Sunday, August 30, 2015




Since I passed the S.S.L.C (1941) when I was not yet 14, I could not be admitted for my Intermediate, in the College (Rules required that I must be fourteen and a half at admission time). So I had to spend one year at home.  I learnt Shorthand and typewriting in that one year  and passed two examinations in Typewriting and one in Shorthand.  But this one year gave my father a bonanza of time to educate me further spiritually.  Mostly a good amount of my time was spent on learning more recitations but I had also the time to listen to a large number of my father’s public Upanyasams on various Vedanta topics. He never formally taught me Vedanta or advaita proper but he always made me learn more vedic recitations and now and then participate in his pooja rituals and worship. The afterthought now tells me that father was strictly following the advaita maxim that advaita should not be taught formally to some one who was not yet ripe through continued performance of karma and bhakti!

During this period I had four friends who were very close to me.  One was G Subramanian, a little senior to me.  He had probably not completed his school education but because of the poor circumstances of his parents, he joined the Army as a soldier, but returned home around 1942 or 43, I know not for what reason.  He used to describe to me how they lived as soldiers at the war front. Many times he swore to me that he would somehow seek any employment, earn well and educate his younger brother and sister, so well, that they would not have to suffer what he suffered! The other friend of mine was CS Subramaniam (CSS as I used to call him), who had a good schooling, and who initiated me into reading a lot of English novels by authors like Dumas (his favourite -- and it became my favourite too) and Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Count of Monte Cristo, and Father Brown stories. GSubramanian, CSS and myself took a photograph together which I still keep.

The third and fourth friends were R. Narasimhan (of Mangudi) and S. Kalidasan.  Narsimhan's mother ( a widow, with this only son) used to consider me as her pet son, because she considered me infinitely better as a student than her own son. She expected me to teach him; I tried but that did not help much.  On the other hand Narasimhan always talked to me in our private conversations only about  psychology of sex and I think he succeeded as a teacher! Both Narasimhan and Kalidasan used to accompany me on cycle (on either side of my cycle)  almost as bodyguards, and we used to ride in that triad formation through the busy Mutt street of Kumbakonam.  No damage done, of course,  even during a period of two years!  

Incidentally I learnt cycling in the summer of 1941; it was my uncle (actually he was my mother's step-brother, but of almost the same age as myself) Balakrishnan (Balu, as we called him in the family -- in later life he became a Cine photographer; he has been the Chief photographer in one or two early films of Shivaji Ganesan; so we used to call him Gemini Balu, in the family) who taught me cycling, during the period of ten days or so, when my grandfather B. Narayanaswami Iyer (Balu's father) died and we were all meeting daily for the morning rituals, with our evenings left to ourselves.

1942-44 saw me as a student of Govt. College, Kumbakonam in the (then-called) Intermediate classes.  I shall write about this period at a later time.

In 1944 (at my age 17) I joined St. Joseph’s College, Trichinopoly for my three-year Honours course in Mathematics. So we shifted our family to Trichinopoly. From that year onwards I was wedded to Mathematics for the next  44 years until I retired from BITS, Pilani.  And during the first half of that period, that is till I was forty or so, it was mostly Mathematics and Mathematics alone. I used to tell my wife (who arrived on the scene when I was 19 and was in my final year Honours course) that Mathematics was my first love, because she arrived in my life later than Mathematics!  Though it was all Mathematics, whenever I had the opportunity to listen to any public lecture by personalities like Swami Chinmayananda or Sengalipuram Anantharama Dikshidar or others of that kind, all that I had heard from my father would come back to my memory and many loose ends would start getting linked up. So long as my father was alive (till 1956, when I was 29), I used now and then to ask him some very deep questions that arose from my random reading or from what I heard from others. His replies, usually, touched a more profound chord than what I heard from other public lectures and I came to consider him as my guru, greater than all the gurus of the world!


27th September 1927. I was born.In connection with this , would you believe the following fact which I learnt from my sister Rukmani ? I learnt this when I was searching for a substitute for birth certificate for me when I applied for immigration to the U.S. several years ago. My sister Rukmani was carrying with a first pregnancy of 8 months or so. (Jaya, the first daughter of Rukmani was going to be born in a month from then). When my mother suddenly developed labour pains she had to be rushed  from Manjakkuppam, where my father lived, to her brother's place (Mr.N. Srinivasa Iyer of Puduppalaiyam, Cuddalore) for the delivery. (There was no practice of visiting a hospital in those days!) And a nurse (Ayaa) was not available. And you know who acted as a midwife on that morning? It was Rukmani – the sixteen year-old girl, herself fully pregnant.


