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Guru upAkhyAnam (Tales about Gurus)-02

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The 'Satara' that Resolved the saN^katas
Compiler: Sri Ramani Anna (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Jun 14, 2007

VaikAsi anusham - May 31. The holy day when 114 years ago, when the lamp appeared to lead the way with its light to AnmIkam (spirituality). On this golden day when Kanchi Periyavaa took avatar, the very thinking of that para brahmam will give pari pUrNa shanti.

An incident that happened many years ago.

It was the time when in the Satara town of Maharashtra, the construction works of Uttara Sri Nataraja temple were going on in accordance with AcharyaaL's orders. People thronged daily to have darshan of PeriyavaaL who was camping in the town.

A Sunday. Three o' clock in the afternoon. A 30-year-old youth prostrated to AcharyaaL, his eight limbs touching the ground, and got up. Tears were seen in his eyes. Noticing it, Periyavaa asked him with affection, "EmpA, who are you? Which place, why do your eyes go red?" Without replying, he started crying. People nearby assuaged him and made him sit before SwamigaL.

"Which place are you from appA?" SwamigaL asked him.

"Palakkad, Periyavaa."

"You are coming all the way from Palakkad?" asked AcharyaaL immediately.

"Yes Periyavaa. I am coming all the way from that place."

"Alright. What is your name?"

"Harihara Subramanian."

"besh* (well) a good name. Right, what's your thagappanAr (father) doing?"

"My father is not in jIva dashA (living condition) now, Periyavaa. He was practicing Ayurveda in Palakkad. His name was Dr. Harihara Narayanan--"

Before he finished, SwamigaL with kutUhala (interest) said, "ada (I see), you are the son of Palakkad Ayurvedic doctor Narayanan? Very glad. In that case, tell me, you are the grandson of doctor Harihara Raghavan! All of them earned very good name in Ayurveda!". SwamigaL looked at him keenly, raising his eyebrows.

The youth said, "Yes, Periyavaa."

Smiling, AcharyaaL said, "besh! A lofty vaidhya paramparA (medical lineage). It is alright. You have not added any doctor title before your name?"

"I did not study for that Periyavaa. My father did not prepare me in that way," said the youth, without interest.

"You should not say that way! Did your father not prepare you, or you did not have the shraddhA (strong wish) in getting prepared in that way?"

There was no reply. "Taking birth in that vaidhya paramparA, you missed the chance to know things? Right, up to which class you have studied?"

"Up to the ninth, Periyavaa."

"Why? You had no wish to study further?"

"Somehow I did not have the wish Periyavaa. I now feel for it!"

"Your vivAham (marriage) is done?"

"Done Periyavaa. I have a daughter who is seven years old."

"Right, what do you do now?"

Tears gushed from his eyes. "Since I had no education, I could not get any high jobs, Periyavaa. I am doing the work of a supervisor in a local rice mill. The salary is seven hundred rupees. My family is running only on that amount."

"Oho... Is that so? Right. You have your own gRuham left for you by the periyavaaLs (ancestors)?" SwamigaL asked him.

Wiping his tears, Harihara Subramanian said, "There is a house Periyavaa, built by my grandfather. The very purpose of my coming here is to supplicate to Periyavaa about it. Many years ago, since her husband passed away, my father's sister came over to Palakkad bringing her two daughters. During a Navaratri festival time, my father mortgaged the house to a local person, took twenty-fve thousand rupees from him, conducted the marriage of the two daughters of my aunt, and then suddenly passed away. My aunt too passed away.

"My grievance, Periyavaa, is that during the festival time of Navaratri my father mortgaged the house that was lakshmikaram (prosperous, Lakshmi-given) and passed away. The amount has now come to forty-five thousand rupees including the interest. It seems the house is going to sink!"

SwamigaL lapsed into contemplation for a while. His silence dissolved presently and he said as he smiled, "Alright, now you celebrate the Navaratri festival at home, raising a kolu (an assembly of divine dolls) every year?"

"No, Periyavaa. I stopped the custom of raising a kolu after my father passed away, doing what he did."

AcharyaaL promptly interrupted him and said, "You should never talk so disrespectfully of Atthup periyavaaL (family ancestors). They are all very lofty people. I know it well! They have all gone after doing only excellent things! Keeping something in mind, your stopping the custom of celebrating Navaratri every year with a prosperous kolu is wrong! The Navaratri starts in a week from now. You revive the custom of raising a kolu in Palakkad from this year. All your afflictions will be solved and your will get prosperity!" Blessing the youth and giving him prasAdam, SwamigaL bid him farewell.

Twenty days passed. It was a Sunday. A large crowd in Satara to have darshan of AcharyaaL.

An assistant of the MaTham made way parting people in the queue and brought before SwamigaL a respectable man of 60 to 65 years of age, wearing a saffron jippa (tunic) over a pancakaccham (tucked in dhoti), and a number of tulasi, rudrAkSa garlands on his neck. He prostrated to AcharyaaL and started conversing in Hindi. SwamigaL also did his saMbhASaNaM (conversation) in Hindi and then asked the gentleman to go and sit on the stage opposite him.

At length, a small trunk box in hand, Palakkad Harihara Subramanian came and stood before Maha SwamigaL. He prostrated resting his eight limbs to the ground.

With artha puSTi (wealth of meaning) SwamigaL looked alternately at the youth and his trunk box. The youth opened the box slowly. Very ancient palm leaf scripts numbering 10 to 15 were kept inside the box, wrapped in a silk cloth. That Parabrahmam looked at him knowingly, yet as if it did not know.

The youth said innocently, "You gave me the orders to revive the custom of kolu from this year. When I climbed up the loft to retrieve the kolu dolls, I found this box there. I had not seen it until then Periyavaa! I checked its contents and found these scripts whose letters were unintelligible to me. So I brought it straight here."

AcharyaaL laughed and beckoned to the gentleman in saffron tunic who was sitting on the stage opposite him. To the gentleman he said in Hindi, "The apUrva vastu (rare article) you asked me about only a little while go has come here, look!"

The gentleman immediately sat down on the floor, took the palm leaves and started having a glance at their grantha letters using a lens he had with him. His face blossomed. Lifting those scripts and keeping them over his head, he grinned happily and said, "O Parama Acharya Purusha! I am searching for this apUrva ayurveda grantha for many years. You are the pratyakSa deivam (God present before the eyes)! Within half an hour you have brought before my eyes what I prayed to you for!" He prostrated to SwamigaL with wonder.

Harihara Subramanian stood amazed looking at all this. AcharyaaL called him near and said, "This gentleman is a great Ayurveda Siddha research scholar of Pandaripuram. Only half an hour back he told me about his searching for such an apUrva suvadi (rare palm leaves). Something struck my mind, I told him to sit and wait for sometime. And now you come and stand before me with this trunk box!" AcharyaaL ordered the youth, "All these will be very useful to him. Thinking of your father and grandfather, you submit with your own hands all these things to that gentleman."

The youth did as he was told. Tears of joy in the face of the gentleman who received the contents.

The gentleman looked at him and said, "I have come to possess an apUrva grantha by your grace! It would not be dharma to receive them without paying a kANikkai (an amount as a token of gratitude)." Then he placed five hundred-rupee-sections** (each having 100 bills in it) along with some fruits in a plate and held them politely to Harihara Subramanian. The youth looked at SwamigaL, who smiled and asked him to receive the money. Hands shaking, the youth received those fifty thousand rupees!

Calling him near, that walking God said, "What did I tell you when you spoke out your grievance about your family ancestors? I said they were all lofty people, they would have gone only after doing excellent things. It somehow struck in my mind. You saw the excellent thing your people had done, on the loft where the kolu dolls were kept? You said your house mortgage loan had swelled to forty-five thousand rupees in principal and interest! Now Sri ChandraMauleesvara has done his anugraham for it. Get back to Palakkad with happiness. Let the money be safe with you!" and bid him farewell after blessing him.

*besh - I think this term originates form bheSajam meaning healing, healthy. The equivalent terms based on health and healing in some other languages used as appreciative expressions include: nallathu in Tamil, accha in Hindi and 'well' in English.

**The term 'section' in Indian banking parlance, refers to a pack of 100 bills of currency. A 'bundle' is a pack of ten such sections.

puSTi - thriving, prosperity, comfort, wealth, opulence, breeding, rearing, nourishment

Why Did He Faint?
Author: A. Thiyagarajan, Chennai-80 (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Mar 03, 2007
Publisher: Viketan Publications

When I had gone to Kanchi MaTham once, I heard about this incident from an arcakA (priest).

Maha Periyavar was camping in a village near Trichy, about 45 years ago. When he started for the usual ChandraMauleesvara puja one day, he told the manager of the MaTham, "Within a short while, the Akhiladeswari Koil (temple) arcakAs will come here. Provide them bhojana (food) and bring them to me around two o' clock." Then he told a siSya (disciple), "Arrange it with the sthapati (sculptor) to carve a two-foot Vinayaka statue."

As directed by Periyavaa, the manager received the arcakAs with honours when they came in the afternoon, fed them and then took them to the sage. Periyavaa inquired them about their welfare.

The head priest told him, "The arcakA who goes daily in the morning to open the sanctum sanctorum of Sri Akhilandeswari for public darshan, faints and falls down as he opens the door. He recovers only after ten minutes. Since this happens daily, the other arcakAs are hesitant to take up the puja."

Periyavaa said at once, "Tomorrow I shall come to the temple myself. You can open the temple after my arrival." He gave them prasAda and bade them farewell.

Periyavaa went to Sri Akhilandeswari temple at 5:30 hours the next morning. The arcakA fainted as he opened the door. He recovered after ten minutes and then got up and went about his work. Periyavaa sat in niSTa (meditation) for sometime. Then he called the head priest and said, "From tomorrow, ask him to enter the sannidhi (building where the deity is installed) by opening the side door!" He also explained the priest the way to do it and asked for the arcakA to enter the sanctum two minutes after opening the door.

When the sthapati came with the Vinayaka statue at four in the evening, Periyavaa asked him to build a stUpi (tope) and install the Vinakaya statue on the tope in such a way that the lines of sight of both Akhilandeswari and Vinayaka met each other on the same plane. Sri Vinakaya was installed in the temple opposite (his mother) Sri Akhiladeswari according to Agama rules and pujas were performed to Him. The incident of the arcakA fainting did not continue thereafter. The Vinayaka statue is still located directly opposite AmbaaL's sannidhi (so the mother's first look every morning falls on her first son).

stUpaH - stUpi in Tamil; a tope, a monument

'anubhavam Ayiram' (Experiences, a Thousand)
Author: Ramani Anna
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Aug 30, 2008
Type: magazine, fortnightly, Tamil
Publisher: Viketan Publications

Several years ago... Sri Kanchi Maha SwamigaL along with his parivAram (entourage) did vijayam (visit) of the Thanjai (Thanjavur) district areas. It was the month of Ani (jyaishTha). People from the villages of the surrounding taluks kept coming to have darshan of Maha PeriyavaaL who was camping in a large dharma chatram (free choultry) at ADutuRai.

The pramukhas (notables) of the villages Natarajapuram, Govindapuram, Thyagarajapuram, Sattanur, and Tirumangalakkudi surrounding Aduturai, had arranged on behalf of their places, for a samaSTi bhikShA vandanam (collective feeding of a sage and his retinue).

At a distance of only one k.m. from Aduturai is ADiyEn's (my) native place Marutthuvakkudi village located. My father BrahmaSri Santhana Vadhyar was then the MudrAdhikAri of Sri Kanchi MaTham of that area. On behalf of our village too he wanted a samaSTi bhikShA vandanam to be held. The local pramukhas had agreed for this.

On the morning next day, my father started for the choultry where SwamigaL was camping. He took me with him.

On seeing him, the MaTha kAryasta (secretary) said, "ShAstrigAL... Aren't you the MudrAdhikAri of Marutthuvakkudi? Shouldn't you have the bhikShA in your place one day? You have it on the coming Sunday possibly?"

My father said forthwith, "I too came over here to have it fixed. We shall have it on the Sunday." He asked the KAryasta, "Approximately what will it our expenses?"

The KAryasta said with a smile, "Shall tell you. Should remit two hundred and fifty rupees as the kANikkai (offering) to the MaTham. Then your expenses of buying coconuts, fruits, vegetables and so on. After everything is over, when receiving prasAdam from AcharyAL, pAda samarpaNai (offering at feet) as convenient to your village. All told it might take rupees five or six hundred for your expenses." And he asked, "Won't there be enough collection at your place?"

With no hesitation my father said, "bEshA AyiDum (will be accomplished well)". He continued with eagerness, "That's alright, but how much do the people of other places offer as pAda samarpaNai?"

"From five hundred to a thousand they do it", said the KAryasta. My father lapsed into deep consideration.

When we had darshan of AchAryAL within a short while, we prostrated to him and got up. My father informed SwamigaL about the BhikShA Vandanam.

"bEShA naDakkaTTumE (may it take place well)", SwamigaL gave anugraha. "Are there tanikAL (rich men) in our place who can do it Ekadesham (alone)?" he asked.

Lowering his tone, my father said, "Three or four persons are there. Among them two or three had now gone to Madras. The uddeshaH (thinking) is that we all get together in the village and do BhikShA Vandanam for PeriyavaaL." He prayed, "AchAryAL should give anugraha." Smiling, SwamigaL raised both his hands and blessed him.

There were only four days for the coming Sunday. My father started the collection. In the three AgrahArams together, there will be about 30 houses. The collection was over by Thursday evening. 400 rupees had been collected. My father and the other VaidIkAs in the village submitted another hundred rupees. Thus the total collection amounted to rupees 500! It was just enough for the BhikShA Vandanam.

Only for PeriyavaaL's pAda samarpaNai, money was required. It was my father's wish that at least five hundred rupees must be offered. He did not sleep well that night.

Friday! We went to have darshan of AchAryAL. Sitting in a thatched shed in the choultry, SwamigaL was giving darshan. The crowd surged like a wave. At a distance, in a corner, joining our palms, we prostrated towards the direction SwamigaL was seated. I looked at my father. His face was soaked in worry. His worry was whatever can be done for the pAda samarpaNai.

Suddenly a voice full of compassion: "Santhanam! Come near. Why are you standing there?"

Laughing and gesturing, AchAryAL beckoned him near. We both went near him, prostrated in shASTaaN^gam and got up.

"What Santhanam, yesterday you were not seen here at all! Any jOli (work) in your place?" SwamigaL inquired.

"Nothing of that sort Periyavaa. Aren't we doing BikshA Vandanam on behalf of our place this Sunday... On that account I was making some arrangements, that's all." Before my father could finish, SwamigaL interrupted and asked, "That's alright Santhanam, the laukIkams (collection) were completed as expected?" with a laugh. My father hesistated to reply to this.

Before he could open his mouth to say something, as if SwamigaL had understood something, "Worry about nothing! By the kRupA (compassion) of ChandraMauleesvara, things will happen as you have thought about them", SwamigaL fondled him with words.

Suddenly, "Why Santhanam... In the Kaveri river in this place, are there plenty of waters flowing now, you know about it?" he asked. Everyone was confused as to why Periyavaa should inquire about the Kaveri waters.

"It is flowing in plenty Periyavaa", said my father.

Periyavaa did not leave him at that. "Alright, when did you last go for your Kaveri snAnam (bath)?"

"A week ago Periyavaa!", my father replied.

"Let it be. Is there much water flowing now, you know about it?" This is Periyavaa.

A local Anbar (devotee) present there said with humility, "I had gone for the Kaveri snAnam this morning. A fair amount of water is flowing Periyavaa."

SwamigaL was not at samAdhAna (reconciled) at that. "Flowing fairly means... not understandable! Does it flow so one can immerse and do snAnam, I should know about it", he said. Looking at my father, he continued, "Santhanam, you do one kAryam. Go for Kaveri snAnam at dawn tomorrow morning. Have a look and tell me if enough tIrtham (water) flows for bathing with good immersion." Saying this, he suddenly got up and went inside!

We returned to our place thinking that PeriyavaaL was asking all these details for his own immersed bath in Kaveri.

Saturday! It dawned. There was a slight drizzle. In accordance with PeriyavaaL's orders, we went for the Kaveri snAnam. It was then seven o' clock in the morning. Apart from me and my father on the banks, there was not a single fly or crow. Taking bath my father said, "Waters are flowing enough for taking a good, immersed bath! Should go and tell Periyavaa."

Then he started saying the Kaveri snAna saMkalpam in a loud tone. Suddenly, from the banks was heard a clear and loud voice: "SAstrigAL! Please stay awhile. I too shall join you. For me too kindly do the snAna saMkalpam. There will be puNyam for you!" We both turned and looked. A man who could be estimated to be of 55 years of age was descending into the waters. A face that was not familiar at all!

