63 or 67 Nayanmars?


Jaya Jaya Shankara Hara Hara Hara Shankara – Great article by Sri. Shreeram Balijepalli. We have to have a total of 68 Nayanmars including Sri Pradosham Mama. Ram Ram


“I shall be with you till your Attainment, this is My promise!” – Maha Periyavaa

There was a Bank Director in Paris, France. He was keen on having a darshan of Periyava, having heard about HIM.
Dr. Raghavan used to receive frequent phone calls (from the Bank Director). He would ask if he could come and have a darshan of Periyava. Dr. Raghavan (who was a Sanskrit Professor in the Madras University) would inform Periyava about the request.
Even though he had told, “He is very keen to have darshan of Periyava; he incessantly calls me”, Periyavar did not give HIS consent. Some years passed in this way.
Suddenly one day Dr. Raghavan received tidings that said, ‘I have arrived at Bombay. I shall come over to Madras and meet you. Should please arrange for the darshan.’
At that time Acharyas were staying in Mylapore Sanskrit College. One evening Dr. Raghavan was waiting to have darshan of Periyava. Periyava called him and inquired. When told about the Frenchman’s proposed visit to Chennai, Periyava looked at him intently for a moment then looked elsewhere at a distance as if  talking to someone mentally and then said, “Alright, bring him.”
Before Periyava sat for the upanyAsam after the pooja, He called one of the Sri Madam-inmates and said, “If any European turns up, offer him a chair, as he would not be able to sit on the floor. I shall see him after the upanyAsam.”
When the upanyAsam was over and Periyava was about to get inside, He asked, “Did anyone turn up?”
“No one turned up”, replied.
At that time a man wearing a dhoti and towel came to the front and prostrated to Periyava four times. (The sampradaya is to always prostrate to sannyAsis four times.)
Behind the man came Dr. Raghavan and SankaraNarayana Aiyer (professor of Philosophy at Mylai Vivekananda College). Since that European came in dhoti and towel the Sri Madam-inmate was misled.
Periyavar enquired the Sri Madam-inmate, “Ask him how did he knew about prostrating four times?”
The European said, “I did as everyone did here.”


Periyavar directed the Sri Madam-inmate, “Bring only the Frenchman.”
The Sri Madam-inmate said, “I wouldn’t understand the English he speaks. It would be better if Dr. Raghavan or SankaraNarayana Aiyer is present.”


“The English you know would suffice. You bring him,” quipped Periyava.


Dr. Raghavan and SankaraNarayana Aiyer stood outside the thatti (a coconut leaf weaved sheet of cover).


The Frenchman who came inside and sat spoke: “I am studying Vedanta for some time now. Suddenly, one day I felt that my entire body had gone numb, that I was residing outside the body, and my figure was extended from the earth to the sky. I also saw universes hanging from my body. It was very blissful at that time. There was no trace of sorrow. After this incident, nothing bothers my mind in my daily life. My wife deceased. My son too is dead. These occasions did not create any ripple in my mind, I felt that I am not connected with anyone of them. I was always blissful. Since, I am alien to all these, I request your guidance….
(He paused for a moment….)
Also, people in the Bank think I am insane, looking at this mental state of mine. So I have an inherent fear that one day they might put me behind the bars (of a hospital).”
Periyava uttered cryptically with love beaming in his face and a strange kind of admiration at the Whiteman, “What is inside? And what is outside? Isn’t everything inside four walls?”
This question seemed to create a big change in the Frenchman. His eyes were seen brimming with tears as if he was one with the universe represented by the Pontiff.
There was a pregnant pause, not a leaf whispered…
Then he composed himself and requested Periyava, “YOU should be always with me.”
He also asked Periyava to proffer him some upadesham.


Periyava advised, “What you are doing now (meditation), you continue. I shall be with you till your Attainment. This is my promise.”
HE then as a rare gesture of benediction, tore a piece of the worn out khadi spun-vastram HE was wearing then and gave it to the Frenchman with the words, “Keep this always with you as my prasAdam (holy sacrament)”
Such was the bountiful heap of anugraha for the Frenchman that day that he was inebriated with joy as he left Sri Madam.
Coming outside, the Frenchman prostrated to Dr. Raghavan and said, “It was only because of you I got this much bhAgyaM (pronouncing the word Bhaagyam with great difficulty).”
Periyava went to bed after they were gone after some period of silence and rumination. HE shifted his glasses which HE rarely wore for some time and placed it down and was preparing his small bedsheet to sleep.


After HE retired, the Sri Madam-inmate asked about the incident and why this grace to a whiteman whether he was really worth as many of the westerners having euphoric feelings construe it as something great.


Without replying anything to him, Periyava lapsed into sleep.


HE called him (the Sri Madam-inmate) the next morning before HE started his one hour japam.


HE asked, “Do you know how many Nayanmars (Top – most shivite siddhas respected for their high spiritual status and shiva-bhakthi in Tamizhnadu) are there?”


He replied,  “The Arupathu Moovar Utsavam is held every year)! So, only sixty-three. This is but obvious even a child in Tamizhnadu can answer this.”


“Go to the Kapaleeswarar temple (near Mylapore Sanskrit Temple), count and come back,” HE said.


When he did it, he counted sixty-seven to his consternation.


He told this to Periyava.(** In fact, after hearing this story, I (Author-Shreeram Balijepalli) too went to the temple and counted it, though hitherto, I had been offering Vilva patra (Bilva leaves) to each Nayanmar but always used to assume like the Sri Madam-inmate, it was 63 Nayanmars) “Who are those four people in excess?” HE asked the Sri Madam-inmate.
He went back to the temple, inquired and came back. “One of them is the ‘appAlum adi sarndharukku adiyAr!'” He said.


Periyavar  graced me with the knowledge, “AppAl is those who are beyond desam(country) and kAlam(time). Since the element of time is involved, it also refers to the adiyArs to be born in the hereafter (in the future). This man is beyond desam (France). He has just four janmas (the future birth when he would become a Nayanmar) left!”
This left the Sri Madam-inmate speechless.
The Frenchman was never to be seen again both in his country and in India.

Categories: Devotee Experiences


10 replies

  1. mahaperiyava is above caste,creed,religion,nation, boundary etc…………an universal guide to all the living souls…
    the French man was the luckiest guy…..and fully blessed by mahaperiyava…

  2. I read this incident so many times… Chandrasekhara saraswathi is beyond race religion and country

  3. I regularly read all posts.The Frenchman is fortunate.
    Jaya Jaya Sankara,Mahaperiyava thiruvsdi Saranam.

  4. Is this episode documented in any of Sri Matam’s publications or souvenirs or has come up in the last few years? Can anyone clarify?

  5. Very moving….how blessed the Frenchman, and how chose the greatest of Sanyasi…very revealing to all of us about the nayanmars…


  7. I have started following the posts recently & I can’t express myself
    Jaya jaya Shankara hara hara shankara

  8. How fortunate….Hara Hara Shankara.

  9. No words to describe this event as it is three in one – the absolute transcedence of Periyava, the proof of Karma theory not by analogies but by real life event and the incontrovertible evidence of Advaitic philosophy


Leave a Reply