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Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Astrologer Who Astonished the Arcot Nawab!

Author: Sri P.N. Sankara Raman, Kambarasampettai
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Jul 24, 2006
Translator: saidevo

As told by the author:

It is several years since the incident I have narrated here happened. At that time, my father P.M. Nataraja Sarma was working as a Sanskrit teacher in the Bishop Heber College, Trichy. He had immense bhakti and respect in Kanchi Mahaswami Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati.

Nattham village is located on the north bank of Kaveri in Trichy district. Once Mahaswamiji was camping there. My father wanted to have darshan of the Sri Tripura Sundari-Sri ChandraMauleesvara puja Swamiji was performing there. With three days coming up as holidays, he reached Nattham village on Friday night. The puja was over. Since nobody knew my father there, he was not specifically welcomed. Wearing the vibuti prasAdam given by Mahaswamiji on his front, he lay down to sleep in a corner of the pandal. The next two days passed by in the same manner. My father had an eyeful darshan of pujas and the arAdhanas. 

The third day was the Vinayaka Chaturti festival day. After the special puja was over, my father went to get the prasAdam from Swamiji and told him about going back home. Swamiji raised his head and said, "First take the kozhukkattai (modakam) (a favourite sweet dish of Sri Ganesha) kept in front of Pillaiyar, sit somewhere, eat it leisurely and then come back; we shall discuss about your returning home."

My father was amazed. He wanted to take leave but Swamiji asked him to first eat the kozhukkattai and come back! After he ate the prasAdam, Swamiji called him. Periyavaa was very happy to learn that my father was the paternal grandson of Pudukkudi Srinivasa Josyar (astrologer). Swamiji reminisced about his grandfather and the incidents that happened at that time. My father was quite surprised!

Swamiji continued: "Your grandfather went to Malayala Desam and learnt Jyotisha systematically. He also took up the upasana of devatas (chanting mantras on demigods). It was an interesting incident how he became an astrologer of Arcot Nawab. At that time, Tiruchirapalli was under the rule of Arcot Nawab. The Nawab had many astrologers. One day the Nawab ordered all the astrologers residing in his region, including those with him to come to his kaccheri (sabha). Many new astrologers assembled. Your grandfather was one among those present.

"After the Nawab came to the kaccheri, the Diwan got up and told to the astrologers: 'Nawab is organizing a competition for you people. You should all write down in a piece of palm leaf the name of the gate on the fort wall through which Nawab will go out for hunting today, put it inside a (palm) cover and give it to us. All the palm covers will be sealed and preserved. When Nawab returns, the seals will be broken and the leaves will be read out. Nawab will honour the man who has given the correct answer.' So every astrologer noted down as east or south or west or north as the gate according to his computation and submitted his cover.

"Ultimately, on that day, the Nawab did not go out of any primary gate. He demolished the north wall of the west gate (the northern petrol bunk side of today's Main Guard Gate) and got out, travelled some distance towards Woraiyur on the west, then turned north and went up to the Kaveri bank. Then he turned south and moved through the demolished entrance in the North Andar Street (today's name is Puduppadi Lane) to the northern street of Rockfort. Then he turned east and came to the East Andar Street via the slanted rocky path. He came round the Rock from the right and reached his kaccheri which was at today's Town Hall through the Chinnakkadai Street. He did not go for hunting at all. After the Nawab returned, the seals were broken the palm leaves were read out. Only your grandfather's leaf had mentioned about the Nawab's activities accurately. The Nawab was amazed. The others in the kaccheri also were wonder-struck.

"Thereafter, the Nawab legally gifted your father 80 acres of land in Pudukkudi. In the street south of the Rockfort, there is a black temple on the western side. Near that temple is a tall house with an iron gate. Opposite that house is a small house with thinnai (sit out). The Nawab also gave these two houses. Your grandfather spent gradually all the 80 acres of land and the two houses near the Rockfort for dharmic activities."

With this reminiscence, Mahaswamiji blessed my father and bid him farewell. My father used to recite this incident to me often and feel proud about it.

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