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Dr. Gopal S. Hattiangdi – A Tribute

By V. Rajagopal Bhat

Hattiangdi Gopalmam is no more. When I was away at Vittal, news reached me that he was no more. On 16th May 2003, he repaired to the Lotus Feet of Revered Swami Anandashram, the Sage of Chitrapur, as he called Him.

His tryst with our Math and Guruparampara began right in earnest from December 1963 onwards. In the service of the Math and the Guru, he strove in a variety of roles and he adorned whatever he touched. In the sixties, he also edited the “Sunbeam”. Sometime later, the editor`s mantle fell on me around 1969 or so.

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H.H. Swami Anandashram 50th year of Ordination (1965)

Gopal S Hattiangdi is seen standing behind HH Swami Anandashram

He was a Saraswat to the manner born. In letter and spirit, he remained an abiding votary of Saraswati, the gentle goddess of learning. Like his divine mentor, PP Swami Anandashram, Gopalmam strove to be a Vidyarthi unto the last.

I don`t claim to know him at close quarters. Eminent contemporaries like Sh. Bhatkal Sadanandmam have etched beautiful pen portraits of the Man and his mission. Sadanandmam`s article in Kanara Saraswat of Dec 2001, hailing him as Servo Do Ideal (Servant of an Ideal) says it all.

Come what may, a steady stream of books and booklets kept emanating from 2, Laburnum Road year after year. During those critical days when there was a lull in all publishing activity at the Math, Gopalmam did not relent in his Brahma Yajna. His literary output comprises of about 7 books and 20 pocket books. ‘FIFTY YEARS OF BLISS’ remains, to this date, his magnum opus. Books like ‘PANDURANG, PANDURANG’ and ‘PASHU PURAAN’ are invaluable. Chitrapur Saraswats should be indebted to Gopalmam for these books alone.

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In 1998, P.P. Shrimat Sadyojat Shankarashram Swamiji bestowed on him the ’ Swami Anandashram Award for Lifetime Achievement’, the citation describing him as a ‘student of science, seeker of truth and servant of God’. By academic training, he was a scientist. Yet Vedic lore was his enduring love. When he was steadily working on his books on Vedic themes, invariably the telephone tinkle around 9 am was from Gopalmam, almost daily. ”How do you split this compound, where do you place the avagraha(s), is there an anusvaara?” - this was the menu over the telephone.

Of late, he cherished fond feelings for me and used to say ”yo re devaa haangaa khanyipuni” (in today`s parlance “let us meet sometimes “). Being at Seven Bungalows, Andheri, I couldn’t meet him as often as he wished me to.

He looked upon his typewriter as Lord Bhavanishankar (pg 24, Anandi-Ananda). Huddled with this 'deity', the perfectionist Gopalmam brought forth typed sheets that could be the envy of a veteran typist - not even a solitary smudge, no overtyping, and no stains to defile the whiteness of the paper.

While the oxygen cylinder kept vigil by his bedside, he managed to thump away at the typewriter, outwitting the medicineman. When I told him “Gopalmam, you should now take it easy and avoid stress on the chest” he would smile and tell me, giving me a pat on my shoulders,” that is my oxygen, Rajgopal, not this cylinder”.

Hattangadi Vasantmam and I tried in vain to persuade him to write for “Sunbeam.” It is a pity we met with no success.

We all at Sunbeam silently salute his memory. May his love for our Vedic heritage kindle us all too. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Shri V. Rajgopalbhat`s origins are in the temple town of Vittal (the ‘V’ in his family name) located in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka. He studied for his Master`s degree in Philosophy from University of Mumbai, for which he was awarded a gold medal. For many years he has been the Editor of “Chitrapur Sunbeam” (the monthly magazine of Shri Chitrapur Math, Shirali). He is also the official Dharma Pracharak of Shri Chitrapur Math.

The above piece formed the Editorial of the “Chitrapur Sunbeam” issue, June 2003. It is reproduced with permission from the author.

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