Just got the news that Sri K Natesan, one of the oldest disciples of Sri Ramana Maharshi and Kavyakantha Ganapathi Muni, was absorbed in the lotus feet of Arunachala, today, 21-March-2009, sometime around 2 pm.
Here is a picture of his that I took, when I visited him in Dec 2007, during the Samadhi ceremony of Swami Ramanananda. (For an account of that visit click here).
Sri Natesan was born on 26th November 1913 in Mandakalathur, a town in North Arcot district, some 40 kms from Tiruvannamalai. His father Sri Krishna Ghanapathi was a Vedic scholar, and a teacher at the Yajur Veda Paathashaala at Tiruvannamalai.
Sri Natesan first came to Bhagavan Ramana in 1922. After that time, he has never been far away from Tiruvannamalai and the Ashram. He was encouraged by Bhagavan to write down Sanskrit works, especially those of Nayana (Kavyakantha Ganapathi Muni), which he did all through his life. In fact, the world owes him a great debt, for it is Sri Natesan who has preserved for the world, and brought to publication the collected works of Kavyakantha, in twelve volumes.
Such was his training at the hands of Bhagavan, that it would be near impossible to find a typographical error slipping past Sri Natesan’s proof-reading eye. For the last few years, he has not been keeping well, and has been holding on to his body only so as to see that works of his guru came out in print.
About his association with his guru, Sri Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni, Sri Natesan has said: “My contact with Ganapati Muni started when I was studying in Tiruvannamalai, during the 1920s. His son, Sri Mahadeva Sastri, was my Sanskrit teacher at my High School. On many subjects, the Muni addressed our school Sanskrit Association. I had the fortune of listening to his valuable talks. Later the Muni initiated me into certain mantras. Once when I requested him to advise me on how to get a good knowledge of Sanskrit, he immediately instructed me to go on reading and writing his works as often as possible. I took this to heart and have been reciting, writing, compiling and collecting his works throughout my long life. I have gone to Sirsi a number of times to collect these works from Sri D. S. Viswamitra, who was one of the favorite disciples of the Muni. During his physical presence, Bhagavan Ramana blessed and encouraged me in this sacred task, and even now, long after his Mahasamadhi, I still feel his blessings and guidance.”
The last I saw Sri Natesan was a few months ago. He was in his brother’s house near the Arunachaleshwara temple. Every year, during the great festival of Kartigai Deepam, a group of Vedic scholars, assemble here, and chant the whole of Yajur Veda. This has been a tradition in this house for nearly a hundred years. It is in the first floor of that holy place that Sri Natesan lived these last few years, with a direct view of the Arunachala mountain.
Today, when he was feeling particularly unwell, he was being taken to Rangamma hospital, which is past the Ashram on the Giripradakshina path. Just as the ambulance van crossed the gates of Sri Ramanashramam, Sri K Natesan breathed his last.
Needless to say, he has now become one with the holy radiance of the hill that is Siva.