'Chozha Naadu Sorudaithu, Pandiya Naadu Muthudaithu, Chera Naadu Vezham udaithu and Thondai Naadu Saandror udaithu' is a famous Tamil saying. It means, Chozha desam (areas surrounding Trichy/Tanjore) is known for its abundance in Food Grains; Pandiya desam (areas surrounding Madurai) is known for its abundance in Pearls; Chera desam (Kerala) is known for its abundance in Elephants and Thondai desam (areas surrounding Kanchipuram/Vellore) is known for its abundance in learned scholars and Acharyas.
The saying has been true since time immemorial. Thondai naadu has the privilege and prestige of producing greatest numbers of scholars in vaideekam and our sampradayam including Mudal Azhwars, Thirumazhisai Azhwar, Bhagavadh Ramanuja, Sri Koorathazhwan, our dearest Swamy Desikan and countless other Acharyas. In keeping with its tradition and reputation 'mother Thondai Naadu' decided to gift another great scholar to Bharatha Desam and Vaideeka Astikas spread all over the world. This scholar would proceed to decorate the Malola peetam as its 45th Acharya under whose leadership the Shri Matam expanded and flourished much to the delight of Malolan.
Birth and Early Life
The 45th Acharya was born in Thirumalai Nallan Chakravarthy Vamsam in Villivalam Agraharam (North Arcot District) in the Uttaratadhi Nakshatram, Karthikai month of Akshaya Varusham (December 12, 1926). He was the sixth son of Shri Pazhaveri Chakravarthy Narasimhachari and Shrimati Ranganayaki ammal. His parents named him Krishnamachari. He showed extraordinary scholarship even as a young boy. Sensing the young boy's potential, his father home tutored him and laid a solid foundation. Swamy learnt Kaavya Natakams from his father. He followed it with thorough abhyasam of Tarka Shaastram from his elder brother.
Swamy's elder brother: Shri 'Vedantha Vavadhooka' Narayanachariar
Any account of our Acharya's life history will be incomplete without mention of the profound impact his elder brother had on him. Swamy himself had on several occasions (both pre and post sanyasam) expressed his utmost reverence and 'Kruthagnathai' to his elder brother without whose care and attention, swamy's achievements would have not been possible.
Swamy lost his father when he was very young. It was his elder brother (older by 10 years), Shri 'Vedantha Vavadhooka' Narayanachariar, who took him under his care and since then for the next several decades occupied a father like figure in his life. He performed upanayanam for the young Krishnamachari, trained him in the basics of our sampradayam and later in advanced studies in Tarka Shaastram. Sensing the young boy's thirst for advanced sampradayic knowledge, he admitted him in the Madurantaka Patashala.
Narayanchariar who was the second son of his parents was born on August 15, 1916. He had all the inbuilt qualities of an Acharya in his own right. It was widely expected that he was to be coronated as the 45th Azhagiya Singar but Malolan sought his kainkaryam in 'HIS' abode. His unexpected loss was deeply felt by vaideekas and astikas and shook our swamy deeply. Swamy's devotion to his elder brother often drew 'Bharatha-Rama' parallels from those who observed their mutual bond and affection from personal quarters. Academic Accomplishments
Swamy furthered his Vedanthic education in Madurantakam Patashala and passed Nyaya Siromani exam conducted by University of Madras in 1949. He received first prize for general proficiency. He learnt Meemasa Shastra under the feet of 42nd and 43rd Azhagiyasingars. He underwent Vedantha Kalakshepams under the feet of 42nd Azhagiya Singar. A few interesting incidents demonstrate his scholarship (source: http://www.saranagathi.org/articles/45jeer.htm - Sri Anbil Ramaswamy swamin)
Swamy had the benefit of being closely associated with the 42nd, 43rd and 44th Azhagiyasingars from his younger days. He had the benefit of performing 'Kaashaya Kainkaryam' to the 42nd Azhagiyasingar which helped him learn deep nuances of our sampradayam in private. He also had the privilege of performing 'aradhanam' to Sri Malolan for some years.
