To search this blog

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

"Geethacharyan" magazine enters 41st year ~ hailing Dr MA Venkatakrishnan Swami

Sri Kachi Swami, Chandilyan, Deepam Na Parthasarathi, Kannadasan, Sujatha .. ..  the list of writers ..  awe-inspiring !

Festival of Lights – ‘Deepavali’ is around the corner ~ a decade or so ago, people bought crackers, new clothes and had them stitched with tailors, made sweets at home, visited relatives – and read magazines at home.  ‘Deepavali special’ of Kalaimagal, Anandavikadan, Kalki, Vijayabaratham – all sold like hot cakes .. ..

Deepavali 2018 could be far different – with so much impositions from Apex Court on crackers and .. .. less of newspapers - “WHO KILLED THE newspaper?” ~ was the question posed on the cover of The Economist in 2006. It was, perhaps, a little premature. But there is no doubt that newspapers in many parts of the world are having a hard time.  Alongside magazines too have suffered – for sure Kumudam,  vikadan, Kalki do not possess the same volume of sales as they did earlier.  There are variety of reasons, internet is one among them.   The advent of television news,  cable television, lastly smart mobiles, android and  web on mobiles lured readers and advertisers away. The modern day youngster would spend time in social media while the utopian old timer would love reading the print edition.  In between competition war has hotted up, revenues have nose-dived. This is no debate on impact or future  of print-media, but thoughts pondered at the difficulty of running a magazine for Sampradhayam.

You are looking at  Mar 1979  issue of Geethacharyan that had Sri PB Annangarachariyar on its front page.  Geethacharyan is a prominent sampradhaya magazine [Sri Vaishnava Sampradhaya book] started in the year 1978 and continuing in its own way for more than four decades now. Dr M.A. Venkatakrishnan Swami (Popularly MAV) is its editor.   MAV’s regard for Kachi Swami is too pronounced ~ as we enter his house, there is a beautiful portrait of Swami artistically made in Tirupathi, way back in 1950.

The Triplicane of mid 1970s was different – MAV was a bubbly youngster, studying in Vivekananda college –  completing to become a Sanskrit  lecturer in the same college (remember seeing him wearing spotless white shirt and white pant with stylish flowing cropped hair). We fondly watched him drive two wheelers fast – simply adored whatever he did, for we had the fortune of meeting him daily in the morning.  At a time, when youngsters had all time for all material pleasure, MAV had different ideas.  His days started early, his house was used to the fullest extent as he devoted time and energy for large group of school going kids. There were times when more than 100 such students assembled daily at his house around 05.45 am; people changed, the numbers did not dwindle. I was happy to be one among them alongside PS Lakshmi Narasimhan (Sekar), Murali, PR Ravi Sundar, S. Sundararajan, TA Bakthisaran, TA Govindachari, TA Sampathkumar, KS Venkatakrishnan (Govar), KS Gopalakrishnan (Rajathi), Veeraraghavan, Raman, Lakshmanan, Ramesh,  Govindan, Kesavan, Sadagopan, Pattabhi, Srivathsan .... to name a few.

He encouraged us to attend ‘Thiruveethi purappadu’ without fail and in Thiruvallikkeni, when one learns Sri Peyalwar’s Moondram Thiruvanthathi, one can attend so many goshtis.  We were first habituated to coming to Temple and partaking in goshtis; we did that as ordained by the master and the pride gained here, made us feel confident.  Our attitude in life changed and reflected the newly found respectability, rather forced on us by the untiring efforts of MAV.  If today, we can recite Divyaprabandham and know something about our Sampradhayam, of our Azhwargal and Acharyar, it is fully due to MAV’s resolve. 

We saw our role model graduate from a student to a lecturer, and more was to come.  He was strongly associated with the great scholar Sri Mahamahimopadhyaya Prathivathi Bayankaram Annangarachar swami (popularly Kachi swami) who has written hundreds of books – and under his tutelage he started ‘Geetacharyan’ ~ a fully devoted sampradhayic monthly magazine.  To bring out a newsletter of 4 pages itself is a formidable challenge – to keep writing a monthly magazine containing only Srivaishnavism is Himalayan challenge.  One recalls with awe that Kachi Swami ran magazine ‘Sri Ramanujan’ from 1948.

