Son of former Advocate General of Karnataka S.G. Sundarswamy, S.S. Naganand is an LL.B. gold medallist and a qualified chartered accountant with a national merit rank to his credit.
You are a vidyarthi (student), don’t become vishayarthi (pleasure-seeker).” These were the world famous spiritual leader Sathya Sai Baba’s words to S.S. Naganand when they met in 1979. Naganand, one of the most prominent senior advocates in Karnataka, says he has always striven to follow “Baba’s instructions to be a knowledge seeker.”
Son of former Advocate General of Karnataka, S.G. Sundarswamy, Naganand is an LL.B. gold medallist from Renukacharya College of Law, Bangalore University, and a qualified chartered accountant with a national merit rank to his credit. He started practice in 1981 and was designated Senior Advocate by the High Court of Karnataka in 2003. He was also a Partner at M/s Sundaraswamy Ramdas & Anand, Advocates (SRA). He started JustLaw in 2008.
While his great-grandfather, S. Dasappa, was a member of the Mysore Representative Assembly, his grandfather was a senior lawyer. He was the founder of the Bangalore Medical College, Bangalore Engineering College and also the Commissioner of Scouts.
Naganand, a Trustee of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning and Sri Sathya Sai Media Foundation, says not just he but his entire family are devotees of Sai Baba. So much so, he considers his meeting with his wife Madhuri to have been ordained by Baba. “Madhuri was a devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba. We met on Thursday, which is considered to be Baba’s day. When our relationship was blossoming we were always talking about Baba. We knew our bonding was spiritual,” says he.
Naganand met Madhuri while he was vacationing in Mahabaleshwar with his friends and was on his way back from a trip to Sai Temple in Shirdi. According to him, his parents were not too pleased with his wanting to marry a Maharastrian girl. His father went to Puttaparthi to seek Sathya Sai Baba’s opinion. Sathya Sai not only told him that the match was right but blessed their wedding as well. “Swami (Sathya Sai Baba) immediately told him that she is the right girl for the family. Baba asked Naganand’s father to bring Madhuri to meet him. He gave her a mangalsutra and a wedding sari and then he blessed our wedding,” he says, recalling the occasion. Sathya Sai Baba is believed to be the reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi.
Nanganand came to be associated with the spiritual leader from his childhood. “My father met Swami in the 1960s when he had come to Dr. R.S. Padmanabhan’s house in Bangalore. From then on the association continued. From the ‘70s my father had a very affectionate relationship with Baba. When Baba was starting a college near Bangalore, there were some legal issues. He entrusted my father to solve the problem,” says the senior advocate.
Nanganand, who has many stories to tell about Sathya Sai Baba’s miracles and his omniscience, believes that the spiritual guru wanted him to perform the shraddh rituals on the day of his passing. “Swami was in ICU for nearly 27 days. My mother’s death anniversary rituals were the next day. I did not know what to do. I did not want to leave Puttaparthy but at the same time I had to go to Gaya. Finally, I left after everyone in the Trust advised me to. The moment I got off at the Vishnupada temple, I got a call saying Baba had left His body. I was totally crestfallen. The priest said I should not lose heart as this was an indication that Baba wanted me to perform his shraddh the day he passed away. How come I was chosen?” asks Naganand, recapping the event. Though the eminent lawyer misses Sai Baba’s physical presence, he says that he senses his spiritual guru’s will, especially when he helps him resolve problems even after his death.
The devotion for Sai is, however, not limited to the adults in the Naganand family but has permeated to even his grandchildren, especially his granddaughter Sameeka who was Sai Baba’s darling. Sameeka is the daughter of Naganand’s eldest daughter Kamala, who is also a lawyer. Madhuri and Naganand have two other daughters. Their second daughter is Sumana and the youngest is Sharada, who too are partners in the firm.
Madhuri, though has no formal education, has written a book in Sanskrit, Ved Kusumanjali, a compilation for prayers sung in Hindu temples. She reads Sanskrit, Marathi and Gujarati as well. Naganand himself knows many of the Vedic Suktas (hymns) by heart.
He is also President of the Karnataka (India) Section of the International Commission of Jurists and Vice Chairman and Treasurer of Maharani Laxmi Ammani College and Trust.