Personal and professional accomplishments in his 'Poorvashramam' (Pre Sanyasam)
He served as Tamil Pandit in the Ramakrishna Vidyalaya, Chenglepet for four years from 1956. He served as "Nyaya" Professor in the Sri Ahobila Mutt Sanskrit College, Madurantakam till 1965. He was appointed "Asthana Vidwan" of the Mutt by the 44th Azhagiyasingar in 1966. He was the Joint Editor of Sri Nrisimha Priya (Tamil) magazine from 1982.
Swamy was known for his simple and lucid style of upanyasam. He eventually moved to Chennai and for over 30 years performed several upanyasams, kalakshepams in Sreebhashyam, Rahasyatrayasaram, Ramayanam, Bhagavatham, Thiruppavai and Bhagavadh Geetha across India.
Ahnika Grantham - Magnum Opus
Swamy has several literary works to his credits. He contributed several scholarly articles in Sri Nrisimha Priya magazine which were keenly read and widely appreciated both by scholars and simpletons. Swamy wrote Sri Vaishnava Sadacharya Nirnayam which is an authoritative scholarly work on day to day practical anushtanams to be followed by every single Shri Matam Sishyas and Shri Vaishnavas/Vaideekas at large.
In keeping with Shaastric prescriptions, Swamy entered Grihastashramam in 1944 (18 years age). He married the daughter of Vidwan Kaniyambakkam Srinivasacharya and led a happy married life for 46 years. The couple were gifted with three sons. He had his Samashrayanam at the hands of Injimedu Azhagiyasinghar in 1940. He had his Bharanyasam at the feet of Devanarvilagam Azhagiyasinghar on a Dwadasi day of Panguni month in Pingala year (1978).
Vaideeka establishments in post independence India have had to suffer innumerable obstacles in their functioning. Several third party vested interests compete and collude with an aim to destabilise vaideeka religious establishments in several different ways. Our Shri Matam faces such challenges even today as a matter of routine.
Successive Acharyas have worked tirelessly to make sure that the core of Shri Matam principles remains unblemished despite many external pressures and influences. The reigns of 42nd, 43rd and 44th Azhagiyasingars coincided with rapid rise of naastikam in Southern India. The sishyas were put to untold hardships; nevertheless they gained comfort under the feet of successive Acharyas.
Under these testing circumstances, the 44th Azhagiyasingar who sensed his imminent Sri Vaikunta Praapthi, summoned Shri Krishnamachari on October 12th 1991 and appealed to him to accept Sanyasam and eventually take over the Shri Matam as the 45th Acharya. On October 21st 1991, swamy performed Sanyasa sweekaranam in Srirangam at the hands of the 44th Azhagiyasingar. He was 65 years of age then. Swamy was blessed by Shri Paravakkottai Andavan. The 44th Azhagiyasingar attained Paramapadam on 24th August 1992. The 'Chinna Azhagiya Singar' as swamy was then affectionately called took the title of 'Shri Narayana Yateendra Maha Desikan' as a mark of respect, devotion and gratitude to his poorvaashrama elder brother.
A golden age for Shri Matam
The ascent of 45th Acharya heralded a golden age for Shri Matam. The Shri Sannidhi needed to be fortified on several fronts.
The sishyas who were thinly spread far and wide needed to be consolidated; the fragile financial resources needed to be augmented; several of matam assets needed protection from vested interests; several high end repair works needed to be performed in Thiruvalloor and Ahobilam divya desams; matam buildings across India were in a dilapidated situation; Malola nitya aradhanam needed additional financial support given the escalating costs and inflation; Vaideekas needed to be supported by matam which involved significant financial commitments; Vidwat sadas needed to be conducted on a regular basis; the list of tasks that needed to be prioritised seemed endless.
