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guru sat charitam

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Disclaimer for my Translated Materials

These English translations done by me of darshan of Paramacharya and other Gurus and experiences of devotees, their discourses and other kinds of publications on and by Paramacharya and other Gurus, from their original presentations in print and other media are posted here with the sole intention of carrying the divine message of Paramachaya and other Gurus to the members of this Forum, for a discussion among the members so as to understand and practice the directions contained in the message.

As a translator, I have no commercial interests or financial considerations in spreading the message of Gurus and darshan experiences, and have no claims of copyright for the translations.

I have duly quoted the source of these translations, and I hereby acknowledge the credits to the publications, authors, devotees and any other people concerned. Since Paramacharya is the real source, I understand that the original credit of these materials accrues to SriMatam, Kanchipuram followed by the other people involved in spreading Paramacharya's message.

If anyone involved with these publications has any reservations on the implicit consents and permissions assumed in these translations, for the spiritual benefit of mankind, the same may be brought to the notice of the Forum Administrator, for necessary changes or removal of the material presented.

'saidevo', as translator of the materials presented.


"en balam" (My Strength)
author:....... Raa. Ganapathi
source:....... maitrIm bhajata, pages 93-119
publisher:.... Divya Vidya Padhippaham (Aug. 2006 Edition)
type:......... book, Tamil

pages 93-99

It is only the voice of our 'guru paramAtman'!

"paramAtmA, jIvAtmA--there are no two such things', is the advaita vedAnta. But then paramAtmA is one who remains REPLETE with fullness, without any blemish. Full of blemish, and very hIna (low and weak) remains the one who is jIvAtmA--this is how the vyavahAra (affairs of the current world) is going on in the mAyA-vilAsam (sport of maya). It goes on that the jIvAtmAs who are full of blemishes do prArthanA (prayer) to the paramAtmA for removal of the blemishes.

"In this, very little prArthanA is done for getting rid of the real blemishes which are the kAma krodhAdi guNa doshAs (the six impure temperaments beginning with desire and anger). If those blemishes go away, we too can become the paramAtmA who is replete with fullness. But then without praying for that, most prayers are done only for (removal of) the blemishes such as vyAdhi (disease) and dAridriyam (poverty) that happen in the vyavahAra.

"In expressing their duHkham (sorrow, distress) out of their mind to the paramAtmA, people generally feel comforted. His listening to the supplications of these people and then removing their kaSTa (afflictions)--let it be on one side. For the people, it is a relief, a comfort to thus let out, without shutting up their blemishes in their mind. Even when it is not known in pratyakSa (before one's eyes) that their prArthanA has reached His ears, even when the kaSTa they pray for removal is not alleviated--this should happen later (right)?--they get tApa shAnti (abatement of agony) right now, in letting out the kaSTa that was simmering in their mind. Even when the kaSTa continues unabated, they pray without giving up and in doing so get a comfort. For the vyAdhi that erodes the hRdaya (heart), the kAryam (act) of expressing it orally is something of a parihAram (immunity). Only temporarily; but then even so is not a relief is a relief?

"The Maha Periyavaa Nilakanta Dikshita himself when supplicating his shortcomings to Meenakshi, says, 'Do I lament for something that is not known to you, Amma? Still in this pralApam (prattle, lament) itself some comfort wells up for my itching and bickering mind, so I do it.'

"AvedyatAm aviditam kim atApyaduHktam
vaktavyam AntrarujoH upasamAya nAlam
(Anandasagara Stavam, 2)

"'Antraruja' is the abscess in the inner mind. The vaktavyam, 'to say it aloud' is only to do upasamanam that is shAnti (assuagement) to it, he says.

"Thus, only in order to unload the burden in their mind, people go seeking the places that have divinity for them--they seek the kSetras (holy places) and ashrams--and supplicate their kaSTas to the deities and sages present there.

"paramAtmA is sarvavyApi (omnipresent). There is no place where He is not there. Therefore, divinity is readily present even in every particle of dust in the prapancam. But then since it lies hidden, it is known only to the jnAnis (wise) and not the other people; the other people cannot feel it. In their look, in their thought, the divinity seems to be present only in certain places, certain people.

"In vAstavam (reality), even if the uttamotta deivIka guNas (lofty characteristics)--called divinity--is not there in a person, depending on the sthAnam (position) he holds, the circumstances of his living, the viSayas (things) he utters in accordance with these (it is a different matter if he follows them himself [laughs]), the vEshas (disguises) he does and need to wear, and his vayas (age), people are used to give him a divine elevation.

"It is only in this way that people always come to seek me and speak out their kaSTas, unmindful of the time of night or day. In their doing so it does not mean that they are aware of my vAstavamAna yogyatA (real ability). Just as I said now, only by looking at my background those people calculate, keep me elevated, and think that through me they can catch hold of the deivam (deity) easily and get kaSTa nivRtti (abatement of agony). People don't come to me thinking that I have some greatness of my own. They come to me only thinking that the shakti (power) of the one called divinity is more or less in me.

"A big professor is there; a mahA vidvAn in sangItam is there; a big leader is there in politics; a doctor is there as an expert; cinema, cricket, thus in all branches if people consider some personalities as being very skilful, maintain respect, honour and have affection towards them and show 'attachment' to the extent of being labelled as their 'fans', all these are only due to the ability and honour those professor and others have in their own hOtA (position, status). Not because there is divinity in them; only when the 'attachment' turns excessive, it becomes the custom to celebrate all such people right from the cinema star as deivAmsa (having divinity).

"Such is not the case with me. People don't come to me looking at anything in me as my own hOtA. The maTha hOtA is different, my own hOtA is different. Own hOtA is the yogyatA (ability) and skill that are exclusive to the AsAmi (man). Then if why so many people come to me, it is because they look at the background I have obtained (here) which is visible outside, think that 'if that be the case, then the Ishvara shakti must be there', so they come here only for that Ishvara and to get His anugraham. They come only with the thought that through me they can easily catch hold of the anugraham of the one called a deity. Believing that their supplications here reach the Paramatma Himself, they come here and speak out their duHkham (sorrow, afflictions) to me. Among the people who are desperate for comfort and improvement, those who believe that there is divinity in me, thus seek me in crowd after crowd and open their hRdaya (heart) to me.

"As in the case of opening the window of a room that was shut and stuffy with no whiff of air, they have a tRpti (satisfaction), a nimmati (ease of mind) in letting out their kaSTa, shrama (afflictions and exertions) to me, which they had been keeping closed and shut, being unable to express them to other people...

"You people do stotra (praise) to me that there is no subject that is not known to me and that I am a sarvajna (omniscient). In vAstavam (reality) however, 'katRatu kaimmaN aLavutAn' ('all that learned is only a handful of sand')! Even saying that is an atisayokti (hyperbole). The song is that sAkSAt Sarasvati thinks that her learning is only a handful of sand (right)? What then is there for the others to talk about?

"But then in one subject alone nobody knows to the extent I know. It seems that I can say that in that one subject I am 'all-knowing'! What that (subject) is, in this Lokam how many varieties of kaSTa do the people suffer from!

"The son would not reveal it to his own mother who gave him birth; the priya patni (affectionate wife) would not say anything about it to her own bharta (husband)--even such antara~Nga kaSTa (very personal afflictions), those kaSTa kept hidden and buried in mind without any inclination of expressing them to others, they come and pour here and get a tRpti, nimmati.

"A tRpti that they themselves create for themselves. I have not done anything. Nothing except lending this ear to them. Still, in letting out the pent up they feel satisfied on their own! A vishrAnti (rest) that appAdA (at last), we unburdened some of it'! It is another thing if I do anything for them, if I can do it, or if such yogyatA is there for me. The matter is that without my doing anything about it, in thus speaking out to me, they put their burden down of their own accord.

"The maThatthukkArA (MaTham people) and others around me rebuke the people that they shoud not pester SwamigaL in this way day and night. They prevent the people saying 'Does SwamigaL have no sharIraM (body)? Will it not be a shrama (undue exertion) to it?'; even drive them away.

"Is this right? Because it might result in sharIra shramam for me, a single man, will it be a nyAyam (justified) to prevent the shramam and the simmering restlessness in the mind of these many people, and their getting some sort of tApa samanam (distress relief) by speaking it out?

"What am I there for? What for has this life, this living befallen (me)? This life has befallen (me) in order (for me) to listen to the kaSTa of the people and comfort them. It has befallen that this sharIram should do what it can by way of upakAra (assitance, service) day and night, to ease the burden of sorrow that the people suffer from day and night.

"I ease it; do something for it; have the shakti to do it--nothing of these sorts. I only say that I have been installed as an instrument that people can use to ease their condition on their own accord.

"Even if I do or don't do parihAram (immunity) in kAryam (action), just my mouthing words of comfort gives peace to the afflicted. All that I do is the vAyupakAram (verbal service) 'yAvarkkumAm piRarkku innurai tAnE!' (for everyone, is saying sweet words to others) that TirumUlar prescribed.

atisayokti - hyperbole

kaSTa - pain, suffering, misery, wretchedness; trouble, difficulty; bodily exertion, strain, labour, toil, fatigue, weariness, hardship, uneasiness, inquietude.

pralApa - talk, prattle, chattering, unintelligible or delirious speech; lament

...to continue...
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pages 99-104

"Even without doing that, if I continue to remain in silence, people get some peace for having dropped (their afflictions) in my ear. Even such upakAram (service) as just listening is not there (when I am) in kASTam*--this is what I do. They become peaceful in just their telling what they wanted to say, though I do not seem to have listened to it. For the people who have such a faith, if I don't give place for them to express their kaSTa (afflictions), if I stay without doing even that alpa upakAram (trivial service), will it be a nyAyam (justified)?

"If the sharIraM acquired for doing this, even if it gets balahInam (week of strength) in seeing the suffering people for hours daily and saying words of comfort to them, it is alright.

"Whatever the hAni (harm) that comes to the sharIraM because of this, (let it happen because) this is the balam (strength) for my manas (mind).

"It is a dosha (impurity) for a sanyAsin to think that certain things would cause hIna, shrama (weakness, exertion) and cherish his sharIraM with abhimAnam (self-conceit). Is it possible in yatArttam (reality) to remain so is indeed a question! Still, when such hIna occurs, and it also gives a balam inside, the sharIraM need not be cared for.

"Whence such balam to the manas?

"For two reasons.

"One--the mahAns (great sages) say that there is no other prayojana (purpose, use of) for having acquired manuSya janmam (human birth) than to remain comforting the afflicted and faithful who seek (us)--the tRpti (satisfaction) that such a janmA has occurred (to me) on its own. That itself gives the balam for the manas. If it is tRpti for the people in one dinusu (manner), by them (it is) tRpti for me too in another dinusu.

"Aren't the santoSa-duHkham (happiness and sorrow) of the manas the reason for the balam-balahInam of the sharIraM? In recent times, after the manotatva cikitsA (psychic treatment) procedures such as the 'psychiatry' have come to vRddhi (growth), even some doctors have gone to the level of saying, 'it is not that only some diseases are psycho-somatic; all the diseases are only such'! The vachanam (word) is also there--'santoSam sarva balam' (happiness is all strength). Such being the case, that which is the balam to my mind is also the balam to my sharIraM. That same tonic for the both!

"There is nothing to feel elated that I am respected as a deivam (deity). If that is so in vAstavam (reality), they only say the vAstavam, that is all! What is there to feel elated about it? In addition, one who remains as a deivam, will he become elated in stotra (praise) and troubled in nindA (blame)? Even if it is not the vAstavam--(laughing) only the samAcaram (message) of a sAdhAraNa AsAmi (ordinary man) is what is known as svayam cittam (revealed to self) here!--'they talk about something that is not there! That lAyakku (fitness) is not there for us!', thus should only feel duHkham, and not elated.

"Even if there is nothing to feel elated, when I start thinking, 'only with the thought that there is some deiva shakti is there in us (me), these people thus unwrap and pour all their antarangam (personal things) with faith', the second reason (for my santoSam, balam) I talked about occurs. What does it mean if these many people come to pray with the intention that there is Ishvara shakti in me? What becomes the nirUpaNam (proof) from that? That even in the current age when it seems everything has gone astray, these many thousands, lakhs of people have deep faith that there is a Paramatma who is karuNAmUrti to listen to their kaSTa and do nivRtti (remedy) to it, is what becomes the nirUpaNam from this. A hope dawns in me that so long as this Ishvara vishvAsam (god faith) is there, the lokam (world) will not go completely astray. It gives me a dhairyam (boldness) and utsAham (delight) that dharmopadesham, dhamobhivR^iddhi becoming my duty, all that I do to the extent I know will not become vizhalukku iRaittha nIr (water only for the wasteland).

"Duty should be done without looking at the phalan (fruits). Everyone knows it, that is the gItopadesham (teaching of the Gita). I too shall say the same thing to the others, and say it emphatically! It should be done in the same spirit even at my level as far as possible, so I go on teaching what little I know to the people. Still, since it is ordained for (the vaidIka dharmapITha leaders like) us to teach the shAstrAchAram (rules of conduct of the scriptures), when looking at the world getting deep into the modern life-style, principles and activities day by day, it would occur to me now and then, 'whether what I am doing will give at least some fruits? If it won't whether it is a nyAyam (right thing) to do samrakSaNam (protection) of such a MaTham frittering away the donors' money? Whether it is nyAyam or not, for this (MaTham) established by the AcharyaaL several centuries ago, which has come to vRddhi (growth) all these times through the line of succession of SwamigaLs from him, there is nothing else for me--who is doing sevakam (service) only for the present time--to do except take prayatna (efforts) to run it in the same original dharmAchara shAstra path.

"At such times when the manas gets balahInam (weak), this tonic gives the strength. 'It is not that our people do not have deiva bhakti in toto. The faith that there is Bhagavan, He is a karuNAmUrti who solves our kaSTa is there in plenty. It is enough that such a thing as this thought of God is there. He won't desert those who have faith in Him. He will not only give them the anugraha they pray for, but also gradually create in them some abhimAnam, pidimAnam (high opinion, adherence), in the ways of Shastras for shAshvata kSemam (eternal prosperity)--with this tonic of faith I get utsAham in my task.

"When everyone comes and speaks out their kaSTa and I listen to it, with them I too get manas kaSTam (mental agony); still when I think generally about it, two things are apparent: one, the chance to give at least a tatkAla nivRtti (temporary relief)--such a lokopakAra kAryam (worldly service)--that has come to me on its own, and this gives me a santoSam and from that the balam.

"Another, the divine faith that is there is the Lokam is apparent from this. That in itself is an Anandam and fills my mind. Whether there is divinity in me or not, the people's divine faith that issues keeping me as a nimittam (reason), gives me ecstasy. Any kAryam (act) that they do with divine faith gives me santoSam; and from that I get my balam.

"Although it might seem to the maThatthukkArA (MaTham people) and other devotees that the people do hiMsA (harm) to me, in vAstavam only that gives me utsAham in the duty I need to do. Instead of making me balahIna, it is that which remains as the root tonic for my very balam.

"By me and through me some lokopakAram, and by that lokam for me some more dedication in my duty--this twin profit is obtained through this sadAkAla kaSTa-petition of the people. As a third profit, for the petitioners what they prayed for based on their faith also gets siddha (accomplished) in most cases. (laughing) And I get the kitAb (credit) for it! That is why, and in that rAshi (group), the restless circle of the petitions and the profits turn round! A 'virtue circle' that is not a 'vicious circle'!

"Therefore, thinking that it would be sharIra hAni, shrama for me, no one need to come in between me and the people who come (to me) with kaSTa."

*** *** ***

*kASTam means log or a piece of wood. On some days such as the day of 'mUla nakshatra', SriCharaNar would be observing utmost silence without any bodily movement keeping himself like a log of wood.

abhimAna - high opinion of oneself, self-conceit, pride, haughtiness
cikitsA - medical attendance, practice or science of medicine
dhairyam - firmness, steadiness, boldness, clamness, composure, patience
dinusu - (Telugu) An article, thing, drug, ingredient. vastuvu. Manner, kind, sort, prakaramu. vidhamu.
lAyakku - fitness, suitableness, haughtiness
nimittam - cause, motive, apparent reason, mark, sign
nindA - blame, censure, reproach, reviling, defamation, controversy, injury, outrage
nirUpaNam - shape, giving shape, sight, looking at, analysing, seeking, determining, proving, proof, explaining, defining
prayojana - cause, reason, motive, aim, purpose, use of, design, end
sAdhAraNa - general, universal, equal, like, similar
shAshvata, shAshvatika - eternal, ever-lasting, permanent
vRddhi - growth, increasing, rising, rise, augmentation, advancement, extension, welfare, prosprity, swelling and rising, waxing
yatArttam - (Tamil) reality, truth



"It is a dosha (impurity) for a sanyAsin to think that certain things would cause hIna, shrama (weakness, exertion) and cherish his sharIraM with abhimAnam (self-conceit). Is it possible in yatArttam (reality) to remain so is indeed a question! Still, when such hIna occurs, and it also gives a balam inside, the sharIraM need not be cared for.

