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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DEVOTION----TRUE and INNOCENT---Part 1 , 2 and 3

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

Vinaa velpulevaramma.

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……..

TRUE and INNOCENT--(English)

Periava turned to the singer and said, “ I am going on talking some thing. Whether you understand or not, you are also listening to it , thinking, ‘Periava is talking; let me keep listening’. Your bus will go away. What is the time now?”.

As many looked at their watches and told Him the time, His anxiety disappeared as there was still half an hour before his bus was expected here.

He started telling me about the singer. The readers will not understand the full impact of the sympathy and love He had for this man, by merely reading this; it should be witnessed in person. It was akin to the love Lord Krishna had for the shepherd people who do not know their right and left hands.

“ The singer comes from a village just beyond Velur. I don’t recollect the name as it was a strange name; Periava also did not tell me his name. But where is the necessity for knowing the name when he happens to be the representative of those innocent persons who are fortunate to have the ‘Poornaanugraham’ ( full blessings) of Periava?

‘ He has a small inherited land. Their livelihood comes from that. He survives without being affected by the bad effects of education ( Only Periava, the personification of Simplicity, can express the person’s inability to learn in such a beautiful and camouflaged way that gives him merit!, and at the same time, it serves as a mischievous prick for us, the ‘wise’ people!). He and his widowed mother live there all by themselves; he hasn’t thought about marriage; they survive by themselves and do not do any harm to others ( by this He also indicates the innumerable harms we do to others, and how we live without any peace of mind). He had a liking for singing from his tender age; but could not afford to learn from a teacher; whenever some neighbor or a nearby hotel plays a song from the radio or gramophone, he used to rush there, listen to it; he absorbed whatever he could with his ability to absorb. Aim and attitude are more important than what one can do actually, is it not? That way, he has run here and there and has learnt as much as he could. ( see how sympathetically He values a person’s ability or the lack of it!).

“When he learnt about me,” He turned to him and asked, “when did you hear about me?”

“At the time of Periava’s Kanakaabhishekam.”------replied the singer.

“That means, for about six or seven years. When some persons mentioned about Ambal, he developed a staunch devotion towards me. He also wanted to sing before me but was worried whether he would be allowed to; more over, for coming to Kancheepuram some money is required, which he didn’t have then

By now, the sobbing from the singer attracted His attention. He turned and looked at him kindly and said, “Do not cry! Money will come and go. You are not running after it! Who has, today, that attitude? Nobody! Even boys who earn five hundred and thousand ( He mentioned this thirty years ago! Today it is fifty thousands!) are looking to go to America; why boys? Take the case of retired persons who have earned in thousands; these persons go to unethical ways to get extension; the thought, ‘yes, this is enough’ doesn’t occur to such persons. Even if that thought comes, it goes off immediately!. This has come to you naturally, and it should not vanish! Even for the sake of seeing me, do not go after money. I will always be with you, you can rest assured.”

Who will get this sort of promise? 

The fortunate ‘innocent’ prostrated once again before Him. And so many other souls joined him in that.

Deciding not to make him more emotional, He turned towards me and said, “From the moment he came to know about me, he became too eager to see me. He has waited for seven/ eight years, it was like a penance for him. Now only he could save about fifteen rupees. He immediately kept that money separately for me ( When He said this, although He hid His emotion, it showed in His words!). After keeping the exact amount for the bus fare, he bought all these fruits, flowers and this garland I am wearing for the remaining money and rushed here ( Oh! That is the secret behind the garland which He didn’t remove from His neck!). All he has got now is just the bus fare for the return journey.”
Oh! My innocent friend, we will never experience the sort of Devotion, and the sense of sacrifice that you exhibited!------thought I.

I got motivated that I should do some service to this fortunate guy and appealed to Periava, “ I am returning only after witnessing the night pooja; therefore, may I arrange to take him to his place in our car and leave him?”