The earliest memory of my younger days goes back to that important date in my life, namely, 29th November 1933. This was in Tirukkoilur. I was in school, probably, in Class 2, sitting in the front bench.   It was probably midday. A gentleman, whom I recognised to be my brother’s classmate (I knew his name, even then – Mr. Venkataraman)  walked towards my teacher’s chair in the classroom and whispered something in his ears. I saw the teacher nodding his head and I was allowed to leave the class and go with Mr. Venkataraman. When he took me home (which had a large pial – raised sitting area – called thiNNai in Tamil) I saw many people sitting and standing there.  I was not taken inside the house, but my grandfather (Sri. B. Narayanaswami Iyer)  who was sitting at the edge of the thinnai near the entrance to the house,  took hold of me and hugged me within his large shawl which was covering him.  That was all I knew.  Many things happened that day, I then knew not what. But now I know. That was the scene in the house because my mother had expired just an hour earlier.  I don’t remember even my mother’s face now nor have I ever been able to recollect any of the usual things that one remembers of one’s mother. I am told that a child was born to my mother  a month or so earlier and the child survived the mother for, probably, another three months.
Later in my life I heard from my family members  the following incident. In July 1932 father was transferred from Kallakurichi to Tirukkoilur.  Shifting the family as well as the household baggages to Tirukkoilur was done only by bus since the distance was not much.  A basket of all the Golu-dolls (usually used for Navaratri every year) were kept at the top of the bus during this shifting.  As the bus reached Tirukkoilur bus stand and stopped, down fell the basket of dolls from the top and a beautiful Krishna-vigraha (in the posture of crawling on two legs and two hands) broke to pieces.  Later when mother expired in 1933, this was taken to have foreboded the unfortunate event.
Another incident  which  my sisters used to refer to very often, in my later days, is the following. It seems after we returned from the cremation ground that fateful day, I, as a little boy,  was playing that evening with stones and bricks and mimicking the scenes that I witnessed earlier in the day without understanding what serious consequences the morning event  held for me!
Another thing I do remember very  very  vividly from my life at Tirukkoilur.  At that age of six or seven after my mother had passed away  once I was chased by a dog to such a terrified extent that even now (at the age of 86 I remember the scene distinctly.  No damage done physically, but psychologically so much damage was done that even now I dare not enter a house which hosts a dog, even if it is chained! My father at that time taught me ten simple shlokas (five on Rama and five on Hanuman), which I was supposed to keep repeating in order to get out of the fear-complex.  Since then, these ten shlokas have been my constant companion all these fourscore years, not only for avoiding fear of anything, but at all times and on all occasions – whether it is to write an examination, or to attend an interview, or to achieve something on a particular errand or assignment, or while travelling, in short, on all occasions and for all purposes, with no exception at all.  (Note: If any one wants to know these shlokas, let him or her write to me offline)  This added to the basis of ‘faith’ which runs as an undercurrent of all my life of learning.  In short it infused an everlasting conviction in me that if God wills it anything can get done and if you sincerely pray to Him He will listen.
27 July 1934:  Daughter Janaki (alias Jana) born to sister Lakshmi. Actually an earlier child passed away in childhood.
15th Oct 1934.  Father had gone to Kashi  (along with my brother ?) to get certain rites done for my mother just before the first anniversary of her passing away. Father’s 15-day pravacanam on Bhagavatam at Kashi Manikarnika Ghatt when it seems the Kanchi Acharyal on his first visit to Kashi, was present on all the days listening  to father’s pravacanam.  Father mentions this with a sense of great pride in his autobiography.  (I am not sure whether this date is the concluding date of the pravacanam or the beginning date). Also this was the time when some rich man from Delhi (I think the name is Hemchandra Bhargava) presented to my father 64 floral-designed marble tiles, which, along with its collective artistic design decorated our puja hall in our successive homes  thereafter for several years, even long after my father’s demise in 1956.
In 1935 there was a major incident which could be interpreted as a fork in the path of my life.  Now I have to bring in a few more relatives in my story. My father’s mother was Rukmani, daughter of Madurai Ramaswmi Sastri. She had a brother by name Gopalasundaram Iyer (d.1879). He had a son by name G Ramachandra Iyer  (1867- 1936) who later became the well known Sri Sri Ramananda Swamigal of Kollimalai, for whom there is a Samadhi at Mahadanapuram in Trichy district. My father and this  G.R. Iyer, who was a lawyer in Tirunelveli (before he took sannyas)  are therefore mutually related as Athan (athai’s son) and Ammanji (mama’s son). G. Ramachandra Iyer had four sons of whom two are relevant for this story; namely, R. Krishnaswami Iyer (first son) (1889 – 1975) and R. Visvanatha Iyer (third son) (The second son R. Gopalasundaram Iyer, has been already mentioned as  my sister Lakshmi’s husband). Krishnaswami Iyer was a lawyer by profession, but more importantly, he was a great Sanatanist, staunch supporter of Vaidic traditions  and very knowledgeable in our shastras. In fact he took Sannyas in his later life and was known as Jnanananda Bharati Swamigal. Now comes the punchline of our story.  I had  an aunt – actually my mother’s sister, widowed in a young age – whom we all called ‘sirattiyar’, meaning ‘siru tayar’ or ‘mother’s younger sister’. Her name was Ambulu.  Her children passed away even in their childhood. She had great respect for my father who was her elder sister’s husband and in some sense, her ‘guru’ because of the fact he had taught her several mantras for japa.  In fact she and my own aunt (father’s sister = Athai) Parvati  were the two ladies who took care of me over the years  as their own son, after I was left motherless in 1933.  Now this Sirattiyar wanted to adopt me as her son. The occasion was the marriage of one Ms.Bapuji with Sri R. Visvanatha Iyer (school teacher) mentioned above. (This Bapuji also was related to my father, but that is not relevant now; What is relevant is this Bapuji’s family and our family were living in the same house in Cuddalore – which house actually housed seven different families).