Had i known that mahaswamigal had expressed such a sentiment,i would have been readily able to answere his holiness jayendrar sarswathi's query to me.I still remember mahaswamigal telling my father,only if mahaswamigal wills thru his sankalpa,anyone can even come for darshinam here in the matham.fortunately for me his holiness viyaendrar saraswathy expressed his concern to me,for NOT visiting the gurus ashramam like before,after which i feel comfortable.At least now,i am able to visit the brindavanam and obtain the grace & blessings of the present gurus.sai ram.

nachi naga.
namaste nachi naga.

MahAsvAmigaL, IMHO, was at the least an aMshAvatAra of Shiva-Shakti. If he identified himself with the likes of me, it was only out of his limitless compassion and empathy. Even then, being a jnAni who can speak only satyam, his real identity slips through his words, although he carefully tries to hide it in his speech. For example, even in the above passage we see him say, "There is nothing to feel elated that I am respected as a deivam (deity). If that is so in vAstavam (reality), they only say the vAstavam, that is all!"

I am sure many members here have first-hand devotional experiences with MahAsvAmigaL and the present gurus of the MaTham. I would request you and other members to post them here, perhaps in a separate thread, omitting details that are too personal, so everyone of us can be happy to read them and be benefited. While there are many publications on the mahatvam of MahAsvAmigaL there isn't much about our present gurus. I think we need to collect our experiences of divinity about our present gurus too.

Had i known that mahaswamigal had expressed such a sentiment,i would have been readily able to answere his holiness jayendrar sarswathi's query to me.I still remember mahaswamigal telling my father,only if mahaswamigal wills thru his sankalpa,anyone can even come for darshinam here in the matham.fortunately for me his holiness viyaendrar saraswathy expressed his concern to me,for NOT visiting the gurus ashramam like before,after which i feel comfortable.At least now,i am able to visit the brindavanam and obtain the grace & blessings of the present gurus.
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pages 105-110

We witnessed before our own eyes how wonderful this 'balam' of his, when SriCharaNar was camping in Chennai for a year and a half, commencing from 1957 Navaratri time.

It should be mentioned that what is mentioned here is not remarkable at all when compared to the balam that he displayed twenty years later, when he was for four continuous years doing saMcAra (roaming) on foot in the other states in an advanced old age, over woods and hills; nevertheless, this author knew about that desha saMcAram only by kELvi jnAnam (knowledge by listening). Whereas during his Chennai vaSam (living) of the earlier days, this balavInan (weak man) who became interested in him only a short while earlier, witnessed for many days his tireless work and the balam that was its basis for it, and wondered, which stuck deeply in mind.

Doing saMcAram of each and every pEttai (area) in the city and camping there, the mahanIya (glorious) visited hundreds of establishments; chatted and conversed with thousands of devotees; poured the rain of his grace on them. That rain of grace he also poured in a rain of words in several stage lectures.

From about the time of three o' clock when he gets up in the morning--or rather late night, since it can't be called the morning proper--until midnight when he retires, he was thus engaged in work for days, weeks and months.

In the midst of all these, there were elaborate pujas that could break one's hip (for us too)!

We wondered how the pUnjai mEniyar (puny-bodied), aRpa puRkaiyar (with hands like a blade of grass) managed all that.

'Managed' sounds like coping with difficulty! So the term doesn't suit here. Because, he was after all engaged in everything with a gush of enthusiasm and in full bloom. When it comes to IdupAdu (interest and concern), only his is the IdupAdu, Ayya! Who can match him in displaying heartfelt interest and concern, without distinguishing between trivial matters and great problems?

Yes, how much shakti, balam that he speaks of, should he have had to accomplish this!

To say it is 'asura balam' (devil's power) would be asambhAvita (inconsiderate) when it concerns this amudhar (sweet soul). It should be mentioned only as 'anuman balam'--very apt indeed! Limitless power and at the same time a humility that can't be described in speech--is Hanuman, in whom these two poles integrated; our Sri Maha PeriyavaaL is only his another form. nava vyAkaraNa pandita, sollin selvan, brahmacharya nidhiyam (an expert in the nine kinds of Sanskrit grammar, wealthy of words, a treasure house of celibacy)--all such attributes to him, also match precisely for this man, right?

Among them, it is the 'balam' that specifically comes to attention here.

*** *** ***

One day during that Chennai camp when Acharyapada was staying in Mambalam.

Those who sought him that day were in large numbers.

In addition to giving them interiews, he also performed an elaborate, vidhivat (according to rules) puja; and then he himself sought other devotees and visited the surroundings.

Unceasing work with no shrama parihAra (rest) even for a short while after bhikSA (food).

veLi saMcAram (visiting places) even after the night puja. When he returned to the jAkai (residence), a crowd of devotees--'petitioners'--even at that time of ten-thirty.

Our Gurunathar who is an avatara highlighting the greatness of patience, accepted the 'petitions' with kindness, grace and compassion, and recommended parihAra (remedies).

When all the crowd dispersed, it was twelve o' clock. Did he go to sleep at least then? Hmm-hmm!

The thought of 'duty' even at that time! A sadA kAla (all-time) 'duty' that knew of no 'shifts'! The duty of having come for dharma abhivRdhi (growth of dharma) that he spoke about earlier!

SriCharanaaL who was full of cintA (care) for the vRddhi (growth) of Veda Dharma had at that time started intense plans to protect and give the Vedas to the posterity.

On that day, Sri Agnihotram Ramanuja Thathacharia Swamy, the vedavid (a Vedic pundit) who worked tirelessly for Periyavaa's Vedic dharma plans, had come to the MaTham.

Even in that midnight, without going for nidrA (sleep), SriCharaNar sent word for him. And started serving him the thoughts of Veda Dharma Paripalam that were swelling within his holy mind.

Talking about this, Sri Thathacharia says, "Just in the way of discussing the sAmAnya kAryas (ordinary things) that should go on in the Lokam (world), he explained the sUkSma tat-tvas (subtle principles) of our matha granthas (religious texts). The pace of this rasa anubhavam (nourishing experience) is unique. I got immersed in the anAnda sAgaram (ocean of delight) with no idea of the passage of time. Since he is a tat-tvam past the time, no one would remember the passage of time when talking to him."

The conversation went long and past the late night time of three-thirty when SriCharanaaL usually gets up.

With the intention of leaning for a while to rest and then start the next day's nityappadi (daily affairs), he started for his private shelter. "Carrying his daNDam, kamaNDalu (staff, water-jar) both by himself, when he moved away, it seemed that the very Dharama Devata walked; I followed him", says Agnihotram Swamy.

In that distance, at that hour (called the 'unearthly hour' in English), an AmmaaL came interrupting his progress, with an infant in her hands! A young woman was after her.

Thinking how this woman is causing himsa (disturbance) to the sage who was awake all night coversing until his tongue was dry and then retired to have some rest, Agnihotram moved to block her but she moved even more quickly, kept the infant at the holy feet of the sage, prostrated and started talking.

Agnihotram Swamy could not hold back. "Emma, should not PeriyavaaL have any rest?", he started.

Without minding his words, AmmaaL asked her daughter also to prostrate and started talking vigourously. The young woman who gave birth to the infant only recently was leaving for her husband's home in Bombay by the Bombay Express train that morning. Since they wanted to have PeriyavaaL's anugraham before her going, it so happened that they had to give shrama in akAla (untimely hour)!

"For one born as woman, in the avasaram (occasion, hurry) of leaving the place at this akAlam, if you people have come running here carrying the kozhandai (child) as well, only you have experienced the shramam", said the karuNAmUrti!

He gave Agnihotram Swamy with a meaningful look and a smile. That smile seemed to indicate Acharyapada's appreciation for both the Swamy's karisanam (affection) in PeriyavaaL's bodily welfare and the AmmaaL's bhakti svAdhIna (devotional self control and power) in having accomplished her wish despite the Swamy's efforts of blocking it.

He sat down there itself. And sent Agnihotram Swamy himself who interrupted the woman from interrupting the sage, to get inside and bring prasAdam for the visitors. Swamy says, "He created an opportunity to grace the adiyArs (devotees) without any hindrance from me!" It would after all take time for one who is not an employee of the MaTham to gather and bring the prasAdam at that time?

When the prasAdam came, he distributed it to the women devotees with an extra compassion. Their mental satisfaction showing in their very appearance, they took leave in delight.

And then Acharyapada explained to Agnihotram Swamy that the latter should never think it was a disturbance when devotees come to him, nobody need to block those that seek him for comfort, what appears as disturbance to the disciples is actually a balamUtti (strenth invigorator) for him, and how it is so.

This is also included in the subject of the aruLvAkku (words of grace) found in the beginning of this essay.

Having heard PeriyavaaL's explanation, Swamy says, "I cannot put in words the feelings that came to me. I was immersed for sometime in the ocean of love of Brahmananda."

*** *** ***

mahanIya - mfn. to be honoured, praiseworthy, illustrious, glorious
vidhivat - according to rule, duly
pages 110-119 (concluding part)

It is needless to say that PeriyavaaL was a satyasantar (truthful man). Is he not the one merged in the only Satyam in reality? Still, when That which is One in truth appears many, in different stages and in different mano bhAva (mental states) it takes forms as several satyas! Our spiritual elders show us that BaghavatpadaaL himself has given us many paths suitable to these truths in different states in the world of vyavahAra (general life) and lead us through them to the eka satyam (One Truth)? In this visible vyavahAra lokam, Maha Paramesvara came us our PeriyavaaL in order to take a simple avatar. Although at that time he realized within himself as one past the humanity, in the outwardly visible kArya lokam (world of activities), he identified himself as a simple man. In that state of simplicity, in that simple mano bhAva whatever appears as satyam is that PeriyavaaL conveyed to us.

For one who was flawless, he played his role in this world and then passed away, with two kinds of inadequacies surrounding and entering it! The one that surrounded him was the inadequacy that people always supplicated to him. The other that seemed to have entered him was that he identified himself as a part of the flawed humanity!

It was in this latter manner that he expressed above about himself!

SriSankaraBhagavatPada would say that no one can refute the svAnubhUti (self-experience) of a person. In that way, we as his countless devotees--though we can't express our feelings in the great name of 'bhakti'--the svaya anubhava satyam (self-experienced truth) about Acharyaswamy that we have in pratyakSa (distinctly) felt deeply inside, even he can't refute it! Therefore, we need only to refuse to accept here in bhakti svadIna (devotional self control) whatever he said about himself above!

Should we not refute it in the reality of our own feelings when he says that we think him as a deivasaktar (divinely capable) only due to his background and come to him? Those who go to him because he carries the great name of Sankaracharya and is the SriSarada MaThAdhipati (pontiff) of the great Kamakoti PiTham would be a very small minority. The other vast majority of us go to him only because of him. Though we cannot explain it in exact terms, it was some mahima (greatness) in him that has attracted this many lakhs and crores of people to him. The entire jagat (world) has been attracted to him only due to the great magnetic waves that he spread as his own due to some unidentifiable, unique greatness in him that comprised his jnAna-bhakti-karmAnuSTAna tapo mahima (greaness of knowledge, devotion and devotional action), his buddhi mahima (greatness of wisdom), vAkku manima (greatness of speech) and the karuNA-prema mahima (greatness of love and compassion) that surpassed all other greatnesses. As directly opposed to what he says, there are those who had honourable opinion and faithful devotion on Sankara and Sankara PITham only because of his connection with them!

All his learning as 'katRatu kaimmaN aLavutAn' ('all that learned is only a handful of sand') just an atisayokti (hyperbole)?! If that be so, are all those words spoken with awe of his medhA vilAsam (all round knowledge) by these many Vedic Shastra pandits, experts of other religions, scientists, political nipuNas (well-versed), historians, legal experts, music artistes, poets, dance artistes, skilled in sculpture and painting, famous business people, thus experts from all areas--some of them appreciating the new knowledge that he gave them in their fields--just rhetoric?

Their rahasya kaSTas (very personal afflictions) that the son to his mother who gave him birth, or the priya patni (affectionate wife) to her bharta (husband) would hesitate to speak about, if they express such things to him and it is due to his background, should we not refute it strongly? Are there not other Swamiyaars with such background? Why don't these people who keep their afflictions secret go and surround them?

"I have not done anything."--We shall come to it later. That which he prefixes to it, "Nothing except lending this ear to them." In that let us first look at the message that the ear gives.

Who can in that way lend ears anavarata (incessantly) to lists of wants and afflictions? Even Bhuma Devi who is the form of patience will fall down bored at such task! From three-thirty in the morning until midnight, in addition to keeping aside many of his tasks so as to listen to supplications, his accepting with love and patience the ceaseless troubles of our interrupting him repeatedly during his other work and giving incessant petitions, who can do it?

What silly, absurd and meaningless supplications have we made to him? Even inadvertently has he ever called them silly, absurd or meaningless? When someone else called them so, that sarva bhUta hRdaya bandhu (relation by heart with all beings) who empathized with everyone's kaSTa (affliction) would only check it saying, "Only that person knows his difficulty. If we are in that sthiti (state) even we would pray only in that way"?

Veda Mata has praised Paramatman as the crest of several endowments of good temperaments, giving him superlative and best epithets. One of them is 'su-shravastama' (one who listens well). That 'su-shravastama mUrti' is our PeriyavaaL.

After three-thirty, one day.

"No one is there?", SriCharaNar inquires. The inquiry is to whether anyone of the supplicating army is still left to attend to.

That pAriSada (attendant) who took over as his 'turn' of serving the sage only recently, says that there is none.

PeriyavaaL who was sitting on his feet, rests both his hands on the ground between his feet in a way that is beautifully unique to him, gives a lovely smile and says to the attendant, "inimetAn en kAryam! enna sollu (only from now on my routine! Tell me, what)?"

Upset over that remark, the attendant asks him, "Periyavaa's bhikSA is not yet had?"

His smile blossming more, SriCharaNar curls his index finger to his left and with that abhinayam (gesture) makes the kiMkara (attendant) understand his kAryam before bhikSA. Yes, his abhinayas would talk better than speech!

"Japam?", says the kiMkara.

With that same good smiling face SriCharaNar repeats the same abhinayam.

Dismayed, the kiMkara says, "snAnam (bath)?"

That same abhinaya once again.

Unable to understand, the kiMkara keeps looking at PeriyavaaL.

His mandahAsam (smile) gradually expanding into pUrNahAsam (an open smile), SriCharaNar changes his abhinayam.

He moves his index finger near his mouth, this way and that.

Shocked, the kiMkara is in a hurry: "Not brushed teeth yet?"

Expressing yes with an abhinayam, the strange su-shravastama got up to go for brushing his teeth, happily asserting, "Only today like the Odaacheri SwamigaL I remain as a nija sanyAsin (real ascetic) without any timetable, 'letting things happen as they would'."

He says that only on this one occasion he is a nija sanyAsin like the Odaacheri SwamigaL, is he then a poli sanyAsin (spurious ascetic) at other times?

Let it go! Since that nija sanyAsatvam was a pErAnanda (great bliss) soaked inside, that SwamigaL remained without a timetable, unmindful of external things. Whereas this man has cancelled his timetable only to listen to the wants, afflictions and absurdities unwrapped by rows and rows of people who sought him? Will that nija sanyAsin be able to tolerate even a fraction of this trouble?

On that early morning--or rather the previous day's late evening to put it precisely--at three-thirty when SriCharaNar returned from the 'koTTAkai' (washroom), some 'urgent petitioner' had arrived. The su-shravastama too sat down to listen to him! When that petitioner supplicated and took leave, there was another, then two more, few more and then several more--thus the flow of petitioners swelled, and the su-shravastama forgot all about his kAryas including brushing his teeth, and kept listening, listening and listening...and after all that listening, now at three-thirty in the afternoon, inqiures, "No one is there?"!

The sAdhanA (achievement) of a twelve-hour, non-stop listening. Only the Guinness Book record should be given for that! And for one who did it, he says simply, "Nothing except lending this ear"! Who can do this kind of listening to, Swami?

