• Welcome to Tamil Brahmins forums.

    You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which gives you limited access to view most discussions and access our other features. By joining our Free Brahmin Community you will have access to post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload content and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our community today!

    If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact contact us.

Guru upAkhyAnam (Tales about Gurus)

Not open for further replies.


Active member
Would Go on the Logs!
devotee:...... An old widow (Paatti)
author:....... Raa. Ganapathi
source:....... KaruNaikkadalil sila alaigaL, pages 73-77
publisher:.... Divya Vidya Padhippaham (Jun. 2005 Edition)
type:......... book, Tamil

The Place: Among the few villages in the name Rishivantiyam in Tamilnadu, the Rishivantiyam of the Thanjavur district. A lonely, old house on the border of the village. The Time: A short while before the daybreak in the 1930s.

"Where is he? Where is he?", saying these words aloud in a fit of anger, an old brahmin widow looks to her left as far as her eyes would go on the street. (On her right, the village suddenly ends.)

After getting inside her house, she comes out again and sprinkles cow-dung-disolved water, dipping her hand in and out of a bucket, on the bare ground in front of her house. The gomaya jalam falls onto the ground in noisy splashes, and the expletives muttered under the Paattiammai's breath scatter with a greater force and noise.

"He would go on the logs! (katteyla poRavan!) Should I get such a milkman? Me, an old woman (kezhavi), who had kept her front door open, somehow dozed a little while, but should he not wake me up calling out and clapping his hands four times? What arrogance! He had entered the house right royally and poured the milk in the vessel I had kept at the entrance to the kitchen! Let him go on the logs! Wherever has he gone within this short while!"

"Gone nowhere, PaattI? He is only here!" The man who went and stood before her, speaking these words, was sAkSAt Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Sankaracharya SwamigaL!

Paattiammai was shaken. Her hands could not be raised, her legs were motionless and she could not find her voice. She stood dumb and motionless. 'Is that PeriyavaaL? PeriyavaaL, really? At the gate of my broken hut, when it is just beginning to dawn? And what a racket have I made! He admits himself as going in the manner I said! What a brainless sinner I am, have I done something that could be a mahA apacAram?'

As he assuaged the anxiety of the old woman, there was a mischievous little look in SriCharaNar's divya netras! He said gently: "Don't be afraid PaattI! The milkman repeatedly called out! You had slept well! Since you did not turn up, for your sake, I disguised myself as you and received the milk and kept it inside. He was not in error. And you are also not in error. Only I have done a thievish act!"

This is what had happened. PeriyavaaL, who was touring village after village, had come to Rishivantiyam the previous night in his mena (palanquin). The palanquin bearers had a tough time and it was probably the second yAma into the night. So he had asked them to halt under the shades of a tree on the outskirts of the village and ordered them to retire for the night. Himself he squeezed into his mena in the usual way. The tree they sheltered under was on the rear side of PaattiammaL's house.

Just a muhUrta before the dawn, the creaky noise of Paattiammai releasing the antique bolt of her front door was heard. PeriyavaaL, who usually gets up around three or three thirty, heard it clearly, sitting inside his mena. He noticed the old woman peep from the entrance, and since there was no sight of the milkman, give him her usual under-the-breath expletives and get inside. Since there was no second screech from the door, he understood that the woman had not bolted her front door. In his usual wont of not missing anything, he also heard as the suprabatha gItam the madhura svarAs of the rotton back door that touched the floor as it was wrenched open. He understood that the woman was in the backyard. Since this noise was not repeated after sometime, he remembered that the woman had gone inside her house, without closing the back door.

Then the milkman came. He called out several times.

'Poor woman, Paatti has gone into a nap.' SriCharaNar understood, as grace welled up in his heart. He thought of mixing a little fun and mischief with that grace. There was a white shawl at the corner of the mena that came handy to his conspiracy. He came out of the mena covering himself fully with the white shawl. It turned convenient for him that the palanquin bearers were fast asleep at a short distance. With darkness still on, he drew himself step by step to the rear of the old woman's house, climbed over the short wall--yes, without shirking anything in this saMskAra of thievery!--got down at the garden side, and went inside house through the open back door, registering his footsteps. He came to the courtyard via the backside verandah and saw the empty milk vessel kept near the kitchen door. He took it, crossed the old woman who was having a second nap at a corner of the hall, and came to the front door, drawing the shawl tightly over him. He kept the milk vessel on the raised portico (thiNNai).

Where was the time for the rustic, busy milkman to raise his head and look at the person who received the milk? Would he have thought even in his dream that at that still dark hour of the morning, Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Sankaracharya SwamigaL would take the appearance of a poor, old woman? He poured the milk into the vessel in a single stroke and marched away.

The duplicate Paattiammai kept the milk vessel near the kitchen door and got back to his mena, looking expectantly at how the old woman would continue the comic play he had started. We have already witnessed that scene!

Kannan (Krishna) stole the milk and got admonished. But this man receives the milk in stealth doing a service to the old woman, gets a rebuke (of going on the logs) that Kannan never got and proudly tells the scold that he was fit to receive her expletives!

As she heard the details, Paattiammai was shocked and helpless. A man fit to be given the welcoming honours of a king or a deva, coming as a humble man for the sake of this heap of sorrow (avala piNDam), registering his feet all through her house, receiving the milk and then getting back! What words had she used at that God?

As the old woman stood helpless not knowing how to seek his pardon and babbling incoherently with tears pouring over her eyes, SriCharaNar with a bright face told her, "What you said was not a rebuke at all! You only said the truth! Am I not going on the logs? Don't I not wander on a wooden palanquin? Even when I walk, don't I wear my wooden sandals and go?"

The Great Giver who lets even the rebukers live, did a bhASyam even for her rebuke.

gomaya - consisting of cattle, defiled with cow-dung
muhUrta - 30th part of a day, a period of 48 minutes
saMskAra - putting together, forming well, making perfect
yAma - 8th part of a day or night
'AnnadAna Sivan'
(from the book titled Maha PeriyavAL Virundhu by Raa. Ganapathi, pages 83-92)

"The cooked rice (sAdam) would have been gathered into a very huge heap, looking dazzling white like the Himalayas. Even if an elephant drowns in the sAmbAr andA (huge vessel containing sAmbAr), you wouldn't know. It is said that Himalachala Sivan created a huge pit of food for the sake of Gundodaran during the Meenakshi Kalyanam (Shiva's celestial wedding with Meenakshi at Madurai). In the same way, this poor brahmana Sivan did a marvellous and mighty task."

Kanchi Paramacharya was reminiscing about the annadhAnam festivities of Sri Ramaswamy Iyer of Tepperumal Nallur, Tamilnadu, who was more popularly (and appropriately) known as 'Annadhana Sivan'. These food festivities took place in Kumbakonam during the Mahamaham festivals in the years 1921 and 1933, and fed several thousand people.

Since the middle of the eighteenth century until the middle of the twentieth, Kumbakonam was the headquarters of Kanchi Matam. Sivan virtually made the Matam his home from 1916 since his demise in 1939.

Paramacharya continued his reminiscences about the big event thus:

"It was during the 1933 Mahamaham annadhAnam. The wood brought for fuel was a hundred cartloads. For pickles, ten cartloads of the amala fruit ( phyllanthus emblica) were received. He would just smell the vapours of the dishes being cooked and say correctly what needed to be added to a dish. From the vapours of rasam, he would order the amount of coriander yet to be ground and added. Not just a handful of corianders. 'Ground a large pan of coriander and add to the rasam', he would shout to a cook. If a large pan of coriander was to be added more than what has already been done, imagine the quantity of rasam that would have been made. And there ware two cartloads of broomsticks (of the coconut tree) that were used to clean the floor after a dining session.

"However much the number of cooked rice vessels or however long the serial wood furnaces be, they couldn't just meet the amount of rice required. So what he would do is to first cook ten or twenty bags of rice, spread the lots over long mats, cover the steaming, cooked rice (anna pAvadai) with a thin, white cloth and spread bags of raw, uncooked rice over the cloth with the cooked rice under. Then he would cover this uncooked rice with long jute sacks and fold them tightly under the mat. In the next half hour, when the sacks were removed, all the upper layer of uncooked rice would have been cooked, soft like flowers! Such was his technique to speed up the rice-making task.

"Where did he go for all the milk required for curd to serve the multitudes of diners? Sivan had another technique for this requirement. In those days when there were no refrigerators, Sivan had invented his own! Weeks or even months before the samArAdhanA (food festival), Sivan used to go about the task of collecting milk and making curds. He would pack the curd in wooden barrels, seal them with wax and drown the barrels in deep ponds. When the barrels were extracted and opened, the curd would be just like it was formed yesterday! We should say, it was not just the coolness of the pond, but the cool compassion of his mind also that made the task possible."

Though Sivan conducted the festivities on behalf of Kanchi Matam, the 1921 and 1933 Mahamaham samArAdhanAs were eventful in the sense, Paramacharya was not there in Kumbakonam at that time, as he had undertaken the ganga yAtrA (pilgrimage to the banks of Ganga) in the year 1919, which lasted for twenty-one long years. During the Mahamaham of 1933, Paramacharya had camped on the outskrits of Kumbakonam, in Patteesvaram and Tiruvidai Marudhur, en route to Ramesvaram, from where he was to proceed to Varanasi. Observing the tradition, he did not enter the Kumbakonam matam until his yAtrA was completed. He would go to the Mahamaham pond to take bath or to the temples of Kumbakonam from his camp and return. It was during the year 1933 that the renovation work of the Matam was completed, under the supervision of Sivan.

A speciality about Sivan's annadhAnam festivities was that until the evening of the previous day there were no signs at the place of dining of any activity of food preparation. The articles would start arriving only in the night. In the 1933 festival, it was past midnight and yet not a cartload of articles arrived! Even the fearless taskmaster Sivan started worrying over the actual time left for arranging the things and start cooking to feed a lakh of people on the next morning.

The news reached the camp where Paramacharya was staying. In the next few minutes, the carts started arriving.

The carts that were usually exempted from the traffic regulations during the Mahamaham festival were at that time held up by the traffic police, who were not aware of the relaxation of rules for Sivan's carts. The circle inspector suddenly had a flash at one-thirty at night and proceeded to the scene of holdup. Thereafter, the carts that were parked outside the city moved in, and Paramacharya's blessings saw to it that everything went on well from that time.

A most notable thing about the festivities was that neither the 'Walking Sivan', nor the 'Annadhana Sivan' ever tasted a morsel of the food served! Paramacharya usually took the flattened rice offered to Sri ChandraMauleesvara, even that when he was not on fast. Annadhana Sivan would go a friend's house and take just curd rice, which was his usual, favourite dish, which he took even on normal days after offering it to his ishta devata (personal God) Sri Dakshinamurthi.

Paramacharya said later, that contrary to the popular perception that Sivan did the annadhAnam on behalf of the Kanchi Matam, it was his festivities that restored the financial status of the Matam during those difficult days.
The Amazing bhikSha That Paramacharya Took
book:..... Maha Periyavalh Virundhu (Tamil)(pages 92-96)
author:..... Raa. Ganapathi
publisher:.. Divya Vidhya Trust, 1998 edition

More often than not Paramacharya observed suddha upavAsah (rigorous fast), which sometimes extended to days together. Even on the days he took bhiksha (offered food), his usual take was a small amount of nel pori (the rice equivalent of popcorn) that was offered to Sri ChandraMauleesvara or Mother Kamakshi. The days he took cooked rice with the accompanying dishes were very rare. To give up rice totally, he even tried the flour extracted from raw bananas, but had to give it up on the entreaties of his doctor devotees.

Sometime in the year 1936, Paramacharya was observing the chAturmAsyam (ahimsa dharma followed by sanyasins by staying at one place and meditating) at Berhampur on his way back from Varanasi. At that time he observed rigorous fasting for several days together. And he did it so secretly that most people around him were not aware of it. The treasurer Ramachandra Iyer somehow came to know about the rigorous fast.

He went to Mahaperiyavaa and pleaded with him to give up the fast. Paramacharya immediately called his biksha assistant and told him about the things that should be added to his personal food the next day.

The treasurer was happy. As he returned to his office, he got a doubt if Periyavaa had really granted his entreaty when he did not listen even to such people as 'Annadhana Sivan' in such matters. When he checked up with the biksha assistant, his doubt was confirmed. The assistant said, "As soon as you left him, Periyavaa asked me to forget it all as he had only told so to satisfy you."

The treasurer went again to Mahaperiyavaa, but couldn't have an opportunity to talk to him. Everytime he tried, Paramacharya saw to it that he had somebody nearby discussing something. This continued for some days, until one day, the treasurer was able to 'catch' Paramacharya at ten in the night, when the latter had finished the Friday puja, appearing rather tired.

"Periyavaa should have a stomachful of biksha tomorrow," said the treasurer. "Otherwise I shall quit the matam."

That did not work. With a broad smile, Paramacharya said, "Will nothing move in the matam if you are not there?"

"Then I shall quit this world", uttered the treasurer vehemently, and started weeping. He knew that Periyavaa could not ask the same question with this offer to quit the world.

"Alright, I will have the biksha. Why tomorrow, I shall have it now. You said that you will offer to fill my stomach. Will you do it?" said Paramacharya.

"I am only waiting for such words", said the treasurer as he prostrated, his eyes full of tears. He thought that at that time of night Periyavaa wouldn't take anything other than milk and fruits, so he rose to call the biksha assistant who knew about his Guru's habits.

"Why do you call him? I asked only you to offer me the biksha and you agreed", said Paramacharya.

"Since I don't know about the quantity, I though I would ask him..."

"So what? Bring what is avaiable."

The treasurer brought the baskets and bamboo plates that were filled with fruits. He thought Periyavaa could take what he desired from the lot.

A totally surprising order came from Paramacharya. "Where is the suji (a sweet dish) and sundal (boiled and fried seeds) that were offered at the Friday puja? Bring them at once!"

The treasurer ran and brought the large utensils that had the dishes, and placed them in front of his Guru.

A miracle happened there! Paramacharya emptied the utensils quickly and asked for more!

The treasurer moved the fruit baskets near the sage. That was also emptied in no time. And the question came, "what else is there?" The treasurer was aghast.

"You offered to fill my stomach and stirred the hunger in me, now I can't bear it!" said Paramacharya. Not able to withstand those words, the treasurer brought a large kooja (a pot like container) of milk and offered to the sage.

No sooner Paramacharya drank all the milk than the treasurer patted his cheeks resoundingly and fell
at the feet of the sage. "Periyavaa should excuse me! I shall never disturb you hereafter."

Mahaperiyavaa laughed like a child and said, "So you wouldn't come in my way henceforth!", and blessed the treasurer with raised hands.
Paramacharya as Goddess Annapurani
(from the book titled Maha Periyavalh Virundhu by Raa. Ganapathi, pages 97-110)

Even during the 1920s Paramacharya hosted a dinner for the Muslims, whose sense of unity and patriotism ran high in those days.

Two hundred Muslim youths from an Islamic Youth Forum performed an exemplary service in the Mahamaham festival of 1921 in Kumbakonam. Paramacharya, who was camping at Patteesvarm nearby, heard about it and sent some Matam officials to bring the Muslim youths to him.

The youths were very happy that Shankaracharya had called them to his presence. They stood before him showing utmost reverence.

Paramacharya praised their seva and heard the details about their Forum. He inquired their personal details such as native place, education, occupation and family of all the two hundred youths individually, and made everyone of them immensely happy. He also presented a silver cup as a memento from Kanchi Matam for their seva.

Like the cherry on the ice cream, Paramacharya ended the interview with a tasty, three-course dinner to the youths.

*** *** ***

In the year 1924, Kaveri and Kollidam were overflowing with floods that threatened to merge them into a single river. Tiruvaiyaru and its surroundings were the worst affected by the floods. At that time, for nearly fifteen days, cartloads of cooked food were sent from Kanchi Matam for the thousands of poor people in the area. The food was served by the Congress workers under the supervision of Lawyer Sarangapani Iyengar, leader of the Tiruvaiyaru Congress Committee.

The daily culinary needs of SriMatam were reduced to the minimum, in order to use the stored provisions for feeding the poor. They worshipped the great sage who fed them as God.

The press praised this social service as the largest till then by a Sanatana Religious Institution.

*** *** ***

During the last days of the year 1931, the persecution of the Congress workers by the British government was at its peak. People and organizations were warned of stern action against any support for the Congress members.

Paramacharya was camping at Arani in the North Arcot district. A group of Congress members wanted to meet him. The Matam officials informed the sage that his meeting the Congress workers might create problems for SriMatam.

Paramacharya heard their apprehensions with concern and then said calmly, "Ask all the members of the group to come here. Also arrange for feeding them from SriMatam."

The stunned Matam officials carried out the orders of the sage with consternation, but there was no problem from the government.

When the Manager brought the happy news of no reaction from the British government, Paramacharya said, "If I were to close the doors on people who want to meet me, I would not be fit to carry the title Jagatguru and sit on the throne of this Peetam."

*** *** ***

Paramacharya used to quote the Tamil saying 'Feed everyone, without any distinction' (yArkkum idumin, avar ivar eNNanmin) and explain that no distinction of any kind must be entertained in offering food. He would be delighted to explain the Keralite tradition of feeding even the thieves at night! This custom existed in the place called Cherukkunnam, Kerala, in the Annapurani temple. After feeding the bhaktas in the temple, food packets were prepared and kept tied to the trees in the night, for the use of any prowling thieves.

Paramacharya also took delight in explaining the reference in the Sangam Literature of how the Chera king Udhiyan Cheraladhan earned the name Perum Sotru Cheraladhan (the king who was the chief host) by feeding the opposite camps of the Pandavas and the Kauravas during the Mahabharata war.

Kannappan the hunter fed Shiva Mahadev. Guhan the hunter fed Sri Rama. Here, the hunters named the Senjus of the Srisailam forest area were fed by the Paramacharaya!

During the 1934s, when the road transport facilities were very scanty, Paramacharya was traveling with his entourage in the desolate forests of Srisailam. Somewhere on the way, they came across the Senju hunters. Mistaking them for their foes, the hunters raised their bow and arrows initially, but when they saw the sage with his divya tejas, they realized their mistake and became friendly.

The people who came to oppose their passage became their security guards, carrying their luggage and watching over their camps at night time. Only after safely seeing off Paramacharya and his entourage at their next destination, the hunters assembled before them to take leave.

Paramacharya ordered the manager to give them some cash, but they refused to touch the money. The leader of the group said something to the manager, who nodded his head in disapproval and spread out his hands.

Paramachara snapped his fingers and called the manager to attention: "What is it that he asks for and you refuse?"

"They want to show their dancing skills before Periyavaa".

"So you told them that I can't see their dance because it was your opinion as manager that it was beneath the dignity of SriMatam."

There was not any trace of anger in Paramacharya's words. The manager was silent.

And the Paramacharya, who would not witness the performance of even the great and popular dance artistes, gave them permission to dance before him, with a condition: that while any of their males could dance, only those females who hadn't attained puberty could join the males in dance.

Paramacharya asked them, "you might have different types of dances to suit different occasions: one for Swami (God), one for victory, one for sports and so on. What type of dance are you going to perform now?"

They gave a telling reply: "We are going to perform the dance reserved only for the closest of our relatives."

Paramacharya witnessed their dance, blessed them, and hosted a nice dinner for them.

*** *** ***

A wealthy landlord in Thanjavur district had undertaken the biksha on that day. Paramacharya had ordered him to prepare a large number of laddus.

Only a small group of people which included SriMatam officials and the family and relatives of the host was present for the dinner on that day. The landlord couldn't understand the reason for the large number of laddus. Perhaps Paramacharya wished to send the pack to an orphanage or a vedic institution, he thought.

Contrary to his wont, Paramacharya supervised the diner's rows. He ordered for serving two and more laddus to each diner, even if they were in excess, ignoring the individual's protests.

After making another strange announcement, Paramacharya went to his room. The anouncement was that it was not compulsory to eat all the laddus though Periyavaa himself ordered it, and that the excess numbers might be wasted!

Nobody could understand the strange announcement from Paramacharya who usually advises children that anna lakshmi should not be sent to the dust bins. Everyone had to leave the excess number of laddus on their banana leaves.

Since it was an order from Paramacharya, the laddus were made professionally, embedded with cashew nuts, dry grapes, clove, and cardamom. Now these embeddings from the leftover laddu globes were winking at the landlord, who tried to pacify his mind that Paramacharya wouldn't order anything without a valid reason.

Later, during his conversation with the host, Paramacharya told the landlord, "Go and check the backyard where the leftovers are thrown."

When the landlord went to the backyard, he saw familes of the kurava clan avidly eating the left over laddus. As they saw the landlord, they heartily thanked him for the tasty dish that was never before served to them.

The landlord felt happy and grateful. When he returned to Paramacharya, the sage said, "As per their kula dharma, these kurava clan prefer only ucchishtam. They wouldn't consent to have an anna dhanam. Such is the rule among them. Don't they have the same mouth and stomach as we? It occurred to me to give them the same kind of laddus that we have in our dinner. And I thought only you could do it well. Now, only you have their good wishes."

*** *** ***

After the maravas and the kuravas, it was the turn of paraiyas.

Paramacharya was travelling in the Kodavasal--Koradacherry route. On the way in Tirukklambur, the slum people met him and submitted their humble offerings.

Paramacharya heard their welfare and woes. Unhurriedly, he discussed the details with the manager as to what SriMatam could do to mitigate their woes, either in their own capacity or with the charity of affordable devotees.

