Sri. R.Panchapakesan, Secretary and Managing Trustee of Padmabhusan Sri. N. Ramaswami Ayyar Complex, a devotee of Kanchi Paramacharyar gives a first hand account of his experience with His Holiness on several occasions. Sri. R.Panchapakesan is the son of a great educationist of South India, Padmabhusan Sri. N. Ramaswami Ayyar. Sri. R. Panchapakesan, like Arjuna saw only ‘the eye of the bird’. He had the goal of sustaining and improving what his father had left as a legacy. Like his father he transformed problems into opportunities and turbulence into success. The educational institutions namely Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College, Savitri Vidyasala, Kamakoti vidyalaya and Padmabhusan Ramaswami Ayyar Memorial Polytechnic College for Girls, speak for his devotion to the cause of education.
Sri. R. Panchapakesan’s Experiences as narrated by Usha Chandrasekaran
Jagadguru His Holiness Sri Sankaracharya, who is affectionately called by His devotees as “Maha Periava” or “PARAMACHARYAL” lived up to a ripe old age of 100 to Bless many families. Mine was one such a family. My encounters with the Paramacharyal were intermittent though memorable. Today I feel that I ought to have associated myself with the mutt and interacted with His Holiness on a more regular basis.
When I think of the Mahaperiaval, I remember his first visit to our Educational Institution, when my father was alive. HE gave a marble Vinayaka at that time to be installed in the college premises. Whenever I visited the mutt the Paramacharya used to ask about the Vinayaka idol. I derived immense satisfaction when I had Dharshan of His Holiness, whenever I visited the Kanchi Mutt. I have always felt the influence of the Guru in my life whenever I experienced some hardship in running the educational institutions.
Some of the experiences with the Kanchi Saint have been etched in my memory and I keep reliving these experiences. I look up to Goddess Akilandeswari as the presiding deity of my family. In Sri Akilandeswari temple at Thiruvanaikovil, near Tiruchirapalli, there is a big vinayaka statue right in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum installed by Adi Sankara. There was a move to renovate the Vinayaka Sannidhi by relaying the cement flooring decorating the floor with granite, around the deity. I took it upon myself this work. Granite stones were procured and labourers were sent to the temple to start work. Then came a turning point in the plan as the temple officials wouldn’t permit me to proceed with the work without the Sanction and Blessings of the Kanchi Saint. Immediately I sought the help of Pandit Sri. Radhakrishna Sastrigal, a great Sanskrit scholar, a devotee of the Paramacharyal and close associate and well wisher of our family to resolve the issue. We proceeded to the Mutt to get the Blessings of His Holiness for the job on hand.
When Sri Radhakrishna Satrigal apprised Mahaperiava of the situation, prompt came a ‘No’ from the Saint. After this negative reply he started discussing other spiritual topics with Sri Radhakrishna Sastrigal. My heart sank. I was looking at the holy feet of the Paramacharyal. I was asking myself “what sacrilege did I commit that the ‘seer’ is not ready to give me the happiness and privilege of renovating the temple flooring?” My eyes did not move away from his feet. Minutes were ticking away and I was completely shattered. The unexpected happened and suddenly I perceived the Paramacharyal turning towards me and asking “நீ போடறேன்னு ஒத்துண்டியா?” (did you accept to do this). I said “ஆமாம்” (yes). He said “சரி, அப்படீன்னா போய் போடு” (if so, go and do it). Sri Radhakrishna sastrigal told me later that the Paramacharyal never went back on any decision that he had made. I particularly relieve this experience as a reward for my faith in the grace of the Paramacharya.
Another equally impressionable experience was the occasion of the release of Lalitha Sahasranama Bhashyam written by Sri Radhakrishna sastrigal through the trust formed by me in the name of my father and mother. After printing the books I went to the mutt to receive the Blessings of the saint before distributing the books. I told Him that I wanted to distribute the books free of cost. The swamiji told me that it would be appropriate to collect a nominal amount of Rs.25 for each copy even as I was printing the books in lieu of a charity organization. When I came back to Trichy and worked out the printing cost each copy cost Rs.25/-.
My first son Sri Ramani wanted to pursue his higher studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the U.S. I was very much apprehensive about sending him there and I wanted to visit the mutt with my son to get the blessings of the Paramacharyal. I had told the Paramacharyal about my son’s visit to the States for higher studies. The Paramacharyal just listened to me. I thought it would be wonderful if He Blessed me with a fruit or a string of flowers. Then came an orange flying towards me from the Paramacharya’s hands. My joy was inexplicable. I felt a great relief before my son’s visit to the U.S.
A few months before Paramacharyal attained mukthi , I visited him. That visit was in response to an appeal made by Him for donation of gold for laying gold roof in Kamakshi Amman temple at Kancheepuram. I donated a few sovereigns and His Holiness put the coins on his head as a gesture of benediction. I had a feeling that I performed Kanakabhishekam to Him. I cherish Mahaperiyava’s Padhukas at home and whenever my eyes land on them I feel blessed.