My father had a soft corner for his sister-in-law, that is, this Sirathiyar.  And so it appears he must have agreed to her request to formally adopt me.  Usually adoption has to be done of a son who has not yet gone through his Upanayanam.  So, I think, the grand arrangement (which many members of the family were not aware of till the last moment) was that on the day of Bapuji’s marriage with Visvanatha Iyer, my Upanayanam will also be performed and just before the Upanayanam  the adoption ceremonies would be performed. But it was R. Krishnaswamy Iyer (who had come for the marriage of his brother) who suddenly struck a wedge in the arrangement. It was either the previous evening or the morning of the day of the function. Shri R.K. pointed out to my father (both were knowledgeable on the shastras and both had great respect for Shastraic injunctions and also for each other) that a son could be given in adoption only if there are ‘bahu putrAH’ (i.e., many sons: many means three or more).  Obviously my father was wanting this kind of shastraic help to refuse Sirathiyar’s proposal to adopt me and he jumped at it gladly and clung to the rule!.  My adoption was scrapped.  (And my Upanayanam also did not take place on that day). My father had great plans to train me in the Shastraic traditions and he must have been glad on that day that he had only two sons and not three!
My actual Upanayanam took place next year (1936) on May 8. At the age of nine I was initiated into the Gayatri by my father by the usual formal Upanayanam ceremony.  To be initiated into Gayatri by such a great jnAni as my father must be one of my great God-given Graces!  If only I had been given in adoption as was almost to happen the previous year, I would have missed this bhAgyaM.  Then started the learning of vedic recitation. Side by side there was the performance of the religious obligations of a Brahmachari like Sandhyaavandanam and Samid-aadhaanam. In the December of 1936 I was given a double promotion in my school (St.Joseph’s Secondary School, Cuddalore), by being allowed to move to the next higher class (from I Form (i.e. 6th std.) to II Form (i.e. 7th std.) ) in the middle of the academic year itself. Among the many reasons that were talked about in the family for this academic achievement of mine was the regular performance of the obligatory ritual called Samidhaadhaanam regularly every morning and evening by me ever since my Upanayanam day (8th May 1936). This ritual is a homam consisting of offering of 13 samits (six-inch-long dry sticks of banyan treeto the Fire-God to the accompaniment of certain short mantras, the whole performance having a time-duration of about ten minutes or so, once in the morning and once in the evening, immediately after Sandhya-vandana-upaasanaa.  (For this purpose I had to collect the sticks from right under the banyan trees in the neighbourhood, two or three times a week, usually when I was returning from my football play every evening.)  I developed great faith in this religious ritual and it continued as a regular feature for the next three years or so.  According to shastras every brahmachari has to do this without fail as long as he is a brahmachari.
9th July 1936.  Second daughter Pattu born to Sister Lakshmi. 3-May 1939 : Third daughter Sarada (alias Bapu) born to Sister Lakshmi. These births took place at our home in Cuddalore and usually My Athimber Gopalasundram Iyer would be visiting us at these times. Note that these months are his school vacation months.   I used to go on a walk with him for quite a distance and the conversation usually would be a one-way monologue of his about his boyhood in Tirunelveli, his Tennis plays, and his Sanatanist habits and customs. The female help at home  at these times would be Sirathiyar, for right at these times somehow Parvati Athai would go to Tiruvidaimurudur (where her sisterJanaki was living, supported and financed by my father – ‘financed’ meaning a monthly remittance of Rs.10 or so!).  As an young boy I could not  understand the domestic politics of those times, though I did sense the political angle, without recognising that it was ‘political’!
Well, during 1936 to 1939, (age 9 to 12) one other thing happened which laid the foundations for my spiritual uplift.  My father  was conducting vedanta classes daily for a few of his friends and neighbours, about probably ten in number at our own home in the mornings from 7 to 8-30. (He was working as a Sub-Court Sheristadar and he was due at his office only at 11 AM; probably most of his friends who were attending these classes also worked in those Govt. offices).  For a long time these classes were on the Gita and later they became Upanishad classes.  Shankara Bhashya was being meticulously followed line by line.  The classes were invariably held on all days except on six days in a month, namely, chaturdashi, Amavasya and Pournamasya, ashhTami and prathama days – these being known as anadhyayana days.  It was my good fortune to sit in most of these classes, as a silent listener, though a few of the other adult listeners would raise very technical issues and questions, which would then be discussed. At that time it was all for me  only a shravana for curiosity only; but in my later days in my adult life when I started reading things for myself, I started realising the great blessing of solid spiritual education that my father had inbuilt into me in my boyhood!
