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Friday, February 15, 2013

Kanchi Mha Periyavaa :Coming Straight from the Kaveri!

Coming Straight from the Kaveri!
Author: 'Anuthama'* (in Tamil)
Source:Gnana Alayamissue dated Feb 2002 (pages 49-52)
Translator: saidevo

Some years back, I had gone to Orirukkai with Tiru Atmanathan, my brother-in-law. I was very eager to have a look at the works done for the Paramacharyar Manimandapam there. For me who went with the expectation of listening to the music of the chisels as if it were the sculptural world of the Pallava times, there was nothing there. Only a few workers were there since it was the noon time of a Sunday. Even those people had gone for their lunch recess. Some thatched sheds were seen here and there in the vast expanse of land.

When I thought that it was this expanse of land that was having within itself highly skilled sculptural works, the best skills of trained sculptors and the ordinary people who supported them, Maha SwamigaL tookvishva rUpawithin my mind. I recollected and experienced again the first time I had darshan of PeriyavargaL.

It was the year 1940. My elder brother was in Tiruvazhundur. Having come to know that SwamigaL was taking bath in the Rishaba Kattam there, I went there accompanied by our friend Bhavani Maami. When we reached the Mayavaram Kaveri banks in a trot, it was seen that SwamigaL was on the opposite bank of the river. A crowd had thronged the area. In the rush, that Maami held my hand and helped me cross the river. We would have reached the edge of a large circle of the crowd--that was all! As if a lightning flashed, PeriyavargaL surveyed the crowd momentarily, ascended his 'mena' (palanquin) and disappeared.

We got back home, feeling depressed and sad. My father sent me with that Maami to the village where SwamigaL was camping.

We reached the village and stood in the central courtyard of the house (where the sage was staying). The pujas were over. SwamigaL was conversing with people at a side of the courtyard. When we both prostrated to him and got up, a disciple asked, "From where do you come?" Before we could open our mouth, PeriyavargaL said, "From Mayavaram, straight from the Kaveri"!

My surprise won't be contained in words. How did he recognize two women who had just come to an edge of a large circle of crowd of over a hundred people? He had already ascended the 'mena'? How is this possible? I was overwhelmed by tremors of ecstasy. I couldn't raise my tongue to talk. With me standing amazed, that Maami told the details about us. He inquired about my father-in-law and my husband, blessed and gave me theprasAda. That tremors are not gone yet even today.

In a simliar vein, an incident (happened) 18 years after this darshan. We were then residing in Velur. I expressed my desire to my husband that I longed for an eye-filling, peaceful darshan of PeriyavargaL. He said, "You go today itself. Stay there for four days and have his darshan to your heart's content. I may have to come to Chennai on office work (after four days). I shall accompany you back home from Chennai." I started with happiness.

At that time, Maha SwamigaL was camping in the premises of Chennai Sanskrit College. I stayed in a relative's home. Every morning I would take bath and be present in the Sanskrit College. I would wander the area with the expectation of sighting him somewhere. As if to meet my expectation, he would suddenly come out from somewhere and bless someone. I would watch and enjoy it from a distance. After watching the puja, I would receive thetIrtham, get back home and have my meal. Then I would go again in the evening. I would watch the puja, listen to the graceful discourse of PeriyavargaL and then only would return.

Since there was a tremendous crowd I could not go near PeriyavargaL, prostrate and get his blessings. The day of my returning had also come. Considering that it would be difficult for my husband to locate me when he comes at the puja time in the evening, I was standing on the last row of the gigantic thatched shed. With disappointment and longing, I was surveying the stage.

My husband came. He asked me, "What, had an eye-filling darshan?" I replied with a tsk-tsk. "Yes, I had eye-filling darshan and ear-filling speech. But then I could not go near him even once and prostrate to him?"

"For a week you have been in PeriyavaaL'sdRSTi dIkSaNIya? Bathed in that look of grace. Still you have a grievance? Do you want him to see you, introduce himself and say 'How do you do' to you? Are you such a celebrated woman? This is not just greediness, but also too much an expectation," said my husband.

We bowed to him then and there, outside thepandal. I bid farewell mentally, looking at the stage that was far away. At that time, a disciple who was standing nearby SwamigaL on the stage waved his hands in our direction with a gesture of calling someone to the stage. "Look, Periyavaa is calling someone near," I said with jealousy.

My husgand hurried me, "Come come, we need to reach Velur this same night." Somebody touched his shoulder and said, "Aren't you Padmanabhan? Periyavaa wants you and Anuthama to come to the front."

We proceeded to the front in surprise, everyone giving way for us. When we prostrated to the sage and got up, he smiled at me and began, "Your father in Mayavaram..." Like anasaduI interrupted him and said, "My father is no more now." He continued, "No no (I am referring to an earlier time). At that time you all came with the news that it was youraNNA's seemantham." I was stunned. A wave of bliss spread thoughout my body.

He asked my husband, "Ennada, I did (took)bhikSAin your house, you remember?" My husband replied, "If Periyavaa asks me this way, what can I reply?" SwamigaL gave a short, uproarious laugh and then asked a disciple to bring theprasAdaplate.vibhuti, kunkumam, matrAkSatawere found on the cane plate that was brought. He gestured to bring a fruit. A sweet lime fruit was brought. He took it, surveyed the fruit turning it this way and that, pressed it against his chest once, and then placed the fruit on the plate.

"Both of you take these things together," he directed us.

When I got up prostrating he asked, "Anuthama*, (you) have satisfaction now?"! My eyes were flooded. My tongue got stuck to my upper jaw. I took leave with a bow. AmahAnto whom thousands of people the world over surrendered, who was a walking God on the earth, remembering and recollecting by going several years back in time and blessing a woman who did not know if she was fit to stand in hissannidhiand lived somewhere in a corner--how can that mother's heart be described in words? That bliss is still green in memory.

* For those who are not familiar, 'Anuthama' (pen name of Smt. Rajeswari Padmanabhan) was one of the famous Tamil fiction writers during the period 1960-1990, a contemporary of such great women writers as R.Chudamani, Lakshmi and Rajam Krishnan.

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