma distributed pappubellalu—lentils mixed with jaggery and bananas to the children … and with it as the cacophony created by the kids reached the ceiling, mastaru yelled at them to be quiet ... at once the hall became dead silent … I was horrified by the sudden silence.

… as I stood transfixed in that silence, my pedananna, putting tamboolam—betel leaves with catechu  and a pair of bananas—passed on by my aamma into my joined palms and placing over it two rupee coins, instructed me to present it to the mastaru … As I offered it to mastaru, pedananna then asked me to offer pranam to mastaru … And as instructed, I did it very religiously—prostrating at his feet, as I do in front of our God … 

... there was a little disagreement, of course, quite in a  friendly-tone between my Pedananna and  mastaru over the dakshina—a Vedic concept of offering donation for the services of a teacher for performing  aksharabhyasam—which my nayanamma (Paternal grand mother) blew off with a friendly comment … I think … and over a  laugh all that was settled. 

… then the mastaru instructed everybody to get up and proceed to the school … As everybody got up and started for the school,  mastaru took my finger into his palm and  asked my aamma to give me my slate and slate-pencil, and with them he led me to the school run by him. 

… holding the slate and slate-pencil in one hand, as the mastaru led, climbing down the steps to our veranda, I timidly followed him to the school … Mastaru thus initiated me into education and taught me from okatava taragati  nundi  idavataragati—Ist class to 5th class …In the course of time, he also taught me handling the school in his absenceby making the kids recite lessons from Pedabalasiksha  or multiplication tables and  finally, training me to write the admission test for First form, he got me admitted to Tenali Taluk High School in the year 1954.

… and with it my finger slipped out of his hand and started finding its own course in life … I shall ever remain indebted to Basavasankararao mastaru for all the good Samskarmanners he had inculcated in me, which indeed ensured that I had a safe journey through the life … so far …

Today neither that mastaru nor my nayanamma, aamma, amma, pedananna, nanna … none of them is around me … but they all remain with me virtually…

Sri Gurubhyo namaha.


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