The managers and the other officials started worrying about the ensuing delay for their next camp and the following pujas. The god of the poor, however, seated himself among them, and ordered dhotis and saris for every nandan - nandini from the local textile shop. If that shop didn't have the required goods, Paramacharya ordered them bought at Kodavasal. He also ordered prepartion of thick sambar rice under the shades of the trees.

The manager was worried that the two or three hours time spent in these activities would delay reaching their next camp and that it would be very tedious for Periyavaa to undertake the long puja thereafter.

When he started to express his feeings, Paramacharya said simply, "this is also a puja."

*** *** ***

Two years after his Varanasi trip, when Paramacharya was returning, he had to camp for three days in the Kyonjer samastanam of the hilly areas. His heart overflew with campassion at the pitiable conditions of the tribals in the area. He told the manager, "for all the three days we stay here, we should arrange to feed them."

The manager hesitated with a request, "Those people are over a hundred and fifty families. We don't have the facilities to cook food here."

"Then give them as uluppai", replied the sage.

Giving as uluppai is giving supplies of food articles, vegetables and fruits. For three days the tribals enjoyed the bounty of SriMatam.

In the same way, Paramacharya ordered serving three days supplies to the suffering employees of a circus company in Ilayattankudi, that was closed down.

*** *** ***

It seems that there was only one occasion in the history of SriMatam, when rice and other food supplies were carried on the back of the SriMatam elephant! Paramacharya, the udAra murti created history with such an incident, to fill the udarams of the poor harijan people.

It was November 1940. The village was heavily flooded when Paramacharya reached Tiruchettankudi from Tirumarukal. News reached his ears that over five hundred harijans in the area were suffering, as a hailstorm lashed on.

Paramacharya hastened the officials to rush them food supplies, but was informed that it was not possible for bullock carts to pass through the rain inundated roads.

"Then you send the supplies on the back of the elephant. This place is known as Ganapateesvaram," said Paramacharya, poining out the harmony. "So Pillaiyar will be happy that an elephant partakes the jana seva."

*** *** ***

The dog, according to shastras is of a low birth. The Guardian of Shastra also extended his bounty to the dogs.

In the year 1927, a dog came to SriMatam camp on its own and started keeping vigil. After his biksha was over, Paramacharya ordered that the dog be fed. Strangely, after tasting the food from the matam, the dog stopped accepting food from anyone else.

The dog used to trot under the palanquin known as mena which carried Paramacharya. Sometimes it would run between the massive, moving legs of the elephant! When the palanquin was parked, it would step aside to a distance and watch the sage descend and walk, wagging its tail.

At one time, the officials thought that the dog had become mad and ordered a servant to leave it in a village, about forty kilometers away from their camp. No sooner had the servant returned, than the dog also had got back to the camp! From that time, until its death, the dog kept vigil and also kept a vow not to take food until it had a darshan of Paramacharya.

As he resumed his divine duties after a short rest following his biksha, Paramacharya would first inquire if the dog was fed.

*** *** ***

There was an incident when Paramacharya served food for an entire army of dogs.

He was observing chAturmAsyam at Vasanta Krishnapuram near Tirukkovalur in the year 1947. The peak of Tiruvannamalai hill, about twenty kilometers away, was visible from that place. Paramacharya used to perform a puja for the mountain that was Lord Siva's form at where he stayed, with a darshan of the peak.

During one such puja, when he was meditating, a dog came and put its mouth to the water in the kamandaluh. The people around were very much upset by this happening, and a devotee who was a retired government official, threw a stone at the dog, which ran howling, and stopped at a safe distance.

Paramacharya's eyes opened at the anxious hubbub. He looked at the people aroud him and ordered: "Collect all the available dishes from the houses of the agrahAram. Also bring bucketfuls of water."

The volunteers group that included retired official went around and brought the food and water. As Paramacharya gestured, the dog that was standing at a distance came near and stopped hesitatingly. As he gestured a second time, soemthing very strange happened.

An army of dogs came from nowhere and calmly arranged themselves in a row, without showing any signs of hurry for the food that was before them. Paramacharya offered food and water to the dogs through the retired official who had stoned the dog earlier.

*** *** ***

Since the beginning of 1964, Paramacharya asked the rice donors to send the rice bags to the Rameswaram branch of SriMatam. This seemed rather strange and the manager took exception to the excessive collection of rice bags at their Rameswaram branch. There were even occasions that suggested that the manager was not at all happy with the decision and might have an argument with the sage. Paramacharya, however, was adamant, and ensured that 250 bags of rice were stocked in their Rameswaram branch.

During the month of December 1964, Rameswaram was hit by a severe cyclone. The Pamban bridge was uprooted and Dhanushkoti town sank in the ocean. It became impossible to send food supplies to the Rameswaram island, overcoming the rage of the ocean.

The 250 bags of rice that was stocked by Paramacharya in the Rameswaram branch of SriMatam helped to fill the stomach of thousands of people who suffered from the nature's fury.

*** *** ***

anna dhanam - an offering of food
anna lakshmi - the goddess of food and bounty
biksha - hosting a satvic dinner; also offering food to a sannyasi.
divya tejas - divine splendour
harijan - Hari's people, a name for the meek and lowly
jana seva - service to the people
kula dharma - dharma of the family
kurava - a nomad tribe who sells small ornaments
laddu - a sweet delicacy, globular in size
marava - warriors and hunters
nandan - nandini - son and daughter
paraiya - people living in slums
samastanam - a region ruled by a king
sambar rice - a dish in a South Indian meal
ucchishtam - remnants of food eaten by others
udAra murti - a figure of bounty
udaram - stomach
uluppai - supplies of raw material of food
Paramacharya's Daily bhikShA
Author: 'Paranthaman' (V.Narayanan) (in Tamil)
Source: Paramacharyar pages 69-79
Publisher: Narmadaa Padhippaham

As everyone of his devotees knew, Paramacharya's daily bhikSA was nothing more than nelpori soaked in curd or buttermilk or otherwise suitably prepared. He took only a little quantity of this 'food', which was the mainstay of his dietary habits throughout his life. At one time, he wanted to give up rice totally, and tried the flour extracted from raw bananas, but had to give it up on the entreaties of his doctor devotees because of the adverse effects this type of food might have on his health.

Sri 'Paranthaman' in his book Paramacharyar recalls interesting incidents about the nelpori offer by devotees. Before we go into them, let us have a glance at what this divine food item can do for us.

We use nelpori--parched rice, and aval--flattened rice, cooked and sweetened with jaggery and offer it to God on the day of the Kartikai festival. At the time of the annual shraarda ceremony, a few paddy grains are parched in the homa guNDam and consumed by the doer of the ceremony.

Thus nelpori is paddy parched in heat. The Sanskrit term for parched or fried grains is lAjAH. They are known as kurmura in Hindi. Parched rice grain is different from puffed rice, which is made by heating rice kernels under high pressure. Puffed rice is used by us on the day of Sarasvati Puja as an offering to the Goddess. In the North Indian dish bhel puri, puffed rice is a main ingredient.

Even though we generally use the rice grain for parching or frying, there are other grains that can be prepared as food this way. These include amaranth, maize, wheat, millet and barley. Non-grains that can be puffed include soybeans and markhana (a kind of water fruit). A brief discussion of the puffing process of grains is given at Puffed grain - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Though nelpori is also known as puffed rice in English, we might use the term parched rice grains or parched paddy for this variety, to distinguish it from flattened rice, which is our aval and the puffed rice which is our rice pori. The Website Medindia - Medical/Health Website gives a simple recipe of cooking nelpori as a liquid diet that can be used for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sprue, fever, diabetes, obesity and caugh. Called Laja Peya, this Ayurvedic diet is made with two cups of parched rice grains and four cups of water, boiling the rice grains in water for 5-7 minutes and then adding salt, buttermilk and onions. Extremely light to digest, this diet balances the tridosha, quenches thirst, pacifies pitta and improves appetite.

Now to Sri Paranthaman's reminiscences:

The jnana bhumi magazine was conducting puja, japa, and homa at many places for the welfare of the world. The magazine team was approached by Pondicherry Sri Sankara Seva Association to conduct the jnana bhumi homam on the occasion of the anniversary of their association.

Sri Gopala Iyer and Sri Sridhar came very late for the puja and homa rituals. When asked about the delay they said, "We went to Kanchipuram to meet Sri Paramacharyar, apprised him of the anniversary celebration details and took his blessings for the occasion."

I apprecited their principle and asked them, "Do you meet him often?" Gopala Iyer said, "How can I be anything without his grace? It was because of his anugraham that I am alive and active today." He continued, "Some months back, I was in the intensive care unit of a hospital for treatment of a heart disease. Even after coming home on discharge from the hospital, I was mostly bedridden, unable to act without the help of an assistant. Only during those one or two months I couldn't visit Kanchi MaTham or have darshan."

Gopala Iyer said, "For the last 25 years I have darshan of Paramacharyar with an offer of the edibles that is used for his daily food." When I asked him, "You don't take anything in return?", he replied, "What could be more valuable than his hearty blessings and support? Two months back, because of my ill health, I sent the edibles through my son-in-law Sridharan. Paramacharyar had suddenly asked him, 'Where is Gopalan? Nowadays he is not seen here?'

"Sridhar explained him about my ill health and my inability to stand up and walk. He told Sridhar, 'Tell him that I told him and ask him to come here.' Before Sridhar could reply, 'He is not in a position--', Paramacharya said, 'He can come, ask him to come.'"

"Within two days we arranged a van and started with our friends and relatives. It was arranged that I would travel sitting on a wheelchair inside the van. What wonder, and what to say of the grace of Acharyar! I started getting up on my own and walked up to the van. It was the first time in a few months that I was able to walk on my own.

"When we reached Kanchipuram, Paramacharya was informed about my arrival. He said, 'Ask Gopalan to come here.' My people said, 'He can't walk, shall we carry him?' He said, 'No, don't carry him. Ask him to come over here walking!'

"They held me by my hands and I was able to walk until I reached near Paramacharyar. As his holy figure was sighted by my eyes, I started weeping, shedding garlands of tears. Acharyar gestured to the people who held me to leave me free. He asked me to sit down then and there. With tears flowing, I prostrated him in a half posture and sat down. After sometime, he blessed me and said, 'Rise up and go walking!' I did as he told me to. From that day, I am on foot, with no sign of my disease. Everything is the grace and blessings of Paramacharyar!"

Though his family was connected with Kanchi MaTham and Paramacharyar from the times of his ancestors, it was only recently that he was made an agent of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti MaTham.

This Gopala Iyer should have collected a large amount of puNyam in his early births. It was them that had given him the bhAgyaM of offering the edible that Paramacharya consumed daily, even to the extent of making others jealous of him.

It can surely be said that no other saint in the world has conquered the tastes of the tongue as Paramacharya has done. He has disproved the theory that healthy life is possible only with a large amount of nutritious food. In the history of his 93 years of life (so far) he did not seem to have had inordinate food or sleep or ill health. Despite such strict austerity, he never tired in reading, giving darshan, discussing, praying, administering SriMatham, travelling or implementing plans.

It can be said with certainty that no other feet have traversed the length and breadth of Bharat. His feet have touched and sanctified every temple and tIrtha ghat from the Himalayas to the Kumari, from Dvaraka to Jagannath.

His daily food was just the nelpori, soaked in curd or buttermilk or otherwise suitably prepared. There are interesting incidents connected with his daily diet.

About 25 years back, Paramacharyar was camping in a village called Ayyur, near Villupuram. At that time, when this Gopala Iyer went for darshan one day, Paramacharyar suddenly asked him, "Is it possible for you to prepare the nelpori required for me?" Since this man was a landowner, he brought finely prepared nelpori the very next day. Paramacharya said with happiness, "These are very good. You supply me these daily to the extent of my needs."

This task of supplying parched rice grains was already being done by the Thanjavur advocate Venkatarama Iyer. He asked Paramacharyar rightfully, "Can you disppoint me like this, when I have been supplying you the pori without fail all these days?" The sage said, "Gopalan's pori is good. All these days you have given. Let him give henceforth." Venkatarama Iyer persisted about his daily supply and Paramacharyar said, "Alright, you too supply me." Since Gopala Iyer's pori was deemed to be good, Venkatarama Iyer took the paddy grains from him and made parched rice grains out of them. Both of them supplied the pori the next month. On the month after, Venkatarama Iyer had left the world. Only then people understood why Paramacharya gave the order to another man when a man was already supplying him the food item.

From that time, Gopala Iyer never failed to supply the parched rice grains, whether he was in station or not. He even visited the places where the sage had camped and supplied the pori. For this purpose, he had visited places like Machlipatnam, Hampi, Bellary, Kurnool, Rajamundry, Satara, Sakapat, Chennai, Kanchipuram and Tenambakkam. When he went to Sholapur with the pori, Paramacharyar told him not to supply it any more. Gopala Iyer asked him anxiously, "What mistake I have done to get this order from you? At least on this errand I have the bhAgyaM of your darshan once in a month."

Paramacharyar said, "I am going to stop the pori AhAram. It is coming from paddy. The paddy plant has much of life in it. So I have stopped eating its products considering it a sin. Instead, I am planning to try the flour of raw bananas. Can you prepare and supply it?"

Gopala Iyer agreed readily to the proposal. He told me with gratitude, "From that day, I arranged for a relative at Trichy to supply me with the nendrankai raw bananas. I dry them, pound them, and sieve the mash into fine flour and supply it in tins. He is using it in a way that suits him, either as a porridge, or as iddlies or in another simpler preparation. He has granted me the bhAgyaM of supplying this flour continuously until now."

Using the nendrankai flour as children's diet is a custom in Kerala from ancient times. In dietary habits, children and old people have much in common. They need food that gives strength and digests easily.

One might raise a question: whether the banana tree does not have the same life as a paddy plant. The answer is that for every produce, the paddy plant has to kill itself, whereas the banana tree goes on spawning saplings from its roots, so plucking the banana crop does not amount to killing the tree.

AhAraH - fetching, eating, meal
lAjAH - parched or fried grains (esp. rice grain)
nendrankai - a variety of slim bananas, found in plenty in Kerala
shrArda - an annual Vedic ceremony performed to the ancestors.
An A-one Meal!
(From Chapter 8. A Mixed Garland of Incidents)
Author: SriMaTham Balu (in Tamil)
Compiler: T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
Source: Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol. 4, pages 89-92
Publisher: Vanathi Padhippaham (Dec. 2006 Edition)

These days TV programs telecast cooking instructions. If the instructions given on the small screen are followed verbatim, will the ultimate dish be fit enough to be put inside the mouth? It is doubtful.

If no new recipes are found, they would make do with the instructions for the traditional sambar and curry items such as the drumstick sambar or the ladies finger curry!

Periyavaa had never entered the samaiyal kattu (kitchen) in his pUrvAshrama; after he took sannyAsa there was no necessity for it. But then somehow he had acquired the knowledge about the blends of cooking and had a knack for new dishes!

We were returning from Pandaripuram. We reached a tiny village that had just four or five huts. We camped under a large tree.

After preparing PeriyavaaL's biksha, we managed to finish our lunch with the few items that we had prepared in excess. It was time for an afternoon recess.

Suddenly, some twenty people arrived, making much noise!

All of them were from the Chennai side. They had come with the hope they would get some tasty food as Sri ChandraMauleesvara prasAda in the SriMaTham camp!

But then SriMaTham was camping under a big tree! There were no utensils, groceries to cook?

ParamacharyaaL was not worried about such things! His only aim was to serve the people who had reached him hungry.

There was a close assistant by name Brahmachary Ramakrishnan. Periyavaa ordered him, "Cook food for everyone!"

Ramakrishnan stood helpless, wringing his hands. "I shall cook and serve them after we reach our next camp?" he said.

PeriyavaaL understood that there was some problem. He asked, "Is there rice?"

"Yes; also some payattham paruppu (broken green-gram)."

"That's good! What you do, soak and wash rice, and collect the washed water in a separate vessel. Add some salt to it, squeeze a lemon and then add some cut leaves of naaratthai (Indian wild-lime). This will be the buttermilk.

"Boil the green-gram with plenty of water, separate the water and the gram and then add lime juice to the boiling water. That will be the rasam!

"Now you have the boiled green-gram. Add salt and cut chillies to it. That will be the curry!"

Everything was ready in a half hour. Meantime, we collected plantain leaves and water for the guests.

So we had cooked rice, green-gram curry, rasam and buttermilk for our dinner of hexa-tastes!

"The meal was A-one!" said one of the guests.

"devAmrutam" (nectar of the gods), said another.

"I have not tasted such a tasty meal before!" said a third man.

We the assistants laughed among ourselves. We knew that it was all the ruci (taste) of PeriyavaaL's words.

One should learn a lesson from PeriyavaaL on hosting. An akSaya pAtram, his skill of words!

akSaya - exempt from decay, imperishable
pAtra - drinking vessel, goblet, utensil, an actor or a part in a play.
samaiyal kattu - (Tamil) literally, cooking construct; kitchen
'Go', He Said; It Went Away!
devotee:...... S. Balarama Rao, Kanchipuram
author:....... S. Balarama Rao, Kanchipuram
compiler:..... T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
source:....... Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol. 1, pages 103-107
publisher:.... Divya Vidya Padhippaham (Aug 2008 Edition)
type:......... book, Tamil

About thirty years back, Bairava Subramanya Aiyer was running a prasAda shop on the Tiruttani hills. Myself (adiyen) was among the people who worked in that shop. I fell ill once because of incessant work. As time passed, the fever shot up. Deciding that I could reach home by ten in the night, I started walking slowly down the steps in the mountain path, staggering, and repeatedly taking rest here and there, and finally reaching the last step.

There was a palanquin parked on the banks of the TeppakkuLam (temple pond with a small construct at its centre, used to ferry the deity on a float at festival time). A man came towards me from that direction. He asked me, "You've come down from the hill top?" I said, "Yes." "Then you come here." He took me to the palanquin. I peeped slightly inside the palanquin. From there Sri Maha Periyavar gave darshan to my darkened eyes as a shAnta svarUpi (form of peace). I stood joining my palms, forgetting about myself.

"You come from the hill top? Is the temple open?" Sri Periyavar asked me. "The temple is locked Swami!" I said with utter humility. "There will be a prasAda shop there?"--Sri Periyavar. As I said, "That is also locked", he kept silent for sometime. Then Sri Periyavar told me, "These people who carried me here are very hungry. They could get AhAram (food) neither at Puthur nor at Nagari. I told them that they would certainly get something after we reached Tiruttani. After arriving here, even with their getting in and out of the hotels on the Teppakkulam banks, they couldn't get any AhAram." As Sri Periyavar said this, I did not know what to do.

Though I was staggering with fever, I thought that I would take care of my health later and said, "If Maha Periyavaa gives the order, myself can prepare food for them." Sri Periyavar asked me with surprise, "What can you do in this night?"

I said, "I am an employee of the prasAda shop atop the hill. I can prepare veNpongal (salted rice pongal) for these people."

Sri Periyavar said, "If that is the case, well and good. I shall walk up the path of the mountain stairs, asking them to climb through the regular path. You go quickly and prepare (the food), go."

As Sri Periyavar said the last word "go", my fever went away without leaving any trace. Like a runner in a sports race event, I ran up the hills via the singular footpath and reached the top.

The prasAda shop owner was not present on that day. I broke the news to his wife. That noble woman said, "You climbed down the hill only to see the doctor? And why do you ask for my permission when the Vaidyanathan Himself has cured you and given you orders? This incident has happened only for the welfare of us all! You freely go and prepare the AhAram!" Immediately I lit the wood furnace and prepared the veNpongal. Then I woke up a man who was sleeping there for assistance, and carrying the food, a wooden ladle, mandAra leaves to serve food, and puLikkaaicchal (boiled tamarind mix) as side dish for the pongal, and arrived at Murugan's dhvaja stambha (holy flag post).

Within a few minutes Sri Periyavar arrived at the hill temple. With the electric lamps in all the prakAras (courtyards) switched on throwing brightness around, the organs trumpeting music and with the pUrNa kumbham, as the temple official Krishna Reddiyar, the temple administrator Kulasekhara Naidu, many other employees, and the priests were waiting to receive Sri Maha Periyavar and take him inside, the sage looked around. I stood before him with joined palms.

As Sri Periyavar asked, "The AhAram is ready?", I replied, "Have prepared and brought it here." "Alright, you serve these people and then come", Sri Periyavar ordered me. Asking the palanquin bearers to sit down on the floor, giving them the leaf plates and serving them the veNpongal, I said, "These have been prepared exclusively for you. The puLikkaaicchal is there for side dish. Eat well to your satisfaction. I need to go to the temple and have darshan of PeriyavaaL." When they said, "You proceed, we shall take care of ourselves", I went inside the temple.

Sri SwamigaL was standing near the mUla sthAnam (sanctum sanctorum). As I had that darshan, I rubbed my eyes and looked keenly to distinguish as to who was TanigaiMalai Murugan and who was Paramacharyar.

Tears gathered and gushed down my eyes with the darshan of Sri Periyavar as DeivaGuru and JagatGuru. The darshan was (at last) over. Sri Maha SwamigaL came out (as himself).

The temple employees who were bowing to him giving way, I went and stood before him with joined palms.

As Sri Periyavar said, "They are all very happy. You prepared it tastily and fillingly! Much, much happiness for them. Their stomachs are also full", and stood blessing me, I knelt down for a shASTaaN^ga namaskaram and then stood up.

"When you go to sleep every night, chant the Rama Nama." When Sri Periyavar blessed me with these words, it was one o' clock in the night.

dhvaja - banner, standard, flag, sign of any trade, mark, emblem, symbol, characteristic; the ornament of
stambha - post, column, prop, support (lit. & fig.); fixedness, stiffness, immobility; obstruction, hindrance, suppression; arrogance, haughtiness.

