The incident that is posted here was written by Sri Ra.Ganapathy in his book ‘MAHAPERIAVAL VIRUNDHU’. A portion of this, concerning the song ‘VINAYAKUNI’ by Sri Thyagaiyer on Kanchi Kamakshi has already been posted by me in this forum. That details the way both Mahaperiava and Ra. Ganapathy anna analyse that song and elaborately discuss the circumstances in which Sri Thyagaiyer would have composed that song. The following episode narrates the incident , during which that analysis took place, and in which Ganapathy anna explains in his inimitable style, how Periava showed him (Ganapathy anna) what true and innocent devotion is! When I read this first time in the year 1998, I couldn’t control my emotions and cried uncontrollably and pulled me towards HIM irretrievably! I would like to share this with the Forum members.
Sri Ra.Ganapathy writes:
Those golden feet! How many villages----names not known----they have treaded, stayed in for considerable time, and converted them into sacred places! Who else other than Him with the golden feet, can reach that tiny village-----a place known as Kaattuppalli which cannot be reached by any other means than by boat---- with all His troupe, stay there for four months, and perform Vyaasa Poojaa, Janmaashtami, Vinaayakar Chathurthi, Navaraathri, and Deepaavali, along with the whole lot of people living there in a grand manner! What kind of Magnetic Love He possesses?
In the same year 1965, , a little before the time when He made Kaattuppalli so famous, Mahaperiavaa graced another tiny village known as Chandavelur, a silent hamlet, between Kancheepuram and Sriperumpoodhoor, and performed that year’s Sivaraathri pooja there; He also stayed there for two weeks during that time.
During that period, I had the opportunity to have His Dharsan on three occasions. On one of those, this happened:
It was around four in the evening. The True Sanyasi of this century was sitting on the mutilated steps of a pond with water covered with moss. Strangely, He was wearing a flower garland around His neck!
There used to be a big debate on whether Sanyaasis can wear garlands!. But, if one looks minutely at the way Periava wears it , he will understand that He doesn’t do it for decoration. He normally wears the garlands on His head, and not around His neck. Saastraas say that the Lotus feet of Ambal rest on the head. For Periava, this Saastraa is an experience. Therefore ,as a symbol of Pranaam, and as a decoration to Ambaal, He wears it on His head. If it slips and falls on His neck, He considers it as a Prasaadham from Her and not otherwise; He will remove it from His neck within a few minutes.
But, on this occasion, unusually, He was giving Dharsan with the garland around His neck!
A youngster was standing in front of Him and singing.
Having the Dharsan of Periava was not the only good fortune I had that day; added bonus was that I reached there when the youngster had almost come to the end of the song! He had come to the last two lines of the saranam, and within a minute or two, he finished singing and that was a great fortune for me! It was such a Divine(?!) song!
Karaajuni hrudhaya sarojavaasini
Muraari sodhari Paraasakthi nanu.
When he sang the above two lines, my anger, fortunately turned into laughter!
The word ‘thyaa’ which comes in the previous line should be attached to the ‘karaajuni’ and sung thus:
‘Thyaakaraajuni hrudhaya saroja’
But the youngster dissected the words and sang them as mentioned previously!
The sterling traits of Periava are plenty; truly plenty. Among those are the two qualities of Patience and Simplicity.
One can tolerate anything but a true Rasikaa ( one who appreciates any art) can never tolerate anything sub --standard be it music or whatever!
And that is exactly what Periava was doing right then, and very easily too! Two years before now, I had admired Him doing the same with another musician; then it was a girl of ten or twelve, playing on the Veena instrument; she was ‘kill’ing only the Raagaa at that time; but now! Being a vocal, not only the Raagaa but also the lyric ( saahithyam) were being ‘kill’ed!
He finished the ‘saranam’ with ‘paraasakthi nanu’ and took up the ‘Pallavi’
Vinaayakunivalenu brovave ninu
and and sang it with whatever mistakes he could do in the lyric and ‘swaraa’.
Periava, the avatar of patience, was listening to the song ,with a pleasant face! ( observe the coincidence! In the second saranam of the same song ,Thyagaiyer, the composer, describes Sri Kaamaakshi with the phrase ‘thaalimikala avathaaram’, which translates as ‘ an Avatar full of patience’ ; our Periava was also full of patience then!)
Finishing the singing, the young man asked Periava, “ Was the singing correct?”
I was stunned by this! What courage he has! I was also in full expectation of how Periava was going to answer this question! His answer also surprised me!
“It was ok for ME! That is what you want, isn’t it?”----replied Periava!
“Yes Perivaa! I do not ask for anything else!” saying this, he prostrated before Him.
On hearing His answer, a pleasant thought blossomed in me! Bagavaan (GOD) is concerned only about one’s attitude and not on its exhibition ( the way it is exhibited).
Periavaa started conversing with the young man.
“What is the Raagaa (of the song) ?”
“Oh! It is Madhyamaavathi, is it? Some Raagaas are called ‘Rare Raagaas’. You sang this that way!”