Finishing the saMkalpa snAnam we climbed up to the banks. Changing his clothes, that man gave my father five rupees towards snAna saMkalpa dakshiNA (ritual gift). My father inquired about him.

He started saying: "For me too our pUrvIkam (ancestry) is only Marutthuvakkudi. My maternal grandfather too is from the same place. For my paternal grandfather Venkatachalam Aiyar, there was an own house in Marutthuvakkudi. After my grandfather, none of us remained here. We went to Bombay. Melur ChandraMauleesvara Swami near Tiruneelakkudi is our kula deivam. 'Whenever you went by the side of our place, have a snAnam in Aduturai Kaveri', my mother often used to say. I got that bhAgyam only today. I am going to Thanjavur in connection with a family legal case. Now having got Kaveri snAnam with saMkalpam, much tRupti (satisfaction)!"

Then he asked, "AmA (What) SAstrigAL! I witnessed as I climbed down from the train. Many people in maDisAr and pancha kaccham are moving in throngs. What is the visheSham here?"

My father elaborated to him about AchAryAL's vijayam and the grAma bhikShA vandanam. He was very happy to hear about it.

"Even to listen to it is happiness. There is this nirbandham (constraint) for me not to participate in the BhikShA Vandanam for the loka guru done on behalf of our place. Still, as an offer from our family, please include this amount too in the BhikShA Vandanam." Saying this, he prostrated to my father, and handed over an envelope to him. My father could understand nothing. He opened the envelope and looked. 500 rupees inside it!

"I shall take leave SAstrigAL", my father stopped the man who was just leaving. "Your nAmadeyam (name)?", he asked the man.

The answer he gave: "Chandramauli".

We both stood amazed.

Then we went straight to the choultry. Periyavaa was not there. They said he had gone to Govindapuram Sri BodhendraaL MaTham.

As my father went to the MaTham KAryasta and said, "Periyavaa asked me to check if enough water is flowing in Kaveri for an immersed bath." Before he could finish, the secretary said, "Periyavaa returned at four dawn time this morning finishing his Kaveri snAnam", giving it a grand finale. Our amazement grew!

Sunday. The BhikShA Vandanam was over. All of us in the village prostrated to PeriyavaaL. My father submitted that 500 rupees as pAda samarpaNai in a plate full of fruits.

Looking keenly at that fruit place for a while, SwamigaL said laughing, "What Santhanam! Isn't your wish fulfilled by the kRpA of Chandramauleeswara?" All of us stood amazed and fell shASTaaN^gam before PeriyavaaL.

nirbandh - to fix or fasten upon, attach one's self to, insist upon, persist in, urge
samaSTi - reaching, attaining; aggregate, totality.

Coming Straight from the Kaveri!
Author: 'Anuthama'* (in Tamil)
Source: Gnana Alayam issue dated Feb 2002 (pages 49-52)

Some years back, I had gone to Orirukkai with Tiru Atmanathan, my brother-in-law. I was very eager to have a look at the works done for the Paramacharyar Manimandapam there. For me who went with the expectation of listening to the music of the chisels as if it were the sculptural world of the Pallava times, there was nothing there. Only a few workers were there since it was the noon time of a Sunday. Even those people had gone for their lunch recess. Some thatched sheds were seen here and there in the vast expanse of land.

When I thought that it was this expanse of land that was having within itself highly skilled sculptural works, the best skills of trained sculptors and the ordinary people who supported them, Maha SwamigaL took vishva rUpa within my mind. I recollected and experienced again the first time I had darshan of PeriyavargaL.

It was the year 1940. My elder brother was in Tiruvazhundur. Having come to know that SwamigaL was taking bath in the Rishaba Kattam there, I went there accompanied by our friend Bhavani Maami. When we reached the Mayavaram Kaveri banks in a trot, it was seen that SwamigaL was on the opposite bank of the river. A crowd had thronged the area. In the rush, that Maami held my hand and helped me cross the river. We would have reached the edge of a large circle of the crowd--that was all! As if a lightning flashed, PeriyavargaL surveyed the crowd momentarily, ascended his 'mena' (palanquin) and disappeared.

We got back home, feeling depressed and sad. My father sent me with that Maami to the village where SwamigaL was camping.

We reached the village and stood in the central courtyard of the house (where the sage was staying). The pujas were over. SwamigaL was conversing with people at a side of the courtyard. When we both prostrated to him and got up, a disciple asked, "From where do you come?" Before we could open our mouth, PeriyavargaL said, "From Mayavaram, straight from the Kaveri"!

My surprise won't be contained in words. How did he recognize two women who had just come to an edge of a large circle of crowd of over a hundred people? He had already ascended the 'mena'? How is this possible? I was overwhelmed by tremors of ecstasy. I couldn't raise my tongue to talk. With me standing amazed, that Maami told the details about us. He inquired about my father-in-law and my husband, blessed and gave me the prasAda. That tremors are not gone yet even today.

In a simliar vein, an incident (happened) 18 years after this darshan. We were then residing in Velur. I expressed my desire to my husband that I longed for an eye-filling, peaceful darshan of PeriyavargaL. He said, "You go today itself. Stay there for four days and have his darshan to your heart's content. I may have to come to Chennai on office work (after four days). I shall accompany you back home from Chennai." I started with happiness.

At that time, Maha SwamigaL was camping in the premises of Chennai Sanskrit College. I stayed in a relative's home. Every morning I would take bath and be present in the Sanskrit College. I would wander the area with the expectation of sighting him somewhere. As if to meet my expectation, he would suddenly come out from somewhere and bless someone. I would watch and enjoy it from a distance. After watching the puja, I would receive the tIrtham, get back home and have my meal. Then I would go again in the evening. I would watch the puja, listen to the graceful discourse of PeriyavargaL and then only would return.

Since there was a tremendous crowd I could not go near PeriyavargaL, prostrate and get his blessings. The day of my returning had also come. Considering that it would be difficult for my husband to locate me when he comes at the puja time in the evening, I was standing on the last row of the gigantic thatched shed. With disappointment and longing, I was surveying the stage.

My husband came. He asked me, "What, had an eye-filling darshan?" I replied with a tsk-tsk. "Yes, I had eye-filling darshan and ear-filling speech. But then I could not go near him even once and prostrate to him?"

"For a week you have been in PeriyavaaL's dRSTi dIkSaNIya? Bathed in that look of grace. Still you have a grievance? Do you want him to see you, introduce himself and say 'How do you do' to you? Are you such a celebrated woman? This is not just greediness, but also too much an expectation," said my husband.

We bowed to him then and there, outside the pandal. I bid farewell mentally, looking at the stage that was far away. At that time, a disciple who was standing nearby SwamigaL on the stage waved his hands in our direction with a gesture of calling someone to the stage. "Look, Periyavaa is calling someone near," I said with jealousy.

My husgand hurried me, "Come come, we need to reach Velur this same night." Somebody touched his shoulder and said, "Aren't you Padmanabhan? Periyavaa wants you and Anuthama to come to the front."

We proceeded to the front in surprise, everyone giving way for us. When we prostrated to the sage and got up, he smiled at me and began, "Your father in Mayavaram..." Like an asadu I interrupted him and said, "My father is no more now." He continued, "No no (I am referring to an earlier time). At that time you all came with the news that it was your aNNA's seemantham." I was stunned. A wave of bliss spread thoughout my body.

He asked my husband, "Ennada, I did (took) bhikSA in your house, you remember?" My husband replied, "If Periyavaa asks me this way, what can I reply?" SwamigaL gave a short, uproarious laugh and then asked a disciple to bring the prasAda plate. vibhuti, kunkumam, matrAkSata were found on the cane plate that was brought. He gestured to bring a fruit. A sweet lime fruit was brought. He took it, surveyed the fruit turning it this way and that, pressed it against his chest once, and then placed the fruit on the plate.

"Both of you take these things together," he directed us.

When I got up prostrating he asked, "Anuthama*, (you) have satisfaction now?"! My eyes were flooded. My tongue got stuck to my upper jaw. I took leave with a bow. A mahAn to whom thousands of people the world over surrendered, who was a walking God on the earth, remembering and recollecting by going several years back in time and blessing a woman who did not know if she was fit to stand in his sannidhi and lived somewhere in a corner--how can that mother's heart be described in words? That bliss is still green in memory.

* For those who are not familiar, 'Anuthama' (pen name of Smt. Rajeswari Padmanabhan) was one of the famous Tamil fiction writers during the period 1960-1990, a contemporary of such great women writers as R.Chudamani, Lakshmi and Rajam Krishnan.

akSata - unbroken rice, barley, whole, uninjured
aNNA - (Tamil) elder brother
asadu - (Tamil) a dunce, dullard, dimwit
dIkSaNIya - to be consecrated or initiated, relating to consecration
dRSTi - seeing, viewing, beholding, the mind's eye, wisdom, intelligence
Ennada - (Tamil) a second person singular form of address meaning 'you know what', often used to indicate a close association.
maami - (Tamil) a brahmin housewife
seemantham - a pre-birth ritual for a male child, done between the fifth and eighth months of pregnancy.
The God I Saw
Author: Muthulakshmi Natarajan, Kumbakonam (in Tamil)
Source: Gnana Alayam issue dated Oct 1999

It is over forty years since this incident happened. We are Paramacharya's bhaktas. Whenever it was possible for us we used to go and have his darshan. Beyond that we were not in a position to do anything big (by way of contibution or service). At that time, my eldest son had just been born; he was two years old. We were living in Sholingar (Shola singapuram), where my husband was transferred on his job.

I was suffering at that time, with fever and phlegm that obstructed my normal breathing. The doctors in Velur examined me and prescribed treatment with medicines and several injections and recommended a month's bed rest for me to come alive of the health ailment.

Trichy was the place of my maternal home. My mother came over to take me there, since I had no one here to take care of me.

My mother had an unshakable faith in Periyavaa. She fully believed that if he had a look and gave vibhuti prasAdam, I would survive and become alright.

Since it was a Sunday the next day, my husband took me, my mother and the child to Kanchipuram. We came to know only after reaching the MaTham that Periyavaa was not there and had gone to a small village named Tirumalpur and was staying there.

We went to that village as desired by my mother. It was a small village, with a small railway station and many railway tracks. Just one passenger train crossed the station from the Chennai side. That was the only train that stopped at Tirumalpur, and that for just two minutes. That same train crossed the station in the evening around five-thirty, arriving from from the South. There were no other trains.

There was just a single station master for this railway station. He was the pointsman, the one who handed over the key, and the one who waved the flags. Express and good trains passed through, but none did stop at the small station.

It was an expanse of deserted land around the station. The eye could meet only sandy area, except for a lone palm tree in the distance.

The station master was a young man who had taken charge only recently. He looked very human. He wore a small streak of vibhuti on his forehead. We told him that we came over to have a darshan of Periyavaa and inquired him the route to get inside the village.

He told us, "adAdA, Periyavaa left Tirumalpur only yesterday and has gone to Kulathur, an even smaller village five or six miles from here!" He said that he came to know the news from some Shastrys who came to the station and also gave him some vibhuti. We heard from him further that there was no way to reach the smaller village except by walking the distance.

The five-thirty train also had left by the time we finished hearing this news. There was no other place to stay except the station. I was suffering from bouts of breathlessness.

Fortunately, we had taken our food and brought fruits, besides plenty of hot water to prepare baby food for the child. But then according to the custom of those days, my mother and I were wearing a lot of jewels. In addition, my husband had to get back to his office the next day, since he had the premises key. He was very jumpy about it.

As it darkened and the night came, the station master was kind enough to accommodate us in his small room that had just a large table with ten telephones on it, which were always ringing. Moving the table to a corner, he gave us room to lie down on the floor, squeezing himself at his desk to continue with his nightly duties.

My husband asked us to get back home by the seven o' clock train on the next morning. My mother said adamantly, "Periyavaa would save us somehow. I won't return without seeing him, having come thus far. Only then my daughter would survive." I was dismayed by the opposite stands taken by my husband and mother.

A wonder happened just then! A small point became visible near the lone palm tree in the distance. It grew up to a covered bullock cart as it approached. A youth was driving the cart with a woman and her maid sitting inside. When they arrived they told us these things: she was the daughter-in-law of the house were Periyavaa was staying at that time. Since she received some urgent tidings to come to Chennai, she came to board the train, accompanied by her maid and brought to the station by her husband's youger brother.

Periyavaa was to leave the village at midnight to continue his journey. The man who accompanied the doli had even taken the silver stick in his hand. But suddenly Periyavaa said to himself louldly, "paavam, they are coming believing only me (and nothing else); shall go after seeing them."

Periyavaa sat back and told his people that their next trip was postponed by two days. Everyone was surprised as to who that VIP was Periyavaa decided to wait for.

Early morning the next day, the daughter-in-law also received the tidings that required her presence in Chennai. She termed the happening as a surprise and said that the cart was going back to their home. Wondering at the immense compassion of Periyavaa we boarded the cart, my husband having decided to take the seven o' clock train as he had the office key, entrusting his young wife, mother-in-law and child to the care of a total stranger, with no other go for him. We could see him looking over us standing at the door of the train, for a long distance in that deserted area, as the train moved moved away.

We reached the house Periyavaa was staying. It was twelve-thirty in the afternoon. The Emperumaan who was waiting only for us, granted us an immediate darshan and was talking to us for a long time.

He gave the prasAdam as desired by my mother and said, "Your daughter will survive, why do you worry?" He gave us raisins and vibhuti. Then we had an eye-filling sight of the puja performed by Pudu Periyavaa, had our meal there, returned to the station in the same bullock cart and boarded the evening train.

"Go, Narasimhar will be in your company." -- His words still ring in my ears. He also said, "Don't forget AmbaL."

When we reached our place, people were surprised to hear our tale. It still gives me spiritual excitement to think about the way Bhagavan understood my pitiful predicament and made arrangements to remedy it. My health also became completely alright within six months due to his grace.

PeiyavAL and PuranAnURu
author:....... VenkaTesa NaTarAjan, KumbakONam
compiler:..... T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
source:....... Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol.2, page 281-296
publisher:.... VAnathi Padhippaham (May 2005 Edition)
type:......... book, Tamil

pages 281-284

I venture to write about some svAnubhavas--personal experiences, aDiyEnggaL--we people were immersed in, understanding the divya vIkShaNIya sukham--pious comfort of divinely charming glances, graced by shrI MahASvAmigaL.

Some details about our vaMshAvalI--lineage, as pUrvapIThikA--introduction; shrI MahASvAmigaL's kAruNya prakAsham--compassionate glances, are related to these details.

01. Our father is one who was named G.VenkaTesan. Lifetime: 1897-1978. He was one who studied Tamizh in the shadow of the sacred feet of mahAmahopAdhyAya shrI U.VE.SA. aiyar during 1913-1918. He was elder to and was a great friend of Ki.VA.Ja. Then he was a teacher till 1930 in the TirukkATTuppaLLi shrI SivasvAmi aiyar High School. Following which, he thought about introducing and spreading 'chAraNIyam'--scout practice, there, was 'drawn' by DivAn GaNapati shAstrigaL, accepted since 1930 an udoyogam--occupation, in PudukkoTTai samasthAnam, then worked as the grAma-abhivRddhi--village advancement, officer, and retired in 1957. shrI SAmbamUrti shAstrigaL, PeriyavAL's pUrvAshrama--of earlier stage of life, younger brother, was our family friend since 1931. His mAppiLLai--son-in-law, shrI Chandramauli too has been such, till today.

My father's knowledge of Tamizh texts and his capability of giving a lecture resembling the flow of sluice-opened waters, on the basis of the RAmAyaNa and the Shiva-ViShNu purANas, won MahASvAmigaL's appreciation.

02. Our mAtAmaha--maternal grandfather, was TiruvAngkADu RAmaseSha shAstrigaL, who obtained the title 'shAstra ratnAkara' ('Jewel-mine of the Scriptures). He was one who was in great anusaraNa--service/use, in ShrIMaTham to PeriyavAL, since MahASvAmigaL's bAlya-prAyam--boyhood.

03. shrI MeTTUr SvAmigaL was one who in his pUrvAshramam in PudukkOTTai, lived in the (street) house right adjacent to ours. So, he very well knew about 'scout' VenkaTesa aiyar and his family. Taking up an udyogam--job, even when I was nineteen, I had gone north, to the states Bihar and Orissa.

What follows is daivikam--divine:

01. The next year our father passed away, my anuja--younger brother, C.BAlasubrahmaNiyan met PeriyavAL in a camp in the KarnATaka desham, waited for an opportunity, paid respects, and prayed him that they wanted to do something in memory of their father. On that day, MahASvAmigaL was observing mauna-vratam--vow of silence, so he did not say anything. He told us that the sage talked to him on his own the next morning.

"ENDA--hey! OnggappA--your father, used to speak a lot in Tamizh? He would recite the verses in 'Tirumandiram'. You know anything of the sort, can you recite something?"

