Author: 'Paranthaman' (V.Narayanan) (in Tamil)
Source: From the book Paramacharyar pages 188-194, 1992 edition
Publisher: Narmadaa Padhippaham
As narrated by the author:
When the reception with honours was being given in a house, a man in the opposite house who was not yet ready with bath and formal clothes, came to the grill gate entrance of his house, with just a dhoti around his waist, on hearing the beat of the meLam, to see what was going on outside; he came inside the glance of Paramacharya who accidentally turned his face towards the other side. When he was standing with no idea of what was going on, the sage beckoned to the man to come near him.
The man who knew practically nothing of the sage, came near the menA (palanquin) and stood with joined palms. SwamigaL lifted his hand to bless him and asked his assistant to give the man akSata prasAdam. Everyone was surprised.
I did not know about this incident. One day the man requested me as a friend, "I need to have personal darshan of Kanchi Periyavar and get his blessings. What is the way to do it? I don't know about the formalities there. People say that there are many kinds of strict formalities there! You should make arrangements for it." I knew about the formalities there only in a general way; I had no personal experience in the matter. Without approaching any of the office bearers there, I wrote a letter to the present address where the sage was camping. I gave information in my letter about my friend's personal details and requested for a time to have darshan.
Two days later, a man came to see me with my letter in hand. He gave me an address and said if we went there tomorrow or the day after, at six in the evening, the devotee of the house would take us for the darshan; he went away saying nothing more. I gave this good news to 'A.K. Velan'. He came on the right time the next evening. As if going to a temple, we went to the address given. The devotee there was also ready. He was a parama bhakta of Paramacharya. He was in a good position in life, holding the chief manager's post in an engineering company. He was happy narrating Paramacharya's greatness in every word he spoke.
"One of the rare traits with PeriyavaaL is that he would never ask a person to observe something that he himself does not observe. He would not also compel a person to observe something that is not done by the others. This special trait cannot be seen in many other ascetics.
"The fruits in this basket are of a rare variety; came only this morning by plane from the Kashmir side. Such tasty apples can be seen nowhere. The grapes here do not have seeds; they would melt in the mouth. They are here for PeriyavaaL's exclusive consumption. It would be a bhAgya if PeriyavaaL takes it. I shall be happy even if he eats just one or two of them. I should get that bhAgyam, let us see!" The devotee was hot with anxiety.
Our car reached Noombal around eight in the early part of the night. It was pitch dark. The air was filled with condensing moisure. We did not wear a shirt or a shawl to cover the upper trunk, just a towel wrapped around the dhoti in the waist. There was no street lamps on the side of the main road. We needed to go through an interior passage on the side to reach that place. Just one lamp was visible at some distance from the area where the sage was staying. With darkness all around, our car was going along raising dust, through the passage that had potholes made by the constant traffic of factory lorries and other vehicles.
A medium-sized thatched shed. A 'petromax' light (gaslight) outside it. The lantern was going off and on with swells of darkness and light. Hurricane lanterns were hanging here and there, giving out the light they could. An old tiled building with verandah, on one side of the thatched shed, maybe it was the office of that brick manufacturing factory.
On the portico and inside the shed some people with glaring marks of vibhUti were moving about, wearing kaccha dhoties on their waist. I thought that they were the MaTham officials.
The man who brought us, made us wait outside the shed, went in to meet some notable, and within a minute or two came back saying, "You can have darshan, come" and led the way. A complete, peaceful and holy silence was prevailing there.
We followed our man, carrying the fruit plates and garlands we had brought with us. We expected that Periyavar would be staying somewhere inside the building or on the far side of it. What wonder! A menA (palanquin) was kept in a corner of the shed, immersed in dim light. We would have gone hardly ten feet, when our man asked us to put down what we carried and said, "Prostrate, prostrate now!" Only by looking keenly inside the menA we had the sight of Periyavar. He was sitting inside on his feet, covering himself with a saffron cloth. Our having darshan of his mukhAravindam (face that is a lotus flower) and his two eyes that were shining like chandra-sUrya (moon and sun) in that dim light, made us go dizzy with ecstasy.
Prostrating, we stood up with joined palms. He beckoned to us to sit down. We sat on the ground beside the menA. The disciple nearby took the fruit plates and flowers and showed it to SwamigaL. He gave his anugraha by touching them and asked them to be kept away. SwamigaL waved his hand. The disciple took akSata, kumkumam andvibhUti in two wooden bowls and stretched them out to SwamigaL. SwamigaL touched them giving his anugraha and let the disciple give them to us. We placed a gold sovereign each in the same bowl. SwamigaL did not seem to heed them at all. In those days, a sovereign of gold did not cost thousands, only hundreds. (When we started to get back, we were given receipts for them from the office).
I told about A.K. Velan in a few words. I spoke about his Tamil pulamai (expertise), his having worked as a teacher in the Karanthai Tamil College, his participation in the movements connected with the Kazhagam (the DMK political party), his success with the production of his own movie, and his constructing a building at at cost of Rs.50,000 out of the income from the movie for the college where he taught.
SwamigaL listened to each information keenly and asked, "Tamil colleges are there in Madurai and Karanthai. In what other places are such colleges?" My friend gave him the names Mayilam (Mayiladuturai), Nellai (Tirunelveli), Tiruvaiyaru and some other places. PeriyavargaL was always keen to know about connected topics, getting his doubts cleared and clearing other doubts. Because of this trait he had connection with countless experts in many areas of knowledge.
He was very fond of interacting with experts. He had many of them coming to him, cutting across the borders of caste, religion and age. He liked seeking information from them and thereby giving them out to the world through them. He remembered many things and inquired Velan about UmaMaheswaran of Karunthattankudi, a lawyer and a man of great knowledge, who was instrumental in setting up the educational association of the Karanthai college. He also sought details about Karanthai Kaviyarasu Venkatachalam Pillai.
In that peaceful environment, that divya darshanam extended for over three quarters of an hour. There was no one nearby. That time was a holy moment in our life. Those golden memories still persist fresh in mind, even after the passage of 25 years.
When we took leave, Velan sought blessings from the sage, for the holy works of the Kodambakkam Vadapalani Murugan Koil frontal structure that he had taken up. After keeping silent for sometime, SwamigaL said, "Continue to do your Tamil services" and blessed, raising a hand. It so happened that Velan did not take note the real meaning of that day's upadesham amidst the happiness having got the darshan and blessings of the sage.
The frontal maNDapa holy works were not only unsuccessful, but had also created some discord. Only later I came to know from Velan since he believed that only on the strength of the voluntary blessings he received at (Raja) Annamalaipuram, he came to establish his Arunachalam Studio and got some affluences in life that followed, he wanted to have a personal darshan.
All that is fine, but it might be asked as to why the sage should beckon to come near him a person who was just watching his procession at a distance and voluntarily give the person his anugraha and blessings. This is what I pointed out earlier that for the jnAnis some connection rises inside them with someone from somewhere. We may not be able to understand it from the cause and effect logic.
I could know only later when I went to Thanjai (Thanjavur) with A.K.V. that Velan's paternal grandfather was an ascetic. He has attained samAdhi in a village adjoining Thanjai. These things came to mind when I visited there once with him.