A scholar in Serpent God's land

Meet Anantha Nalluraya, a wonder of these times. This octogenarian, living close to the abode of Lord Kukke Subrahmanya in Sullia taluk, has carved a niche for himself with his scholarship across a gamut of subjects ranging from linguistics to Upanishads. He is being revered by connoisseurs as well as laymen for his astounding intellect.

Versatile collection

A voracious reader, Nalluraya has a personal library comprising of around 2,000 books. Major among the thematic collection is the entire Jnanpith series. Starting from ‘Odakkuzhal’ of  G Shankara Kurup, the first recipient of the  prestigious award (1965), till the works of Ravuri Bharadwaj (Telugu Literature - 2012) are here. You name it, and his hands spontaneously pick the Jnanpith work from the multiple rows of books.

Nalluraya’s collection also houses major works of the languages enlisted in the eighth schedule of Indian Constitution, in their original scripts. As he puts it, his knowledge in Sanskrit helped him in learning as many as 14 languages.

A wide array of literary and religious works in different languages include Kalidasa’s works, Shakespeare’s works, Vedic and Upanishadic works, holy scriptures such as Bible (in English as well as in Hebrew), ‘Khordeh Avesta’ and the list continues.

“Once it so happened,” Nalluraya said, “a Punjabi man who came to visit me, was surprised to find ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ in our house. Only at a glimpse of the holy book, he covered his head with the traditional scarf and bowed to the book, for he had the closer look of the holy doctrine for the first time in his lifetime!”

The precious possession also has a copy of Veda written in Tulu script! It is one of the oldest collections in Nalluraya’s archives. “Tulu script is the most suitable one to encode and decode Vedic hymns,” Nalluraya opines.

Anantha Nalluraya is also in possession with rare paintings, coins, palm leaf inscriptions and miniature books.

“I collect the rare works from many sources. Most of the times, it is directly through the publication houses. However, hobby of collecting rare books is an expensive curiosity to satisfy,” he smiles.

Serving Serpent God

Nalluraya who joined as a clerk in the office of Kukke Sri Subrahmanya Temple at 1965, retired in 2001. He does ‘Pavamana Parayana’ (recitation), voluntarily even to this day in the temple and his son Ravishankar Nalluraya joins him.

In his heydays, he had also been the ‘Parupathedar’ appointed by The Government of Mysore, at a monthly salary of Rs seven-and-a-half rupees. On the birthday of Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, special pooja was performed in the temple by the then Mysore government and Nalluraya had to deliver the pooja prasadam of Kukke Subrahmanya to the Mysore palace. The tradition discontinued in 1976.

Mesmerising memory power

His memory skills are enough for someone to bite their fingers. His technique of solving Kannada crossword puzzles is not heard elsewhere. He studies the clues of the crossword puzzle and scans the number of grids before going to bed. The next day, he straightaway writes down the answers in the exact order in a blank paper, without a glance into the clues or crossword puzzle! This talent of Nalluraya was revealed by his spouse Rama herself.

A purohit and horoscope expert, Anantha Nalluraya had also carried out various jobs such as writing accounts in a grocery store, carpentry, bridge construction and idol making, to earn his daily bread, while going through toughest times of his life.

Anantha Nallurya leads a contended life in Subrahmanya, synonymous with the Serpent God residing here. He reveals that intake of balanced food and five hours of sleep are the secrets of his health.

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