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Friday, March 8, 2013

PeriyavaaL's Greatness

PeriyavaaL's Greatness
author:...... S. Panchapakesa SastrigaL, Kumbakonam
compiler:... T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
book:.........Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaLvol. 1, pages 73-81
publisher:.. Vanathi Padhippaham (Aug 2006 Edition)
translator: saidevo

In Kanchipuram Sivasthanam, the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Advaita Sabha was held. A number ofmaha vidvAns (great pundits) had gathered. NooraNi Sri Ananta Krishna SastrigaL was also there. One of the Udupi ParyayapIThAdhipatis (pontiff) was on hisvijayam(tour) to Kanchi. NooraNi Sri Ananta Krishna SastrigaL supplicated to PeriyavaaL to bring the Udipi pontiff to the Advaita Sabha. Sri PeriyavaaL asked Sri Ananta Krishna SastrigaL himself to bring the pointiff to the Sabha.

Udupi SwamigaL visited the Sabha with happiness. Everyone asked him to give ananugraha bhASaNa(holy lecture). So he gave a longvicAram(inquiry) and spoke that the Advaita Shastra had its own shortcomings. He elaborated on many things in his talk of nearly an hour. Looking at the Pandits, he asked them to reply to the points he raised in his lecture. But then since he talked fast and long, thevidvAns asked him to repeat his lecture. To that Udupi SwamigaL said that if Sri PeriyavaaL directed him to repeat his lecture he would do so. Sri PeriyavaaL at once said with amandahAsam(gentle laugh), "You don't have to repeat it. I shall do theanuvAdam" and did hisanuvAdamlike a tape recorder, without leaving anaMsam(part) of what Udupi SwamigaL had said. All themaha vidvAns, including the Udupi SwamigaL were wonder-struck. Since I was also present there at the moment, I had thebhAgyamof experiencing the greatness of Sri PeriyavaaL.

*** *** ***

Once when Sri PeriyavaaL did hisvijayamto Chennai, thousands of people had gathered to have darshan of the puja performed by Sri PeriyavaaL. A woman had come with her child. Someone had stolen the gold chain that was on the child's neck. Whatever efforts the woman took to locate it, she couldn't succeed; she was very unhappy. After the puja was over and thetIrthawas given, people queued up to receive the holy water. The woman who lost the chain came before the sage in her turn. A woman who stood before her extended her hand to receive the holy water. Sri Periyavaa looked at that woman and said, "You first give back the chain you have kept hidden in your waist to the woman behind you. Only thentIrthamfor you." The woman who stole the chain gave it back as directed and the ignominy she suffered on account of her theft was known only to a few people around her. She had the mental peace that Sri Periyavaa saved him from an ugly situation. The woman who lost the chain was also happy. They both returned to their homes in happiness.

*** *** ***

Once Sri PeriyavaaL was staying in SriRama Mandiram of Kumbakonam. Pudu Periyavaa also was on hisvijayamto the place. A wealthy man known to me did thebhikSAon that day. He made me stand upfront in thebhikSA vandanamand puja because of his affection towards me. It was one o' clock in the afternoon when the firstkAla(session) puja was over. I had to go to the Vedic school to teach theveda bhASyamlessons.

Pudu PeriyavargaL was to come to perform the nextkAlapuja. Sri PeriyavaaL had gone inside, but sat in a place where everyone could see him. It would be three o' clock by the time the secondkAlapuja completed and thetIrtha prasAdamgiven. It was getting late for me. I needed to go before Sri Pudu PeriyavargaL sat for the puja. It would have been proper only if I left before he sat, not after, because I was sitting too near. But I had a desire in my mind. I had not taken food since that morning; it would be better if I could get thetIrtha prasAdam; thetIrthampoured asabhiSekamto Sri ChandraMauleesvara who was brought by Adi Sankara; and theabhiSekamwas done by the hands of Sri Periyavaa. I grieved in my mind that there could be none who is more fortunate than the one who gets thetIrtha prasAdamfrom Sri Periyavaa's hands; but today thatbhAgyamwas not to be there for me.

SincetIrthamwould be given only after completion of the secondkAlapuja, I left the place with the grievance that I did not get thebhAgyam. Exactly at that time, snapping his fingers, Sri PeriyavaaL ordered me to come inside. He asked me to extend my hand, gave me thetIrthamand hisanugraha. Thus he did hisanugrahato me even going against theniyama(restriction), knowing the grievance in my mind through hisjnAna dRSTi(third eye). This is an unforgettable experience in my life.

*** *** ***

During the years 1950-51, Sri PeriyavargaL was staying in the Kumbakonam MaTham.