In addition during those three years my father would make it a point to teach me the recitation of vedic chants like the Rudram, Camakam, Purushasuktam, Taittiriya Upanishad, Aruna-prashnam, Kaatakam, Udakashanti, etc. Except on the anadhyayana days this sitting with the father was a must.  Thinking about those days now, I am surprised now how I found the time for all this, amidst my school lessons, my never-failing daily football and all the other above obligations.  But more important than this is the thought that my father could spare the time from his domestic  and professional obligations, and  his minimum of one-hour pooja every morning (no exception on any day!) – he could spare the time for teaching me day in and day out.  Particularly when I was double-promoted in the school, he took the responsibility (It was on his assurance that the Jesuit Principal of my school agreed for the double promotion proposed by my class teacher) to teach me the necessary portions of arithmetic and basic algebra that I missed in school to the extent of one full academic year! He used to sit with me after 8 PM and with a hurricane light to light us physically, both of us would spend two hours or so in the open  terrace of the house in Kavara street house where we lived at that time with two more families occupying different portions of the house. Later in the sixties when my sons were in their teens I, as Professor of Mathematics  and Deputy Director at BITS,  could not devote any time at all to my children either towards their school lessons in Mathematics and Science or towards their spiritual education! What a father was my father, and lo! What a son to him!
From age 12 to age 17 the tempo of religious and spiritual activity was lighter, because the emphasis shifted to school lessons and Mathematics and daily football play. Father retired in 1939 so we shifted to Kumbakonam, in anticipation of my future college education in Govt. College, Kumbakonam (to which my father had an affinity because as we have seen earlier he had studied there for his B.A.). From 1934 onwards, my brother had been away . First for two or three years he was studying in Madras Christian college for his Intermediate, living with my uncle Shri N. Gopala Iyer’s family in Mylapore. He did not pass  his Intermediate,,because in his Chemistry paper he did not see the reverse side of the question paper where there were more questions!  As such he had to appear in September but did not succeed.  In the meantime Uncle (who was Secretary, Indian Bank Ltd) got him an apprentice job in Indo Commercial Bank in Mayavaram and Anna worked there without a salary.  Later I think he got a job right there at a small salary. But in 1939 Uncle got him a regular job in Indian Bank, Kumbakonam where a branch was being opened. And this was one of the reasons for father deciding to shift our residence to Kumbakonam. For a few months we lived in a small house in Big Street,  then we shifted to Bhaktapuri Agraharam.  and then again to  Karnakkollai Agraharam where we lived till 1944.  One other good thing in our shifting to Kumbakonam was that my sister Rukmani’s husband Shri S.S. Srinivasa Iyer had been, a few months earlier been posted as Manager (then called ‘Agent’) of the Tanjore Permanent Fund Branch in Kumbakonam.  And the family (my sister’s) lived there in the same building of the Branch office in Big Street.
God’s ways are mysterious !. One Shri K.N. Subramania Iyer employed in the Postal Dept. as an officer in Nagpur had four daughters. For his first daughter Jayam’s marriage, he had earlier come to Kumbakonam on a few months vacation in summer, searched for the proper varan for his daughter and finally found one suitable and had conducted the marriage in Kumbakonam. Encouraged by this successful experience, when his second daughter Lakshmi alias Laksham reached marriageable age, he and his family came to Kumbakonam  (this was in 1939, probably April-May) and he was searching, with the help of astrologers and friends, for a suitable varan for this daughter of his.  Finally I think his vacation was nearing its end so he decided to give it up for this year and go back to Nagpur.  He had to deposit a sizable cash in a Bank before he left and he chose to come to Tanjore Permanent Fund Branch in Big Street. Naturally he met the Manager there (who was none other than my athimber S.S.S.!) and apprised him of the circumstances of his leaving for his Nagpur home. And Lo and behold! That was the time when my athimber told him that he had a brother-in-law, of marriageable age, who was shortly taking over a job in Indian Bank, Kumbakonam. And then of course introductions started and conversations between my father and Shri KNS began. Comparison of horoscopes were made and my father was taken to the astrologer who had spoken highly of the match to KNS.  Appa and KNS consulted that astrologer and the latter convinced my father that this is a good match. The girl-seeing ceremony was done at Shri KNS’s house  All this resulted in the happy marriage of my brother V. Ramachandran with Laksham  on 19th June 1939.
When we lived in Bhaktapuri Agraharam, Rajalakshmi, alias Raji, was born to my sister Rukmani, on 4th February 1940.
From Karnakkollai agraharam, my school, (Town High School, the famous school where Srinivasa Ramanujan studied four decades earlier) was just across the street. The Head Master of that school, Sri Shatagopachariar, was our neighbour. I studied fifth form and sixth form (corresponding to modern standards nine and ten) there and wrote my SSLC examination in March 1941.  When I was in my sixth form, the other student who shared my two-seater desk was  M.V. Santhanam (who in later life became the famous Carnatic musician Maharajapuram Santhanam).  Actually he was one year senior to me but in the previous year’s selections for the SSLC examination, he was ‘detained’. So he had to study sixth form once more and he was my close friend thereafter, both in class and in the football field where both of us used to play defence, he as full-back and I as half-back. I used to visit his house and sometimes his father, Maharajapuram Visvanatha Iyer, used to talk to me and urge me to teach, this son of his, better ways of learning.