Periava quickly said, “ No! don’t expose him to such conveniences! ( the Tamil word used here for ‘don’t expose’ is ‘காட்டிக்குடுக்காதே!, what a meaningful expression! ) 

After Periava completed the briefing about the singer, he asked Him about me. SriSaranar told him about me, which I felt was very much exaggerated and which did not please me also; on the contrary, it gave me immense pain; pain because, what He told him was all about my fame as a writer, which I have always disliked. A writer , with his own ability, what he learns by seeing and hearing, and above all with the Divine blessing , can write a lot that will please and elevate the minds of those who read them; but what of the writer himself? And the elevation of his mind? There have been any number of literary greats, pundits and those who wrote specifically on matters of ‘Atma’; but how many among them would have elevated their own souls to higher levels? Caught between the force of writing on one side and the downward pull of the fame achieved, it is a cruel race for the writer to make progress. 

Why then, Periava not only calls me as ‘writer’ repeatedly but also talks about the fame which hurts me? Is my whole life going to be spent this way, writing for others’ benefit
When is He going to ‘win’ me over to His side? Has He forgotten my appeal to Him made two years ago?.

Unable to contain myself, I told Him, “Why Periava is always talking about this so—called fame as a writer? Has Periava forgotten my request made two years ago?” 

He looked at me with those big eyes, full of love and kindness! That itself calmed me quite a bit and assured me that He will not let me ‘down’.

Then, He looked at all the others present there, and said, “It is only four years since he started writing; many people say that he is doing it because of my Anugraham; but, within two years, he wants me to bless him for stopping that!”

Then, He turned towards me and said, “ Let that go on; let it continue for the benefit of the world; Why should we think that it is an obstacle? If it has to happen for the benefit of others, let it continue; along with that, let us not lose sight of what we desire, and pray Ambal to bless us and guide us for achieving that also. I will also pray on your behalf!”

Could I have asked for more than what He said in the end?

But still, I persisted, “ But, I feel why Periava also should repeatedly keep mentioning about my carrier and the fame, as if what other people say is not enough? Why Periava should stress on the ‘writer’ identity. I dislike this ‘writer’ identity.”

He laughed mischievously and said, “ So, you want to identify yourself with the soul, without any other external identity? ( I do not know how far my translation of this is correct. Hence, I will mention what Ganapathy anna wrote in Tamil. “ ஒரு ஐடென்டிடியும் இல்லாம, அப்படியே ஆத்மாராமனா இருந்துண்டிருக்கணுமோ?)

“ I don’t desrve to ask for such an exalted status. But, since I hope I have some little of Periava’s and Sri Ramana Bagavan’s blessing, I can’t say that I do not have THAT desire at all. And, should there be an identity at all, then it…..” I couldn’t speak further. 

“Come on! Tell me! Come close and tell me!”-----urged Periava, and gestured with His hands for others to move away.

But before they moved, I, from a distance, propelled by the clarity of mind that He filled my mind with, said, “ Should there be an identity at all, then, I want to be ‘Ambal’s child; although everything and every being is Ambal’s children, I want to experience that truth with my personal experience”.

Though I mentioned the word ‘Ambal’, I never saw Him different from Her. But though I could ask openly for the personal experience of ‘being Her child’, I couldn’t ask ( rather, I hesitated to ask) Him for ‘being His child’.

SriSaranar closed and re opened His eyes, filled with Her love and affection.

Then, He said , “ The fact that you have such a claim, itself shows that, She has kindled this desire in a corner of your mind , with or without your knowledge. As She has sown this desire in you, She will certainly help in its growth. You also pray for it; I will also pray.” Again the plentiful blessing! 


“This ‘boy’ sang the song ‘vinaayakuni’; and you, whose name is the same as HIS , intrepeted the song that, the composer Sri Thyagaiyer was asking Ambal to give the same protection that She gives to Her son ‘Vinaayaka’ . May that happen to you also!”------said the Avathar of Ambaal, who took the Avathar for the purpose of speaking the language of love and affection.

