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Saturday, March 30, 2013

EllAm periyavolda aruL

'ellAm periyavuha aruL' (Everything is the Grace of PeriyavargaL)
author:...... Lakshmi, Mangaleswarar Kovil, Granddaughter of Devakottai Achi
compiler:... T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
book:......... Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol. 1, pages 157-168
publisher:.. Vanathi Padhippaham (Aug 2006 Edition)
translator: saidevo

Our Paatti (Grandmother) was very devoted to SwamigaL. Everyone in the MaTham used to call her (only by the name) Devakottai Achi. There was no one who did not knowavuha (her). She remained as a good guide for us all. It was only because of her that we had the connection with the MaTham from a very young age. I consider this as mybhAgyam (good fortune). I would never forget my Paatti. Maha PeriyavargaL would say: 'If someone does good to us or helps us, we should never forget our gratitude (towards the person and the act).' I had personally listened to the words as he spoke them. I used to come to Sankara MaTham since when I was eight years old. Our Paatti would take me there.

When Maha PeriyavargaL and PuduperiyavuhaL were staying in Ilayattankudi, our Paatti on every Friday would ask a brahmin boy to pluck the lotus flowers in the pond at Kandadevi, keep them in two baskets, ask that boy to carry them, take me and my Chitti's (aunt's) son Alagappan (now adopted son for Achi) with her, offer the flowers for the puja at Ilayattankudi, have darshan of the two PeriyavuhaL after the puja, and give us the neyvedya sarkarai pongal(sweet pongal offered to God); ghee would drip from the preparation just like that. After eating the preparation at the bank of the pond, we would get back to Devakottai by the last bus.

Those days can never be forgotten. All the days they camped there gave a fullness of heart to the people there and to us. It was total happiness, thesantoSam (joy) filling up the mind. For this world to have such a walking God is thebhagyam obtained by all the people of the world. Endless happiness remains when I think about how we were also there during the time this walking God was in the Bhumi.

On another occasion, the two PeriyavuhaLs were camping in Karveti nagaram. I was married by then. My husband and I, my father and Paatti--we all went there and stayed for a week. There is a pond there. They would have erected a thatched shed there on the banks. After the puja was over, PeriyavargaL would come there and give darshan. A peaceful place. They would be talking to the bhaktAs who come there. We would be listening to their talk. (When I reached the place, I was not peaceful in mind). The passing of time was never felt there. They would talk so much of good things in a way that stuck in the mind and also presented it all with humour. It would always seem if only they would talk a little more. I remained listening thus for the entire week; and by that got back my mental peace.

Everyone of our relatives had a separate hundi (collection box) in their puja room for SwamigaL.* From our home expenses to everything else we would first think of SwamigaL, drop money in the hundi and then only would start the task (of spending). All those hundi rupees we would collect in the month of Avani and reach the collection to the Sankara MaTham when we go there for the bhikSA vandanam. In addition, all our relatives contributed their mite and with the collection we did the bhikSA vandanam. Later, Paatti (Grandmother) also became old. She would collect the hundi rupees from everyone, add the extra contributions and did the bhikSA vandanam with the collection.

Paatti would go there a week earlier and make the arrangements. When she became too old (for the task), she asked Maha PeriyavargaL, "I have become old. So I shall create a fund and remit it in the MaTham. Shall I include our Devakottai Nagaratthar also in this fund?" SwamigaL gave her permission for it. Then Paatti collected money and remitted it. From that time on, the Devakottai Nagaratthar Bhkisha Vandanam is being held regularly, every year on the 30th of August. This (fortune) was given to us only because of our Paatti. Our Paatti is not there now. But every good thing she arranged for is going on well. Our Paatti who arranged for the connection to a good place for herpEran pEtti(grandchildren) can never be forgotten.

Our Paatti had (once) gone to Kanchipuram to have darshan of Maha PeriyavargaL. She told us that when she was talking with PeriyavargaL, he had told, "A number of Lingams around Kanchipuram remain open to shower and sunshine. A small temple should be erected over them so the rain and hot shine do not touch them, and donaivedyam for one time a day; those who can afford may undertake this task." Then he called our Paatti and said, "nee kovil kattu (you build one temple)." To that our Paatti said, "I shall ask my pEttito construct it. It might cost Rs.3,000." She came from Kanchipuram to our home in Chennai. Then she told us what SwamigaL told her.

