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Monday, August 11, 2014

Did Anjaneya Come?

'anubhavam Ayiram' (Experiences, a Thousand): Did Anjaneya Come?
Author: RamaNi ANNA
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Sep 15, 2008
Type: magazine, fortnightly, Tamil 
Publisher: Viketan Publications
Translator: saidevo

One Friday, midday time. In Sringeri, Jagadguru SriSriSri Abhinava Vidyatheertha Maha Sannidhanam, finishing his nitya pUjas, and after the bhikShA was over, sat in ekAntam (privacy) and was conversing with the MaTham disciples.

The students studying in Veda PAThashAlAs in Tirunelveli, Madurai and Ramanathapuram that had Sringeri as their Guru PiTham had then come there to have darshan of Sri SharadambaL and the Jagadguru. SwamigaL had directed them to stay for some days and then return home. Those students also were listening to SwamigaL's conversation.

The talk then turned about the upanyAsakas (speakers) who give pravachana (spiritual expositions). A student called Sankara Subrahmaniyan, of the Veda PAThashAlA, Thallakulam, Madurai got up and prostrated to Jagadguru. Then he said, "About this pravachanam, I desire to do vij~jApana with Gurunathar, something in my mind." Looking a little up and down at him AchAryAL directed, "ennatu, sollEn (what's it, why not tell me)!"

Forthwith in a low tone he said, "Nothing else GurunathA! These days some upanyasakas who do kathA pravachanam leave the sarAmsam (essential truth) and talk much only about other subjects! By this, the sarAmsam gets forgotten, (whereas) the other subjects stay well in memory. We don't get the tRupti (satisfaction) of listening to a good pravachanam! Is this a shortcoming of those who do the pravachana or those who listen to it? Only Maha SwamigaL should favour us with a clarification!"

Others who heard this, said that they too had this doubt. The Jagadguru smiled. Sitting upright in gaMbhIram (majesty), he inquired with compassion, "First, have all of you done your bhojanam (meal)?"

They all rose up, joined palms and said, "Done Swami."

"santoSham (happy)", the Jagadguru smiled and continued: "Wherever, whatever we listen to, we should only absorb the good sarAmsam in it and leave the rest. For this, we should do paripakvam of our mind. Only that is the lofty guNam (personality). Those who do upanyAsa, doing anusAra of the time and audience, at the same time without leaving the 'subject', complete it. Only we should absorb from it like the anna pakShin (the swan bird). What, you understand?" he asked and laughed loudly.

His reply created amazement among the disciples. Looking at Jagadguru, they discussed something secretly among them!

shiShya by name Suryanarayanan got up and prostrated to Maha Sannidhanam. Then he asked with bhaya bhakti (reverential devotion): "A prArthanA (prayer) to Jagadguru! We all desire to listen to Srimad Ramayanam. Only Jagadguru should show kRupa..." Before he finished, "adukkenna... bEshA (why not, very well) we can arrange it. I shall get well-read paurANikas (puranic exponents) from Mysore and ask them to narrate it," said SwamigaL.

Hearing this, the shiShyas looked at one another with yearning. A shiShya named Yagyanarayanan got up hesitantly and prostrated to Jagadguru. Then he beseeched with humility, "To do shravaNam of Srimad Ramayanam through Jagadguru's amRuta vAk (nectarine speech) is our longtime desire. Gurunathar should do anugraha."

SwamigaL went supple. Still, laughing with a rattle and not showing out his feeling, he said, "Oho! So much pIDikai (bush-beating) only for this?! Let's see, let's see," and went inside. Disappointment for the disciples!

Days passed by. That day was Friday too. The time of sandhyA kAlam (sunset). At Sri SharadambaL's temple, the crowed filled up and swelled. Suddenly... SwamigaL came to have darshan of AmbaaL. It would have been eight o' clock when he came out finishing his darshan! The disciples waiting readily at the temple entrance, on seeing SwamigaL, fell flat and prostrated. AchAryAL stood transfixed.

Looking at them and smiling, he said, "EtEtu, viDamATTEL pOl irukkE (whatever way, seems you people will not leave me)? Alright, alright. It can be held it as desired by you! Selecting an auspicious day, we shall have the prArambhaM", and moved away quickly.

