Swami Hari Hara Sastri

Mauritius Times – 60 years ago

By Ramoo Sooriamoorthy

Born at Palghat in India and educated at the Vedashastram College, Swami Hari Hara Sastri left India in March 1925, to serve in the Kali Temple of Ceylon. In November 1925, upon the invitation of the Congrégation des Hindous de Maurice, he set foot on our shores and put up for a week at the Young Men’s Hindu Association (then at Little Mountain Street) before taking charge of the Sockalingum Meenatchee Ammen Temple as head-priest. Hardly then was the Swami aware of the tremendous amount of work that was in store for him during the last 32 years. While, throughout, his erudite culture and sober yet soul-thrilling piety had won for him an abiding place in our love.

All kindness of heart, solicited from all sides, officiating, preaching, Swami Hari Hara Sastri was that persistent reflect of Bhakti.

What had been the sum total of his mission would be difficult to state: The Kumba Abishegham of the Temple which he performed on the 28th May 1931, amidst scenes of unprecedent fervour and dignity; the Tiru-Kalyamum which he celebrated in March 1934, and the Maha-Magham which took place sometime after in the same year stand out pre-eminent. The many Kumba-Abishegham ceremonies throughout the length and breadth of the island, the Sarasvathy Poojah at the Young Men’s Hindu Association’s School, the Doorgah Poojah, the Yeghadeshi Viradhum, and countless other Tirushahs are eloquent testimonies to his ideals of devotion.

For very many years, Swami Hari Hara Sastri had been the Honorary President of the Hindu Hymn Society. Of all the evidence bearing on his proficiency in Sanskrit and on the high esteem in which he was held, the most characteristic is that it was the Swami who was requested to officiate at the never to-be forgotten Maha-Yagna organized by Pandit Bissoondoyal in 1942 and at the ceremony symbolizing the immersion of Gandhiji’s ashes at Fort William in 1948. The foundation of the Hindu Maha Jana Sangham itself is the result of his initiative.

Last year Swami Hari Hara Sastri extended his mission to our sister-island of Reunion where he performed the Kumba-Abishegham ceremonies of the newly built Kali Temple of Saint Denis (9th December 1956) and of the restored temple of Saint Andre and Saint Benoit, and laid the foundation stone of a temple at Saint Louis. To the Kali temple of Saint Denis, the Swami had also made the gift of his life-long Sakkrum.

His untimely death has removed a notable figure from ourselves and created a gap that will never be filled.

We should pay this humble tribute to his strenuous devotion to our cult in our island-home. His irresistible sacrifice for the Sockalingum Meenatchee Ammen Temple has denied him the ultimate fate of breathing his last among his kin in the motherland as he had always wished.

The greatest preoccupation of his last days had been the erection within the temple precinct of the Vivagha Mandapam which he was glad at heart to see completed. Only on the eve of his passing, the Swami was planning its inaugural ceremony with the Soobramaniar-Vallee Kalyanum. It is hard to believe that never anymore will this gracious and smiling countenance of the Swami greet us at the Temple.

The large demonstration of respect, so obviously sincere and so deeply impressive, at his cremation will endure for long in our memories. Let us pray for his soul to attain Moksham! May his reward be as great as his sacrifice!

* Published in print edition on 18 May 2021

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