With reference to the personality and philosophy of Murty, it was remarked that he was a class by him. For me, he was meticulous, time-bound, systematic and committed to profession. When he was in Visakhapatnam, once I was asked to reach him at 5 p.m. to accompany him to attend a meeting in a nearby town. I was late by a minute; and to my surprise, his car left his residence "Andhra Cottage" sharply at 5 p.m., which I saw at a distance. I was appointed as lecturer in Philosophy Department, Andhra University in 1981; and I became his research scholar, he asked me to sit in his "Sankara Vedanta" classes for the whole of an academic year, covering more than eighty hours in 180 working days, which was top even in those days. Murty's intention was that I should continue Vedanta teaching in the university after him, a rare privilege for those of my social background, as he was aware of Dharmavyadha in the Mahabharata. Murty was a traditionalist at the bottom of his soul, but rationalist in spirit. His intention reflects consistency in academics; and that a person who teaches a subject must be a student of that particular subject in the graduate studies.
His style during the seminars and meetings is known to those who were acquainted with him, but his temperament was balanced. A Vedanta scholar - T.M.P. Mahadevan, a great Buddhist thinker - T.R.V. Murthi, a Marxist writer - D.P. Chattopadhyaya, and many other young philosophy teachers of the country were in his circle of philosophy. The omniscient personality that we see on his face during seminars disappears while in the classroom before the students. He seems to be so humble while delivering a lecture; he keeps either notes or text on the table, conveys the message and points related to the lesson and syllabus. While explaining the lesson, he reads certain passages; and he never brings his philosophy, personality and experiences into the subject matter under discussion in classroom. I saw him sometimes enjoying himself while reading the Sankara's Brahma-Sutra Blifisya, to which logic he was an admirer.
The Indian culture for Murty is inclusive in the sense that Islam and Christianity are as much Indian as Hinduism. Similarly Carvaka, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism are as much Indian philosophies as Vedanta. Not only his philosophy, the personality of Murty was "inclusive". When appointments were made in 1981 to the faculty positions in the Philosophy Department, he whispered that a Muslim should also be on the faculty. The Philosophy Department, at his guidance, taught Sankara Vedanta on the one hand, Buddhism on the other as special subjects of study. For the first time in India, "dialectical materialism" as a special subject was introduced and taught about four decades for the postgraduate students in Andhra University. Not only he wrote Far Eastern philosophies in 1976, but a special paper, "Sino-Japanese Philosophies" was added to the curriculum in postgraduate course in philosophy at Andhra University during 1980s. Philosophy departments in India have been looking to the West so far, it was Murty who pioneered to assert that we should also see towards the East. As such even "African Religions and Thought" was introduced during my headship in 1990s.
Murty was a voracious reader in whose personality vrtti (profession) and pravrtti (vocation) were harmoniously synthesized. Therefore, family life was least for him; neither he saved his salary nor made money out of his landholdings being the only son of a landlord. I had the privilege of walking in the procession when his body moved to the funeral place in his native village Sangam Jagarlamudi, while on our way a farmer remarked that people who took Murty's lands on lease for cultivation have became "crore-patis", but Murty remained to remember.
Chapter 4 presents the Indian spirit, and tries to clarify certain misconceptions about Indian culture, Hindu ethos and history. Murty unveils here the humanistic approach to understand Indian culture. Chapter 5 contains the social philosophy of Murty in which his "philosophy of inclusiveness" as a method has been presented. Here Murty appears to be primarily a social philosopher. The conclusion of the thesis contains a retrospective study of Murty's "global understanding of philosophy with Vedantic spirit".
As a whole the text reveals Murty's contribution to global understanding of philosophy by navigating into the neglected areas of philosophy and by adopting comparative method. He is a visionary who interprets philosophy as a tool for peace and argues that philosophy teachers have been the role models for the transformation of society.
