Lord Krishna gave the entire Bagavath Geeta to Arjuna. Due to Arjuna’s situation on the battlefield, he probably did not understand all of what Krishna said. Later when the war was over, he asked Krishna, “I know in the battlefield you taught me bakthi, karma, vedanta etc…I can’t say I remember all now. Can you repeat?” Lord Krishna laughed and said, “The Arjuna I saw in the battlefield with the sharp focus is not here now. The Krishna who taught you that is also will not teach someone without that kind of focus. Don’t worry! Whatever I taught you is not gone anywhere. It is deep inside you and you it come back and you will practice and become a self-realized soul with that”.
Here Lord Mahaperiyava gave one of the highest level of upadesam to Sri Kanna Mama. I am sure these upadesams stayed with mama for all his life.
I did my best in translating the hardest part of the mahavakya meaning to English…Hope I didn’t distort the meaning….
Once Periyava said, “You remember everything because of your bakthi towards me…”
Sri Kannan Mama, “I don’t think so…I ask many people with a serious intent to learn but nothing stays in my mind. If Periyava says the same thing, it doesn’t leave my mind…”
So Sri Kannan Mama quotes so lucidly from various scriptures, thanks to his observing power with Periyava or as he said the blessings of Periyava!
But what is phenomenally strange or rather a subtle miracle is that Sri Mama could never read the letters (no sanskrit learning) but can recite the script like Brahma Suthram! Too difficult to comprehend, as no words can explain…
“This is similar to saying that I am blind but can see. Who would believe this…Now you can see this!”, says Sri Kannan Mama to the visitor who interviewed him.
It all goes back to 1948 when Sri Kannan Mama joined more as a teen-age brahmachari to the mutt…
Sri Mama recollect what happened in 1948 in Thiruvidaimarudhur. The very first class to Sri Mama by Periyava…At that time, Sri Mama has just joined the mutt & directly been to attend Periyava’s general work. During the same time, Vyasa Pooja was conducted. Many Vidwans & Veda-Vits were given ‘sambaavanai’.
Sri Mama, “Vyasa puja sambavana – maha vidwans get Rs 5/- and whoever has done veda adhyayanam gets Rs 2.50/- …”
Sri Melur Mama was asking whether Sri Kannan mama (at that time seems like a teen ager) got ‘Sambaavanai’. Sri Mama negated & also wondered how come.
Sri Melur Mama explained, “It is not for status….It is for having a record that you were in sri matam. Accept it for this…I put that money in the hundi….you do the same”
‘Recording our presence at the Mutt’ has kindled the interest more. So Sri Mama went to Palakkad Sri Lakshminarayana Sastrigal (‘Aasthaana Vidwan’). He is quite affectionate to Sri Kannan Mama but for this query, his response was bit humiliating.
He has wondered, “What did you study??”
“I learnt some little English…”, an innocent answer of what he had.
“Sambhavana is for whoever has done veda adyayanam..What can I give you?” and refused.
Sri Kannan Mama was deeply hurt & went back to his duty…serving Periyava!
Next day early morning 3am, Periyava was goggling and at that looked at Sri Kannan Mama and asked ‘What Happened?’ by hand sign. With a heart brimming with emotions (teen ager!) Sri Mama didn’t know how to respond.
“No…” dragging the words.
Periyava got that something was wrong.
“What happened? Tell me!”
“Oh, that’s simple…I will get it for you…He will come in the evening…I will talk to him and get it…Can you repeat what I teach you now?”
“Please wait….Let me bring a pencil and a paper”
Periyava told just 3 lines. Sri Mama noted. Later Sri Mama recollects with a laugh,”There is a story that Kali taught Kalidasar….In my case, it is prathyaksham!”
Sri Sastrigal is the ‘Aasthaana Vidwaan’. He took sanyasa in the later years & after that took ‘paadam’ for PuduPeriyava.
Sastrigal came. Periyava casually asked him, “Did you give sambhvana to this boy?”
“No…he didn’t read anything…”
“Really? I somehow think that he must have read a lot..”
And Periyava turned to Sri Kannan Mama & said “What did you read? Tell me now…”
Sri Mama who was a boy busy memorizing what Periyava told responded,
“Amazing! Great thathvam! Only for this Vyasar wrote sutra, our acharya wrote bashyam..later wrote vyagyanam etc…still unable to make our people understand this….you have said it so easily!!”
(Who told it so simply? Only that Vyasar & Acharya can tell!)
Periyava was responding to those three lines recited by Sri Kannan Mama as a boy.
Now, Periyava turned to Sastrigal, “See? This boy has told a maha thatham…Please give him the uthama sambhavana..”
That means Five Rupees. Since then, Sri Mama gets that ‘Uthama Sambavanai’. Except Manager & Vidwans, all used to get only Rs.2.50 only. Now, Sri Kannan Mama also joined the list with Manager.
Later, Periyava asked Sri Mama, “Do you know the meaning of what you said?”
Sri Mama was silent. Then began the wonderful lesson by Periyava on Brahmam not recorded anywhere…
“Brahmam Sathyam! What is sathyam? There can’t be an end in all three kalas (avasthai). Anything that is not changing is sathyam. Brahmam is sathyam. It doesn’t end in all three kalas…”
“Jagad mithya! Jagad – this prapancham – is mithya…What is mithya? you can see but it is not real. If you have eye problem/obstruction, you see double effect in your vision…you may see a staircase…but, at times, you may fall down when you put your foot. Anything that is dceiving to indryaas are mithyas…”
“Jeevo Brahmaiva Naaparahaa. The jeevan that is inside us is nothing but brahman. Why it is not said as “Brahmo brahmai na apaarahaa” He enjoys the whole jagad with these indryaas. The jeevan learns the attributes of the jagad from these indryaas and enjoys the jagad…It retains the name “jeevan” as long as he has the knowledge of the jagad. Once that is gone, that jeevan is brahmam!”
Periyava then told, “Since you only memorized, I wanted you to know at least a simplified meaning of those verses. Later you read a lot on this and understand the deeper meaning for these verses…”
“That is vedantam!”
The beauty of the whole incident is that Periyava ensured that mama not just complied with the process to get sambhavana but also understood this – what a compassion!
Thanks Shivaraman for the article!