An incident that happened several times. After finishing his tight work, SriCharanaaL would have just gone for some vishrAnti (repose).

The kiMkaras would tell the bhaktas who come at that time, "PeriyavaaL cannot be disturbed now." The devotees too would be about to go back, unwillingly.

Precisely at that time, PeriyavaaL would come from inside his room! Or would speak out remaining inside--"Anyone has come?", "Seems someone came!", "The shadow was there, who came?", "Call those people"--something in this way and would again start the paTalam (chapter) of abating afflictions that he considered as the real parihAra (remedy) for his shrama (exertions)!

He would tell the kiMkaras, "You people think of my shrama? Do also think about the shrama of those who come here! Don't they come from wheresoever places, leaving all their affairs, spending time and money, and getting knocked about in the rush inside the bus and the train! Many of them might have some avasara jOli (urgent work) and need to get back forthwith. Saying that it is (the time of) shrama parihAram for me, can we send back those people, breaking their heart and increasing their own shrama?"

We often heard about the saying 'piRarkk-uriyALar, piRarkk-uriyALar' (who belongs to the others), PeriyavaaL is only the molded form of it!

He says that he just listens to whatever is expressed to him! And after that, "I have not done anything."

SwamigaLE, we would never accept it! From our silly supplications to the Atma sAkSAtkAra prArthanA (prayer for Self-Realization), all those countless varieties of supplications have been fulfilled just by your lending your ear to them! For how many thousands of people have their thousand prayers each have been fulfilled thus!

Your saying that for the petitioners what they prayed for based on their faith gets siddha (accomplished) is too little when looked at with you as the centre; and too much when looked at with us as the centre! For only we know about what we are?--For us who are of saMcala buddhi (agitating mind) and saMSayAtmas (irresolute, uncertain souls), there is no such faith for us!

The experience stories of his devotees published in hundreds of books and magazines would prove for all the three times that Sri Maha PeriyavaaL remained as a matchless Chakravarti (emperor) not only in listening to afflictions but also in removing them.

"hari tuma haro jana kI bhIra" ("Removes the afflictions of people, my Lord!")--Meera prayed thus. Hari means a thief, a thief of the hearts. Mother Meera prayed, that Hari should do apaharaNa (rob) of the people's afflictions. He takes avatar now and again to do just that. There is not even an iota of doubt that SriCharaNaaL is one among the maha puruSa (great men) who have come in this way.

For one who has received the mahA balam (mighty strength) of such divya karuNa (divine compassion), he says that the afflictions chapter of the people is what gives him strength!

Remaining 'AmbaaL, AmbaaL' always, he became the very AmbaaL himself. Only She is the bala mUla (root of strength) bearing the name Shakti? If this shaktimaya says that he receives his strength from us who are asakta (weak), it is not for us 'to lend our ears to it'!

For one who never reveals his inner experiences, it has come from his own mouth in contrast to the custom that his sharIraM (body) and life are acquired only for lessening the burden of afflictions of the people? That should only mean that his is not an ordinary nara (human) birth, only an avatar of the karuNa shakti which is the mightiest of the powers?

Even looking at him as a nara shreSTa (best human) instead of a divine avatara, his jnAna-bhakti-karmAnuSTAna tapo balam, buddhi balam, vAkku balam and the karuNA-prema balam that surpasses these other strengths--aren't these asAdhAraNa (extraordinary)?

Tennyson sang:

"My strength is as the strength of ten
Because my heart is pure."

Whereas PeriyavaaL who was the sweet form of that hRdaya shuddha (purity of heart) remained as one who had the strength of a thousand elephants. It was only with that strength could that puny-bodied perform the very disciplined and difficult karma yoga for over eighty years.

In his nara-lIla, looking at the trend of the current time when at times he felt a little weakened in his efforts at the thought of what would happen to Astikam (God faith) in future, the petitions-based divine faith has given him strength over the weakness he felt--we can only have it this way and not consent to his saying that only that was his entire strength!

As the saying 'nirbal ke bal Ram' (Sri Ram is the provider of strength to the weak and downtrodden) goes, only he remains as the strength for us his devotees.

That is not sharIra balam (bodily strength), only Atma balam (strength of the soul). The balam of love that eka Atma (the One Spirit) takes in its dvaita lIla (sport of duality). That strength of love is one that remains imperishable after the body perishes. That would be the strength for us always.

We started this essay with the title 'en balam'. Realizing with a heart filled with happiness that the one who said it is our strength, let us end this essay!

anavarata - incessant, uninterrupted, continual
jOli - (Tamil) work, occupation, affairs
nipuNa - clever, skilful; versed in, familiar with, skilled in, conversant with
saMSaya - uncertainty, irresolution, hesitation, doubt in or of
svAdhIna - self-dependent, free; under one's own control, subject to one's own will.

oLiyudan oru nAL (A Day with the Light)
author:....... Raa. Ganapathi
source:....... maitrIm bhajata, pages 120-182
publisher:.... Divya Vidya Padhippaham (Aug. 2006 Edition)
type:......... book, Tamil

Pages 120-125

Here is a look at a day in the life of KAnchi ParamAchArya, as narrated by his staunch devotee and inimitable author Sri Raa. Ganapathy in his book 'maitrIm bhajata'.

It's a long account extending over 60 pages. As usual, I shall try to serve this prasAdam by the only way I can do it--in smaller instalments.
-- saidevo

Arjuna had the desire to know how would one anchored in jnAnA be, how would he talk, how would he sit and walk and do such things (in his daily life). Such a desire is one that could commonly arise in every one of us. And when we start knowing it, that holy fount would wash our dirts a little.

How would our JnAnaGuru, who is a jnAna niSTA (always established in wisdom), be? How would he talk, remaining full of peace in unity, full of love in duality? How would he sit, so closely, unassumingly? How would he walk, in countless poses? As hamsa (swan), also as the pArasika ashva (Persian horse)?

How can it all be told in such a few words? Alright, let us have a look at the daily affairs of our Acharya KamakotigaL in an orderly way. On the occasion of this holy Deepavali, let us reminisce on the nityappadi (daily affairs) of the JnAna Deepa OLi (lamp flame of knowledge). Isn't it that the grammar says of 'guru' as one who removes darkness?

The beats of the Nagaaraa drum in SriMaTham would rise in the air around four-thirty early morning, a time known as the Brahma MuhUrtam. It would be followed by the sounds of the Tangaa drum. The assistants would get up as this gaMbhIram (resonance) starts to engulf the atmosphere.

Even before them, with nobody except his antaranga kinkara (personal assistant) knowing when he got up, our Gurunathan would have awakened and finished his chore in the 'koTTAi' (washroom). 'To come back from the koTTAi' is the SriMaTham paribhAshA (slang) for 'he is back from the washroom, after answering his nature's call.

When he goes for that, the way he stands wrapping his vastram (cloth) over his head in a summAdu (turban), as according to the Shastras, would be a pose of grace!

After answering the nature's call, he would do unerringly the act of cleaning himself with sand and water, known as mRttikA shuddhi, and the act of gargling his mouth, the exact number of times mentioned in the Shastras--the pEr-anubhUtimAn (great man of knowledge) who is past sakala shAstras!

Even his getting up in the morning should be in a Shastric time. "A muhUrta kAlam is 48 nimiSam (minute). The brahma muhUrtam starts three muhUrtas before the sUryOdayam (sunrise). Thus if the udayam is at six o' clock, brahma muhUrtam would start at 3:36 hours. It would be a dosham (deficiency) if one does not get up even after it starts."--From these words of his, we can do the anumAna (inference) that he gets up either at three-thirty or even earlier (in the morning).

We should stress the word anumAna because he would never on the maximum be explicit about the things concerning him; we should understand only by anumAna!

Our Acharya SwamigaL is a strange mixture! Looking at the simplicity of how he moves with everyone from the parama pAmarar (simple rustic), weaving himself through them with an open heart, we know that he is completely without the qualities of obstinacy and reticence. We have the happiness of knowing with utter clarity that personification of purity and simplicity who is crystal clear in his manners.

But then even within that crystal clarity what amount of thievish secrecy?

I have titled this account 'oLiyudan oru nAL'. Light not only shows up other things clearly, but is itself clearly visible. It is that quality which makes the other things known clearly. Since the katturai nAyakar (hero of this essay) is like that light, this title (for the account on him).

But then strangely, this oLiyudan oru nAL will also be oLivudan oru nAL (A Day with the Veil)!

Why one day, even for those who spent their entire life in his service, he has remained in a veil so they would never know about the jIvAdhara viSaya (life supporting details) concerning him!

Another strange thing lends its trace here. We would all keep hidden our shortcomings, errors and ordinary human tendencies. We would let out and take pride of our skills and about anything good we have done. We would showcase our skills and good deeds, even imagining about them.

Such lowly shortcomings as ours are never possessed by that mahA mEru (the great Mount Meru). Still, when he looks at himself from the lofty state of that Meru, it seems to him that what he does and how he is have a few-many shortcomings. He would be natural and explicit about such shortcomings on his part.

Whether an avatar, or the one who is born as a man and raised himself to the status of divinity through sAdhana and Grace, whoever it is, there are some human tendencies that are part of the human vesture that is worn by him. There are numerous indications for this in the life of avatars and other mahaans (great men). In that way, SriCharaNar would explicitly and naturally speak about his own tendencies so the people around him would know about them.

But then he would completely hide his skills, his wonderfully sublime tendencies and the good deeds that he did!

He would never speak about the jnAna pEranubhavam, the bhakti pEranubhavam (great experiences of knowledge and devotion) he had.

Not only that. As the peak of his good deeds, the great experiences of wisdom and devotion that he confer on some of his devotees--even those he would do remaining in a veil, never revealing that he did them!

He would never speak about his vidvat mahimA (greatness of knowledge) either.

Thus within the play of veil that he enacts in many ways, he would also not explicity show the wonderfully sublime tendencies related to the path that he travels, which is paved to the atom with the rules of the Shastras. He would not open his mouth to say that all he does from the time he gets up to the time he retires are only shAstrAcara (according to the Shastras).

Nevertheless, unlike the matters of knowledge and devotion, since this dharmAcara viSaya (matters relating to dharma) that fall under the Karma Yoga path, have their dealings with the outer world, we have the fortune of seeing well without any veil, in kArya rUpam (form of action), at least the one speciality of his shAstrAnuSTAnam (adherence to Shastras).

That guides us in such a path at least to some extent. And it prompts us to have a reverential attitude towards that path and feel self-pity for our inability to go that way.

If we keenly look at his andRAdam (daily life) with a feeling of devotion, we could infer the inner depth of some of what he does and feel happy about it, keeping well in mind that a day with the light is also a day with the veil.

anubhUti - perception; knowledge from any source but memory; (in phil.) knowledge gained by means of the four pramANas (perception by the senses, inference, comparison, and verbal authority); dignity, consequence.

anumAna - the act of inferring or drawing a conclusion from given premises; inference, consideration, reflection; guess, conjecture; one of the means of obtaining true knowledge.

sarala - candid, honest, straight, direct

Pages 125-128

For many other things, however, we can only infer about them much later, when some day we meet with their effects.

For example, we watch with our own eyes that he listens to numerous supplications from people day after day. We also watch with clarity, listen and celebrate how he listens to all the supplications, from the most naive to the loftiest, with utter compassion and utmost sympathy, and tells solutions, taking into account what is sAdhya (possible) and what is svabhavikA (natural) for each person.

But then the solution he says with his mouth later becomes for those devotees an actuality, made possible by his kRupA shakti (power of compassion) that entered into it a thousand times more powerfully than his verbal solution!

And this will be revealed by inference only to the devotee who received the solution from him. It will never be known to another person who is watching it today, standing next to the devotee!

It is not with such big matters of anugraha; even in small things such as brushing the teeth that is done by everyone, he would hide his speciality and let it be known only by inference.

After he is back from the 'koTTAi' (washroom), his next chore would be brushing the teeth. He would do it as the very danta dhAvana samaskAra of the Shastras, selecting only those twigs that are allowed, and gorgling only that many times as ordained.

One particular tree belonging to the milky and thorny variety, and is recommended as the best for brushing the teeth with, was found in a place where he camped. During those days he was there, PeriyavaaL would do his danta dhAvana using its twigs daily.

A kinkara (assistant) one day tried to brush his teeth with such a twig. After that he could hardly take his food for a week! So much bitter was that twig.

For PeriyavaaL however, that bitterness was not felt at all! So he had not mentioned about it to his assistants, when using the twigs of that tree for many days for brushing his teeth. From this incident, the kinkara inferred about the sage's jitendriyatva (the ability of subjugation of the senses)!

*** *** ***

I said that only his antaranga kinkara (personal assistant) would know when PeriyavaaL gets up in the morning. Saying that would not mean that he was sleeping before he opened his eyes and got up! The personal assistant only knew when he got up, not when he awakened. Whether he would sleep before getting up or just stay in a sleepless state, only he knows.

Even at that time of early morning when he gets up before dawn after lying down in his mEnA (palanquin) or other kIkkidam (narrow place), a small growd would start forming around him with the yearning 'let this dawn be the time of dawn for our life too'. The KaruNalayar who took avatar to bless crores of people with soft words, would give them his blessing.

adAdA, what difference between the hero of this essay and its author! That Karmayogi of compassion would start his task of giving blessings as soon as he awakens to the outer world from his real sleep or sleepless state whatever, even before the first crowd of people gather around him. The author has failed to inform as such in writing the act of his blessing that the hero of this essay had as his daily practice!

Yes, this task of compassion would start even before he gets up and goes to the 'koTTAi'.

Is he not the holy figure of simplicity and concealment? Therefore he would not mostly show his blessings as the blessings he gives. Instead, he would disguise them as his own act of prayer for the sake of his praying devotee.

In that manner, after he awakens daily, as a first task he would say the prArthanA shlokA (prayer verse) that seeks sarva jana kSema (welfare of all people), with a mellow heart.

Sarve bhavantu sukhinah
Sarve santu niraamayaah |
Sarve bhadraani pashyantu
Maakaschit duhkha bhaag bhavet ||

May all be happy! (sukhinah)
May all be free from disabilities! (niraamayaah)
May all look (pashyantu) to the good of others!
May none suffer from sorrow! (duhkha)

Occasionally, this shlokA would come out of his mouth audibly. On other days, this prArthanA would take place only within his mind, in his typical way of veiling things about him.

An assistant who happened to listen to his audible chant of this shlokA one day had requested the sage to teach him the shlokA. PeriyavaaL had said then, "Oho, did I tell it audibly today?"

shrEyO bhUyAt sakala janAnAnAm! (May the whole of humanity attain excellence!) is not just the concluding line of his song of blessings to the United Nations Organization. He is the shrEyo nidhi, Ashraya nidhi who always keeps it in his thoughts.

Thus, even before the shAstra pUrva kArya kramam (routine of scriptures) starts, the karuNA pUrva kArya kramam (routine of compassion) would start!

Is there any start, or end? Don't the North Indian musicians have a double tambura sruti--a tambura for pancamam and another for madhyamam? In a like manner, throughout his life of euphony and harmony (isai, isaivu), a tambura for advaita jnAnam and another tambura for dvaita karuNai have incessantly been buzzing as the AdhAra sruti (basic note)!

*** *** ***

dhAvana - washing, cleaning, rubbing off.
jitendriya - an ascetic, subjugation of the senses, having suppressed the organs of sense.
Pages 128-133

After listening to the grievances of his adiyArs (devotees) and giving them solutions, he would take his tiru-muzhukkAdu (holy bath).

PeriyavaaL would do the mukkAla snAnam (bathing at three times in a day): in the early morning as prAtaH snAnam; mAdhyAnihakaH snAnam before noon; sAyaMkAlaH snAnam in the evening.

In the time between a snAnam and the puja that follows it, SriCharaNar would converse only in Sanskrit. He would speak that divine language as his mother tongue. When he handles our mother tongue Tamil, his mother tongue Kannada, and some other Indian languages Telugu, Hindi, and Marathi, why even English--as his mother tongue, what to say of the grace of his speaking that divine language? The style of his speaking that language would be as simple as his simple life. In addition, it is also the language of kindness that flows from his heart! So everyone would understand it. Where it is not understood, an assitant would translate it.

There are people who think 'what is wrong in speaking in languages other than Sanskrit? Should there be shAstram, sampradAyam even in these things?'