Paramacharya on the shaDrasa (six kinds of taste)
book:..... Sollin Selvar Sri Kanchi Munivar (Tamil)(pages 249-251)
author:..... Raa. Ganapathi
publisher:.. Divya Vidhya Trust, 1998 edition

"'tintriNI lavaNa hIna bhojanam vR^ithA' -- It is there in the postakam (book) called nIti shAstram.

"Many great people have written pustakas (books) that do the upakAra of teaching big big nItis (morals) in small small shlokas to children of young age, in a way that sticks to their buddhi and conducts their entire later life. There is no match to the upakAra they did. It was the bhAgyam of Tamil Desam that Avvai was born here and has given many wonderful such works. Atthi chUdi for very small children. Going upwards, kondrai vendan, mUdurai known as vAkkuNdAm, nalvazhi--such nIti nUlgaL (moral books). Then this work called ulaga nIti done by Ulaganatha Pulavanaar. Then the Raja of the KoRkai prantiyam (region) by name AtiveeraRama Pandiyan, also has done it beautifully in the name vetri vendan. Still more advanced, in bAsha (language) and abhiprAyaH (opinion) both, a sage called Sivaprakasa Munivar has given it in the name nanneri.

"Now, there is another postakam known as tokai nUl or 'anthology' that selects and strings shlokas from Sanskrit works--from the old books of nIti shAstram, works such as Mahabharata that hides and scatters dharma here and there, the smritis meant for teaching only dharma, and works such as BhartRhari's nIti satakam. There is one book called nIti veNba, that has translated this in Tamil. Who compiled it? Some mahAn! One among the 'entaro mahAnubhavulu' sung by AiyervaaL (Saint Thyagaraja).

"In those days, all vidyArthis (pupils) were memorizing this nIti shAstram as the basic book of morals. It is there in that book--speaking highly of the salty-and-sour meal--as 'tintriNI lavaNa hIna bhojanam vR^ithA'. tintriNI means tamarind. The name tintri is behind the tintrivanam, (now known as) the Tindivanam in South Arcot, a corruption of that name.

"Just as there is a verse (in nalvazhi) that says,

"'nIrillA netri pAzh; neiyillA uNdi pAzh;
ARillA Urukku azhagu pAzh.

"and then adds another two--the janmA (birth) with no like-minded sahodaraaL (brothers) is a waste; the gRuham (house) with no gRuhiNi (wife) is a waste--teaching the 'five wastes' in all, there in a shloka that talks about the 'four wastes', the meal without salt and tamarind is spoken as the third waste.

"'mAtru hIna shishu: jIvanam vR^ithA; kAnta hIna navayauvanaM |
tintriNI lavaNa hIna bhojanam, kAnti hIna tapasaphalam ||

"A motherless child; the youth without a bhartRu (husband) (should stretch kAnta hIna as kAntA hIna to also mean 'the youth without a patni or wife'); a meal without salt and tamarind; the tapas (penance) that has no peace because the mind is not subsided--these four things are a waste, vR^ithA, it means.

"The first three are told for the gRuhasthas (householders) like you people. The fourth for the pandArams (mendicant) like me. But then I go on talking about meals with tingle in my tongue!

"Though the tastes sour and salty are mentioned here, just like the four vR^ithAs (wastes) told here, in the shloka that talks about the four pradhAnas (chief, important), only salt is mentioned and praised as the chief among the six kinds of tastes. For the entire sharIraM (body), that is among all the organs, shiras (head) is the pradhAna--in Tamil also we say, 'eN chAN udmbukku chirase pratanam' that matter--! the eye is the pradhAna among the pancendriyaMs (five senses); salt is the pradhAna among the shaDrasa; among the pAnaM (drinks) tIrtha (water) is the pradhAna--says that shloka.

"'sarvasya gAtrasya shiraH pradhAnam; sarvendriyANam nayanam pradhAnam |
SaNNAm rasAnAm lavaNam pradhAnam; bhaved pAnIyAn udakam pradhAnam ||

(Nothing of the speciality of the salt now. We haven't finished yet with sourness! -- Raa. Ganapathi)

*This verse states: 'The forehead without vibhUti is a waste; the food without ghee is a waste; for the village that has no river, its beauty is a waste.'

abhiprAyaH - opinion, aim, purpose, intention, wish, belief
gAtra - a limb of the body, the body, "instrument of moving"
vR^ithA - without any profit, in vain, unnecessarily, uselessly
upakAra - assistance, service, benefit, favour, use, advantage
Pages 252-256

An AmmaaL submits a garland of lemons to Sri Maha PeriyavaaL.

SriCharaNar smiles to himself. "This is the third garland since this morning", he says. Rubbing the top of his head with his hand and indicating such rubbing with a lemon fruit, he says, "Knowing me to be such a sAmiyar (ascetic) who requires much (of such rubdown), (people) are bringing (these fruits) in this way!"

Continues: "Aren't they doing this way for AmbaaL also, if you ask, what else is she? In what other way will she be, being the peNdAtti (wife) of a Pitthan (madman)? If SundaraMurthy SwamigaL begain 'Pittha' to sing on Him, SahasraNaamam calls her by a name 'Matta'. matta means 'affected by madness'. We say matta gajam (mad elephant)! The buddhi of an elephant affected by matta will never be in svAdInam (normalcy). Intoxicated by lust, its buddhi would have been impaired. matta also refers to the state of remaining drunk with the cittam (mind) impaired. mata neer is only pitta neer (bile). mattam and pittam are one and the same. What happens when the pittam shoots up is paityam, what we call paittiyam (in Tamil for a madman). We refer to getting affected with paityam as 'pittam shooting up to the head'. Therefore, the state of the cittam becoming agitated are these pittam and mattam. Full of alliteration!

"There is this Umattai (the datura plant). 'unmattam' is what has turned up as that word. unmattam is also referred to as just mattam. The prefix ('called munnadai' or what is added to the beginning of a word) 'un', ut' indicates something that either springs up of its own or lets something else spring up. tAram, uttAram, daraNaM, udhdaraNaM, mocanaM, unmocanaM -- Ishvara lifting us high and delivering us is thus referred to (by these words) adding the prefix 'un'. In the same way, if the mattam, intoxication, and cittam getting agitated shoots up to the head, that is unmattam. One who is such is unmAtam, called ummAtam in slang.

"mattam, unmattam remains as the name of a plant in the vegetable kingdom. Because, if it is eaten, more specifically if its seeds are ground and a little of that juice is drunk, it will result in citta vaikalyam (mental agitation). To take that juice would be very, very bitter! All bitter substances if they get inside beyond a limit, would somewhat let the bile shoot up. But then among the many vegetables that are such (bitter), since they have many good things also, something is added as pitta samanam, cooked and taken. This Umattai, however, not only does not have anything good about it, but if its dose exceeds a small quantity, beyond citta pramai (mental illusion), it can even result in praNa hAni (harm to life). That plant is referred to as mattam. It is with such usuage only that AruNagiriNathar in his Tiruppugazh which is about Pillaiyar, has has referred to his pittu appA (mad father) as 'mattamum mathiyamum vaitthidum aran magan' (the son of one who keeps the madness and the moon on his head).

"He says mathiyam after mattam; that chandran (moon) is also one who creates citta pramai! He pours nectar on one side. On the other side, if someone with weak nerves sleeps in the moonlight for a long time, he would even agitate the man's buddhi. Something related to the moon is referred to by the term 'lunar'. Luna means moon. Lunatic means--you know that!"

If any Oduvaa mUrtis (singers of Saiva hymns) visit him, SriCharaNaal would never miss to ask them to sing some patikam (a set of ten hymns). Then he would explain the speciality of the set's meanings and words and would narrate any related story to the man who sung it.

Once an Odhuvaa mUrthi who was a ripened fruit sang before him the 'pitthaa, piraisoodi'--the first patikam of Sundarar that starts with the very word that was prompted to him by Lord Shiva Himself. As he sang the second phrase 'pirai soodi', he stopped with a sense of ecstasy. His toungue slurring, he said, "I sang only about Periyavanga. The Periyavanga who has the name Chandra Sekhara referred to by the phrase 'pirai soodi' (wearing the moon), is he not the same SivaPerumaan?"

That Chandra Sekhara Sarasvathi only laughed and kept aside the honour--that sent the singer into ecstasy and made him have a paravasa bhavam--with a parihAsa mozhi (word of humour). "Whatever it is (in the second phrase)? But that something which comes before it as a name to call (Lord Shiva), that is very suitable here (to me)!"

Now to return to the Umattai vyAkhyAnam (explanation).

"Just as the mati (mind) gets agitated by taking madhu (liquor), with divine matters also if Ananda madhu (the liquor of happiness) is taken only intoxication would shoot up and result in a similar state! But then later that would turn to amRutam (nectar). Going the yoga way, a lot has been said about the nectar of the moon pouring from the head chakra in the final stage. Even for those bhaktas and jnAnis who do not go on the yoga path, in a high stage, in the same way, the amRuta madhu would pour from the shiras chandran (moon in the head).

"The Purusha Suktam says that Chandran, Suryan, Indran and Agni all came out from different organs of Bhagavan. There it is said that Chandran arose from his manas (mind), an inner organ. This is why Chandran affects the mind in two ways--for good and bad in different conditions. The term mati in Tamil refers both to the mind and the moon. The Sanskrit mati is only related to the mind; Chandran is not a meaning for it. The word 'mattam' is also based on the mati that is manas. The unmattam that results in that way has a very high, pAramArthika (lofty) meaning. This manas is the reason for our always creating thoughts and getting knocked about by a hundred thousand emotions of pleasure and pain, anger and heat. The individual mind that everyone of us have is what separates us as Jivatma from Paramatma. If we lift this mind and throw it away and then rise high, that is the parama shanta, parama satya state where there is no cAncalyaM (fickleness). There is no samAcaram (matter) there to get motthu (knocking about). [Chuckling like a child and admiring it says.] It will be all be metthu (soft)! No motthu. No mattam, unmattam like churning with a matthu (beater). It will be metthu, metthu (soft throughout). Thus, rising above the manas that is also mati, is the state of unmanam, which is also the unmAtam or unmattam.

"I was telling you about the reference to AmbaaL as 'mattA, a wife suitable for the pittha. All these talk has come from that reference. The reason for the talk about matta is this lemon fruit. This is pitta samanam (neutralizes bile): used in curing madness. (Laughing) I was telling you that I am getting garland after garland of this fruit!"

cAncalyaM - 1. unsteadiness, quick motion, rolling, tremor; 2. fickleness; 3. transitoriness.
samAcaraH - practice, conduct, message, behaviour

udhdaraNaM - 1. drawing or taking out; taking off (clothes etc.); 2. extraction, pulling or tearing out; 3. extricating, deliverance, rescuing (from danger); 4. eradication, extermination; 5. lifting, raising; 6. vomiting; 7. final emancipation; 8. acquisition of debt.

unmocanaM - unfastening, loosening
uttAraH - 1. transporting over, converying; 2. fording. 3. landing, disembarking; 4. getting rid of. 5. vomiting.

vaikalyam - deficiency, defect, being crippled in limbs or body, mental agitation, fatigue
Pages 256-260

"This (the lemon) is puLippu (sour). kasappu (bitterness) generates bile. puLippu, pittha samanam (Sourness balances the bile)--one that removes it. Not all puLippu vastu (eatables that taste sour) can be said to have that quality. A thing that is not sour by nature, if kept for a long time, will ferment, and with the formation of yeast will turn sour. When it turns sour that way, it will never be a pittha samanam. The toddy that agitates the buddhi is formed only in that way, right? Even among the things that are sour by nature, not all are pittha samanam. puLi (tamarind), which is the root of the word puLippu cannot be said to have pittha samanam. Among the sour vastu (things), only this lemon has that quality (of balancing the bile) as its speciality. They say that it has vitamin C. All these (physical) things are on one side. Since the fruit also has some sUkSma (subtle) specialities that are deiva sambandha (related to the divine), it is adorned to AmbaaL in the form of a garland. It is common among the people who maintain contact with the sages in the siddha loka (causal world) and the yogis in their sUkSma sharIraM (subtle body), to listen to their words using the lemon as a medium and reply to questions. The lemon fruit is their telephone!" (Laughs).

(Laughing more) "What we know are only the lemon rasam and the lemon pickle. Two kinds in the rasam: taking it chilled, adding suger is one kind; the other is the rasam prepared using the anjalap potti* sarakku (items) and cooking on the oven--meant for adding to the annam (cooked rice). The UrukAi (pickle) is also of two kinds: one which is sAdhu (mild and good) without the red chili powder; the other is sharpened with plenty of hot red chili powder."

SriCharaNar asked the AmmaaL who brought the (lemon) garland. "Now, this garland--by using the fruit in it, the rasam used in the rasam sAdam as well as the pickle, both can be made out of it, right?"

"Can be made."

"Then, what name would you give to call the rasam and the UrukAi?... Seems you don't understand my question. You make rasam and UrukAi out of this (fruit). Then what would you tell the people at home about what rasam you have made, what UrukAi you have prepared?"

"I would say, 'I have made elumiccham pazha rasam' (rasam of the fruit of the lemon). I would say 'I have prepared elumicchanga UrukAi' (elumiccham kAi UrukAi, that is, pickle from the raw or unripe lemon). It's alright?" AmmaaL asks with some consternation. Her consternation was due to her feeling that she had misunderstood the question and was talking nonsense, because would a Jagadguru ask her about such aduppadi samacharam (affairs of the oven)?

"Emma bhayappadare (why are you afraid, ma)?" Periyavar asked her with compassion. Understanding her mind, he continued with a smiling face, "You said it right! I am only an aduppangarai saamiyaar (a swami of the furnace room)! Alright, with this same fruit, if you make rasam you would call it rasam of the lemon fruit and if you make UrukAi, you would call it pickle of the raw lemon. That is, when you make two things out of the same vastu, you would call one as made from its fruit and the other as made from it in the raw stage! Isn't it so?"

With consernation still echoing in her voice, the AmmaaL said, "Somehow I call it only in those ways. If I am wrong..."

"thappumille, daNDavumille (it is neither wrong, nor punishable), you said it only right. Not only you, everyone says so. But why is it so?"

He stops for a few seconds, as if expecting a reply to his question. Then he says, "You won't know" and suddenly with a look of utter compassion that she might feel anxious about her not knowing it, comforts her, "Don't be anxious ma, don't be anxious!" He would continue: "I think that most people wouldn't know the reason. Come, if anyone here who knows about it may answer."

Besides giving a general call, the aduppangarai saamiyaar inquires individually almost everyone of those who had come for his darshan and those who are with him, about this mahA tatvam (great principle).

No one knows the answer. It remains queer and surprising -- why to call it fruit in one preparation and raw in the other, when both are made out of it! And the expectation how SriCharaNar would untie the riddle also gets added to the situation.

He pretends that he asked the question because he too did not know the answer! Is he not the anAdi (without origin) Sankara who was described in Sivananda Lahiri as the 'ati viDamban' (a totally deceitful person) by him when he was in the form of Adi Sankara?

The devotees plead that he would surely know the answer and that he should make it public. As if to add to the nAtaka rasam (the subtlety of the drama), he relents after initially saying that he did not know it, and says:

"rasam means juice, sARu. That name of rasam has been given to the rice item taken in between kuzhambunj sAdam (sambar rice) and morunj sAdam (buttermilk rice). You get juice only if you squeeze a ripe fruit (right)? Would anyone make a juice from a kAi (when it is unripe)? Which is why, just like making chilled juice out of grape fruits and mango fruits after adding suger, this one made hot by adding chili is also referred to as elumiccham pazha rasam.

"When you say UrukAi that very word has kAi in it! Only when it is unripe, it is made use for pickles. Would they make pickles out of fruits? Either they would take it as it is (appadiye thimbaa), or as with mangoes, prepare mango juice and take. How can pickles be made, soaking lemon fruits for days together?

"This is the reason behind the custom--that though made of the same vastu, among the two kinds of eatables, to call it raw in one and fruit in the other. It is understood from such words that our ancestors have taken great care with even such small things and selected appropriate words to refer to them.

The shrotRu (listeners) were happy. For the vaktA (speaker), it was the happiness akin to the one got from explaining the tatvamasi bhASyam! Is he not the one who took only the Self as the Truth and viewed everything from the tatvamasi upadesha to the kitchen affairs as the drama of maya, or even those things as the Self--either way, witnessing both as the one? With that sama dRSTi only that he looked even at small things, knew their nuances and explained them. How carefully has Maha PeriyavaaL kept in his thoughts the fact that our ancestors had considered words as wealth and handled them with extreme care!

*anjalap potti is a slang for the Tamil term aintaraip petti, which is a container with five compartments for keeping small quantities of the spices used in cooking, for quicker and easier use.

viDambanam - imitating, imposture, deceit, mockery, causing distress or trouble to others.
There is still more to the feast that he gives about the taste of sourness. Not just sourness, but the feast includes all the six tastes of shaDrasa.

"Sweetness, hotness, bitterness, saltiness, sourness and astringency--thus six tastes. All of them are spoken of as rasam (juice) in the term shaDrasam. Among them, except astringency, the remaining five are spoken of as associated with our feelings.

"Normally we don't notice the taste tuvarppu (astringency) in isolation. We include it in bitterness. In truth, they are both individual. When ascribing names in Sanskrit to the six tastes, bitterness is given the word tiktam, and astringency kaTu*. This is why we say kaTukkai in Tamil for that paNdam (item) which is very astringent. Only the bitter gourd (balsam pear) is completely bitter. Though the difference between these two tastes (bitterness and astringency) is not keenly felt by us, they have a big difference in their nature. Among the bitter items, many are good for health. We say kaSAyam for the liquid medical prescription; it has only bitter and hot ingredients in excess (right)? They say that jnAnam arrives by taking bitter gourd. It is also said with a twist that one who has got jnAnam only would push into his throat even the bitter gourd. Astringency is better for health than bitterness. While these two tastes are at the base of sourness, the sourness that has an astringent base would not harm our health. Only the sourness that has a bitter base would cause the ailments such as ulcer.

"I shall tell you how these two tastes form the base of sourness. Is not its seed the base for a plant? Now, this lemon is a sour item. The nelli (Amla fruit, fruit of emblic mycrobalan) is another such item. Let us take the seeds of these two fruits. How does it taste to bite a lemon seed? It overflows with bitterness. And the nelli seed? It is not bitter, but it tastes astringent in a way that we can feel the difference. It is wrong for people suffering from ulcer, only if they take lemon; though it can be said to be better than tamarind, it would be wrong if the quantity exceeds even a little more. But then even such people (who can't even take lemon) can add nelli a little more generously. It won't hurt. mAtuLam pazham (the pomegranate fruit) is also like that. The seed will taste astringent; so it can be included. There is also another difference here: if you boil the lemon juice a little more, it would taste bitter. The mAtuLam juice, on the other hand, would stay with the taste of sour-sweetness, however much it is boiled.

"The seed of puLi (tamarind) that has given the name to the puLippu ruchi (the taste of sourness) is also tuvarppu (astringent). But then the raw and ripe tamarind fruits are very hot (raises body temperature). The shadow of a tamarind tree is also such? It is the heat that sucks and parches. This is why it is prescribed that people with ulcer in the bowel should never take tamarind. But then its astringent seed has some value for certain diseases.

"I started saying that the shaDrasa are spoken of in connection with the feelings. How?"

(What SriCharaNar told in another occasion on this subject has come in the first chapter of this serial [the madhurASTakam talk]. Here he talks more elaborately.)

"If a person remains with a good temperament, we call it madhura gunam (a sweet temperament). We call good shaarIram madhura kural (sweet voice). madhuram is what is sweet. We say a sweet experience. Even IsvarAnugraha we call innaruL (good blessing). Thus we associate sweetness with one which is hitam (good) and uttamam (excellent) to our manas (mind). They also use the term sweet in these same meanings in English.

"The fun is that there are people who don't like it sweet in taste. There are also people who like it salty and hot, like it sour, like it with a pinch more of salt added, or even like it bitter. Even these people don't ascribe the names of their favourite tastes to the excellent things they like and say that those things are salty and hot or sour or bitter! They would only say that those things are madhuram (sweet)!

In the same rIti (manner) let us have a look at the remaining ruchis (tastes). 'Without uppu-chappu (unsalted)'--this is how we assess the quality of AhAram (food). Add a little salt, only then any paNdam (item) which is not meant to be sweet, gets its taste. It is usual to add a little salt to the flour that forms the upper layer of pOLi (a South Indian sweet). In the same way, it is also sahaja (natural) to add some jaggery or suger to the curry and kuzhambu (sambar).

"Now I am going to talk about uppu mahAtmiyam (glory of the salt). If there is no uppu (salt) it would only be chappu (tastless); not aggreable for eating. This is why with the abhiprAya (opinion) that the entire meal is dependent only on salt, the saying 'uppittavarai uLLaLavum ninai (think about the one who gave you the salt[ed meal] till your last breath)' has come up.

"There is another reason. In the daily samaiyal (cooking) there are no sweet items. When the sweet items pAyasa (sweet porridge) and bhakSaNa (sweet delicacies) are prepared, no one uses jaggery or suger in less. Even if either of them is less or more, no significant difference would be felt.

"The tastes sourness, bitterness, and hotness that occur in the daily samaiyal--if they are more, or less, it is not only not possible to make it lesser where they are more; in case where they are less also you cannot adjust the taste by having (a little of) the required item such as chilli powder or tamarind on the (banana) leaf (plate) (to supplement). If the hotness is more, it can be lessened a bit by adding some (sesame) oil or ghee. And if these tastes are only a little more or less, we can manage to have our meal without bothering.