It seems that MaNi, that is, BAlasubrahmaNiyan, after thinking for a while, recited a song.

PeriyavA said: "SundaranAthan becoming MUlan--*1, was in that SAtthanUr, where your PeriyammA--mother's elder sister, was given in marriage. Every year, aippasi month (Tamizh month from mid-Oct. to mid-Nov.), on the day when the ashvati nakShatram accompanies the paurNami--full moon day, on that day is TirumUlar's nakShatram--birth star. Hm... how much do you intend to spend?"

Since MaNi, shy and twisting a little, just showed his bhavya-bhAvam--expression of submissive consent, PeriyavA continued to talk:

"Call that Dunlop KRShNan, where is KadarkkaDai--handloom shop, VenkaTarAman? You should create a Trust. Should admit five-six or ten-twelve, whatever available, school boys in SAtthanUr. No discrimination of jAti-matam--caste or religion. Keeping a notebook, each boy should write down all the three thousand 'Tirumandiram' songs. They must finish it well before the aippasi month. You people go to SAtthanUr (a day before), and have a pravachanam--lecture, on that evening in the temple, let someone talk in your father's bhANi--style. Next day, ashvati, at the time of dawn, (you people and the boys) go to the AiyyanAr temple at the border of the town--there, are the sannidhis of TirumUlar and MUlan--have the pUjAri--village priest, and after doing karupUra-Ararti and all that, all of you sit down, read the fifty verses starting from 'aindu karatthAnai' and do namaskAram--prostration. Then you all walk down, reading the (remaining) verses aloud, to the TiruvAvaDuturai MasilAMaNishvara temple. There is a widespread ashvatta tree in the temple's outer prakAram--courtyard. It is said that only by sitting under that tree did TirumUlar sing all the three thousand verses, one per year. You people, who go there in ghoSTi--group, sitting under that tree, should do pArAyaNam--reading aloud, of Tirumandiram muchchUDum--the entire TirumanDiram. One condition, you people should read only from the manuscripts of the boys."

He paused for a short while. Everyone, with their mano-vAkku-kAyam--mind-word-body, which did not wander elsewhere, were enjoying what their eyes and ears received. The voice of the deivam--God, continued, with a mohana--captivating, smile, that was unique to him.

"I am not asking you people to be-in-paTTini--(Tamizh) go without food. Stopping (the reading) as saukarya--convenient, you can take AhAram--food, now and then, can drink coffee. Whatever interest comes from the Trust (money), with that, should do some kind of sanmAnam--honorarium, to the pasganggaL--boys."

What to say, is it a daiva-vAkku--divine voice!

The festivities went on like a kalyANam--marriage, every year, the family of shrImAn SAmbasiva aiyar, mirAsudAr--(Tamizh) landowner, residing in the vaDakkutteru--North street, of KuLatthangkarai SAtthanUr and the family of my younger brother MaNi, joining hands. Chandramauli, mentioned above, and shrI SAmbamUrti who was known as sAr--sir, would participate. shrI SubrahmaNya aiyar, grandson of shrI mahAmahopAdhyAya aiyar (Uv.Ve.SA). came every year (for the event).

On the evening of the first day, selecting aDiyEn--me, in the outer prakAram of the sannidhi of Ananda-gaurI sameta--together with, Siddeshvarar, they asked me to give a lecture. By the sustained efforts of learning and listening from my father and then polishing it thereafter, I had the AshIrvAda-balam--strength of blessings, so I could talk Tamizh in-saraLam--fluently. The first year, (the lecture was about) 'Ammai-Appan', then 'Nala-charitram', 'KaNNappa nAyanAr', 'Sundara-kANDam (of Kamban)', 'KRShNa-dUtu' (KRShNa going on a mission), ityAdi--and so forth. As an elderson, AppA's--father's, words of blessings stood in good stead for me. The next day, it would be sAyaraKShai--evening time, when we finished the mutRodal--complete reading out.

Every year, C.MaNi and his family would go and pay respects to PeriyavAL wherever the sage camped, and inform him about the TirumUlar event. Asking probing questions, MahASvAmigaL too would share his keen interest and give his blessings.

The event was held for thirteen years. A hundred people in the first year, which dwindled to only six-seven in the end, comprising only us! At length, PeriyavAL himself asked us to stop it.

01. SundaranAthan is the original name of TirumUlar, author of 'Tirumandiram'. How he entered into the body of a dead cowherd named MUlan and soon after lost his own body, is narrated here:
Sage thirumoolar

..to continue
pages 286-291

This is laukika--worldly, perception! What is daivikam--divine, about it is:

1. What he said as our PeriyammA--mother's elder sister, was the eldest daughter of RAmaseSha shAstrigaL. That she was given in marriage at SAtthanUr would have been known to PeriyavAL because ShAstrigaL was closely connected with ShrIMaTham. (How) Did he know about her vaidhavyam--widowhood, too? "Was given in marriage" (he said in), past tense.

2. in BhAskara kShetram, two-three SAtthanUrs (are there)! Only "KoLatthangkarai SAtthanUr" was TirumUlar-athishayam--pre-eminence. How did PeriyavAL know that PeriyammA entered only in this particular SAtthanUr? After many, many years?

3. Before the adbhutam--miracle, took place, the name for TirumUlar was SundaranAthan--PeriyavA's memory power, AhA!

The widespread ashvattha--arasu--peepul tree, TiruvAvaDuturai MasilAMaNishvara, AiyanAr temple, Siddeshvarar, Ananda-gaurI--however many temples, that many SvAmi-AmbAL tirunAmas--sacred names, how does he remember them?

02. 1982 AvaNi is my remembrance about this one: Some months had passed by since I had retired (from office). One day, thinking suddenly of it, and C.MaNi calling me with the same thinking, we both went to SatAra. MahASvAmigaL was then camping there. shrI Jayendra SvAmigaL was in Kanchi. It was the time, when in SatAra, that is in the MahArAShtra state, arrangements were being made to build a NaTarAjA temple, similar to the one in Chidambaram. Night had set in when we both reached there. On the next day at dawn time, we were waiting for PeriyavAL's suprabhAta--early morning, darshan. There were just twenty of us standing in the place. Hoping that he would open a small window and give darshan, an adjacent samasthAna RAjA--king, was standing, with plenty of camphor pieces in a large silver tAmbAlam--large plate with a sloping rim. The time came, the door opened, and the dIpArAdhanA was performed. At that time, when a man came and said, "Who has come who reads TirumUlar? PeriyavA calls", we were thrilled. We had only read about jnAna-dRShTi--prevision...

We bowed to him. He asked something about me. I told him about me. I had written a book for samarpaNam--dedication, to our father; and had planned to print and publish it. Keeping the manuscript in front of him, with the expression, 'Is it appropritate what I thought of doing?' I sought his blessings. He caressed it with his sacred hands. I had titled the book which was written in detail in two languages--Tamizh and English, 'Pearls from Periya PurANam vol.1'. Just the three stories, of TirunIlakaNThar, Sundarar, and SiRutthoNDar.

'Have you read Tamizh well like onggappA--your father?", he asked me. Speechless, I just muttered, "To some extent". Parameshvara debating with Arjuna came up in mind, and I shivered a little. "PuRa-nAnURu, you have read?", he asked. "konjam-konjam--a little, a little", I said. "What is that little, little? Should you not read it well, doesn't the KuRaL say, 'kaRka kasaDaRa'--'learn to remove your blemishes'? sari--right, tell me a 'PuRa-nAnURu' verse", he said, laughing! Like that, like him, doing svastha--make healthy, to the body and mind, nothing else has the power.

ekAntam--solitude, only the two of us and PeriyavA. I recited a verse:

ஈன்று புறந்தருதல் என்தலைக் கடனே;
சான்றோன் ஆக்குதல் தந்தைக்குக் கடனே;
வேல் வடித்துக் கொடுத்தல் கொல்லற்குக் கடனே;
நன்னடை நல்கல் வேந்தர்க்குக் கடனே.

InRu puRa~ntarudal entalaik kaDanE;
sAnROn Akkudal ta~ndaikkuk kaDanE;
vEl vaDitthuk koDutthal kollaRkuk kaDanE;
~nannaDai ~nalkal vE~ndarkkuk kaDanE.

[A mother teaches her son]
"My duty is to bear and get you out;
the father's duty is to make you learned;
the blacksmith's duty is to shape you a vEl--spear;
and the king's duty is to give you good conduct."

The next two stanzas, somehow did not come readily to mind. Only PeriyavA should have made it stop. Because, this is what he asked me:

"ENDA--hey! Saying everything good and peaceful, learned, good conduct--why the vEl--spear, and the kollan--blacksmith in the middle?"

I did not know what to say about it. I had some shivering too. Later on, I read about how he asked M.M.Ismail (who was a scholar of KambaRAmAyaNam), "Do you know about the verse where the words pU--flower, pAmbu--snake, and mAlai--garland, occur?", and the scholar struggled to answer it.

Getting up, MahASvAmigaL went inside. When this happened was in forenoon. In the evening, he was pleased to tell me this: "If a RAjA is to remain in samAdAnam--composed/settled, keeping the peace (in his country), he would need a sainyam--army. He need not seek battle on his own. But if the enemy arrives, he should vanquish them and let the prajA--subjects, live without bhayam--fear. That is why the vEl and the kollar are mentioned." shAnti--peace, came to our mind too.

But then, to return home that night, we did not receive his orders. A sippanti--staff member of the MaTham came and told me, "You need not be disheartened. Four days back Ki.VA.Ja. came, PeriyavA asked him explanation for this same song and laughed. At least for you PeriyavA told the explanation." How did I recite the very same verse that the great scholar Ki.VA.Ja. recited? Just this verse among the four hundred! Or was I made to recite it?

When we were about to retire, a man came and said, "PeriyavA calls you." It would have been eleven o'clock in the night. We both went to see him. 'ENDA, in English, you tell me, what is renunciation, and what is abdication? Or do both have the same meaning?"

We did not know what to reply. And there was the fear of getting stuck with him, saying something! Showing us his pAda-darshanam, he went inside.

Before we started from SatAra, MahASvAmigaL burdened us with two responsibilities. One of the tasks was, "A book called 'Dharma-shAstram'. Gone out of circulation, with no prints to be seen anywhere. It should be printed anew. But then, there are many complications. First you should remove the legal hurdle of the copyright." My tambi--younger brother, MaNi accepted this with eagerness. Within a year, by incessant efforts, he met and swimmed across the tides of the law and threats, sought the help of KumbakONam-resident shAstra-nipuNas--scriptural experts, as revealed in his mind by PeriyavA himself, printed the copies, and what came up with another lease of life as 'Dharma-shAstram', he brought to ShrIMaTham, kept them in MahASvAmigaL's sannidhi, and was greatly appreciated.

But then the task given to me, although looked easy in word, later as MahASvAmigaL said in MahAgaon laughing, "I know it will not happen-DA!", fizzled out like a flower-pot cracker!

He had told me (earlier), "Near the (MylApUr) KapAli temple pond, in the evening daily, a number of vaidikAL--Vedic priests, would assemble. Keeping stocks of pUnUL--sacred thread, darbha grass bundles and kUrchchas--knots of darbha grass, they would await their sale. Tell those people that I told them. Once a week, either in someone's house or in a public place, the Astikas--believers, should assemble. The vaidikas should come there and give them a talk about the mantras used in the vaidika karmas, upanayam--sacred thread investiture, vivAham--marrige, sImantam--rite connected with child-bearing ityAdi--and so on, giving the meaning of the mantras. Let the session be just for a half hour, not long, every week. After it is over, you keep eTTaNA--eight annas, on a vetthalai-pAkku--betel leaves and nuts, and give them each as sanmAnam--honorarium. What, will you do this?"

If the efforts of (publishing the) 'Dharma-shAstram' is a ton, the task I received was just ten grams! Still I could not do it!

Not that I did not make efforts. The replies that came up from the MylApUr pond (people) were varied, but kAiveTTu--immature like a raw fruit.

I don't want to go further on this. It was my koDuppinai--luck, that MahASvamigaL on his own understood it.

..to continue
pages 291-296 (concluding part)

03. At the time the publishing of the 'Pearls from Periyapuranam' was completed, I got a golden opportunity. When I bowed to shrI Jayendra PeriyavAL who was camping in GuDiyAttham, with a printed copy of my work, that he gave his words of blessing and then a benedictory write up in the form of NArAyaNa smRti after he returned to ShrIMaTham, with his grace to keep it in photocopy as the first page of the book, was our bhAgyam.

Not only that. Releasing the book with his own sacred hands, he honoured me. One who received the first copies was shrI RAmadAs, high official of Chennai Telephones; venue, TAmbaram Baby School. The foundation stone laying function of the Hindu Mission Hospital arranged by anbar--devotee, shrI D.K.SrinivAsan, sannivesam, was the occasion that concluded in 1982.

Who else would obtain the pERu--divine fortune, that I got?

*** *** ***

Hearing that MahASvAmigaL was camping in MahAgaon, located in the border of KarnATaka and MahArAShtra states, my wife and I went there. The time, when the evening was about to faint, a small place; keeping in a tAmbALam--large plate with sloping rims, some puShpam--flowers, pazham--fruits, and suger lumps, and two copies of the published book which was earlier blessed by his touching, we bowed, and stood before him, closing our mouth with a hand.

kAShTha maunam--silence like a piece of wood. An apUrva sAnnidhyam--rare presence of divinity. A petromax lantern that gave just half the light. Perhaps a break in the power supply? On the front wrapper-cover of the book, in blue/purple color on a yellow background, with his spread-out locks of hair dancing, stood in silhouette, the ADalarasan--NaTarAja, of Chidambaram.

Taking the book with a sudden thrust of hand, and gesturing the lantern to be brought near, he started reading the book. Then he turned the pages, stopped at a place and read it keenly. An apparent sign of a smile. Making a muShTi--fist/clenched hand, of his right hand, and raising it to the middle of his head, a jADai--gesture, no-no, an abhinayam--dramatic gesture, as if he said "kUppiDu--call him!" The staff of the MaTham, although they were used to obey in anusaraNam--conformity, take it upon their head, and carry out the eye-prompted samigjnai--(Tamizh) signal, just blinked in this instance. 'Only the Chidambaram-resident dIkShitars would tie their shikha--tuft, in this way and park it over their head in the middle; but then there is no dIkShitar here? What does PeriyavA ask us to do?', when they were thus thinking, opening the bamboo-thatched door of the fence, a dIkShitar entered.

Running to him a chippanti--staff member, said, "PeriyavA calls you." He was shaken, amazed and anxious: 'We came here thinking it suddenly, without any plan about the date, but how come...?' When he came near and bowed, MahASvAmigaL, pointing to the page that he had kept open, told him with an eye-gesture to the effect, "nI paDi--you read this". Seeing his problem as he had not brought his reading glasses, I gave him mine. He started reading it a little loudly.

It was the 3rd page of the book. TirunIlakaNThar purANam. The explanation of the following verse that occurred in page 2:

வேதியர் தில்லைமூதூர் வேட்கோவர் குலத்து வந்தார்
மாது ஒரு பாக நோக்கி மன்னு சிற்றம்பலத்தே
ஆதியும் முடிவும் இல்லா அற்புதத் தனிக் கூத்து ஆடும்
நாதனார் கழல்கள் வாழ்த்தி வழிபடு நலத்தின் மிக்கார்

vEdiyar tillaimUdUr vETkOvar kulatthu va~ndAr
mAdu oru bhAga ~nOkki mannu chiRRambalatthE
Adiyum muDivum illA aRbhutat tanik kUtthu ADum
~nAdanAr kazhalgaL vAzhtthi vazhipaDu ~nalatthin mikkAr

The beginning of the 3rd page was thus:

vEdiyar tillaimUdUr:- The Tillai--Chidambaram, sthalam--sacred place, renowned for its vEdiyar--vaidikas--Vedic people, initiated and ordained by ISha--Shiva, himself, to be known as the 'Tillai mUvAyiravar'--'the three thousand brahmins of Tillai--Chidambaram'. Many testimonies would speak about their having done paripAlana--administration, of not just the temple but also the country and the people, in conformity with dharma, administering the justice. The anDhaNar sabhA--court of brahmins, would assemble every day, do vichAraNa--inquiry, of the displutes, and mete out nyAyam--justice. There are vRttAntas--historical accounts/reports, that Shiva himself, who is the paramporuL--ultimate reality, had on occasions argued the cases. What follows is one such incident.

Apart from its importance otherwise, this Chidambaram was known for its Assembly of Brahmans--a part of the 3000 strong Brahman's clan ordained and initiated by Lord Siva Himself to maintain the temple and the administration thereof--which also met daily and heard disputes. In a few of these, Lord Siva Himself chose to be a prosecutor in disguise (as in this story, too!). A respected and feared clan of upright and God-fearing men, who upheld Dharma.