Originally being a doctoral thesis, awarded in 2005, I have modified this work in accordance with the suggestions of H.V. Stietencron, University of Tubingen, Germany, to whom I acknowledge my gratitude. I am also thankful to him for recommending the thesis for publication. I am indebted to my research director, P. George Victor, for his kind help in spite of his indisposition and personal attention without whose help I could not have completed the research.
I profusely thank my classmates and lifelong friends -S.D.A. Joga Rao, Department of Philosophy, Andhra University, and K. Srinivas, Department of Philosophy, Pondicherry University, for all their moral support.
I am grateful to K. Ramakrishna Rao, the former chairman of the ICPR, who have collected the comments on the works of Murty and brought out the Collected Criticism of K. Satchidananda Murty, from which I have adopted certain sentences and paragraphs. I am thankful to K. Venkateswarlu, former research student of Murty, and a retired professor of politics, Andhra University, for his enlightening reflections on Murty's philosophy. I am also thankful to M.V. Ram Kumar Ratnam of Acharya Nagarjuna University for arranging an interview with Murty.
I am indebted to M. Edward, Principal, ABM Degree College, Ongole, for giving permission to frequently visit the Philosophy Department, Andhra University. I am also thankful to M.V. Krishnayya, former head of the Department of Philosophy, Andhra University, for showing personal interest and permitting me to use the required books from his personal library. Thanks are also due to K. Ramesh, the youngest son of Murty, for providing books that are out of print. My children Sunny and Simmy have been a source of inspiration to continue my academic pursuits that sustained with the love of my wife, Jyothi which I cherish.
PROFESSOR K. Satchidananda Murty was born on 25 September 1924 to K. Veerabhadraiah, a religious-minded landlord and 107 his wife Rajaratnamma in the village of Sangam Jagarlamudi near Tenali in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, India. The railway line, which connects Kolkata and Chennai on the East Coast of India, passes through the town of Tenali, which is the nearest railway station to Sangam Jagarlamudi.
Etymologically, Satchidananda Murty means "form of truth, reality and bliss". It is the other name for Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent God, Brahman described in the Upanisads. During his childhood, it is learnt that his father and grandparents used to call Satchidananda Murty affectionately "Devudiah" or "Devudu" (God) and his friends "Anandam" (joy).'
Murty was given primary education at his residence. Sangameswara Rao, a childhood friend of Murty, informed that teachers of different disciplines used to teach him. The other nearer town to Sangam Jagarlamudi was Guntur, which was in those days famous for education, where the Lutheran Missionaries from America established a school, hospital and a college. His father, being himself Orthodox and spiritual, employed teachers in Sanskrit, Telugu, Hindi and English languages to educate young Murty. Murty records:
I have the great good fortune of being the son of one, who himself, being a philosopher, inculcated, very early in my life a genuine taste in and love for philosophy. While quite young I was privileged to study under two eminent pundits of the old type (sampradaya vidya) from whom I imbibed a deep affection for and knowledge of Sanskritic Culture and Language.'
The individual experiences and also one's own psyche will have the influence on the thought of people and also the root cause for the development of one's philosophical vision. Murty writes that not only the physical and social environment, for which condition oneself is exposed, but also the psychological aspects form the basis of a person's philosophy. As early as in 1949, after becoming lecturer in Andhra University, in his book Evolution of Philosophy in India, Murty writes:
. . . the study of a man's character, of his habits and environment provides a clue towards understanding and appreciating his theories and beliefs. Not only it is necessary to study any theory in relation to the socio-economic structure in which it arises, but it is also necessary to pay any attention to the character and personality of the man who puts it forth.'
As a young boy Murty was a devotee of Hanuman, who was legend of life-long-celibacy and who helped Lord Rama to bring back his wife, Sita from Sri Lanka as recorded in the Indian epic, the Rdnidyana. The idol of Hanuman was installed in the Venugopala Swami Temple, located in the midst of their lands, for which his father was a trustee.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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