September 3, 1939: World War II starts. Adolf Hitler invades Poland on September 1 and on September 3 U.K and France declare war on Germany. Round about that time I get interested in world events and that is how my daily readership of ‘The Hindu’ begins -  which stands unabated till now!.  



वागीशाद्यास्सुमनसः सर्वार्थानां उपक्रमे।
यं नत्वा कृतकृत्याः स्युः तं नमामि गजाननम्॥

 To that God whom all well wishers starting from the Divines of Speech prostrate, at the start of every endeavour, to that Elephant-headed Ganesha  do I prostrate.


Object of this endeavour is to record certain events in my life, not necessarily in the chronological order, so that descendants in this family lineage as well as interested close relatives, if they care,  may get knowledgeable about me and my ancestors. 


(For information about my father, his ancestors,  and his activities which I could not personally know, the source is his own autobiographical notes written in Sanskrit in the grantha script sometime in the fifties of the last century)
ShrI rAmaH sharaNaM mama.
Shri mAtre namaH
And namskarams to all these ancestors of mine:
My father: R. Visvanatha Sastri. (1882-1956)    My mother: Ananthalakshmi ( died 1933)
Father’s father: Sri Ramakrishna Sastri. ( died 1901)  His wife:  Rukmini . Her father: Madurai Ramaswamy Sastri (died 1880); His father Sethurama Sastri whose father was Gopala Sastri.
Ramakrishna Sastri’s father & mother :  Seshadri Sastri  and Lakshmi
Seshadri Sastri’s father: Sri Raama Sastri.
My mother’s parents:  B. Narayanaswami Iyer (died 1941) & Seethalakshmi
Narayanaswami Iyer’s parents: Balakrishna Iyer and Alamelu
Balakrishna Iyer’s parents: Gopala Iyer and Ananthalakshmi.
My gotra: Srivatsa .  My mother’s gothra : naidrupa-kashyapa

