People who have influenced my life-AP Naganatha Iyer (My Periya Mama) of Vridhachalam
Sri A.P.Naganatha iyer who was popularly known as Chellappan was my eldest uncle and he had a hotel in Vridhachalam. During his childhood , driven due to poverty in his house, I understand he spent a few years as a cook to a tamilian family in Burma. Later after working in many places , he started loking after our hotel in Secunderabad. It was at that time that he got married to the daughter of a well known scholar Sri Rama Sastrigal of Palakkad , IN the years 1942-44 when I was two years old , he was the manger of the hotel run by my father in Secunderabad and they were living along with us in our home .I was a little baby at that time. Since they were just married and did not have any children they used to love me as if I was their eldest son. I was Mami’s pet. She was a sofy spoken angel . Possibly since there was no study table in my home,I used to make my Mami bend, keep my slate on her back and write. She was an extremely soft and nice lady but Mama , though very good was short tempered.Even after more than 70 years, I remember how I used to get scared of him during those days. Later My Mama and Mami left Secunderabad to establish a hotel along with their younger brother APS Iyer in a near by village .During the Razakkar movement of the pre independence days , my Mama left Hyderabad and established a hotel in Salem of Tamil Nadu .After a few years he shifted to Vridhachalam , where he had a hotel very near to the Junction and not very far off from Manimuthar river.
When I got admission to B.Sc(Hons) in Annamalai university , I did not get admission in the hostel during the first year. Mama came with me and requested one of his distant relation in Chidambaram to accomadate me in their home,I was 17 at that time. Due to my father I had learnt to recite Vishnu and Lalitha Sahasranamams as well as Sri Krishna Karnamrutham, which I used to read daily. But Mama was a Devi Bhaktha and used to daily read Devi Mahatmyam. I used to very often go to Vridhachalam and stay with him , mami and Children(Who were all much younger to me) almost every week end. Due to Mama I got attracted to Devi Mahatmyam and started doing Parayana of the great book along with him. Mama was a very strict but very loving father and he used to get angry with children and some times Mami also .But once the anger leaves him , he became a loving father and mother. Once during our annual vacation, my Periyappa an Aleppy passed away and Mama had to rush to help his sister .it was at that time he requested me to rush to Vridhachalam and look after his hotel during his absence .I really enjoyed doing it.
Mama was a very devout man and he used to have his own Bullock cart. Almost every week, he used to take all of us to Vridheswara temple as well as a Murugan temple in a nearby village .It was the first and only time that I travelled in A bullock cart. Mama loved me very much and knew under what circumstance I was studying . During my second year , Mama suddenly made appearance in our hostel and gave me my first wrist watch .He said , it was a great gift for me and it was with me for another 8 years when I purchased a favre Luba wrist watch(I was employed by then)
If I am very much attached to Sanskrit prayers it was due to my mama.After 1960, I rarely had occasions to meet him. The last time I met him was when he was sick and had started having problem with dementia.He could not recognize me .I wept uncontrollably . I am sure he along with my Mami must be in heaven , and sitting at the feet of Goddess and he must be reciting Devi Mahathmyam.