Compiler: Raa. Venkatasamy (in Tamil)
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Jul 2, 2004
"Have you gone to Cholapuram?" Maha Periyavaa asked a devotee from Salem who had gone to have his darshan.
As the Salem man hasn't gone there, the Mahaan turns a leaf from the history. "Avvaiyar, you know, took efforts for the marriage of the daughters Angavai and Sangavai, of (king) Paari. He called the Moovendhars (the three emperors Chera, Chola, Pandya) and rebuked them for not having helped for this marriage and conducted the marriage in their presence, which was in this place called UttamaCholaPuram. The entire place was later left under the care of the Chola king. A big village named Salem was given to the Chera king, and another villaged named Veerapandi was given to the Pandya king. Thus, the three places that were gifted to the Moovendhars (by Paari) are today known by the names UttamaCholaPuram, Veerapandi and Salem." The Mahaan thus gave the devotee some solid historical information which is not known to many people.
In the speech that he gave, news about many Siva Sthalams around Salem were made known. When he talked about the greatness of Salem Sukavaneswarar, he said that history had it that AruNagirinathar sang in front of the Murugan Sannidhi of that temple.
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This man was also a devotee from Salem. He had a desire for a long time to buy a car. He saved gradually, came to Chennai and bought a secondhand car. It was his intention to come over to Salem in that car after he bought it. He was a man who worshipped Kanchi Maha SwamigaL who was dear to him as his soul. He came to Kanchi MaTham in the car going through Kanchipuram on his way to Salem. He joined and stood meekly in the queue that had formed, for a darshan of the Mahaan.
At that time an old man came with his granddaughter and supplicated to Kanchi Mahaan for help for her marriage. The MaTham had a custom to extend help in such matters. Periyavaa told them to be seated on a side and asked his assistants for a cane plate. He asked the people who had come for darshan to contribute as they wished and drop the money on the plate.
In order to account for the money contributed, he asked a MaTham assistant to sit down with a notebook and record the name and address and the amount given by the donors.
As the Mahaan himself took the responsibility for such a task, the devotees dropped their mite on the plate, as they moved away after a darshan of the sage. When the collection reached a stage, SwamigaL asked the details of contribution to be read aloud. As the names and amounts were read, the turn of the Salem devotee came. He had dropped the entire money he had with him, keeping only a little for his travel. The amount he had contributed was five hundred rupees. As it was read Periyavaa looked at him once and said, "Two hundred and fifty is enough. Give the balance to him."
The Salem devotee was shocked. Why give a portion of his contribution back to him? It seemed to him that he had committed some apachAram (error), and the thought upset him very much.
Worried, he came near his car. The smell of petrol penetrated his nostrils. As he checked, he found a small hole in the petrol tank through which the entire petrol had leaked to the ground. He couldn't have returned to his place without repairing the tank and the money Periyavaa gave back helped for this purpose. Had the sage not returned the money, he would have to sell his gold ring to raise the money needed, for where would he go for a loan in this place?
The devotee happily narrated the bhAgyam he had to his friends.
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There were a number of shops such as a flower shop, a medical shop and others doing brisk business in front of Kanchi MaTham, many years back. The bank officials of Indian Bank had a desire to open a branch there and take care of the adminstration of the revenue and expenses of the MaTham. They expressed their wish to the MaTham officials and got the approval.
The conditions from the MaTham were that the bank should construct their own building in front of the MaTham. And whatever shops were required to be vacated for this purpose, alternate places were compulsorily to be given to the shopkeepers. The conditions were implemented, and the Bank branch was opened.
Two years later, a dampati (husband and wife) came and stood before Periyavaa and said, "Today is our wedding day. Maha Periyavaa should bless us." They prostrated to him.
Periyavaa recognised them. "You are the medical shop Mudaliar?"
"You father suffered much before he died?"
After inquiring about their welfare, the sage asked the next question. "Where are you keeping your shop now?" No immediate reply to this question came.
"We are yet to set up a shop; we are on the lookout for a suitable place."
"Why? Did they not provide you with an alternate place when you vacated from the MaTham premises?"
Mudaliar just dragged on. "About that..."
The Mahaan immediately understands that something had gone wrong. Ganesaiyer, the manager of the MaTham is brought to him. In a leisurely tone the sage conducts the inquiry.
"As far as possible we had provided alternate places to everyone." The manager says in a low voice.
"Seems no place had been given to the medical shop Mudaliar. Says he is on the lookout for a suitable place. Why, was there no place to give him?"
Ganesaiyer dragged on. "No, but we discussed things with him and decided..."
Thereafter, Periyavaa did not talk with anyone that whole day. He seemed to be in serious contemplation.
The decision he reached and announced created a bustle and also made people rapturous.
The news that the medical shop Mudaliar was not given an alternate place had put Maha Periyavaa in much saN^katam (embarrassment). Was it not a transgression to go back on a promise?
Maha Periyavaa had already sent the Mudaliar away after getting the address of his residence. Only then he called for the manager and inquired with him. There was ample space at the back of the MaTham, also facing the road. If a wall of the MaTham was removed they would have space three times in size of what the Mudaliar had earlier, and this space was allotted to him before that evening! The construction work was entrusted to an engineer devotee who had come on that day for darshan. Within three months, the shop was built and the Mudaliar had set up and opened his shop for business.
Maha Periyavaa was very strict that promises made by them should be kept at any cost. There was no bounds to the happiness of the medical shop Mudaliar after this incident!