"Only the salt, if it is either more or less, it (the dish) becomes orE karippu (very salty) or orE chappu (very tastless). In normal conversation, we refer to uvarppu (astringency) as karippu (saltiness). Grammatically, the term uvarppu has another name kArppu (saltiness). That term in conversation got corrupted to karippu. We say 'uppuk karikka' (tasting very salty). Thus in the vyanjanas (condiments) that have salt, if the salt is a bit more it becomes orE karippu and if the salt is a bit less it becomes orE chappu. If the salt is more nothing can be done. But if it is less, it is not like the tamarind or chilli that gives other tastes here. If the taste of salt is less you can have that very salt in your leaf and add from it to adjust the taste. Within a second that added salt would dissolve and set it right. Thus it is with this (salt) only that where there is a ruchi thappu (error of taste), the mUla vastu (root item) can directly be added and the error rectified. Therefore, for that one shortcoming (of less salt in a dish), it should not be the case of the eater telling the server and the server making him and others wait until it (the salt) is served to add to the dish--this was the thinking of our pUrvakAla muppAtti buddhisali gRuhalakshmis (ancient generations of smart grandmother wives). So they brought in the custom of keeping a bit of powdered salt on the leaf plate, along with the other vyanjanas, in order that the eater can individually adjust the taste where the salt is less. With this specific custom in mind only when it is taught that we should always be grateful to those who served us food, they say uppittavarai uLLaLavum ninai.

"As the saying 'uppillAp paNdam kuppaiyilE (the dish without the salt is fit only for the garbage can)' goes, in the daily cooking where there are no sweet dishes, salt is given the pradhAna (chief) position. Remaining lesser in quantity than the raw tamarind and chilli powder, the salt gets the mudhal sthAnam (first place) in giving taste. The saltiness has hardened so much in just a pinch of salt. This is why the sat purushAs (great people) who have the guNa nalankaL (good virtues) hardened in them as the essence are called in English, 'Salt of the Earth'!

"It would be surprising to hear this: to honour the salt, even the sweetness that is very tasty to the palate is given a name 'uppu'. Not only sweetness, even beauty has sambandha (relationship) with the salt. lavaNam means salt. That which comes through lavaNam is lAvaNyam. lAvaNyam means beauty, saundaryam (elegance), which is known to everyone!

"uppu is there in all the ruchis. titthippu, puLippu, uRaippu, kasappu, tuvarppu--all these end with the suffix uppu!

"When jaggery is made by boiling (the palm juice), in some varities, the jaggery itself would taste a bit salty. Even the tender coconut water has the taste of salt!

"Even with all this uppu mahAtmiyam, when it is associated with a feeling, the sruti (flow) changes! When we say 'kaNdAlE karikkirathu' (saline to look at), 'karitthuk kottukirathu' (pours saltiness), do we refer to lofty feelings?

"'puLicchup pOcchu[/i]' (got fed up) is also similar. When something happens with monotonous regularity, we become tired and say 'got fed up hearing it'. It seems the phrase has come up from the act of pickling something for a long time whereby it gets sour by the formation of yeast.

"We relate anger to uRaippu (hotness of taste). We say 'he talked very hot.' Though mixed with anger, if it has some rasam (juice) we say 'a talk that was kAra sAra (hot and juicy)'.

"Went bitter in the face', 'had bitterness of heart'--in such usuages, we associate bitterness with an unsavoury feeling.

"This is where we include tuvarppu (astringency) with bitterness. We don't say of any feeling as an astringent one. Still it is that taste which among the shaDrasa is very good for health.

"To sum up, whoever likes whichever among the six tastes, except the sweetness that is known as mAdhuryam, no other taste is associated with our mano bhAva (mental feelings) with a high meaning. Only madhuram is found to have been given this loftiness in a way that is unanimous!"

You see! Maha Periyavaa who is himself madhuram touches here and there but finally lands us all in that sweetness!

*The Sanskrit terms for the six tastes as given in the book "Sanskrit in 30 Days" are as follows:

sweetness - madhuraH, svadH
hotness - kaTuH
sourness - AmlaH
saltiness - lavaNaH
bitterness - kaSAyaH
astringency - tiktaH

From Paramacharya's talk it may be inferred that the terms are not exclusive and may be used interchangeably between similar tastes.

hita - put, placed, laid; being in (loc.); arranged, constituted, regulated; fit, suitable, advantageous, salutary; useful, conducive to, good for (dat., gen., loc., or ---); kind, gracious, favourable. m. a good friend. f. {A3} v. sub voce. n. welfare, advantage, prize, good advice.

kaTukkai, kadukkai - Indian laburnum; Chebulic myrobolan, Ink nut
lAvaNya - saltness, charm, beauty
mAhAtmiyam - (Tamil) for mAhAtmika - magnanimous, glorious
saundarya - beauty, loveliness, gracefulness, elegance, noble conduct, generosity

shaDrasa - six tastes, which are: sweetness - madhuraH, svadH; hotness - kaTuH; sourness - AmlaH; saltiness - lavaNaH; bitterness - kaSAyaH; astringency - tiktaH.

uttama - upmost, highest, first or best of; chief, excellent; extreme, last; better than, superior to (abl.); m. the first person

vyanjana - vyaJNjana, vyaJjana - manifestation, betrayal, indirect or implicit expression, suggestion; mark, sign (esp. of gender or of puberty), characteristic, attribute, the insignia of a prince, ornament i.g., condiment, sauce, juice; consonant, syllable.
"You Want to Know the Greatness of mantra siddhi?"
Author: Sri Ramani Anna (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Oct 6, 2006

Once a brahmachary (bachelor) youth came to have darshan of Kanchi Mahaswami (HH Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati). He prostrated before the sage and got up.

Swamiji looked at him keenly and said, "Are you not Kulitalai Sankaran? You are fine?"

"With your blessings, yes, Periyavaa", said Sankaran.

"Alright, what is your age now?"

"Thirty, Periyavaa."

Periyavaa laughed: "So you have decided to lead your life as a brahmachari, without any idea of marriage."

"Yes, Periyavaa", said Sankaran.

"Alright, anything special about your coming here now?" Periyavaa laughed. "And you wouldn't come without a reason!"

"Yes, Periyavaa. I have come to get a doubt cleared."

"Is it so? Come on, tell me" said Periyavaa. "What is that big doubt you have?"

"It is a doubt about mantra japam, Periyavaa", replied Sankaran.

Periyavaa asked quickly: "If it is about mantra japam... Are you doing any mantra japam?"

"Yes, Periyavaa".

"Oho... You have had an upadesam?"

"Yes, Periyavaa".

"Whoever is that Guru?"

"Mysore Yajna Narayana Ganapadigal", said Sankaran.

"Good, very learned; whatever the mantra?"

Before Sankaran could open his mouth, Swamiji said, "Wait, wait. You should not tell me the mantra. That should remain with you as a secret. Just tell me which devata (God) it is about."

"Hanumat upAsanA paramAna mUla mantra, Periyavaa" said Sankaran.

"Alright. What is it that you want to get clarified in this mantra japam?"

"It is like this, Periyavaa. I am performing this mantra japam since my twenty-third year which was when I got the upadesam. I am doing it for the last seven years, still I don't know anything."

"What do you mean by saying 'I don't know anything'?", asked Swamiji with surprise.

"What I mean, Periyavaa, is that I am not able to find out if I have got the siddhi of that mantra" replied Sankaran, his voice echoing his sadness.

Swamiji said without hesitation: "What are you going to do by knowing it? Anyway, are you doing the japam for AtmArtam (to know the self) or kAmyArtam (for a specific purpose)?"

Sankaran said: "I am doing it only for AtmArtam, Periyavaa. Still, I am at a loss to understand if I have got the mantra siddhi and the grace of the devata. I pray to you to kindly tell me about my progress". As Sankaran said this with all humility, tears started rolling down his eyes.

"Only the person who does the japam can understand if he has got the mantra siddhi, by personal experience. There will be a time when the person will experience it, Sankara," said Swamiji with vAtsalyam (affection).

Sankaran wasn't satisfied. "No, Periyavaa. I haven't had any personal experience so far. And I don't understand anything about it, though I continue to do the japam, as advised by my Guru, for the last seven years. Sometimes my mind becomes very tired, Periyavaa. You should kindly inform me about any way that I can know it." As he spoke this, Sankaran joined his palms in reverence and prostrated before Swamiji.

Acharyal (Swamiji) was quiet for sometime. He understood Sankaran's confusion. He decided to make the disciple understand what he wanted to know. He asked Sankaran to squat on the floor near him and began talking:

"Many years back, in Sringeri Sri Sarada Peetam, a mahaan named Nrusimha Bharati Swamiji was the peetathipathi (pontiff). One day, a sishya (student) of the maTham (hermitage) belonging to that region came to have a darshan of the Swamiji. He did not come for nothing. He bore the same question that you asked me now.

"After prostrating, he presented the guava fruits to Swamiji.

"'Come, you are fine? Tell me what you want', said Swami Nrusimha Bharati with utmost kindness. The sishya told him politely, 'Swami, I am doing japam of a mantra that was given to me by an upadesam. I am doing the japam for many years now. Still I am not able to know if I have got the mantra siddhi. How do I know it Swami?'

"Swamiji said at once, in a bid to persuade him, 'You continue to do the japam in an AtmArta way. That devata itself will bless you with the siddhi phala (fruits of the efforts) eventually.'

"The sishya was not satisfied with this reply from the Swamiji. He persisted, 'No, Swami. I need to know if I have got the siddhi of the mantra. You must tell me a way to know it, I pray to you.'

"Swamiji understood the sishya's mental state. He called him near and said enthusiasticaly, 'Don't worry, my child. There is a way!"

"'Is there a way, then kindly bless me with the knowledge, Swami!' The sishya was in a hurry of excitement.

"Nrusimha Bharati Swamiji said laughingly, 'Every day, before you start your japam, spread paddy grains on a wooden seat, and cover it with a vastram (cloth). Sit over the grains and do the japam. Continue in this fashion day after day. On that day when the paddy grains on the seat fry and blossom into flattened rice, you will understand that you have got the mantra siddhi you have been seeking to know. You understand this?'

"Even though the sishya understood it, he thought confusedly that if the Swamiji was telling him this way just to satisfy him or if this would really be possible. Suddenly he asked an unexpected question to the Swamiji.

"'Gurunathar should excuse me. I pray this to you with an intention to know. I should not be mistaken for testing a sage in the guru stAnam (the position of a guru). Spreading the paddy grains, covering them with a cloth... and they will fry...'

"Before he could finish it, Swamiji laughed and said, 'You want to know if I have had any such experience, right?' He asked for a wooden seat to be brought then and there and placed facing the direction of east. He asked for a lot of paddy grains to be spread over the seat. When this was done, Swamiji placed his vastram (cloth) over the grains, seated himself in padmaasana and closed his eyes. By this time a large crowd had gathered in the place.

"Only a few seconds later, there was a continuous noise of the paddy grains getting fried and flattened. There was a little amount of smoke also. Swamiji got up and removed his vastram (cloth) that covered the grains. On the seat were dazzling white flowers of fried and flattened rice! The crowd was amazed.

"Nrusimha Bharati Swamiji looked at the sishya who asked the question. The sishya was standing sobbing. No one could speak anything more..."

As Kanchi Swamiji finished his narration of this episode, Sankaran was standing amazed, with tears in his eyes.

When he started to say something soon after, Swamiji interruped him and said, "What Sankara, are you going to ask me to demonstrate to you?" and laughed heartily.

Sankaran fell at Swamiji's feet, his eight limbs touching the floor, and said, "Enough Periyavaa! You have made me understand the mahima (greatness) of mantra siddhi. Kindly bless me, and permit me to return to my place."

Amazing Sir. There are so many such incidents to prove the mutual respect that the various pontiffs and mutts have for each other. It is unfortunate that the devotees and non-devotees imagine all kinds of controversies when there are none. Shows it is not enough just to have darshan of the pontiffs from time to time but to follow at least certain aspects of what they teach.
namaste Anand.

You have put it nicely. I think most of us do not differentiate between the Hindu gurus and heads of Hindu religious institutions, although we may be devoted to a single guru. The mutual respect and understanding between the MaThams and Ashrams have always been part of their tradition and culture, with all the heads. For example, KAnchi PeriyavA pUjyashrI Jayendrar attended the 83rd janma dina vaibhavam of Bhagavan Sathya Sai Baba. Recently he visited the Ashram of MAtA AmRutAnandamayI. I also remember to have read in the Kanchi Forum in a post that when someone asked Shringeri SannidhAnam pUjyashrI Bharati TIrtha SvAmigaL about the arrest of KAnchi PeriyavA, he is reported to have said, "He is doing AmbAL pUja over 50 years. Nothing will happen to him. Don't worry!"

In today's circustances of Hindu dveSham surrounding us all around, we need to be united in our thoughts, words and tasks.
Last edited:
The 54 Lives Saved by Annai! (Mahima of Sringeri Sri SharadambaL)
Author: Sri Ramani Anna (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Oct 10, 2007

Series: Wonders Witnessed by this Adiyavan

This happened several years ago. We decided on a yAtrA (pilgrimage) to the kSetras (holy places) in Karnataka, more than fifty devotees of us teaming up for the tour. We started our journey in a large tourist bus. It was our custom to first go to Kanchi, have darshan of PeriyavaaL and then continue our journey.

Around 4 o' clock in the afternoon of that day we stood up after prostrating to Maha SwamigaL in SriMaTham. Giving us his blessings, laughing and raising both his hands SwamigaL asked, "You people have come as a large ghoSTi... well, what's the matter?" Forthwith I elaborated on the details of our Karnataka yAtrA to SwamigaL.

Feeling happy he asked, raising his eyebrows, "What is the uddesha (motive) about the first place to go?" I said, "It is our uddesha, Periyavaa, that on reaching Mangalore, we would first go to Talakkaveri, do our saMkalpa snAnam (bath and prayer) there and then go to Sringeri. After that we have decided to have darshan at SubrahmaNya, Dharmasthala, Udipi, Kollur Mukambika, Kateel Durga Parameswari... in this order."

Before I could finish SwamigaL interrupted me. "Wait, wait... In the list you have mentioned, you have missed an important place..." Looking at us who were all standing with a question mark on our faces, and smiling, Periyavaa advised us, "What, you don't understand? I shall tell you... Horanadu kSetra! Mother is staying there as Annapurani, giving her anugraham. A very special place. Must have darshan!"

He continued: "You people do as I tell you now. First go to Sringeri kSetram from Mangalore. There, do your snAnam in Tunga, first have Guru Darshan, get prasAdam from them, then have darshan of SharadambaL and start from there (to other places). After this, you may go to the places in your order of preference. Let one thing be kept in mind though. Anyday you go to Sringeri, as far as possible, reach the place before sAyarakSai (evening)."

All of us nodded our heads in affirmation, prostrated and got up. That Walking God ordered distribution of anugraha prasAdam to us all. The driver and conductor of the bus were called and the prasAdam given to them too. We started thereafter.

On the next morning, our journey from Bangalore to Mangalore. We stayed in a Kalyana Mandapam in Mangalore at night. On the morning the next day we got ready to move after taking bath. A man named Ramanathan who accompanied us came to me and said persuadingly, "We shall first go to Talakkaveri from here. After doing our saMkalpa snAnam there, why not go to Sringeri later?"

I did not agree to that. "Whatever uttaravu (direction) Kanchi Periyavaa has given, we should only follow that!", I said. It was not acceptable to them. "First we should go to Talakkaveri only!" they compelled me, as if having discussed it already among them. However much I pleaded with them, nobody was prepared to lend me ears.

The bus travelled towards Talakkaveri. Staying there for a day and after finishing our saMkalpa snAnam, we started our journey towards Sringeri. It was 8:00 o' clock in the night. Both the front tyres of the bus that was going on the mountain road to Sringeri got punctured and the bus stopped. It was pitch dark outside. In the light from a torch light, Driver and Conductor started working on removing the wheels with the punctured tyres and fixing the Stepney wheels in their place. Hunger pinched our stomach; our last meal was at noon in Bagamandala. Somehow the bus started moving at 10 o' clock. Suddenly it started drizzling. It was 11 o' clock and yet there was no sight of Sringeri. Only then we had the doubt whether we were going on the right road! As God-given, we sighted a man coming in the distance. We stopped the bus near him and inquired. He patted on his head and said, "This road leads to another place. 15 km before you should have turned on the road that branched to the right." It gave us a shock!

So the bus needed to be turned towards the direction we came. Driver got down and had a look. A narrow road, with valleys on both sides. Climbing onto his seat, Driver said with a falsely assured courage, "You people don't worry. I shall back up little by little with sharp turns on the steering wheel and somehow move the bus to an about turn!" and got on the task. Sitting with fear, we started chanting Rama Namam. Somehow having managed to turn the bus ninety degrees, Driver said in a loud voice, suddenly worried, "Sir, sir... Howevermuch I step on the brake, the bus starts slipping behind! Raise an even louder ghoSaNam (proclammation) in the name of God... Only He should save us all now!" His words had the effect of dissolving tamarind inside our belly. We too felt the bus slipping behind. All of us with tears welling up in our eyes started wailing, "Sringeri Sharadambaa, save us Ma! Sringeri Maha Sannidhaname, save us! Kanchi PeriyavaaLe, Ramachandra Murtiye, save us, save us...!"

Suddently Driver said, "Sir, I have now taken my leg from the brake! The vehicle is not slipping behind! As if a hundred people are supporting it from behind, the vehicle stands intact! Now no worry at all. Shall turn the bus in a few moments" and started on his efforts. We did not stop the nAma ghoSaNam.

appAda! (At last) the driver managed to turn the bus. All of us breathed a sigh of peace! It was exactly 12:00 hours midnight. Exactly at one-thirty we reached the entrance to Sringeri Samasthanam. A GanapadigaL who was standing at the entrance to receive us (it is my recollection that it was Nageswara GanapadigaL!) said with a laugh, "Vaango, vaango! You are all coming from Madras, right? First wash your hand and feet and come have some food. You would be hungry. Rice Uppuma and Bringal Gotsu are ready!"

"How do you know, ShastrigaaL that we are coming? We did not even write to you?" I asked him. He said laughing, "It is vAstavam (true) that your coming will not be known to people who are like us. Maha Sannidhanam, dIrgha darshigaL (with foresight) will be knowing everything, you see? It was only Maha Sannidhanam who called me around eleven o' clock and gave orders, 'To have darshan of Sharada, 54 Bhaktas from Madras are coming in a bus. They all come with great hunger! So ask our people to prepare Rice Uppuma and Gotsu and keep the food ready. In addition, for them to stay, arrange a large hall.' After arranging all that I have come to stand here and receive you all!" He sunk us in surprise.

Seeing the dIrgha dharsanam and karuNa (compassion) of SriSriSri Abhinava Vidyatheertha SwamigaL, ADiyEn (I) wondered. Tears rushed to my eyes. Seeing that ShastrigaL said, "You are amazed at this thing... I am going to tell you another thing in the morning; you would then be really stunned!" and led us on. Hot Uppuma and Gotsu were served ready in 54 nuni (top) banana leaves. We ate the food filling up our stomach.

The next morning. Finishing our snAnam in the Tunga river, we started to have darshan of Maha Sannidhanam SriSriSri Abhinava Vidyatheertha SwamigaL. The ShastrigaL we met last night was seen by us.

To him I asked joining my palms, "You said you would tell us some vishayam (news) in the morning. I pray that you please tell it now."

ShastrigaL started talking: "Would have been around 12 o' clock last night. Sitting in his ekAnta (private) room, Maha Sannidhanam was examining some Shastra books. I was sitting in the outer hall. Suddenly coming out, Maha Sannidhanam kept both his hand pressed hard to the wall and started murmurming some mantra. I too got up. From the posture of Maha Sannidhanam it seemed as if he was supporting the wall from falling. I did not understand anything. Five minutes later, taking his hands off the wall, Maha Sannidhanam came to me and said, 'You witnessed and wondered why I kept my hands against the wall in that pose and did some Japam. It is nothing else. The bus wherein came those people from Madras to have darshan of SharadambaL missed its way. Later when they realized the mistake and turned the bus, the brakes did not apply... bus started moving behind on its own. The Bhaktas in them wailed, 'save us, save us!' calling aloud the name of Amma Sharada. So I supported the bus from slipping behind by resting my hands on the walls. Now everything is alright, and the bus is coming towards Sringeri! You go and make the arrangements as I told you', and went inside his room. I stood stunned!" Listening to this, all of us wept. We started to have darshan of that Walking SharambaL.

Looking at this ADiyEn who prostrated and got up, SriSriSri Maha Sannidhanam said laughingly, "Should always listen to what the Mahaans say. And follow it. If you make a change in it everything that happens would be changed too. What, you understand?" With these words he did anugraha of prasAdam. This ADiyEn then realized that Maha Sannidhanam only informed in sUcaka (by indicating) to the fact of our not following what Sri Kanchi Periyavaa ordered for us!

sUcaka - indicating, betraying, informer, sign, omen
ghoSTi - group, gathering
Sri. Saidevo. You are doing a great service by posting these articles. Please continue. Reading these articles about Gurus' leelas are having an effect of having the darshan of the Gurus themselves.
Shambhu's Murti
Author: Sri JanaardanAnanda Saraswathi (in Sanskrit)
Translated by: SriMaTham R. Balakrishna shastri (in Tamil)
Compiler: T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
Source: Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol. 2, page 221-230
Publisher: Vanathi Padhippaham

('There is no sAdhu like an avadhAni' thus was praised by Sri Maha SwamigaL, a mahAn who had the title Sri JanaardanAnanda Saraswathi.