If we look at how a day of PeriyavaaL's passes, there will be many things that he does in the shAstrokta (scriptural) way. Though he is an advaita anubhUtimAn inside, what is visible to the outer world is only his dharma shAstra Ashrayam (patronage of dharma Shastras). It is this external conduct that appears important to us in his dinacharya (daily routine). Therefore we must apprise those who raise questions about him of a foundational subtlety concerning him. We should inform the questioners--why, everyone else too--about PeriyavaaL's 'individuality'.

In nature's laws under God's creation of the world, there will be something that is of an opposite nature. Our PeriyavaaL would also say, "There must and will be pairs of opposites." He would say that the anti-body, anti-atom of the scientists and such inevitable opposite force appears to be an inevitable part of the lIlAnanda (joy of sport) of God's creative principles.

In His unintelligible lIlA in the present shakApta (era) of the Kali Yuga, God has given, generally for the entire mankind, the propensity to kick out even moral disciplinary bindings in the name of freedom! Under this trend, there are so many people who either totally reject the bindings of religion and scriptures without looking at the good and bad in them, or choose from them only what seems good based on their buddhi (intelligence) and saukaryam (easeness) to follow, and avoid everything else as not good. Should there not be an opposite even for this trend? Therefore, there must be some others who would completely accept the bindings of religion and scriptures without thinking about the good and bad in them. Indeed there are some people who are such. But then circumstances pressurize them to be unable to show in practice what they have completely accepted in mind.

In such a state, did not Lord Shiva restore the balance with the opposiite force of a kuRumuni (diminutive saint) who looked small in form, when the balance of the earth was upset by the inhabitants of the three worlds assembling at the Himalayas during His holy marriage? In the same way, He has brought about the happening of the avatara of our Guru Munivar, who has a diminutive form, to withstand as opposite force, all the Acara kattukkulaivu (loosening of the binding rules of conduct) that takes place, sarva vyapakam (prevalent everywhere) in the world today.

In this, God has also expressed his lIla caturam (dexterity of sport) in another way! Talking about a siddhAnta (doctrine) in the name of samatvam (equality), today's world is giving up many of the precepts of Acaram. In reality, however, there is no sarva jana sama prema (equal love for all the people) in anyone's heart. For this trend too, God has made as an opposite force, our Acharya SwamigaL who has sarva jana sama prema in his heart only to remain as an AcAra mUrti (icon of traditional conduct) who shows no samatvam but only differences outwardly!

As we saw earlier, while we all hide our shortcomings he hides his fullness acting as an opposite pole! God has made him as a rUpam (form) who as an opposing force, belittles himself openly to the world where it has become a rule for people to exaggerate themselves. Perhaps the Agastya of the ancient days and the Acharya Peruman of today remain diminutive in form, to highlight the greatness of simplicity seen in their smallness.

It is not that there are no other pontiffs or heads of ashrams who eminently follow the rules of Acaram. But then even they consider it necessary to be flexible in the pressure of circumstances and they do remain flexible at such times. The modern world gives them the certificate that they have the broad-mindedness to accommodate the needs of the times. But they are not sufficient to create the balance as the opposing force. Without any question about time, need, good or bad, only SriCharaNar remains in this utpAda (upright) position, taking avatar to keep up the rule of the Shastras and balance the world from gong awry.

This is his individuality. God has sent him as an individual who keeps up the Principle of Shastras cent per cent, while all the other religious leaders remain as adherents in a lesser or larger way, of what is termed as the principle of progress. There is no puNya (good) in asking 'whether in today's circumstances, widows relinquishing their hair, brahmins remaining without crossing the sea, and such other things are needed, are they possible? Reestablishing the varNa dharma can be a possibility even in dream or imagination? Why is he holding on tightly to all such things?' If there is someone who completely rejects the rules of the Shastras, only when there is another who completely regards them as necessary, will the natural balance of Ishvara niyati (divine order) be kept and the world will be saved from derailing. If the disease is acute, its treatment would also be acute? Parashakti has enacted her play of keeping the balance with just one vyakti (individual) who possesses aparimita (limitless) spiritual power! He is an individual who has come in that way.

What is it that we refer to as the 'spiritual power'? Only love! In his external activities of observing the rules, it is true that he takes some people as suitable for certain things and rejects many others as not suitable for those things. In his heart, however, he is the one who showers love in vishva vyapakam (omnipresence) without rejecting anybody.

Only because of that visheSha (speciality), all the people in this world of freedom adore this strict disciplinarian as 'whatever said and done, he is a great man'!

*** *** ***

AshrayaH - patron, supporter, resting place, asylum, place of refuge
catura - dexterous, clever, ingenious, shrewd, charming, agreeable
utpAda - coming forth, birth, standing on legs, having the legs stretched out
Pages 133-137

Our Gurunathar is one who does everything according to the Shastras. As for our Shastras, they have given precepts for everything, including the dAmpatyam (husband-wife intimacy) considered parama laukikam (completely worldly), with the purpose of making every act fit for the Atma shreyas (liberation of soul). Sri Periyavaa is one who observes in an unblemished manner all the precepts given in them for a renunciate who is a maThadhipati (pontiff).

People ask about why so much Achara bindings for an Advaitin. In reality, however, only a true advaita anubhUtimAn (one established in Advaita) can observe all the (Achara) bindings and show that it can be done. In Dvaita, the mind will always remain. Only when it is present, can the duality of another thing be experienced (right)? When mind comes up, with that in Dvaita comes the inevitable difference in perception. And if that comes up, then likes and dislikes would surely follow. The mind does not like to be bound. When there are likes and dislikes, even if it a question of the Shastras, the two would stand up for a clash. The Advaitin has no illusion of the mind as the Self. He is one who has realized that he is the unbound Atma. He plays in the Dvaitic world only with a disguise that appears to us as his mind. He has no perception of differences. He looks at everything as one. So the one that appears as mind would accept whatever comes by, without liking or disliking it. Since it does not reject anything, it would accept anything that comes by.

In the kolam (state) of Kali, when everyone rejects the bindings of Shastras, to compensate and balance it, the responsible position of a Jagadguru was given to our anubhUtimAn. He is the one who has already realized the boundless Atma svatantra (freedom of the soul)! Therefore he shows the disguise that is his mind as the one that obeys all the bindings.

*** *** ***

We saw about his mukkAla snAnam (bathing at three times in a day). Even that snAnam is shAstravat (according to Shastras)! He does it according to the precept that the bather should not scoop up water and pour it over him; instead he should immerse himself in the water. This is known as avakAhaha snAnam.

When he camps in places where there is a river or a pond, this is done without any difficulty. In places where this facility is not there, water will be drawn from a well and poured into a large tub. If there is no such tub available, a new tub for this purpose would be built. If the well itself is not there, even a new one will be dug. There is no puNya (good) in the 'progressive thinkers' curving up their faces!

[On the occasion of SriCharaNar's camp during 1932 in the Mylai Sanskrit College, the well that was there was converted into a taDAkam (tank). It bears the name 'Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Tirtham'.]

He would recite the aghamarshaNa sUkta (recited for ablution) and other mantras that are to be recited at bath time while taking bath.

After that vastra dhAraNam, vibhUti dhAraNam, japa mAla(s) dhAraNam (wearing of clothes, holy ash and rosaries).

There is no one who has not praised it; none who has not prostrated to him. The kAshayAmbara (saffron-clad) giving darshan as the very form of the paripUraNa (fullness) of parishuddha (purity), with vibhUti on his forehead, kANDikA on his neck, Kamandalu in one hand and the dhandam in the other, held as the scepter of Sanatana Dharma!*

The (onlooker's) mind will only say 'ParamaSivan, ParamaSivan' in that dharshan that PeriyavaaL who is the prema dIpam gives blending his Jnanagni and Achara jvAla (the flame of Acharas, referred to as neruppu (fire) in common parlance)!

In the morning, a vedavid (a Vedic pundit) would perform the puja in the ChandraMauleesvara Sannidhi for the kArAmpasu that is reared for this purpose in SriMaTham. Our Gurunathan who is like GoLakshmi that comes carrying its burden of compassionate nectar, would also be present at the time of this Go-puja (puja to the cow) in nirmala svarUpam (spotless form), after his bath, his already pure frame purified more by his bath. He would worship the cow that gives the nectar to perform abhiSheka (ablution) for Ishvara who is the VisvaNathan (lord of the universe). An illustration for what Lalitha SahasraNamam utters in adjacent terms as Gurumurti, Gunanidhi, Gomatha[/i]!**

The cow is beauty mixed with simplicity. The elephant is beauty mixed with majesty. After the Go-puja, the Gaja-puja would be held.

After this, our Gurunathan would finish his morning anuSTAnas (religious practices). The avatara who came to do pratiSTAbanam (establishment) of anuSTAnas! To talk of niSTai (meditation), only what he does is niSTai. If the Lokacharya who takes all the worldly affairs into his ears and gives solutions for them sits in an hour's japam, for that one hour, the world would totally slip away from him. Though it is referred to as 'an hour of japam', he would then be totally immersed in his Atman that is Brahman and is the root of the japam and dhyAnam. In other words he would be one with the ParamPoruL (Absolute Reality). Exactly an hour later, he would open his eyes. Even to put it that way is wrong. To say that he 'would open his eyes' would mean that he would be closing his eyes during his niSTai? That might not be the case. If our Gurunathan starts his niSTai with his eyes open, he would remain in the same state for that entire hour. His eyelids would not wink even for a fraction of a second. Whatever lights play before him, his eyes would not move; they would remain like the netrAs in a chitra (eyes in a painting).

Once when our Gurunathan was doing his japam, a pAriSada (attendant) who came to the place felt like having set his foot on a snake. This was because opposite our Gurunathar and very near to him a cobra lay coiled, raising its head, its hood in full spread before the sage's face, and its eyes looking at the sage's eyes. His eyes were open too, but they neither looked nor moved. Withdrawing silently, the pAriSada brought a cane basket, deftly inverted it and covered the snake. In addition, he kept standing there, to ensure that our Gurunathan did not accidentally open the basket after his niSTai dissolved. We have seen a similar later day's event in an earlier essay.

* In Tirumantiram, Saint Tirumular describes the insignia of the Siva yogin:

To smear holy ashes is the first step to tapas.
Rings of copper in the ears,
And garland of rudraksha around the neck--
These, too, are other emblems
For Siva to reach.
Thus does the blemishless Siva yogin
For tapas prepare. Kundala for ears to adorn.
Kamandalu for water to hold.
Kandika for neck to fill,
A conch to blow, a bowl to beg,
And a kappara to hold the ashes,
The correct sandals and yogic seat,
The yoga sash and yoga staff--
These ten are the yogi's appurtenances.

Tirumantiram, Verse 1662 and 1664
(Holy Orders Of Sannyasa)

** The relevant passage in Lalitha SahasraNamam reads:
Darandolita dirghakshi darahaso jvalanmukhi
Gurumurtir gunanidhir gomata guhajanmabhuh .. 121

Darandolita dirghakshi: Who has shapely, wide and elongated eyes tremulous with mercy.
Darahaso jvalanmukhi: Whose face is lit with a gentle smile.
Gurumurtir: Who assumes the form of the Guru.
Gunanidhir: Who is a treasure house of virtues.
Gomata: Who is the source of speech.
Guhajanmabhuh: Who is the mother of Guha (Kartikeya).

kArAmpasu - (Tamil) a cow with black tongue and nipples
shreyas - good quality, virtue, virtuous deed, auspiciousness, blessing, Moksha
taDAka - a tank, pool, shore
appadiya ellam enn nygabathukku wanduthu;i remember all this,as countless times,the mahaswamigal has beckoned me,oh i miss his deha sariram,sabda anugraham,drishthi darshanam,anbay i am orphaned,sob sob :(
Pages 137-142

Another occasion, SriCharaNar is going to Tiruvottiyur from Tandaiyarpet (Tondiarpet). He is walking, holding onto a covered vehicle that looks like a cycle rickshaw. (It is true that SriCharaNar who is tenderness personified walks softly like Goddess Ambika, but during his saMcAra (wandering) in the outer world, he would only practice the king's style of walking. Look, how fast he moves on! While walking in this manner on the roads, if there happens to be a temple somewhere in the distance, it would be known somehow only to him. His sriCaraNAs (holy feet) would immediately get out of their sandals and start walking on the ground, observing the practice of reverence mentioned in the Shastras. The sandals he got rid of would be kicked several feet behind due to the fast pace of his walk!)

On that day, when he is thus walking towards Tiruvottiyur, a sudden loud noise that freezes the blood is heard. It takes sometime to understand what that amanuSya (not human) noise is due to. Some puppies got stuck under the wheels of a speeding bus. The noise was due to their wail in the last pangs of death. While the people in his retinue finally manage to assuage their feelings, SriCharaNar himself goes on walking like an ivory doll, without slipping away from his regular, straight path.

To the pAriSadas (attendant) who do their kaingaryam (service) to him, the other people share their wonder of the sage's acala (rock-like) state. A pAriSada who has some idea about the inner-depth of the sage says, "He wouldn't know anything about the happenings that the road we are walking now is Tiruvottiyur highway, that a bus went through this road or that the puppies got stuck in its wheels. He is in his one-hour japam."

It remains a wonder for us as to how one who has no consciousness of his physical self could direct his legs and walk.

If Adi Sankara prayed, "Let my sleep be samAdhi; all my saMcAra be my pradakSiNas", for our Abhinava Sankara even saMcAra becomes samAdhi!

The wonder of directing the physical body in a mechanical fashion has been given to Parama Jnanis even in the state where they experience only their Atma.

In the same way, we need to think that the feel of time even in this kala atIta (going beyond time) state, has also been somehow with him, because when that one hour is over, he would dissolve his niSTA (meditation) on the dot of a second.

If the time has not increased by an hour in the clock when he gets up from his niSTA, it would only mean that the clock is wrong. For one who was totally unconscious of the world for a duration of one hour, he would continue his conversation where he left it before his meditation, dragging on with the words, "...Hm, vandhu (now)".

Our Acharya Peruman who is skilled in his experience of the Inner Light, guarded his Ashcharya shaktis (surprising powers) in a secret manner! That in itself is an AshcaryaM! Notwithstanding, on rare occasions his powers that hold surprise and wonder (to the others) would unfold their petals just a little. When SriCharaNar comes to the feel of the outer world after dissolving his state of samAdhi, on some occasions some puzzling words that hold surprise to the onlooker would part and drop out of his mouth. He would utter, lisping like a child, the name of some place and some person there. The onlooker would have no idea of the person, and PeriyavaaL would quickly cut that thread. Later, the same person would come and stand for darshan or a letter would be received from him.

This is not an ordinary thing of surprise that we usually refer to. This should be said as a special surprise. Because in his niSTA he had been united with the Brahman, completely rejecting the world of maya; but then when he gets back to the outer world, if something about that world of maya comes out of his mouth...! Did they say without knowing that nothing concerning a Jnani could be known by another person as it is!

The bhAgyavantAs (fortunate) who know about his inner skills would only laugh, "Does this man do niSTA and then dissolove it? Such changes he displays in his state are only his play!" They would shed tears of joy asking, "Do you think that he is united with ParamporuL only during that one hour and is away from It during other times?" He is the one who has become the act and object of niSTA, crossing the stages of going into and dissolving niSTA.

In the same way that he walks and has the feel of time during the time of his niSTA that is known even to the rustic, he also attends to all the affairs in the outer world remaining in his inner life of anavarata niSTA (uninterrupted meditation)! That is what is talked about as jIvan mukti sthiti (the state of a liberated-while-living). It would be an apacAram (offense) to think that a Jivan Mukta stops at the state of his (external) acts because he does them. It is sahaja samAdhi (natural samAdhi) to remain in the state of samAdhi even during one's physical actions. To remain apart from physical acts while in samAdhi is kevala samAdhi (exclusive samAdhi). Like a child that sucks milk even in its sleep, a Jivan Mukta is seen engaging himself in his world affairs, always immersed in paramAnandam (complete bliss) of the paraveLi (trans-physical).

There is another simile here. To the simile that is told by a Sanskrit verse, our PatthinatthupPiLLai also has sung more or less identically. Those are the shloka and (Tamil) verse that PeriyavaaL fondly recites.

The mantra that Varaha Upanishad gives in the form of a shloka (verse):

pu~Nkhaanupu~Nkha vishhayekshaNa tatparo.api
brahmaavalokanadhiya.n na jahaati yogii .
sa~Ngiita taala laya vaadyavasha.n gataapi
maulistha kumbha parirakshaNa dhiir naTiiva .. 82..