 Ancestry and Parents

My father  Visvanatha Sastri was born in Madurai (1882). He had two elder sisters  Janaki  & Parvati.  When he was two the family shifted to Madhyarjunam (Tiruvidaimurudur in Tanjore District, near Kumbakonam) . Reason for this:
Madurai Ramaswami Sastrigal (my father’s mother’s father, had a very rich brother, by name Mahalinga Iyer.  Very learned man.  Also learnt all shastras under the feet of  his elder brother Ramaswami Sastri who was himself almost an erudite Pandit.  Ramakrishna  Sastri was a Tamil Vakil in New Street in Madurai.  In 1884  he shifted to MadhyarjunaM,  where his father-in-law’s  brother Mahalinga Iyer had built   an agraharam (known in later times as Mahalinga Agraharam. The colony itself came to be known as twelve-house colony). From this place Ramakrishna Sastri went to Kumbakonam to discharge his official duties as Tamil Vakil, but very soon (perhaps in 1885) shifted to Kumbakonam itself.
The family lived in Bhaktapuri Agraharam in Kumbakonam. Income was not great. It was just touch and go. But because of the vedantic leanings, there was no feeling of unhappiness. In his profession Ramakrishna Sastri  was highly respected.
In 1887 the family visited Chidambaram. Lots of relatives were nearby. And the young Visvanathan (now five, six, seven years old)  enjoyed the company of relatives.
At the age of eight Visvanathan had his Upanayanam performed. And immediately, Sri rudram & camakam were taught to him. Also some Upanishads and Purushha sUktaM. He studied Amaram, the standard traditional lexicon in the form of poetry in Sanskrit. Lots of stotras were also learnt by him.  He was also taken to Swamimalai to do angapradakshinam so that his  stammering could be overcome. During this period the father (Ramakrishna Sastri) taught the young boy Sundarakandam from Valmiki Ramayanam.
Round this time the boy was admitted into school where English was taught.  When he was nine, mother Rukmani  passed away.. The houseowner would not allow the rites  (of the 13 days ) to be performed in that house.  So the rites were performed in a specially rented place. And the family moved to a new house (Owner Kuppamma). Thirteen griha yajnas  (running over a whole year) were performed there , after which the earlier houseowner apologised.
The new houseowner Kuppamma and her son Ayyan were very helpful. Ramakrishna Sastri’s family lived in that house for many years. The elder daughter Janaki could not live with her husband Krishna Sharma who had married a second wife.  She had appealed through the court in Tiruvaiyaru for support and subsistence. When this court case was going on the younger daughter Parvati was widowed.
Visvanathan studied in Banadurai High School, Kumbakonam  and in the year 1894 passed in first class the middle school leaving examination .  Then he got admitted to Town High School and in due course in 1897 passed his Matriculation.
Swami Krishnananda of Siddhamalli was the guru of Ramakrishna Sastri. During summer times Visvanathan learnt Shanti Paatha from this Acharya and treasured this experience all his life with great reverence. At this point in his autobiography he quotes the Gita shloka  (6-41) which assures the meritorious ones a good birth in a family of Sadhus and spiritual learning at the feet of a guru. At home Ramakrishna Sastri used to have sat sangh and he himself gave bhashya lessons along with his friends regularly and the son Visvanathan benefitted much from these associations even as a teen-ager. He remembers with gratitude and reverence this good fortune of his to get all this sad-vAsanA.
In May (or March?) 1901 Visvanathan was married to Ananthalakshmi daughter of B. Narayanaswami Iyer  of Town High School, Kumbakonam. Only four of their (ten ?) children survived to adulthood; I am the youngest of the four. But let us come back to the narrative, to the first decade of the century.
