Total Pageviews

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The great qualities of Kanchi Maha Swamigal

-- A forward:*
Last evening I had the fortune of attending a lecture by Sow, Poornimaji.
She spoke about the great qualities of Kanchi Maha Swamigal (Paramacharyal)
and narrated a number of exhilarating incidents from His life.

I am happy to share a few of them in detail with you.
1. The foremost attribute of any saint/guru is the immense unshakeable
faith in God. Paramacharyal was also an embodiment of that certitude. In
one of the early yatras, the mutt was camping in a small village in Andhra.
The finances of mutt were shallow at those times but Paramacharyal wasn’t
perturbed by that state of affairs. As is customary, the well to do people
in that village – only a handful being a small village - provided for the
needs of the mutt like pooja items, Biksha, Annadhan etc. on a rotation
basis. When the manager of mutt saw that each of them have already provided
for a day each, he approached Paramacharyal for moving on to the next place.
Paramacharyal fell in love with the serenity and calm of the village and
felt that they could stay for a few more days which would provide an
opportunity to Paramacharyal to spend a few more days in Dhyanam. 

manager told him that nothing was left literally for the next morning even
for pooja and he dare not ask again any one in the village for meeting the
operating expenses. He said there were even no provisions to offer Biksha
to Paramacharyal on the following day. Paramacharyal smilingly told him
that he was ready for upavasam. The manager replied politely it may suit
Paramacharyal but the employees including himself could not do so.

Paramacharyal just told him that " Do not worry, Ambal padi alappal ".அம்பாள்

படி அளப்பாள் " ( an expression to say Ambal will take care, padi is an old
measure for grains ) The manager just murmured how could Ambal do so in
this remote village. He told Paramacharyal that even if someone was to give
cash suddenly, things would have to be procured from far off place since
nothing was available in the vicinity. Paramacharyal just smiled and went
to retire.
The manager was trying to sleep in a cot outside their camp but with a
heavy responsibility on his shoulders, sleep was evading him. At about 11
pm in the night, he saw a line of bullock carts with lanterns dangling
between the two wheels coming along at a distance. When they came near the
camp, one of them jumped out and asked the manager the whereabouts of a
Sadhu from southern side who was camping in that village. When the manager
replied they have hit the right place, their chieftain got out and told the
manager that they were from a nearby village and after the harvest, they
usually offer their first lot of to the village deity. After hearing about
this great Sadhu, they decided to offer Him this time since they considered
both the offerings to be on the same plateau. As they had to resume the
work the next morning, they decided to come that night itself to fulfil
their obligation.

The manager was spell bound and speechless. Regaining the power of
utterance after a while, he went inside and woke up Paramacharyal. He
sought His permission to accept the offer. Paramacharyal came out and
blessed the villagers; he told the manager to accept the grains, vegetables
etc. At that point the chieftain humbly told Paramacharyal that they wished
to offer them in their own customary manner and Paramacharyal nodded His
They took out the "padis " – that measuring jar in metal - filled them with
various grains and then poured them in the receptacles at the mutt. The
manager was in tears seeing how " Ambal padi alanthal - அம்பாள் படி

அளந்தாள்" in that middle of night.
Paramacharyal also took out a yellow pumpkin from the lot of vegetables and
gave it to the manger saying " So, you can have your favourite paal (milk)
kootu tomorrow " subtly telling him that he need not fear of having to
observe any upavasam the next day.

2. Paramacharyal is also known as for His wit and humour and for the pun of

Once an artist came to Him and told Paramacharyal that he is going to offer something different from other devotees. He then said to Paramacharyal that
he is offering his " kavalai " (worries) to Him so that he will be
relieved. Paramacharyal replied spontaneously that whenever a devotee
offers Him anything He takes a small part of it and returns the remainder
to the devotee. By that practice, Paramacharyal told the artist that He
will take the " va" from his offering and return back the " ka lai" to him.
(kalai = art)
3. The intensity and depth of Paramacharyal’s memory is legendary. Here is
an anecdote recounted by Sow. Poornimaji in that regard.

Paramacharyal was camping in MIT campus in Chennai and one day after
Bhashan offered prasadam including kungkumam (vermilion) to the students
coming in a line. After one student getting the prasadam and walking away from Him, Paramacharyal summoned him back and asked him in Kannada language whether was he from Dharwar – a place north of Bangalore in Karnataka. The student replied in affirmative. He then asked the student per chance washis name Chandrasekhara or Chandramouli. The student with an exclamation said it was indeed Chandramouli. He also confirmed his age as 22 when hewas posed that question.Then Paramacharyal enquired about the welfare of
his parents and blessed him again. The entire dialogue was in Kannada.

Chandramouli hesitatingly informed Paramacharyal that was the first
occasion he was seeing Him and how come Paramacharyal knew so much about
him. Paramacharyal told him that when He was camping in Dharwar about 23
years ago, a couple came to Him and sought His blessings for a baby.
Paramacharyal blessed them. When He gave the prasadam to the couple, the
husband applied the kungkumam in the forehead and then a small bit of it on
his right shoulder in a fast moving action (Theethi kondaar - தீத்திக்

கொண்டார் ).

Paramacharyal told Chandramouli that he did the same kind of action after
receiving prasadam from Him and Paramacharyal was immediately reminded of
his father’s similar action. Also remembering their place, He just added
the bits and derived his age too. He also figured that his parents, having
been blessed after Chandramouleeswara pooja,would very likely named the
baby as Chandramouli.

See even that small insignificant motion of hand has been captured in His
mental framework and recalled effortlessly after so many years.
4. Paramacharyal also possessed a great sense of humour that may not be
known to many.
He once lamented to one of the devotees – Sri Vedagiri - that Adi Shanakra
was fortunate to have an unquestioning disciple Sri Thodakashta and it is
not easy to get such disciples. Vedagiri in his earnest told Paramacharyal
that he will do whatever Acharya says but Paramacharyal told him that it
will not be that easy. However Vedagiri was insistent.

Paramacharyal then to pointed out to Vedagiri an old Brahmin widow in the
crowd of devotees assembled outside. True to the then prevailing tradition,
the old lady was dressed in a white saree with a shaven head and shining
Vibhuthi in the forehead.
Paramacharyal told Vedagiri to go to that lady and enquire whether she was
"sumnagali " . Vedagiri was very hesitant and reluctant to do so, as was
naturally to be expected.
Paramacharyal told him it was not be easy to be a Thodakashta. Not to
disown his own words in such a short time, Vedagiri summoned all his
courage and came before that old lady. She was with a few of her family
members who seemed able bodied too. Praying all the Gods, he can remember,
Vedagiri feebly asked the lady " Neengal Sumangaliya ?" expecting a barrage
of blows physically or verbally.
The lady’s face brightened up immediately and she said with a glee " yes "
and also wondered how Paramacharyal knew about it. Confused to the hilt,
Vedagiri came back to Paramacharyal and narrated him the entire thing. Yet
he could not figure out what had happened and how the lady could agree with
Paramacharyal’s poser. Paramacharyal solved the mystery by explaining that
Sumangali is village in Tanjore district and the lady hailed from there.
(you can now read that question again and appreciate the appropriateness.)

No comments:

Post a Comment