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Monday, November 25, 2013

oru Uzhiyanin antarangkam-01

A servant's personal reminiscences--oru Uzhiyanin antarangkam
author:....... InduvAsan, VAlAjApeTTai
compiler:..... T.S.KOthaNDarAma sarma
translator.... saidevo
source:....... MahA PeriyavAL darisana anubhavangaL v03-p033-055

Pages 33-37
For the first time, on 18.3.1978, I had darshan of PeriyAvAL.

It was a sacred shubha-dinam--auspicious day. The dinam when PeriyavA admitted me into his grace--ATkoNDa dinam.

My father shrI TR SundaramUrti (teacher, VAlAjA) has told me several times about the mahiman--greatness, of PeriyavAL. With him, I too have had darshan of PeriyavAL. It was just a darshan, with no feelings of ecstasy cropping up inside me.

But then the darshan of the eighteenth of March, altogether drew me towards his side.

Like the shiva-gaNas--Shiva's group of assistants, who do service to KailAsha-nAtha--Lord of KailAsh, I too was admitted to the group of servants who did service to PeriyavAL.

PeriyavA was then staying in SivAsthAnam. You know what task did he assign to me?

The task of watering, drawing water from the well there, the cows and calves of shrIMaTham and the mango plants and creepers there! In addition, the sweet task of preparing pAnakam--jaggery-sweetened water drink, to satisfy the thirst of the aDiyArs--(Tamizh) devotees, who thronged the place.

At those times, I did not know anything about the AchAra-anuShThAnas--religious routines, and the sampradAyas--customs, of shrIMaTham. People like METTUr RAjagopAla mAmA--uncle, (later, METTUr SvAmigaL), and BAlu mAmA trained me in those practices.

When he was doing pradakShiNam--going round, in the SivAsthAnam BrahmapurIsvarar Alayam--temple, PeriyavA would look at every plant there, and also look at the cows and calves, compassion welling up. (In later days, I had thought and felt happy about how much bhAgyam--fortune, those plant-creepers and cow-calves should have earned to get PeriyavAL's dIrgha-dRShTi--deep glance, grace them.)

Those days PeriyvAL himself would ask me, "What did you do today?" What he said on my reply would contain aneka upadeshas--many teachings. Any mistakes I committed, he would indicate and raise me up, without my knowing it--without hurting me.

Every day, early morning at three o' clock, starting from SivAsthAnam, he would do pradakShaNam of the four mADa vIdhis--surrounding main streets, of shrI VaradarAja PerumAL temple (all of us accompanying him, chanting the viShNu sahasranAmam repeatedly, in low voice).

*** *** ***

The day of 1978 April 16th.

Starting as usual at three in the early morning, after having darshan at shrI KAmAkShIamman temple, and then at SureshvarAchArya's sannidhi--divine abode, at shrIMaTham, he started his pAdayAtrA--travel on foot, towards a grAmam--village, called KIzhambi.

KAnchIpuram-vAsis--residents of KAnchIpuram, assembling in large numbers, supplicated to him in tears, not to go on yAtrA for bahudUram--long distance.

PeriyavAL was observing kAShTa maunam--complete, inactive silence. Without showing any signs, he contined to walk.

From a place called Chinnappa Samudram, on the way to AnantapUr, we stayed in a village called Katri. In this village, there is a purAtana--ancient, LakShmI NarasiMha temple.

Starting from AnantapUr and arriving at Sanghamesvaram, we then proceeded and stayed in a dilapidated maNDapam--pavilion, in a place called TammApuram.

The date of June 27, 1978 is one that cannot be forgotten in my life! On that auspicious day, I had the fortune of having darshan of MahA-PeriyavAL and Pudu-PeriyavAL together.

In that small maNDapam in disrepair, the trikAla--thrice a day, ChandramaulIshvara puja was performed in a grand manner.

From TammApuram, through the place called DADi-badri, we arrived at a place called KUtthi. A grand reception for PeriyavAL in that town. The chippantis--staff, and the town people had made elaborate facilities for our stay. Everyone was in utsAham--joy.

Then, from that place, we reached a small village named RAjApuram, at a distance of five kilometers. It was a day (13.7.78) of alpa-dvAdashI: that is, dvAdashI lasted only up to ten in the morning on that day. So, finishing our pAraNai--(Tamizh) food, before ten o' clock, we started towards a village called TimmAnjcharlA, thirty kilometers away. Without stopping anywhere en route, we were walking slowly. The time of night arrived. In addition, it started raining heavily! Hailstorm with thunder!

The path ahead was totally invisible! No sight of the ups and downs on the road was possible, and the legs slipped often. A good building was seen nearby. We had the yearning if PeriyavA would tell us, 'we can stay there'.

"Walk chanting viShNu sahasranAmam", were his orders. In other words, it was understood that we were not going to stay anywhere en route.