That auspicious day too came. It was decided that AchAryAL would do exposition of the Sundara KANDam for seven days. The news, 'Maha Sannidhanam himself is going to do pravachana anugraha' spreading, the crowed was heavy. It had just finished drizzling!

Those who had darshan of the Jagadguru who came and sat in gaMbhIram on the Asanam (wooden plank), felt as if sAkShAt Veda Vyasa Bhagavan himself had come and seated himself. The pravachanam started in a majestic voice. Half an hour would have passed. SwamigaL halted his pravachanam suddenly and called an assistant of the MaTham. To him he ordered, "Was to tell you in the beginning itself... forgot! What you do, on my side at a small distance you lay a wooden plank. Spread a silk cloth over it. Then, in a silver plate, keep two guava fruits before the seat. shIghram (Quickly)!" His orders were carried out and he continued with his upanyAsam.

The fifth day upanyAsam was also completed. SwamigaL, who elaborated well in a way the students could understand, also explained them the nuances of dharma shAstras.

A student named Venkatesan belonging to the Tirunelveli Veda PAThashAlA came up slowly, prostrated to Jagadguru and said in hesitation, "I have a doubt, Gurudeva."

"What doubt, ask it", said SwamigaL.

He stumbled as he asked: "GurunathA! From the day the upanyAsam was commenced, you ask them to place a plank near you and also keep the guava fruits in a plate before it! Can't understand what is it for..."

Hearing this and laughing rattlingly, AchAryAL said, "Shall tell you, listen... 'yatra yatra raghunAtha kIrtanam, tatra tatra krta-masta kAnjalim'--'wherever Sri Rama's greatness is talked about there will readily come Sri Anjaneya Swami' is a belief. Here we recite Srimad Ramayanam itself. So Swami would come certainly? Can we make him stand? He is the 'nava vyAkaraNa pandita'! The Asana palakai is for him to sit on. Then... this is like doing upachAram with fruits, bakShaNam (savouries), coffee to a guest who comes to our home. Swami likes koyyAppazham (guava fruit) very much. Have understood now?"

Venkatesan nodded yes. Didn't that Deivam (God) know that this tender fruit wasn't clear yet!

Heavy crowd on the sixth day too. Jagadguru completed that day's upanyAsam in a way that moved everyone.

After everyone prostrated to SwamigaL and went away, the PAThashAlA students also, one by one prostrated and moved away. At the last of them was the Tirunelveli PAThashAlA student who prostrated shASTaangam and stood with joined palms. SwamigaL glanced at him with a smile and asked, "What's your full name?"

"Prasanna Venkatesan, GurunathA!"

"Which place is your pUrvIkam (native)?", SwamigaL asked.

"A hamlet near Tirunelveli Kadayanallur, GurunathA!"

"What is (your) takappanAr (father) doing?"

"upAdhyAyam (Vedic occupation), GurunathA!"

Saying "bEsh, bEsh", AchAryAL took with his golden hands the two guava fruits dedicated to Anjaneya Swami and gave it to him. Then he gave him leave with the words, "VenkatesA! These are the uchChiShta prasAdam (remnants) eaten by Anjaneya. Cut it, drop a piece in your mouth and share it with others!"

But then Prasanna Venkatesan did not move away from that place. He stood rolling the guava fruits in his hand and looking at them!

Having understood his flow of thoughts, AchAryAL said smiling within himself, "What Prasanna Venkatesa? Keeping the fruits in hand, what is that deep contemplation? Why not tell me a little, let me also know it!" He hesitated.

"Come on", the Jagadguru emboldened him.

"Nothing else, GurunathA! On that seat, Anjaneya Swami comes and sits and listens to Srimad Ramayanam, eats the guava fruits dedicated to him and leaves..." SwamigaL interruped him before he could finish.

"This is not told by me! This is a custom observed tradition after tradition with pUrNa nambikkai (full faith) by the elders who do Ramanayanam pravachanam. This is satyam too! What is your doubt in this?" asked the JnAnaguru.