The DIkShitar raised his head and stood looking at PeriyavAL. A kuRunagai--tiny smile, appeared in the sacred mukha-maNDala--region of the face, of MahASvAmigaL. Whatever views did they exchange among themselves, only that Sarveshvara has its light. Because, for whatever reason the power supply that had broken until then, was suddenly resumed!

The reading glasses were returned to me. I came to know about the notable, that he was Dr.V.V.SvarNa VenkaTesa DIkShitar, a scholar who had obtained the virudu--title, 'sarvajanopakAri'--'one who serves the entire population'. One who made that VenkaTesa DIkShitar have a glance at my book that I had dedicated to my father VenkaTesan, was MahASvAmigaL! Thrilled and rapturous I became. Ten-twelve years later, when I met DIkShitar in his house in the East Car Street in Chidambaram, and reminded him of this incident, we both were much moved. Since he was unwell, his feelings were more acute.

04. One shrI T.R.SrinivAsan came to SAtthanUr for some years (for the TirumUlar festivity). He was my high school teacher during 1937-38, an engineer and a PudukkOTTai-resident. In the old age past eighty he wrote a book. What I write below is what he told us once in SAtthanUr.

No remembrance about its title. An old saMskRta--Sanskrit, book. He had written a commentary, explaining the shlokas--verses, that occurred in the book, removing the sandhi-vikAra--grammatical inflections, and separating the padas--words. Going to MahASvAmigaL, and keeping his work before him, he bowed to the sage many times. There was no vow of silence for the sage on that day.

"yArkiTTE idellAm paDichchE? YAru ivvaLavu azhagA unakku saMskRtam katthuk koDutthA?--From whom did you learn all these? Who taught you Sanskrit in such beautiful manner?"

"I studied formally in PudukkOTTai. For us four-five students, TiruvAngkADu RAmaseSha shAstrigaL took the classes." Was the honour visible in his voice and eyes?

PeriyavA showed an abhinayam--dramatic gesture: Bringing the thumb and little finger of his right hand together and touching his forehead with the other three fingers, his eye-flowers asking 'avarA?--Was he?" No one could understand it. Wasn't PeriyavA one who had become learned in all the sixty-four arts including the bharatam--bhara-nATyam dance, without formally learning them, unlike (the king) RAjasekhara PANDiyan? Who else can be like him in the body language, with only angga-cheShTa--moving of limbs and not talking through the mouth?

No one could understand it: that is, the connection between a vaiShNava nAmam--forehead sign, and RAmaseShar.

bhavyam-embodied, closing his mouth and bending his frame, an upachAraka--servant, of the MaTham asked:


Nodding of head in dissent, with a smile.

"GovindaiyangAr?" No!

"GopAlasvAmi, SrInivAsan? RanganAthan? RAjagopAlan?"
No, no, no!

"No idea of who PeriyavAL is referring to? God VenkaTAchalapati?"

PeriyavA stirred a little. "VenkaTesan?"

MahASvAmigaL sat upright. An approval gesture to the effect, 'the same, the same!'. Looking at T.R.SrInivAsan, with a samigjna--signal, and with no words, he asked, 'You speak about VenkaTesan's mAmanAr--(Tamizh) father-in-law?'

In this manner, respect for our tagappanAr--(Tamizh) father, and gauravam--honour, for our mAtAmaha--maternal grandfather shAstra ratnAkara, in between with a small, this one, what to say--snub! A sacred prompt for modesty.

shrI T.R.SrInivAsan himself spoke about this incident in the next TirumUlar festivity.

'kOyil nannA varum!' (The Temple Would Come Up Well)
Author: P.S. RamaChandran, Chennai-19 (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Feb 6, 2008
A wonderful incident that happened in my life and immersed me in Kanchi Maha Periyavar's karuNai kaTAkSam (glance of compassion): About 45 years ago, we were residing with family in the Tiru.Vi.Ka. Nagar at Perambur, Chennai. In that area, the employees of the Simpson Group of companies, B & C Mills and the Government were also residing.

We had our own Residents Association. Still, we wanted to start a satsangam (Spiritual Association). 'satsangam duHkham prasayamati'--that is, the association with sAdhus and the wise would lessen the grief, it is said. Accordingly, through the Satsangam we started, we helped in a small way the poor students and the afflicted. In addition, it was a custom to keep the holy portrait of Sri Hanuman in some of our friends' homes and do nAma-sankIrtanam (singing the glorious names) on Saturdays.

With such happenings, some of us wanted to build a Vinayaka temple in the vacant plot near the Tiru.Vi.Ka. statue. We decided to form a group for the purpose and collect funds. Along with me, SundaraRajan, KrishnaMurthi Aiyar, Srinivasan, RangaChari, Mani, Ethiraj, Dharanipathi, Kothandapani, Padmanabha Rao--thus many of us were in the group. The task of collecting funds began. Erecting a hut in the vacant plot, we first started worshipping Vinayaka.

Days passed by. We couldn't get enough funds. We met AnanthaRamaKrishnan, Chairman of the Simpson Group of Companies and explained him about our holy temple work. He gave a donation of one thousand rupees. It was a large sum at that time. Following AnanthaRamaKrishnan's donation, funds started collecting fast. Still, it wasn't enough to build a temple.

An anbar (devotee) in the group proposed, "We can go to Kanchipuram and have darshan of Maha SwamigaL. If he gives us his anugraham and blesses the project, we can advertise in the popular magazines and collect funds." The proposal seemed okay to us. We contacted Kanchi SriMaTham. They said, "Periyavaa has gone on yAtrA to vada desham (northern part of the country). It is not known when he will return to the MaTham. You ring up after a week. We shall inform you about any news from Periyavaa."

It was the time when communication facilities were not as widespread as today. With such limitation, we used to book a call to Kanchi SriMaTham at regular intervals, get the connection and inquired. There was no news about Maha PeriyavaaL's coming to Chennai.

It was a Wednesday. A dream in my sleep in that night. News came that Maha SwamigaL started from Nellore, passed through Perambur and was camping in Rao Bahadur Kalavala Kannan Chettiar's school. We run to have his darshan and get his blessings. As the dream dissolved, I was happy, because as it dawned it would be Thursday, Guruvaram, and I had Guru darshan in dream!

After it dawned, I narrated the dream to my friends. They laughed, "You would have been thinking about it (the project) the whole night, hence the dream." At that time, RangaChary who came running in a hurry said, "Anna, RamaChandran's dream has come true. Periyavaa who came from Nellore is said to be camping in Kalavala Kannan Chettiar's school since midnight!" I felt a shiver of ecstasy!

Taking bath, all of us stared immediately. A delightful shock as I reached the school. That walking God was seated in the same place I saw in my dream, and in the same pose with a smile! We prostrated, our eight limbs touching the ground. We bowed to him and explained everything about our Satsangam, Vinayaka temple construction, and AnanthaRamaKrishan giving us donation. Maha periyavaaL blessed with the words, "kOyil nannA varum. We shall come to the place in the evening."

An employee of the MaTham informed us that Pudu PeriyavaaL Sri Jayendrar would be coming to the Tiru.Vi.Ka. Nagar Vinayaka Temple on that evening and explained us about the tradition of receiving him. Our legs and hands did not work! Worry caught hold of us that we needed to receive Pudu PeriyavaaL with the required honour but we had not a single paise in the Sangam, so where to go for the money? But then, knowing that SwamigaL was coming to their place, the local people came up with financial assistance.

Pudu PeriyavaaL came around seven o' clock in the evening. The tunes of Nadhasvaram, the chanting of Vedas and the devotees singing 'hara hara sankara jaya jaya sankara' transformed Tiru.Vi.Ka. Nagar into a Svargapuri. After worshipping the Vinayaka in the hut, Pudu PeriyavaaL blessed the people. When he took leave, he said, "Come to the camp tomorrow." We went there the next day, got Maha PeriyavaaL's anugram and blessings and returned. Later, an advertisement seeking funds for constructing the temple with Acharya's anugraham was published in the magazines. Funds came by in heaps. The Temple arose in gAMbhIryam (majesty). The kumbhAbhiSekam was performed in a grand manner in the presence of Variyaar SwamigaL. Thus Maha PeriyavaaL's vAkku, kOyil nannA varum became a reality.

We had then done pratiSTA (consecration) of only Vinayaka in the temple. In the later days it became a large temple that included Anjaneya, Aiyappa and the Navagrahas. It has been several years since I changed my residence from Tiru.Vi.Ka. Nagar. On the rare occasions I happen to have darshan in this temple, thoughts about Maha PeriyavaaL would crop up and gladden my heart.

In Kanchi Mahaan's Shade of Mercy...1
Compiler: Raa. Venkatasamy (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Nov 26, 2004
A bhakta from Trichy. Photographer. Owned a small studio. In the puja room of his house Kanchi Mahaan's picture would be prominent!

Getting up in the morning, after taking bath, he would keep some offering in front of the picture and pray, and only then would commence his daily work! His lips would be always chanting PeriyavaaL's naamam.

Once Periyavaa visited Kurnool in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It was a hot region, and the sun was radiating intense heat.

This photographer from Trichy got the desire to have PeriyavaaL's darshan. Before he boarded the train that morning, he poured hot milk in a tumbler and kept it as offering before Periyavaa's picture.

The crowd of devotees at Kurnool exceeded the capacity of the place where the sage was staying. Floods of people wherever one turned. Our photographer couldn't make it in from any of the sides. He got up on a heap of sand at some distance and tried to have darshan of PeriyavaaL. The intense heat of the sand scorched his legs. He started to move away thinking that he would have darshan in the evening after the crowd becomes less in number. He had the yearning that he could not have darshan of the sage after travelling this far.

He would have walked a small distance, when it seemed to him that somebody was calling him from behind; he turned to have a look.

A disciple came to him running. "You have come from Tiruchy?"


"Periyavaa asked me to bring you to him."

"Bring me?" The photographer was surprised.

"You are a photographer?"


"In that case, you come with me."

The disciple took the man with him and produced him before Periyavaa. His palms joining, his eyes watering, the photographer stood before the sage, forgetting his outer self.

Looking him over, the Mahaan said, "You come this far to see me. What is the meaning if you go back without seeing me?"

The photographer stammered: "The crowd was heavy. Thought I could come after it lessened..."

"Alright, did you have a meal?"

"Yes, I had."

After pausing for a few seconds, the Mahaan said, "Had a look at my mouth?"

He thrusts his tongue out. It looks red, as if affected by heat! Then he asked: "Even my lips have got blister, you know why?"

The photographer could not understand.

"You kept the milk very hot and came away in a hurry, that is why."

The man from Trichy remembered only then about his hot offer to the sage. He fell at the sage's feet, his eight limbs in touch with the ground and wailed, "Maha Prabhu, kindly pardon me!"

The wealth of devotion that the photographer had and the immense grace of the sage who took the devotee's offer forthwith! It was a bhakti that was sAtvikam (good and gentle), a bhakti that considered God as everything to the devotee!

*** *** ***

The crowd that usually throngs to have darshan of PeriyavaaL is rather permanent. Periyavaa would know about almost everyone in the crowd.

On that day, an old woman was standing in the queue for Bhagavan's look of grace. After her seva was over, the sage placed some fruits in a plate and asked her to take them.

The woman took the fruits with immense satisfaction, noticed a small stalk of marukkozuntu (fragrant grass mixed with flowers in a garland), drops it on the floor and takes only the fruits into her bag.

"Why have you dropped that? Even that could be useful. Take it." said the sage laughingly.

Since the words came from Periyavaa's mouth, she took the marukkozuntu stalk and kept it safe with her. She neither thought nor asked at that time as to why the sage asked her to preserve the stalk.

She boarded a bus to her village. After she seated herself, she was overwhelmed by sleep. The woman who sat near her, stole her purse from her bag.

The conductor came her side. She must take a ticket! She searched for her purse in her bag, but it was not there! She saw it in the hands of the woman who sat adjacent to her.

The old woman cried with anxiety, "That is my purse." The woman who took it denied it and said it was her purse. In the hullabaloo that ensued, the old woman also saw the thief give the correct amount of money found in the purse, and knew that the thief had also counted the money in her purse.

The conductor was in dilemma as to who is the true owner of the purse.

Suddenly it flashed to the old woman that she had preserved the marukkozuntu stalk that Periyavaa asked her to take.

"Conductor sir, there is one more vastu (item) in that purse. Ask this woman to name it."

How can the thief answer this question?

"I shall tell you what it is. It is a small stalk of the marukkozuntu that I have kept inside my purse. It is fragrant. If you open the purse and look, you will know!"

The conductor took the purse from the second woman, opened it to have a look, and there the marukkozuntu stalk was, safe and clear!

The second woman admitted to her thievery. At the old woman's request, she was pardoned and left alone.

Who can measure the compassionate heart of the Mahaan who foresees and sends his devotees prepared to meet an eventuality?

marukkozuntu - (Tamil) southern wood, s. sh., artemisia abrotannum pallens

In Kanchi Mahaan's Shade of Mercy...2
Compiler: Raa. Venkatasamy (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Jul 2, 2004
"Have you gone to Cholapuram?" Maha Periyavaa asked a devotee from Salem who had gone to have his darshan.

As the Salem man hasn't gone there, the Mahaan turns a leaf from the history. "Avvaiyar, you know, took efforts for the marriage of the daughters Angavai and Sangavai, of (king) Paari. He called the Moovendhars (the three emperors Chera, Chola, Pandya) and rebuked them for not having helped for this marriage and conducted the marriage in their presence, which was in this place called UttamaCholaPuram. The entire place was later left under the care of the Chola king. A big village named Salem was given to the Chera king, and another villaged named Veerapandi was given to the Pandya king. Thus, the three places that were gifted to the Moovendhars (by Paari) are today known by the names UttamaCholaPuram, Veerapandi and Salem." The Mahaan thus gave the devotee some solid historical information which is not known to many people.

In the speech that he gave, news about many Siva Sthalams around Salem were made known. When he talked about the greatness of Salem Sukavaneswarar, he said that history had it that AruNagirinathar sang in front of the Murugan Sannidhi of that temple.

*** *** ***

This man was also a devotee from Salem. He had a desire for a long time to buy a car. He saved gradually, came to Chennai and bought a secondhand car. It was his intention to come over to Salem in that car after he bought it. He was a man who worshipped Kanchi Maha SwamigaL who was dear to him as his soul. He came to Kanchi MaTham in the car going through Kanchipuram on his way to Salem. He joined and stood meekly in the queue that had formed, for a darshan of the Mahaan.

At that time an old man came with his granddaughter and supplicated to Kanchi Mahaan for help for her marriage. The MaTham had a custom to extend help in such matters. Periyavaa told them to be seated on a side and asked his assistants for a cane plate. He asked the people who had come for darshan to contribute as they wished and drop the money on the plate.

In order to account for the money contributed, he asked a MaTham assistant to sit down with a notebook and record the name and address and the amount given by the donors.

As the Mahaan himself took the responsibility for such a task, the devotees dropped their mite on the plate, as they moved away after a darshan of the sage. When the collection reached a stage, SwamigaL asked the details of contribution to be read aloud. As the names and amounts were read, the turn of the Salem devotee came. He had dropped the entire money he had with him, keeping only a little for his travel. The amount he had contributed was five hundred rupees. As it was read Periyavaa looked at him once and said, "Two hundred and fifty is enough. Give the balance to him."

The Salem devotee was shocked. Why give a portion of his contribution back to him? It seemed to him that he had committed some apachAram (error), and the thought upset him very much.

Worried, he came near his car. The smell of petrol penetrated his nostrils. As he checked, he found a small hole in the petrol tank through which the entire petrol had leaked to the ground. He couldn't have returned to his place without repairing the tank and the money Periyavaa gave back helped for this purpose. Had the sage not returned the money, he would have to sell his gold ring to raise the money needed, for where would he go for a loan in this place?

The devotee happily narrated the bhAgyam he had to his friends.

*** *** ***

There were a number of shops such as a flower shop, a medical shop and others doing brisk business in front of Kanchi MaTham, many years back. The bank officials of Indian Bank had a desire to open a branch there and take care of the adminstration of the revenue and expenses of the MaTham. They expressed their wish to the MaTham officials and got the approval.

The conditions from the MaTham were that the bank should construct their own building in front of the MaTham. And whatever shops were required to be vacated for this purpose, alternate places were compulsorily to be given to the shopkeepers. The conditions were implemented, and the Bank branch was opened.

Two years later, a dampati (husband and wife) came and stood before Periyavaa and said, "Today is our wedding day. Maha Periyavaa should bless us." They prostrated to him.

Periyavaa recognised them. "You are the medical shop Mudaliar?"


"You father suffered much before he died?"


After inquiring about their welfare, the sage asked the next question. "Where are you keeping your shop now?" No immediate reply to this question came.

"We are yet to set up a shop; we are on the lookout for a suitable place."

