For the benefit of those who cannot share the happiness of my writing in tamil on Maha Periyava, I give below an english version of an incident in HIS life.
Something strange to read and understand the Yogic power of Maha Periyavaa who was strict in His Vrathams and Upavaasam (complete fasting for days together). This incident is one such indicator of enormous and unimaginable Power.
Paramacharya frequently observed suddha upavAsah (rigorous fast), for days together. The bhiksha (offered food), his usual take, was a small amount of nel pori (the puffed rice- equivalent of popcorn) that was offered to Sri Chandramouleeswara or Mother Kamakshi. Very rarely he took cooked rice with the accompanying dishes. To give up rice totally, he even tried the flour extracted from raw bananas, but had to give it up on the entreaties of his doctor devotees.
Sometime in 1936, Paramacharya was observing the chAturmAsyam (ahimsa dharma followed by sanyasins by staying at one place and meditating) at Berhampur on his way back from Varanasi observing Suddha upavasam for several days together. He did it so secretly that most people around him were not aware of it. The treasurer Ramachandra Iyer somehow came to know about the rigorous fast.
He went to Mahaperiyavaa and pleaded with him to give up the fast. Paramacharya immediately called his biksha assistant and told him about the things that should be added to his personal food the next day!!!!.
The treasurer was happy. As he returned to his office, he got a doubt if Periyavaa had really granted his entreaty when he did not listen even to such people as 'Annadhana Sivan' in such matters. When he checked up with the biksha assistant, his doubt was clarified and confirmed. The assistant said, "As soon as you left him, Periyavaa asked me to forget it all as he had only told so to satisfy you."
The treasurer went again to Mahaperiyavaa, but couldn't have an opportunity to talk to him. Everytime he tried, Paramacharya saw to it that he had somebody nearby discussing something. This continued for some days, until one day, the treasurer was able to 'catch' Paramacharya at ten in the night, when the latter had finished the puja, appearing rather tired.
"Periyavaa should atleast have a stomachful of biksha ," said the treasurer. "Otherwise I shall quit the matam."
That did not work. With a broad smile, Paramacharya said, "Do you feel nothing will move in the mutt if you are not there?"
"Then I shall quit this world", uttered the treasurer vehemently, and started weeping. He knew that Periyavaa could not ask the same question with this offer to quit the world.
"Alright, I will have the biksha. Why , I shall have it now. You said that you will offer to fill my stomach. Will you do it?" said Paramacharya.
"I am only waiting for such words", said the treasurer as he prostrated, his eyes full of tears. He thought that at that time of night Periyavaa wouldn't take anything other than milk and fruits, so he rose to call the biksha assistant who knew about his Guru's habits.
"Why do you call him? I asked only you to offer me the biksha and you agreed", said Paramacharya.
"Since I don't know about the quantity, I though I would ask him..."
"So what? Bring what is avaiable."
The treasurer brought the baskets and bamboo plates that were filled with fruits. He thought Periyavaa could take what he desired from the lot.
A totally surprising order came from Paramacharya. "Where is the suji (a sweet dish) and sundal (boiled and fried seeds) that were offered at the puja? Bring them at once!"
The treasurer ran and brought the large utensils that had the dishes, and placed them in front of his Guru.
A miracle happened there! Paramacharya emptied the utensils quickly and asked for more!
The treasurer moved the fruit baskets near the sage. That was also emptied in no time. And the question came, "what else is there?" The treasurer was aghast.
"You offered to fill my stomach and stirred the hunger in me, now I can't bear it!" said Paramacharya. Not able to withstand those words, the treasurer brought a large kooja (a pot like container) of milk and offered to the sage.
No sooner Paramacharya drank all the milk than the treasurer slapped on his own cheeks resoundingly and fell at the feet of the sage. "Periyavaa should excuse me! I shall never disturb you hereafter."
Mahaperiyavaa laughed like a child and said, "So you wouldn't come in my way henceforth!", and blessed the treasurer with raised hands.