82. As an actress, though subject (or dancing in harmony) to music, cymbals and other musical instruments of time, has her mind intent upon he protection of the pot on her head, so the Yogin, though intent for the time being upon the hosts of objects, never leaves off the mind contemplating on Brahman.

(Translation from: http://www.shastras.com/108upanishads/varaha/index.html)

PattinatthadigaL's song:

etthozhilaich cheitAlum etavatthaip pattAlum
mutthar manamirukkum monatthe! - vitthakamaik
kAthiviLai yadiiru kaivIsi vandAlum
tAthimana nIrkkudatthe tAn!

The AdigaLAr refers to the action of the women who carry pots of water that they bring from a river. When they walk away from the riverbank, even if they are playful and walk waving both their hands, their mind will always be on their pots.

"He has sung 'mutthar manamirukkum monatthe. irukkum or iRakkum (be or die) who knows?" said SriCharaNar.

We know by reading the biographies of some MahaPurushas that it was as difficult for them to come back from the nirvikalpa samAdhi, as it was to attain it getting united with the SatChitAnanda which is the real Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, after the mind processes and the mind itself fall away. It is said that those uttama vyaktis (lofty people) would remain in that state of samAdhi for days together! The others would have to catch hold and shake them violently, stopping short of beating them, in order to bring them back to the normal world!

Whereas in the case of our Gurunathan who is a Jivan Mukta who has attained the loftiest state, the getting into and later dissolution of niSTA happens very easily.

The cloud ascends the regions of the sky in seconds; and in seconds, it becomes rain and touches the earth. This is also a cloud. This is the cloud that gives to those who cannot withstand the heat and humidity, solace the moment its shadow falls on them and then spreads in the regions of the mind as abhaya hastam (the hand of protection), raining grace and blessings!

abhinava - quite new or young, very young, fresh; modern
anavaratam - uninterrupted, incessant
kevala - exclusive, only, mere, sole, isolated, simple, pure.
sthiti - standing, stopping, staying, remaining in or with; abode, place; situation, rank, dignity; devotion to or occupation with; stability, duration; firmness, constancy, existence, occurrence; state, condition; conduct, procedure; axiom, maxime, rule, custom, usage, boundary, limit; rectitude, virtue.
Pages 142-145

Gurunathan's greatness is to get into any state by just the thought of it. Even then, to a large extent he always takes delight in showing himself in the normal state with human qualities, away from those amAnushya (superhuman) states. He partakes this drama wonderfully because he can effortlessly throw away his apAra shaktis (boundless powers). If the worldly people are to have faith on themselves (for spiritual progress), the Acharyan should also be like them and guide them. If the Acharyan always stays in the amAnushya state so that the others think 'we cannot reach such a state', then how can the disciples get the self confidence that they too can progress? Of all the prasAdams our SriCharaNar gives to his disciples, the most significant is this self confidence that he creates in them by showing himself as one of them and still be able to reach the Turiya state. We can thus say that he takes up the states of niSTai[/] (meditation) and samAdhi in which he seems to have severed all external sensations--which is what Turiyam is as we have understood it--, only to show the people that a person who is like them can reach the state of Turiya and this gives them faith and confidence (in their own abilities).

As he comes out of his niSTai, our Gurunathan would do shravaNa (give ear to) of the Panchangam. In other words, that day's Panchanga details such as Tithi, Va(sa)ra, Yoga, Nakshatra, Karana would be read before him.

Then he would take bhASya pAtam (explanatory lectures) remaining the very 'original' Gurunathan to the pundit disciples who are trained in Veda and Vedanta. That is, he would explain the commentary given by Adi Sankara to Badarayana's Brahma Sutra. The same class would also be a sabha (assembly) for research in philosophy and Shastras. Above all, his svAnubhUti would flash and resolve even the most complicated puzzles in the text.

The vidvat shreSTas (best among the learned) too would speak admiringly about SriCharaNar's vyAkhyAna caturam (ingenuity of explanation).

It is said that some passages would confuse even the mahA vidvAns. They would all put their heads together, even debate with each other and express their differing conclusions. PeriyavargaL who encouraged all their discussions would later lay, "You people have seen the subject with all keenness. Something strikes me too. You think over and tell me if there is any room for making such a meaning out of it", and explain the thought that 'struck him' in clear Sanskrit.

Those pundita siMhas (lions among pundits) on hearing it would simply do AhAkAram (loud appreciation) of what they heard from him and do shASTaaN^ga namaskaram to SriCaraNaaL! And they would say with slithering tongue, "Only what Periyavaa says is the tAtparyam (real meaning). Bhagavat Pada himself has come as Periyavaa and clarified what he has written!"

(It is a scene of unique honour to witness PeriyavaaL surrounded by the vidvat ghoSTi (group of pundits). Is he not the one who showed in action the opinion of Bhagavat Pada that SriMaTham should remain as the ratnakoSa of Shastras? At Tirividaimarudur, when he did pratiSTA (installation) of Bhagavat Pada's sri pAdam (holy feet icons), he did ashtotra arcanA to it in a nUtana (novel) way using a hundred and eight shawls which he later gave in honour to the hundred and eight vidvat shreSTas who were invited for the occasion and took pleasure in doing so. The photography of our VidvanmaNi surrounded by them all would shoot a vidya rasmi (ray of light of knowledge) in our mind.

Gurunathar has taught the Shastric lessons to Sri Jayendra Saraswathi SwamigaL for many years with deep explanations and compassion. Sri Sankara Vijendra Saraswathi SwamigaL too is one who has received this bhAgyam. Apart from his, Gurunathan has also trained these two heirs with other pandita jAmbavats.

Readers might have seen the beautiful portraits (photographs) of the heirs taking lessons from the JnanaVaari (rain of knowledge). We present them here also as plates.

Following this, SriCharaNar would start giving darshan to the bhaktas. He would come and stand pouring coolness over the eyes that would be eagerly waiting with the thought 'eppo varuvAro, endRan kali teera? (when would he come, to mitigate my sufferings)'. Our Chandrasekharar would come and stand before the adiyArs (followers) as a moon that gracefully slipped from the full moon and touched the earthly world tenderly. The moonbeam will be there in his eyes, the moonbeam will be there in his handy gestures, the moonbeam will be there in his smile, and his speech. What will be there with the moon except moonlight? What will be there with Love except love?

nUtana - novel, recent, belonging to "now" or the present day, new, modern, young, fresh.
ratnakoSa - of a lexicon and various works
svAnubhUti - one's own experience, self-enjoyment
tAtparya - the real meaning, scope, or purport of a speech or work.
Pages 145-149

Gitacharya divides bhaktAs into four classes: those who seek wealth, those who seek mitigation of sufferings, those who seek jnAna and the jnAnis who seek nothing. All these four classes come to SriCharaNar. Of them, the majority will be those who pray for betterment of their worldly life and those who seek mitigation of their physical and mental diseases. A few may be here who seek jnAna, bhakti and a good heart. And those who have already attained fulfilment, so need to ask for nothing, will be the rareest among the rare.

SriCharaNar has accomplished as a sAdhanA, the equity of taking all these people with similar anutApa (warmth).

Everyone has the right to come to this sannidhanam (holy place) and converse. There is no necessity for any prior appointment. Our Gurunathan is one who does anugraha (favour) to all the levels of people in status, society, spirituality or age, giving his ear to everyone in the same manner. If it is asked where one can look for equality, it can pointed out, with both hands extended, that the concept will be found here. With the suppleness of his mind glistening in all his body parts, the beauty of his sitting with laLitam (sweetness, grace) and conversing with laLitam (charm, grace)! One can understand why Goddess Ambika has the special name Lalitha!

In this morning hours, he would also go through all the important news from the newspapers.

After this the first session of puja. If there rises an AnandA in looking at a lotus flower with its layered petals, its pedestal within them, its kesaras (filament) around the pedestal and the yellow knob in each kesara, there is also a delight with the sight of a simple coral jasmine flower with its red stalk and ten or twelve petals. The short morning session puja ends like the simple coral jasmine flower. Not even the instruments play at that time.

Amidst thick silence our Gurunathan does arcanA to the spaTika (quartz) lingam that is ChandraMauleesvara and the mEru chakra that is Kamakoti Tripura Sundari. He would then be seen with the intense shine that differentiates him as the tejo giri (shining mountain) Annamalai that is distinct from the man of moon we stared at early morning, raising our heads.

Darshan for the devotees, after the puja is over; and the dialogues of grace. It might stretch long hours at times.

Thereafter, finishing his mAdhyAnihakaH snAnam and anuSTAnam, he comes like a bunch of pearls for the second session puja.

AhA, it is a bhAgyam to see him doing japa and dhyAnA. Especially when he meditates sitting on the banks of a river or pond under the vast expanse of the sky, a shanta saukyam (peaceful health) would be seen sprouting over him! His kolam (position) of meditation under the tree would spread cool shades in our heart! It is not as if his inner peace is refelected depending on the outer environment; even if he is seen doing meditation sitting in some dark room, the peace will gush into our hearts!

The second session worship is as elaborate as the beauty of the multi-layered lotus flower. To the spaTika (quartz) lingam that is ChandraMauleesvara; to Goddess Tripura Sundari in the form of Sri Chakra of gold in three dimensions that is known as Meru; to the Goddess Herself in the form of a two-dimensional Sri Chakra in stone, known as bhu prastAra (a spread-out on earth)--made and gifted to SriCharaNar by the Bobbili Raja several years back, after employing a great Sivacharya who was also well learned in the Shastras, who made the SriChakra in its two-dimensional form in stone and sanctified it with special rites involving mantras; to the small svarNa vigraha (golden icon) Vinayaka; to the svarNa nAga (golden cobra) that is Lord Muruga (a Vel would be inserted in its mouth); to Narayana Murti residing in the Salagramam; to Surya Narayana remaining in the form of a crystal; and to Durga Devi in yantra rupa, he now performs an elaborate puja. Many people would have known that one of the Pancha Lingams given to Kaladi Sankara by sAkSAt Kailasha Sankara is in our MaTham. It is also the belief that the Salagramam here is the one that sAkSAt PerumaL gave him when Sankara sang his Karavalamba Stotra on Narasimha Murti.

In addition to these mUrtis (icons) to which SriMaTham Acharya SwamigaL himself does puja, there are many other vigrahAs (icons) such as Sri Adi AcharyaL (Adi Sankara) and Sri Rama. The MaTham SastrigaL would do the puja to them.

It is a custom to give the principal rank to Adi AcharyaL in the Guru Vandanam that occurs in the beginning of all pujas and japas and do mAnasIka (mental) worship, by those who are Acharya SwamigaL here.

During the elaborate second session puja, Sri PeriyavaaL performs it with abhiShekas (ablution) of milk and sandal paste, lots of arcanAs and nivedanam (offering). Depending on the bhakti exuding from the bhaktAs, the milk will be received either in pots or in pitchers. He would once do the milk abhiSheka to the spaTika lingam for the entire time Sri Rudram is recited. Holding in his right hand either a cattle-horn with a hole or a dhAra (showering) vessel, he would shower milk on the God through it. Like his mind his hand also would remain fixed at that time. We would then see the hand that the Vedas adore as the hand that has attained the state of bhagavat (godliness) by worshipping Bhagavan daily.

After SriCharaNar completes the pUrva bhAga (initial parts) of the puja, when the curtain in front of the puja maNdapam (pavilion) is opened aside, devotees will only witness this scene of milk abhiSheka that would shower milk over the hearts. During this time, brahmins will recite the hymns meant for puja times such as the Yajur Veda Rudram, Chamakam, Rig Veda Pancha Rudram, Devi Suktam, Purusha Suktam and Sri Suktam, filling up the ears.

When the curtain that is closed after the milk ablution reopens, our hearts will be cool at the sight: ChandraMauli and Jagan Mata would give darshan, lying buried in sandal paste and accepting the camphor ArAdhanam done by our Gurunathan. The curtain would be closed again.

When it reopens, SriCharaNar would have started his arcanA. In the meantime, he would have done decorations to the Murti that had the abhiSheka and the pUja gRuham (puja room). That lovely decoration would be a proof of the subtlety of his artistic mind.

(The pUja maNdapam, pUja gRuham referred to here is chiefly the small, chariot-shaped contruct. There is also another pUja maNdapam smaller than that, made of wood.)
Pages 149-153

Srivatsa Somadeva Sarma who was somehow left inside the curtain with PeriyavaaL one day during the time of decoration, would say: PeriyavaaL did not know that Sarma was there inside. He was so immersed in his task of decoration with a singular mind.

Sarma, who was witnessing PeriyavaaL at his task, said that he felt surprised, happy and also had some irrecognizable fear. PeriyavaaL would do the decorations in one way, look at the puja bimbams (image) and chuckle. Sometimes, after looking this way at the images, he would change the earlier decoration and do it differently. He would finally nod his head with satisfaction when everything was done well.

Sarma's surprise, happiness and fear was all due to his understanding that SriCharaNar did all those things in a dialogue with his Mother and Father.

Sarma said that later when he broached this subject to PeriyavaaL himself, PeriyavaaL told him with pretended anger, "Who allowed you inside? Mind your business", and put an end to it!

A bhaktA asked him anxiously if his lotus hands will not pain by such time-consuming and elaborate alaNkAra jOTanai (decoration and adorning).

Sporting a lovely smile, SriCharaNar said, "What for is this hand then?" and then sang a line from Thyagaraja:

'chetulaara shrungaaramu chesi chootunu'

'I would have darshan of you after decorating you with my own hands.'--is the meaning.

On another occasion, Periyavaa is said to have expressed:

"Since you all have kept me aloft as maThAdhipati, you people do everything without showing anything to my eyes. At least let me do this alaNkAram giving some labour to my body! Is not 'kAryam' (task) is one done specifically with the karam (hand)? Let one such thing be for me too."

It is a fact that all the tasks for him are done by the pAriSadas (attendant). Nevertheless, he would (sometimes) himself draw water from the well (for his washing requirements). The onlooker's mind would be unhappy if the bhagavAn should do it when an assistant is waiting on him. At the same time, it would be lovely to watch him do it deftly and effortlessly, without any mess that would be typical of one who never does such things.

(He talked about the kAryam of the karam. But then who could match him for the task that he did with the leg, the 'Nataraja bus service' (walking)? Whatever his age, how many miles he would have walked majestically?)

Many people have mentioned that when SriCharaNar performs puja, the one who is done puja to and the one who does it would merge. But then our Gurunathan who does abhyAsa (practice) of other states in addition, even while being in nirvikalpa samAdhi, would also be an Adarsha bhakta (perfect devotee), remaining separate while at the same time merged with the deity that is done puja to. We should say something here that is not known to many people.

It is known to many that as a thirteen year old bAlakan (boy) with not adequate training in the Shastric ways he accepted the pIThAdhipatyam (position of a pontiff). Thereafter, due to his wonderful sharaNAgati (surrender of the self) and the aparimita anugraha (limitless favours) of AmbaaL and AcharyAL, he became very soon a Shastrachara Chakravarti as well as a jnAnAbhUtimAn (self-realized) past the Shastras. Nevertheless, he has been keeping his great experiences hidden within himself. Even in the later days when he was crowned as the king of Jnanis, he conversed with people grouping himself with the AjnAnis (nescient). From such a man on rare occasions, his inner anubhUti (experiences) would separate and come out.

One such thing happened when the SriMaTham pUjaka (priest) who was a Mahavidvan himself taught the puja vidhis (rules, formulae) to him during his thirteenth year of life. The Vidvan told the bAla yati (young ascetic), "It is mentioned that when the arcanA (worship) is done, it should be done with the abheda dRSTi (undivided sight) in the bhAva (state) of tvam vA ahamasmi. (That is, it is mentioned that the arcanA should be done with the advaita view that the deity worshipped and the worshipper are one and the same.) The milky white face of the bAla yati blossomed like a full moon in a mandahAsa smile and in the flame of his eyes. With gaMbhIra (majesty) rippling in that sweetness, he asked: "Should that be only when the arcanA is done? Amazed, the Vidvan prostrated to him.

In what Sri VidhyaraNya has said as 'there are three kinds of brahma jnAnis. Those who are always in the samAdhi state, insensitive to external stimuli; those who are always in jnAna vicAram (self inquiry) remaining in the state of vivekis (wise men) and those who are in the practical world of vyavahAra (external activities)', Sri Maha PeriyavaaL is one who even as he does all his sport in the vyavahAra lokam remains with his brahma jnAnam unaffected and undissolved. In this vyavAhara, he did the puja rituals in the same way that he did all other things--according to the Shastras.