"Why? Did they not provide you with an alternate place when you vacated from the MaTham premises?"

Mudaliar just dragged on. "About that..."

The Mahaan immediately understands that something had gone wrong. Ganesaiyer, the manager of the MaTham is brought to him. In a leisurely tone the sage conducts the inquiry.

"As far as possible we had provided alternate places to everyone." The manager says in a low voice.

"Seems no place had been given to the medical shop Mudaliar. Says he is on the lookout for a suitable place. Why, was there no place to give him?"

Ganesaiyer dragged on. "No, but we discussed things with him and decided..."

Thereafter, Periyavaa did not talk with anyone that whole day. He seemed to be in serious contemplation.

The decision he reached and announced created a bustle and also made people rapturous.

The news that the medical shop Mudaliar was not given an alternate place had put Maha Periyavaa in much saN^katam (embarrassment). Was it not a transgression to go back on a promise?

Maha Periyavaa had already sent the Mudaliar away after getting the address of his residence. Only then he called for the manager and inquired with him. There was ample space at the back of the MaTham, also facing the road. If a wall of the MaTham was removed they would have space three times in size of what the Mudaliar had earlier, and this space was allotted to him before that evening! The construction work was entrusted to an engineer devotee who had come on that day for darshan. Within three months, the shop was built and the Mudaliar had set up and opened his shop for business.

Maha Periyavaa was very strict that promises made by them should be kept at any cost. There was no bounds to the happiness of the medical shop Mudaliar after this incident!

In Kanchi Mahaan's Shade of Mercy...3
Compiler: Raa. Venkatasamy (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Jul 17, 2004
Maha Periyavar once visited Madurai. He was staying in a school in the North Masi Street. It was raining heavily, and the rains lasted for three days! ThamizhVeL P.T. Rajan, who was a resident of Madurai, had the desire to take Maha Periyavar to the Meenakshi Amman temple. He brought the car he had purchased recently and parked it in front of the building where Periyavar was staying. "It is raining heavily. If you get inside the car you may go and alight near the temple. I have great happiness to take you (in the car)." P.T. Rajan told the sage politely.

Periyavar asked him, "A new car?"

"Yes, but no other person has sat inside; only you should sit first!"

Periyavar smiled at these words. Then he called his disciple who stood nearby and said, "Go and have a look at the path that leads to the Meenakshi Amman temple."

That disciple carefully walked over the path to the temple and came back.

"How is the path?" asked the Mahaan.

"It is all dirt and mud, and bear the tyre marks of the vehicles that went to and fro." He continued, understanding the purport of Periyavar's question, "And in that mud, creatures such as worms and snails are crawling unsteadily."

Periyavar said, "A sannyAsi (ascetic) has three dharmas. The first dharma is that he should have no possessions; that is, he should not keep anything for himself. The second is brahmacharya (celibacy). He should know how to control and rule over his senses. And the third dharma is ahimsA. He should ensure that no jIvarAsi (living being) suffers because of him. In the present situation, if I go on foot or either in the car, there would be countless jIvarAsis that would be trodden over. Hence there should be no temple program for the time being. Postpone it. We will go later." Thus Periyavar avoided going to the Meenakshi Amman temple at that time.

Later, when the rains had stopped completely and the situation improved, he went on foot for darshan at Meenakshi Amman temple; and that with ThamizhVeL P.T. Rajan!

*** *** ***

Sadasivam was a man who belonged to Salem. He was a bachelor. He spent his days, hiring a room in a hotel. He had immense bhakti on the Mahaan.

A very large homam (fire sacrifice ritual) was conducted in the year 1990 at Kanchi MaTham, Salem. Vedic experts and pundits from outstations had been invited for the occasion. Their count exceeded sixty. The homam was held continuously for eleven days. It was only Sadasivam who ensured that the flowers needed for the homam were supplied without any hitch.

The homam was completed auspiciously. The next thing that the organizers had to do was to start for Kanchi, along with the tIrtha pots and the mahA rakSA (the homam ashes that served as protection), submit them to the Mahaan and get his blessings. Three notables accompanied the Vedic pundits in three vans to Kanchipuram. Sadasivam, who was responsible for the flowery works, also went with them.

There were good rains en route to Kanchipuram. At length they all reached Kanchipuram with the articles of the homam. Everything including the kalasa nIr (water in the pots) were kept before Periyavar. His face showed immense happiness when he looked at them, being the one who was well familiar with the phala (fruits) and bala (strength) of this homam.

Asking for a kalasa nIr to be brought to him, the Mahaan went inside, chanted some mantras and sprinkled the water from the pot over his head.

As he came out and sat, he took the large garland brought for him and wore it over his neck. He took the flowery crown in his hands and had a look at it. It was made with much decorations. The Mahaan raised a question, "Who made this?" The people who came in the vans pointed Sadasivam to the sage, who came out of the crowd wearing a lungi over his waist with a red shirt covering his upper part.

Maha Periyavar covered his head with the crown. "Does it look good?" he asked, a smile crawling over his lips.

Unable to speak in words, the people around nodded their head in affirmation, expressing their happiness and bowing to the Mahaan.

Meanwhile, Sadasivam removed his shirt and went and stood before the Mahaan. He did not know what to say to the Mahaan. His palms remained folded. Tears gushed from his eyes in streams. The Mahaan took the flowery crown from his head. He smiled at Sadasivam. Then he asked the man to bow slightly and placed the crown on Sadasivam's head. What a great fortune!

The people around shivered with ecstasy. Until then the Mahaan had only given this honour of placing a flowery crown with his own hands only to a well learned pundit.

Perhaps he thought that it was the right offer to a devotee who worshipped him with flowers!

In Kanchi Mahaan's Shade of Mercy...4
Compiler: Raa. Venkatasamy (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Aug 15, 2004
Kanchi Maha Periyavar was camping in Tiruchi National College High School during April 1960. Thousands of devotees came every day seeking his blessings. All of them were given tasty meals.

This anna dAnam that would start at eleven in the morning would last till four in the afternoon. The reception committee members felt it difficult to regulate the rush of the crowd and send the people away after properly feeding them.

They told their problem to the Mahaan and asked him if the people coming to dine might be given food in packets.

Kanchi Mahaan made them sit before him and asked just two questions.

One: where would they drop the banana leaves of the packets after eating their contents?

Two: Where would they go for a cup of water to quench their thirst?

The people sitting opposite him could not answer these questions.

Noticing their silence, Kanchi Mahaan said, "You people think of reducing the expenses and work involved. Only a man who is hungry would choose to sit in the first session and others in the last session?

"When I travelled to places, I have seen people drop after a meal the banana leaves in bins. I have seen Narikuravas (gypsies) collect any food left over in those leaves and then the cows feed on the leaves that still had some food crumbs. You see that your laying the leaves and serving food on them caters to the hunger of so many others?

"So drop your idea of preparing food packets this moment and serve food to all the people laying banana leaves for the purpose. To witness this many people taking food and spending for it is a great puNyam for you. And happiness for me too."

We would have witnessed feeding people but we come to know its importance only after our Mahaan talks about it!

*** *** ***

Raman was a photographer. He came to Kanchipuram with his powerful camera to take photos of Maha PeriyavaaL.

If he took a snap of Maha PeriyavaaL in meditation, the flash light might disturb his meditation; so he waited.

When the Mahaan got up from his dhyAnam, Raman opened his camera and kept it ready for taking a snap. The Mahaan stood up raising his hand, which seemed like a gesture of blessing. Raman quickly snapped some picture of the sage.

All the pictures he took using his powerful camera had so far come out well. So he had a satisfaction of a similar result this time too.

An assistant who came trotting to him asked excitedly, "Why did you take pictures even when Maha Periyavaa gestured to say no to you?"

Raman was confused. "Maha Periyavaa only blessed (by raising his hand)?"

"You thought his gesture to say no to be a gesture of blessing? The pictures you took of him would not have got recorded in your film", said the assitant.

This made Raman get angry. 'You do not know what sort of a camera this one is. How can the pictures I took not be recorded? Let me see.' With such a haughty thought in mind he went to his place and as a first thing had the frames washed and developed. Not a single photograph that he took of Maha Perivar was visible.

The next minute Raman understood that Maha Periyavar was sAkSAt Sarvesvara.

Later he came to Kanchipuram leisurely, took permission from the Mahaan supplicating with love and devotion, took snaps and got his wish fulfilled.

*** *** ***

Once in the year 1959 Kanchi Mahaan camped at Nazarathpet near Chennai. As he needed sandal paste for his puja, he called a man named Ramamurthy and asked him to grind the paste.

The same day he ground sandal paste and gave for puja, Ramamurthy felt some uneasiness in his heart in the evening. He rushed to a doctor and got his health checked.

The doctor said after his tests, "Your heart is weak. You should not carry heavy weights or do strenuous work, especially something like grinding sandal paste."

Ramamurthy came back to the Mahaan. As the sandal paste was needed on the next day too, the Mahaan called him and gave the work. He said, "ChandraMauleesvara would take care of everything. You grind and give me the sandal paste."

Unable to disobey the Mahaan's words, Ramamurthy ground and gave the sandal paste. Again he felt uneasy at heart and told PeriyavaaL what the doctor had said.

"It would be dangerous only if it is a heart attack. If the heart is weak some people might live even up to a hundred years. You do your work, don't be afraid", said the Mahaan. Were those not the words of God?

Thereafter Ramamurthy had the bhAgyam of grinding sandal paste for the Mahaan's puja for a long time. No such uneasiness of heart ever raised its head on those occasions!

*** *** ***
In Kanchi Mahaan's Shade of Mercy...5
Compiler: Raa. Venkatasamy (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Jul 31, 2004
Auditor Venugopal was a native of Salem. He was a staunch bhakta (devotee) of Maha PeriyavaaL. He was the auditor of Kanchi Sankara MaTham. It was his custom to say word for word that it was only Maha Periyavaa who guided him to that profession.

As he gained some popularity, Venugopal bought a car. The desire of showing to Maha PeriyavaaL the new car bought for the first time (in his life) rising in his heart, Venugopal was headed straight for Kanchipuram in his car. Only when he parked the car in front of the MaTham did he come to know that the Mahaan was camping in Kalavai! The car then started off its trip to Kalavai.

Parking the car outside where Maha PeriyavaaL was staying, Venugopal went inside the camp.

As he saw Venugopal entering, Maha Periyavaa asked him, "car vAngiyirukkiyo? (So you have bought a car?)". And that was even before Venugopal started telling the sage about his new car. The auditor was dumbstruck. The Mahaan was one who knew time in all its three tenses.

"Yes", he said slowly. For a moment he even thought if it was a mistake in buying the new car before he had a word with the Mahaan. But then the Mahaan never found fault with living comfortably within one's means!

"It is a good thing only. Alright, you do an errand for me now!" said the Mahaan.

The auditor only nodded his head in affirmation, consenting to do an errand for the sage.

"You need to go a little distance from here and turn right. If you go along the road thereafter, you will sight a pond. An old man will be sitting on the banks of the pond. You bring him here in your car. What, will you do it?" The auditor started off even before the Mahaan finished.

Going like an arrow on its course, the auditor found the old man with a beard on the banks of a pond. He did not think if Periyavaa wanted to bring that old man. For he knew that there would be a thousand meanings in what Periyavaa said.

Going near the old man, the auditor spoke to him about the sage's instructions.

"Did he call me? Then surely I shall come with you", said the old man. Staggering, he got into the auditor's brand new car, who took him to the Mahaan's sannidhi (presence). The old man stood folding his palms before the sage.

"enna saukkiyama irukkiyA? (What, are you doing well?)" was the question Periyavaa asked the old man.

"edo irukkEn (somewhat fine)!"

The MaThams honours were given to the old man in accordance with the directions of the sage. After giving the old man dhoties, shawls and some money for his expenses to the man's satisfaction, Kanchi Mahaan told the auditor: "Take him and drop him where he wants to alight and then come back!"

A car ride for the old man again. The auditor dropped him as he desired and then came back to the MaTham. He did not ask who that old man was, nor the sage said anything about it. Auditor Venugopal stood before the Mahaan, his hands humbly folded across his chest.

"The man you brought here--do you know who he is?"

The auditor nodded his head to say no.

"When I was a small boy, suddenly one day he brought me in his horse cart. I did not know why at that time. Only after coming here, they said that I was the 68th PIThAdhipati (pontiff)... I did not know Samskrutam at that time... I did not know Vedas... Only after coming over here, all those lessons. How many years have gone by, did you notice it? It was only this periyavar (respectable old man) who brought me here, making me sit inside his horse cart. He also did not know then why they asked for me here! How can I forget him? I suddenly remembered him, which is why I asked you to bring him here in your new car," said Maha Periyavaa.

In Kanchi Mahaan's Shade of Mercy...6
Compiler: Raa. Venkatasamy (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Sep 14, 2004
Maha Periyavar was camping in Pandaripuram in the year 1981. When people were having his darshan in a line, in the midst of the crowd, a Seit from North India brought and kept a tin of ghee before Maha PeriyavaaL.

As he saw that, the Mahaan said, "One rupee... one rupee...". No one there had any idea of why he said that. Thinking that the sage was really asking for a rupee of money, people started taking an one rupee coin to keep it handy.

The Mahaan told his MaTham assistant nearby: "I had asked that Seit to procure ghee for only one rupee. Ask him why he has brought a tin of it!"

People around were surprised looking a this. They blinked, 'When would Periyavaa have asked this Seit to procure ghee?'

The Seit who understood it spoke in a leisurely way: "Somebody kidnapped my daughter. Swamiji came in my dream and said, 'Procure ghee for a rupee and come to Pandaripuram. Your daughter will return home untainted.' As told by him, the next day my daughter returned home safely. That is why, instead of the one-rupee-ghee I have brought a tin of it."

This made everyone there surprised and happy that the Mahaan had made them realize that it was true that he appeared in the dream of the Seit and spoke those words.

That Mahaan who is omnipotent, gets to know everything and extends his graceful assistance to the needy then and there.

*** *** ***

The incident that Karuppatthur Chandrasekhara gaNapAThigaL narrates about the lofty state of that mighty God who gives his anugraha to the world, would make us go into ecstastic shiver.

The gaNapAThigaL went to attend a satas (assembly) that was held in the presence of the Mahaan when he was camping in KaLahasti. Having had darshan of the Mahaan, the gaNapAThigaL was going round the MaTham premises.

The dim light of the oil lamps burning here and there. Suddenly a noise of someone clapping his hands. The gaNapAThigaL turned and looked in the direction he heard the noise from. In the inky darkness, nothing was visible to his eyes, so he continued walking.

Again the clap of hands! When the gaNapAThigaL walked in the direction of the noise, he saw the Mahaan sitting hidden by a pillar.

"Come here!", he called the gaNapAThigaL. The saMbhASaNaM (dialogue) that ensued between them is given here.

Mahaan: Some people will not feel anything when they are struck or pinched in some parts of their body. They say that those parts have gone numb. You have heard of such a thing?

gaNapAThigaL: I have heard of it. What Periyavaa said is vAstavam (truth).

Mahaan: For some people, sometimes their tongue won't feel the taste. And some would have lost their power of hearing, either in birth or in the course of time.

gaNapAThigaL: Heard of it.

Mahaan: For some, when they have cold, their noses would not smell; they will be alright when the cold is gone.

gaNapAThigaL: Yes, I have noticed it.

Mahaan: Have you noticed me frequently? If you have done it, you would understood one thing well. People who come to see me, make me wear a variety of garlands. Have you seen my taking some fragrant flowers from those garlands and smell them?

gaNapAThigaL: I have seen it that way oftentimes.

Mahaan: But then the reality is that no smell is felt by me. This state continues for nearly forty years now. Alright, if at least a foul smell is felt by me, no, I have sort of tested it. I have not yet encountered an atmosphere that would make me hold my nose. If this is the case with me, those who come to have darshan of me have a different state. They would hold their noses with their hands and cloths and suffocate... seen it? (a loud laughter). Thus, no foul smell is also not known by me! I am one who is beyond all these things.

Hearing Maha SwamigaL thus speak explicitly, the gaNapAThigaL stood amazed. Since then, Karuppatthur Chandrasekhara gaNapAThigaL keeps telling, his heart melting, about the grace of that great God in whom are immersed all the pleasures of the world, but who shows up himself as a simple man beyond the world, doing his anugraham to everyone.

In Kanchi Mahaan's Shade of Mercy...7
Compiler: Raa. Venkatasamy (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Sep 28, 2004
Maha Periyavar, who is the omnipotent Parameswara Himself, was camping in Sri Kanchi MaTham, KumbakoNam. The Vyasa Puja was being held there with all glory. The ChandraMauleesvara Puja being over, all the devotees were in a hurry to get Maha Periyavar's darshan, who was distributing the abhiSheka tIrtham (holy water of ablution) with his holy hands. A devotee's turn came in the line formed by them to receive the prasAdam. Giving him the prasAdam, the Mahaan looked at him, raising his head.