At that time, PANAmpaTTu KaNNan and I were going in the front, dragging the cycle rickshaw. shrIKaNThan mAmA and shrI BAlu mAmA came behind, along with PeriyavA, pushing the rickshaw. METTUr RAjagopAla mAmA came behind, on the right side of the rickshaw. Leading us was shrI Chandramauli (ChInu mAmA's son), signalling us through our passage with an electric torchlight.

It was eleven-thirty at night when we reached TimmAnjcharlA! The next morning we reached a bigger place called GuNDakkal.

The mukhAm--camp, was at GuNDakkal. A day after, I had to get back to KUtthi for a task. I went looking at the road I passed through. Only then it was known that the path we walked through two days back was a pukka jungle path!

Pages 41-44

1975, August 6th.

We were reading appar devAram. PeriyavA told us then.

"SvAmi--god Shiva, has the name prANanAthar, prANeshvarar at (the temple in) Tirumanggalak-kuDi.

"The puranic legend of the place says that Agastya muni, doing prANAyAmam (controlling his breathing), brought water from the river, and did abhiShekam to prANeshvarar using his two hands. To control breathing is prANAyamam, not just touching the nose and chanting the mantra. When doing gAyatrI japam, one should control breathing and do it.

"chandrakam means a peacock's tail. There is a vAkya--statement, kalasha-chandraka nIlakaNTha visphurUtim kAlikA

When the clouds gather and grow thick in the sky, peacocks would spread out their tails and dance in joy. Herons would fly forming a row that resembles a garland. Parameshvara's dance was said to be one such! The megham--clouds, called nIlakANTha, the asthimAlA--garland of bones that resembled a crowd of white herons, and his visphrUti naTanam like a peacock dancing with its tail spread out! ... what beautiful upamAnam--simile!"

*** *** ***

"A man named kuRumbar gave a wood apple to SvAmi--Shiva, at TiruvIzhi-mazhalai.

"SvAmi in this place married KAtyAyanI--DurgA, and went around in his wedding procession in kizhavan kolam--(Tamizh) form of an old man. After giving darshan to everyone, he disappeared dampati-sameta--as a couple. Then he gave darshan to the sage KAtyAyana, with five hundred RShis--ascetics. The SvAmi at this place has apaTTappeyar--(Tamizh) nickname, called mAppiLLai svAmi--bridegroom god!

"In the AmbAL sannidhi street, there lived the kAtyAyana sUtrakAras--those who followed the KAtyAyana sUtra text, who were trained in the shukla-yajur veda. Here, for five hundred men, the name was only vizhiyAn--one who has the Eye, literally. Only for the five-hundred-and-first man, there would give SvAmi's name.

"In the month of vaishAkha pUrNimA--full moon day of VaikAsi month, the utsavam--annual festivities, would be held in the temple. Only if five hundred people are present, could this utsavam be held.

"There are five wonders in the chOzha-nADu--country of the Chozhas. 1. AvuDaiyAr-kOil koDungkai--curved roof of thinning stone; 2. Tiruvalan-chuzhi palakaNi--a latticed window of granite; 3. The maNDapach-chengkal--brick pavilion, at TiruvIzhi-mazhalai; 4. The madhil--compound wall, at KiDArang-koNDAn; and 5. The images of the eye and the viLAmpazham--wood apple, seen on the legs of the utsava vigraham--procession idol, at ViShNupuram temple.

"Once when there was famine, Appar and Sambandhar sang verses (on Shiva) invoking financial help to do-amudhu--feed, the aDiyArs--devotees. ShivaperumAn showered his grace (in reply) by keeping (two) gold coins on the bali-pITham--pedestal for offers to the deity, at the TiruvIzhimazhalai temple. Appar got a blemishless, full coin and Sambandhar got a defective coin at that time."

*** *** ***

When we were doing pArAyaNam-of--reading, the periya purANam, he spoke to us about Kambar and AmbikApati.

"In the maTham at TiruvoTRiyUr, to a girl who was working as a maid, Kambar was born.

"A woman called Ambikai CheTTy was worshipping a shivalingam at KIzhambi. That lingam had the name AmbikApatIshvarar. That very name Kambar gave his son. Kambar's wife too belong to TiruvoTRiyUr.

"The Ur--town, that was known by the name kalingga mAnagaram in the ancient time is now called TakkOlam.

"ToNDaimaNDalam was a nADu--country, which was the very embodiment of satyam--speaking truth. This viShayam--information, is seen in the stone epigraphs of Asoka's time."

In this way, PeriyavA would tell us countless pieces of news at frequent times.

*** *** ***

1978, September 21.

PeriyavA was staying in a car shed. The then prime minister shrI MorArji DesAi, and with him shrI P.RAmachandran, VAjpAi, DevarAj Urs, came and had darshan of the sage in that car shed.


Pages 44-49

The yAtrA--journey, continued. We arrived at an old samasthAnam--princely state, called SANDUr.

shrI Ghorpade of the rAja-parampara--royal lineage, and the iLayarAjA--(Tamizh) prince, gave a very grand reception to PeriyavAL.