Shambhor Murti is a very wonderful literary work he wrote in Sanskrit. Periyavaa's biography is totally written in an adhyAtmika point of view. SriMaTham Balakrishna ShastrigaL has translated in Tamil this work which flows like a stream in Sanskrit. Some passages of the interesting work titled Shambhuvin Murti are given below.)

*** *** ***

In order to teach AtmavidyA and save the people who are trapped in the jungle of ignorance, and suffering from the intense heat of mundane existence, Shambhu's figure in the form of Sri Sankaracharya passes through this world, renouncing its silence and starting from the base of the banyan tree.

*** *** ***

It is a regulation that for the mUrtis to which puja is done traditionally at SriMaTham, only a person who takes the title pIThAdhipati can do the puja.

When the pundit who knew the regulations of SriMaTham explained to the young ascetic that 'this one was Sri ChandraMauleesvara and this Sri Tripura Sundari', they did not seem new to the lad who took over as pIThAdhipati in his twelfth year. It seemed to him that he had a longtime connection with them.

When doing an arcanA, the feeling should be 'I remain as God'; there should no such thought as the self being different from the God that is worshipped. -- This was explained by the authorized pundit of SriMaTham.

Bala Swami got into some serious thought. 'Is it not that this knowledge of unity should be present ever? If it is said 'at the time of performing a worship' does it mean that the jiva brahma abheda buddhi should be present only at that time?' With this idea in mind he simply asked, "only when doing an arcanA?"

SriMaTham disciples were very happy at the revelation that SwamigaL was a jnana vruddha, though he was a lad.

*** *** ***

Tiruvanaikkaval Akhilandeswari temple maha kumbhAbhiSekam with tATangakah pratiSTA. The right to conduct this temple ceremony rested with Sri Kamakoti pIThAdhipatis from the ancient times. But then, now Sri Sringeri pIThAdhipatis contended this right.

The case went to the court. The judgment that was given was 'only Sri Kamakoti pIThAdhipatis have the right in this matter, Sri Sringeri pIThAdhipatis should not stay in the place, they should go elsewhere.'

The news of the judgment was informed to Bala Swami. Sri SwamigaL said: "In the court judgment a feature that is not relevant to the case is told. It was not needed to say it. Isn't it the case about the right of kumbhAbhiSekam? The court should have given judgment that was relevant only to that subject."

Sri Sringeri SwamigaL appreciated Sri Kamakoti pIThAdhipati SwamigaL for speaking frankly and clearly on a complicated subject.

*** *** ***

Looking at his divya rUpam, some people think that he has conquered manmatha by his figure. Listening to the expertise of his words, some people think that he is the sarvajhna who is wearing kalAnidhi on his head as an ornament. Looking at the enticing movements of his limbs, some people, experiencing the amrita rasam-dripping looks that float from the corner of his eye, are happy considering him as Sri Kamakshi, the Lady of the City of Sri Kanchi and the beloved of Ekambaranatha. Since Sri Acharya remains a sarvAtmaka, it is only appropriate that different people are delighted with him in different ways.

*** *** ***

The actions of men are of two kinds: doing as pleased, doing as decreed in Shastras.

The pravrutti of doing as it pleases is seen the most among people. That does not result in lofty puruSArthas. Only the conduct according to Shastras is capable of giving the four puruSArtha (dharma, artha, kAma, mokSa). But then it has declined. Which is why Arjuna thought that the para dharma shanti was better for him than his own dharma?

Bhagavan, who wished his welfare, however, made a person like him stand upright in the conduct as decreed in Shastras.

Just as Sri Krishna did, with the intent of obviating the indulgent actions throughout the Bharata Bhumi and establishing the Shastra-decreed actions, and with a purpose to make the people remain in dharmic conduct, yativara (Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi SwamigaL) undertook his vijaya yAtrA from Rama Sethu to Kasi, the capital of Visveshwara.

*** *** ***

Just as the terms sarvajhna, Ishvara used with Parameshvara, are not formal usages, (gauNa prayoga), but words that denote the truth, the shabda, jagatguru used to denote Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi, the yati shreSTa, is also not a gauNa prayoga, but a satya prayoga.

(Calling a courageous person a line cub or a wealthy man a raja are examples of gauNa prayogas or upacAra prayogas.)

To call Paramesvaran the One who knows everything, and the One who rules over everything is not a formal usage, but a true usage. In the same way, to call Sri SwamigaL jagatguru is also a satya vacas and not a upacAra prayoga.

*** *** ***

Upanishads as the end of the Vedas teach many paths--advaita, samkhya, yoga, pasupada, vaishnava. People follow a path they choose.

'Just as the rain that falls on different mountains, gush through differently named rivers and reach the ocean, people who follow different paths all reach You, who is the ultimate destination!' (says the bhakta kavi Pushpadanta in his Shivamahimna Stotram).

SriCharaNar decided to highlight the truth 'All darshans have a determined goal. There is no hostility about that goal'. Therefore, in the city of Chennai, he arranged for a sammelana called shanmadAcharya parishad. From all over the country sAkta, gANapatya, saura, vaishnava, kaumara, saiva pIThAdhipatis came together, discussed and associated among themselves. This parishad proved that SriCharaNar was equal to everyone and that he did not like the arguments of separation.

*** *** ***

SriCharaNar, who was devoted to the Veda and Vedanta paths, established many sabhas such as Veda Dharma Shastra Paripalana Sabha, Advaita Sabha, and NiyamAdhyayana Parishad. He motivated the Veda adhyApaka and vidyArthin in all places of the Bharata Bhumi, honouring them in many ways and rewarding them.

In West Bengal, there were numerous people who belonged to the gautama shAkhA of the Sama Veda, but there was not single person who studied and practiced it. When he came to know this, he established a pAThashAlA in Kolkatta that taught three Vedas, chiefly Sama Veda. He raised the status of the Sama-Shukla Yajur Vedic School in Varanasi city, Uttarpradesh to a Shastra school that also taught NyAya and Vedanta. He founded two schools in Utkala (Orissa) Sri Jagannatha kSetram and arranged for teaching the pippala shAkhA of Atava Veda, and Shukla Yajur Veda. He also founded a large school in Hospet, Karnataka that had facilities to study all the Vedas with their angAs and upAngAs and the Veda bhASyas. In the same manner, he established several schools in the Tamil and Telegu regions.

Near Nasik, Maharashtra, there was only one person who had studied the maitrAyaNIya shAkhA of the Yajur Veda. No one came to learn and practice that branch of Veda from him. Similarly, it came to be known that there were no students in Kerala to practice the rANayaNI shAkhA of the Sama Veda. As he came to know this, SriCharaNar immediately sent suitable students to those regions and gave a new lease of life to the declining shAkhAs.

*** *** ***

Although there was always a crowd around him, SriCharaNar, who always kept his mind engaged in ChandraMauleesvara puja and meditation, did never have any anxiety or worry of mind. No paleness of body; no cloudiness or change of color of face; no harshness or anaucitya of speech; though redness was found in his eye, it was not due to anger, but only the mark of maha purushas. With apparently no sankalpa to do anything, he looked like the sky where the autumnal moon (sharad candra) was shining,

*** *** ***

Although he involves the people in the good things that are to be done, and involves himself in them, he remains with a controlled mind as one who has never smelled the fruits of an action. No worry such as 'Oh it needs to be done' in any matter; no attachment to anything; no grief or confusion in anything.

*** *** ***

Like Sri Ramachandra Prabhu, he acts with the purpose of setting an example in the path of dharma that he wants to establish in the world. (It is said in Ramatapani Upanishad, dharma margam caritreNa, jnana margam ca nAmadaH)

*** *** ***

Since the last four or five years, SriCharaNar's state looks very different. What strict niyamas were observed in snAna, pAnam, sharira shuddhi, pUjA, dhyAna earlier, were now seen to be indifferent to. It is said in Gita that this is a state of brAhmI sthiti (the state of remaining as parabrahman).

*** *** ***

Just as in Kailash with all its aishvaryas, surrounded by the adhipati of the army of devas and the adhipati of pramada gaNas (viz. Kumaraswamy and GaNanathan), the adhipati of all vidyAs Sri Parameswara is shining, here, in Sri Kamakoti pITham pujya pada Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi SwamigaL is shining in the Kanchi kSetra, surrounded by the two yatIndras Sri Jayendra Saraswathi and Sri Vijayendra Saraswathi.

*** *** ***

adhipatiH - a lord, ruler, master, king
adhyApaka - teacher
adhyAtmika - relating to Self
aishvaryam - supremacy, sovereignty, might, affluence, divine faculties
anaucitya - unfitness
arcanA - worship
Atmaka - belonging to the nature of
AtmavidyA - knowledge of the soul
bhASyam - vivid commentary, personal explanation, speaking
candraH - the moon
divya rUpam - shining figure
gauNa - secondary, subordinate, less immediate
kalAnidhiH - treasury of skills, here the moon
manmathaH - the god of love
mUrti - a figure, idol
niyamaH - restraint, taming, subduing, vow, promise
pAThashAlA - school
para - here, opposite
pratiSTA - establishing
pravrutti - conduct, trend
prayogaH - usage, practice, performance
puruSArtha - a human pursuit, the four objects of existence
sammelana - mingling or meeting together , mixture , union
saMsAraH - mundane existence, worldly illusion
sankalpa - will, purpose, determination
sarvajhnaH - one who knows everything
shabdaH - voice, sound, word
shambhuH - Lord Shiva
sharad - the autumn, autumnal season
shreSTaH - best person, king
tATangakah - ear ornament
vacas - word, speech, sentence, order, rule, advice
vidyArthin - student
vruddha - old, aged
yativara - the best among the ascetics
"A Double-Stringed Chain in Eight Sovereigns?"
Author: Sri Ramani Anna (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Dec 20, 2006
An early morning, many years ago. It was slightly drizzling. Maha Periyavaa was seated in solitude at Kanchi Sri Sankara maTham. After the bhaktas had darshan of him, Swamiji arose to go to his room. Just then an old grandam and a young woman came running and prostrated to the sage. Swamiji sat down again, looking a bit keenly at them.

With happiness crawling on his face, Swamiji said, "adede! is it Meenakshi Paatti? What a wonder you have come in the morning time? Who is near you? Your granddaughter? What name?"

Meenakshi Paatti said, "Periyavaa! I am coming to the maTham to have your darshan for ever so many years. Till today I haven't informed SwamigaL about me. There was no such opportunity. But then, it has come now. This girl standing by my side is my granddaughter born through my daughter. Since she was born in this town, we named her Kamakshi. I had only one daughter, and she closed her eyes twelve years ago, leaving this girl to my care. Some disease she had. Her husband also died before her due to a heart attack.

"Since then I am plodding on alone with this girl. I put her in a school. Study didn't get into her head. So I stopped it with her fifth grade. Now she is fifteen years old. My duty will be over once I give her hand to a man!"

AcharyaL listened to her patiently. "I understood when I saw you come here and stand before me in the early morning itself, that you who used to bring pArijAta puS^pam for ChandraMauleesvara puja every morning around ten o' clock, have come to me now with a purpose. What is the news?" he said.

Hesitating at first, Meenakshi Paatti began: "Nothing, Periyavaa. A suitable alliance has come up for this girl. The boy is also from this place. School teacher. Sixty rupees salary. Good family. No demand-and-take harassments. They say that both the horoscopes match well. Somehow only you should perform this marriage, Periyavaa!" Paatti prostrated to him.

AcharyaL's tone showed some heat as he chided her: "What? I should perform the marriage? What are you talking?" Within moments he cooled down and said, "Alright, what do you expect me to do?"

Paatti was happy. "It's like this, Periyavaa! I have somehow managed to save five thousand rupees for her marriage. I can complete the marriage within that amount. But then the boy's mother has said compulsively, 'Paatti, whatever or however you do it, you must present a double-stringed, eight-sovereign gold chain for the neck of your granddaughter!' I couldn't do anything big by way of jewels-and-bolts for her within my income. I have arranged just a bangle of one sovereign each for each hand of this girl. Only that is possible for me. Where can I go for an eight-sovereign double-stringed chain, Periyavaa? Only you--"

Before she could finish, Swamiji asked her with some anger: "Tell me, you want me to provide her with a double-stringed chain in eight-sovereigns?"

Meenkshi Paatti prostrated to him and rose. Patting her cheeks loudly, she said, "apacAram, apacAram, Periyavaa. I am not coming to say that. A number of rich and big people come for your darshan daily. Could you not gesture to any of them to arrange for the eight-sovereign double-stringed chain?" Paatti asked him longingly.

"What? To gesture to the big people who come for a darshan? There is no such practice. If you want, you seek some other alliance where they don't demand eight or ten sovereigns! Only that is better for you." Swamiji got up.

Meenakshi Paatti said anxiously, "I pray that Periyavaa shouldn't leave me with such advise! This is a very good alliance, Periyavaa. The boy has a sanguine temperament. They got their own girls married with a gift of an eight-sovereign double-stringed chain each. Therefore they desire that the girl coming as their daughter-in-law should also come with a double-stringed chain. Nothing else, Periyavaa. Only you should provide me with guidance in the matter!" Paatti begged the sage.

AcharyaL, who had got up, sat down again. He was immersed in deep thoughts for sometime. Then he started talking with compassion: "Will you do something I suggest now?"

"I will do it definitely. Please tell me what!" Paatti was excited.

"Go to the Kamakshi Amman temple tomorrow with your granddaughter. Both of you pray to Her, 'This marriage should take place grandly with the required eight-sovereign double-stringed chain provided. Only You should arrange it, Amma!' and do pradakSiNa of the sannidhi five times. Prostrate before ambAL five times and go home. Pray this way for five days. Kamakshi will arrange the things as you have desired in your mind." AcharyaL blessed them smilingly.

As she prostrated and got up, Meenakshi Paatti said, "What is it Periyavaa, you suggest everything five times!" She asked with eagerness, "If I do it that way, AmbaL Kamakshi will surely arrange my granddaughter Kamakshi's marriage?"

"I am not suggesting the five-times requirement myself. AmbaL has the adulation panca saMkhyopacAriNi. She grants favours happily when she is worshipped in multiples of five." Swamiji said, "I told you only that, nothing else!"

"When do we start this, Periyavaa?"

Swamiji smiled. "It has been said shubhasya shIghram. Today is Friday. Why, you start today itself." He said and bid them farewell.

With her granddaughter beside her, Paatti walked towards Kamakshi Amman temple. Since it was Friday, there was a heavy rush in the temple. Mother Kamakshi dazzled in full splendour due to special adornments of that day. Both of them closed their eyes and prayed as advised by Periyavaa. Paatti had an arcanA performed in her granddaughter's birth star and secured the prasAdam.

Then they both prayed to Amman about the eight-sovereign double-stringed chain and went around the inner courtyard clockwise five times. Then they prostrated to AmabaL five times as Swamiji had suggested. With faith in heart, they went back home.

On Saturday morning, Paatti started from her house with her granddaughter. Collecting the coral-jasmine flowers, she hurried to Sankara maTham. There was a heavy rush in the maTham. Meenakshi Paatti was standing in the queue some twenty or thirty bhaktas behind. She heard what the person before her was telling his neighbour with concern. 'Today is the day of the anushA star. PeriyavaL's birth star. So Swamiji has taken up a vow of silence today. He wouldn't talk to anybody. Only mukha darshan.'

Anxiety got hold of Meenakshi Paatti. She worried, 'I thought of reminding Periyavaa about the eight-sovereign double-stringed chain, but it seems that won't be possible now.' When they got near Periyavaa, they prostrated to him. That para brahmaM was sitting with no sign of life in him. Paatti paused, yearning that he would ask something about the chain. Swamiji's assistant told her a bit sternly, "Paatti, move away please! Periyavaa adopts a vow of silence today. He won't talk. See, how many people are waiting behind you!"

She made her way towards Kamakshi Amman temple, along with her granddaughter. As advised by Periyavaa, they performed the panca saMkhyopacAra worship on that day and got back home. Maha Swamiji continued the vow of silence on the following two days also. Paatti and her granddaughter could only have a darshan of the sage at the maTham. Paatti started worrying, 'Four out of five days has gone by since Periyavaa's advice but nothing happened! Will Mother Kamakshi open her eyes and bless me or not?' She could only grieve within herself.

It dawned on Tuesday. Sri Kanchi maTham was very brisk on that day. A bhajan troupe from Arani was immersing the maTham in bhaktic ecstasy.

AcharyaL came and sat in his usual place. There was such a maha tejas in his face! He had dissolved his vow of silence. There was a large crowd waiting for PeriyavaL's darshan. A middle-aged maami in the queue prostrated to Swamiji happily as her turn came. Happiness was writ on her face. She submitted the things she had brought--a large bunch of rastaLi bananas, un-shorn coconuts, sweet lemons, oranges, pumpkins, and chubby raw-bananas--and prostrated again.

Swamiji smiled to himself as he glanced at the items kept before him. Then he narrowed his eyes and looked keenly at the woman. "Aren't you Ambujam, wife of Needamangalam landowner Ganesa Iyer? You came two months back. Told me something, feeling sad. Looking at the way you have come now with a large banana bunch, it seems that your problems would have been solved by the grace of Kamakshi, right?"

Ambujam prostrated again and said, "True, Periyavaa. My only daughter Mythili was made to stay away from her husband's home for the last three years. Two months back I came running to you, reported this humiliation and wept. It was you who advised me to do five circumambulations and five prostrations for five days and perform ablution and worship in the Kamakshi Amman temple of this town. I completed them with extreme care, and what a wonder, fifteen days back, my son-in-law Radhakrishnan who works in Jamshedpur Tata Steel Plant came over himself and took his wife Mythili back with him. It's all that Kamakshi's grace and your blessings, Periyavaa!" Tears of joy filled her eyes as she spoke.

Swamiji said, "Besh, besh, very glad. Let the dampati rest in prosperity! By the way, where did you get such a big bunch of bananas? Looks massive!" Swamiji's laughter rolled by like thunder.

Ambujam said smilingly, "This bunch was harvested from our own banana bed, Periyavaa; which is why it is so big!" She spoke with humility.

Showing happiness, Swamiji ordered her, "Alright, only Amma Kamakshi has rejoined your daughter and son-in-law. So you offer this big banana bunch to Her and distribute the fruits to the bhaktas who visit the shrine."

Ambujam said, "No no, Periyavaa. Let it remain in this sanctum. I have an identical bunch to offer to AmbaL. Now I seek your leave to have a darshan of AmbaL, complete my prayers and get back here." She prostrated.

"BeshA! After completing your prayers you must take food in the maTham and then only should get back to your place. Remember it!" Swamiji gave her his consent to leave him.

There was not much crowd in Kamakshi Amman temple on that day. It was eleven in the morning. As it was later than usual, Meenakshi Paatti hurried to the temple with her granddaughter. She halted at the shop selling arcanA packs, and told her granddaughter, "Hey Kamakshi! Today is the day of completion. So we shall do everything in five numbers as told by AcharyaL. What you do, get five arcanA packs with five coconuts, five bananas, betel leaves, nuts, etc. and come back running!" and gave her the required money.

The granddaughter bought the things as ordered. Paatti performed the arcanAs to AmbaL and prayed Her with tearful eyes, 'Amma Kamakshi, I am completely depending on You only! I have no refuge except You and SwamigaL. Only You should arrange for the eight-sovereign double-string chain and complete my granddaughter's marriage in a fitting manner.' As Paatti sobbed, her granddaughter was also moved and wept. Then they started going round the inner couryard from left to right. They were on their fourth round.

"Paatti... Paatti... Paattee!" Meekakshi Paatti looked back at the loud call from her granddaughter and chided her angrily, "Why do you cry so loud? What have you lost to raise such a noise?"

"Nothing lost Paatti, but something gained! Please come here, I shall show you!" She took her grandma to a corner, opened her right palm and showed her something. It was a severed, double-stringed chain with a front.

"Where did you find that?" Paatti asked with surprise. Her granddaughter said, "As I was coming behind you with a bowed head, my eyes chanced on this chain. I took it at once, and no one had noticed me! This chain is severed Paatti. Check if it is original or just a coated one."

Paatti took the chain in her hands to guess its weight. She said, "Looks like sovereign, Kamakshi! May be eight or eight-and-a-half sovereigns. This has been granted to us by Kamakshi Herself backed by the blessings of Periyavaa. Alright, let us go out first!" She packed the chain inside the edge of her sari and hurriedly came out, forgetting to complete her fifth circumambulation.

It was one in the afternoon. Four or five people were waiting for the darshan of AcharyaL in the maTham. Meenakshi Paatti prostrated to the sage with her granddaughter and got up. Swamiji looked at her and laughed. She was confused whether to tell Swamiji about the chain or not.

Swamiji forestalled her. "Today you should have completed your panca saMkhyopacAra pradakSiNa in order. But then it was not completed because of a vastu that came to the hand of your granddaughter! That sudden delight did not allow you to do more than four pradakSiNas. You came hurriedly, thinking that Kamakshi has given you Her pUrna anugrahah. What, am I right?"

Paatti was shocked. She became insensate, and swallowed her words as she spoke: "SwamigaL shouldn't mistake me. Once that (object) came to the hand of my granddaughter, I assumed that AmbaL Herself had dropped it for my granddaughter to take. In that sudden delight I totally fogot that I had to make one more pradakSiNa."

