Jaya Jaya Sankara Hara Hara Sankara – Heard this lovely incident in Shri Ganesa Sarma mama upanyasam as well. Rama Rama
Experiences with Maha Periyava: The Amazing Bhiksha that Periyava took
More often than not Maha Periyava observed shuddha upavasah (rigorous fast), which sometimes extended for days together. Even on the days he took Bhiksha (offered food), his usual take was a small amount of Nel Pori (the rice equivalent of popcorn) that was offered to Sri ChandraMouleeswara or Mother Kamakshi. The days he took cooked rice with the accompanying dishes were very rare. To give up rice totally, he even tried the flour extracted from raw bananas, but had to give it up on the entreaties of his doctor devotees.
Sometime in the year 1936, Maha Periyava was observing the Chaturmasyam (ahimsa dharma followed by sanyasins by staying at one place and meditating) at Berhampur on his way back from Varanasi. At that time he observed rigorous fasting for several days together. And he did it so secretly that most people around him were not aware of it. The treasurer Ramachandra Iyer somehow came to know about the rigorous fast.
He went to Sri Maha Periyava and pleaded with him to give up the fast. Maha Periyava immediately called his bhiksha assistant and told him about the things that should be added to his personal food the next day.
The treasurer was happy. As he returned to his office, he got a doubt if Periyava had really granted his entreaty when he did not listen even to such people as ‘Annadhana Sivan’ in such matters. When he checked up with the bhiksha assistant, his doubt was confirmed. The assistant said, “As soon as you left him, Periyava asked me to forget it all as he had only told so to satisfy you.”
The treasurer went again to Maha Periyava, but couldn’t have an opportunity to talk to him. Everytime he tried, Maha Periyava saw to it that he had somebody nearby discussing something. This continued for some days, until one day, the treasurer was able to ‘catch’ Maha Periyava at ten in the night, when the latter had finished the Friday puja, appearing rather tired.
“Periyava should have a stomachful of bhiksha tomorrow,” said the treasurer. “Otherwise I shall quit the Matam.”
That did not work. With a broad smile, Maha Periyava said, “Will nothing move in the Matam if you are not there?”
“Then I shall quit this world”, uttered the treasurer vehemently, and started weeping. He knew that Periyava could not ask the same question with this offer to quit the world.
“Alright, I will have the bhiksha. Why tomorrow, I shall have it now. You said that you will offer to fill my stomach. Will you do it?” said Maha Periyava.
“I am only waiting for such words”, said the treasurer as he prostrated, his eyes full of tears. He thought that at that time of night Periyava wouldn’t take anything other than milk and fruits, so he rose to call the bhiksha assistant who knew about his Guru’s habits.
“Why do you call him? I asked only you to offer me the bhiksha and you agreed”, said Maha Periyava.
“Since I don’t know about the quantity, I thought I would ask him…”
“So what? Bring what is available.”
The treasurer brought the baskets and bamboo plates that were filled with fruits. He thought Periyava could take what he desired from the lot.
A totally surprising order came from Maha Periyava. “Where is the sojji (a sweet dish) and sundal (boiled and fried seeds) that were offered at the Friday puja? Bring them at once!”
The treasurer ran and brought the large utensils that had the dishes, and placed them in front of his Guru.
A miracle happened there! Maha Periyava emptied the utensils quickly and asked for more!
The treasurer moved the fruit baskets near the sage. That was also emptied in no time. And the question came, “What else is there?” The treasurer was aghast.
“You offered to fill my stomach and stirred the hunger in me, now I can’t bear it!” said Maha Periyava. Not able to withstand those words, the treasurer brought a large kuja (a pot like container) of milk and offered to the sage.
No sooner Maha Periyava drank all the milk than the treasurer patted his cheeks resoundingly and fell at the feet of the sage. “Periyava should excuse me! I shall never disturb you hereafter.”
Maha Periyava laughed like a child and said, “So you will not come in my way henceforth!”, and blessed the treasurer with raised hands.
Source: Maha Periyavalh Virundhu (Tamizh) (pages 92-96)
Author: Shri Ra. Ganapathi Anna
Categories: Devotee Experiences