Nepal : Swami Prapannacharya passed away on 21 August

Well-wishers pay their last respects. (Photo: Dinesh Gole/Republica)

Kathmandu : Swami Prapannacharya, a sage of Hindu religious scriptures, especially the Vedas, died on Friday at an ashram in the Pashupatinath area. He was 92.

Govinda Tandon, member-secretary of Pashupati Area Development Trust, confirmed the death. The Swami was suffering from prostate and respiration-related ailments since a decade back.

His life is strong testimony to the popular saying: It is never too late to start. Born in a remote village in hilly Panchathar district to Khadga Bahadur and Dil Maya Devi Rai in 1923, Swami Prapannacharya, whose origional name was Kale Rai, would spend most of his early adulthood herding sheep and working as a porter. He had no formal education.

At the age of 30, when most people would be pursuing an occupation, he got himself admitted to a school and started learning the alphabet, much to everyone’s surprise.

He did not just learn the alphabet nor confine himself to primary education. He went on to complete a Ph.D in Vedanta philosophy, which requires knowledge of Sanskrit.

“His life was full of ordeals but he never gave up. He continued to excel academically. He is an inspiration to those who think it is too late to pursue one’s studies,” said Tandon, who has penned a book on Swami Prapannacharya’s life.

Tandon said his is the best example for rubbishing the stereotypical notion that Sanskrit and Hindu religious scriptures are basically studied by Brahmins. “His case shows that even someone from a non-Brahmin community can study and find enrichment in Hindu religious literature,” he added.

Tandon said that as Swami Prapannacharya was not allowed to study Sanskrit in Nepal since he was not a Brahmin, he had to go to Banaras. From 1988 onwards, he remained in Nepal and continued his research into Vedenta philosophy. He settled at Chandreshwar Sattal at the Pashupatinath area, which he used as his ashram.

He has penned over four dozen books on Hindu religious texts, culture, tradition and history in Nepali, Sanskrit and Hindi. “Ved ma ke cha? (What is in the Vedas)” is considered one of his best works. In it he has given a clear and lucid explanation of what is in the Vedas. The book bagged the Gunraj Award in 1983. ‘Prachin Kirati Ethihash’ and ‘Milkeko Jhilko’ are also considered important works by him.

“He was more interested in research and writing than preaching about Vedanta philoshopy. He was a very patriotic individual and would always say that people should write on subjects like Hinduism, the Vedas, history, archeology and the cultural aspects of the country,” said Tandon.

In the course of his research, he visited all 75 districts in the country and over 20 Asian and European countries

He was twice appointed a member of the then Raj Parishad Standing Committee. In recognition of his remarkable contribution in the promotion of Sanskrit, the government provided his a life-long allowance of Rs 30,000 per month. He was honoured with the title of Mahabidhyawaridhi by Nepal Sanskrit University.

Meanwhile, issuing a press statement, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has expressed his sorrow over the Swami’s demise. He said that Swami Prapannacharya would be remembered for his remarkable contribution to the promotion of Eastern philosophy.

Source : My Republica