I said yes (to the proposal) but forgot all about it. Two years passed by. Paatti used to go to Kanchipuram often. At one such time she had darshan of SwamigaL, and when the puja was over had gone to a hotel to have some tiffin. SwamigaL had told an assitant nearby, "Where is Achi, call her?" The assistant had replied that Achi had gone to the hotel to have some food, and then went to the hotel and told Achi, "Achi Amma, Periyavuha calls you"; Paatti had hurried back with the thought 'nambaLa etaRku kUppidaRAnga' (why call me).

As she came and met PeriyavargaL, SwamigaL asked her, "You said you would construct a temple, what happened to it?" Paatti could not understand anything as two years had passed by. When she thought hard about it, she remembered the proposal and replied, "My pEtti said she would build it. I shall go to Chennai and ask her to see PeriyavargaL." Then she went to Devakottai instead of coming to Chennai and rang me up from there. I said I would go and meet PeriyavargaL.

She said "Alagappan would also come there; both of you go and meet SwamigaL." Alagappan came to our home the next day. We both went to Kanchipuram and told the people there that we came to see PeriyavugaL. They told PeriyavargaL, "Devakottai Achi'spEran and pEtti have come."

PeriyavargaL asked, "What?" as to the reason for our visit.

"We had offered to build a temple over one Lingam. Paatti asked us to see PeriyavargaL on that account. So we have come", we said to him.

He asked an Aiyar to take us to the temple under construction in Mangala Tirtham and show the structure to us. Only the plastering work remained to be done there. The people there told us, "The engineer who builds this temple had gone to Chennai, he is not here. You ask for the details after he gets back."

They also told us that the work had cost 80 thousand so far and it might come to one lakh rupees. I asked Alagappan, "Umayal Achi said it would cost only Rs.3,000. (We would call our Paatti only Achi). Your Aitthaan (brother-in-law) knows nothing. I can do it only after consulting my Chinna Maamanaar (father-in-law's brother). I don't know whatavuha (he) would say. What to do now?"

Alagappan told me, "This place is directly opposite the MaTham. Periyavaa would go there often. This is a good opportunity. Somehow you build it. Won't get another chance."

Then we told SwamigaL, "The engineer had gone to Chennai", and asked him, "My Paatti said it would come to only three thousand, now they say it would cost a lakh?" I don't know what PeriyavargaL thought but he told us, "We will write to you after the engineer comes back from Chennai. Now you get back to your place."

I could not understand anything of it. I told my younger brother Alagappan, "My mind is not at peace. We should not have told him in that way. Alright, I have a 10 sovereign gold chain. Selling it for cash, I shall somehow manage to collect the balance amount and shall build the temple myself." Again we said to PeriyavargaL, "Whatever the cost, I shall myself build this temple." He replied, "We will write to you. They say the Government might build it. If that doesn't happen you may build it."

I came back to Chennai; Alagappan also left for his place. The letter did not come. Paatti came (to my house) after Alagappan had told her the details. She told me, "Don't worry. We shall ask (our people) for money." Taking Rs.10,000, Paatti and I went to Kanchipuram and told PeriyavargaL about our proposal. "Let it (the opportunity) come, (we) shall see", PeriyavargaL had told us.

Then Paatti said to SwamigaL, "I have brought Rs.10,000 for Sivan. I shall not take it back home; shall remit it in the MaTham." Periyavar said, "Alright" and I remitted the money there.

My mind was not at peace. I wept profusely. In order to lessen my feelings Paatti told me, "He would know our heart and consider it. Definitely he would ask only you to build the temple; don't be in distress. I shall go to Kanchipuram and then go to Devakottai."

She took leave of me saying, "He asked an AmmaaL to whom he had earlier said no, to build (the temples) for two Lingams now. Think only good; things will turn out well."

My mind was not peaceful. I was reclining in the sofa and lapsed into sleep for sometime. Would have been 12 o' clock in the noon. A dream that our Paatti came and knocked at the door. I heard the knock and the words, "Lakshmi, open the door. PeriyavargaL asks only you to build the temple." I woke up at once. What wonder! Paatti was really knocking at the door.

Thinking about this gives me the prickles of ecstasy even now. I can never forget this incident. I opened the door immediately. Paatti was standing outside. "Not going to your place?" I asked her. Patti told me, "No. Periyavuha asked only you to build that temple. Come at once, let us go to Kanchipuram." We went to see SwamigaL forthwith. When we met him and he told me, "You build this temple", I was immensely happy. I said to SwamigaL, "I shall get back to my place, tell the matter to my Maamaa (father-in-law) and arrange for the funds." He said yes to it.