He told the devotee, "You come early tomorrow for the Veda pArAyaNam (recitation)." What alternative is there to the Mahaan's orders?

As ordered by the Mahaan the devotee came up early the next morning and participated in the occasion of Veda pArAyaNam. When the pArAyaNam was going on, Maha Periyavar made a surprise visit, which was unusual.

He noticed that the bhaktA (devotee) who got his anugraha the previous day was reciting the Vedas with sincere devotion. When reciting the Veda mantras, however, the bhaktA had breathing problems, so he faltered as he recited the shlokas (verses) with difficulty. Kanchi Mahaan realized that the devotee should be having some problem in his throat or lungs.

When it was time to distribute prasAdam after the recitation was over, he called the devotee and asked him to wait.

The devotee seemed to have sanchalanaM (trepidation) in his mind that he did not recite the Vedas properly and the Mahaan had found out some errors in his chanting.

After sometime, a physician came and examined the devotee thoroughly as ordered by the sage. Later when he took the devotee to his hospital and conducted more tests, the physician found out that the devotee had a heart ailment, which caused the falter in the Vedic chanting.

The physican cured the devotee with good treatment that involved no surgery, in accordance with Maha Periyavar's orders.

Some ten days later, the devotee came to have darshan of the Mahaan, who ordered him, "Now you do the Vedic chanting for sometime." The devotee was able to do the chanting without any falter or other problems. Thus Maha Periyavar saved the devotee from an incoming setback of health. Know what the devotee said about this? "As mentioned in Thevaram, when we do sincere prayer and worship to Bhagavan, any setbacks and difficulties that should reach us melt away automatically."

*** *** ***

Among the people who were involved in the sevA (service) to Kanchi Mahaan, SriKaNtan is an important person. He was the one who thought there was no other world than the Mahaan.

Once the Mahaan was not in the MaTham; he was at some distance away. One evening, SriKaNtan was working in the manual wet rice grinder with all sincerity of devotion to work.

His hands were working but his mind was filled with thoughts of the Mahaan. A MaTham assistant hurriedly came to him.

He said in a hastening tone, "Your orders are to come immediately, leaving whatever work you are doing now."

SriKaNtan never asked about why the Mahaan gave him such an order. He came hurriedly to the Mahaan's sannidhi (presence). The moment he left the place, the roof of the portion of the building where he sat, came down crashing. Had he not got away, he would have been buried in the rubbles.

He survived on that day due to the compassionate heart of the dIrgha darshi (one who has prevision) Kanchi Mahaan. Could he ask how that Sarvesvara knew what was to come? With tears in his eyes, SriKaNtan did a shASTaaN^ga namaskaram and bowed to that God.

dIrgha - long (in space and time), lofty, high, tall; deep

With the God...
author:...... Thanjavur SanthanaRaman
compiler:... T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
book:......... Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol. 1, pages 41-65
publisher:.. Vanathi Padhippaham (Aug 2006 Edition)

Pages 41-48

Even during my days of innocence I have seen Kamakoti Sankaracharya SwamigaL move about in his mEnA to and fro, morning and evening, along the Mela Veedhi (western street), Thanjavur. I have run behind the palanquin, my tuft of hair hanging loose. I have seen the bhogis (palanquin bearers); the man running before them, musically chanting 'Rama Ramaiyah', 'RamE Ramaiyah', 'Kanchi Kamakshi', and 'Madurai Meenakshi'; the frequent playing of the musical instrument called 'Gowri KaaLai'; and a majestic SwamigaL with a dazzling, rosy physique wearing wooden sandals getting down in front of some houses and the AstikAa (devotees) of those houses receiving him with their families. This was my first darshan.

During his Thanjai Vijayam (visit) in the year 1942, he went on a Pattina Prevesam. My maternal uncle Sri Sundaresa Sarma was totally involved in it. I gave pUrNa kumbham in front of my vyApAra sthalam (business establishment). He asked my maternal uncle, "Chimizhiyaa?" My uncle replied, "Yes." SwamigaL took up the coconut on the pUrNa kumbham, holding it by its tuft and said, "This has it, but he doesn't have!". With a mandahAsa (smile) he gave us his anugrahA.

*** *** ***

SwamigaL's camp in Satara, in the north. I had gone for his darshan.

"Do you know about Raja Raja Cholan?" he inquired me.

"He built the Thanjavur Periya Kovil; a great Chakravarti. Only this much I know."

"He gave a title to himself, you know about it?"


"He added the title 'SivapAda-shekharan' before his name. You know the meaning? Parameswara has a name Chandra-shekaran. He wears Chandran (moon) on his head. That is to protect Chandran. Let it be; why the name 'SivapAda-shekharan' to this king, you know? Because he always remained in the bhAva (state) that he was wearing Parameswara's feet on his head. Alright, next time you come, bring a write up of what you know about him."

I went for darshan when he was in Kanchipuram. I was keeping a notebook in my hand. He saw me and told the man near him, "Ask what he has brought in his hand."

"During my last darshan I was directed to bring a collection of what I knew and what I could find in books about Raja Raja Cholan. I have brought that write up."

"Give it to me." SwamigaL opened my notebook and had a glance at its contents.

"Only you wrote all these?"

"No. I gave the details to a teacher in my school, asking him to write them down. My handwriting wouldn't be good!"

"Where did you collect these details from?"

"After PeriyavaaL's utthiravu (orders, direction) I went to the Archaeological Department to gather the details. I could get nothing from them. Then I looked up the books about the Chola Kings in the Madras University Library. There were a lot of details in the book written by Neelakanta Sastry. I selected from them and had my selections written down."

"You have given a table, read it," SwamigaL said. I read it.

He asked me to read about the state of the Shastras, Vedanta, Veda Bhashya, country administration, and temple administration in the days of the Cholas. I read them out.

I had taken my notes in English about these things. In one place, there was the phrase 'The affairs of the Temple'. When I read it, he said, "Stop. Read again?" I read 'The affairs of the Temple'. "It is not correct (the pronunciation)", he said. Two or three sevArtis (devotees, worshippers) observed our conversation, standing behind me. Whatever one of them thought, he told me, "You tell PeriyavaaL 'activities related to the temple'". I turned my face to look at him. Sri PeriyavaaL asked at once, "Who is he?"

"I came to have darshan of PeriyavaaL", he said.

"Ask him to move away", PeriyavaaL told me. I laughed within myself.

"The affairs of the temple...right, read further." I read on.

On that occasion the Supreme Court justice Sri Renganathan Misra had come with his family for darshan. SwamigaL conversed with him about his family matters, their kSema lAbha (health and prosperity) and then looked at my side. I continued to sit there.

Another sevArti, son-in-law of Karaikudi Sri Alagappa Chettiar had come. SwamigaL talked to him and then looked at me. It took up more than two hours before these two people bid farewell to the sage.

I read again the details about Raja Raja Cholan. Suddenly he asked me to stop.

"It is over three hours since you came here. Someone or other comes up. Alright, you come often to see Pudu PeriiyavaaL (right)? You note down and bring your doubts and other things to consult him? How does he deal with you?"

I thought for a moment and replied: "Mostly when I come here, he would be giving darshan sitting in a room in Sureswara Acharya Sannidhi. When he sees me, he would gesture me to come into his room from the rear entry. He would then explain the answers for the things I had noted down, and bid me farewell. After I get the anugraha of his prasAdam I would take leave of him."

"People would be standing in a crowd outside! What would Periyavaa do?"

"He would answer my questions, give them prasAdam and also reply to their queries and send them."

"That doesn't come easily to me. Look, I have made you sit here for four hours!" he said.

When I continued reading, the term 'Urakam' came up. At once he asked me to stop reading.

"Where are we now?"


"This place?"

"Sivakanchi, periya (bigger) Kanchipuram."

He was not satisfied with my reply. Some people were standing behind me. An old dampati (husband and wife) among them joined their palms to PeriyavaaL. "Ask them what their place (of living) is." I asked them.

Old man: Palakkad.

PeriyavaaL's face brightened. "Ask him if the Amma nearby him is his samsAram (wife)."

I asked. He said, "Yes."

PeriyavaaL's question to them: "Is there a Kamakshi temple near your place?"

Old man: I don't know.

AmmaaL: Seems Periyavaa asks about 'Urakam Kamakshi'...

"Ask that AmmaaL to come to the front."

She came.

"You have gone there, that temple?"

"I have gone. They would have portrayed AmbaaL on a piece of cloth."

"Alright, go and come back." Periyavaa gave her his anugraha with a smile.

Then he told me this story:

"The Kamakshi here was very prasiddha (celebrated, famous) in the olden days. She remained dazzling in her sannidhi. One day a Malayala Namboothiri came here to have her darshan. He stood amazed looking at AmbaaL. It seemed he was a sAktA (Goddess worshipper). The Namboothiris would come to the temple with a palm leaf umbrella (thAzham kudai). You have seen a palm leaf umbrella? (I said 'yes'). It can't be collapsed. He sat in the AmbaaL Sannidhi, and by his japam did AkarSaNaM (attract) of a kalA (part) of AmbaaL on that umbrella and went away to Palakkad. His village was nearby. He did AvAhanam (invoked) of AmbaaL by transferring her presence from the umbrella to a cloth on which he had drawn a portrait of her figure. They named their village with the same name as this place where Kamakshi is residing. Kanchipuram has another name Urakam."

He narrated this tasteful history with his characteristic natural fluency.

When I returned to my place, I asked about the pronunciation of the word 'affair'. They looked up an English dictionary and told me. I remembered having read somewhere that in the pronunciation of the English language Sri Sri Maha SwamigaL would excel the Englishmen themselves.

*** *** ***

mandahAsa, mandahAsya - smiling, gentle laughing
shekharaH - crest, crown, a peak, the chief or head of any group
vyApAra - occupation, employment, business, profession, function, concern

With the God...
author:...... Thanjavur SanthanaRaman
compiler:... T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
book:......... Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol. 1, pages 41-65
publisher:.. Vanathi Padhippaham (Aug 2006 Edition)

Pages 48-55

My wife had a severe health problem. The doctor's opinion was to do a major operation and that immediately. I admitted her in a popular nursing home in Tiruchy. The surgery was scheduled for the next day. Only me and my wife were there in the hospital. They took her to the operation theatre. My mind was very upset with confusion and worry. I did prArthanA (prayed) to our Kuladeivam (family deity) Ezhumalaiyan (the God of the Seven Hills). The unsteadiness of mind persisted. Suddenly I remembered of PeriyavaaL. I did prArthanA to him that after she gets well we both would come and have darshan of him, that only he should save her life and that I would offer a sum of Rs.1,008/- as kANikkai (token of my gratitude). Within a hour and a half they brought her to the ward, the operation being over.

The doctor told me, "We thought many things about the case, but there was no danger to life. The operation was done successfully", and went away. I mentally prostrated to Ezhumalaiyan and PeriyavaaL. They discharged her in three days and we came to our station.

Thereafter, the festival of Gokulashtami came. I told my wife that we should go to Kanchipuram and have darshan of PeriyavaaL and that we should take the snacks such as seedai, murukku to those who do kaingaryam (serve with hands) to the sage. Taking our preparations, we reached the Sivaasthanam. After the morning darshan, Periyavaa sat for his anuSTAnam (daily religious practice) at about seven o' clock. We could see him go about his anuSTAnam inside the Sivaasthanam thatched shed from outside. I was hesistant as to how to express my prArthanA (prayer) to PeriyavaaL. I beckoned to an assistant who was serving the sage.

I told him, "I am a bit shy to express it to him. I had done a vENduthal (prayed with an offer) to PeriyavaaL. He saved my wife's life. I need to submit the kANikkai; don't know what to do. It would be better if you could make the vignApanam (supplication) to him at an opportune moment and tell me his directions thereupon."

After Periyavaa finished his anuSTAnam, the assistant made the vignApanam to him in a loud voice: "Thanjavur Santhanam has come. He feels shy to make the vignApanam to PeriyavaaL. He says a major operation was done on his AtthukkAri (home maker, wife). At that time he says he did vENduthal to PeriyavaaL to save her life. They stand outside as dampati (husband and wife)."

Smiling, PeriyavaaL touched his chest and said, "enakkA vENdik kondAnAm? (Was it me he prayed to? Ask him how much?" I said, "I prayed to remit a kANikkai of Rs.1,008/-."

"Ask him if he has brought the money."

"I have brought it."

Listing to the conversation, my wife blinked. She knew nothing about my vENduthal (prayer and offering).

PeriyavaaL forthwith directed that the fruits, coconuts and other things that were kept there as kANikkai to him be gathered in two large plates in such large quatities that it would be difficult to lift the plates. Then he said, "The SastrigaL who is doing the Rig Veda pArAyaNam (reading aloud) here--call him!" That man came. Periayvaa asked both of us to stand together, place Rs.504/- on one plate, give it to the SastrigaL and prostrate.

Then he sent word for another SastrigaL who had finished pArAyaNam of Srimad Bhagavatam there and asked us to place Rs.504/- in another plate, give it to that SastrigaL and prostrate.

Then he told everyone there loudly with that same vasIkara (enticing) smile, "You heard this! He says his samsAram (wife) underwent some operation. For that he had prayed to me (to save her life) and has brought Rs.1,008 to offer to me. Everyone would make supplication to Swami (God), Kovil (temple). And look, this man has prayed to me!" He laughed loudly, and everyone around echoed his laugh.

I was full of shyness.

He gave us his pUrNa anugraham and said, "poyittu vaa (go and come some other time)". An unforgettable incident that always stands before my eyes.

*** *** ***

There is no one to match PeriyavaaL in playing games that can't be understood.

The Nallicherry village near Thanjavur. Sambasiva ShrautigaL, who had done pUrNa adhyayana (complete study) of Vedas lived in that village. He took (sannyAsa) ashram in his antima kAlam (final days). He had only one son, who also had done pUrNa adhyayana. The son had a very weak heart. He could not do the Veda pArAyaNa for more than five minutes continuously. His condition at those times would cause fear in the onlookers. Because of this, the other vaidIkas (Veda chanting practitioners) did not call him to accompany them for the kAryams (Vedic rites). The son and his mother lived a difficult life.

When he recites Vedas in a loud and clear voice it would be blissful. But then what to do? Suppose his prANan (breath) goes away in the middle? So I would ask him to stop his recital at his first discomfort. I used to help him as much as I could. Such a habit as this one, he had.

One morning he came to me with his old mother. He said, "I am going to Kanchipuram. I shall have darshan of PeriayvaaL and ask him, 'A son of a man who did Veda adhyayanam and became a sannyAsi is suffering in this way even for the next meal! Could you do not do something for me?' My mother also accompanies me."

I said, "Why do you disturb PeriyavaaL? I shall do something for you." "No, I must see PeriyavaaL", he said. "It would be better if you could give me money for our tickets." I bought them the bus tickets, gave them extra money for expenses and sent them away. In my other works, I forgot about this incident.

On a morning after ten days, he was waiting with his old mother at my vyApAra sthalam (office). I asked him, "Did you go to Kanchipuram? What did Periyavaa say?"

"What did he say! I said 'I was sannyAsi Atthup puLLai (son of an ascetic), one who has done pUrNa veda adhyayanam; you ask me about whatever verse in the Vedas, I shall recite it to you'. I said 'you must do some help to mitigate my suffering'. He said 'Stay here with your tAyAr (mother), I shall tell you a way out.' Thereafter, I was telling him the same thing, doing darshan every morning and evening. Suddenly he said yesterday evening, 'You get back to your place.' Asking a boy to get us the tickets, he asked me and my mother to return to our station. Even PeriyavaaL has spread his hands to say no."

His eyes went red when he said this. I was also embarrassed. Then I sent them to their village by a bus.

It was around eleven o' clock. With the same cloth bag that he brought when he came back from Kanchipuram, this man (the son) appeared alone in my office. There was clarity in his face. He was sobbing with hiccups and could not talk properly.

I assuaged him and said, "What? Tell me." He said, "I have talked wrongly of PeriyavaaL" and suddenly prostrated in the middle of the shop.

"What is it?" I asked him again. I got surprising details from him.

After seeing me at nine that morning, he had gone back to his village by bus with his mother. At the corner of the street, the street residents one by one accosted him and said, "Some people have unloaded a cartload of paddy on the thiNNai (raised portico) of your home. We were asked to keep vigil over it until your arrival. Fortune favours you!"

Giving the home key to his mother, he caught the next bus and had come to see me.

He was full of sobs and hiccups. "PeriyavaaL, Deivam, I had said something without knowing him."

I pacified him and sent him back to his station. Later when I went to Kanchipuram I came to know further details about the incident. I learnt that Periyavaa had decided to give his kAruNya (compassion) and anugraha (favour) to the man on the very day he had gone to him.