Even in that chill weather Prasanna Venkatesan was perspiring. He hesitated to talk. Asking him to come nearer, AchAryAL encouraged him, "Whatever the matter... tell me boldly what strikes your mind."

He said in reply, "While listening to the pravachanam I was also looking at that plank often... For my eyes, nothing of Anjaneya Swami coming and sitting was seen! I also checked up with the sakas (friends) near me. They also said having seen nothing. That's why..." Venkatesan gulped and faltered.

AchAryAL asked, "Alright, alright. This is your first doubt! The two guava fruits are intact, they should have been parted had Anjaneya Swami eaten them is your second doubt (right)?"

Then he explained, "With AtmArta bhakti (soulful devotion) and shraddhA (trust), we too can have darshan of Anjaneya Swami sitting bhavyam (pious) with bhakti and doing Srimad Ramayana shravaNam! If Anjaneyar comes as viShva rUpi and sits, will everyone have the shakti to look at him and bear with the sight? So he would come in sUkShmam (subtle form) and return after listening!" Further he asked Venkatesan, "You know to read grantha letters?"

"I know, GurunathA!" said the boy.

Forthwith, he asked for a Upanishad related grantha book to be brought to him from inside. Opening it at a page and showing a small passage, "You should memorize this in five minutes and recite to me, try if you can", he said with a laugh.

Venkatesan moved to a distance with the book. Precisely five minutes passed by. Coming back to AchAryAL he recited the specific pasage with no mistake of even a syllable.

parama santoSham on AchAryAL's face. He took the book in his hand. Keeping the passage he asked the boy to memorize, he said, "Venkatesa! As asked by me you read and recited (the passage) in just five minutes! Just because you have absorbed those specific akSharas (letters), they haven't disppeared from their places! Aren't the grantha letters intact in their places? This is similar to that! Whatever we dedicate to God, He does svIkAram (claim) of only the ruchi (taste) accompanied by bhakti shraddhA and leaves the padArthas (eatables) to us with supreme compassion. Do you now understand the secret of those two guava fruits remaining intact, in full, without withering or shrinking?", AchAryAL asked him and laughed rattlingly.

Prasanna Venkatesan was sitting in amazement. Peace prevailed there for sometime. They all prostrated in shASTaangam.

The day of pravachana pUrti (completion of discourse)! At three in the afternoon itself AchAryAL came to the stage. The upanyAsam was going on very movingly. The time of completion, and everyone was listening, forgetful of their own selves. It was at that time that miracle took place!

A large vAnaram (monkey) came by leaps and bounds to the upanyAsam hall. Without taking heed of anyone, it jumped up the stage, went and sat quietly on the Asanam meant for Anjaneya Swami, facing AchAryAL! The Jagadguru was looking at it for sometime without moving his eyes away. It did not even regard the guava fruits kept before the seat! The crowd wondered at this sight!

Five o' clock in the evening. That vAnaram did not sway this way or that until then. Did not also touch the fruits. Completing his upanyAsam, AchAryAL recited the phala sruti. Then turning his head to his right and looking at the vAnaram, he said, "Anjaneya Swami, very happy that you came and sat here to listen to Srimad Ramayanam!" and requested, "Those two guava fruits are only for you, should do svIkAram of them." Looking around at the crowd once, the vAnaram took the fruits and keenly looked at AchAryAL for sometime with affection.

Meantime a voice proclaimed from the crowd, "Anjaneya... Rama, Rama!" Everyone looked towards the direction the voice came from. Prasanna Venkatesan was standing there with joined palms, his eyes filled with tears. By this time the vAnaram descended slowly from the stage, walked majestically and disappeared.

Coming to Jagadguru with filled eyes Prasanna Venkatesan said, "Gurudeva! That which came and sat on the plank near you did not appear as a vAnaram to my eyes. I saw sAkShAt Anjaneya Swami with his sharIram (body) that is AjAnubAhu (arms reaching knees) sitting in gAmbhIryam (majesty)! I also saw Swami saying something to AchAryAL! The tAtparyam of what you told me is now understood by me, GurunathA!" He fell at the Jagadguru's pAdAravinda. With so many people consoling him, no one could control his flowing tears.

That para brahmam blessed him with raised hands!

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