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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mahima of Sringeri Sri SharadambaL

This happened several years ago. We decided on a yAtra (pilgrimage) to the kSetras (holy places) in Karnataka, more than fifty devotees of us teaming up for the tour. We started our journey in a large tourist bus. It was our custom to first go to Kanchi, have darshan of PeriyavaaL and then continue our journey.

Around 4 o' clock in the afternoon of that day we stood up after prostrating to Maha SwamigaL in SriMaTham. Giving us his blessings, laughing and raising both his hands SwamigaL asked, "You people have come as a large ghoSTi... well, what's the matter?" Forthwith I elaborated on the details of our Karnataka Yatra to SwamigaL.

Feeling happy he asked, raising his eyebrows, "What is the uddesha (motive) about the first place to go?" I said, "It is our uddesha, Periyavaa, that on reaching Mangalore, we would first go to Talakkaveri, do our saMkalpa snAnam (bath and prayer) there and then go to Sringeri. After that we have decided to have darshan at SubrahmaNya, Dharmasthala, Udipi, Kollur Mukambika, Kateel Durga Parameswari... in this order."

Before I could finish SwamigaL interrupted me. "Wait, wait... In the list you have mentioned, you have missed an important place..." Looking at us who were all standing with a question mark on our faces, and smiling, Periyavaa advised us, "What, you don't understand? I shall tell you... Horanadu kSetra! Mother is staying there as Annapurani, giving her anugraham. A very special place. Must have darshan!"

He continued: "You people do as I tell you now. First go to Sringeri kSetram from Mangalore. There, do your snAnam in Tunga, first have Guru Darshan, get prasAdam from them, then have darshan of SharadambaL and start from there (to other places). After this, you may go to the places in your order of preference. Let one thing be kept in mind though. Anyday you go to Sringeri, as far as possible, reach the place before sAyarakSai (evening)."

All of us nodded our heads in affirmation, prostrated and got up. That Walking God ordered distribution of anugraha prasAdam to us all. The driver and conductor of the bus were called and the prasAdam given to them too. We started thereafter.

On the next morning, our journey from Bangalore to Mangalore. We stayed in a Kalyana Mandapam in Mangalore at night. On the morning the next day we got ready to move after taking bath. A man named Ramanathan who accompanied us came to me and said persuadingly, "We shall first go to Talakkaveri from here. After doing our saMkalpa snAnam there, why not go to Sringeri later?"

I did not agree to that. "Whatever uttaravu (direction) Kanchi Periyavaa has given, we should only follow that!", I said. It was not acceptable to them. "First we should go to Talakkaveri only!" they compelled me, as if having discussed it already among them. However much I pleaded with them, nobody was prepared to lend me ears.

The bus travelled towards Talakkaveri. Staying there for a day and after finishing our saMkalpa snAnam, we started our journey towards Sringeri. It was 8:00 o' clock in the night. Both the front tyres of the bus that was going on the mountain road to Sringeri got punctured and the bus stopped. It was pitch dark outside. In the light from a torch light, Driver and Conductor started working on removing the wheels with the punctured tyres and fixing the Stepney wheels in their place. Hunger pinched our stomach; our last meal was at noon in Bagamandala. Somehow the bus started moving at 10 o' clock. Suddenly it started drizzling. It was 11 o' clock and yet there was no sight of Sringeri. Only then we had the doubt whether we were going on the right road! As God-given, we sighted a man coming in the distance. We stopped the bus near him and inquired. He patted on his head and said, "This road leads to another place. 15 km before you should have turned on the road that branched to the right." It gave us a shock!

So the bus needed to be turned towards the direction we came. Driver got down and had a look. A narrow road, with valleys on both sides. Climbing onto his seat, Driver said with a falsely assured courage, "You people don't worry. I shall back up little by little with sharp turns on the steering wheel and somehow move the bus to an about turn!" and got on the task. Sitting with fear, we started chanting Rama Namam. Somehow having managed to turn the bus ninety degrees, Driver said in a loud voice, suddenly worried, "Sir, sir... Howevermuch I step on the brake, the bus starts slipping behind! Raise an even louder ghoSaNam (proclammation) in the name of God... Only He should save us all now!" His words had the effect of dissolving tamarind inside our belly. We too felt the bus slipping behind. All of us with tears welling up in our eyes started wailing, "Sringeri Sharadambaa, save us Ma! Sringeri Maha Sannidhaname, save us! Kanchi PeriyavaaLe, Ramachandra Murtiye, save us, save us...!"