A week later, a popular landowner of Kumbakonam had come to have darshan. Periyavaa in his usual sweet manner had inquired the landowner after his agricultural activities and his earnings in that year. Then the sage asked him, "Will you give me a cartload of paddy?" The landowner had agreed.

Periyavaa had directed him, "You go now and have darshan of Kamakshi and then come back here." After the man had gone, Periyavaa had inquired our hero about his address and if there was a thiNNai in his home and so on.

When the mirasudar (landowner) came back, PeriyavaaL gave him the address and said, "Offload a cartload of paddy on the thiNNai of that house. You go to Kumbakonam today itself. Will the paddy reach his home by tomorrow evening?" The mirasudar had also returned to Kumbakonam that same day and sent a cartload of paddy on the very next day and offloaded it at his home, asking the street residents to take care of the load."

Is this game after the anugraham Krishna Paramatma did to Kuchela? Compassion can only be that of PeriyavaaL!

*** *** ***
With the God...
author:...... Thanjavur SanthanaRaman
compiler:... T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
book:......... Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol. 1, pages 41-65
publisher:.. Vanathi Padhippaham (Aug 2006 Edition)

Pages 55-65 (concluding part)

Kanchipuram. The puja being over, Periyavaa was giving tIrtham (holy water). When I received it, he looked up at me. "Did you witness the puja?"


"Pudu Periyavaa did the puja kaingaryam (service) bustling with perspiration. You saw that?"

"Saw that."

"Ten days ago Pudu Periyavaa told me, 'When Periyavaa does the puja I want to do the kaingaryam.'

'There are boys to do that,' I said.

'But then from tomorrow I want to do it; should permit me,' he said. 'Yes,' I said. That's why, you saw it today? How much activity! Bustling with perspiration, he handed me over with each and every thing and did the kaingaryam! Saw that?"

*** *** ***

The holy temple of Sri Thanjavur Bangaru Kamakshi AmbaaL is under the AdhInam (control) of SriMaTham. The year was 1980. The Agent of SriMaTham met me one day and said, "You have been appointed as SriKaaryam of Sri Bangaru Kamakshi AmbaaL temple. You come with me to the temple and take charge."

Within two months of my assuming office, a telegram from Sri PeriyavaaL's Ahamadabad camp arrived: 'Come here immediately. You should be given the register(ed) power (of attorney).' I reached Ahamadabad. SriSri PeriyavaaL gave me the power of attorney and got it registered. Sri JanakiRamaiyah was also with us then. When I started from Ahamadabad, SriSri Periyavaaal said, "Sri MahaSwamigaL is at Sholapur. You have darshan of him on your way back." I had darshan of Sri MahaSwamigaL at Sholapur and submitted the power of attorney document to him, prostrating. He read the document using a lens.

"They have given you 'vast power'", he said.

I nodded my head in silent affirmation.

"Only you they have appointed?"

"They asked me, 'A man has to be appointed as SriKaaryam in Thanjavur, send a list of suitable people. I sent a list of 4,5 persons. SriMaTham Agent interviewd them all personally. Suddenly the Agent came to Thanjavur one day and said, 'Only you have been appointed. You take charge.' I told him about my saN^katams (difficulties). He said, 'You be there temporarily. We will see later.'", I said.

Silence for sometime. Then he said to the man nearby with a smile, "Only I asked this man to be appointed, you know?"

I kept silent.

"What kaSTam (difficulty) is there for you?" he asked me.

"I have moved very closely with the people in charge of the temple. Because of this post I can't be strict with them, that is the main kaSTam."

"Understand one thing! You give the order. If anyone comes to me for appeal I shall not do anything embarrassing to you. Is that enough?" he said.

My eyes turned red. I prostrated to him. He blessed me. I took leave and started. When I came to the entrance, a man came running and said, "Call for you." I went inside again.

"They have given you vast power. But your being there is for the 'pleasure' of (Pudu) PeriyavaaL", he said.

"It is alright", I said, nodding my head. "What does he say?" said Periyavaa to the man nearby. The man said, "He says yes." "Ask him what he has understood." The man gave me a look.

I said forthwith: "The minute Periyavaa asks me to quit, I should quit at that time without any questions." He laughed and bid me farewell, blessing me with his two raised hands.

What amount of concession! At the same time what strictness!

*** *** ***

Camp in Sivasthanam.

I had gone for darshan of Sri MahaSwamigaL. Thanjavur SaravaNa Bhavan Hotel proprietor Venkatachalam Aiyer had come with me.

I was standing after having darshan. "Do anyone teach Vedanta pATham (study), Shastras in the Sankara MaTham at Vadakku Veethi (north street)? Seems Melattur SastrigaL is not there now?" he asked me.

"After Melattur SastrigaL passed away, there has been no one there."

"Better to appoint someone there who has read Shastras. There was this man Dave or somebody who was read in Shastras? What does he do?"

"He has gone to Tirukkoyilur. I heard that he took SannyAsa Ashram", I said.

"Ashram or not, bring him, make him stay in our MaTham and ask him to teach telling him that I told it."

My friend nearby asked me in a low voice, "Who is it that Periyavaa is referring to?"

"A man called Dave is there in the Mela Veethi (west street) Dave Lane. He has gone to Tirukkoyilur. I told PeriyavaaL only about him."

He said at once, "That man? I know him well. Our shop's coffee is a favourite of his. Even before opening the shop he would come in the early morning, take his coffee at five and then only would go."

I laughed within myself.

PeriyavaaL was attentive to what we were talking. "Who is he? What does he say?"

My friend replied, "I have a hotel in Thanjavur. This man Dave PeriyavaaL referred to is very fond of our shop's coffee. He would never stay away from visiting our shop at five in the early morning for a cup of coffee. That is what I told him."

PeriyavaaL said forthwith, "Then take this man behind you! Once Dave sees him, he would come with you! It has turned up easy now."

Everyone who heard this saMbhASaNaM had a hearty laugh. Such was MahaSwamigaL's play!

*** *** ***

Camp at Ukar Kurdu, 1980. I had gone for darshan with my wife. He was alone, leaning against a wall in a roofless building. It was perhaps six-thirty in the morning. Nobody else was there. The people who do kaingaryam (service) were at a distance, doing their jobs.

Sri MahaSwamigaL talked to me about Vedanta, Shastra and such things for a long time. He also discussed about my job and about myself. Then he was silent for sometime.

Then he said, "We have a duty, know that? We are getting aged. Which is why we light one lamp from another, so the lokakSema (prosperity of the world) would continue.

"You have become a favourite with us. Is it that I ask you to bring money or coins? Only that you stay with us."

When he said this in his own natural facial expression in a kind voice, I was moved to tears. I prostrated to him immediately, saying, "I shall do what Periyavaa asks me to." He gave me his anugraha with a smile.

*** *** ***

Sholapur camp, 1981.

I reached for darshan at six o' clock itself in the morning. He took the prasAdam I had brought with me. He inquired me the details of the nityappadi (daily affairs) and practices of Bangaru Kamakshi temple. 'How many people would come for darshan? What is the nivedanam (offer to God)?'--such questions one after another. He asked me about the details of practices up to the ardha yAmam (midnight).

"All this you arranged after taking charge?"

"All these are practices since ancient days. They have always been in place," I said. He gave me a smile meaning that he is aware that I was not untruthful. His next inquiry was about the AbharaNa alaN^kAra (jewels and decorations) of AmbaaL. He gave his abhiprAya (opinions) about the subtleties of each and every jewel.

He talked elaborately about the kAsu mAlA (necklace of coins). My hairs stood on end in ecstasy of what he told me in the last.

"AmbaaL's neck is soft. If you put all those things on her neck, her neck merikikkum (would feel the pain)", he said.

A scene that AmbaaL was standing before him feeling pain in her neck wearing all those jewels ran before my eyes. I couldn't forget it. When he had that vision and said this folding his two palms, he had an indescribable ecstasy.

"Know about the pancha bANas (five arrows)*?" he asked me.

The words arising from his mukha kamalam (lotus face) would always be apt and full of bhAva (expression). So I kept quiet.

After sometime, he gave an upanyAsam (speech) explaining the pancha bANas and linking the shloka (verse) from Saundarya Lahari with it.

Then, "What has become of the time?" he asked.

"It is ten-thirty now."

"I have been talking for such a long time. Would that be six when you came here? I talked all about AmbaaL, and the time went by so fast. poyittu vAppA!" he bid me farewell with his anugraha.

*** *** ***

A telephone call from Kanchipuram around 4 o' clock in the afternoon on January 8, Saturday, 1994, that SriSri MahaSwamigaL had attained his siddhi (passed away) a while before. I had the feeling as if a thunder struck me, for the first time in my life. I had an urge to reach Kanchipuram immediately. An old, experienced sthAnika (official) of the Thanjavur Bangaru Kamakshi Amman temple had told me long back: if the Kanchipuram SriMaTham pIThAdhipati (pontiff) attains siddhi, Sri Kamakshi's shesha vastram (cloth worn by the Goddess) and prasAdam from the temple should adorn his gross body before he is placed in his samAdhi. I went immediately to the temple, adorned Sri Kamakshi with a new Benaras silk sari, conducted the puja, and then having the garment removed, I travelled by car to Kanchipuram with the garment and the prasAdam. An unbearable grief in my mind. I regretted the loss that befell me.

The incident in Srimad Bhagavatam came to mind, where Arjuna conveys the news to his brothers that Sri Krishna Paramatma has given up his gross body. 'Sri Krishna has disappeared. After acting like a relative to us all, he has gone now disappointing us that we could not know about his real form.' This same words cropped up in my mind. The paramporuL (Absolute Truth), took the disguise of an Acharya, moved among us in simplicity, gave us darshans, rare upadeshas (teachings), sancitifed our desam (country) treading its length and breadth with his holy feet, strove for the welfare of the world, enfolded everyone without the distinctions of caste and religion, stressed the need to follow in practice the duties ordained for each of us, and was shining as a matchless AsAn, Acharyan (teacher).

*** *** ***

I reminisce again and again.

The gross body is kept for darshan, decorated by the honours and prasAda from many Devasthanams. Pudu PeriyavaaL and Bala PeriyavaaL nearby! What a stir of pangs and grief! They had his parupUrNa anugraham (complete spiritual favour) and they always remained in dhyAnam (concentration) of their guru bhakti, shushrUSa (service to guru), vAkya paripalanam (keeping guru's words), reverence, and complete obedience to guru's words.

A large crowd at the other side. Here, Muslims with faces deep in sorrow. Here, the Christian priests, nuns; and the shiSya kotis (numerous devotees). A crowd with no distinctions of caste and religion. How could such a crowd assemble is a puzzle in itself.

But then the truth is that they had all had darshan of him with limitless love and he embraced them all showing no distinctions of poverty, wealth, caste or religion.

panca bANa - the five arrows of Cupid, made of flowers comprising aravindam, cUtam, aSOkam, navamallikA, and the deadly nIlOtpalam (http://rasikas.org/viewtopic.php?pid=45807).

AdhIna - resting on or in, situated; depending on, subject to, subservient to
pATha - recitation, recital; reading, perusal, study
sthAnika - taking the place of anything else, substituted for; any one holding an official post, governor of a place, manager of a temple etc.
shushrUSakaH - attendant, servant

PeriyavaaL's Greatness
author:...... S. Panchapakesa SastrigaL, Kumbakonam
compiler:... T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
book:......... Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol. 1, pages 73-81
publisher:.. Vanathi Padhippaham (Aug 2006 Edition)

In Kanchipuram Sivasthanam, the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Advaita Sabha was held. A number of maha vidvAns (great pundits) had gathered. NooraNi Sri Ananta Krishna SastrigaL was also there. One of the Udupi Paryaya pIThAdhipatis (pontiff) was on his vijayam (tour) to Kanchi. NooraNi Sri Ananta Krishna SastrigaL supplicated to PeriyavaaL to bring the Udipi pontiff to the Advaita Sabha. Sri PeriyavaaL asked Sri Ananta Krishna SastrigaL himself to bring the pointiff to the Sabha.

Udupi SwamigaL visited the Sabha with happiness. Everyone asked him to give an anugraha bhASaNa (holy lecture). So he gave a long vicAram (inquiry) and spoke that the Advaita Shastra had its own shortcomings. He elaborated on many things in his talk of nearly an hour. Looking at the Pandits, he asked them to reply to the points he raised in his lecture. But then since he talked fast and long, the vidvAns asked him to repeat his lecture. To that Udupi SwamigaL said that if Sri PeriyavaaL directed him to repeat his lecture he would do so. Sri PeriyavaaL at once said with a mandahAsam (gentle laugh), "You don't have to repeat it. I shall do the anuvAdam" and did his anuvAdam like a tape recorder, without leaving an aMsam (part) of what Udupi SwamigaL had said. All the maha vidvAns, including the Udupi SwamigaL were wonder-struck. Since I was also present there at the moment, I had the bhAgyam of experiencing the greatness of Sri PeriyavaaL.

*** *** ***

Once when Sri PeriyavaaL did his vijayam to Chennai, thousands of people had gathered to have darshan of the puja performed by Sri PeriyavaaL. A woman had come with her child. Someone had stolen the gold chain that was on the child's neck. Whatever efforts the woman took to locate it, she couldn't succeed; she was very unhappy. After the puja was over and the tIrtha was given, people queued up to receive the holy water. The woman who lost the chain came before the sage in her turn. A woman who stood before her extended her hand to receive the holy water. Sri Periyavaa looked at that woman and said, "You first give back the chain you have kept hidden in your waist to the woman behind you. Only then tIrtham for you." The woman who stole the chain gave it back as directed and the ignominy she suffered on account of her theft was known only to a few people around her. She had the mental peace that Sri Periyavaa saved him from an ugly situation. The woman who lost the chain was also happy. They both returned to their homes in happiness.

*** *** ***

Once Sri PeriyavaaL was staying in SriRama Mandiram of Kumbakonam. Pudu Periyavaa also was on his vijayam to the place. A wealthy man known to me did the bhikSA on that day. He made me stand upfront in the bhikSA vandanam and puja because of his affection towards me. It was one o' clock in the afternoon when the first kAla (session) puja was over. I had to go to the Vedic school to teach the veda bhASyam lessons.

Pudu PeriyavargaL was to come to perform the next kAla puja. Sri PeriyavaaL had gone inside, but sat in a place where everyone could see him. It would be three o' clock by the time the second kAla puja completed and the tIrtha prasAdam given. It was getting late for me. I needed to go before Sri Pudu PeriyavargaL sat for the puja. It would have been proper only if I left before he sat, not after, because I was sitting too near. But I had a desire in my mind. I had not taken food since that morning; it would be better if I could get the tIrtha prasAdam; the tIrtham poured as abhiSekam to Sri ChandraMauleesvara who was brought by Adi Sankara; and the abhiSekam was done by the hands of Sri Periyavaa. I grieved in my mind that there could be none who is more fortunate than the one who gets the tIrtha prasAdam from Sri Periyavaa's hands; but today that bhAgyam was not to be there for me.

Since tIrtham would be given only after completion of the second kAla puja, I left the place with the grievance that I did not get the bhAgyam. Exactly at that time, snapping his fingers, Sri PeriyavaaL ordered me to come inside. He asked me to extend my hand, gave me the tIrtham and his anugraha. Thus he did his anugraha to me even going against the niyama (restriction), knowing the grievance in my mind through his jnAna dRSTi (third eye). This is an unforgettable experience in my life.

*** *** ***

During the years 1950-51, Sri PeriyavargaL was staying in the Kumbakonam MaTham.

One night he gave an upanyAsam (speech). No microphone was kept before him at that time. People had filled SriMaTham in attendance. During his talk he recited the two phrases 'karma nAsha jalasbarsAt' of a shloka and kept repeating them, without uttering the full shloka. I thought out of ignorance that Sri PeriyavaaL did not know the rest of the shloka. Since I knew that shloka and since I was a boy, with bubbling eagerness I recited the shloka to him loudly, even while he was talking.

karmanAsha jalasbarsAt karadoya vilanganat |
kaNtakI bAhudharaNAt dharmaH kSarati kIrtanAt ||

Sri Periyavaa stopped his upanyAsam and ordered me to repeat the shloka. When someone interrupts in the middle of his speech, a speaker would normally be angry and jelous and think adhika prasangi (overly talkative) about the person who interrupted him.

But Sri PeriyavargaL is a KaruNAmUrti! When he ordered me to repeat the shloka, I started reciting it, but then forgot the lines! He blessed me with the words "The child has recited it." He pretended as if he forgot the shloka in order to give the chance to an enthusiastic boy, at the same time without exposing my ignorance. The incident is still fresh in my mind, standing as an example that there is no other icon of compassion than Sri PeriyavargaL.

