Author: Dr.D.Sundararaman - that son of Doraiswamy Iyer
Part - 9
Let me continue my story. My experiences with the six families were quite happy. Each of them treated me like a royal guest as Periaval said. Soon I became an affectionate member of each of these families. Contrary to what Periaval was afraid of, I did not have to skip even a single meal. A gentle and benevolent widow Sundaram Mami (sister of Shri.Neelakanta Iyer of B.G.Paul & Co.) took care of my book expenses each year. The Annamalai University also awarded me a merit-cum- means scholarship of the value of Rs.150/- per year. My higher studies progressed without any problem.
When I was in the second year of studies, my sister Meenakshi and her husband Ramamoorthy also joined the Mutt. From the very beginning, I was completely overpowered by Pattammal’s affection for me. After two years, I stayed with her permanently during the rest of my course and a couple of months more when I became a lecturer in the Annamalai University. The other families rightly understood Pattammal’s overpowering influence on me and my decision to stay with her. Duraiappa’s younger brother’s only son, Natarajan was also studying in the same University. We became very good friends.
After my final B.Sc., Hons. Examination in April, 1960, I spent the next two months with Periaval. He was then camping at Tiruchirapalli in the National High School Campus, where every night, he was delivering a lecture. I spent time in understanding these lectures. I would like to mention one of my most moving experiences of this period.
One morning, I went to a barber’s shop opposite to the National High School for my hair cut. As we all know, while doing their jobs, barbers usually talk a lot about interesting things, about politicians and film stars in particular, to keep their customers from getting bored. While doing his job, this barber asked where I was from and why I was there in Tiruchi. I told him that I was from Chidambaram and that I had come to pay my respects to the Samiar camping in the school, opposite to his shop. Then the barber said, “we are all barbers here and followers of Periar E.V.R.”. I felt a little uneasy. I had a tuft and his knife was on my head! He continued, “I have always thought that all Samiars are bogus and hypocrites. But this Samiar seems to be different”. I became less nervous and asked him why he thought so.
He replied, “Every day, he goes by this street; for the first few days, I did not even look at him; then one morning, I saw him face to face just in front of my shop. His face looked quite innocent and his eyes were sparkling. Suddenly there was a tingling sensation all over my body. Without realizing it, my hands got raised taking the form of showing respect.
With difficulty, I controlled myself and brought my hands down. I told this incident to my barber friends. They also said that this Samiar seem to be genuine. We all decided that we should not cause any harm to the persons who came to see this Samiar. So, you don’t have to be afraid of us”, he assured me, finishing his job. This incident has been ever fresh in my memory. Around 2 p.m. that day, I ran accidentally to the backyard of the school. I was not supposed to see Him on that day, because of my haircut. Persons, after having a shave should not move out where Periaval was or see Him.
I thought the backyard of the school was a safe place. I turned around so as not to face him. But he called and said, “I have finished my biksha; it seems you had today a nice shaving”. After making sure that there was no Mutt official around, I faced Periaval and said, “yes, Periaval is right.” “Did your barber entertain you with some nice stories?”, Periaval asked humorously. I replied very seriously, “on the contrary, my barber talked to me about spirituality; and he even praised you”, then I narrated to him the talk of the barber. Periaval was silent for a few minutes. Then he said, and I quote, translating what he said in Tamil; “Sometimes, I have wondered whether all my meditations and prayers have produced any effect on society? From what you said just now, it seems they have not gone to waste”. Then he went inside. I said to myself, “Your meditations and prayers have indeed produced and will continue to produce desirable changes in all persons in the society”.