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Talented Child

When the child completed three years, his father initiated his educational lessons. One day the lesson of practising the alphabets was over and next day it was repeated. Vasudeva asked hi father: "Why repeat the same thing? Was over yesterday. Teach me something new."

The father felt both surprised and happy. What a talented child we have he wondered. He was struck by this child’s grasping power. He was concerned that the child may be affected by somebody’s evil eye; his mother would wave before him some pepper and other things (to ward off evil) and pray for his welfare.

The father continued to teach the child at home. Before long, Vasudeve was able to read all the books and would try to understand them. It was a pleasure to hear his readings from the texts. He had a fine voice and purity of expression.

When Vasudeva was five, his mother took him on a visit to a nearby place called Neyampalli. It was evening and I puranik discourse was in progress. People were listening with keen interest to the discourse by Madithaya Shivabhatta, well-known puranik’ (raconteuradept at delivering religious discourses). At one stage, Vasudeva, sitting beside his mother, got up and said: "Respected puranik, the meaning in the purana text says one thing and you are saying another."

Shivabhatta became annoyed at the boy’s insolence. But Vasudeva narrated the meaning of the concerned verse in a lucid manner People were pleased and agreed with him.

On another occasion, Nadillaya himself was corrected by his son. He was also a well-known ‘puranik’. Once, during a discourse, he could not remember the meaning of a won instantly. He avoided that word am continued. Vasudeva stood up and said "Father, you have named all the tree! but did not mention ‘lakucha’ and it! meaning. It means ‘hebbalasu’ doesn’tit?"

Nadillaya did not feel insulted. He felt happy that he learnt the meaning of the word from his son. He felt proud to be the father of such an intelligent boy.

When Vasudeva was seven, his father performed his ‘Upanayana (sacred thread-wearing ceremony) according to custom. And then on to a guru for studying Vedas and classics, studies as a disciple of Totantillaya, a respected Vedic scholar of that period.

Totantillaya felt the boy’s manner a bit strange. The boy would appear only at the time of the lessons and would spend the rest of the time in the playfield.

In the field, Vasudeva, with his strong physique beyond his age, would be surrounded by his playmates. Each day it was a different game. One day it is running; Vasudeva would come

first. Another time it is swimming; and he would be the first to reach the goal. It was wrestling the other day and though the entire band of his playmates attacked him, he would humble them with terrific blows. His mates were astonished at the prowess of Vasudeva whom they considered ‘Hanuman in swimming and Bhimasena in weightlifting’.

Guru Totantillaya would not approve of the boy's behavior. He felt he was not studying properly and once chided him: "Oh, you are a master of knowledge! You learn things without reading. Let us see, recite the 'Suktas' (hymns) you have been taught so far."

Vasudeva sat cross-legged and recited in a ringing, clear voice all the hymns in the correct pattern and without a single mistake. The Guru gave up testing him. Vasudeva's studies and sports both continued.

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