He would do the arcanA ensuring that every bilva patram (leaf of the bilva tree) and thumbai flower that he picks up is in its complete form as ordained in the Shastras. While briskly doing the arcanA, with a sUkSma shaki (subtle power)--similar to the sixth sense of the English language--he would throw away a flower that has the slightest dosha (defect) and pick up another, without getting the rhythm (of movements and the mantra) disturbed.
Pages 153-156

If he starts doing arcanA (worship) to AmbaaL, it would be a separate world. Without distinguishing between ordinary and visheSha (festive) days, he would go on doing Ashtotram, Trisadi, Sahasranamam and so on. It would seem that it was not one but many Sahasranamas when the arcanA stretches for hours together. Thus ordinary days would become special days, and his bhakti then would raise swelling. Suddenly the arcanA would stop. With fixed eyes, he would be looking at Devi, the chakra rUpiNi. Neither the Devi nor the Sri Chakra would be visible to us. The Sri Chakra would be hidden behind clothes and jewels. Only the ball of sandal paste with a large Kumkumam dot on it, fixed to the arrangement would be visible to our eyes. But then the scene that becomes visible to him is different! In that scene, sometimes a stream of tears would gush out of his eyes; sometimes he would laugh. That would seem Anandamaya (blissful) at one time; the same laugh would seem that of a madman at another time. It is said that that laughter would sometimes make one think, 'Is this man a pishAcaH (ghost)?'. It would seem that he talks something, with both of his palms spread towards AmbaaL. The next moment, the arcanA would continue briskly without skipping a laya (rhythm).

The bhakti vinaya (devotional humility) he showed in doing Kumkuma archanA! Since the holy Kumkuma particles should not spill onto the ground, he would pick the powder tightly gripped between his thumb and index fingers and do the arcanA in such a way that the pinch falls directly on the bimbam (image). There were days his flowery fingers had bruises with the very color of the Kumkumam, by thus tightly gripping (and releasing) the powder for hours on.

Even the way he picks up a flower basket at a distance by gracefully bending his flexible body, and his drawing up with his left wrist his head covering when it slips would look Pujamaya!

Again the curtain is drawn to close the scene. A short while later the ringing sound of a small bell is heard from inside. It is the indication that our Gurunathan himself rings the bells and does the nivedanam (offering).

In SriMaTham, apart from annam, pAyasam and the sweets, everything including the sAmbAr, rasam, kari, kUttu and all such vyanjanas (preparations) are offered as nivedanam.

PeriyavaaL used to be very strict about the nivedana padArtham (prepartion offered) should filling up to the brim of the container vessel. If it is less he would be adamant without doing the nivedanam until such time as the shortage is cooked and filled up! It was also the case that the pAyasam was less in level and PeriyavaaL filled up the shortage by pouring water over it! He thus regulated his kiMkaras (assistants) in such matters by being strict about them. Later, he would make harmless remarks such as, 'After having made to sit for the meal, ChandraMauleesvara has been made to wait today', 'For the Gangadhara the pAyasam today is Ganga Bhavani' and take the kitchen people in his stride.

Was it not the puja done with the firm feeling that the devata mUrtis whom puja is done to, take food in vAstavam (reality)?

As another aMsam (part) of this, he would not do nivedanam with padArthas that are steaming hot. He would wait until they cool down to eatable warmth. He would minimize the delay by making his assistants use a hand fan to cool the preparations.

A Shastrajna (expert in Shastras) supplicated a different opinion to PeriyavaaL on this subject. Showing evidences from the Shastras that the Devas don't take the sthUla padArtha (physical preparation), only its steam and vapours, he supplicated, "There is nothing that is not known to PeriyavaaL. If it is an aparAdh (mistake) should pardon me."

"No aparAdh at all!", PeriyavaaL said comfortingly with a smiling face. "Even if it is me, if it seems that I do something different from the Shastras, to bring it up to me thus is a big upakAram (service) to me. But then in this thing that you speak of", he patted on his chest and twice gestured with his hand to reassure the pundit.

That was an abhinaya (gesture) that made it clearer than any word of mouth that in his affairs what he does are the right things.

When a Dharma Shastra Holy Avatara does things in contrary when his very life principle is that only what the Shastras say are the rules and there is nothing separate as his personal matter?

The (pundit) bhaktA guessed it. Hesistating, he asked, "Is that the AdeshaH for PeriyavaaL?" He asked if it was God's will for PeriyavaaL.

But then, will that man who hides things within him untie it more than that? He just kept quiet. The bhaktA believed that his not denying it showed his consent.

"If that is so, shall I too do the nivedanam at eatable warmth?" asked the devotee.

The Gurunathar floated a smile and said, "If you have that kind of AdeshaH then do that way."

That saying confirmed the devotee's belief and sealed it!

AdeshaH- order, command, instruction, advice, information, prediction of future.
Pages 156-161

A lot can be said about how SriCharaNar, who lived following the rules of the Shastras to their minutest details, observed the same discipline with respect to pujas also. Two cooked rice grains as indicative of the ready-to-serve state of the entire pot of sAdam!

On the day of the Vinakaya Chaturthi the gurumUrti who allays the karma (of devotees) does puja to Vigneshvara.

As he goes about each and every upachAra (service), the upachAra of offering a vastram (cloth) turns up.

SriCharaNar was observing the custom of doing puja under the vocal, scriptural guidance of a ShastrigaL for the naimittika (occasional) pujas on special occasions which were different from the nitya (daily) pujas done on his own.

On that day's puja, the ShastrigaL read 'vastra yukmam samarpayAmi' (I submit a pair of clothes), the line in the Puja Kalpam. PeriyavaaL looked at the thAlam (plate) on which the vastram was kept.

As he saw it, he continued to keep looking at it. He kept quiet without repeating the line of verse ShastrigaL chanted, or adorning Vigneshvara with the vastram.

Except when he repeated puja mantras, shlokAs and nAmAvaLis, SriCharaNar would observe silence during the puja times.

(All the mantras including the one mentioned above, he does not repeat vocally on most of the times. The devotee who spoke to him about doing nivedanam steaming hot had also asked SriCharaNar about this instance. The devotee had told him that to vocally chant the verses was the custom he had known. "gRustAs (householders) should chant the Vedasuktas only vocally. It would be better if it is possible for them to also chant the other verses vocally," was the only reply SriCharaNar gave the devotee. The devotee could guess (by that reply) that ascetics need not have to do a ghoSaNam (speaking loudly) of even the Veda mantras; and the term 'possible' indicated that the pressure of feelings that made it not possible for SriCharaNar to chant vocally, silenced him.)

No one could understand why PeriyavaaL kept silent without submitting the vastram to Vinakaya.

The ShastrigaL was nervous: "It is mentioned in the Kalpam as 'vastra yukmam samarpayAmi'. Was it that I made a mistake in chanting the verse?"

PeriyavaaL took the vastram and showed it, protruding a finger. The ShastrigaL understood it! The phrase 'vastra yukmam' meant a pair of clothes: a vEshti (dhoti) to tie around the waist and an uttarIyam over the shoulders. But the vastram which was kept on that day was a single one. Only after the second vastram was also provided as per the rule, the puja continued.

*** *** ***

The second example is one I witnessed personally.

The Maha Shivaratri night in 1968. The celebrations are held in the Eluru town of Andhra Pradesh.

The third kAla (session) puja in the late night. Everyone was tired due to upavAsam (fasting) and not sleeping up to that time.

The voice of the rudra pArAyaNa (chanting Rudram) people that rose gaNa ghoSa (as loud proclamations) during the pujas of the previous two sessions now sounds a lot less in strength.

The ShastrigaL who was arranged for the occasion could not withstand the strain.

As narrated earlier, for such naimittika pujas PeriyavaaL arranged a vAdyAr (priest) and followed him totally as we do. The vAdyAr is referred to as tantra-dhAraka (one who recites the texts) in the North. When doing this under his guidance, in the tradition of the disciple learning from the guru, only after he proposes, the one who does the puja should chant after the mantras and other texts. This is done in adherence to the puja saMkalpam (resolution) taken by the performer that he would do it 'AchArya mukhena kariSye' (I do it through the guru). It could be that PeriyavaaL who is the JagatAcharyaL may not say 'AchArya mukhena', but he kept it as his custom of not uttering the mantras until they were proposed by the ShastrigaL. In his case 'keeping it as his custom' does not mean that he did it according to his wish! It should be either a Shastra vidhi (presciption, rule) or a divya AdeshaH (divine sanction) obtained exclusively for him--only such things he kept as his custom. This custom of his repeating after the ShastrigaL chanted it should be one such.

The inconsistency the ShastrigaL displayed--being very tired by the time of the third session puja--in looking at and reading the Puja Kalpa text perhaps under the dim light of the tall, brass lamps! The strain he underwent to read the text, properly dividing it in the word boundaries!

Many of those shlokas--perhaps the entire thing--was for SriCaraNaaL already committed to mind!

Still... whatever that discipline! Waiting all along until the ShastrigaL understood the text properly and read it, and then repeating it either within his mind or by upAmcu-vAca (as lip movement), he conducted the puja at the pace of a turtle.

Such patience can never come to us! And that during the scene of offering arghyam at the end!

The sAhasam (daring act) as in a circus did by the Peruman of slim frame who had seen seventy-five years of his life, (sitting in a pose) like the PerumaaL Koyil Garuda Vahanam, the knee joint of his folded left leg touching the ground and his right leg folded in such a way that its foot rested on the ground! In those days since his hearing was becoming fainter he also had giddiness. Even then, in this Gaaruda pose he sat waiting until the ShastrigaL gathered the text letter by letter and chanted and then he repeated while offering the arghyam with three shlokas for Sambasiva, and one shloka each for AmbaaL, Subrahmanya, Nandikesa and Chandikesa.

In 'subraHmaNya mahAbhaga' when the ShastrigaL was totally confused and struggling, and faltered in reading out the text, it seemed to us that we should rush to the stage, seize the book from him and read out the text ourselves! But then PeriyavaaL who was very familiar with that vAcakam (saying) was simply looking at the vAdyAr's face, without any haste, like a quiet student!

*** *** ***

They speak of two kinds of bhakti: vaidhi bhakti (rules-based devotion) and anurAga bhakti (love-based devotion)*. Doing bhakti based on the rules of the Shastras is vaidhi. Doing it purely out of love is anurAga bhakti. Since rules cannot be observed in love, these two names came up. Some people say that since bhakti is in inself based on love, there is no such thing as vaidhi bhakti. His close devotees know it as completely true that SriCaraNaaL is one steeped in parA bhakti which is the borderland of anurAga. Nevertheless, there is none who did vaidhi bhakti like him.

He was the one who was the puzzle of puzzles remaining all the while the simplest of the simplest!

*** *** ***

* Rupa Goswami speaks of three kinds of bhakti:
Rupa Goswami

arghya - n. worth or fit for an honourable reception. n. a reverential offering to gods or venerable men.
naimittika - occasional, special, accidental, produced by any or some particular cause
nitya - innate, native, own, continued, perpetual, eternal, ordinary, usual, fixed, necessary, obligatory, regular
sAhasa - boldness, daring, rashness, temerity, overstraining
upAmcu - recitation of a mantra in a hushed low voice so as to be heard by the reciter alone
yukmam - pair, couple, brace
Pages 161-166

We were in the nivedana stage of the nitya pUjA. We have given ample time for ChandraMauleesvara to finish his bhojana, saparivAram (food and dishes) leisurely. Let us get back to where we left.

Along with the many kalpokta pakSya-bhojaya naivedyas the simple AhAram (food) prepared by pakvam exclusively for SriCharaNar, if any, will also be offered. The reason for saying 'if any' is that since he used to be on fast on many days there wouldn't be any exclusive AhAram prepared for him in those days.

The correct meaning of the term 'pakvam' is 'boiled'. In that sense, PeriyavaaL's bhikSA is not made pakvam at all. Following the Shastra (rule) that a Sanyasi should have no agni sambandham (relationship with fire), even in his bhojanam, his niyama (routine) was to only take apakva AhAram such as aval (flattened rice) soaked in buttermilk, prepared without putting it on the oven. That was why apart from the food prepared for the puja and brAhmaNa santarpaNam (feeding brahmins), exclusive food for him is prepared in addition.

His submitting to another vidhi (rule) of the Shastra should also be mentioned here. (For us who are svantara yuki (people of freedom) let this alternate medicine be visible in letter-form to our eyes as much as possible!) It is the vidhi for us that we should necessarily take pitRsheSam. If the shrArdam (ancestoral annual ceremony) falls on an Ekadasi, even then we should take pitRsheSam. Like the pitRshrArdam for us, the ArAdhanam (homage) of his Guru Swamy for that turavi (ascetic)! Only on that day, he would eat pakva padArtha (cooked dishes) also as gurusheSam!

If he finds that he created a reason for someone thinking that he gave room for the temptation of the tongue, he would remain on rigorous fast for many days and punish himself.

It is the Dharma Shastra vidhi that one should not take food after sunset on Sundays. In his eighty-fifth year of age when he was camping hear Belgaum, he drank milk on a Sunday after sunset, as he became tired in the hot sun. For this act, he stopped taking milk at night for the next fifteen days. Was he not the daNDam (staff) bearing ascetic king who dispensed punishment for himself just like a king orders punishment for a citizen?

At last we have finished (the narration up to) ChandraMauleesvara naivedya upachAram!

Thick flames become visible through the curtain. It means that the puja assistant lights all the mukhas (faces) of the dIpArAdhana plate, turning them one by one towards him.

At that very moment there will raise a bustle among the bhaktAs. With sakala vAdyas (all kinds of musical instruments) playing loud, the curtain will be drawn aside. All the thickset flames will shine clearly tapering into cones. Our Gurunathan would raise the large dIpArAdhana plate with his frail hand and do the dIpArAdhanam. Whose tapas is this that such a pavitram (pure event) happens in this world full of flaws? No one can at that time refrain from patting on the cheeks saying "HaraHara HaraHara".

Our Gurunathan will get up, resting on his daNDam. The beauty of his ground round the Puja Mandapam foot by foot, as if he is careful that the Parashakti Anubhavam filled up to the brim inside him should not spill over, can be known only by seeing it. Those who remained confused until now whether to see the Swami to which the puja is done or the SwamigaL who does the puja, would have now engaged their eyes and mind completely with our Gurunathan. Shrivelled as a green creeper, when he goes fixing his cotton-soft feet deftly on the ground, disappearing behind the back of the Puja Mandapam and then reappearing pradakSiNa (clockwise) on its left side, something within us will rise shivering up. Appearing parama shantam, when SriCharaNar turns around himself as Atma pradakSiNam and then does daNDa vandanam, even iron hearts would melt on their own.

The Puranas mention that in Kanchi and Tiruvanaikka and many other places Ambikai Herself worshipped Iraivan as Kamakshi and Akhilanda Nayaki. As to how the puja that Ambikai does would look like, we can see it today when our Gurunathan does pradakSiNa namaskAram.

It is the puja that a Jivanayaki does for her Anmanayakan. Manivacakar has sung that Parama Jnanis also worship Shiva the Ekapurusha, by becoming a woman.

pappaRa vIttirun^ dhuNarumn^in adiyAr
pan^dhanai van^dhaRuth thAr avar palarum
maippuRu kaNNiyar mAnudath thiyalbin
vaNaN^guki RAr aNaN^ ginmaNa vALA!

He does upachAras such as chatram chAmaram (umbrella, handfan) to Swami. After waving the fan of flowers for Swami, he sticks the fan itself into the cluster of the flowery garlands of the Puja Mandapam. They all stick to their places nicely as if listening to whatever he says. We might even get the tApam (heat of feeling) that we can't be like them, staying at where we are placed by him. (In the same way, since the feet of AmbaaL, who is Sri Guru RupiNi is located on the shiras (head), when he heaps on his head the flower garlands offered by the devotees, it is a wonder they nicely stay in place (on his head) and look beautiful! There is a photograph in his tirukkOlam of wearing a large rose garland as summAdu (turban) and a jasmine garland as its droop that stayed still as he conversed moving his limbs.)**

After the chatra-chAmaram, the shAstrokta upachAras multiply as nRtta-gIta (dance and song)! In shAstronusAra (following the Shastras), this Sanyasi will make a small adavu (basic movement) and do nRttopacAram, his movement being so short that most of those who witness the puja can't make it out as an adavu! And then for the gItam (song), our (Indra) Saraswathi will play just one small 'sarigamapadani' on the little svarNa vInA (golden veeNa) and rest the vAdyam on the Chakra RupiNi. (We have darshan of him as Saraswathi, resting on him a small wooden veeNa in the photo pages [left of page 181 in the book]).