Periyavaa said relentlessly, "Only that you forgot. You did not forget to get the vastu weighed at Rangu Patthar's shop. Or get the severed portion melted in the furnace to rejoin." He clinched his talk with the words, "Let it go. When you weighed it, was it exactly eight sovereigns?"

Paatti and her granddaughter were stunned. "All you said now is satyam, Periyavaa!" said Paatti.

Swamiji asked her calmly, "Tell me in fairness. To whom does that padArthaH belong?"

"To AmbaL Kamakshi."

"Tell me yourself, can you take it secretly and pack it inside the edge of your sari?"

"A mistake... nothing else but a mistake! Should excuse me. I have done it inadvertently." Paatti was genuninely repenting. She placed the double-stringed sovereign chain on the brass plate that was found before Swamiji, her hands shaking. Swamiji laughed.

It was now two in the afternoon. Swamiji asked Meenakshi Paatti and her daughter to sit before him. It was at that time that Ambujam AmmaL, wife of Needamangalam Ganesa Iyer, who had taken leave in the morning, came back full of sorrow and prostrated to the sage. Her eyes were shedding tears profusely. Swamiji saw this and said affectionately, "adAdA, why do you shed tears Amma?"

Ambujam Ammal wiped her tears and replied, "It is like this, Periyavaa. Two months ago when I did the five days seva in the Kamakshi Amman temple I prayed to AmbaL earnestly that I would offer Her my eight-sovereign double-stringed chain if she united my daughter and son-in-law, who were then separated. AmbaL has united them. I went to the temple to offer my chain. It slipped from my neck and fell down somewhere. I searched everywhere anxiously but the chain could not be found. What can I do now, Periyavaa?" She started wailing.

Swamiji turned his face to Meenakshi Paatti and looked meaningfully. Paatti prostrated to him and got up briskly. She took the double-stringed sovereign chain from the brass plate before the sage in her hand. She turned to Ambujam and said holding up the chain, "Amma Ambujam. Check if this is the double-stringed chain you lost."

Ambujam took the chain from her hand and checked. "The same, the same chain, Paatti. How did it come here? Looks very wonderful!" Paatti narrated everything that happened to them in the same breath.

Ambujam Ammal hugged Meenakshi Paatti. "Paatti, you don't worry at all! I am informing you this before our AcharyaL. I shall arrange for a new double-stringed chain in eight sovereigns for your granddaughter! Her marriage will be performed grandly. This double-stringed I have prayed to offer to AmbaL. This evening I shall take you and your granddaughter Kamakshi to the jewellery shop in this down and get her an eight-sovereign double-stringed chain. In addition, I shall give you five thousand rupees for the marriage expenses."

Swamiji was sitting as the prat^yakSa kAmAkshi, witnessing this scene. Everyone prostrated to AcharyaL. He looked at Meenakshi Paatti and said, "Today you and your granddaughter did not do the five pradakSiNas. Go in the evening, do five pradakSiNas and five prostrations, and have a darshan of AmbaL." Saying this he bid them farewell.

It is not possible to narrate in words the happiness and ecstatic shiver that Meenakshi Paatti and her granddaughter experienced at that time.

Paramacharya Stuns a Landowner!
Author: Sri Ramani Anna (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Nov 05, 2006

A Citra full moon day, many years back. An abhiSekam was performed in a grand manner with mahAnyAsa rudra japam at Sri Mahalingaswami Temple, Tiruvidaimarudur. The person who conducted it with 11 Vedic pundits was the landowner Narayanaswami Iyer of Tiruvarur. The rudrAbhiSekam that started at eight in the morning came to a completion around one in the afternoon.

The landowner Narayanaswami Iyer was extremely devoted to Kanchi Maha SwamigaL. He decided 'this rudrAbhiSeka prasAdam should be submitted to Periyavaa somehow.' He reverentially kept the prasAdam on a banana leaf and folded it inside a new silk cloth. That same evening, he boarded the Madurai Madras passenger train at Tiruvidaimarudur railway station. He got down at Chingleput station in the early morning, took a bus and arrived at Kanchipuram.

There was a large crowd at the maTham on that day. Finishing his bath and other chores, the landowner waited for Periyavaa's darshan. At about 12 o'clock in the noon, Maha SwamigaL came and sat down, after finishing his ChandraMauleesvara puja. The crowd of devotees rushed forward. The landowner couldn't approach SwamigaL. He showed the prasAda bag and begged everyone, "All of you please make way! I have brought Tiruvidaimarudur Mahalingaswamy rudrAbhiSeka prasAdam for Periyavaa. I have to submit it to him."

No one seemed to make way. An employee of the maTham who saw the anxiety and haste of the landowner, created a trail for him among the people and brought Narayanaswami Iyer near PeriyavaL. When he saw PeriyavaL, the landowner became insensate, dropped down heavily for a prostration and got up. Maha SwamigaL looked at him raising his head. He raised his brows as if he inquired what the matter was.

With his hands shaking, the landowner babbled, unpacking the prasAdam bag, "prasAdam, prasAdu Periyavaa". "What prasAdam?" asked PeriyavaL and looked at him. In the meantime, the landowner managed to extract the prasAdam. He kept it on the cane plate found there and submitted it to PeriyavaL. On that plate were found in a small banana leaf, vibuti, kuN^kumam, sandal paste together with some bilva daLam, two parts of a broken coconut, and some poovan banana fruits.

Maha SwamigaL asked, "All these are prasAdam of which kSetra?" and looked at the landowner once again. The landowner calmed himself and said with humility, "Periyavaa! I performed the rudrAbhiSekam for Mahalingaswami at Tiruvidaimarudur yesterday. It was a large abhiSekam with mahAnyAsa rudra japam. This is that prasAdam. Since Periyavaa would be happy, I have rushed here to bring it, boarding a train; you must receive it and bless me."

Looking at that prasAda plate sharply for sometime, Periyavaa asked: "Narayanaswami! You are a big landowner yourself. Even then you performed this rudrAbhiSekam for Swami, teaming up with some other people to meet the expenses?"

The landowner replied, "No, Periyavaa! I performed it myself, out of my own expenses," stressing the 'myself' part a little.

PeriyavaL smiled to himself. He did not leave it at that. "So you did for loka kSema at Madhyaarjuna kSetra", he added.

The landowner replied with some uncertainty, "No, Periyavaa! For the last two or three years there was no yield in my fields. Some fields were even barren. I checked up with Tiruvidaimarudur Muthu Josyar. He advised me, 'On a Citra full moon day perform rudrAbhiSekam for Mahalingaswami. That will give you an abundant yield!' Only on that belief I performed it, Periyavaa".

The prasAda that was kept before the sage remained untouched. AcharyaL did not accept it. Saying, "So it seems that you did not perform this act either for AtmArtam or for loka kSemArtam", he closed his eyes and dropped into meditation.

AcharyaL opened his eyes after fifteen minutes. There was such a clarity in his face! And a knowing look of having understood many things within those fifteen minutes. Everyone around was very quiet. SwamigaL continued, "Alright... How many vedic brahmins attended the rudrAbhiSekam?"

"I had arranged for eleven vedic pandits, Periyavaa!"

SwamigaL persisted, "Did you know who were the vaidikaLs and which place they belonged to? Was it only you who made all arrangements?"

The devotees who were witnessing the scene were surprised at the detailed inquiry Periyavaa was making. They also understood that he wouldn't do anything without a reason. The landowner took a piece of paper that he had tucked in his waist.

"I am reading out, Periyavaa. Tiruvidaimarudur Venkatrama SastrigaL, Seenuvasa Ganapadigal, Rajagopala ShrautigaL, Marutthuvakkudi Santhana Vaadyhar, Sundaa SastrigaL, Subramanya SastrigaL, Tirumangalakkudi Venkittu Vaadhyar, and then--"

AchargaL interruped him and asked easily, "All experts only, who you have arranged. Alright, check if your list has the name Thepperumaanallur Venkatesa GanapadigaL."

Seething with happiness, the landowner replied, "It is there, Periyavaa! He also attended the japam", showing surprise in his voice.

Though the devotees were taken by surprise at such detailed inquiry about an abhiSekam that was over, no one said anything. Everyone was silent and attentive.

SwamigaL said, "Besh, besh! So you had engaged Venkatesa GanapadigaL also for the japam! A very good thing. Maha Veda vid! GanagadigaL is now very aged. Even difficult for him to raise his voice. He would feel it hard to control his breathing and intone the japam."

As if he waited for this remark, the landowner replied, his tone raising, "Yes, Periyavaa! What you have said is very correct. He did not chant the rudram well. Sometimes he was siting silent with closed eyes. Often he yawned. All these resulted in the shrinkage of the counting of the japam numbers. He gave much trouble yesterday. I regretted having engaged him for the japam."

SwamigaL swelled with indignation. "What you said... What did you say? So you have the temerity to talk anything because you have the money? What do you know about the yogyatAMsam of Thepperumaanallur Venkatesa GanapadigaL? Would you match the dust of the feet of that veda vid? How can you talk such words about him? I have now understood what happened yesterday at the Mahalingaswami Sannidhi! You answer my question now! When the GanapadigaL was sitting quiet with closed eyes at the time of the japam yesterday, did you not shout harshly at him, 'EngaaNum, are you not getting the money, you are sitting still with a shut mouth without doing the japam?' Tell me, did you shout these words to him or not?" The landowner was appalled. The crowd was amazed.

Narayanaswami Iyer fell at SwamigaL's feet, his eight limbs touching the ground. SwamigaL did not say anything. The landowner got up himself. He closed his mouth and replied shivering, "My mistake, Periyavaa! It is true that I used the very same words you spoke know to the GanapadigaL in the Swami Sannidhi yesterday. Periyavaa should kindly pardon me."

Periyavaa did not stop. "Wait, wait. Did you do that mistake only? You did honour the vaidikaLs with money, right? How much did you give each vaidikaL?"

The landowner gulped and said weakly, "I paid ten rupees for each head, Periyavaa."

SwamigaL did not leave him with that. "Tell me correctly! I know everything! Did you pay all the vaidikaLs equally with ten-ten rupees each?"

The landowner stood silently. But the AcharyaL did not relent. "Listen, I shall tell you what you did yesterday. Perhaps you feel shy to talk it out. You seated the vaidikaLs in a row at the Sannidhi and was giving the sambhAvanA of ten rupees to each of them. When the turn of Thepperumaanallur Venkatesa GanapadigaL came, you decided, 'This man did not chant the rudram properly. Why should I give him ten rupees as I did for the others?' and gave him just seven rupees. You had the thought that somehow you had taken revenge on him. Did he care anything about it all? He just accepted what you gave him and tied it to the edge of his vastram." AcharyaL asked him hotly, "Tell me, is not what I am saying correct?"

The devotees were stunned. No one did say anything. They wondered how PeriyavaL came to know what took place in Tiruvidaimarudur temple yesterday.

The landowner prostrated to the sage and said, "A gross mistake, Periyavaa! It was out of ignorance that I behaved like that! I won't behave in such a fashion henceforth! Kindly parden me!"

Before he finished, PeriyavaaL continued, "Wait, wait! It would have been less worse had it ended there." He asked, "For the japa brahmins, you arranged for the meals at the house of Ramachandra Iyer of Mahadhana street, right?"

"Yes, Periyavaa!"

"You served sumptuous meals, of course, with a feeling of immense happiness. You had arranged for cooking very tasty sweet pongal, with lots of cashew nuts and raisins added to it, and you served it with your own hands, with ghee dripping from it in the meals session, right?"

Narayanaswami Iyer was more and more appalled. He closed his mouth and spoke with uncertainty, "Yes, Periyavaa! In the session I served only the sweet pongal with my own hands."

"Alright, does your conscience admit that you did it with the dharma for serving a meal?" SwamigaL asked him sternly.

The landowner did not open his mouth. AcharyaL said himself, "You need not tell me, I shall tell you! When you served the sweet pongal, since it was very tasty, the vaidikaLs asked for repeated helpings. And you obliged them. But when Thepperumaanallur Venkatesa GanapadigaL, giving up his reticence, asked you many times, 'Serve me more of the sweet pongal, it is very tasty...' did you not carry on without serving him more, though you heard him? How many times did he ask you, giving up his normal reticence! And you did not serve him more! You committed the sin of partiality in a meals session! Was it dharma? You insulted a great sadhu!" SwamigaL fell into silence, overwhelmed with distress.

The landowner stood with bowed head. The devotees were amazed and speechless. Closing his eyes and folding both his legs behind him, AcharyaL sat upright. His divine frame looked like the Lord Parameswara Himself. He sat motionless.

Fifteen minutes passed by in complete silence. Then AcharyaL opened his eyes. Everyone was silent. AcharyaL continued his talk, looking at Narayanaswami Iyer: "MirasudarvaL! You should know one thing. GanapadigaL is eighty-one years of age now. He had done rudra japam in countless kSetras since his sixteenth year. Sri Rudram is always coursing his veins and nerves and breath. He is such a mahAn. The way you behaved to him is an act of great sin... an act of great sin!" PeriyavaL stopped, unable to continue further, and closed his eyes.

He resumed again after sometime: "Your act of partiality in the meals session affected him deeply. You know what he did? I shall tell you, listen. He did not go back to his native place Thepperumaanallur yesterday evening. Instead, he went to Mahalingaswami temple. He did pradakSiNa of the outer courtyard three times. Went straight to Mahalingaswami and stood before Him. You know what he prayed for, joining his palms?" PeriyavaL couldn't continue. He steadied himself and then resumed his talk.

"With tears streaming down his eyes, he spoke to the God, 'Appa, Jyoti Mahalingam! I am your steadfast devotee. Since my early days I have recited mahAnyasa rudra japam countless times in your sannidhi. You have listened to it. I am now eighty-one years old. I have the mental strengh, but that strength is gone in my speech! It can't be that you wouldn't know what happened this afternoon when we were dining. I asked that landowner many times, leaving my shyness aside, for more of that pongal, since it was very very tasty. Though he heard me, the landowner moved away as if he did not hear my request. You know that I have an immense fondness for sweet pongal. Though I asked him out of temptation, I was grieved that he did not serve me more.

'But then only after I had finished my meals, washed my hands and sat on the thinnai it occurred to me whether I could have such a jihvA sabalam at this age. Which is the reason I am now standing before you, Appa Mahalingam! With you as the mediator, I take a vow from this moment. Everyone gives up some favourite edible when they go to Kasi. It is only You who is in Kasi, as well as here. Therefore I take a vow before you that I will not touch the sweet pongal or any other sweet dish from now on until my soul goes out of the body! This is a promise Mahalingam.' With that vairAgya pramANam he said, 'Appa Jyoti Mahalingam! I take leave of you now," and did shASTaaN^ga namaskaram twelve times. Tears were flowing down GanapadigaL's eyes, as he left for his place. Now, you tell me... What you did was dharma? Will Mahalingaswami agree to it?"

Periyavaa stopped. It was then three o' clock in the afternoon. "I don't want any bhikSA today", said SwamigaL. No one moved from there. Not even for their lunch. Total silence prevailed. Tears were seen in everyone's eyes. The landowner Narayanaswami Iyer stood transfixed. He could not raise his tongue to speak. Everyone's wonder was, 'How does Periyavaa narrate everything that happened yesterday at Tiruvidaimarudur as if he witnessed them personally?'

Falling down to Periyavaa's feet, the landowner started sobbing vehemently. His tongue slurred as he said, "Periyavaa! What I did was a great sin! I did it out of vanity. Kindly pardon me. Never again shall I behave this way in my life. You should say 'I have pardoned you'!" The landowner patted his cheeks loudly.

AcharyaL did not open his mouth. The landowner was persistent. "I pray to you, Periyavaa! You should accept this Mahalingaswami rudrAbhiSeka prasAdam. Kindly pardon me!" He pointed his hands towards the prasAdam plate.

AcharyaL said, "Let it be, let it be there. That Mahalingaswami Himself will give me the prasAda anugraham."

Before he finishd his words, a voice was heard outside the crowd: "Make way, make way!" Everyone moved to make way.

Only a tuft of hair knotted at the end on the head. A bright five-folded dhoti on the waist, with a silky green cloth covering it. A large rudraksha garland on the neck. A noble man who could be around sixty-five years old, arrived near PeriyavaL, carrying piously a brass plate on which was the prasAdam preserved in a silk cloth. He submitted the prasAdam plate reverentially to AcharyaL and said, "My name is Mahalingam. I am the arcakA of Tiruvidaimarudur Mahalingaswami temple. Yesterday a rudrAbhiSekam was performed for Swami. A landowner conducted it. My eleder sister is given in marriage to this place. I came to submit the prasAdam to AcharyaL and then look her up. Periyavaa should do me the anugraham." SwamigaL prevented him as he proceeded to prostrate.

Saying "You people have been given shiva dIkSA, you shouldn't do namaskaram to me", AcharyaL accepted the prasAdams brought and asked the Shivacharya to be given the MaTham's honours in return. Meantime, the SivacharyaL saw the landowner who was standing at some distance. "Periyavaa, it is this man who had conducted the rudrAbhiSekam there yesterday. He has himself come here!" With these words, Mahalingam Shivacharya left the place, taking leave of the sage.

The landowner Narayanaswami Iyer again prostrated to AcharyaL and patted his cheeks loudly. He pleaded, "Again and again I pray to you, Periyavaa. It is a great sinful act I have committed. Only you should tell me the remedy for this act."

SwamigaL got up briskly. "I cannot tell you the remedy for this. Only Thepperumaanallur Venkatesa GanapadigaL can tell you the remedy."

"Will the GanapadigaL tell me the remedy for the deed of this paavi, Periyavaa?", the landowner asked with grief.

SwamigaL said in a slightly raised voice, "If you have the prAptam, he will certainly tell you!" and hurried inside. He did not come out at all.

The landowner waited for a few hours. And then, having come to a decision, he left the place and arrived at Chingleput boarding a bus. He caught a train and arrived at Tiruvidaimarudur on the next morning. He finished his bath in the Kaveri river there and with firmness of heart started walking towards Thepperumaanallur. He walked briskly with the resolution that he would somehow meet Venkatesa GanapadigaL, fall shASTaaN^gam at his feet, ask for his pardon, perform the remedy he would suggest and obtain paapa vimocanam.

The landowner entered the Thepperumaanallur agrahAram. He inquired the first man he came across, the address of the GanapadigaL. The man pointed to a house on the street before which was a crowd of people and said, "You have come to offer your condolences? That is the home of Venkatesa GanapadigaL. Early this morning, he suddenly passed away. A painless, peaceful death. Go and have a look."

Narayanaswami Iyer was stunned. He felt as if someone had hit him on the head. The firm words of AcharyaL at the MaTham yesterday seemed to ring in his ears. "If you have the prAptam, he will certainly tell you!" He now understood that PeriyavaaL had known yesterday itself that the landowner would not have the prAptam.

The landowner went to GanapadigaL's house, offered his condolences, and prostrated to the gross body of the GanapadigaL, seeking his pardon mentally. Then he moved away from the place.

Later, the landowner met with different kinds of adversities and happened to lose all his wealth. He went North and did service at the temple kitchens, finally arrived at Kasi kSetra and attained his mukti there.
"For this Sanyasi, perform Thirukalyanam for the Ninth time!"
Author: Sri Ramani Anna (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Nov 20, 2006

This is an incident that happened some years ago. An evening time. A large crowd in Kanchi SrimaTham waiting for a darshan of Maha Swamiji. Periyavar came out of his solitudinous room. He came to the stage where he usually sits and seated himself, leaning on the wall.

One by one the people came before him. Prostrated to him. And appealed to him with an earnest prayer to solve their problems. Swamiji gave them suitable replies, blessed them and gave them prasAdam.

Eight-thirty in the night. All the people had gone after darshan. Swamiji was about to raise and get back to his solitudinous room. A dampati came hurrying up. Behind them rushed a young girl. All the three of them prostrated to Paramacharya. Then they extracted the articles they had brought from four 'big shopper' bags, spread them out on the large cane plates that were seen near them, and submitted them to the sage. AcharyaL pointedly looked at the cane plates for sometime. They were filled with sugar lumps, cashews, pistachio nuts, almonds, dry grapes, and dates. Surprised, Swamiji looked at the people who brought them, and happiness coursed his face lines.

adede! It's our Viswanathan! When did you come from America? Your wife has also come... Besh, besh! Very glad. Everyone is fine? EndAppa, why have you brought such a lot of cashews and dry fruits? Any good news of a marriage? Here, standing by your side, isn't she your daughter? Oho... you have fixed her marriage! Why, Viswanathaa, there is no marriage invitation on any of these plates?" Swamiji asked.

That was it. The three of them fell at AcharyaL's feet, sobbing loudly, as if a sluice was released and a flood of water gushed forth.

Maha Swamiji could not understand. He checked himself and asked with affection, "Why Viswanatha... did I say something irrelevant? You people are sobbing like children?"

Immediately Viswanathan patted his cheeks loudly and said hastily, "Shiva, Shiva! apacAram, apacAram. Nothing of that kind, Periyavaa. The moment you asked, 'Arranged your daughter's wedding, where is the invitation?', the three of us couldn't contain our sorrow, Periyavaa! She is now twenty-five years old. We are trying, since her seventeenth year, coming over from America and staying here for two months. Not a single varan did crop up, Periyavaa! Somehow the chance slips by. She is educated. Has beauty. We have money. With all these things, there is no luck!" He started crying again.

It was nine-thirty at night. AcharyaL understood the situation. He thought of easing the tightness that prevailed. "It is alright, don't feel sad. Come and sit here, all the three of you!" He pointed to the floor oppsite him.

