Author: Dr.D.Sundararaman - that son of Doraiswamy Iyer
Part - 8
After these arrangements for my tuition fees and ‘pocket expenses’, I was wondering what Periaval was going to do for my boarding and lodging. One day one couple in their fifties, came to see me in my sister’s house in Chidambaram. They introduced themselves as Mr.& Mrs. Swaminatha Iyer. They said they had just returned from Kancheepuram after having darshan of Periaval. Then Mrs. Swaminatha Iyer said that when they were about to take leave of Periaval, “Periaval said, I am interested in a boy, who has just joined the University in your town; if you give him boarding and lodging, it would be your biksha to me”. I replied immediately, ‘we would take care of that boy very gladly for the entire duration of his studies.’
But Periaval added a condition that we should provide boarding and lodging only for one day a week, for the duration of studies. We reluctantly agreed; we are not blessed with children. We thought we were going to have a boy all to ourselves. Periaval also asked us to tell our two neighbours Pattammal and Kokila that Periaval wanted each of them to provide the boy with boarding and lodging, for one day a week, for his period of education. Pattamma and her husband Duraiappa are great devotees of Periaval. We told Pattamma and Kokila what Periaval wanted them to do. They were immensely pleased. We got your address from the Mutt and have come to invite you to our house”. I became quite embarrassed. I cannot now adequately describe what my feelings were on hearing this history. I thought that the mysterious Periaval was watching the whole proceedings. I was deeply touched.
I immediately prostrated before the venerable couple. I told them that Periaval never even hinted to me of such an arrangement for me and that I would come to them, only after seeing Periaval. They left reluctantly, saying, “Please give us the happiness of having you in our house”. My sister Meenakshi and I, both got quite confused by the turn of events. Before I could have time to think about the couple and their preposition, the next day, an elderly looking diminutive man came to see me. He said he was a medical doctor and that he had just returned from Kancheepuram after visiting Periaval. Then he told me exactly the same story, as told the previous day by Mr. & Mrs. Swaminatha Iyer; that he and his brother, timber merchant Mahalinga Iyer were staunch devotees of Periaval and that it would be their great privilege to give me boarding and lodging, one day a week in each of their house. I thanked him and told him that I would come to see him, after visiting Periaval. Then I went to my classes.
When I returned, I saw a young man waiting for me. He introduced himself as Sundaresan, the second son of Katcheri Street Rajam mami. He said to his mother there was no other God than Periaval and that she had just returned from Kancheepuram, after having darshan of her God. Then Sundaresan told me the exact story, as told earlier by Mr. & Mrs. Swaminatha Iyer. Sundaresan said, his mother was anxiously waiting to meet me and was looking forward to having me in their house once a week. I told that University student Sunderesan, that I would see his mother after visiting Periaval. It was becoming too much for me to make out anything. Before another visitor showed up with a similar story, I wanted to visit Periaval. I took the night train to Kancheepuram.
The next morning I waited for Periaval to finish his morning ‘anushtanams’. Then I appeared before him and did my namaskarams. I did not say anything, when he looked at me. Periaval was silent for a couple of minutes and then said, “So, except for one day in a week, your weekly boarding and lodging have been arranged.” I did not respond and stood still. He continued “You seem to be not quite enthusiastic about my arrangement”. “May be you think it would be better if lodging has been arranged”. Again I did not utter a word.
“May be you think it would be a humiliating experience. Each of the persons, who came and saw you, is a great devotee of me; you will be a royal guest in their homes”. I continued my silence, he went on, “You are an expert in Tamil; you must have known the famous poetess Aauvaiyar’s saying”, “Getting educated is good, even if one has to beg; if you think that my arrangement is some sort of a begging, I tell you, you did not beg; I will beg for you”. Without realizing it, tears welled up in my eyes. When I went to Periaval, I was not sure whether I would accept this arrangement, because I considered that it would be quite a humiliating experience. But when the God himself told me, “You did not beg,” all my ego in me got evaporated instantly.
With tears flowing from my eyes, I did my sashtanga namaskarams and told him, “I do accept your arrangement for me”. In order not to make my God beg another person for the missing day of my weekly meals, I told Periaval that I would eat one day a week in my sister’s house. I could not stand before him anymore because of my emotion. I was leaving but He called me and asked pointblank, “Did you accept my arrangement for you, because I did it, or because you want somehow to complete your higher education?” It is because of both, I said and left.
From that day onwards, I decided not to subject my Periaval to do anything for me. Even in my prayers to him, I never sought any benefit for me or for my family. He had blessed me even when I was a very young boy.