Jaya Jaya Sankara Hara Hara Sankara – There are many great leelas that our Sarvagnyan plays and here is a pulsating one.
Many Jaya Jaya Sankara to Shri Senthilkumar for the share. Rama Rama
Experiences with Maha Periyava: The Golden Uddharani (spoon) that went missing!
Several years ago, Kanchi Maha Swamigal was camping in an old choultry called the RMM Choultry in the Mahadana Street of Tiruvidaimarudur. Bhaktas (devotees) from the surrounding villages arrived daily to have darshan of Maha Swamigal. I was then studying in school.
Since my father was an official of the local Kanchi Matam, he used to go to Tiruvidaimarudur often and come back after having darshan of Acharyal. He would also take me during my school vacation. On such occasions, it was a pleasant experience to have darshan of Swamigal with bhaya-bhakti (intense devotion) and receive his prasadam!
One Sunday, it would have been eight o’ clock in the morning. Along with my father, I prostrated to Acharyal and got up. There was not much crowd. Calling my father near him, Periyava said, “Santhanam, aren’t the people of your village coming here? Ask everyone to come. No one should go back empty. As ChandraMouleeswara prasadam, they all should have their Vaisvadevam (bhojanam, food after offering it to God) and then only go…
What, you’ve understood?” Sri Maha Periyava gave His orders with a smile, with the compassion of a mother. My father said with humility, “Periyava uttaravu (orders)” and prostrated.
I too prostrated. Periyava did not leave it at that. Looking at my father, He ordered, “Today you have darshan of Chandra Mouleeswara Puja, have your Vaisvadevam here and then go!”
Father and I finished our afternoon bhojanam and had some shrama parikaram (rest) in the choultry thinnai (raised portico). It could have been three o’ clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, there was a bustle in the choultry.
The Sri Matam people ran here and there and searched for something in wild hustle. We did not understand anything, so we inquired.
A man of the Matam said, “It is nothing else. Maha Periyava was doing the Chandra Mouleeswara Puja. A notable from Kumbakonam had offered arghya, padyam (waters to honour and to wash feet) and had given an uddarani in gold. It would be about three sovereigns! Till yesterday it was in Sri Maha Periyava’s puja. Today it is not to be found. We have been searching every nook and corner. Not yet informed Periyava, He does not know about it yet!” and continued with his search.
Sri Matam karyasta (in-charge) said with worry, “Before this reaches Periyava’s ears, it should somehow be found and placed (where it belongs to).” He called the sippantis (assistants) one by one and conducted his inquiry.
Everyone said that they did not know anything about it.
“Everyone has been interrogated…only one man remains,” said the karyasta. “Call Ramanathan who does the ugrana kaingkariyam (kitchen service)!”
A man went to the kitchen and came back. He said, “The cook assistant Ramanathan is not there. They say he had gone to TepperumaNallur to call on his mother who was not well. He can be expected only in the evening,” and moved away.
It was five in the evening. Maha Swamigal came out of His ekanta (private room). Letting His gaze wander in all the four directions, He stood for a moment. Then He sat on the Asanam (seat) made for Him at the entrance of His room, adjacent to the wall. Sometime later, a youth who does puja kaingkariyam came by the side of the hall. Calling him near, Acharyal asked with a smile as if He knew nothing, ” Endappa (my boy)… I am witnessing it all since this noon. The chatram (choultry) is all hullabaloo, what is the matter? Is any VVIP coming here today?”
Prostrating shastaangam (with eight limbs), the youth said, “Nothing of that kind, Periyava”, and swallowed.
Swamigal did not leave him. He asked smilingly: “Is it enough if you say that there is nothing wrong? The whole choultry is in a great bustle as if in a war, what else is the news?”
Swallowing again, the youth said feeling sorry, “When you do ChandraMouleeswara Puja, to offer arghya, padyam, won’t you be having a pavun uddarani (golden spoon)? It is not to be found anywhere Periyava. That is why are all searching every nook and corner of the choultry.”
Periyava next threw him a bait. “Endappa, is there a suspicion on any of our manushya (people)… any talk along those lines?” “I have no idea Periyava! Only the karyasta Mama (man in-charge) was saying several things. Only he should be asked to know it all!” said the youth.
“Alright, you go and ask the karyasta Mama to come here and then go (your way)!”
Standing in a corner there, our hands folded across the chest, Father and I watched the proceedings. The karyasta who came to the hall prostrated shastaangam to Periyava. Periyava asked him laughingly: “Endappa, it seems the pavun uddarani in the puja is missing?”
“From when is it missing, any knowledge about it?”
Hesitatingly, the karyasta said, swallowing his words, “For two days, we did not take the uddarani for use at ChandraMouleeswara Puja, Periyava!