The three people sat meekly. AcharyaL started speaking: "Viswanatha! I know that you are doing plenty of dAna dharma for temples/ponds and the poor and destitute. Such a mental agony for you! Alright, how many years now since you went and settled in America?"

"Twenty years, Periyavaa" replied Viswanathan.

Swamiji pointed to the girl. "She is your eka putri?" he asked smilingly, "what is her name?"

Closing his mouth, Viswanathan replied, "Her name is Aparna. Yes, my only daughter, Periyavaa."

"Did you show her horoscope to the jyotishikahs?"

"Checked with a number of astrologers, Periyavaa. Everyone of them talks about some dosha or other. They also suggest remedies. I have done everything they recommended!"

"What are the things you did?" asked AcharyaL inquisitively.

"I did Pitru dosha pariharah with tila homam at Rameswaram. Then shukra prIti at Kanjanur. Rahu prIti at Tirunageswaram. Guru prIti at Alangudi. Special puja at Tirumananjeri near Kuttalam. Shani prIti at Tirunallar with a bath in the NaLa Tirtham... I did so many of such things, Periyava!" said Viswanathan.

Before he could finish, Swamiji clinched it with the words, "So you say it is a lack of phala prApti." Abruptly Swamiji said to Viswanathan's wife, "You have got the jewels-and-bolts ready for the daughter's marriage?"

"Everything is ready, Periyavaa", she replied.

"Besh, besh! How many sovereigns (of gold) you give to her?"

Viswanathan replied, "Thirty sovereigns for our daughter, Periyavaa. In addition, we have made two separate sets of jewels worth twenty sovereigns each."

"What for are those two separate sets of twenty sovereigns?"

"It is like this Periyavaa. If Aparna's marriage is fixed, with that marriage, we have decided to perform the marriages of two poor girls, meeting all the expenses. Which is why the two separate sets of jewels. But then Aparna's marriage itself is not getting fixed, Periyavaa!" Viswanathan expressed his longing, tears popping up in his eyes.

Swamiji slipped into some serious thinking. It was ten thirty at night. Then he asked Viswanathan, "Within how many days you people should return to America?"

"Twenty days more, Periyavaa."

"Besh, besh," Swamiji was happy. "You people have finished your dinner?"

"Not yet", said Viswanathan.

Swamiji sent word for the cook and asked him when he showed up, "What is available?"

"Rice uppuma and pumpkin sambar", said the cook.

Swamiji asked Viswanathan's family to go the kitchen and have their food. He waited until they came back. It was eleven in the night then. He looked at Viswanathan affectiontely.

"Viswanathaa, you have a noble heart! With your daughter's marriage, you are ready and waiting with jewels for performing dharmic marriages for two other girls. What a broad mind you have! Kamakshi will guard you". Swamiji assuaged him with gentle words and said, "Do one thing. You go to Tiruvanaikkaval tomorrow morning with your family. There you perform abhiSeka ArAdhanam to Mother Akhilandeswari and Jambukeswarar and pray to Them. What you ask of your daughter Aparana is that... there they would have adorned Mother Akhilandeswari with a shining tATangakah on Her ears. Ask your daughter to have a keen darshan of the ornaments without blinking her eyes and praying 'let me be married soon!'. After doing this--"

Viswanathan interruped Swamiji as he said excitedly, "Periyavaa, our family deity herself is Tiruvanaikkaval Akhilandeswari!"

Swamiji said, "Besh! It is a good thing then. So you go with family tomorrow morning and do this. Then you go straight to Tirupathi. There you perform a Tirukkalyana utsavam to Srinivasa Perumal and pray to Him. Everything will turn out well. All these cashew, dry grapes and suger lumps that you have kept here generously like the endowment rows in a marriage... take all those things and offer them to Akhilandeswari." As he said this, Swamiji got up. Viswanathan's family prostrated to him.

Viswanathan looked at Swamiji and said hesitantly, "Periyavaa, since the seventeenth year of my daughter Aparna, every year when I came here, I performed Tirukkalyana utsavam to Tirumali Srinivasa Perumal. So far we have have done it eight times, Periyavaa!"

"Alright Viswanathaa! What is there to lose? As this Sanyasi says, perform it for the ninth time!" Swamiji said laughingly and hurried to his room.

In the next two days, Viswanathan's family completed the ablution and worship and tATangakah darshan at Tiruvanaikkaval as ordered by Paramacharya and reached Tirupathi.

On that day, a number of bhaktas had remitted money to perform Srinivasa Tirukkalyanam. There was a large crowd in the marriage hall. Viswanathan's family was sitting in a corner in the centre portion of the hall. The vaikanasa bhaTTAcAaryas were conducting the celestial wedding of Lord Srinivasa chanting vaivAhiha mantras in a grand manner. Their intonations reached a peak and vibrated throughout the hall.

Viswanathan grieved within his heart thus: 'Appa Srinivasa! Is this your dharma and nyAya? You get your wedding performed every day in such grand manner! What sin did my daughter Aparna commit? Why do you not get her married to a suitable varan?' He started uttering a sob. His wife and daughter began to sob and weep, suffocating in their grief.

A family was sitting near Viswanathan. The family head appeared to be fifty or fifty-five years old. He rubbed Viswanathan's back comfortingly. "Sir, my name is Vaidyanathan. Madras. I am watching you for a long time. On this occasion of witnessing the Tirukkalyanam with joy and happiness, it is not proper for you three people to sob and weep," he said tactfully.

Viswanathan was moved. Briefly he poured forth his worries to the gentleman who comforted him. Vaidyanathan turned and looked at Aparna. His mind told him that the girl was stately and beautiful.

Vaidyanathan asked him: "Your gotra?"

"vAthUla gotra", said Viswanathan.

"We are Srivatsa. Alright, your daughter's age?"

"She is now twenty-five; why do you ask?"

Vaidyanathan said, "Let this Tirukkalyanam be over. Then I shall take you and talk to you in detail."

Srinivasa Kalyanam came to a completion and everyone was given prasAdam. Vaidyanathan took Viswanathan's family to the quarters where he was staying for the occasion.

There he told Viswanathan, "I have only one son. He is twenty-six now. Name Srinivasan. We belong to Melattur on the Thanjavur side. I am now working in the Defence Accounts in Madras. My son is employed in America in the Ford Motors company with a good salary. He is coming tomorrow to Madras on leave. I have been searching for a suitable alliance for him for the last three years, but nothing settled. We are all devotees of Kanchi Kamoti maTham. Three months back we had darshan of PeriyavaaL and prayed to him with the grievance of our son's marriage being delayed. He said 'Pray to Tirumalai Srinivasa and perform a Tirukkalyana Utsavam, your son will get married immediately.' Only today came the prApta. If that Periyavaa's anugrahah is there, even you daughter can become our daughter-in-law!"

They exchanged the horoscopes and showed them to a famous josyar in Tirumalai.

What a surprise! The astrologer who examined the horoscopes said that they matched on all the ten aspects perfectly! Both the family were very happy. They returned to Chennai the same night. Srinivasan arrived from America the next day. He found Aparna suitable for him. Aparna also found him suitable for her.

Within fifteen days, Viswanathan fixed an auspicious day and booked the Rajeswari Kalyana Mandapam in Chennai. After the arrangements, both the families went to have darshan of the Kanchi Mahaan. Since there was a heavy rush, only around nine in the night could Viswanathan's and Vaiyanathan's family approach the sage.

Periyavaa looked at them keenly, his two palms shading his eyebrows. Both the families prostrated to him. Vaidyanathan was standing behind Viswanathan. As before, Viswanathan submitted the generous offerings of suger lump, dry grapes, cashews and so on and stood before the sage, his hands folded across his chest.

A divine happiness was seen on Periyavaa's face. After looking at Viswanathan for sometime, he said in a loud voice, "EndAppa Viswanathaa! Immediately after performing the Tirukkalyanam to Srinivasa for the ninth time for this Sanyasi, has not the phala prApti been gained? Besh, besh, your daughter Aparna is indeed lucky!" and uttered a rolling laughter.

Both the families were stunned. No one could raise a tongue.

Swamiji continued: "Viswanathaa! You grieved and wept very much the other day. It occurred to my mind that your daughter was having the janmAntriya vivAha prati bandhaka dosha. Only for the nivritti of the dosha I asked for Akhilandeswari's tATangakah darshan and the performance of Srinivasa Tirukkalyanam for the ninth time! You understand now?" Following Swamiji's laughter complete silence prevailed there.

Swamiji continued: "Who is going to be your sambandhi? What is his native place?"

Vaidyanathan, who was standing behind Viswanathan, came to the front and prostrated to AcharyaL. He said, "It is me, Periyavaa, who is going to be his sambhandi! It's all your anugrahah."

Periyavaa placed his finger on his nose. "Who is this? Oh Melattur Vaidyanathan! EndA Vaidyanathaa, three months back you came and told me that no girl's horoscope was found to be matching for your son working in America. I remember having asked you to perform Tirukkalyana Utsavam for Tirumalai Srinivasan and pray to Him. Alright, when did you perform the Tirukkalyana Utsavan?"

Vaidnathan said, "Both of us performed the Tirukkalyanam on the same day Periyavaa! We finalised the alliance in Tirumalai itself. All your blessings!" His voice turned husky as he spoke.

"Rest in prosperity!" AcharyaL blessed them with a filled heart. It was ten in the night. Swamiji said laughingly, "It is beyond time, Viswanatha! They said that it is the same rice uppuma and pumpkin sambAr in the maTham today. Do have your tiffin here without fail!" He bid them farewell with the compassion of a mother.

Who Left the Bilva Leaves Here?
(An incident that made Maha SwamigaL melt)
Author: Sri Ramani Anna (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Feb 17, 2007
Publisher: Viketan Publications

Once Kanchi Maha SwamigaL undertook his divya darshana yAtrA with his entourage to Sri Saila kSetra which is known as the 'Dakshina Kailash'.

When they reached Kurnool, AcharyaaL was given a grand reception at the borders of the city. SwamigaL was accommodated in a bhajan maNDapa where he gave a discourse on Sanatana Dharma in Telugu to the large gathering of devotees. At the end of the lecture, he gave the devotees his blessings and prasAda and continued on his yAtrA.

As they were at a small distance away from Kurnool, it started drizzling and increased to heavy rains in no time. The devotees of SriMaTham and the palanquin bearers (called bhogis) prayed to SwamigaL to sit inside his mena and not get wet. AcharyaaL did not accede. He said, "When all of you are walking drenched, only I should come in the palanquin? No, I too shall walk the same way like you!" and started walking fast. A Shiva temple became visible at a calling distance. SwamigaL visited the temple with his entourage, where he was given a warm welcome with the honour of pUrna kumbham. After everyone towelled and changed into new clothes, they had dharshan of the Lord of the temple. When the darshan was over, the rain had also stopped, and they resumed their journey.

After they passed a distance of seven or eight miles, a fertile Zamin village was sighted. All the people in the village with their family and children came to the boundary of the village and welcomed Maha SwamigaL with pUrna kumbham. Thereafter, the Zamindar of the village prayed to SwamigaL with humility: "Our village should become holy, sanctified by the holy feet of SwamigaL. You should stay here for a few days. There is a large choultry here with facilities for your stay and puja punaskArya. A clean puSkaraNi is also nearby."

The entire village prostrated to SwamigaL and prayed. AcharyaaL was moved by their AtmArta bhakti. He gave them his anugraha and announced to their immense happiness that he would stay with them for twenty-one days.

The village wore a festive look on the next morning. Arrangements for the ChandraMauleesvara puja were done, AcharyaaL having left for his bath in the nearby pond. The aged SriMaTham kAryastA asked the youth who were doing the arrangements with anxiety: "ENdAppa! You people have arranged for a large samRuti of flowers, but then there are no bilva patra (bhilva leaves) among them! How can Periyavaa do the sahasra nAmArcanA without them?"

The youths stood, wringing their hands. The kAryastA did not leave them at that. "ENdAppa, if you stand mute like this, will the bilva leaves arrive of their own accord? Go and tell the village people about the requirement of three-leaved bilva clusters for Periyavaa's ChandraMauleesvara puja and ask them to bring large numbers of them in bamboo baskets. Get someone who understands Telegu and talk to them. If that does not convey it properly... show them the nirmAlya leaves we have--the remains of the earlier pujas done by Periyavaa, and ask them to bring the leaf clusters!"

The youth came out with a person who spoke Telegu, bringing with them the nirmAlya bilva leaves. They showed them to the people in the village and requested them to bring the leaves within the next half hour. The people told them that they had never seen a tree that has clusters of three leaves on a single stalk. The village vedic pundits also confirmed that there were no bilva trees in their village.

SwamigaL arrived, finishing his bath. The puja articles were ready in the centre of the hall. The first question Maha Periyavaa asked on having a glance at them was, "ENdAppa! Have you arranged for the bilvam for arcana?"

The MaTham kAryastA hesitated. AcharyaaL asked, "Why, what's the matter? Aren't bilva patrAs available in this place?" The kAryastA said in a soft voice, "Yes, Periyavaa! The village people and the vedic pundits here say that there are no bilva trees in this place."

SwamigaL smiled to himself. It was 10:30 hours in the morning. SwamigaL walked hurriedly towards the backyard of the choultry. He entered the cattle shed of the cows. He climbed and sat on a rock of black stone found there, and lapsed into meditation. The SriMaTham notables were worried that the bhikSA vandanam for ChandraMauleesvara and Periyavaa might stop for want of bilva leaves. Tears started welling up in the eyes of the kAryastA. The news reached the Zamindar who sent people to search for the bilva trees in their place, but was disappointed. The time was 11:30 hours. People had gathered around the cattle shed, waiting silently with anxiety. The sight of Maha SwamigaL in meditation on the rock reminded them of sAkSAt Sri Parameshwara sitting in the Kailash mountain. Suddenly they saw a SriMatham devotee coming from the entrance, carrying on his head a large basket. His face was full of happiness. He heaved the basket down in the hall--and what wonder, the basket was full of bilva leaves! Everyone was happy at the sight and SwamigaL whose meditation was disturbed descended from the rock.

His first question to the kAryastA was: "The bilvam for the ChandraMauleesvara puja has arrived now (right)? besh, let us get inside."

SwamigaL took a few laves in his hand from the basket. They sparkled with the lushness of green. AcharyaaL asked his kAryastA, "Who plucked these leaves with such care that not a single cluster of them is defective? People said that there were no bilva trees in this region. Did you ask where these leaves were plucked?"

The kAryastA looked at the man who brought the bilva basket. That youth said, "Periyavaa, I casually went to the entrance and noticed that this basket was kept on the eastern side under the pandakkAl. When I rushed and checked, it was full of bilva leaves, Periyavaa."

"That is alright, but did you ask who brought it and placed there?"

"I asked Periyavaa, but nobody among those assembled there had any idea."

"Then who could have placed it there?" asked AcharyaaL laughingly. No one had anything to reply. As he moved towards the puja spot, AcharyaaL smilingly turned and said, "Perhaps our ChandraMauleesvara Himself has brought the leaves?"

SwamigaL started the puja. His arcana to Sri ChandraMauleesvara with the lush green bilva leaves made everyone rapturous. The prasAda was distributed after the puja. In the evening, AcharyaaL held an upanyAsa on Srimad RamayaNam in Telugu. The entire village litened to it with happiness. On the morning of the next day, a bhajan troupe of that village sang and danced with ecstasy at the entrance of the choultry. The entire village wore the look of an occasion of wedding. AcharyaaL went to the pond with some of the people of the MaTham.

The kAryastA who was busy with some work at the backyard asked the youth who brought the bilva leaves the previous day, "ENdAppa, lots of bilva are required for today also. You seem to be a lucky man. Check if anyone has left a basket under the pandal staff today also."

The youth ran to the entrance. What a wonder! Like the previous day, there was a basketful of bilva leaves kept in the usual spot! The youth carried the basket happily and reported to the SriKAryam (manager), "I found this basket at the same spot today also; don't know who kept it there and when was it placed."

SriKAryam was surprised and confused as to who was bringing the bilva leaves with such secrecy. AcharyaaL returned. When he noticed the bilva leaves kept ready for puja in the hall, he turned his face meaningfully at SriKAryam. The man prostrated to AcharyaaL and said, "Yes, Periyavaa. Another bilva basket at the same place today also. Nobody knows who kept it there."

SwamigaL completed the ChandraMauleesvara puja. When he finished his bhikSA and was sitting in solitude, he called SriKAryam and told him, "You should get up early tomorrow morning and do one thing. Take someone with you, and check without anyone seeing you. Find out who is leaving the bilva basket. And bring that person to me. You need not ask that person anything. You understand?" AcharyaaL smiled. SriKAryam gave an affirmative nod, prostrated to the sage and moved away.

On that evening also, SwamigaL's Srimad RamayaNa upanyAsa was held. As before, the entire village listened to it happily. It was early morning the next day. The bhajan troupes of the village had gathered and were singing merrily at the entrance to the choltry. SriKaryam and his two assistants stood hiding behind the large banyan tree at the entrance and were keenly looking at the pandal. At 8:30 hours, a boy emerged from the mango groves on the eastern side. He had a large, dry basket on his head. He sported a tuft of hair and wore a dirty dhoti tucked under this thighs as mUla kaccha. He looked here and there, went near the pandal staff, heaved his basked down and started turning back. SriKAryam ran and stood before him. The boy's hands and legs started shivering as he looked at the man before him. He immediately prostrated to the man who asked him, "Is it you who kept this bilva basket here for the last two days?"

The boy nodded yes to this question.

SriKAryam told the boy, "Alright. Go and have a bath, tie your tuft properly, wear what you usually wear on your forehead and come here in the afternoon. I shall take to the Periya Sami. You can get his blessing. You come looking bright, without this dirty dhoty, understand?" The boy nodded yes and ran away.

SriKAryam narrated the event to SwamigaL, who said, "Besh, besh! For the last two three days, he has been doing a large service. Shall bless him and give prasAdam", and left for his bath.

It was 3:00 hours in the afternoon. As ordered, the boy came. SriKAryam pointed him who was standing hesitatingly in the corner of the courtyard wall, to SwamigaL and said something. SwamigaL called the boy near him. The boy came near him, prostrated and stood with folded hands. AchayaaL had a laugh, looking at the boy's appearance, who looked bright with vibUti streaks on his forehead and all over the body, wearing a white dhoti as mUla kaacha, and a tuft of neatly tied hair. SwamigaL asked him to sit down in the courtyard, but he did not sit.

"What name?" SwamigaL asked him in Telugu.

"Purandara Kesavalu", he replied clearly in Tamil. AcharyarvaaL was surprised as he said, "Besh, you talk Tamil well! What was the name you said?"

"Purandara Kesavalu(nga)." The boy spoke his name slowly and clearly.

AcharyaaL raised his brows as he asked him, "You talk in Tamil!"

"My story, you should listen to it, Saami..." His eyes were stringed with tears.

"Besha. Tell me, tell me..." SwamigaL urged him. Purandara Kesavalu started talking.

"My native place is Usilampatti(nga), near Madura(i). Within two years of my birth, my mother passed away in an illness. From that time, only my father raised me. When I was six years old, he came to this region with me to earn a living. He got the job of tending the cattle in the Zamin of this village. I did not read or go to school. But I have learned a lot from my father. My father was very fond of music. He would sing the songs of Purandaradasaru and Tiruvaiyaru Thiyagarasa Saami very well. He has also taught me to sing and I too can sing those songs. Because of his liking for music he named me Purandara Kesavalu. He is no more now. Two years since he reached his mOccham (liberation). I am tending the Zamin cattle now. They feed me in the Zamin and pay me. I am now twelve years old, Saami."

SwamigaL was moved at his words and asked him with surprise. "Alright. Since there is no bilva tree in the surroundings here, where did you get this much of bilva?"

Purandara Kesavalu replied humbly. "There is a large growth of grass and shrubs on the foothills at three miles from here, Saami. From the days of my father, we used to go there and let the cattle browse. There are three large bilva trees there! My father would bring me the leaves of those trees and tell me, 'Elay Purandara, this leaf is called bilvam. It is ambuttu (such a) visheSham-daa (speciality), to perform puja to Sivaperuman with this leaf! Have a look.' That was in my mind Saami. When I saw the people of this MaTham show a sample of this leaf on the day before yesterday and ask for a lots of them, I understood immediately, ran to the place and brought them in a basket. Since I feared that if you came to know that the leaves were brought by a cowherd boy, you might not accept them for puja, I kept the basket here without anyone knowing it. This is the satyam Saami!"

Moved further at the words, AcharyaaL kept silent for sometime. Then he said with affection, "Purandara Kesavalu, what do you want? Tell me what is your wish. I shall ask it to be fulfilled from the MaTham."

At the sage's words, Purandara Kesavalu exclaimed, "Siva, Siva!", patted is cheeks and said, "Saami, my father used to tell me, 'Purandara, we should not desire for anything in this world. But we should wish for only one thing.' I have two wishes now. If you permit me, I shall speak one of my wishes now. The other one I shall ask you on the day you leave this place, Saami." The boy's eyes were filled as he prostrated and rose.

SwamigaL went melting. He urged the boy, "Come on, tell me, what is your wish." The boy said hesitatingly, "It is nothing else, Saami. My father has taught me a number of songs of Purandaradasa Saami and Thiyagarasa Saami. I should sing them before you Saami, till you stay here! You should listen to them and grace me!" AcharyaaL was immensely happy at the boy's wish.

"Purandara Kesavalu, definitely, you sing here. I shall listen to your songs. I shall ask everyone to listen to them. You come everyday in the afternoon at three o' clock. Sit down and sing before me. Let ChandraMauleesvara Swami's grace be with you." SwamigaL blessed him. "You will rest in properity."

