A journey of discovery for a writer

By R Chitra Published on May 17, 2017 03:25 PM IST

Chennai: "I wanted to rediscover my identity as a Sri Vaishnava," says M K Sudarshan, who has been doing this through blogs and online writings for more than 20 years now.

He has gone one step ahead and compiled them in book form - Unusual Essays of an Unknown Sri Vaishnava.

The book, which was recently launched in Chennai at a function, is a tome of 705 pages covering many aspects of Sri Vaishnavism that intrigued, absorbed, bewitched Sudarshan.

This alumnus of Loyola College began writing the blogs during his sojourn in various countries like Kuwait, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where he spent 24 years from 1993 as a chartered accountant.

Growing impatient with the 'hollow token Sri Vaishnavism', he felt that he was nothing but a phony Sri Vaishnava. All this churning led to his seeking to delve deep into questions like who am I? Where do I come from? And where am I going?

The trigger came from the Bhagavad Gita which he was browsing while in Bahrain. Though he immersed himself after that in an intense programme of self-learning the traditions of Sri Vaishnavism, he found it was not working out as he was not a scholar in Sanskrit.

He says that at this juncture it was a stroke of sheer luck that he came to be guided by Vaishnavite scholar Mukkur Lakshmi Narasimha Acharya who goaded him to look at Sri Vaishnavism from another prism - not merely by reference to the original texts but by following what others had written about it.

Sudarshan accepted the wise counsel and this 'stunted Sri Vaishnava' began to blossom. He began sharing his thoughts with like-minded people on cyber space.

He mentions two scholars who helped fashion his thinking further: Dr K Sadagopan (who has written the foreword for the book) who encouraged him from America to take the cyber route, and Anbil Ramaswamy (a scholar who had learnt the scriptures at the feet of saints and scholars and was spending his years in the US.)

But it was only after he returned for good to Chennai that people goaded him to compile the writings - scattered in various blogs and online fora - in book form for posterity. And what better time than the millennium of Sri Ramanuja's birth anniversary (2017).

Interestingly, Sudarshan traces his lineage to Tirumalai Nambi, the maternal uncle of Ramanuja. It was intense work for six months to put together the various articles.

"While my interior designer daughter Harini fashioned the jacket design for the book, I owe it to my wife Divya if my book is well-edited to a large extent,"  says Sudarshan with pride.

The book is divided into three distinct traditional vedantic parts, explains Sudarshan, explaining why it is so bulky. But he is quick to add that the chapters can be read individually as stand-alone pieces.

Though he has sold 500 copies already - the maximum being abroad through Amazon - he is not stopping with it. He continues to blog and is planning to come out with a book on the last canto of Ramayana, Uttarakandam. The search that began two decades ago, continues.