The teen-age couple Visvanathan & Ananthalakshmi had their parents living in the same town (Kumbakonam) at a distance of about a mile and a half. Visvanathan had to attend his college (Government college, Kumbakonam)  and also do certain religious rituals – like daily aupasanam, periodical sthalipakam, etc – along with his wife.  So the daily routine after marriage was for him to stay at night at Karnakollai Agraharam (his in-law’s house), do the homa-rituals there in the morning,  and then leave for his home in Bhaktapuri Agraharam from where he had only to cross the river Cauvery (by a ferry) to reach his college.  The college studies were upto BA,  his subjects being Mathematics and Sanskrit and of course, English.  But he did not get his B.A. degree easily because he could not pass in English, though he appeared for the examination a few successive years.  But in those days they changed the Shakespeare texts (two each year)  and so it turned out that in his life  - he used to speak of it proudly to me later when I was going to college – ‘he had studied, probably, ten or twelve Shakespeare plays in full detail’.  Of course this experience  in the language, (coupled with his judicial department service, yet to come)  reflected in his bombastic style in his Vedantic writings (in English)  in his later years.
The early married years of the young couple proved to be quite a challenge.  The father Sri Ramakrishna Sastri  was confined to bed (I know not for what ailment). Two sisters – one of them widowed and the other abandoned by the husband – were certainly looking after the father at home  but that was not enough. So Visvanathan had three major calls on his time and energy – one, the daily ritual obligations to be performed at the f-in-law’s place, two, the sishrushA ( = service) to his ailing bed-ridden father and three, his college attendance and studies.
The final BA examinations (of his first attempt) were to be written in Madras (two hundred miles away) and for that he needed to go and stay there for two months prior to the exam dates. He writes in his autobiography : “ pitrA anumoditashcAhaM  shayanasthenApi dhimatA /tatra hotel bhuktim svIkRRitA pitranujnaayayA’ – meaning: ‘ Even though he was confined to bed father permitted me (to go to Madras for two months). Also he allowed me to have my meals at a hotel’! This was 1901 December.  But very soon after he went to Madras he got the news that father was serious. So he came back to Kumbakonam to be assured by a good neighbour that father was better and he went back to Madras to write the exam.  But not long after he returned from his exams the father passed away .  The daily rites were all done in a house owned by one Sundarambal, because only the 12th day function were allowed in Ayyan’s house. That whole year he did nitya-shraddha (daily shraddha ceremony) for the father. 360 brass vessels of water were formally distributed to Brahmins over the year  as per religious requirements.
The exam results showed only Sanskrit in glowing terms.  So he had to write Maths and English once more in future attempts. He attended maths coaching provided by the college. Next year in 1902 December, he went to Madras along with sister Janaki, stayed in one Ramanatha Iyer’s place, continued the nitya-shraddha there for two or three days, wrote the exams. And this time he passed in Maths also.  But English remained.
1903 April,  Shanti muhurtam (nuptials-ceremony) took place. Studies for English exam continued at home. A trip to Rameswaram was done along with the two sisters – but not with the wife, which fact he later regretfully remarks in his autobiography, when he narrates how he went along to Rameswaram with his son and daughter-in-law in May 1947.. how his son, (namely, myself, this writer)  was more fortunate because the son has been  able to take his wife to Rameswaram! ‘bhaginyAjnA balIyasI’ – (Sister’s demand was  more powerful) says he! And in the diary of May 1947 he writes ‘kamalA krishnamurthyshcaapyAgatau pUrvabhAgyataH; sethusnAnapuNyalabhyaM matpatnyAstaddhi durlabhaM’. ( Meaning: Krishnamurthy & Kamala also came to Rameswaram by their pUrva-puNya; but to my wife that puNya of bath in the Sethu  was not to be’)!!
On return from Rameswaram he was initiated into pancAyatana Puja, pancAksharI japa and ashhTAkshari. In the meantime the attempt at English exam (of BA) continued.
In the Shankaracharya Mutt at Kumbakonam there was a continuous upanyAsa series of Bhagavad Gita for almost two years.  Visvanathan attended the entire series and became indebted for life to that vidvan Ganapati Shastrigal who gave that lecture series.  He had also been sitting as a public silent witness-listener to the Bhashya teachings given to Shri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati (now called Kanchi Mahaswamigal) in the first decade of the 20th century at the Kanchi mutt, Kumbakonam, when the Swamigal had just been initiated and was being ‘taught’ formally . During this period my father  learnt a number of veda-adhyayana routines  and Vedanta literature from various pundits.
