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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I Lived with God (English) - Part 3

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

Part -3

I remember nothing pleasant of my first twelve years of life, except for a celebration in my village when India became independent in 1947. Around 1950, my parents lived in a village called T.Kulathoor, my mother’s birth place and Kodiyur, a village about five miles from Kulathoor, is my father’s native place. My mother got married to my father when she was five years old. My father moved to Kulathoor a few years after his marriage. My mother, being the only daughter of her father, Sundaresa Iyer, received from her father several acres of agricultural land. My father, after loosing several jobs because of his bad temper became an acting village maniakkarar (village munsif) in the nearby twin villages, called Mettukuppam – Pavandur. When the hereditary heir-minor came of age, my father lost this job too. Then he became permanently a Vakil Gumasta, taking the cases of the illiterate village folk to the advocates of Tirukkoilur and Cuddalore. The village folk were good natured and they settled most of their cases at the village panchayat itself. My father’s income became almost nil. Every year my mother kept on selling her lands, acre by acre. By the year 1950, my family situation was hopeless.

My two elder sisters were married off earlier. I had (have) an younger sister and an elder brother. My father tried his best to let my elder brother Ganapathy complete his high school education in Tirukkoilur. But my brother showed no serious interest in education and he ran away from home in 1951. After my elementary school education in the village, I had to remain idle for a year or so. Around 1949-50, Periaval was camping in our village.

As per my mother’s version, on knowing the status of my parents, Periaval blessed me saying, “This boy would bring happiness and prosperity to you and to your family”. I never believed her. Later events, proved the truth of her words. My parents left our village by 1951 and joined the Mutt, at some camp near Mayavaram in Tanjore district.

My eldest brother-in-law, Mr.A.Venkataraman (no more now) was one of the three or four who had completed high school education. After teacher’s training, he became a good and popular teacher, in 1951, in Kandachipuram; I studied my seventh standard in his school, staying with him and my sister. The next year he was transferred to Siddhalingamadam, where I studied in the eighth standard. There I came into contact with an unusual Swamigal called Gnanananda living in a house just opposite to the school. He was aloof, most of the times. Only very rarely, he had visitors. After school hours every evening I used to spend at least an hour with him. He used to call me affectionately, Sundaram, speak with me and give me some sweets and fruits every evening. He was like a grand-father to me.

Nobody there knew anything about his past. A few years earlier, he had come to that village from somewhere. He used to tell me some stories. I became quite attracted to him. After a few years, he moved to Arakandanallur, near Tirukkoilur, where he became quite famous. He is no more now. I am writing about this Swamiji here because it is he who told me first, even as I was very young, that, “Periaval is a walking god; he is not just the head of a Mutt; people would soon realize the true nature of Periaval”. Gnanananda has also told me, whenever I was in a dejected mood, “Periaval will protect you and your family”.

After nearly eight months of joining the Mutt, my father wrote a letter to me saying that Periaval enquired about me and wanted me to study in a High School. I was excited by the prospect of going to a high school. On reading the letter, I thought Gnanananda’s prediction was coming true.

After my E.S.L.C. Examination and after bidding farewell to Gnanananda, I appeared before Periaval in April 1952, at Anandathandavapuram near Mayavaram. Periaval asked me, “Are you going to study in High school or not?” I replied that I was eager but I did not know how and where. Then Periaval asked my mother to set up family in Chidambaram. At this point I would like to emphasize that even though neither my parents nor I had any idea, much less a plan, for my higher education, Periaval had already a complete plan in his mind as it appeared to me in retrospect.

I joined the Ramaswamy Chettiar High school in Chidambaram. I did excellently in my studies. I used to visit Periaval during my vacation. I was some sort of an assistant in handling out and mailing prasadams to devotees, in reading to Periaval the daily newspapers, and such odd jobs. I wrote my S.S.L.C. Examination in April 1955. By then Periaval had moved to Chinna Kancheepuram. He was often camping at nearby Sivasthanam and Orikkai. Immediately after the Examination, I went to Kancheepuram and spent the next two months with him. When my results appeared in The Hindu in June, 1955, I happily reported to Periaval. 

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