The pITham on which Swami and AmbaaL rise-and-bless is a swing attached to the vitAnam (awning) of the Puja Mandapam. SriCharaNar will sway this swing with his slender fingers. We would then have the vishrAnti (rest) that he also sways us in a cradle.

Mantras will be showered by the vedavids (Vedic pundits) from the caturvedAs (four Vedas). After the mantra puSpam is offered, SriCharaNar will do a short punar pUja. Total silence for sometime. The sound of our Gurunathan taking up water in a dhonnai to offer arghyam and even the tiny sound of the rice grain falling onto the vessel when the mangalAkSata is offered will be audible. He would scoop and throw flowers and leaves. Suddenly, with a mudrA (sign) of twisting his hands he would take from the flowers offered to Swami, touch his eyes with them and complete the puja, his heart filled like a flower bouquet.

Can there by any end to this puja? Is it not that our Gurunathan is one who lives as Thayumanavar said, 'oru kAlamanRitu, sada kAla pUjaiyAi oppuvittEn' (this is not a puja for single time, so I recited it as an all-time puja)? The madhyAnakAla pUja (afternoon puja) done with so much of specialities will go on for about three hours.

With what end does that Avatara Murti all these Mahapujas? Only for our sake. It is only for our sake that he prays with melting heart 'SarvE janAH SukhinO bhavanthu' (may all the people be happy) in all his mukkAla pUja? Is there any greater welfare to the world than that?

*pappaRa vIttirun^ dhuNarumn^in adiyAr
pan^dhanai van^dhaRuth thAr avar palarum
maippuRu kaNNiyar mAnudath thiyalbin
vaNaN^guki RAr aNaN^ ginmaNa vALA!

cheppuRu kamalaN^gaL malarumthaN vayalchUz
thirupperun^ thuRaiyuRai chivaperu mAnE
ippiRap paRuththemai ANdaruL puriyum
emperu mAnpaLLi ezun^dharu LAyE

Staying liberated, Your slaves experiencing (You), cutting off the bonds, they, many in number, worship with the human feeling that of the (dyed eyed) women. Oh the Groom of the Lady! Oh Lord shiva of thirupperun^thuRai encircled with the cool fields blooming with red lotuses! My Lord, who cuts off this birth blessing taking us slaves, Bless getting up!!

** Between pages 180 and 181 of the books there are eight plates of rare black and white photographs of MahaswamigaL. The rose turban is one among them.

(Source: http://siddhanta.shaivam.org/thipalli.htm)

dhonnai - cup like vessel made of leaves pinned up at corners
punar - back, home, in an opposite direction, to go back or away, to give back, restore, to turn around, again, once more
santarpaNam - satisfying, causing happiness, gratifying
sheSaH, sheSam - remainder, part left out
vedavid - knowing the Veda, conversant with it
vitAna- m.n. spreading out, extension; awning, canopy; abundance, multitude
Pages 166-169

How much zeal did he have in performing pujas! Love and duty, both these senses made him give it this much of importance. Duty? Yes, he would say that Parameswara Himself directed (Adi Sankara) AcharyaaL to perform for loka kSemam (welfare of the world) saparivAra pUja (elaborate puja) to the Shiva-Shaktis who are the mother-father of all the Lokas (worlds), AcharyaaL did the puja as directed and bestowed it as a duty prescribed by Ishvar plus Guru for the descendants of his MaThams. Our Munivar Piran who was immersed in viSva prema (love for the world) is one who considered that the puja performed for the parents of the world is to make all the people of the world remain in harmony as children of the same parents and bhaji (worship) the maitrI (friendship) in them, as sung in SriCharaNar's lokopadesha (advice to the world) song ('maitrIm bhajata').

How many are the times has he done viSTAra pUja (extensive pujas) even when he was suffering from severe fever and going without jala pAnam (water to drink)!

(An incident is reported that) once during the time of PeriyiavaaL's madhyama prAyA (stage of being middle aged), when someone went near him, the person felt a heat wave as from a kiln of bricks! Even at ten in the morning the sage was lying stretched out with no awareness about his body! Inexpressible vicAram (worry) for the MaTham people. After ten o' clock with a sort of vajra saMkalpam (might of will power) he gets up. Adamantly managing to come over the swerve and stagger of his body, with no possibility of anyone getting the courage to halt him, with a dhIra gaMbhIram (fierce majesty) he goes to the Kaveri (river). Comes back klupta (determined) after a bath. Sits for the puja. Performs the puja very elaborately.

There would be no bhikSA (food) after the puja. Still, without any vishrAnti (rest) he comes down to give interviews to the devotees. Now the MaTham people halt him. Supplicate to him. But this man says, "If I sit for vishrAnti, joram (fever) will come and catch me up. If I strive without stopping my duty, Swami will take care of my joram. Even if my prANA (breath) goes away in duty and reaches him, it would be still visheSam (special)!"

We see here two branches of the same duty. The duty of performing puja for the sake of the people; the duty of the direct interview that he grants to the people! He considered the latter also as a puja! To say more of it--it should of course have been based on Adesha (divine directive)--even that 'parents' puja he entrusted one day to his vArisu (descendant) and for a good quarter century continued the latter 'peoples' puja!

During the puja, a small piple instrument called Timiri that resembles the Nadasvara and is pratyeka (singular) of its kind, would be played.

After the puja, those who are to do bhikSA on that day would have their bhikSA vandanam done. The man who performs the bhikSA would place the pUrNa kumbham on the head of the MaTham's elephant, his wife would place the plate of country sugar with a bowl of honey atop it, get them back and submit them before SriCharaNar. Friends and relatives of the bhikSA performer would carry the bhikSA money exchanged into silver coins, and then fruits, flowers, vegetables, raisins and cashews and submit them before our Gurunathan. It is a custom followed in the MaTham for a few years now that instead of the donor saying that he does the bhikSA for the Acharya, he would say that he does it as an upahAra (offering) to ChandraMauleesvara Puja. Our Gurunathan is following the yati dharma (dharma of ascetics) so blemishlessly. What are the money and coins and fruits and flowers for a turavi (ascetic)? He accepts them remaining as the Pujari of Ishvara!

After the bhikSA vandanam is over, Gurunathar would retire to ekAntam (privacy) and read Vishnu Puranam in accordance with his svadharma niyati (personal duty); he would also recite the Gita. Though SriSankara maThadhipatis (pontiffs) appear as Shaivas by the name Sankara, vhibUti dhAraNam (wearing the holy ash) and ChandraMauleesvara Puja, Narayana upAsanam (worship) is also very important for them. Their words of blessings, giving SRImukam (introductory/recommendatory letters) are all with only Narayana smaraNam (memory of)! In that way, he used to hold Vishnu Sahasranama pArAyaNam (recitation) in his presence. (In addition, at that time, he would also do pArAyaNam, shravaNam (chanting and listening) of Indrakshi Kavacham and the Siva Kavachams.)

One night it was beyond midnight when SriCharaNar returned to MaTham after his tiruvIdi ulA (procession round the place). The door of the mEnA (palanquin) where he slept that night did not open even at five the next morning. Thinking 'What, even PeriyavaaL had AyAsam (fatigue) and gone into nidrA (sleep)?', the pAriSada (attendant) peeped in through a gap in the mEnA.

klupta - done, prepared, cut, pared, produced, strengthened, fixed, settled, determined, thought of, invented.
Pages 169-171

He found PeriyavaaL reading a book with the help of the light from a handheld torch! It became intelligible to him that it was the Vishnu Puranam book. What he did not understand was why this change in the time table and the sage reading the book in the early morning!

Later on SriCharaNar himself made it understood. In the unusual rush of the previous days' tasks, he was obliged to skip this Purana paTaNam (reading). As an 'imposition' for that our Yati who is the very form of niyama (discipline), though he went to sleep far later in that night, got up earlier than usual the next morning, silently finished his 'koTTAi' (washroom) danta dhAvana (cleaning up teeth), and compensated the omission by an additional time of paTaNam!

Our AcharyaaL is the residence of the three Shastras: Sruti-Smriti-Puranam. After the sRutiyukta (spoken by Sruti) karmAnuSTAnam (daily practices) and puja are over, it was only appropriate reading the Gita that our AcharyaaL considered Smriti and the Vishnu Purana used heavily among the Puranas by him in his quotes!

After this is over, if it is not a day of upavAsa (fast), our Gurunathan will partake his simple food. In the beginning years of his ascending the PiTham, he used to partake tiruvamudu (sacred, cooked rice meal) once a day, avoiding the tastes of saltiness, sourness and hotness in the meal. He took a small quantity of milk and fruit at night. But then as days went by, he extremely reduced his AhAram (food). Though he was not in a state that required to melt his bodily oon (meat) in order to brighten his uLLoLi (inner light), for whatever reason he started such an experiment! Though it was not necessary to take bitter things in order to develop the jnAnam (knowledge, wisdom), there was a time when he took only such things as tender neem leaves and bhilva leaves. He has spent a few years eating only three fistfuls of annam (cooked rice). Then he started accepting some nelpori (parched paddy grains) soaked in buttermilk, but then even that he skipped on many days. There was also a time when he stopped taking the fruit and milk. It is a wonder that can't be understood as to how it was possible for him to perform puja from three in the morning until twelve at night without any sign of fatigue, or walk miles together with the very little, saltless food he consumed. Beyond all that, even after taking through his hears to his heart the different kinds of supplications and suferings of his bhaktAs, he remained fresh without any signs of withering!

Though it was all restless work that took in ceaseless supplications of sufferings, how much he remains as a vEDikkai vinodan (one who sports and amuses)! He is a unique player of pranks, a role that generally doesn't seem to go well with a man of his vayas (age), Ashramam (stage), and sthAnam (standing, status)! Saying it this way does not mean that we cannot see tIvra gana (intense weight) in him. For one who has all the mAnuda guNa gaNa mahimAs (greatness of human character and association), he would also make us stand at a distance and pay our respects to him, becoming a man with dIrgha chintanam (high thinking)!

After the bhikSA, mostly our Gurunathan himself will distribute the tIrtham (holy water) that was used in Swami abhiShekam (ablution). (Immediately after the puja is over, after his tIrtha prAchanam (consuming water with a mantra), he would go for his tiruvamudu only after distributing tIrtham to ascetics, vidvans, AchAra shreSTas (best in religious conduct) and such other people). The bhaktAs who are waiting to receive tIrtham from the hands of Periyavar, even if the time is twelve noon or one or even two o' clock, would receive that holy water mixed with abhiSheka sandal paste. We should have done bhAgyam to receive that tIrtham given by that amRuta karam (ambrosial hand) which it gives with parama karuNa in a large uttaraNi (spoon) that can termed a small ladle! That the tIrtham is capable of giving sakala kSema (all prosperity), of removing sakala dosha (all deficiencies), there are abundant proofs.

dIrgha - long (in space and time), lofty, high, tall; deep
tIvra a. strong, violent, intense, fierce
uttaraNi - a small spoon used for taking water
Pages 171-174

Following this our Gurunathan will take rest for sometime, when he will be ramita (delighted) to take up what he terms as the 'newspaper akkappOr' (newspaper gossip). He will listen to the news published and then to the letters received by the MaTham that would be read out to him. Then he will give directions to his employees about the tasks to be done.

That would be the time when his wonderful managerial skills and wordly knowledge would be given expression to. For the letters, he will dictate the replies then and there. Though he could take the right decisions quickly and with excellence, he will consult the MaTham officials and assistants, listen to their suggestions, encourage them to speak out what they have in mind and work out a plan that would be put to action. Through this our Gurunathan demonstrates the rustic term 'mariyathai kodutthu mariyathai vAnguvathu' (giving and getting respect) in a wonderful way.

It is very apt to think about him in parellel with Raghavan who lived adhRSya (invincible) in the world saying that he considered himself only as a man. We see that glory here every day--the grandeur narrated by Ramayana of how that RamaPiran during the Vibhishana charaNagati (surrender) prompted the suggestions of everyone in Sugriva's army including the vAnaras (monkeys), giving him his due respect, valued the suggestions and took the final decision.

Only with the MaTham assistants? He will not hesitate to listen to the suggestion of the devotees who come to him, including the parama pAmara (most rustic) among them. More surprising than that is how that rustic will also give his suggestion without hesitating, to this great expert! Howsoever he obtained that saulabhyaM (ease) of moving with all of them with the feeling 'nammavar' (belongs to us)! That is the 'maitrI visheSam' (speciality of friendship) that he made his Gita-Upadesham!

Excepting the time of antaranga SrIMaTha karyams (private tasks), amidst all those MaTham office work he will never forget his worldly office work, and keep on allowing the devotees to him. Around four-thirty or five in the evening, he will come out to give darshan to the people. Without being reticent, the devotees would express their personal sufferings and supplicate for 'periyavaa anugraham'. He will give them vibhUti, kumkumam, akSata prasAdam with a completely involving mind. His very eye and hand will convey the anugraham. It would appear to some people that he need not bring something from somewhere and give it as his anugraham. His very posture of standing before them--tired, fading vibhUti marks on his forehead, his body looking shrivelled and his garment around the head slipping--would be his anugraham to them. Just like KaLidasa said that the dancer MaLavika standing tired is in itself an abhinaya (dance gesture)!

Our Gurunathan who ramins as the taru, taru nizhal, nizal kanintha kani (the tree, the shadow it gives and the fruit mellowed in that shadow) whom anyone can approach and supplicate anything, will come before the Puja Mandapam and stand silently. There would be a bustle only in the crowd. The reason is that the MaTham elephant, which is always a fountain of enthusiasm for the children, will arrive at the Sannidhi. With all the MaTham employess present, the Treasurer will read out the day's income and expenditure openly to the Swami, Adi Acharya and the people assembled there. During that time, the elephant will wave the chAmaram (feathery fan) to the pAdak kuRadu (sandals) of BhagavatPada the mUla sthapakar (root founder) of the MaTham, and then will bow and blare. This incident is known as the 'tIvatti salAm'. Then the NatesAshtakam will be recited with nAtya layam (rhythm and dance movements). With Ramanama, Shivanama smaraNam (memory of), the devotees will disperse.

At the time of the evening, after taking bath again, our Gurunathan will come svaccha (bright and pure), looking like a lawn bright in the rain. He will then perform his sandhya anuSTAnams. Tapas and peace swelling up, he will then be a jvalita tejomaya bimbam (blazing fire of light)! In that jvAla (flame) our impurities will be burnt into ashes at least for that time being.

After seven, the night puja will start. On Fridays and days such as Pradosham, Navaratri, this ArAdhanam (worship) will be held for nearly four hours with abhiShekAti (ablutions) and AvaraNa pujas. On other days, the puja will end briefly in three quarters of an hour. Pradosha Puja will be started before the Sandhi and held in a grand manner.

The visheSha puja held during the night, has a speciality. When the alaNkArams (decorations) are over and the curtain drawn aside for archanA, the Rudra Trisati mantra 'aum namO hiraNya bAhavE namaH' will rise. And that hiraNya bAhaU (golden arm) itself we will witness pratyakSa (before the eyes). Yes, the arm of SriCharaNar that moves in the light of the lamp will shine golden.

A visheSham (speciality) is also there in the Pradosha Puja. SriCharaNar, wearing a kirITam (crown), kuNDala (ear rings), kaNThakA (necklace), karavalayas (bracelets)--all made of rudraksha, will give darshan as sAkSAt Sankara! A thought will then raise that even his dhandam (staff) has become a shUlam (trident).

The one who remains as pratyakSa Shiva Jyoti during Pradosha Puja will glisten in coolness during the PaurNami Puja like AmbaaL Herself!

adhRSya - a. invincible, irresistible.
AvaraNa - covering, enclosing, shelter, garment
caraNagata - fallen at one's feet
kaNThakA - necklace
kirITam - diadem, crown, crest, any ornament used as a crown
kuNDala - ear ring, bracelet, ring
pratyakSa before the eyes, plainly visible, clear, distinct, actual, immediate
ramita - gladdened, delighted, rendered happy, pleasure, delight
svaccha - a. very clear, transparent, bright, pure
Pages 174-177

Knowing no passage of time, how elaborately to that Kamakoti thAi (mother) would this sEi (child) who is also her only, do the ArAdhanam (worship)!