I got back to my place immediately and spoke to my father and Chinna Maamanaar. They said 'let us see.' Appa by himself can't do anything, let the opportunity come, they said. I was a little angry. With a vairAgyam(determination) I came to Chennai and spoke to people known to me. They had a good heart; they told me, "We shall speak to people known to us and arrange for the funds." I said alright and they immediately gave a cheque for Rs.30,000. Encashing it I went to PeriyavuhaL the very next day. He asked me, "What, you went to your place and asked (the elders)?" I told him in detail about what happened. He said, "Give this money to Manager Neelakanta Aiyar and get a receipt for it. Your husband's name has to be engraved on stone; so you give the address and name and go." I did as he told me.

When all this happened that day it was 10 o' clock in the night. I came back saying that I shall remit the balance later. For my question when the temple work would be finished, they said it might take four months from then. Later (when about two months had passed), our Paatti rang up from her place. SwamigaL had told her, "ThekumbhAbhiSekam(temple consecration) has been arranged. Tell your pEtti and bring your bandhus (relatives)." I was confused as my husband was in Malaysia. How to do it without his presence? I met SwamigaL at once and told him the news.

He said, "Everything would go smoothly. Make a phone call and tell him theviSayam (matter). Also tell yourbhandus." I came to Chennai forthwith. My Chinna Maamanaar's daughter by then had arrived to make a trip to Malaysia. Asking them to send my husband home immediately, I went to my place. Since I did not have time to inform everyone there, I informed only my Chinna Maamanaar (about the consecration).

When I came here, I was told that my husband had gone direct to Kanchipuram from Malaysia and that he asked me to come immediately.

On that day, R.M. Veerappan had come there. SwamigaL took his snAnam(bath) in the Mangala Tirtham (pond). R.M. Veerappan had arranged from the Government for desilting the Mangala Tirtham pond. After taking his snAnam in the Mangala Tirtham, SwamigaL had darshan of Mangaleswarar. Then he came directly to the MaTham. I had darshan of PeriyavargaL along with my daughter Muthu Karuppi. R.M. Veerappan AvargaL and SwamigaL were there. SwamigaL introduced us to him. Then he gave a ball of stringed flowers in my daughter's hand and blessed us. With that he also gave us the Wedding Pattu (silk cloth) of Ekambareswarar-Kamakshi Amman. I am keeping it safe even now.

People there touched the silk reverentially and told us, "No one would get such a (holy) thing as this. You have got it. This girl has been endowed with good fortune. She would get a good mAppiLLai(husband)." In accordance with what they told, she later got a good doctor mAppiLLaiand now has a male and a female child. It was the day of Wedding Festivity for Kamakshi Amman. Later I asked SwamigaL, "Our relatives will come. We need to serve them meals. We have no one who could do the cooking. We also need to buy all the groceries. And we need a Mandapam, what to do?"

PeriyavargaL told me, "nee etaRkum kavalaipadAte. ellAm nallapadiyaga nadakkum. (You don't worry about anything; everything will go on smoothly)." He allotted the Balaji Kalyana Mandapam for us and gave all the groceries from the MaTham. ThekumbhAbhiSekamwas to be held at dawn the next day. A samaiyal aiyar(brahmin cook) from Kumbakonam had come to have darshan of SwamigaL. PeriyavargaL told him, "You go and cook for Achi Amma", and he obliged.

PeriyavargaL told him, "nallA nagaratthArgaLukku vadai, pAyasatthudan sei(do the cooking well with Vadai and Payasam for the Nagaratthar people)." Accordingly, he cooked the meal in an exceedingly grand manner. The local people also came and partook the meals. We were full of satisfaction. SwamigaL himself arranged for everything, including thekumbhAbhiSekampaper (invitation).

We invited SwamigaL with pUrNa kumbham on the day before thekumbhAbhiSekam. He was present in the yAgashAlA(pavilion for the fire-ceremony constructs) supervising the ceremony and also performed thekumbhAbhiSekam.

So many incidents can be narrated in this manner. Several have happened in my lifetime--I can remain writing all time about them. To think that we were also living in the time when such a walking God existed here--the mind is filled with happiness.

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