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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sorry, uncle! Maha Periyaval

Source: In the Presence of the Divine
Narratives of Experiences with Maha Periyaval Volume 1
Translated by: Sujatha Vijayaraghavan

There is an organization in America called the Paul Brunton Mission, extolling the British journalist who came to India to see the sages here. Brunton had Periyaval’s darsan and on his advice went to Ramana Maharsi whose gracious glance he received. Every year the students who were members of this association, would visit Kanchipuram and stay on for ten or fifteen days, immersing themselves in Periyaval’s blissful darsan.

The group had come as usual, one year. One day, Periyaval was seated under the Pavazhamalli tree, which used to be in Sri Matha in those days, and was giving them darsan. Periyaval was sitting with his eyes closed. The American boys were seated around Periyaval, with their eyes closed in meditation. It was very silent, not a whisper anywhere. 

The attendants Balu and Vedapuri moved away and came out of Sri Matha. A car came to stop there. A middle aged couple and their three children got down. It was clear from the clothes they wore that the children were thoroughly westernized. They looked at Balu and Vedapuri who were standing there. Old, discoloured dhotis, hair knotted in a tuft, stripes of sacred ash, rudraksa beads around the neck. The ultra- modern kids found them amusing. “ Who are these ancients? Some saint around here, it seems? Wonder if he too is like this! Dirty people…… uncivilized …… fools…….. beggars… who are they?”

Balu and Vedapuri went away listening to all this. The family of five went in and sat down before Periyava. The parents too had never before seen Periyava. They had come shopping for Kanchipuram silk sarees and on their way back thought of dropping in at the Sri Matha for a short while. But, what were these foreign boys doing around Periyaval? Sitting with legs folded, eyes closed and meditating? The Indian children from America began to hold a whispered conversation with the American children from America.
“Where have you come from? What’s the special here? How many days is it since you came here?”

One of the American boys replied enthusiastically. “ We came here with just one purpose—Periyava’s darsan. We just come for that. We believe that he is the incarnation of God. Seeing him invigorates our soul. It will stay on throughout our lives. This is our good fortune.”

The Indian children from abroad now saw the light. ‘Aha! Here are these American boys coming to see the Indian Saint and here are we Indians, knowing nothing about this saint…….What a shame!”

Periyava broke his silence. He made kind enquiries of the couple and their children. The children watched Periyaval without batting an eyelid. Some kind of alchemy took place. The children resolved, ’From now on, when we come to India, we will not go back without the saint’s darsan.’ 

When the family came out of the Matha after receiving prasada, they spotted Balu and Vedapuri once again. The same old, dirty beggars! But after Periyaval’s darsan they were not dirty anymore. The three children said in one voice, “Sorry uncle!” Beggars before Periyaval’s darsan become ‘Uncles’ after meeting his gracious glance.

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