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Thursday, April 4, 2013


kELungo(listen to me)! Once there was a large crowd to witness the puja. An aged Amma was sitting, wearing anArmadi(fibre made, worn by orthodox Brahmin widows) sari. Calling me, Periyavaa pointed out to that Amma, and told me to ask her, "nInga sumangaliyA(are you a Sumangali, a woman whose husband is alive)?" For me--it gave shivers. How can I ask that question at her? But then Periyavaa wants me to ask it. I approached her with fear and asked, "nInga sumangaliyA?" "Yes," she said. "Why do you ask?"

"Periyavaa wanted me to ask you..."

"Tell him I have come only from Sumangali village."

Only then I understood that Sumangali was the name of a village! Using that name, Periyavaa had played a trick on me!

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D. JanakiRamaiyah, Lingappan Street, Kanchi. Age 87.

kumbhAbhiSekamof Sri Kamakshi temple took place in 1944. It was during that time that Janakiramaiyah came in close connection with SriMaTham.

Belonging to the sect oftIrtha-prohita, JanakiRamaiyah was a headman of their group. During his father's time, there were three or four Purohit clerks in their home. They would go to the Kanchipuram railway station, check for the arrival of any North Indian tourists, bring them and provide them with the facility of food and lodging. People from royal families and Marvaris used to come from the North. These Prohits would arrange for their performingsankalpa snAnam, tarpaNamin the SarvaTirtham. JanakiRamaiyah laments, immersed in old mamories, "That custom has completely stopped now! No one comes with the intention of doingpitru kAryam, and there are nomanuSyato arrange for such rites."

At one point of time Mahaswamigal didtiraskAram(giving up) the right as traditional administrative trustees of Sri Kamakshi Kovil. The temple came under the control of the Government Endowments Department. But as minister M. Bhaktavatsalam fervently pleaded with SwamigaL, he consented for the appointment of a Dharmakarta as the representative of SriMaTham. JanakiRamaiyah was made the temple trustee during 1953-54. Later, the case came up for hearing in the court and Kamakshi Kovil once again came under the administration of SriMaTham. SwamigaL appointed JanakiRamaiyah in the post of SriKaryam when the latter had gone for thekumbhAbhiSekamof Madurai Meenakshi Kovil. Owing to failing health, JanakiRamaiyah took retirement from the post in 1984.

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Let us listen to the man himself.

When I took charge of the temple, there was absolutely no income. If we placed a hundi, half the collection would go to thesthAnika(temple office). Therefore we kept a hundi called NityaPuja Dharma Hundi. Once in a year we would open the hundi. There would be only thirty or forty thousand rupees in it. Only then we would settle the grocery and flower shop accounts; those people would wait patiently till such time.

Once I asked Periyavaa, "There is not enough money for the Kovil expenses? Shall I collect some entrance fee?" PeriyavaaL was very angry! He said sternly, "If a Sannyasi who does not touch money come for AmbaaL darshan, where would he go for money? Fee for Swami darshan? There is no provision in any law?... Not at all justified. Should not collect entrance fees."

Kamakshi has a golden necklace made of Lalitha Sahasranama coins; Periyavaa had the jewel made for her. Know how he arranged it? There was not a single advertisement. He asked everyone by his word of mouth and arranged for it!

"JanakiRamaa, would not the necklace of coins be heavy? Kamakshi would feel the pain if it is rested on her shoulders, is it not? Therefore, arrange for hanging it from a hook screwed in thetiruvAsi(the decorated arch around the image of the deity)."

PeriyavaaL's soft heart was worried that the necklace would feel heavy for Kamakshi who remained incilA mUrtam(stone image) and dispensed her grace. For SriCharaNar is the one who had darshan of thatmUrtamassAkSAtAmbaaL!

idaik kELungo(And then listen to this)! Another similar incident. When he was in Chinna Kanchipuram Anaikatti Street MaTham,kanakAbhiSekamwas performed for PeriyavaaL. It was hisuttaravu(direction) that the gold showered on him should be used to makesvarNa kavacham(gold cover) for Kamakshi's lotus feet andkavachamfor AdiSankara statue.

Generally, to make a goldkavacham, they would first make an exact-fitting copper cover and then fix a layer of old over it, so the devotees would see it in happiness as a gold cover. But then what did Maha SwamigaL do?

"JanakiRamaa, thesvarNamshould touch AcharyaL's body. Therefore ask them to fix a golden layer on the inside of the copperkavachamtoo."

Yes, that much Guru Bhakti!

ThesvarNa kavachamof AdiSankaracilA mUrtamin Kamakshi Kovil was made, gold-layered on both sides of the copper cover, as directed by Periyavaa!

In the year 1953, Periyavaa read from a copper plate edict in SriMaTham. It was mentioned in the edict that the KamakshigarbhagRuha vimAnam(dome of the sanctum) was a golden dome and that there was atannIr pandal(charity act of supplying free drinking water) at the entrance of SriMaTham. Forthwith he arranged for starting atannIr pandal. It was arranged then and there that a Pattiamma (old woman) would be given a monthly wage of fifteen rupees, plus oneAzhAkku(one-eightth of a measure of) rice daily. That dharma continues even today.

Following PeriyavaaL's directions, Pudu Periyavaa has carried out his Guru's order by providing a golden dome for Kamakshi.

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When Periyavaa was staying in Tenambakkam, Kalki Sadasivam and M.S. came for darshan and submitted the royalty amount of sixty thousand rupees they received from the sale of records of Kamakshi SuprapAdam Stotra she recited. At that time, a house came up for sale in Chinna Kanchipuram Sannidhi Street. Periyavaa asked for purchase of that house from the royalty amount. It was only in that house that Dr. Badri performed the second eye surgery for PeriyavaaL.

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A Puja was performed in Nungambakkam Dattaji's house. He made it a grand occasion with a flowery pandal and other magnificent decorations. The adjacent house was that of Maharajapuram Viswanathan Aiyar. He came for darshan. "Viswanatha, Dattaji has erected apoopandal.Nee sangeeta pandal pOttu jamAi(you erect a pandal of music and make it grand)", said Periyavaa. ThesankarAbharaNam AlApanAhe had given in his concert on that day...adAdA! two hours passing by was not felt at all!...

PeriyavaaL was fond ofsankarAbharaNam(ragha).

It was then that he made me the manager of the MaTham.

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