Hari Sastra was an Andhra Brahmin belonging to the Telaganya ' sub-sect. He was a native of Bhima-kros'apalem, a village near Daksharamam, a well-known place of pilgrimage in the East-G6davary district. Born in about the year 1811, he finished, like most Brahmins of his day, the study of Krishna Yajurveda in his fourteenth year, under a Vedic Pandit named Swayampakala Lakshminarayana Astra ; and this, he could repeat completely along with any regular Vedic Pandit, till the moment of his death-a rare phenomenon in a Castaic Pandit. He then began the study of Kayas under another Pandit, Kaipu Narasimha Sastra by name, at K5ta, a village near Kotipalli, a noted place on the banks of the Gasdavary. It was during this period that his marriage took place. His brilliant intellect not being satisfied with the comparatively mediocre abilities of his Kavyaguru, Hari Sastra naturally got into trouble with him, and left for Benares for his Castaic studies.
He studied Vyakarana under Kasinatha Sastra, the famous grammarian, for 14 years. He entertained feelings of such deep devotion and reverence for his Guru that he could not but give expression to them in the introductory and concluding stanzas of his works and that he even named his own son after the Guru, Raja ram Sastra and Ages’ Pandit, two eminent grammarians of Benares in the last century, were ‘his fellow-students. He used to take part in all Castaic discussions that were held in his days and never knew what defeat was. Though he heard of the death of his wife during this period, he would not leave Benares for his native place. Maharaja Sir Vijayawada Guajarati Raj, K.C.S.I., the Maharaja of Vijayanagaram, who paid a visit to Benares to look after his estate there, held an assembly of Pandits; when he was very much struck with the extraordinary brilliance of Hari Sastri. Being an Andhra, the Maharaja got a liking for him and offered him the coveted place of his court-Pandit. But Hari Sastra, like a true love of learning, declined it with thanks saying that he had still to remain at Benares for a further period of two years to give a finishing touch to his studies. The Maharaja gave him a scholarship of the monthly value of Rs. 25/- throughout this period. He then left Benares for his native place, remarried and took charge of his appointment as court-Pandit at Vijayanagaram.
During this period, he was the recipient of many a coveted honor and favor at the hands of his patron; which, he acknowledged in his introductory stanzas to Vakyarthachandrika as follows the he had also the proud privilege of being the tutor in Sanskrit to the Maharaja's worthy son and successor, Maharaja Sir Amanda Gajapatiraj, G.C.I.E.; which fact was referred o by Colure Kama. Sastra in his editorial introduction to Vakyarthachandrika as follows The distinguished pupil did indeed pay off his debt of gratitude to his preceptor by getting his Vakyarthachandrika published. Hari Sastra’s settled life at Vizianagaram gave him great facilities to work at his Shasta. After two decades of busy court-life he entertained a strong craving for a secluded life, and changed, with the permission of the Maharaja, his residence to Kotipalli where he spent the rest of his life till his death in 1898, devoting a major portion of his time to the teaching of his favorite Shasta to students who resorted to him in hundreds and to the writing of his works. Vakyartha-chandrika was the earliest of these works; and, it was published in the year 1887. Chitraprabha is a later production, as is evidenced by the fact that Maharaja Sir Amanda Guajarati Raj is referred to therein as the patron, whereas in Vakyarthachandrika, his father is referred to as such. Hari Sastra is reputed to have written another work-Rat-a-Tina-, a commentary on Nags Bhatta's Laghus'abdendus'ekharam. This also deserves publication, but I understand that the University cannot procure the Mss. Thorough mastery of the subject; close reasoning and clear exposition characterize every page of his works.
Hari Sastra had a most charming and attractive personality. He had the contentment and aprati grahak of a true Brahmin. He would tell people who tried to force gifts upon him, that his wants were more than supplied by his generous patron and that he had no need, therefore, for .-_,:hers' money. His friendship was courted by such aristocrats as the late Raja of Pithapuram who always preferred to put up with him, whenever he visited Kotipalli. But, he was quite unostentatious and easily accessible to all. No wonder, therefore, that his sacred memory still survives in short anecdotes, among the fmlightened people of the Godavary district.
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