Author: Dr.D.Sundararaman - that son of Doraiswamy Iyer
Part - 5
I rushed to Chinna Kancheepuram to tell my father of what had happened to me at the River Palar. My father was more surprised than I was. He said that if I had faith in Periaval, I should do as Periaval wished. He added “I am sorry I cannot be of much help to you”. Then he went to do his kainkaryam.
Only a few days were left for sending the application. There was a hitch. My mark list had to be attested by a Gazetted Officer, as per the instructions. To speak out frankly I did not know who a Gazetted Officer was. At that time there came a visitor from Madras, an elderly orthodox looking person. I went to him, showed him my application form and asked him whether he knew any Gazetted Officer. He said that he would very gladly attest my mark list.
Immediately I gave my application to him requesting that it has to be signed by a Gazetted Officer. Then he introduced himself as a Chief Professor of the University of Madras. I was ashamed and apologized to him. He wished me well in my studies and attested my mark lists. This incident was a big lesson to me. From that day onwards, I never judged a person by his or her appearance.
A few days later I submitted my application and simultaneously I received my acknowledgement along with the admission letter from Annamalai University. I rushed to Periaval who was engaged in a discussion with some visitors. I was hesitant to approach him at that time. He saw me, abruptly stopped his conversation and asked me, “You have received your admission letter, is it not?” I nodded my head. Then Periaval called one of the persons in the audience and asked him, “Are you not the Manager of the gold merchant, Rathnaswami Chettiar of Chidambaram?” That person admitted it to be so. “Will your chettiar be able to do something, if I ask him to do?”, Periaval asked that person. Chettiar is a great devotee of Periaval and he will do anything that Periaval bids, that person replied. Periaval told the Manager: “I am not asking for much; I am interested in this good boy; He has secured admission in your University, ask your Chettiar to do the needful so that this boy joins the University”. The Manager replied, “it will be done”. Then Periaval turned towards me and said, “Your problem is solved; go and study well”. A little later, I met the Manager of the Chettiar and told him that I expected Mr.Chettiar to pay my first tuition fees of Rs.110/-. The Manager said that there would not be any problem and asked me to meet the Chettiar, as soon as I arrived at Chidambaram.
Now that my tuition fee has been arranged, I began to think about my boarding and lodging. Since I did not have the least idea that I would be studying at Annamalai University and also because of my father’s operation, my mother shifted our family from Chidambaram to Chinna Kancheepuram. I did not want to ask Periaval explicitly about this at that time.
Since I had already confided in him that I had faith in Him, I thought there was nothing else I could do. My second elder sister and her family were in Chidambaram. I thought I would stay with her for a few days till Periaval made arrangements for my boarding and lodging. I went to Chidambaram and met Mr.Rathnaswami Chettiar in his big gold shop. Mr.Chettiar said his Manager had told him about me and asked me what I wanted from him. I told him I needed Rs.110/- to pay for my tuition fees. Then Chettiar said, “I don’t know how you misunderstood my Manager; how can I give you Rs.110/- just like that? Do you have any land or house or jewellery as security so that I can lend you this amount?” I said that I had none of those. Then Chettiar said, “You have already got the admission. I won’t give you the money you ask”. His Manager was not to be found anywhere in the shop.
This was my first and most humiliating experience. My faith in Periaval got momentarily shattered. Why did Periaval subject me to this humiliating experience? I rushed to the Post Office and gave a telegram to the Manager of the Mutt, “inform Periaval that Chettiar is unwilling to give me the money for tuition fees and I was awaiting further instructions”. Feeling completely helpless, I returned to my sister’s house. I returned via the West Gopuram and the North Gopuram of the famous Nataraja Temple. That morning Sri Ramakrishna Sastrigal, a learned man of the Mutt had come to my sister’s house. Ramakrishna Sastrigal greeted me. I did not even bother to acknowledge his presence. I went inside and laid down myself flat, upside down.
The Sastrigal patted my back and said, “I like you very much”, to which I retorted “Yes! All you people like me because Periaval is kind to me: now this Periaval has completely let me down and I am completely humiliated”. “Don’t say a word against Periaval”, Sastrigal said, “Look at me, it is He who has sent me here with the money you needed”. On hearing this, I looked at him angrily. He said, “You may get angry with me; don’t say a word against that Karunamurthy.
After you left him and after his puja, he called me and said that he was worried about you as he was not sure whether Chettiar would give you the money. He asked me to go to the cashier of the Mutt and get Rs.110/-. I got the money. Then Periaval asked me to go over here taking the next available train. He asked me to observe the situation here and if the Chettiar has not given you the money, only then he asked me to tell you and give you the money. You are a blessed boy”. Handing out the money to me, Mr.Ramakrishna Sastrigal left for Kancheepuram. I became speechless. I regretted my momentary loss of faith in Periaval. I thought this was one of the mysterious ways of his action