The challenge of publishing a magazine,  was not confined to economies – of generating enough revenue to sustain – be it in the form of advertisements and subscribership – printing of those days posed even greater challenge.  Those were the days when printer would compose print-heads, have the matter printed laboriously, then Editor had to sit and weed out ‘printer’s devils’ – those mistakes that would creep in.  The process would be drawn for more than a week, then have photo composed at a different lab, have them together – then mundane but tougher job of packing, pasting labels and handing them over at Post Office within the prescribed dates, if not, they cannot be posted as ‘book-post’.  The last journey of the book from the publishers to readers was on bicycle to Post Office.  The woes of an Editor are manifold – and it was the passion to write, that sustained and took young MAV to greater heights.  Those were the days of Guru Achagam, Enenjay printers and more . ..

Geethacharyan had a more or less uniform pattern – cover photo and cover article on a divyadesam or an Acaryar or something connected to Srivaishnavism.  MAV himself is a great orator and exceptional writer – the editorials would dwell on all sampradhayam related issues, without getting into any controversies.  The task of collecting articles from great persons – Swami Annangarachar swami and other noted personalities of Srivaishnavism, other famous writers like Kavignar Kannadasan,  Chandilyan, Deepam Na Parthasarathi, & our all time favourite Sujatha .. ..

Geethacharyan has flourished over 4 decades ~ it is actually for people like us to have a resolve to buy sampradha magazines and support those who put enormous efforts in publishing them.  .    It enters its 41st year now !!

MAV is a tremendous personality - in the lineage of   Mandayam Ananthanpillai family,   a descendant of Anandalwan,     a disciple of Sri Ramanuja.  Having happily retired as Professor and Head of Department of Vaishnavism, University of Madras, having shaped many students inculcating the finer aspects of bakthi and Srivaishnavism, this 64 year old youth  has printed several unpublished palm-leaf manuscripts for the first time. He has published many books including : Jijnasadhikarana of Sri Bhashya - A Study, Tattvasara of Vatsya Varadacharya (with English Translation), Thirupplallandu with the commentary of Periyavachan Pillai and easy Tamil rendering;   Vainava Acharyargalin Vazhvum Vakkum (Detailed exposition of Aithihyas & Nirvahas - 832 pages); Tattvaviveka (a Sanskrit work of Pillai Lokacharya publised for the first time from a Palm-leaf manuscript.); Thiruvaradhanakramam of Manavala Mamunigal (with easy Tamil rendering).

Dr. MAV has been delivering discourses on various topics of SriVaishnava philosophy and is now infact training  youngsters in this line too.  He is at the centre in all thiruveethi purappadu at Thiruvallikkeni divyadesam, with his trademark Urthvapundram [12 Thiruman]

Looking back – I vividly launching the magazine, the 1st year anniversaryon 5.3.1980 when the book was released by the then Governor of Tamil Nadu, Hon’ble Sri Prabhudass Patwari, being received by Nathella Adikesavalu Gupta, meeting presided by Sri U Ve Mahavidwan PB Annangarachariyar swami – Chandilyan & Deepam Na Parthasarathi being the speakers – the magazine has progressed all through enabling Thennacharya sampradhaya flourish.

Pranams to my Guru who initiated us in to divine way.  Wishing Geethacharyan magazine Golden jubilee and centenary .. ..

With great reverence to our Master – We, the students of MAV Swami
~ adiyen Srinivasa dhasan (Mamandur Srinivasan Sampathkumar)
30th Oct 2018.


  1. Excellent, Sir! The great stalwarts of our sampradayam embody traditional values combined with humanistic zeal. They are true intellectuals in every way.

  2. When people are donating for any cause (irrespective of purpose), they can donate for running the magazine. You have to run the bow on the particular chord. The birds of same feather will flock together.

  3. Besides his stiff schedule, he never misses Goshti. He used to attend functions at Bharathiyar House or at Gangai kondan Mandapam and if that day happens to be purappadu, he will speak earlier and be on dot at Thodakkam ( earlier on Sundays).