Blessed thy greatness in forgiving our faults.
Blessed thy knowledge, seeing the One in all
Blessed thy devotion to the formless Supreme
Blessed thy faith in God with forms attributes
Blessed thy care in worship single minded.
Blessed thy simplicity for the barest needs
Blessed thy insignia inseparable, the bamboo staff
Blessed thy kamandal, the possession whole and sole
Blessed thy robe saffron, single and simple.
Blessed this land where thou walks and live in
Blessed the holy rivers made holier by thy bath
Blessed thy message from the assembly of nations
Blessed thy preaching straight and simple for good of all
Blessed thy spiritual son, next in succession
Blessed his spiritual son, a rishi in the making
Blessed those of us who live in thy times
Blessed doubly those who are blessed by thee.
I am 74 years old and retired as Chief Postmaster, Bangalore GPO. When I was in K.R.Nagar, Mysore district in the sixties, I came in close contact with the late Sri.Sankaranandha Swamiji of Yoganandeswara Mattam. He was the head of the local Sankara Mattam, It was an independent Mattam.
After my transfer to Mysore, Swamiji called on me during May 1967 and asked whether I would accompany him to Srisailam. Earlier, I had gone with him on a pilgrimage of South India. He mentioned that he had an invitation from the Paramacharya of Kanchi to attend the inaugural function of Kanchi Sankara Mutt in Srisailam on 22.03.67. I consented and we both started. After an overnight halt at Bangalore we proceeded to Hindupur by train and from there, by a direct bus to Srisailam.
On the way to Hindupur I enquired from Swamiji whether he had any money with him. I added that I had started without any plans and that I apprehended some shortage of money for the return journey. He brushed it aside and told that if necessary he would get cash from Paramacharya. But I remonstrated that it would not be proper. He, however, said that as a sanyasin he could do so without any compunction. And we continued the journey, reaching Srisailam in the late evening.
After being accommodated there, Swamiji reported to the Paramacharya, and I accompanied him. On return he told that apart from Periyaval and Pudu Periyaval two more Swamijis had come in response to the invitation. To perform the “abhishekam” for the idols of Adi Sankara and his four disciples totaling five, there was a shortfall of one more Swamiji and as such his arrival was pleasantly welcomed as he filled the gap of the fifth sanyasin. He too felt a sense of satisfaction regarding this sacred assignment.
The morning functions, `bhiksha’ and `prasadam’ over, word came from the Paramacharya at 3 p.m. that he wanted to meet me. After their discussions I went inside by pre arrangement and had “ekantha darshan” of the great sage. I had earlier seen him on a few occasions but not at so close and in exclusion to others. He kindly enquired about my ancestral village in Pallakkad and on informing him he recalled precisely when he had visited the place. It happened before my birth. I had heard about his prodigious memory and now I had a direct experience of it. With his blessings I took his leave with a sense of serenity, joy and fulfillment.
After the puja in the night, when I followed K.R.Nagar Swamiji to our camp, an elderly person came from behind and enquired if I was the manager of the K.R.Nagar Mattam and the train or bus fare from there to Srisailam. He also told me that I had to sign a voucher and take the fare for both of us from the camp office of the Mattam. I politely declined stating that as a house holder I had to give and not take any cash from the Mattam He, the late Sri Kandaswamy Iyer, looked me straight in the eye and questioned whether I had the temerity to disobey the wishes of the Paramacharya who had desired to defray our fare. I now realised the mistake of my misplaced sentiment and apologised for the refusing, an unwittingly committed error. I could not help wiping tears of joy and this did not go unnoticed by him. In fact I was very much in need of cash to make up the deficiency but at the same time not prepared to ask any one for help. I obtained the cash from the office-counter.
When I thought of the mercy of the Paramacharya in saving me from an embarrassing situation, having come to know of our conversation in a distant train through his clairvoyance, I had no words to express my feelings. I knew that he was a walking God on earth, but now I witnessed it is no exaggeration and that he is very much so. Sri Shankarananda Saraswati Swamini was delighted that he was proved right.
