Mannargudi Raghava Deekshithar hit by a vehicle near Madurantakam
He had been serving Lord Rajagopalaswamy for the last 75years
Possibly the oldest active Bhattar passed away yesterday in a road accident when a vehicle knocked him over while he was by the side of the Madras-Trichy highway near Madurantakam on Sunday night(at around 12.15am monday 29th June, just 12hours after he had received the long standing service award from Kinchitkaram Trust at the Kamarajar Arangam in Madras.
Raghava Deekshitar was 88 years and had been serving Lord Rajagopalaswamy of Mannargudi for the last 75+ years(Yes, he had been at the temple since the age of 12).
I met Raghava Deekshithar a few years ago when I first visited Mannargudi temple. Since then, my interactions with him and his son the 60year old Jayakumar Deekshithar have been continuous and engaging. While every one is looking to make the extra buck, Raghava Deekshithar would be up early morning every single day to open the doors for his devotees to have darshan of Lord Rajagopalaswamy at Mannargudi or Ramar at Vaduvur.
Only 3 months ago, when I reached the Mannargudi temple at 6am, Raghava Deeskhithar ‘forced’ me to join him on a 13km bus trip to Vaduvur for Vishvaroopam Darshan at the Ramar Koil there. He would not let me go without visiting Vaduvur Ramar. He would stand in the bus through this entire journey such was his devotion for the Lord. Despite his old age, he would not ask any one for a seat in the bus.
I handed over the pooja items to him that morning at the Vaduvur Ramar Koil. He expressed happiness at this and blessed me to do a lot more for the perumal koils.
The story goes that, and I have heard this time and again over the last few years, that he would travel all over Tamil Nadu and to other Perumal koils all on his own and by taking the state bus transport.
Even on this trip to receive the award from Kinchitkaram Trust, he was all on his own with no one accompanying him.
A meeting with Raghava Deekshithar was enough to revitalise the hope that all is well with Perumal Koils in Tamil Nadu- his indomitable spirit of engaging with the Lord and his determination to visit other Divya Desams all alone by bus at an age when most would be back home on their easy chair, gave one a lot of cheer and confidence that age is not a restriction to serve the Lord if you had the inclination.