The feeling of anger that I initially developed towards that ‘boy’ ,kept changing its shape during this time and now, finally, it turned into a sense of gratitude. “ Because of him, I benefited a lot and learnt a lesson too”---I said.

SriSaranar looked at him and said, “ Look! This big writer is so fond of you! But, for that sake, do not read whatever he writes and get into trouble! If he gives you any money, do not touch it! Also, if he offers you a car ride, don’t accept it!”

I enjoyed this as what Periava told him is one hundred percent true and logical.

The ‘boy’ said, “ I will not read anything Periva! I will not understand also! I don’t accept money from anybody., and never aspired for car rides! All that I want is ONLY Periva’s anugraham!”

“ I will give it to you as much as you want!”------Periava told the ‘Baagyasaali’ ( the fortunate one) ( After all this, why call him ‘singer’ or ‘innocent’ or ‘boy’?). It is time for you to leave. Go and prostrate before Sri Chandramouleeswarar and come back quickly; I will give you Prasaadham.”

“ which God is Chandramouleeswarar? And where is that temple?”-----he asked Periava; his ignorance made my eyes wet!.

“Chandramouleeswarar is the God of this Matam. Look there ( He showed His hand in that direction), we keep Him there. Go and prostrate and come back.”

“ Is not Kaamaakshi the God of the Matam?”------he asked.

“ She too is the God of the Matam; but, as She is for the whole world, She resides in a temple in Kanchipuram. She looks after this Matam also. But for us here to perform pooja---of course for the benefit of the whole mankind-----She has sent Her Husband in the form of a ‘Linga’ ( such simple language for simple persons to understand) and She also sits by His side in another ‘Roopa’ ( He didn’t baffle him by mentioning the words ‘Sri Chakram’ and ‘Meru Prasthaaram’ ). As the whole thing is covered with ‘kavacham’ and garlands and flowers, you will not be able to distinguish between them as ‘Lingam’ and ‘Ambal’; so do not search for it. Think that ‘Swami is here’ and prostrate and quickly come back” 

I think He sent him there so that He can express what He hasn’t, in his presence. He continued to me, “ Suppose you send him in a car and he goes to that village and gets down from the car, it is possible that he may get a feeling of ‘high—flying’. Why all that? No living conveniences for him, no status, no intelligence, and no ‘Vidhvath. Yes, none of those for him! I will tell you some thing.

“For some time now, a music teacher has been coming to me for Dharsan; he knows some thing; more than that he seems to be a man of patience. If I ask him, he may teach him music free of cost; even otherwise, I can ask some body else to take care of the fees. But I don’t want to expose him to anything like that ( same expression ‘expose’!). He doesn’t need to master singing. Let him be what he is; let him sing as he does now.”

“In the present days of wise people, those who are not smart, let them be like that. Let us not spoil him ( the expression ‘spoil’ is more vigorous this time!). That is what I feel.”

The above statement, borne out of His perturbed mind by seeing day in and day out, people, who bring evils on themselves by valuing any thing and every thing on the scale of intelligence and knowledge, without realizing that such faulted valuation only brings disasters, disturbed me a lot.

Without knowing who is Chandramouleeswarar, but blessed by the walking Chandramouleeswarar as an antidote to today’s wise people, the ‘Baagyasaali’ returned just then.

“ Come on, do Namaskaaram quickly, it is late”---said Periava.

With no desire to leave that place and eyes full of tears, he prostrated.

With such love and kindness as cannot be expressed in words, SriSaranar caressed the sacred ash, kumkum, Akshatha, sugar candy, dry grapes which were in the plate in front of Him. It was as though He invoked that ‘Baagyasaali’ into that Prasaadham and caressed him as Ambal caresses Her son Vinaayakar. 

He then deftly raised His head and hands towards him looked at him with eyes full of love and affection, and signaled to him to take them.

“ As per the song which you sang, May Ambaal protect you as She protects Vinaayakka.”-----He raised His hand and blessed him!

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