The second incident is more recent. During the mid 1980s, I had been to Madras on a few occasions and every time, due to one reason or another could not go to Kanchi and have darshan of Paramacharya. It irked me that fate had conspired to deprive me of this favour. So when, I started from Hubli in May 1987 to attend a weeding in Madras, I hoped that this time there would not be any impediment. Late Sri V.S.Subramanya Iyer retired epigraphist had also come from Mysore. After the function, he had a programme to attend in Kanchi on 27.05.87 to pay respects to the Paramacharya who he had known for a pretty long time and at whose behest he had undertaken some work in Kanchi as an epigraphist. While travelling in the bus on that day he was narrating his personal experiences with the great sage. It was exhilarating. He also predicted to me to await such surprises when we reached there.
On entering the Mattam he was told by one of the staff, that the Paramacharya was enquiring about him. So when he went to see the pontiff, I followed him like a shadow so as not to miss the chance. Outside, there were many devotees waiting for his dharshan. We saluted him traditionally by prostrating at his feet. Paramacharya enquired about Subramania Iyer’s welfare. I was introduced by him. There was an animated discussion between them about copperplate inscriptions.
The Paramacharya wanted to draw his attention to a verse in Sanskrit on a nine learned men (nava ratnas ) who adorned the court of kind Vikramaditya. It was on the tip of his tongue but could not instantly recall it. So too, my guide and friend Subramanya Iyer and a few other persons standing there. At that moment I recited the verse and the great Acharya lovingly asked me how I knew it. I replied that in my student days I had come across it and though his grace I could recollect it. Then he said that he was deaf these days and wanted to express it again as it did not surface in his memory due to deafness with age. When others who were standing before him could not draw out the word `stone’ from him, I asked him whether he meant `stone deaf’ spelling it letter by letter as s-t-o-n-e, and he replied in the affirmative. He explained that a stone cannot hear. He said he too was like that now. Hearing this from his own mouth, I felt tearful. Flesh is different from spirit and it is subject to the six modifications i.e. birth, existence, growth, mutation, decay and death, and it made no difference between a sage and a sinner.
The idea of the Paramacharya in seeing Subramanya Iyer was to have a stone inscription available in the Mattam, read and explained by him. It had not caught anybody’s attention so far even though it was lying in one place for years. He was stumbled upon it. As it was a heavy stone slab difficult to lift, he walked to that place along with Subramanya Iyer, I followed them. There was, some difficulty to decipher the inscription and on my suggestion a chalk piece was brought with which I traced on the letters, making it readable. Paramacharya was bending over the slab and I was very close to him, tracing the characters. I was overwhelmed with joy for being alongside him doing some very humble service. In this process when he walked upon the earth, I could collect the dust trodden on by him. Thus I was rewarded much beyond my expectations on account of his fulfilling my sincere desire to meet him at least this time.
In the afternoon, we again met him in his room. Except for the two of us there was no one else present. I took this opportunity to get blessings for the marriage of my first son and told him that the alliance has been decided. He enquired about the dowry and asked if I was taking any. I replied in the negative. He did not leave it at that. He further asked whether instead of cash, I was taking things in kind like a vehicle or jewels. I replied, in all honesty, that I was not taking anything in kind either. He was visibly happy and blessed me.
For my daughter born under `Ashlesha’ or `Aayilyam’ star, I did not get any response for bridegrooms inspite of advertisements. Naturally, I was much worried that every marriage season eluding an alliance for her. With a heavy heart I went to seet the Paramacharya on 16.02.1990, without any specific idea, when I was camping in Madras. After praying at the Kamakshi temple I reached the Mattam in the evening and stood in the queue for darshan. One person was holding `thirumangalya charadu’ and it struck me that I should get a similar one and have it blessed by him. So I got two which I hold. When my turn came, I realized that I had no tray or container to keep on which to place it before him. I had only a book i.e. Lalita Sahasrananamam which I had taken for reading in the temple. I kept the `charadu’ on the book and Balu took it to have it consecrated. After enquiry, Paramacharya did so and gave it back. Then he opened the book which was in Malayalam and asked Balu what it was. He, in turn, asked me. I replied that it was the Lalita Sahasranamam a book I used to read. In conveying this to the Paramacharya, Balu informed the Paramacharya which I read and added, prompted, perhaps by Providence, that I desired to attain “siddhi” in Lalita Sahasranamam. The benign Acharya blessed, keeping the book in his palm and closing his eyes, and gave it back to me. This was an unexpected bonus, and a very rich bonus too. What divine design!