Fifteen days camp in this place. shrI Shankara jayanti was celebrated in-visheSham--with distinction.

President NIlam SanjIva ReDDy had darshan of PeriyavAL in SANDUr. What was important was where he had it.

PeriyavA gave darshan, sitting under a vanni--mesquit, tree, in the goShAlA--cow shed, run by king Ghorpade! The president was surprised at PeriyavAL's eLimai--simplicity, and samatvam--equality/equanimity. The meeting was a quiet incident, without any of the fanfare that accompanies a President's visit.

Where PeriyavAL stayed, king Ghorpade has constructed a temple resembling a maNimaNDapam--large hall, as a memorial for PeriyavAL. There was no limit to Ghorpade's gurubhakti!

*** *** ***

kugrAmam--hamlet, on the way from ChittUr to MadanapaLLi. We stayed for the night at the Shiva temple. Since it was night and due to the exertion of walking, PeriyavA retired. Since it was customary to start the yAtrA in the early morning, all of us who were his disciples were ready. PeriyavA gave orders, "Let us start sAyaMkAlam--in the evening."

When there was enough sunlight, PeriyavA came out of the temple to give darshan. Some fifty to sixty people who had come from the surroundings, with their children, gathered and prostrated at a distance in reverence.

It was a surprise for all of us! The people of this village had come the previous night and had darshan standing in a queue. Since they could not have darshan if PeriyavA started in the early morning from that place, the people preferred the night for their darshan. Why did not these people too have their darshan at that time?

"Come near and have darshan", we went and invited them. They did not accept it. "We people should not come near the temple. We were waiting for sAmi--sage, rAtri muchchUDum--the whole of night. Only now has sAmi come out..." It was a village regulation that those untouchables should not enter the temple, they said.

We went to PeriyavAL to inform the matter. There was no need for that, however.

"There are lots of mango fruits given by those who had darshan last night. Collect them in a sack and give to these people. Let them eat, they are fasting since last night."

As we gave the fruits, they received and consumed them happily. "Didn't you people take anything last night?"

"No. We came to have a look at sAmisAmi stayed inside. So we stayed here because he should come out in any case..."

How did PeriyavAL know of their fasting? That is the brahma-granthi--BrahmA's knot!

*** *** ***

PeriyavAL's sallApa--making fun, Ecchu--jeers, and zleShas--puns would be in a way that would be pleasing; they would not hurt anyone.

He would call me in chellam--(Tamizh) indulgence, kitthuvAi--stutterer, and rickshaw OTTi--rickshaw driver.

We were staying in the VinAyaka temple near the MIraj city. The orders for me were to visit the place scheduled for our next camp and check the camping facilities there.

Carrying out those orders, I entered the VinAyaka temple. After taking bath, I met shrIKaNThan uncle.

"Since last night he did not take even water. Would not touch milk or the fruits, PeriyavA. We even tried to persuade him by begging, but no use. You are a small boy. If you ask him, perhaps PeriyavA might be in sammatam--agreement", he told me.

Doing vandanam--reverence, to PeriyavA, I submitted the fruits given by the anbars--(Tamizh) devotees, at the place where I had gone to check.

"You had your meal?"

I nodded no.

"Go have your meals and then come."

I had the thought that it was a good time to broach the subject that shrIKAnThan uncle spoke to me about. "I shall dine after PeriyavAL has his bhikShA."

When PeriyavargaL compelled me, I left the place saying "I shall dine later". Five minutes later, a call from PeriyavA. I went to him.

From the heap of fruits in front of him, he asked me to take a fruit per variety. I gave them to him. Cutting each fruit (with his own hands!), he gave a half to me and asked me to find how it tasted. Thinking that PeriyavA thought of himself consuming a half fruit that was not sour, I received the halves and at them.

PeriyavA asked me about the taste of each fruit. I told him. 

"ippO pasi aDanggiDutthA?--(Tamizh) has your hunger subsided now?"

How natural were those words, without any trace of ekkaLippu--(Tamizh) conceit-tinged exultation about, 'Look, how easily have I deceived you!'

I was moved to the point of tears. Only the memory of my mother came up. Since I couldn't bear to be hungry, she would serve me sAdam--cooked rice meal, at precise hours in our house. My throat choking, I told him about shrIKaNThan uncle's sadness (about PeriyavA not taking anything for bhikShA).

"It was Sunday yesterday. I had milk and fruit. Only in prAyashchittam--atonement, I remained without having any bhikShA now. It is pradoSham day today. After doing pradoSha pUja, I shall have my bhikShA."

Should I feel garva--pride, for his answering me, considering me as of some importance? Or should I melt at heart for his atonement for a small doSham--fault? I couldn't understand.

(It is shAstra vidhi--scriptural regulation, that one should observe upavAsam--fasting, on a Sunday night. Therefore, the custom at shrIMaTham on Sundays was to take something before sUrya-astamanam--sunset, on that day. There would be no work at all in the kitchen on a Sunday night! Only in accordance with this, that PeriyavA instructed me as narrated above.)


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