I am given to understand that Moments of a lifetime – Part II is now available. For folks who live in India, please send a text to Shivaraman +919600015230. There is no fixed price for the book – contributions are welcome. For folks in India, Shivaraman. For folks in USA, there is a plan to get books shipped. Once we have it here, we will figure out the distribution mechanism here locally.
During the period of the Periyava’s stay in Kanchi in 1953-57, His second visit to the city in 1957-59 and in subsequent years several foreigners scholars and savants, spiritual seekers and religious leaders, exponents of the arts and even diplomats-have had interviews with the Periyava, thereby gaining first-hand knowledge of the immortal tradition of India.
What Professor Milton Singer, of the University of Chicago, said after meeting the Acharya in 1955, express precisely the feeling of all those from abroad who have had the privilege of conversing with the Great One. This is what the Professor said: “Before I went to India I had heard and read much about the great ‘soul-force of its holy men and saints but I had assumed that this was something in the ancient past. And it was not until I had met Sankaracharya that I realized it is still a part of the living force of Hinduism to day”.
In his book, The Lotus and the Robot, the well-known writer Mr. Arthur Koestler records his impression of a meeting which he had with the Acharya in 1959, and speaks in glowing terms of the smile that transformed the Acharya’s face into that of a child; “I had never seen a comparable smile of expression; it had an extraordinary charm and sweetness”.
Miss Eughina Borghini, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, who was among those who attended the first Agama-Silpa-Sadas at Illaiyattangudi in, 1962, has this to say about our Acharya:
“I consider the day I first saw His Holiness as a day of great fortune in my life. I consider that in him Jesus has come again into this world. He is an image of love. From the moment I saw him, the light of his grace gave me maturity to understand clearly some of the aspects of spiritual life and religious teachings. His Holiness lives just like Jesus, homeless and devoted to a life of renunciation and with his contemplation, worship, penance, and teaching is working for the welfare of mankind. I shall bow at His feet and be always adoring him.”
Dr. Albert B. Franklin, formerly U.S. Consul-General in Madras, saw the Periyava for the first time in the Madurai Meenakshi temple during the Kumbhabbhishekam in 1963. In these striking words he records what he saw and the deep impression it made on his mind:
“A stir in the central portion of the temple-yard before the glided Vimanam under which the Goddess Meenakshi is henceforth to stay, attracted our attention. The V.I.P. in that area parted respectfully to let an old man with a beard and a long stick come through. He approached the ladder leading to the top of the Vimanam. It was the Sankaracharya. The old man approached with halting steps, his head turning from side to side as if he wanted not to miss any detail of his surroundings, Who was he? He has a name, he has a dwelling place, he has an age, but in fact, he is Every man and he is as old as man’s ponderings. He is the man of faith. He is the symbol of that renunciation which is at the heart of all religions and which Christ himself demanded when asked by the rich young man “What must I do be saved?” So, here, at this time, in the temple, he is more than the most highly placed of the V.I.P. guests. With a vigour surprising in so old a man, he seizes the railing of the ladder in a long fingered, bony hand and rapidly climbs seven or eight rungs to a point from which he can reach the top of the Vimanam with his stick. He remains a central figure throughout the ceremony”.
Presiding over a meeting held in Madras as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, on the 28th February, 1967, Dr. Albert B. Franklin, formerly U.S. Consul-General in Madras, paid the following tribute to Periyava:
“It gives me pleasure to be able to say, in these circumstances, that though some of my ancestors were in their day the subject of controversy because of their beliefs, just as Emerson was in his day, yet not one of them would question the appropriateness of my being here this evening. For them as for me, the Spirit whom we are celebrating, represents the highest aspirations of mankind.”
Sri T M P Mahadevan has said, “It is difficult to reduce to words what one feels about the unique greatness of our Acharya. His very presence in our midst is a blessing. The solace that countless devotees receive from his words is inexpressible. When one thinks of His Holiness, one is reminded of the definition of “The Guru” given by Adi Sankara in his Prachnottara ratna-malika:
“Who is the Guru? He who has realized the Truth, and who is always intent on the disciples’ good”.
Like Sri TMP Mahadevan has told, “May this spiritual rulership continue to shower its many blessing on the entire world!”