If that puja finishes at eleven in the night, thereafter, looking at the pUrNachandra (full moon), meditating her in that moon, he would recite the complete Sahasranamam. If we were to recite as he does, turning the face to the moon by the angle it is located at that time, within a minute or two we would have pain in the neck and drop our face. With vaidhi bhakti (rules-based devotion) and rAga bhakti (love-based devotion) in confluence in him, since that Parama Bhakta also remains as a yogirAjan (king of yoga), even if it takes three quarters of an hour to recite Sahasranamam leisurely, that Chandra (Sekhara) Mukham fixed on the moon, would not for a moment droop. How much cool would be that nectarine scene to the Atma!

There are days when Gurunathan will give upanyAsam (lecture) after the night puja. It would never be complete to write about the beauty of his upanyAsam. Perhaps we can write his upanyAsa vAkyas (contents of the lecture). But then without those soft and wonderful bodily movements swelling out of the heart of the upanyAsaka, where the self is ramita (delighted) in the subject, that writing would only be equal to paper flowers. He will be quiet for several minutes to start with. There would be no other way for us then except to keep quiet ourselves. One anbar (loving devotee) has written that it would seem that he observes silence only to train us in silence in that way for at least sometime.

Though he will be sitting quiet, a hundred thousand ripples of movement would be rising up in him. Taking a marukkozuntu (fragrant grass mixed with flowers in a garland), he would rub his ear lobe gently; would press more hardly the daNDam (staff) leaning on his shoulder; would caress his jaw with the back of his fingers; like a child feeling sleepy, would rub his eyelids gently; or would stroke or wipe the tip of his nose; would sit folding a leg; (or) would squat on his two feet; (or) would sit like a bundle, folding both his legs; would adjust his vastram (cloth), or would slacken the vastram that is sitting alright on him; would remain with a bowed head, as if his eyes were looking at his feet; would wrinkle his forehead as if lakhs of thoughts beat like waves in him.

It would seem that the parama siddhi, parama sukham (ultimate accomplishment, ultimate bliss) of remaining summA (inert) that Thayumanavar spoke, can't be seen even for a drop here! The hand and leg without remaining summA would be doing something actively. In that case, is this man not the one who remains summA?

His very nature is remaining summA. He has come among us so as not to remain that way. For all of us to remain summA, the vastu (thing) that remains summA has come to do kAryam (work) all through the day and night. May be it brings on itself all these ceSTa (pranks) so as not to slip to its natural state? When we get sleep at a time not meant for sleeping, shall we not bring active tasks on ourselves? Perhaps that way!

We feel this even when Gurunathan is doing puja. It seems that he voluntarily brings on him a state of jAgrat (wakefulness) so that he should not remain merged completely with the object puja is done to, should remain a little different from it and do the kAryam of puja without the least mantra, tantra lobham (confusion in mantra and tantra), serving as a guide to the world. His search for the puja dravya (puja substances), stiring persistently with a hand under a tripod and taking out a flower basket or a cup, repeatedly turning his head towards the devotees when doing puja--all bring up only this thought. Isn't it that the shikharam (summit) of the tyAga shIlam (behaviour of sacrifice) is to slacken the apex feeling of blissness in oneness? But then looking at these external acts can it be said that he is not merged with the object of puja? When he looks at us turning his head during the puja time, that fullness flourishing in that look, is what other than the state of fullness of the Atma?

It is all rows and rows of waves on the surface of an ocean. Marine life and shells under them. Going deeper, the embryos of swrirls, beyond that the depressions connected with the monsoons, hurricanes and cyclones. Going further deep digging out these all, there will be no current at the bottommost. The oceans remains in all these states at the same time. Why can't the Mahaans also remain in all states at the same time?

lobha - confusion, perplexity, greed, avarice, impatience, strong desire
marukkozuntu - (Tamil) southern wood, s. sh., artemisia abrotannum pallens
shikharaH - summit
tyAga - sacrifice, leaving, abandonment, quitting, forsaking, rejecting
Pages 177-182 (concluding part)

When our Gurunathan who was sitting silently starts his upanyAsam (lecture), the moment that voice touches our ears, we will get an inexpressible feeling. If we were a lotus flower and a parrot comes and sits on us, how would that feel? Such a pressure which is not heavy, only pleasant, would settle on our ears. First he would talk dragging on. It would seem that he is groping to bring up every word and thought. But then as it goes on, full of enthusiasm and a torrent of words. Thousands of topics, subtopics, tales, sub-tales would arrive and fall in order. Just as a river that starts small in a peaceful reservoir swells as it flows on and other rivers merge into it, the small topic he took up for a start would not only elaborate but many other topics would arrive from somewhere and somehow merge nicely with the main topic. Vedas, Vedanta, Dharma Shastras, Bhakti volumes, Shilpa Shastra, Sangitam, Politics, World History, modern Sciences, Linguistics, the study of Inscriptions and the nuances of daily life--all would churn and mesh in SriCharaNar's speech. With all that he would not make it a pandita prasagam (pandit's indulgent lecture), but would talk in azhagu ozhugu pazhugu mozhi (graceful vernacular) and make even the pAmara (rustic) understand big concepts by simplifying them. Everything in the end would only speak of Anma kSemam (spiritual welfare) and samUha kSemam (societal welfare).

On days when there is no upanyAsam, visits to devotees' homes and Samajams. There would be room for such visits (in his routine) in the mornings as well as evenings. Was he not the the one who travelled throughout the country with his retinue of devotees with everyone everywhere feeling 'this is our own Periyavaa'! From Rameswaram up to Kashi, what countless numbers of rAjopachAra tiruvIdi ulAs (holy street processions with royal honours) he has been in! The beauty of his sitting as nandavanam, Anandavanam (a garden of bliss and peace)! For one thus adored as Deivam (God), how much has he gone searching for the devAlayAs (temples)! The world knows only too well the kaNakku vazhakku illAta (accountless and unspoken) Alaya darshanas (temple darshans) this Aiyan has done! The bhakti shraddhA (devotional sincerity) that he shows when going to ko-ills (god houses), he would show as prema shraddhA (sincere love) when going to adiyAr-ills (devotees' homes)! From accepting the pUrNa kumbham till he bids farewell to them, he would immerse the devotees in complete bliss that would be felt to their very atomicity.

On returning to the camp, again darshan to people. Unrelenting darshan until everyone met and talked to him. Even after eleven o' clock (at night) some people would be waiting to have a private conversation; and he would oblige them all with his grace. Office (work) even at midnight! It would be mostly during that time that our Gurunathan himself would dictate the text for religious publications.

After analyzing the affairs relating to already existing religious institutions and their religious services with the concerned people, he would think about further decisions to be made in respect of them; if anything needs to be taken down, he would dictate them then and there and make wonderful corrections to make the text relevant, whether it is in English or Tamil. He would also give shape at this time to any thoughts about new services and institutions that arise in his mind which is always devoted to thinking about dharma abhivRdhi (growth of dharma).

In this way, how many tasks are done one after another in his dinacharya (daily routine)! Amidst all these, he would somehow read books too. He is Chandrasekhara Saraswathi, so a man very fond of books. Even after his vision dimmed, he used to read finely printed books using a lens in the torch light or other dim light. During some of his days of silence, he would read books for hours together without letting his concentration slip even slightly! The book that receives the eye glance of this Saraswathi who is familiar with all the sixty-four Kalas might be a book on Psychometry, or on Parama Vedanta which is beyond the psyche!

An exclusive, compassionate employee who works in shifts even during dark nights; would accept in the middle some sumangali women (who were waiting solely for this favour) doing dIpArAdhanam (waving a flame) to him. In the light of that lamp he would shine as the light of love to the prachArakas (preachers) and pandits who stay with him.

After ensuring that no one is waiting to have a darshan of him, he would retire to have nidrA (sleep) at twelve or one in the night. Let us be reminded of what we asked in the beginning: whether it can be called nidrA.

Where do the great adhipatis of the great Kanchi MaTham sleep? He would sleep anywhere. Inside the mEnA where there is hardly any space to stretch the leg, he would lie on the wooden plank. Or else he would fold up inside a suffocating cavity. For one who walked miles together on foot through woods and over rocks, he would also do his shayanam (sleeping) on the bare open ground, over thorns and shrubs or on a deserted anthill, spreading his waist cloth. Immediate, motionless sleep or whatever the moment he reclines! Because he can go to any state on just thinking about it!

For whom does he toil from three o' clock in the morning until midnight, without anna AhAram and without a mat to recline? Only for the poor and destitute of this world. He also remains one among them. Is he not the one who does not have for himself any saukarya (facility) beyond what is seen by the poorest in the world? He wears the rough handloom cloth that can be obtained even by the poorest; takes just a fistful of aval (battered rice) that a begger of the night would spurn as alpam (trifle); lives in a small, dark room or under Nature's shade of a tree, with the same 'facility' as a daridra nArAyana (Lord in the form of poor) has. Even the poor would have experienced the facilities of electric light and fan in some rail journey; but this man for the longest part of his life completely disregarded them. The hurrycane lamp in his Brindavanam displayed as one of the articles he used would explain how that Chakravarti lived only as a poor citizen! Also look at the pAdak kuRadu (sandals) of the simple man who did his travels by 'Nataraja Service' (walking on foot) without knowing the experience of travelling in any wheeled contrivance right from the bullock cart to the railway train! Only now we understand why SriRudram calls Parameshvara 'daridran'. And is He not the mitra (friend) of Kubera too?

In the world surrounded by outer darkness, just like the rest of the people sleeping, this small figure reclining with eyes closed, as an anAmadheya ANdi (anonymous mendicant) is the Lamp that AmbaaL has lit up in order that our inner darkness will also melt away. Only She who is the light of knowledge and compassion has come as this Lamp and awakens by rousing us from our inner sleep.

It is not enough for us to remain with this Light either for a day, or many days, or even several thousand days. We should merge into permanent unity with that Light itself in the expanse beyond time. Let us pray to that Joyti itself for this anugraha.

"Lead us from darkness to light!"
"tamaso mA jyotir-gamaya!"

daridra - needy, poverty, beggar, poor, vagrant
prasaN^ga - love, attachment, connection, union, timing, occasion.

Memoirs of Kanchi Munivar: A Floral Collection
author:....... Raa. Ganapathi
source:....... kAnchi munivar ninaivuk kadambam, 240 pages
publisher:.... Divya Vidya Padhippaham (Jun. 1995 Edition)
type:......... book, Tamil

Chapter 1. The pUrNa kumbham and the vAhana ArohaNam
pages 1-6

The time when Sri Maha PeriyavAL was the boy Swaminathan in Tindivanam. That is, the beginning years of this century.

In that town, sIDai muRukku vyApAram (sale of crunchy snacks) of an andaNap pATTiyammai (brahmin old woman).

Swaminathan had a special taste in pATTiyammai's sIDai muRukku. When he got chillaRai (surplus small coins of money) he used to buy and be happy eating them.

Without just being happy himself, he would also distribute them to his friends and make them happy.

Later, when those friends too got chillaRai (let us not go 'researching' into how they got the coins! Can everyone be like the chaste Swaminathan?), they started buying pATTiyammai's noRukkut tIni (crunchy snacks), muRukku ityAdi (Murukku and such).

The chaste Swaminathan was also a sAmartyashAli (skilful person). His chasteness elegantly set a limit for his skill to remain justifiable.

Now, that boy of about twelve years of age, showed that nyAya sAmartyam to pATTiyammai.

"pATTI! I have given you these many customers, right? So you sell the edibles at a discount to me", he said. Commission and discount are there in any dharma nyAya vyApAram, right?

pATTiyammai refused--since she did not know that the boy was an avatAra of Lord bhikShANDi to whom she can give even her sweet soul not just for a commission, but free.

That avatAra also, even when he saw his hundred years of age, acted as if he didn't know it? Therefore, like a twelve-year old sAmAnya mANavan (ordinary pupil) he bargained again.

pATTiyammai did not budge.

Swaminathan said angrily, "I am not going to buy form you henceforth!"

pATTiyammai asked him with even more anger: "Go away if you don't buy! As if if you are not buying, I shall have no means of living, and shall call you with pUrNa kumbham, you thought?"

"kUppiTTuttAn pArEn (you try doing it)!" said Swaminathan and moved away.

*** *** ***

Only a year or two would have run.

Tindivanam swelled in utsava utsAham (festive delightful enthusiasm) that Kanchi KamakoTi PIThAdhipatigaL was to visit the town. Any place would swell at the visit of a Jagadguru, but it was not like that. The town swelled anantam (countless) times in a swell of bliss.

The reason was that, it was only that thirteen year old Swaminathan, who, until two months ago, was the pet boy of Tindivanam, was the Jagadguru Kanchi KamakoTi PIThAdhIshvara Sri Sankaracharya SwamigaL who was to visit the town now! In a totally unexpected turn of events, the school boy has evolved into a world teacher!

The pUrvAshrama Swaminathar, who ascended to pIThAdhipatyam without much kolAhalam (fanfare) in the North Arcot Kalavai, and became Srimad Chandrasekharendra SaraswatigaL, is now going for a sampradAya paTTabhiShekam (tradition-honoured consecration) with rajarIka vimarisai (royal grandeur) in Kumbakonam, a town that in those days remained as the rAjatAni (capital) of SriMaTham. On the way he visits Tindivanam, his previous vAsasthalam (town of residence) that gave him to the world.

Happiness in every house, of the expectation of seeing their own son as DandapaniSwamy who guides a householder! As if an external sign of that ananta kumbham filling their hearts, a pUrNa kumbham was kept ready to receive the deivIka kuzhandai (divine child). (It was the custom that people of sakala jAtis (all castes), even women, did this honour in bhrAmmaNa mukham to the Jagadguru.)

That muRukkup pATTiyammai who had a twist of temperament on that day also had an intention to honour, and was ready with her pUrNa kumbham. And that with what agitating emotions? After she drove away that samarttu sarkkaraik kaTTi (skilled and gentle 'suger candy') with her words, "...shall call you with pUrNa kumbham?"--words that were just short of a slap on the face--, that 'candy' never showed its head in that area. Later pATTiyammai learnt that it ascended the Mahaguru PiTham, which was a rare honour to get. From the day she learnt the news, she was regretting her action, with the feelings of an aparAdhin (guilty, offending). Only with the pressure of that feeling, today she prepares her pUrNa kumbham to earnestly receive that child whom she drove away on that day. pATTiyammai's manas (mind) is in saMchalam (agitation): 'Whether the kuzhandai guruswAmi (the Child Guruswamy) would accept or decline it?' Did he not pose a challenge on that day saying, "kUppiTTuttAn pArEn (you try doing it)!"?

The Guruswamy that appeared far away, moves towards her, little by little, stopping here and there, and has now come to the next-door!

How much of a change in figure! That within one or two years! The tejas (shine) that stopped at the limit of adisamarttuk kaLai (elegance of extreme skill) then had now become elevated into deivIka gaMbhIryam (divine majesty). In that is weaved in wonder, the suppleness of a divine motherliness!

When on behalf of pATTiyammai at the entrance of her house, the pUrNa kumbham is offered next, would that tejas separate itself and scorch as a flame?

There, when the Guruswamay has arrived...

eagerness and anticipation pushing pATTiyammai's legs forward, fear and a feeling of guilt drawing them back...

somehow her managing it, coming forward and standing with humility...

on her behalf, SastrigaL extended the pUrNa kumbham before Kuzhandai Gurunathan.

The shining eyes of the GurubAla settled on the pATTiyammai who was desparate to hide herself.

The light did not become a flame! Instead of the tejas alone separating, only the motherliness separated and came up swelling!

That motherliness, with the simple and readily relating heart of a child, blossomed into a smile and flowered as a talk with a childlike frolic.

Touching the coconut that was pUrnaphalam on the kumbham, and saying as honey, "kuDuppEnA-nna ~nIyum kuDuttuTTE! vA~ggippEnA-nna ~nAnum vA~ggiNDuTTEn! (you who said 'will I give it', gave it! I who said 'will I receive it', received it!)", he took it in his hand, that Acharya Murtam of all beings, who has become the embodiment of love.

The joy of victory to both of them, for having got defeated in their own challenges!

As a rUpakam (form) of that joy, pATTiyammai did a namaskAram that matched all the prostrations done by the people of the town.

The Child Guruswamy who has become a suddha prEmai vaDivu (pure embodiment of love) in which thoughts like guilt and pardon never arise, blessed pATTiyammai with a blessing that matched all the blessings he gave to the people of the town, with the prArthanA 'Narayana, Narayana'.

*** *** ***

aparAdhin - guilty, offending, criminal.
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