This was the time when he was searching for a suitable job. A school in Gudalur offered a teacher’s job; but the remuneration was not attractive enough for him to accept it.  A clerk’s post in Mayavaram was also in the offing.  But finally he accepted a clerk’s post in Cuddalore (the then South Arcot District).  This was on 1st April 1907. So his family, consisting of the wife and two sisters, moved to Manjakkuppam, Cuddalore. This was the time also of his voracious Vedanta studies from whatever book he could lay his hands on from whatever place.
His pancAkshara Guru obtained siddhi. The mahA pUja of that sannyAsI was to take place in Madurai. My father  went there for the functions. Stayed at one Sundarambal’s house. There was one Sundararaja Sharma, a well-known exponent of Vedanta. Father listened to that great exposition.  (Incidentally this Sundararaja Sharma’ s Tamil translations of Shankara’s Gita Bhashya and Suresvaracharya’s Manasollasa vArtikam are very famous).
Coming back home to Manjakuppam, father gave his first series of lectures on Vedanta.  The topic was Sutasamhita.  This went on every night for six months at the house of Gopala ShreshhTi. 
Around 1909 he started the daily  obligatory Vaishvadeva ritual  which continued all his life.
In or around 1910 there were his expositions every night of Bhagavatam 10th and 11th skandas.  In describing these events in his autobiography, he gives a capsule summary of each of these expositions.
In English exam. of BA finally he got a second class.  But by about the same time he passed creditably  the departmental examinations of Civil and Criminal code.
On 24th June 1911, the first child, Rukmani, was born.
One year in Chidambaram (Dates are not clear).
On 8th June 1914  he obtained a job in Mannargudy subcourt.
1915: Tirukkoilur. 
Whenever and wherever he found time and an opportunity, he improved his vedadhyayana.  At Tirukkoilur there was one Srinivasa Sastri from whom he learnt some more veda-patha. Round about these years every year (probably for four or five years) during the summer recess, sending his wife and children to her father’s place, he went over to Ganapathy Agraharam  in Tanjore District to be, for day and night,  at the feet of Sri Vasudeva Brahmendra Saraswati and stayed there in his Ashram like a gurukulavAsi. He had all his Bhashya pAthas this way .  It was at this time he was also a sahapAThI (contemporary student) of Sri S. Kuppuswamy Sastry, in whose name the research Institute is flourishing in Mylapore, Chennai nowadays . It seems this VasudevabrahmendrAL was also revered by Sri Ramakrishna Sastrigal, my grandfather.  A picture of this Sri Sri Vasudeva Brahmendra Saraswati remained in his pUjA all his life and even now it is with me. This Acarya attained Samadhi in 4th March 1931.
10th July 1914.  The second daughter, Lakshmi, was born.
1-1-1916: At Kallakurichi, South Arcot District  Five years stay here.
13th April, 1917. Sri V. Ramachandran was born (in Kallakurichi)

In 1921 the first daughter Rukmani was married to Sri S.S. Srinivasan of Tanjore

Father’s various assignments over the years:
October 1920 to November 1920 : Head Clerk, District Munsif Court Cuddalore
November 1920 to April 1921: Head Clerk, District Munsif Court, Kallakurichi
May 1921 to July 1932 : Head Clerk, Subcourt , Kallakurichi
July 1932 to December1934: Head Clerk Subcourt, Tirukkoilur
January 1935 to March 1936: Record Keeper, District Court, Cuddalore
April 1936 to April 1939: Sheristadar, Subcourt,  Cuddalore

15th July 1925.  My brother’s Upanayanam was performed but I have no further information about it.
In 1925, the second daughter Lakshmi was married to Sri R. Gopalasundaram of Tirunelveli

In the succeeding years after 1917,  my mother had, it seems, a few pregnancies, which  resulted only in miscarriages.  Round about 1926 or 1927, father, in a meeting with the Kanchi Periaval (Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati swamigal),  requested for Guru’s Grace in respect of this recurring ailment. The Grace was obtained through a shobhanAkshata prasadam  from the compassionate Acharyal himself.