When we looked today, it was missing.”
“Alright, what you think?”
“What seems to me is that somebody must have taken it Periyava.”
“Alright, can you infer as to who could it be?”
“Can’t say that way with certainty, Periyava. Still there is suspicion on one person.”
“Who is that person?”
The karyasta wavered and hesitated. “There could be nothing unknown to Periyava. Still I shall tell you what strikes my mind!” He dragged on His words.
“Tell me, I shall also know about it.”
“My conclusion is that it is the cooking assistant Ramanathan!” Before the in-charge could finish his sentence, Swamigal countered him:
“How do you say that?”
“For the last ten days that Ramanathan has been pestering me: “My mother is not well. I need to admit her in KummaNam Municipal Hospital for treatment. I want an advance of three hundred rupees.” Not only that Periyava. He was also annoying me daily to give an increment in his salary. Therefore…”
Interrupting him, Acharyal said, “So you have come to the conclusion that he should have done this act since he has financial hardship!” and laughed.
Swamigal continued: “Alright, alright. Where is that Ramanathan now? Bring him here saying that I called him.”
The karyasta said in submission, “He has gone up to TepperumaNallur to have a look at his mother saying that she is very unwell, Periyava.”
“Let it go… You say he asked for an advance and increment. Have you given it to him?”
“Then what did you do?”
“I told him, “For those two things that you have asked, now it will not be feasible in the Matam”, Periyava!”
When he heard this, Periyava lapsed into thinking for sometime, closing His eyes.
A while later He said to the karyasta, “Right, you do one thing. When that Ramanathan returns from TepperumaNallur, come to me and bring him with you; you understand?” Giving him this order, He went back to His ekanta room. We all were standing with folded hands forgetful of ourselves. Time was ticking on.
It was eight at night. Ramanathan arrived from TepperumaNallur. The in-charge came to the hall with him. As if he was foretold, Sri Maha Periyava also opened His door and came out and sat down (on His Asanam). Ramanathan fell down shastaangam and prostrated to Swamigal.
Periyava at once inquired him with affection, “Ramanatha! I heard that your mother was unwell. How is she now?”
With reddening eyes Ramanathan replied, “They say a tumour has cropped up in her stomach. Could only be treated with an operation after admitting her at the Kummanam government hospital.”
Before he finished, Swamigal inquired, “You asked the karyasta for an advance for that purpose?”
“You also wanted increment it seems?”
Ramanathan did not reply to this question.
“Why do you not reply to my question? What salary you get every month now?”
“Sixty rupees, Periyava.”
“What increment do you now expect?”
No reply. Periyava too did not leave him at that.
Ramanathan hesitated and said in a feeble voice with persuasion,
“Ten rupees every month Periyava!”
“Every month you want a salary of seventy rupees. Is that so?”
No reply to this too. Swamigal looked at the karyasta. “He asks for a ten rupee increment. What you do, you give him an increment of fifteen rupees and give him a salary of seventy five rupees. Also give him the advance he asked for… what, do you understand?” Swamigal gave His orders.
“Shall do as you say, Periyava!” said the karyasta.
“What Ramanatha, aren’t you happy now?” asked Swamigal.
Ramanathan brought a palm before his mouth and nodded his head in affirmation.
Looking at his audience in the hall, Periyava said suddenly, “Endappa! You people said that you have searched every nook and corner for the missing pavun uddarani. Tell me if you searched in the place I am going to tell you about now.” Periyava stopped with a suspense.
The onlookers looked at one another, and then looked at Maha Swamigal with uncertainty.
Maha Periyava continued laughingly: “You have missed searching at an important place. I shall tell you now, listen. You people discard the nirmalya pushpams (used flowers) of the ChandraMouleeswara Puja every day in a place in the backyard where they won’t be walked on by human legs? Should you not search for the pavun uddarani in that heap? But then don’t go in search now in this night! There might be some insect or worm there. Go and look for it in the morning.
It will be found there due to ChandraMouleeswara’s kripa (compassion).”
Swamigal got up briskly saying this as if suggesting to someone. We all prostrated to Him and took leave.
The next morning. I entered the Mahadana Street choultry with my father, in anticipation. My father inquired the Matam karyasta about the golden uddirani. The in-charge replied with a happy laugh, “As Periyava said, we went in the morning and rummaged the nirmalya pushpams. The shining golden uddarani was found there! But then how it came there is a truth known only to ChandraMouleeswara and Periyava.”
I stood transfixed in wonder when I heard it!
Author: Sri Ramani Anna (in Tamizh)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Nov 9, 2007
Compiled by Jagadguru Sri Maha Periyava – Kanchi Paramacharya/Fb