8. MARRIAGE

Nanu’s student life in Puduppalli was rich varied experiences. There were intimations of the unreal nature of the world of senses. There were direct experiences of the cruel law of nature that holds perpetual sway over all creatures. (Only the strongest survived there. Those who survived drew their nourishment by the pitiless destruction of the weak. The fat dog always robbed the weak one). Nanu was convinced of the holloness of many of the customs that persisted even in the world of humans who prided themselves on their unique mental faculties. Ignorance was the basis of all those evils. Man was ignorant of what was good. In other words he did not have the enlightenment. Once he was enlightened,  not only the evil customs but even his lust for sensual fulfillment would appear meaningless to him. Oh, a world that did not realize that it was chasing mere shadows!

The result of such a perspective taking root in Nanu was obvious- disinterestedness towards worldly pleasures. Disinterestedness would lead to renunciation. Nanu learnt the primary lessons of renunciation. Yet he could not simply dismiss the sufferings in this world as another set of illusions. True, the pleasures that please the senses were illusions, but what about the sufferings? Was the leprosy of Chathan an illusion? Was his pain an illusion? Was it proper for him to dismiss those scenes as illusions? Even if they were, could he do that? At this stage the philosopher in him would fail. His mind would grope in darkness. There was only one grace to pray for- a beam of light, Oh, Lord.

The inner self was always yearning for light. It yearned to be bathed in light.

Even in the midst of this spiritual unrest Nanu paid deep attention to his studies. Perhaps studies afforded him a certain measure of peace. Quest for knowledge was ever strong factor of his make-up. “ Ganapati exhibited unappeasable hunger at the breakfast table of Vaisravana. A similar gargantuan appetite for learning was visible in Nanu when he was a student under Raman Pillai Asan”, says Moorkoth Kumaran. The number of books he mastered during his three years with Raman Pillai was proof of this insatiable appetite.

In the third year Nanu had a severe attack of some stomach disorder and was taken home to Chempazhanti in an almost unconscious condition. Nanu regained his health quickly under the expert treatment of his uncle, Krishnan Vaidyar. But Nanu was not for going back to Puduppalli. He had had enough of tution from a master and his need was for something more than learning. He should find a solution for his inner problems. But how? By dedicating himself to a deep search. The quest for truth . The quest for light. He had already started on the quest. He had only to intensify it. That required freedom- freedom from worldly entanglements. He should liberate himself from the bonds that attached him to a home or a piece of land. 

The disinterestedness and the spiritual tint seen in Nanu perturbed  his elders. Here was a youth who was keen and erudite. He was to maintain the prestige of the house and even enhance it. But he was moving in a totally different direction. How could they be but anxious? They too were not keen to send him back to Puduppalli. Puduppalli had perhaps sowed the seed of renunciation in him. Let him stay back at home. His wanderlust, his meditations, solitary as well as in the temple should be restricted. They thought of two means to put him on the right road. He should immediately be engaged in some occupation suited to his taste. This was no problem. Teaching had always been to his liking and he had a way with him of conveying his ideas in a clear logical manner. He would therefore be employed as a tutor. In due time he could be got married. That was their plan of action.

As a first step they constructed a small school in their own compound. They collected a few children and engaged Nanu to instruct them from the nursery stage. This was to the satisfaction of both the elders and Nanu- the former because they could still retain Nanu and the latter because he could find a career much to his taste. During this period he came to be known as Nanu Asan (Asan meant teacher) and the honorific struck to him for quite some time.

Life as a teacher did not have much impact on Nanu’s bent of mind. He continued to be a silent and as uninterested in worldly life as ever. Leisure hours found him poring over religious books, or meditating in solitude or in prayer in the nearby temple. The wanderer in him never gave up. He could never be found in his house on holidays. He would be wandering about in the jungles or in the neighboring villages. What could he be doing in the jungles for such long spells? This was cause enough for anxiety but there was something more serious. Nanu would visit the huts of untouchables after working hours. Only Ezhava children were admitted to the school. So Nanu could not impart knowledge to the children of the lower sects. They too deserved to be taught. A teacher is obliged to light the lamp in their minds too. If they could not come to him he had to go to them. That was justification enough for him. Visiting their huts had one more advantage. He could teach the family rudiments of hygiene and cleanliness. They were living in the most unclean conditions. They had no special affinity towards dirt. They were just ignorant of clean ways. Did not the teacher have a special responsibility in this regard?

The elders were positively agitated. This boy was forswearing caste and caste purity. Besides, how could the members of Vyalvarath family look others in the face? Somehow he had to be made to desist from such dishonorable activities. They told him of their objections. Nanu met their opposition with unruffled calmness. What was wrong in imparting education to human beings? Was it not their advantage too to teach them clean habits? The elders had no answers. They were at a loss to know what to do with him. They could not rebuke him to his face or coerce him. There was some hidden power in this youth who spent his time in the study of religious books or in meditation. This made it hard for them to administer a direct admonition.

Nanu got an offer from a school in Anchuthengu. He accepted it. The elders were a bit relieved.  At least Nanu would no longer mix with Harijans under their very noses. But the more they considered the matter the more their wonder grew at Nanu’s acceptance. What could be the inducement? They found an easy answer. Matan Asan’s sister’s daughter was living in that neighborhood with her husband. They had an only daughter with one foot already on the threshold of youth. The grey-haired elders smiled within themselves. True, Nanu spent much time on his devotional activities and meditations. He was a young man nonetheless.

They closely watched Nanu at Anchuthengu but could not discover much  to encourage them. Prayers and meditations continued with unabated regularity. He spent even his sleeping  hours in the temple itself. Still they did not lose hope. After all, he was young. The routine of many years was probably restraining the natural instinct. They should do what they could to help. 

They fixed up Nanu’s marriage. The bride was the same girl mentioned above –Kaliamma. Nobody asked the bride or bridegroom for their opinion. The elders decide, the youngsters obey- that was the order of the day.

The marriage between Nanu and Kaliamma was performed in 1882. The presence of the bridegroom was not an absolute necessity for the function. The elders went to the bride’s house. Bridegroom’s sister presented clothes to the bride and took her to the groom’s house. The marriage was over.