If you read this forgetting the fact that this was a speech from Dr PCA, one would think of someone highly exposed to vedas, hinduism. A great speech coming out from someone with a Christian background quoting vedas, Parahamsar shows his respect for Hinduism and veda – very impressive.
His observation about Mahaswami is to the dot – His thapas and the power of His thapas and the sannidhyam one could get in His presence.
Sharing this article is not to get a certificate for Periyava from Dr PCA. It is only to show his bakthi.
Extract from the Speech At Mumbai on May 6, 1993.
My wife and I had the privilege of calling on His holiness on several occasions during our stay in Tamil Nadu. My wife met him once on her own also. I recall the first meeting I had with His Holiness within a few weeks of my taking over as Governor of Tamil Nadu.
What amazed me was the utter simplicity of his presence. Here was a sage workshipped by millions of people as the embodiment of divine grace, a scholar respected all over the country for the depth of his erudition and wisdom a great saint whose very `darshan’ was considered adequate by thousands as a source of blessing and yet there he was sitting on the floor in the most austere surroundings, a few metres of saffron khadi cloth sparsely draped over his frail body.
I felt very humble in his presence and I could see in that self imposed austerity, the majesty of the spirituality of the man. I have experienced the glow of spirituality wafting across the atmosphere whenever I visited his abode in Kancheepuram. My wife and I consider it one of the great privilage of our lives that we could have the opportunity to receive his blessings personally.
In a way the Paramacharya’s simplicity and spirituality symbolise the strength of our civilization. You can see in him the manifestation of the essence of our civilization.
Everyone calls him `Paramacharya’ or the supreme teacher. What does it really mean to be a supreme teacher? To be a religious teacher, it is not enough if one has indepth knowledge of one’s religion. It is not enough if one has mastered and assimilated the wisdom of the religions as well. The Paramacharya has done all that but there is something more than religious learning which has made him the supreme teacher and that is that he combines religious knowledge with religious experience.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, once talking about religious teachers, said that a teacher who tries to teach religion from mere book knowledge is like a man who tries to describe Banaras from his knowledge of seeing the map of the city. Very often people give sermons based on their knowledge of books, but what they lack is knowledge based on religious experience or spirituality. “Civilization is an act of spirit” said Dr.Radhakrishan “not of body or mind”. Achievements of knowledge and power are not enough; acts of spirit and morality are essential. The Paramacharya’s strength was the strength of a life of spirituality.
EVER-GROWING SPIRITUAL FORCE
What is the strength of the Hindu religion? Whe we speak of the greatness of Hinduism, often we speak of its assimilative character, its tolerance of other religions and its catholicity or universality. These are all no doubt, important factors contributing to its greatness, but the real greatness of Hinduism is in the fact that it is an ever-growing, ever evolving spiritual force. There is no full stop in the history of Hinduism. There is also no beginning for its history. You cannot say that Hinduism started with the Vedas. The Vedas embodied the eternal truths which were there without a beginning. The Vedas are called anadi because they did not come from any particular person’s mind or start at a particular point of time.
The beauty of the Vedas or the Upanishads lies in the fact that they are a treasure house of truths which can guide man to the path of perfection and goodness. Those who preached the truth of the Vedas did not invent them, they only expounded them. Swami Ranganathananda, referring to Lord Krishna, says that even though he is the greatest preacher of the Vedas that existed, Krishna is not the authority of the Vedas but the Vedas are the authority of Krishna. What he means is that the Bhagvad Gita itself is an interpretation or exposition of the eternal truths embodied in the Vedas. They were relevant to the age in which Lord Krishna preached as they continue to have eternal relevance and validity.
Take the teachings of the great Sankara of whom the Jagadguru is the spiritual heir. Sankara is an amazing phenomenon of Indian history. A great sage, mystic, philosopher, poet and a great scholar whose wisdom and erudition remained unmatched in his time and remain unmatched even today. And to think that all these he achieved in his short life of 32 years beats our comprehension. But Sankara did not claim that he was teaching a new religion or philosophy. All that he did was to guide people to the right path of goodness and perfection through the wisdom of Vedas, the Upanishads and the Gita.
The lives of the great avataras like Lord Rama and Lord Krishna represented the truth of the Vedas in action. They demonstrated by their own lives how man can reach perfection and goodness; and in that manner they were proving the relevance and validity of the truths contained in the Vedas. Starting from the Vedas and the Upanishads or what we call the sruthis, Hindu religion continued to be renewed and enriched through the period of the Smritis, the Itihasas, the Purasanas, the Agamas, the Darshans and again through the lives of great seers like Adi Sankara and later in the modern period through Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda and other great men. That is the greatness of Hinduism. As Dr. Radhakrishnan said, hinduism is a living religion moving with the movement of life itself. Therefore, if anybody asks you what is the greatness of Hinduism, do no stop with saying that it is a tolerant religion, or that it had the truth of the Vedas for 5000 years or that it is catholic, but also say that it is a living spiritual force which moves with the movement of life itself.
It is not necessary that every great sage or prophet should be a prolific writer or a great orator. In the history of human civilization you can find some sages whose lives speak more than their words. They might not have produced massive literature, but would have left behind an equally precious legacy namely their spiritual lives. What Swami Ranganathananda said about Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa is very relevant in this context and I quote: “He lived a life of the spirit in all its intensity and extensity. He showed the authenticity of man’s spiritual life”.
Whenever I think of the sage of Kanchi these sentences come to me as most appropriate and relevant. I cannot describe the sage of Kanchi better than by underlining the words “the authenticity of man’s spiritual life”. There is no pretence about the man, he does not try to tell you something which you would like to hear, he does not say things to please you, he does not flatter you, sometimes he may not even talk to you, sometimes he may not even raise his hands to bless you. But he continues to live the life of the spirit in all `its intensity and extensity’ and demonstrates ` the authenticity of man’s spiritual life’.
Our generation, particularly those who have had the privilege of meeting him should really feel blessed that in our times such a man continues to live in our midst and to bless us. Let us pray and wish that he lives up to 125 years.
Categories: Devotee Experiences