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Saturday, March 23, 2013

I Lived with God (English) - Part 12

Author: Dr.D.Sundararaman - that son of Doraiswamy Iyer

Part - 12

After my college-studies, I became a lecturer in Mathematics in the Annamalai University in June 1960, with strong recommendations from my esteemed Professors V.Ganapathy Iyer and G.Sankaranarayanan, though there was a problem. As per the rules of the University, teachers of the University who have tuft (kudumi) must wear turbans to cover their heads, when they teach. I thought it was total nonsense. I protested to my Professor V.Ganapathy Iyer. He said there was no use in fighting. I could disobey, if I did not care about my job for the next year.

The trouble was the then Vice Chancellor Mr.Narayanaswami Pillai himself was wearing turban, even though he had cropped his head. It was one of the vestiges of the British Raj, I suppose. I needed the job very badly. With the help of two advocates of Chidambaram, I learned to prepare and wear a turban. I now realized the significance of Adi Sankara’s Bhaja Govindam, especially the line, “Udaranimittam bahukrita vesham”. I had lot of dense and unwieldy hair. To confine them inside a turban was a sort of mathematical packing-problem. I must have looked quite funny, for I knew students were laughing behind me. One morning I arranged with the family barber to shave off all the hair on my head. Much reluctantly, he did a fine job. Later the kudumi was transformed into crop. My mother came from Kancheepuram.

She was so angry with me that she did not even speak to me. I did not have the will power to face the world. A feeling of guilt had become part of me. I thought I would punish myself by not visiting Periaval for one full year. I did not visit him from September 1960 to August 1961. After a year of unbearable mental restlessness, I got bold and decided that I would go and see him. Did he not already tell me, good or bad, anyone could visit him? He did not talk to me. Then I began to visit frequently. He began to talk, but not directly to me. All that he asked and all my replies to more queries were conveyed through one of the assistants by his side. It was quite a strange experience for me. But I was not discouraged; I kept on visiting Him, whenever I had time. Finally, during a visit in June, 1962, He talked to me directly. He asked about my mother. (Since September 1960, I had established with my mother a family in Chidambaram. My father continued in the iron-grips of Periaval). Then He asked about my job and how much I was able to save each month. After making sure that I was doing reasonably well, Periaval asked me, “Will you give me biksha?” Tears from my eyes began to flood the ground and I actually wept. Periaval asked me to compose myself. “Oh God, why is this? The God who begged for me, now asks me for biksha.” I cried and told Him that I was at his feet.

Then Periaval told me, “There is a Mahavidwan in Karaikudi. I respect him very highly. He has a large family. One of his sons has got admission in M.Sc., in your University. The biksha I ask you to give is; Give this boy boarding and lodging in your home for two years”. I said, with Periavall’s blessings, I would gladly undertake this responsibility. A few days later, the young man, Ramachandran came to see me in my house. Ramachandran was only a few years younger than me. We became very good friends. Ramachandran became a member of my family. Ramachandran is a senior scientist in the Geological Survey of India. He lives in Madras. The Mahavidwan, his father, is no more. There are many persons I know, whose lives have become enriched, in every sense of the word, by direct and indirect associations with Periaval.

I got married on June 30, 1963. My wife Lakshmi and I went on a trip to a village (Narayanapuram) near Madurai, where Periaval was camping and got the blessings and I managed to get Periaval’s permission to take my father from the Mutt to live with us.

My wife and I had the pleasure of both my father and mother living with us. By then, we shifted to a house at Annamalai Nagar, very near the campus of the University. We lived quite peacefully. In late 1966, I applied to the Columbia University for my ‘higher studies’. I applied to the Fullbright Foundation for a travel grant. I got the fellowship in April 1967 and the travel grant in the late June 1967. My University refused to give me ‘Study Leave’. I did not hesitate to resign. I did not have time to go to Periaval’s camp.

I sent a letter and he sent me prasadam. I received my Ph.D. Degree from the Columbia University in the city of NewYork in 1971. I remembered Periaval’s Geethopadesam to me at the River Palar in 1955: “Get as much higher education as possible”. I continue to be a student in the “PERIAVAL UNIVERSITY”, where one learns by being eager and earnest, by patience and persistence, by hard work, by minute observations of people, by questions and answers, by stead-fast faith, by getting lost in silence and meditation and by being faithful, honest and humble always

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