Prof. K. Kailasanatha Kurukkal

There are a few who continue to live even after death, as they leave their perfumes behind even after death Prof. Kailasanatha Kurukkal, Emeritus Professor Hindu civilisation Jaffna University, is one such individual. When the news of his demise on 7.8.2000 in Australia was conveyed to Sri Lanka, many especially the Brahmin world bowed their heads in reverence to this erudite scholar, a savant and a Guru par excellence. To the Brahmin world,he had been giving advice and guidance even from down under.

He was well versed in the Vedhas and Agamas and almost the whole Brahmin world (custodians of our religion) looked up to him for advice in case of doubt or dispute. Agamas are in Grantha script (not nagaram) and not many Sanskrit scholars are familiar with them. They have not all been translated as the vedhas.

After finishing his education at Parameswara College he joined the Ceylon University. When I came to know him he was at the University studying Sanskrit, Pail, Latin and English. He later acquired a working knowledge of German and French. His lecturer in Sanskrit was Professor Betty Hayman and she had a great respect for her student Kailasanatha. In fact when she visited Jaffna she had Kailasanatha as her friend and guide. It was an incongruous sight for this German lady to go about with her student and friend who was dressed in National and vertee and with his tuft. This was pre-independence period when Europeans regarded themselves as our bosses.

I lived with him to study Sanskrit and it was his period of Brahmachariya and Celibacy. His wife was a devoted partner as Saradadevi was to Sri Ramakrishna. He used to rise as early as 4 am and after the usual ablutions, started recitation of the vedhas. His late night doing University tutorials notwithstanding, he did not falter in this practice. I observed he was continuing, without a break, this practice even as Professor, when I had occasion to visit him after I had become an Accountant.

His knowledge of Sanskrit was profound. In fact while being a First Year student at the University he explained our texts with ‘much more ease than an MA (Sanskrit) just returned from London. I was fortunate to have gone to him.

He has been Chief Priest in a number of Yajnas conducted in Sri Lanka and Australia. He has read research papers at Hindu conferences in India.

He was conferred D.Litt in 1998.

He has written two books in Sanskrit for beginners and his book ‘History of Sanskrit Literature’ in Tamil earned him a Sahitya award.

His work at the Munneswaram temple is too well known and a repetition of this is not necessary. I however, prize a cassette recording of his reciting of Devi Mahathmyam at the temple at the famous Yajna. This was given to me by a Sinhalese friend.

Although he has gone the way as all flesh and blood do, the flood of his good deeds will inundate the heart and mind as long as we live.

I conclude this note by quoting the sloka which states the Guru is Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswaran and Parambrahman itself, To Him I bow. — My homage to my guru.

Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu, Guru Dhevo Mahaeswara

Guru Eva Pram Brahma, Thusmai Sri Gurave Namaha.
R. Kathamuttu