An Obituary to an Outstanding Sanskrit Scholar: Ramanuja Devanathan

Traditional Sanskrit Scholar and IndiaFacts author Ramanuja Devanathan passed away on Jan 7, 2017. An obituary in his memory.

Editor’s Note: It was wrongly mentioned that Acharya passed away on Jan 6, 2017. Dr. S Venugopalan has clarified that he passed away on the morning of Jan 7, 2017 at 6.45 AM. The necessary changes have been made.

Ramanuja Devanathan, traditional Sanskrit scholar and former Vice Chancellor of Jagadguru Ramanandacharya Rajasthan Sanskrit University, passed away due to exhaustion and kidney failure on early morning of Jan 7, 2017 in Mumbai.

Devanathan, who was fondly called as “Acharya” by his students and admirers, was working as Principal, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, at the time of his death. According to tweets posted by Dr. S. Venugopalan, another Sanskrit scholar, Acharya was admitted to hospital in Mumbai on Wednesday night (Jan 4) after he vomited due to exhaustion. He was 57 years old.

principal_9Acharya was a scholar, researcher and educationist with more than 30-years of experience in teaching profession. He was well-versed in many languages, including Sanskrit, Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, and English, and had made enormous contributions in the field of Vyakarana, Nirukta, Chandas, Educational Psychology and Cognitive Psychology.

He had guided many PhD scholars, wrote more than 100 research papers, and attended many seminars and workshops. He had also edited many books, including 18 books by various authors published by Rashtriya Sanskrit Samsthan. His own publication includes around 12 books on Sanskrit and 10 books on education.

Acharya was conferred with many awards, including Shastravidvanmani by TTD, Tirupati; Brahmarshi Award from the President of India instituted by PJSS, Rajasthan; Samskritasri by Bhasha Pracharini Sabha, Kanchi, TN; and Vidyavachaspati by the Varanaseya Pandita Parishad, Varanasi. In 2013, he was also conferred with Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation (MMCF)’s 32nd annual award.

He was very active on twitter under the handle @iksusara and guided many in learning Sanskrit and Hindu scriptures. Since, October, Acharya had started writing a new series on Manu Smriti for IndiaFacts with an intention to address the supposed controversial verses from the Smriti and bring forth the true import of the Shastras.

His passing away is a great loss to not only Sanskrit lovers, but to entire Indian knowledge tradition as a whole. He will be missed by his students, admirers, and everyone who knew him.

May he attain Sadgathi.


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  • keval

    He did not know me, yet was very prompt to answer my every question about Sanskrit. In one of the many such cases, I was suffering from severe tooth and gum problem. Though it is not proper to ask the Lord for anything, the pain was severe enough to muddy my resolve and I wanted to compose a shloka seeking protection from Shri Ram against these problems. I have almost nil knowledge of Sanskrit, he helped me to compose it, and I recited it and the problem, which had been persisting for more than a month, with no relief from modern medication, was cured. He guided through twitter and was final authority for me; because if he had slightest of doubt, he would admit that he does not know. He was truly a great man, a Guru to me, though I never finally met him. I wish I could have been able to put my head in his feet, but unfortunately that opportunity did not come.

    • Shanmuga Sundara Bharathi

      Please publish the sloka you wrote with Acharyas guidance…

      • keval

        Sorry, I did not visit this page and did not see your comment. Thanks for asking.

        See the grab of Acharya ji’s tweet. I do not remember exactly, but he asked me to look into chhanda structure, which I could not do, I did not want to disturb him further or may be I relied on Shri Ram Prabhu’s Karuna and discretion. In case the image does not appear properly, here is his tweet:

        Ramanuja DEVANATHAN
        दन्तान् पातु निषादीशः वेला अहिल्योद्धारकः।
        मनः पिनाकखण्डकः पातु विदेहं सुखदायकः॥ This may be the right version. 1/2

        Ramanuja DEVANATHAN
        However, there is an issue with meter. निषादीशः=Chief of Hunter (Guha), वेला=gum, पिनाकखण्डकः=breaker of Shiva’s bow 2/2

        I finally made it like this, however this version was not checked by him:
        दंतान् गुहेश: पातु, वेला: अहिल्योद्धारकः।
        मन: धनुर्भञ्जक: पातु, विदेहं सुखदायकः।।

  • Sharan Sharma

    Thank you for this obituary. He’ll be very missed. His online presence was the much needed bridge between traditional scholarship and modern communication. It would be great if India Facts can expand this short obituary to a much bigger piece/s on his life, education, research, and reminiscences from his colleagues, shishyA-s, etc.