October 23, 2009
One should have a job and hobbies to enjoy his or his passion for life. For some, the hobbies are as significant as their profession. Ananteshwar Bhat, a resident of Polya near here is a devoted Purohit, who has optimized his hobbies for better use. There is no word called ‘impossible’ in his dictionary.
It was some years ago that he had hired masons to lay the foundation for a toilet in his house. However, the masons did not arrive to complete the work despite his follow-ups. Ananteshwar Bhat determined to construct the toilet completed the work including the carpentry all by himself in the next fortnight.
Ananteshwar had a rickety autorickshaw in his household, which was maintained by him as long as possible till it became only as good as scrap and parked in the backyard. The scooter too though pretty old is in the condition of use due to his maintenance and repairs.
It is said that the necessity is the father of invention, Ananteshwar has mastered the art of carpentry too. Most of the furniture and fixtures at his home are made by himself. “He has built the compound wall himself including the fostering,” says his wife wife Hemalatha, proudly.
Accuracy and Concentration
Ananteshwar Bhat is a temple priest by profession who has mastered the art of decorating the deities in several attractive designs (mandalas), which are painstakingly done with accuracy and concentration. ‘For a design to be readied takes more than two to three hours and requires a high degree of accuracy and geometrical precision. A slight error in drawing lines can jeopardize the entire effort for precision,’ he says.
Decorating Deity as Medium of Worship
“I have seen the Purohits in various temples decorate the temple deities during puja and celebrations, merely for the sake of it, despite having enough time in their disposal and all the necessary puja items are provided,” says Ananteshwar. He has developed the art of decorating the deity and that seems to be a god-gift to him. “I used to watch closely when my father also a Purohit used to decorate the deity at Polya Mutt with several designs in my childhood. I followed in his footsteps in the art of decorating the deity, while the devotees from far-flung areas would throng the temple, especially to view the decoration,” recollects Ananteshwar.
If the deity is decorated with total dedication that brings us closer to divine,’ says Ananteshwar. The decorations of deity by Ananteshwar during Durga puja and Satyanarayana puja which are performed in various houses across the neighbourhood are liked by one and all, especially women folks.
Ananteshwar has several designs in his memory, while he goes about it as per the resources since there used to be a little quantity and a few varieties of flowers available at the time. “At least, I need an hour to create a decorative masterpiece,” he says. Meanwhile, ‘who has the time to identify the sensitive aspect of decoration? Artistic sense is declining among the devotees. I don’t crave for praises, but if a genuine pat comes from among the magnitude of devotees, I would be inspired to try new designs for the worship of God’, he says.
Conch and Ananteshwar
We usually hear the music of conch at temples and houses, while a regular person who blows a conch can blow the conch for at the most 3 minutes or so, Ananteshwar has mastered the art of blowing the conch for half-an-hour non-stop without compromising on the quality rhythms. He used to get his turn for conch music during the special occasion of annual Jatra at Polya Mutt. He would begin blowing conch from the courtyard of temple and by the time he finishes circling the temple, the music would conclude.
His conch music was filmed by the organizers during the Puja held at Alike near here. Puttaparti Sai Baba after watching the video was so impressed by my non-stop and rhythmic conch music that he summoned me to Puttarparti to offer Shankanada seve, says Ananteshwar.
Sri Raghaveshwara Swamiji has awarded Shanka Mridanga title to Ananteshwar and Edneer Swamiji with Shanka Vesheshajna.
Ananteshwar Bhat truly followed in the footsteps of his father late Vedamurty Krishna Bhat of Polya Mutt and has led self-reliant and dignified living despite hardships. His is a small family that sustains on the income from his profession. His wife Hemalatha has been supportive all through his life. Besides he has the support of his sister Devaki and admired by his children Geetha, Shwetha and Srikrishna. Ananteshwar acknowledges the support of his family in nurturing his passion for decorating the deity.
‘Ananteshwar keeps himself busy by indulging in one fruitful activity or the other,” says his father-in-law Patala Venkatramana Bhat.