“ Periavaa Anugraham”
My anger and sarcasm for this man, were all gone and now I developed a feeling of sympathy for him! The man did not realize the real meaning of what Periava said ( that he disfigured the simple Raagaa and sang it like a ‘Rare’ one)
Periava’s natural ‘Kaarunyam’ towards all, doubles up towards innocent people like this young man. But then, why did He put sarcasm in His comments? It is meant for the benefit of ‘wise’ people like us who only get half the amount of love that they get. The sarcasm implied will be seen by us only and the innocents will never understand it, simply because they are innocent! This is akin to a game we play with children; the children will keep their hands together with both the palms opened up and thus making a pit—like space, and the elder person will bring his closed fist into the ‘pit’ as if hitting it. The child has to close its palms in time to catch the fist. If it does, then the child wins!. During this play, the elder, although bringing the fist fast , will actually place it in the ‘pit’ softly! Periava’s sarcasm or criticism is similar to this. He talks to them with so much love and affection and concern. He demonstrated it that day.
“What is the meaning of Madhyamaavathi?’------He asked him , the words full of innocence!
“Name of the Raagaa”-----replied the singer.
“You told me that already when I asked you what Raagaa is this song set to! You are repeating the same! I am asking you what is meant by ‘Madhyamaavathi’?”
No reply from the singer.
“’Madhyamam’ means ‘Centre’, isn’t it? If the centre is troublesome, then, is it called ‘Madhyamaavathi’?---Periava.
“Whatever Periava says”------singer.
Will ‘wise’ persons like us accept what Periava said, like that innocent person did?
At that time, Periava, it seemed, wanted to know what the ‘wise’ people have to say on this?
He called me, ‘ Hallo! Writer! Did you hear the definition I gave for the Raagaa ‘Madhyamaavathi’?”
My palms involuntarily closed together in the form of doing ‘Namaskaaram’. The action was automatic, because, when a person is seen by and talked to , by Him this happens involuntarily.
The ‘Budhdhi’ in me overtook the ‘Bakthi’ and I added some more to His sarcasm. ‘If persons , who do not know how to sing, sing the Raagaa, not only the centre, but also the beginning and the end also will be troublesome!”---I said.
SriSaranar smiled and said, “ Also when such persons keep on singing, this Raagaa ‘Madhyamaavathi will give solace to the listener that the ‘torture’ is coming to an end!”
The significance of what Periava said is that normally ‘Madhyamaavathi’ raagaa is sung at the end of the concert!
( At this point, the conversation between Sri Ra.Ganapathy and Periava turns to some serious analysis of the Raagaa itself , which I will skip for now)
“What made you sing this particular song ?’------Periava asked the singer.
“Because, one of the lines in this song reads---‘SriKaamaakshi, the savior of orphans’
(அநாத ரக்ஷகி ஸ்ரீகாமாக்ஷி)-----replied our singer.
“So?”-----what an innocent tone when He said this!
“For Periava, every thing is Kaamaakshi; Periava Himself is Kaamaakshi!, that is why”----replied the singer.
Oh! What a fantastic answer this innocent guy gave, that too with such spontaneity and normality
that the ‘wise’ persons do not possess!
Normally, Periava will change the topic completely if such expressions come from ‘wise’ persons. But that time, He took it in His stride and continued, “ Ok! You are saying that Kaamaakshi is everything for me and I am myself Kaamaakshi ( when I heard Him say this, I was thrilled from head to toe) what did you find out and how ?”
“Periva!” he started sobbing “ I do not know anything about finding out etc. Periva! Many persons have said the same thing. I also feel that way whenever I see Periva!”
Oh! My dear innocent man! What a fortunate one you are!
Periava was sitting quietly for some time.
The sobbing faded off slowly.
He started His ‘mischievous pricking’ again! “ Right! The word ‘Kaamaakshi’ appears in ‘Anupallavi’; but in Pallavi the word ‘vinaayakuni’ comes; perhaps the song is on ‘Pillaiyaar’? but you sang it thinking it is on ‘Kaamaakshi’?”
“Periva should pardon me whatever mistake I have done”----the singer started sobbing again!
‘ No! No! don’t cry! Don’t cry! I did not find fault with you! I mentioned it because the song starts with ‘Vinayakuni’ and goes on to ‘Kaamaakshi’. That is all! Leave it. Tell me what is the language of the song/”------Periava.
Again the ‘mischievous pricking’! A singer who understands the language will also understand that the Pallavi which mentions ‘Vinayakaa’ also spreads to ‘Kaamaakshi’
“Telugu”-----said the singer.
“Is it? Like you sang a ‘rare’ Raagaa I thought you sang in a rare language too!”
“Periva’s Anugraham’”------singer. How politely and innocently he accepted Periava’s remarks!
The anger I experienced first towards the singer, which turned to laughter, and then to sympathy now put me in a state where I felt like crying! Lucky man! Will I ever get your innocence?
( The conversation between Periava and Ganapathy anna again moved on to a lengthy analysis of the song, its significance, the circumstances under which Thyagaiyer would have composed it and so on. We have already seen it elsewhere in this forum, hence I am skipping that portion)
To be continued……..