One night he gave anupanyAsam(speech). No microphone was kept before him at that time. People had filled SriMaTham in attendance. During his talk he recited the two phrases 'karma nAsha jalasbarsAt' of ashlokaand kept repeating them, without uttering the fullshloka. I thought out of ignorance that Sri PeriyavaaL did not know the rest of theshloka. Since I knew thatshlokaand since I was a boy, with bubbling eagerness I recited theshlokato him loudly, even while he was talking.

karmanAsha jalasbarsAt karadoya vilanganat |
kaNtakI bAhudharaNAt dharmaH kSarati kIrtanAt ||

Sri Periyavaa stopped hisupanyAsamand ordered me to repeat theshloka. When someone interrupts in the middle of his speech, a speaker would normally be angry and jelous and thinkadhika prasangi(overly talkative) about the person who interrupted him.

But Sri PeriyavargaL is a KaruNAmUrti! When he ordered me to repeat theshloka, I started reciting it, but then forgot the lines! He blessed me with the words "The child has recited it." He pretended as if he forgot theshlokain order to give the chance to an enthusiastic boy, at the same time without exposing my ignorance. The incident is still fresh in my mind, standing as an example that there is no other icon of compassion than Sri PeriyavargaL.

*** *** ***

It was the year 1963. Sri PeriyavargaL was camping in Marudanallur. The Tiruppavai-Tiruvempavai conference was held in a grand manner in the Kumbesvara Temple, Kumbakonam. Sri Bhatavatsalam was then the chief minister of Tamilnadu. P.T.Rajan who did thetiruppaNi(holy works) of Madurai Meenakshi Temple and the Tamilnadu chief minister visited the place. It was the time ofsandhya kAlam(dusk). I was sitting near Sri PeriyavargaL with a desire to listen to hisanugraha bhASaNam(blessed speech). When he was about to commence hisupanyAsam, Sri Periyavaa looked at me, folded his palm as if doingAcamana(sipping water as purification in a Hindu ritual) and gestured me to go out, thus making me realize that I should not skip mysandhyA vandanamatsandhyA kAlamfor listening to anupanyAsam. I went forthwith to do thesandhyAat the holy pond.

At ten o' clock that night, without our inviting him, he visited our home in the MelaKaveri (west of Kaveri) and didparamAnugrahamfor more than an hour. He thus made explicit the truth that for a brahmin the karmas such assandhyA vandanamare the most important; there is nothing loftier than them. 'If a brahmin does his duties regularly, I shall call on him personally and give myanugraham. Only he who does not do his dharma properly need to come seeking me.'

*** *** ***

The Advaita Sabha was held in TiruvidaiMarudur during a ChaturmAsya time. Sri PeriyavargaL who was observing a vow of silence gave it up and spoke in the Sabha saying that all thegRuhasthas (householders) should at least doaupAsanam(homely fire worship). From these two examples it can be understood that it was Sri PeriyavaaL's decision that agRuhastAshould never forgo the karmas ordained for him.

*** *** ***

Once when Sri Periyavaa was staying in Sivasthanam, Kanchipuram, a youth who had obtained the doctor degree for his researches in botony sought his darshan. Periyavaa asked him, "What is the reason for the namevetrilai(betel leaf), you know?" When he said that he did know it, Periyavaa explained, "vetrilaiis a creeper. Any creeper would have flowers that ripe into fruits. The ripening into fruit may not be there, but at least the flower will be there. There is no creeper that never blossoms. But then in this creepr there would be no flowers or fruits. Only the leaves will be there. Since this creeper remains a plant with mere leaves it got the namevetrilai(mere leaf)."

The youth who had taken the doctor degree realized that it should really be given to PeriyavaaL.

*** *** ***

Sri PeriyavargaL hadapAra jnAnam(limitless knowledge) in Silpa Shastras. He would teach facts that the sculptors themselves would not know. In the Agama Shastras, they have divided rocks into three kinds: male, female, neither male or female. Some statues of gods should be made only of male rocks, some of female and some ofnapuMsa(genderless) rocks. The sculptors would know the nature of the rocks by a cursory go at them with their chisel. But Sri PeriyavargaL would tell the nature of a rock just by looking at it.

In addition, there could be a toad inside the rock. Such rocks should not be used for sculpting god statues. Once asthapati(sculptor) showed a rock to Sri PeriyavaaL, who said forthwith, "This rock has a toad inside it." The sculptor argued that he tested and decided that there was no toad inside, so he brought the rock.

Periyavaa asked him to break the rock. When it was done, a toad came out jumping from inside the rock. The sculptor was surprised. Thus the knowledge Sri PeriyavaaL had in Silpa Shastras is rare for even those who worked with it.

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