In order to keep me usefully engaged during retirement, I was taking notes on Vishnu Sahasranamam. Later I toyed with the idea of writing something on Vishnu Sahasranamam not on the meaning of each nama, but some comparisons of the namas in the Vishnu Sahasranamam itself. After getting my Lalita Sahasranamam book consecrated by Paramacharya, the idea slowly crept into my mind to make a comparative study both Vishnu Sahasranamam and Lalita Sahasranamam and I found myself seriously engaged in this task. The vibrations left by Paramacharya in my Lalita Sahasranamam book stirred my thoughts, and ideas began to blossom and flash at times, with his blessings. There were times, when I was woken up from the sleep by the flash of an idea that I used to keep a pen and paper by my bedside to immediately jot it down, lest I forget it in the morning. Subsequently, adding Siva Sahasranamam, also, I could complete the task. The book is titled `A comparative study of Vishnu Sahasranamam/ Lalita Sahasranamam/ Siva Sahasranamam’. A layman like could not have undertaken this task without the specific blessings of Paramacharya.
It was my desire to keep the typescript of the book at the holy feet of Paramacharya on the centenary Jayanthi day as my humble `kanikkai’ to the walking God on earth. But, alas, the work was unfinished, I heard the news of his `Mahasamadhi’ on 08.1.1994.
My sorrow and disappointment can well be imagined more than explained. Later I showed the typescript to Sri S.Radhakrishna Sastry of Srirangam a prominent disciple of Periyaval. Unable to publish the book due to the high cost involved, I ultimately deposited it in the Library of the deemed University of Kanchi for publication when its time and turn comes.
Incidentally, I may add that when I was standing in the queue on 16/02/1990, an elderly Muslim gentleman, a Government employee, was standing ahead of me seeking the blessings of Paramacharya to get himself reinstated in duty, revoking his suspension.
The great Acharya in his magnanimity, blessed him.
There is an elderly Malayali lady in Thrissur, Kerala, called Saraswathi Varier. In Kerala temples, the traditional garland makers of gods belong to the Varier community. They are pious by nature. In her younger days a particular `mami’ taught the Tamil alphabet. Subsequently she started reading periodicals like Kalki. And she progressed in learning Tamil which provided a leeway to know about the Paramacharya and his teachings. Though she could not meet him during her life time, she took him as her `maanasa gur’ and the all knowing Paramacharya blessed her in absentia. As a result she started translating `Daivathin Kural’ into Malayalam. These are published in the Malayalam spiritual magazine `Guruvayurappan’regularly for more than a decade. She derives her strength and knowledge from the tacit blessings of her `maanasa gur’ the Paramacharya. She evinces avid interest in anything connected with Periyaval, in whom she sees the Lord of Guruvayur and vice versa. To spread his message in Kerala, Paramacharya has selected this blessed lady. No one else, as I know, has undertaken this gargantuan task to translate his sayings into simple Malayalam. Now in her late seventies, she continues this sacred task in Kerala without care for either name or fame. In Tamil Nadu, she is not known at all. Such is her selfless service in the cause of Paramacharya.
She has explained the meaning of Lalita Sahasranamam and published it. About four years ago she placed one copy before the “Samadhi” of Paramacharya as her offering on her first visit to Kanchi. The Kanchi Mattam has, she told me, undertaken to print and publish its further editions. Mysterious and strange are the ways of great souls like the Paramacharya. Shunning the lime light and shying away from the glare of publicity, she, a very true devotee of Paramacharya, virtually lives in him and her `Ista daivam’ Guruvayurappan.
In conclusion I wish and pray that the benign benedictions of the Paramacharya lead us all from the unreal to the real, darkness to light and death to immortality.
Categories: Devotee Experiences