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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Maha Periyavaa

An incident that happened during the Kashi Yatra in the year 1933.

Sri PeriyavaaL's 'visit' to the Banaras Hindu University on an evening.

When PeriyavaaL went there, Madak-kulatthur BrahmaSri Chinnasamy SastrigaL was giving a lecture, about 'vidhi rasAyanam', a Mimamsa work written by Appayya Dikshitar. Sri PeriyavaaL was enraptured by Sri Dikshita's style of writing. He was happy talking about it to 'AtmaVidya BhushaNam' Injik-kollai BrahmaSri Jagadeeswara SastrigaL who had accompanied him. (Only later to this incident, Sri PeriyavaaL read all the Granthas of Appayya Dikshitar).

A reception to PeriyavaaL was held in the Kashi Raja's palace. Notables from the city were present. And a large number of Pandits. A feeling of derision in their hearts; anasUya(displeasure) that could not be placed: 'Why should this man bear the title Jagadguru?... With two questions, we can corner him!"

As PeriyavaaL came and seated himself, a Pandit asked inAvesha: "Who is that Jagadguru?"

"Myself", said PeriyavaaL.

"Oho? You are the Guru for the entire Jagat?"

"No,jagatAm guruH na(I am not saying it in the meaning 'a guru for the Jagat').jagati padyamAnAH sarve mama gurave" (All the creatures in the world are my gurus--in that meaning I am Jagadguru)."

The North Indian Pandits were dumbfounded. They never expected such a simple explanation.

PeriyavaaL looked at the nests that sparrows had built in the pigeon holes constructed on top of those buildings. He showed it to the Pandits and asked, "kimitam(what are these)?"

"nIDa(nest, resting-place)."

"kena nimitta(built by whom)?"


"Sparrows with no hands or legs build nests. Though we have hands and legs we can't build nests like them. The sparrows have akriyA shakti. That, I don't have. Therefore, the sparrow is my guru..." PeriyavaaL said, and worshipped them with folded palms, after patting his cheeks.

The North Indian Pandits who saw this in person were amazed. They bowed to him, adoring him, "You are indeed the Jagadguru!" Until the last day PeriyavaaL stayed in Kashi, there were coming to him daily and prostrated.

The story of the Uppuk Kuravan (the salt merchant)

A largeduHkham, an unbearableshokambefell me. I could not go to have darshan of Sri Maha PeriyavaaL for four months.

PeriyavaaL sent word for me. Two or three big officials came and took me to him.

It was ten in the night. Solitude. The shine of anakal viLakku(earthern lamp).

"...nipuNau", said PeriyavaaL slowly, "sollu(tell me)."

"tava hi charaNAveva nipuNau... the fourthshlokain the Saundarya Lahari...
tvad-anyaH pANibhyAM..."

PeriyavaaL, slowly, "Only AmbaaL is theadaikkalam(asylum) for everyone. She knows it--what to give, how, and when..."


"SambaMurthy, would you know about thesandai(Shandy, a mobile market)?"

"I know. Many merchants will bring various goods and sell them. Thesandaiwill be held on a specific day in a week in every village. They would be travelling under a schedule of 'this place today, another tomorrow'."

"Would you have heard aboutuppuk kuravan(a salt merchant)?"

"Yes. Those who earn their living traditionally by selling salt in thesandais."

"Yes, such anuppuk kuravan; one who hadbhaktiin Kamakshi...

"Once, when he finished his work in asandaiand was on his way to the next village, he came across a jungly region. Some thieves watched this man, carrying his salt bags on a donkey. 'Dei(hey), this man would sell his salt tomorrow, carry money and go this way. We would at that time seize his earnings...', they made a plan. Forthwith,--would you know about the firecrakers they burst?..."

"In temples, during the days of Utsava, they would prepare firecrakers with cracker-explosive mixture, hardening it and inserting a wick. When the edge of the wick is lit by fire, the spark would slowly traverse through and reach the explosive content; and that will burst with a loud noise."

"Yes, what the thieves planned, if they burst a firecraker, the donkey would get upset and run in confusion. Theuppuk kuravanwould scream in fear, faint and fall down. Then they could seize the money from his lap...

"On that day, when theuppuk kuravanspread his ware in thesandai, it rained heavily and all the salt melted away. He hadnaSTam, manak-kaSTam. He scolded Kamakshi with whatever words that came to his mind. His anger was also that he should return home with no money. Turning back, he travelled through the jungly region. When they signted him, the thieves lit their firecracker. The spark travelled through the wick up to the pipe that held the explosive mixture. When they were happy that it was about to burst, it did not burst! When they investigated the reason, they found that the explosive mixture was thoroughly wet in the rain that showered in the morning! So it did not catch fire. They said at once to theuppuk kuravan'Swami has saved you. It was only for your good that it rained. Go home and worship God.'

"Theuppuk kuravanwas dumfounded. 'Then, what I thought as AmbaaL doing medroham(betrayal of trust) was only wrong?' He thought, 'Kamakshi, forgive me. You know what I want, and when. Had it not rained and I had sold the salt and come this way with the earnings, these thieves would have beaten me up. It is my good time that you saved me!'

"Therefore, whatever we get is only AmbaaL'sprasAdam. Remaining without asking for anything is the good that we can do to ourselves..."

When Maha PeriyavaaL's low-toned, leisurely, long talk came to an end, it was two-thirty in the night.

"The ten tons of iron on my head has been unburdened", I said.

His starting with thesandaiand ending it with AmbaaL--though it was for my mental comfort, it suits everyone in the same state of mind, right?

"Without skipping it, you read Ramayana daily. You will get peace of mind", said PeriyavaaL.

The Ramayana ParayaNa and the peace of mind continue together, to this day.

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