*** *** ***

It was the year 1963. Sri PeriyavargaL was camping in Marudanallur. The Tiruppavai-Tiruvempavai conference was held in a grand manner in the Kumbesvara Temple, Kumbakonam. Sri Bhatavatsalam was then the chief minister of Tamilnadu. P.T.Rajan who did the tiruppaNi (holy works) of Madurai Meenakshi Temple and the Tamilnadu chief minister visited the place. It was the time of sandhya kAlam (dusk). I was sitting near Sri PeriyavargaL with a desire to listen to his anugraha bhASaNam (blessed speech). When he was about to commence his upanyAsam, Sri Periyavaa looked at me, folded his palm as if doing Acamana (sipping water as purification in a Hindu ritual) and gestured me to go out, thus making me realize that I should not skip my sandhyA vandanam at sandhyA kAlam for listening to an upanyAsam. I went forthwith to do the sandhyA at the holy pond.

At ten o' clock that night, without our inviting him, he visited our home in the MelaKaveri (west of Kaveri) and did paramAnugraham for more than an hour. He thus made explicit the truth that for a brahmin the karmas such as sandhyA vandanam are the most important; there is nothing loftier than them. 'If a brahmin does his duties regularly, I shall call on him personally and give my anugraham. Only he who does not do his dharma properly need to come seeking me.'

*** *** ***

The Advaita Sabha was held in TiruvidaiMarudur during a ChaturmAsya time. Sri PeriyavargaL who was observing a vow of silence gave it up and spoke in the Sabha saying that all the gRuhasthas (householders) should at least do aupAsanam (homely fire worship). From these two examples it can be understood that it was Sri PeriyavaaL's decision that a gRuhastA should never forgo the karmas ordained for him.

*** *** ***

Once when Sri Periyavaa was staying in Sivasthanam, Kanchipuram, a youth who had obtained the doctor degree for his researches in botony sought his darshan. Periyavaa asked him, "What is the reason for the name vetrilai (betel leaf), you know?" When he said that he did know it, Periyavaa explained, "vetrilai is a creeper. Any creeper would have flowers that ripe into fruits. The ripening into fruit may not be there, but at least the flower will be there. There is no creeper that never blossoms. But then in this creepr there would be no flowers or fruits. Only the leaves will be there. Since this creeper remains a plant with mere leaves it got the name vetrilai (mere leaf)."

The youth who had taken the doctor degree realized that it should really be given to PeriyavaaL.

*** *** ***

Sri PeriyavargaL had apAra jnAnam (limitless knowledge) in Silpa Shastras. He would teach facts that the sculptors themselves would not know. In the Agama Shastras, they have divided rocks into three kinds: male, female, neither male or female. Some statues of gods should be made only of male rocks, some of female and some of napuMsa (genderless) rocks. The sculptors would know the nature of the rocks by a cursory go at them with their chisel. But Sri PeriyavargaL would tell the nature of a rock just by looking at it.

In addition, there could be a toad inside the rock. Such rocks should not be used for sculpting god statues. Once a sthapati (sculptor) showed a rock to Sri PeriyavaaL, who said forthwith, "This rock has a toad inside it." The sculptor argued that he tested and decided that there was no toad inside, so he brought the rock.

Periyavaa asked him to break the rock. When it was done, a toad came out jumping from inside the rock. The sculptor was surprised. Thus the knowledge Sri PeriyavaaL had in Silpa Shastras is rare for even those who worked with it.

anuvAda - m. saying after or again, repeating by way of explanation, explanatory repetition or reiteration with corroboration or illustration, explanatory reference to anything already said; translation;
apAra - not having a shore, unbounded, boundless

Experiences, A Thousand
author:...... Balu, SriMaTham, Kanchipuram
compiler:... T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
book:......... Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol. 1, pages 123-141
publisher:.. Vanathi Padhippaham (Aug 2006 Edition)

pages 123-126

(For those who had made it a habit to have darshan of Sri Maha SwamigaL, it is not possible that they did not know Brahmachary Sri Balu. He was remarkable among PeriyavaaL's aNukkat-thoNdarkaL (personal attendants). Even today he is engaged in the service of SriMaTham.)

The story that Periyavaa told

KarNan was one who gave a lot in charity. He would give away anything--diamond, cat's-eye, gold, money, vessles, whatever--that was sought from him.

After giving up his life in the battle, he went to the svargam (heavens). He was hungry. Surrounding him were vessles made of diamond, cat's eye, and gold. But there was not a fistful of cooked rice or a cup of water. "Why is this so?", he asked of the assistants there.

"You were a dAna sUra (sun of charity), no doubt. You gave away lots in gold and silver. But then you did not do any anna dAnam (charity of food)? Only what you gave there will yet get here", they said.

KarNan felt humiliated. This dharma sUkSma (subtlety of dharma) went unknown to him.

Even then, hunger pinched his stomach.

Those who were there told him: "Once some people came hungry to you. You sent them to Duryodhana's house, pointing it with a finger. Put that finger that said 'meals will be served there' into your mouth and try sucking on it. Your hunger will fly away."

KarNan did as he was told. And got the tRpti (satisfaction) of partaking a feast of six-tastes.

The disease and its root

The bhaktA (devotee) told the sage that he was suffering from unabated stomach ache.

The uttaravu (orders) to him was to do vaisvadEvam every day, offer that annam (food) to an atithi (guest) and then take that food. Following the orders, the bhaktA got the nivaraNam (relief).

Periyavaa told him, "If possible, in any kSetra (holy place) do anna dAnam to a hundred or thousand people."

The bhaktA went to Guruvayur and did the anna dAnam at the Guruvayurappan temple.

'nOi nAdi, nOi mudal nAdi'*--VaLLuvar would say. The nOi mudal is actually pApa (sin). Our Periyavar is the parihAra cikitsA sironmaNi (expert remedial medical attendant) who seeks the root and destroys it completely!

Flowers bound in thread

An anbar (devotee) from Chennai brought a large heap of flowers. Different kinds of garlands, kadambam (orange-colored, fragrant flowers), and thick garlands of jasmine--were all bound and arranged beautifully and colorfully.

But then those could not be offered as garlands to ChandraMauleesvara. They were bound in cotton threads, instead of banana fibres. There was no custom to garland ChandraMauleesvara with flowers bound by threads.

The mental pang of the anbar can't be limited to words. With how much love and devotion he brought those flowers! But then even a span of the jasmine garland can't be offered to ChandraMauleesvara!

The puja being over, Periyavaa came out. On his way he noticed the garland of flowers in the baskets. "Why weren't these offered for the puja?" was the question he asked with a look.

"Bound by threads."

The heart of the anbar who brought the flowers throbbed violently as to what would be the reply.

Periyavaa was a karuNamUrti (icon of compassion).

"Let the puSpams (flowers) bound by thread be not used for the Swami. But they can be used for me?"

Great happiness among the disciples.

They made Periyavaa sit down, made him wear all the garlands and made it look like puSpAngi sEva (offer of decoration with flowers).

For the bhaktAs gathered opposite him, it was a flood of AnandA.

"Tirupati Venkatachalapathy" said a man. "Tiruchendur Murugan"; "Kanchi Kamakshi"...

One Vedanti said, "Let somebody be saying 'jagan mithyA' (the world is an illusion). This kSaNam satyam (this moment is a reality). brahmam satyam. saguNa brahmam parama satyam (while Brahman is real, the Brahman with attributes is the Supreme Reality); saguNam, satguNam. (that with attributes is the one with goodness). Periyavaa saguNa brahmam... brahmAnandam..."

That was a word of satyam!

nOi nAdi, nOi mudal nAdi, athu thaNikkum
vAi nAdi vAippac-cheyal
-- ThirukkuraL 95:8 (948)

"Diagnose the illness, trace its cause,
seek the appropriate remedy and apply it skillfully."

--Translation from the Himalayan Academy Website.

nivAraNa - a. & n. keeping back, warding off; n. hindrance, disturbance, trouble
vaisvadEvam - offering afternoon meal to God and then to a guest

pages 126-131

The astrologer who understood

A josyar (astrologer) from Kerala came for darshan. Periyavaa was observing kASTa maunam (vow of silence with complete inaction) on that day. He did not talk to the Josyar, but offered a fruit to the man with a smile.

The Josyar came out. The SriMaTham staff members surrounded him. Wasn't it natural that everyone had a problem? Everyone was eager to know when there will be a dawn for his own problems.

The Josyar said: "I cannot offer josyam in this place. This is a place where PeriyavaaL's sAnnidhyam (divine influence) remains paripUraNam (completely full). No gRha (astrological planets and mansions) would speak within three hundred feet from where Periyavaa stays; no devata would reply. You people come to the lodge where I am staying; I shall answer your questions."

The Josyar had understood PeriyavaaL in a single look.

Puja for the 'kuzhandai swAmi' (God of the children)

In those days even in the games played by children there used to be the reflection of our sampradAya (tradition). Those were days when the new games of the present times did not enter and pollute the social life.

In such a situation, how would be the recretational games of children in places like Kumbakonam where there were many temples, and temple festivals and swAmi vIdhi valams (divine procession on the streets) were held incessantly?

All that hubbub in a real swAmi purappAdu (start of divine procession) was there in the games too.

Bring a basketful of clay and let four hands knead it, and the Swami is ready--with all the paraphernalia of the veNNai tAzhi (butter pot), garuda vAhanam, kudirai vAhanam (vehicles of Garuda and horse) and so on!

No dearth of flowers, with so many trees along the Kaveri bank.

As for the mantra, should one pass out of a pAThashAlA (Vedic school)? sivAya namaH, vishnuve namaH, subrahmaNyAya namaH, puLLayArAya namaH...

In this way, one Swami came on bhavani (procession) on the SriMaTham street in Kumbakonam!

Swami came and stood before SriMaTham. No one expected it. Periyavaa came out. He did not slight it as just a play by the children.

He bowed to that 'kuzhandai swAmi with his daNDam (staff); joined his palms into a kumbidu (namaste). Asked his people to do nivedanam (offering) with coconut and banana fruit. Asked them to distribute bananas and suger lumps to the boys. Then, lifting his hand in blessing, he allowed Swami to go ahead.

kushiO kushi (extreme happiness) for the children!

(Would Kannapiran (Sri Krishna) have played with the shepherd lads of Gokulam in this fashion in the Dvapara Yuga?)

Is this not a unique way that Periyavaa used to respect the childrens' bhakti and motivate it for further growth?

It is a known thing to all of us that Periyavaa performs daily, long and elaborate puja in ekAkram (single-pointed devotion). In the same way, he would also honour the pujas performed by others.

Among the bhaktAs who come to SriMaTham, there would be those who do daily Panchayadana Puja. Periyavaa would visit those pujas and pray to the individual Gods.

Once he sights a Pillaiyar temple when he goes out--he would not mind if it is a dilapidated temple, a small temple or one that does not adhere to the Agamas. There would be sidarkkAi (coconut breaking) for all the Pillaiyars!

There is no chekku (oil-press) in Rameswaram

Every kSetra (holy place) would have its own custom of worship.

PeriyavaaL would be knowing many things about such customs that are not known even to those who reside in the kSetra.

A purohita (priest) came from Rameswaram. He said for three generations they were living in that place.

"You have seen the Nataraja of the RamanathaSwamy Kovil?"

"Yes I have. I have also taken the sevArthis (devotee doing service) and showed them."

"Are there seven curtains for Nataraja (there)?"

The Purohit was confused. He did not know what to reply.

Periyavaa said: "On the day of Tiruvaadirai (Arudra darshan), they would do puja to Nataraja, hanging seven curtains. After the seven curtains move aside, one can have darshan of Nataraja. Alright, how many Nataraja (images) are there in that temple?"

The man from Rameswaram was shaken a little. "I have seen only one Nataraja."

"There would be three Natarajas. Go and have a look."

"Yes I will."

"Is there a custom in the Rameswaram temple as there is in Guruvayur, to do abhiSekam (ablution) with the sesame oil obtained by grinding in a chekku (oil-press)?"

"Yes", said the man, taking a chance.

"There is no chekku in Rameswaram! The Swami of that kSetra is one who was formed by an image of the sand. There is an aitikam (tradition) there that there should be no grinding of chekku."

Then to assuage the Prohit against any feelings that he might have, Periyavaa inquired about his kutumba kSema-lAbha (family welfare and prosperity) and gave him prasAdam.

purohita - mfn. placed foremost or in front, charged, commissioned, appointed; m. one holding a charge or commission, an agent; (esp.) a family priest, a domestic chaplain
pages 131-135
shuddha gangA

A bhaktA brought a pot of Ganga Jalam from the Kashi kSetram after doing rudraikAdasi japa homam there, and submitted it to PeriyavaaL.

"From where did you pick up the jalam (water) for the rudraikAdasi?", asked Periyavaa.

"The vaidIkAs brought the jalam from the Kashi Kedar-ghat Ganga."

"Kashi is Pamameswara's place. The gangai nIr, ganga maN (Ganga water, Ganga soil) and such things should not be brought from there. The tIrtham you have brought, add it round the bottom of some bhilva tree."

Periyavaa explained: "Ganga Jalam should be brought from only where the Ganga is a shuddha gangA. It is shuddha gangA before the Yamuna river merges with it."

The snake is gone, but then...

The elephant blared in terror at midnight. The disciples were fast asleep. Nobody got up.

The elephant has excessive fear towards small animals such as the rat, frog or sparrow. Thinking that some rat or frog would have dropped in at that night time, Periyavaa got up silently and went to the elephant shed.

A big cobra its hood fully spread was swaying there in front of the elephant.

Periyavaa forthwith woke up the shiSyas. They arrived carrying sticks. "Don't beat the snake. Just light a lamp of sesame oil, and it will go away."

When a sesame oil lamp was lit and placed there as advised, the nAga snake that was in full hood till then crawed away and out of sight.

The surprising thing in this incident is that by the disciples who have normal hearing powers the blare of the elephant was not heard, but the sound was heard only by PeriyavaaL who was saying that he had problem with his ears!

Yes, Gajendra's supplicating wail 'Adi mUlamE!' was only heard by Sriman Narayana!

Periyavaa asked the elephant to be tied up in some other place.

"But the snake is gone!"

"The snake is gone alright. But the fear would not have gone for the elephant!"

Only after receiving the tidings that the elephant was taken to another safer place, Periyavaa went to resume his rest.

Can keep it for four days

There were hutments near where Periyavaa was staying in that village. Periyavaa would enjoy with happiness, when the children in the evening play uproariously, fight each other and raise a hue and cry. (At such times, a bhAva, a yearning would flash in Periyavaa's eyes that if he could not also join and play with those children).

When Periyavaa was enjoying the childrens' play in this manner, an AmmaaL brought a vessel full of tirattup-pAl (milk koa), placed it before PeriyavaaL and prostrated to him.

"ennathu (What is this)?... You have brought it shrinking the milk?"


"Will it be sweet?"

"It will be."


Before that woman can reply, Periyavaa admired, "Yes, it pierces through the nose!"

"I have prepared it in careful madi (ceremonial purity)... will not go sour... can keep it for four days... daily, Periyavaa, a little..."

Periyavaa did not seem to take her words into his ears at all. But then he said with an eagerness, "What you do, take this vessel to the children playing there, distribute (the content) and bring the empty vessel, right? Prepare for me the next time and bring it..."

Just as the kSIra sAgara sAyI (reclined in the ocean of milk) did amRta viniyoga (nectar distribution) as Mohini Devi, that AmmaaL gave away all that tirattup-pAl to the children, with paripUraNa tRpti (complete satisfaction). Looking kindly at the children eating the tirattup-pAl, Periyavaa felt happy.

No, not for the elephant

It was a custom in SriMaTham to give the elephants there large balls of annam (cooked rice) mixed with jaggery every evening. The mahout would take the ball in his hand and put it straight into the elephant's mouth.

One day, when it was time to feed the elephants, Periyavaa came that side casually. He glanced at the sAdam made into balls. He ordered the disciple nearby, "Tell the mahout not to feed these balls to the elephant" and moved away.

He called the manager unrgently.

"The annam kept for feeding the elephant has not been boiled properly. It is dry and peeling off in flakes. The tIni (feed) should not be given in this way, with ashraddhA (want of trust and care). Because it is an animal that is speechless, can you give the sAdam only half boiled? Tell it to the mahout. The elephant should be given sAdam in the same way that the nivedanam (offer) is given to sAkSAt gajamukhan (the visible, elephant-faced Ganesha)... That much bhakti is needed; shraddhA is needed...Let fresh rice be cooked and offered to the elephant..."

The disciples melted at the abundant compassion shown to a speechless animal.

Periyavaa did not touch and examine the cooked rice balls. Why, he did not even stop there for a moment to look at the balls!

How did he know then that they were not boiled properly and gone flaky at the surface?

Will the sarvajnatvam (omniscience) be expressed even in such small matters?

viniyoga - m. apportionment, distribution, division; commission, charge; use, employment;
relation, correlation.
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