Suddently Driver said, "Sir, I have now taken my leg from the brake! The vehicle is not slipping behind! As if a hundred people are supporting it from behind, the vehicle stands intact! Now no worry at all. Shall turn the bus in a few moments" and started on his efforts. We did not stop the nAma ghoSaNam.

appAda! (At last) the driver managed to turn the bus. All of us breathed a sigh of peace! It was exactly 12:00 hours midnight. Exactly at one-thirty we reached the entrance to Sringeri Samasthanam. A GanapadigaL who was standing at the entrance to receive us (it is my recollection that it was Nageswara GanapadigaL!) said with a laugh, "Vaango, vaango! You are all coming from Madras, right? First wash your hand and feet and come have some food. You would be hungry. Rice Uppuma and Bringal Gotsu are ready!"

"How do you know, ShastrigaaL that we are coming? We did not even write to you?" I asked him. He said laughing, "It is vAstavam (true) that your coming will not be known to people who are like us. Maha Sannidhanam, dIrgha darshigaL (with foresight) will be knowing everything, you see? It was only Maha Sannidhanam who called me around eleven o' clock and gave orders, 'To have darshan of Sharada, 54 Bhaktas from Madras are coming in a bus. They all come with great hunger! So ask our people to prepare Rice Uppuma and Gotsu and keep the food ready. In addition, for them to stay, arrange a large hall.' After arranging all that I have come to stand here and receive you all!" He sunk us in surprise.

Seeing the dIrgha dharsanam and karuNa (compassion) of SriSriSri Abhinava Vidyatheertha SwamigaL, Adiyen (I) wondered. Tears rushed to my eyes. Seeing that ShastrigaL said, "You are amazed at this thing... I am going to tell you another thing in the morning; you would then be really stunned!" and led us on. Hot Uppuma and Gotsu were served ready in 54 nuni (top) banana leaves. We ate the food filling up our stomach.

The next morning. Finishing our snAnam in the Tunga river, we started to have darsh of Maha Sannidhanam SriSriSri Abhinava Vidyatheertha SwamigaL. The ShastrigaL we met last night was seen by us.

To him I asked joining my palms, "You said you would tell us some vishayam (news) in the morning. I pray that you please tell it now."

ShastrigaL started talking: "Would have been around 12 o' clock last night. Sitting in his ekAnta (private) room, Maha Sannidhanam was examining some Shastra books. I was sitting in the outer hall. Suddenly coming out, Maha Sannidhanam kept both his hand pressed hard to the wall and started murmurming some mantra. I too got up. From the posture of Maha Sannidhanam it seemed as if he was supporting the wall from falling. I did not understand anything. Five minutes later, taking his hands off the wall, Maha Sannidhanam came to me and said, 'You witnessed and wondered why I kept my hands against the wall in that pose and did some Japam. It is nothing else. The bus wherein came those people from Madras to have darshan of SharadambaL missed its way. Later when they realized the mistake and turned the bus, the brakes did not apply... bus started moving behind on its own. The Bhaktas in them wailed, 'save us, save us!' calling aloud the name of Amma Sharada. So I supported the bus from slipping behind by resting my hands on the walls. Now everything is alright, and the bus is coming towards Sringeri! You go and make the arrangements as I told you', and went inside his room. I stood stunned!" Listening to this, all of us wept. We started to have darshan of that Walking SharambaL.

Looking at this Adiyen who prostrated and got up, SriSriSri Maha Sannidhanam said laughingly, "Should always listen to what the Mahaans say. And follow it. If you make a change in it everything that happens would be changed too. What, you understand?" With these words he did anugraha of prasAdam. This Adiyen then realized that Maha Sannidhanam only informed in sUcaka (by indicating) to the fact of our not following what Sri Kanchi Periyavaa ordered for us!

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