Purandara Kesavalu went happy. AcharyaaL persisted. "This is alright Purandara Kesavalu. Say what is your other wish, let's hear it."

"When you leave this place, I shall pray to you with that wish, Saami", he replied with respect. SwamigaL asked SriKAryam to give him prasAdam and a lovely tulasi garland. Purandara Kesavalu was very happy to wear it. He prostrated to the sage and took leave. From the afternoon of the next day he started to come and sit down on the courtyard floor and sing the kIrtanas of Sri Purandaradasa and Sri Thiyagaraja known to him. SwamigaL listened to his singing, sitting in the hall. His voice was sweet. SwamigaL corrected the pronunciation mistakes the boy made in singing.

It was the twenty-first day of their stay. After completing Sri ChandraMauleesvara puja and taking his bhikSA, SwamigaL started from that village. Coming out of the choultry, he gave a lecture of blessing to the people who had gathered to bid him farewell. Everyone was in tears listening to his parting words. Then he moved away with his entourage, but AcharyaaL suddenly remembered something and looked back at the choultry. Purandara Kesavalu was standing sobbing under the pandal there, his hands around a staff.

SwamigaL asked the boy to be brought to him. He came running, prostrated on the ground and got up. The parabrahmam looked at him with affection, smiled and said, "Purandara Kesavalu! For the bhakti, shraddhA, jnAna you have, you should rest in prosperity. You spoke about your other wish on that day! What is that, my boy?"

Purandara Kesavalu said: "When I was tending the cows with my father, he used to tell me, Saami: 'What we should pray to God, you know? We should pray, 'God, I don't want maRu poravi (another birth); I should go to moccham (liberation); you shoud give me your grace (for that).' For that we should live with satyA and dharma. If you meet any mahaan in any of the times, you pray to them to get you moccham.' You should get me that moccham, Saami."

That parabrahmam was surprised to listen to such words from the mouth of a twelve year old boy. Then he said with a laugh as he blessed him, "Don't worry. At the apt time, Bhagavan will you give you the blessing of the attainment of that mokSa." AcharyaaL called the Zamindar of the village and told him, "Inform SriMaTham immediately about anything that concerns this Purandara Kesavalu", and left the village. Everyone came up to the boundary of the village to bid farewell to SwamigaL.

It was a day several years later, and the time was around two in the afternoon. AcharyaaL, who was conversing with devotees in Sri Kanchi MaTham, suddenly rose and came out of the MaTham and started walking briskly. People followed him. He halted at the Kamakshi Amman PurshkaraNi and took bath. Then he started chanting something with closed eyes, standing in the waters of the pond. An hour later, he did another bath and japam. In this way, he repeated the sequence for seven or eight times, until it was six in the evening. Before he climbed the steps of the bathing ghat and sat on a step, a person from the MaTham came running and stood before him. AcharyaaL looked at him inquisitively. He said, "A telegram from Kurnool. Says that Purandara Kesavalu is seriously ill. Don't know who is this person, Periyavaa."

SwamigaL told the people around him, "That Purandara Kesavalu is no more now! He had his kAlagati just a little while before. When I stayed in their village he asked me on the last day to get him mokSa. I told him that he would get it by the grace of ChandraMauleesvara Swami. Suddenly he took ill with some terminal fever and was suffering (now), anxious about his mokSa. In the order of things, he should take another six births to attain mokSa. I did the japam and prayed for him that somehow he (will skip the remaining births and) attain mokSa. Purandara Kesavalu is a good Atma!" With these words, AcharyaaL started walking briskly back towards SriMaTham.

The people of the MaTham stood transfixed with amazement on the steps of the pond!

ENdAppa - (Tamil) an address meaning 'why, my boy!'
kaccha - the hem or end of a lower garment (tucked into the girdle or waistband)
kAryastA - in charge
maNDapa - open hall, pavilion, temple
nirmAlya - cast out or left from a garland, used
pandakkAl - (Tamil) a bamboo staff planted to mark the commencement of a ceremony
puSkaraNi - (Tamil) a sacred pond of a temple, a pond with lotus flowers
samRti - coming together, meeting, contact, conflict, war
shraddhA - hope, trust, eagerness in religious rites, strong wish

Dear Sir, This is one thread I eagerly look forward to. The incidents involving Paramacharyal gives me goosebumps. Please continue with your posts.

PeriyavaaL and We
Author: Kamala Gurusankar (in Tamil)
Compiler: T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
Source: Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol. 1, pages 217-235
Publisher: Vanathi Padhippaham
The author uses the second person singuar 'nee' in Tamil to refer to Paramacharya. She also switches back and forth in the three tenses in this wonderful narration of her experiences. I have tried to maintain the poetic flow of her thoughts and emotions as much as I can.--saidevo)

jaya jaya shankara -- hara hara shankara
jaya jaya shankara -- hara hara shankara
kanchi shankara -- kamakshi shankara
kaladi shankara -- kamakoti shankara

These chantings are heard from some distance. Just the noise with no clear words or meanings initially. Going near, they become clear, and the tiny hairs of the body stand erect. There comes a large crowd, progressing slowly, like an army of ants. No pomp, no decorations, no shouts. People of different castes, speaking different languages, village folks, urbanites, men, women, children--everyone singing a bhajan in their familiar language; different namAvalis back and forth in the same procession.

A good sunshine of a four-o'-clock sun. Does the sun play a hide and seek game? A little cloudiness, seen here and there. A small cycle rickshaw in the middle of the crowd. As if it's from a circus. Torn jute blankets on and above it; a mat, an umbrella made of screw pine flowers; plus some sundry items.

With someone dragging the vehicle, behind it, holding the vehicle--You! (Nee!--the author uses a singular form of address throughout). As we see you nearby, we fall down and prostrate on the road itself, our hands and body shaking. You do not stop or wait, but bless with your eyes, as you continue to walk. Are they your eyes? No no, they are oceans of mercy!

I was thinking for countless years to see you, to have your darshan. That yearning in the heart, whenever I hear about you, or read about you. It occurred to look for what is written about you, whichever magazine is taken. An apprehension that perhaps it may not be possible to see you. In those times, you were near Kanchi. Countless number of times we have come to Madras. I have requested to come over to Kanchi and see you at least once. I have begged. We are all ordinary people. Trifles. Thinking that only food, sleep, unnecessary pomp and gossip are the primary things. We will go wherever we like to go, spend whatever we like to spend. But then it is not possible to come over and see you.

Every day, when I light the Swami lamp and look at your portrait, I would feel the twirl of distress in the mind that it would not be possible to see you with human efforts, unless you called. I never spoke my wish in words. Did you hear it, anyhow? If the child gets hungry, it need not cry to show its hunger The mother would understand it herself. Like that, my pain has been understood by you.

Is it because of my yearning that I couldn't see you that you are coming all the way to see me? What do you have, a car or a railway coach? You come walking on this tar road, your feet aching. Worn on those feet, torn rubber slippers, repaired with manji naar.

Was it a mile, or two? How long you have walked! Appa! You are coming walking all the way, over thousands of miles. This place we live in, this Hubli city, whatever puNyam it had accumulated, to have your footprints. We never thought even in dream that you would come. But then you are coming, it's a reality. Torn saffron vastram. Some covering over it, made of the fibres of a tree-bark. Rudrakshas on your neck and head.

A minute's doubt when we look at you. Is it a human figure? No, no. It is only that Lord Parameswara who is walking on, wearing a tiger-skin! A moment's satisfaction of having had darshan of bhagavan. bhagavan is appearing to us in your figure!

That day you took bath several times for your Ashrama dharma. With the result, you had intense cold and fever, people who were with you tell us. If it is just a human body primarily meant to take food, it would necessitate in seeking treatments, care and comforts, lying down.

But then in your 86th year of age, without proper food or any sort of comforts, you are walking on with fever. That is the strength of your tapas. Solid power. You appear as a mixture of man and God. Human body, divine energy. Goddess Shakti is residing in you. That is why you appear as God, as Shiva. People say that on that day you had already walked for eighteen kilometers, so you should not strain further. It is only we who strain you. We invite you to come here and there and everywhere.

As the sun had started going down, you are received in a roadside village, to a garden, near a cattle shed, in a small hut, its roof woven with straw. Like a small child, sometimes you too listen to everybody and give your consent.

Did not you feel tired, walking so much distance? Did not you have thirst and hunger? At this hour, when the light is fading, you are sitting in a small hut, not knowing any fatigue, giving darshan to thousands of people; isn't it a great thing? Only when a king is sitting in his palace, he has thousands of worries. Here, before a pauper, is sitting on the sand and dust, the Maharaja of Sandur, with his family--and so much joy in his mind!

On the next day, since you wanted to go on pattina prevesam, we prostrate and take leave of you and unwillingly leave you at the village border and get back. My husband is given the responsibility to repair the crystal garland of yours that got severed. What puNyam did we do, to have in our hands the garland that adorned your body? We repeatedly touch and see it with excitement.

You won't eat anything. You have no hunger or thirst. No fatigue. But then aren't your assistants just ordinary people? They have their hunger and thirst. On that night they say that they do not have the strength even to prepare their food. But you wouldn't let them go to sleep with hunger and thirst. You would demand to be shown at least some uppuma (kitchadi) or rava porridge. I say that I will send them some food. And they say that they would prepare a little of uppuma and show it to you. What to do? To satisfy you, they need to sometimes deceive you.

It was a Saturday. The entire city is abuzz, since you are arriving there on the next day. We know that you wouldn't enter houses. Still, festoons in every house; Kolam designs on the floor, made with flour. We have decorated everything with flowers. The look and feel of a wedding ceremony everywhere. Everyone is excited. Happy. Immense joy in everybody's heart. Our home is full of holy articles and grocery.

Why so much joy and happiness on your arrival? Are you a king, or a big politician? A millionaire? Or a cinema or drama actor? You are just a pauper with nothing on hand. A sanyAsin. A sanyAsin of sanyAsins. At least a sanyAsin will have a maTham. You don't have even that. Such a bhAgyaM for us?

We were considering where to house you when you consented to visit us. The worry was that we did not have a river bed, a pond or a well that is required for you. By chance, we had dug a well in our garden, and it was full of water. The remaining work on the well was completed in haste and a holy worship was performed to it. A small hut was built, touching the fence of our house and a shed was erected near it. Vacating the outhouses of our home, it was arranged to house your people and facilitate their cooking.

Henceforth, no mention as 'you'; only 'Periyavaa'!

On the next day, a Sunday, on 13-5-79, it is the 86th jayanti of PeriyavaaL. We have the fortune to celebrate it in Hubli. Under his (Gurusankar, my husband) leadership a committee comprising the people of Dharwar assembled. The VIPs held counsel among them and collected money from the people. Everyone was given a specific job in the arrangements to receive PeriyavaaL and celebrate his jayanti. The arrangements were made under the supervision of Sri Balachandra Sastri, a vedic pundit in Dharwar. Whenever we think about the name mentioned above, we remember what PeriyavaaL said: "You shoud pronounce the name as Phalachandra, not Balachandra. It means one with a forehead that resembled the moon."

On the Sunday morning, after having our bath, with pUrNa kumbhA and holy music we all go at the time of dawn, to the place where PeriyavaaL was staying, to receive him and get his blessings. PeriyavaaL is brought into the city in a procession along the Gadag Road, with bhajans, namAvalis and nAdaswara music. Some of us leave the procession, come back home and wait at the gate to receive PeriyavaaL with Arati. The cottage meant for PeriyavaaL has been erected in the golf course near our compound wall. Green grounds as far as eye can see. A railway line on the opposite side of the cottage. Beyond that the Udipi Krishnan temple and the Raghavendra Brindavan. Since it was a large ground we thought we could manage the crowd, but we faced much difficulties as the crowd that assembled was far larger.

At some distance from our home, say about three kilometers away, the jayanti arrangements have been made in a Hanuman temple. AyuSya Homa, Navagraha Homa and many others, done by 121 brahmins with the chanting of mantras was a sight that eyes could not accommodate. As requested by the city notables, my husband and I acted as kArya kartAs, maintaining ceremonial purity (madi) and observing the dharmic and vaidik regulations, and went to the Hanuman temple to honour PerivaaL. We haven't seen such arrangements and divine presence so far. Shastrokta puja and vaidik acts are begun. Vaidikas from different parts of the South have assembled.

The homas begun in the morning go up to nearly three in the afternoon. PeriyavaaL is brought in a procession to the Hanuman temple. A heavy rush of people. PeriyavaaL is sitting on a small stage opposite the homa guNDam. The buzz of people everywhere. In the vasodara homam performed, my husband and I pour ghee during pUrNAhutI. PeriyavaaL sitting opposite us. After the homa is completed, we take the prasAda and tIrtha, go to PeriyavaaL, and prostrate, with the rush of people surging behind us. PeriyavaaL accepts the prasAda. Somebody gives a bilva garland to my husband asking him to offer it to PeriyavaaL, who accepts the garland taking it from my husband's hands and wearing it himself. This same garland is given back to us as prasAda. I could not control the tears of joy and my body is shaking. Such a bhAgyaM for us! Whose puNya is this? Ordinarily, one gets countless fortunes in life. But then the bhAgyaM of honourng a mahAn to whose feet the world prostrates--how can I term it? Only the fruits of earlier births. It only occurs to us to pray 'Hey bhagavan! Make us the best people in this life and give us this same fortune, birth after birth!'

As soon as we got PeriyavaaL's prasAda, the women there touched our feet and said one after another we were so much fortunate. I went very emotional and cried. And then, saris and blouses were distributed to 27 sumangalis, and skirts to spinster girls who sat for the kanyA girls' puja. It was nearly five o' clock when everything was over and we took our food. By then PeriyavaaL had started from there, and walking a dirty way we thought he should not happen to walk through, reached his cottage.

*** *** ***
When we see the news that PeriyavaaL is staying in a place called Hagari near Bellary, we couldn't contain our joy. This is an episode of 14 or 15 months back before he arrived at Hubli. At that time my mother-in-law, father-in-law and sisters-in-law have all come over to our home at Hubli.

We all start and go to the river banks of Hagari where we are presently sitting. PeriyavaaL is in his japa inside the cottage. Suddenly a flame of light at the entrance to the cottage. As if there is no difference between the tender morning sunlight and his saffron clothes, everything looking the same color, as a flame of light, he gives us a sudden darshan. Then was our first darshan of PeriyavaaL. We look at him, filling our eyes with the sight, as if it was a vindication of this birth of ours. But then they say that PeriyavaaL observes kASTa maunam on that day. We also remain there till evening and then get back. Like cats that have tasted milk, we go back to him for darshan, again and again.

It was evening when we went to Hagari the next time. PeriyavaaL is sitting in a new Shiva temple whose construction is in progress. It is more or less dark. A standing brass lamp and a hurricane lamp are burning steadily. We prostrate to him with our children. When my husband told him his name (Gurusankar) he asked, "Who gave you this name? And what for did they give you this name?" My husband said that it was his grandfather who gave the name and that he did not know the reason for this particular name. PeriyavaaL called an assistant and asked him to write down the name on the floor and show him. He then inquired about our native place and family and asked if the names Vedic School Krishnaiyer and Divan Seshaiyer had ever fell on our ears. We said no. (Later, when we made inquiries, it was known that they were our ancestors). He asked if we had come by the Railway First Class or Saloon. And he told my husband, "Till this date, electrical engineers have not been posted in this railway post? How did you get it? Mostly, only those from the operating department are posted as D.S."

PeriyavaaL inquired my husband about the extent of his jurisdiction. He asked, "Do you know that a road goes parallel to the railway line from Raichur to Poona?" This man (ivar) said that he did not know. He asked about Poly Vaidhyanath. We were then worrying that our son Sankar was not able to secure a seat of admission in any of the colleges. I thought within my mind that he should get an admission and come up well in life. I did not even tell this to PeriyavaaL. But my son got a seat in a college due to PeriyavaaL's grace and also studied well. He had PeriyavaaL's anugraham in many respects.

I have narrated this episode to tell how PeriyavaaL asked us about our ancestors. Nearly a year after this happened, did he come to Hubli. He stayed at Hampi and Hospet for a long time.

Let us now continue PeriyavaaL's jayanti at Hubli. About ten o' clock in the night after the jayanti vaibhavam was over. We were all with PeriyavaaL. On that day, devotees continued to arrive from different parts of India. They came in special buses and cars. Since we had no accommodation even in that large house of ours, we made arrangements for them to sleep in the portico, car shed and other such places.

PeriyavaaL is sitting in the light of the standing brass lamp. The hut is otherwise dark. Even people who were standing were not properly visible. He called us inside suddenly and asked, "Here, the one who is standing, isn't she your relative?" We couldn't understand instantly who or what. The woman's voice from behind replied, "Yes, yes." When we came to know it, it was Parvathi, who was standing then, the daughter of Mysore Chottappa's elder brother. Only then was it known that she was a relative. Periyavaa asked again, "On that day I asked you about Krishnaiyer, Seshaiyer. You said you did not know them. So later on you asked someone to know about them. Whom did you ask? May be you asked some elder person in the home," and replied to his question himself. He also asked us about the children's education. Then he inquired about the arrangements made on that day for the jayanti including details such as how many persons dined. Then he started narrating himself that on that day someone brought Ganga jalam for his bath, that a mango fruit he had in his hand slipped and fell in the water pot and that later when he tasted the water it was very sweet.

Chuckling to himself like a child he said that he himself couldn't understand, 'Did Ganga become sweet because of the mango fruit? Or, because of Ganaga the mango fruit became sweet?' and laughed. He ate a little of that mango fruit and sent the remaining fruit to us. We also received the Ganga jalam. Both were very sweet. The reason why Ganga tasted as if suger was added to it was not clear.

At eleven o' clock in the night, some people came in a car from Kanchipuram, carrying the prasAdams of the puja done for PeriyavaaL. We made way for them and came out.

Those who arrived slipped a large garland around PeriyavaaL's neck as Kamakshi's prasAdam. And they tied Kamakhsi's rose-coloured silk vastram as a holy scarf around PeriyavaaL's head (parivattam). Periyavaa asked, pointing to his head, "Is there a golden lace in this?" They replied in the affirmative. He asked, "The lace is a dotted one?" They said yes. He touched the cloth and asked, "Is this silk or fibrous silk? It feels like silk to touch." "Yes, silk only." "O they have brought and tied silk to my head!"

In two coconut halves were Kamakshi's prasAdams: the arcanA kuN^kumam and homa bhasmam. He took both of them and applied them profusely to his forehead. It was a sight that our eyes couldn't accommodate. Then as he started talking to those who had come, about the MaTham and such things, we left the room and were standing outside. Soon he asked, "Where is she? Gurusankar's bhAryA? Call her." We were somewhat apprehensive as he called us all of a sudden. We both go inside and prostrate. He took both the coconut halves along with the prasAdams and dropped them in my hands. Nothing was immediately intelligible to me. The greatness of the act was understood only when we were told, "what amount of puNya should you have accumulated to receive Kamakshi prasAdam from Periyavaa's hands!"

In this manner, PeriyavaaL darshan for four days and nights. Days of happiness. Inexpressible joy. The most puNya-filled days of our life.

House full of people. What name? What place? What ancestry? What status? Nothing we knew. Everyone looks very close to us. Seems we can talk to everyone in an AtmArta way. All seem to be part of a large family. Everyone of the PeriyavaaL family, which was filled only with devotion and love. We met different kinds of people; and were delighted sharing the experiences of each other.

Fourth day. Suddenly he comes out of his cottage and checks the air in the rickshaw tyres by pressing them. Does he hint at his departure from here? The disciples confirm it. "Periayavaa knows that after many days we are comfortable in your house, so he would leave now" they say. We prostrate to him that night and tell him that it was our wish that Periyavaa should come to our garden and sit for sometime. He does not reply. A long silence. The people around us jeer at us. 'Must be fortunate to have Periyavaa come such a long distance. Still is he needed to come inside the garden?" they laugh.

We go to PeriyavaaL early the next morning. We are taken aback at the news he tells us. Periyavaa says that he went round our garden at two in the night and we did not see him as we were fast asleep! An inexpressible sadness and disappointment in our hearts. We stand in silence, with tears in our eyes. We do not know if our asking him to come inside was right or wrong.

PeriyavaaL is doing japam. Suddenly he got up and looked around, his japam disturbed. As he suddenly ascended the stairs to our garden and slowly went round our house, one of his wooden sandals broke. Just the knob was found between the digits of his toe. He did not stop because of that. Wearing a sandal on one foot and just a knob on the other he started walking. His assistants ran and brought another pair of sandals. What a compassion! Knowing that the moment we learned about his night trip to our garden we would feel immensely distressed, for our peace and joy, to make another trip to our house in our presence--what to tell of that mercy? What to compare it with? Only an ocean of mercy.

His sudden departure for another place gave us pains. Everyone started following PeriyavaaL from our house. Suddenly the house became empty. It was like a theatre after the play was over. It seemed that all relatives have left us in a single day. But then Periyavaa, who is everyone's relative, coming and staying with us, blessing us and giving measureless anugraham -- it is something to reminisce repeatedly with joy throughout this birth.

After we had darshan of PeriyavaaL, the anugraham and anubhavam we got can't be expressed in words. He has made us happy telling things like a grandfather, a close relative, a mother would tell us. To say that suger is sweet is not enough; only when we put it in our mouth could we know about its taste. In the same way, it might be difficult for others to understand the extent of our experiences with PeriyavaaL if we talk or write about them. The greatness and rarity of it could be known only when a person actually experiences it in an AtmArta manner.

Not open for further replies.

Latest ads