The Acharya made significant progress on several priorities all at once. The Shri Matam was certainly heading towards a golden age. In the first few years, the Acharya created Veda Parayana Goshtis for auspicious days; he undertook several sancharams across India and instilled among Sishyas a sense of ownership in Shri Sannidhi; financial support started pouring in; initial sceptics turned ardent devotees; he submitted several swarna offerings to Malolan, Prahlada Varadan in Upper Ahobilam and Perundhevi Thayar at Kanchipuram. He renovated pracheena Sri Matams at Srirangam. Madurantakam, Srivilliputhur, Thirukkurungudi, Azhwar Thirunagari, Pullam Boothankudi, Mannarkudi and Thiruvallikkeni. The Brindavanam of Shri Adi Vann Satokpa Jeeyar was renovated and a new Brindavanam for 44th Azhagiyasingar was constructed near Dasavathara Sannidhi in Srirangam. He renovated the 'Ul' Desikar sannidhi in front of Sri Ranganayaki Thayar sannidhi in Srirangam Temple. He increased the remuneration of Kainkaryaparaals to mitigate the burden of increasing cost of living.
The years 1996 to 2005 saw further expansion of various Matam activities. The Acharya delegated suitable loukika astikas to oversee the affairs of various trusts across the country so the message of Malolan could be spread far and wide. Significant infrastructure improvements were made at Ahobila Divya Desam. Thirumangai Azhwar has himself sung about the divya desam as one that is difficult to reach. But the improvements made by the Acharya have enabled even elderly devotees to reach the divya desam, stay and worship Nava Narasimhas in a relatively easier manner. He published Yajur Veda Samhitai and Shakai for the benefit of Veda Adhyaayis. He published rare sampradayic works like Bhavaprakashika. He made arrangements for the conduct of Malola Vidwat Sadas every year and supported several scholars across India.
The Selaiyur Matam in Chennai was consecrated in a grand manner. The matam contains a Veda, Prabanda, Shaastra Patashala within its campus where nearly 100 students stay and study. The Acharya was known for his extraordinary anushtanams and would stick to the routine irrespective of his demanding travel schedule. He made strenuous efforts to visit Divya Desams regularly and accept 'Shri Matam Maryaadais' without fail. Samprokshanams for several temples were conducted on a regular basis. He created nearly 20 Shri Baashya Vidwans through Pudukkottai Seshadri swamy. He is known to have spent several 20+ hours a day at a stretch in Shri matam routines, kalakshepams, sishya interactions and Shri Matam administrative affairs. It was as though 24 hours a day was not enough for this Acharya.
He bestowed best sambhavanais to scholars from across India without sampradaya bedams. He performed Samashrayanam and Baranyasam to several thousands of sishyas from across India and overseas. The Nrisimhapriya magazine underwent significant improvements in content and form under his direction. He emphasised the need to write simple and easy to understand articles to attract and retain attention of sishyas of all scholastic abilities.
Just as sishyas wondered if everything that needed to be accomplished by an Acharya was accomplished, the 45th Azhagiyasingar in his peerless style engaged in further Kainkaryams. The period 2006 to 2011 saw further advancement of Matams acitivities in social spheres. The most notable of them included creation of 'Sri Malola Arts and Science College' in Madurantakam. In keeping with changing times and modern day demands, the Acharya in his foresight commanded the construction of an Arts and Science college to cater to poor and needy students from all walks of life. He made provision for quality education at affordable fees thus turning the dreams of many hundreds of poor students from socially disabled backgrounds into reality. The College today attracts students from under privileged sections of society many of who are first time entrants into a college from within their family.
Social awareness about the Shri Matam's activities has increased manifold as a result. The Shri Matam is seen as one that contributes to the social welfare at large. The period also saw two significant samarpanams by devoted sishyas: Swarna Mantapam and Swarna Simhasanam. Inspite of all these precious samarpanams from loukika Sishyas, the Acharya continued to live a simple and austere life. The Acharya remained aloof from the excitements created by such expensive samarpanams and only accepted them as it was his duty to accept any samarpanam to Shri Malolan.
Appointment of Successor
The Acharya experienced some health issues in 2008. Sensing the need to continue the illustrious tradition of Shri Matam, he appointed Shri Ranganatha Yateendra Mahadesikan as his successor on May 8th 2009. The appointment of a successor of the calibre of 46th Azhagiyasingar was a jewel in the crown of achievements by the Acharya. The realisation that Shri Matam was in safe hands under the direction of Chinna Azhagiya Singar gave a sense of rejuvenation and renewed vigour to the 45th Acharya. From then on until May 2013, the two Azhagiyasingars continued on joint sancharams and Dolais.