Government documents showed my father’s name as Nanjundappa. Even after his retirement as a Shekhdaar, people fondly addressed him as “Record-keeper Nanjundappa.” He had built a new house. He had already grown old by the time I was growing up and was trying to understand the ways of the world. None of us children had the guts to talk to him directly. However, he was not short-tempered or mean.
He was an ideal family man in his conduct.
He slept in one of the rooms in the new house he had built. He would wake up early in the morning. Then he would pick up the gunny sack a wooden stave, and other items which he had readied the previous night. He would take my elder brother and myself along with him. En route, we would wash our faces and clean ourselves up with the water of the lake of our village. Then he would teach me some morning ragas and the Pandava Gita [i]. After this, we would collect dried and caked dung that we found in the wild and fill up the gunny sack with it. Then we would go our farm and pour this dung as needed, to the newly-planted coconut saplings. Among others, this was its manure. My father would also inspect these saplings and other plants for weeds and pests. Once this was done, he would pick up coconuts that had fallen on the ground, pluck some flowers, Tulasi, curryleaves, vegetables, palm-leaves and greens, and finally return home.
This was his unfailing morning routine.
After I grew up, I went to a different town to study. Each time I returned to my village during my vacations, he would still take me to the farm. Even at that age, he would regard me, still, as a small kid and would give me a light bundle of fronds to carry while he would carry the heavier burden all by himself.
At about ten in the morning, he would have his bath and sit for his Ahnika (Sandhyavandanam and other pious daily routines) and Puja. Then he would teach me the Vishnusahasranamam and other stotras even as he cut and stitched together leaves (which were meant for having meals) and performed such other odd chores. By eleven or eleven-thirty, he would spread out the meal-leaves for all the family members and have his meal with all of us.
Because we had a sufficient number of cows and calves at home, milk and curd and butter and ghee were never in short supply. He would use the vegetables that he got from our farm and those which our villagefolk would give him on occasion.
After lunch, he would go to his room and take rest for some time. After an hour or two, he would emerge from his room with a good load of fruits, which he would mix with jaggery and other items and serve it to all of us. Then, after the sun had calmed down, he would head to the farm once again.
He washed all his clothes by himself. In the evening, he would visit the Basavanna temple[ii] or go to the home of Sri Nadig and sitting on the vast verandah, spend time in chatting with villagefolk who would be present there. At times, they would play chess or the Ganjifa. At no point did he play these games wagering money.
Before dark, my father would return home and make us boys memorize our lessons. Then he would perform his evening Sandhyavandanam, perform the Arati and sit down for dinner with the entire family. By nine, he would go to bed.
My father commanded great respect in my village. He had discovered and established an order in doing the requisite work at the appropriate time. Therefore, our villagefolk would predict the exact work that my father would be engaged in at any given time. My father had no notion of secret. He was open, transparent, and fair. He never took any loan from anybody. Indeed, he never embarked on any transaction that he knew was fraught with the risk of potential bitterness and conflict between people.
He had a healthy reverence and Shraddha in the matters of Dharma. He carried out every single duty of the Grihasthashrama Dharma—the Dharma of a householder—to the “T.” He performed special puja during festivals and other special occasions and unfailingly invited Brahmanas for meals and gave them Dakshina generously. He performed the annual rites for his parents with great Bhakti. To the Vaidika Brahmanas who arrived in our village from elsewhere, he showed extraordinary respect and offered substantial Dakshina. He exemplified the Sanatana dictum of Atithi Devo Bhava.
One of his favourite activities was to recite and narrate commentary[iii] on Gadugina Naranappa’s Bharatakathamanjari. It is hard to tell whether he did this out of Bhakti or out of a love for literature. He had great love for Yakshagana and performed a few roles himself on several occasions.
My father wasn’t given to ornate or elaborate dressing. A dhoti and an upper garment for daily wear. Another small dhoti, a red double-cloth that hung from his shoulder. This typically used to be his daily wear. For formal occasions like visiting a Government office, he would wear a Roomal on his head. In those days, the Roomal commanded great respect as a mark of a cultured man.
By any standard, we were a fairly large family. Be it the postpartum of his daughters or daughters-in-law, the marriage of his children, Upanayanam, or other Samskaras, no year passed that did not witness these occasions. It was only recently that I realized a profound truth: providing food and clothing to a full house, performing the householder’s duties without fail at all times, enquiring and looking after the welfare of his family members and smiling at all times while doing these duties—it takes a mental sturdiness and equanimity of an elevated order on the part of the Master of the House, the Patriarch.
By all counts, my father belonged to the best category of a true Grihasta, the householder.
That ladies and gentlemen, is a really tiny snapshot of the meaning, nature, and character of true Brahmin Patriarchy. Although the number is dwindling, there continues to exist (thankfully) thousands of such Brahmin Patriarchies across Bharatavarsha. Although specific details of customs, family traditions and lifestyles may vary, this snapshot is equally valid for all other varnas.
I had to confine this essay to only Brahmin Patriarchy because the deracinated perverts who posed with that disgusting poster with Jack Dorsey picked on the so-called Brahmin patriarchy for no reason other than their incurable hatred fostered by an education system that inculcates such perverse hatred by design. It must indeed take a specially vile brand of mental, psychological and emotional putridity to actually want to “smash” this. But don’t labour under any illusion, and make no mistake: that evil poster is not merely a slogan, not even is it just an expression of intent: it’s a battlecry. Needless, the roots of this putridity lie in civilization and spirituality-wrecking Abrahamisms.
The snapshot provided in this essay is a translated and paraphrased adaptation of an account found the Kannada book, Karyalayada Itihasa, the autobiography of Sri Sri Sacchidanandendra Saraswati, one of the greatest Advaitins of the previous century.
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[i] A compilation or anthology of 76 verses in praise of Vishnu and Sri Krishna. According to tradition, these were sung variously by Brahma, some Rishis, Indra, Vaishampayana, Pandavas, Draupadi, et al.
[ii] Literally, “Bull temple.”
[iii] Also known as the Kumaravyasa Bharata, authored by Naranappa from Gadag. Naranappa, also fondly and reverentially known as “Kumaravyasa,” (Little Vyasa) was a 15th Century Kannada poet who authored this immortal magnum opus, the Mahabharata in Kannada. This legendary work continues to be widely recited, and has been the subject of countless commentaries with new ones being narrated and written even as we speak.