Sri Kripananda Variar:

 

If the tidal waves of atheistic propaganda which swept the shores of Tamilian traditions and tried to erode the minds of the public a decade ago can now be said to have been halted, the success must be attributed to our religious leaders, scholars and exponents of classics.

 

What could not be achieved through institutional efforts was accomplished by individual endeavours. Among the large band of front-ranking evangelists who still continue this crusade against ignorance and irreligions, is Sri Kripananda Variar.


This 59-year old Tamil pandit and ardent devotee of Lord Muruga, spends daily on an average three hours in expounding the great epics before mammoth gatherings, travels more than 200 miles to meet and discuss with people, runs one of the best magazines exclusively devoted to religious subjects (ti has just completed 30 years of uninterrupted existence), replies to hundreds of queries about matters pertaining to religion and allied topics and conducts research into various aspects of theology -- all these in addition to the minimum of two hours he spends in puja to Lord Subrahmanya.

 


In his musical discourses he brings out intricate philosophical truths in a lucid and racy style, illustrating it with parables, short stories and personal anecdotes. Interspersing his homilies wiht copious humour, he covers a wide range of topics touching on current politics as well, and making subtle digs at those who deride all that they consider odl and ancient. Ramayanam, Mahabharatam and Skandam are his fortes, though he lectures on several other works with equal eloquence.


Hailing from Kangeyanallur near Vellore from a family of Tamil scholars, Sri Kripānanda Vāri is one of eleven children of Mallayyadas Bhagavatar. Helearnt the rudiments of Tamil history under his father, showing evidence of precocity by composing poems at the age of five and giving a discourse before an audience at the age of nine. He had no formal schooling.

 

Today he is held in deep respect by men of letters, who consider him an authority in Saivite literature. Even while young, Sri Kripānanda Vāri embarked on a programme of service to humanity by giving discourses. Married at 19, he moved to Madras, where he continued his study, lectured to enlightened audiences and learnt veena under Thenmadam Varadachari. Later he received initiation at the hands of the great savant Sri Eesana Sivacharya and mastered Tiruppugazh through Madurai Tiruppugazh Sami Aiyar. He also made a deep study of Tirukkural, Tēvāram and other classics.


Sri Kripānanda Vāri's sole aim is to preach religion and utilise his talent and resources to help poor students, educational institutions and temples. The temple at his birthplace is today a showpiece of art. He took a leading role in several religious works such as construction of towers at Vayalur and Kosapet (Madras) and reconstructing the temple at Mohanur. He has also helped in the collections of funds for the renovation of the Madhavaperumal Temple in Mylapore, the Sri Balasubramania Swami Temple (Teynampet) and the Muruga Temple in Valli Malai. Among his recent projects of reconstruction are the Kosapet temple tank and the Samayapuram Mariamman Temple.


It was at Vadalur, the headquarters of Jothi Ramalingaswami, that Sri Kripānanda Vāri founded the journal Tiruppugazhamirtham. In its inaugural number he dedicated an elaboration of the verse Kaithala niraikani which he still uses as invocation at discourses. He rebuilt the Sathya Gnana Sabha at Vadalur and completed the task of founding a seat of learning there by 1950, collecting rupees four lakhs for the purpose.

 

At a time when literary discourses in Tamil were looked down upon, Sri Kripānanda Vāri gave a new orientation to them and demonstrated that bhakti was the tap root of Tamilian traditions. Soft spoken and humble, he is ever a student.


The latest among his several commentaries is on Kamba Rāmāyanam and it is to be followed by an analysis of Villiputhurar Bhāratham. He has been the recipient of titles from Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi, the Jeer of Ahobila Mutt, the Dharmapuram and Madurai Adheenams and Swami Sivananda of Rishkesh.


Sri Kripānanda Vāri has toured Malaya and Ceylon [Note: and many, many other countries since this article was published in 1966], serving as our cultural ambassador.