Exhilarating incidents from the life of Sri Maha Periva
We are pleased to share the below collection of exhilarating incidents, shared with us by our respected member Sri M K Anantha Raman. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Recently, I had the fortune of attending a lecture by Sow, Poornimaji. She spoke about the great qualities of Kanchi Maha Swamigal and narrated a number of exhilarating incidents from His life. I am happy to share a few of them in detail with you.
1. The foremost attribute of any saint/guru is the immense unshakeable faith in God.
Mahswamiji was also an embodiment of that certitude. In one of the early yatras, the mutt was camping in a small village in Andhra. The finances of mutt were shallow at those times but Mahaswamiji wasn't perturbed by that state of affairs. As is customary, the well to do people in that village“ only a handful being a small village - provided for the needs of the mutt like pooja items, Biksha, Annadhan etc. on a rotation basis. When the manager of mutt saw that each of them have already provided for a day each, he approached Mahaswamiji for moving on to the next place.
Mahaswamiji fell in love with the serenity and calm of the village and felt that they could stay for a few more days which would provide an opportunity to Mahaswamiji to spend a few more days in Dhyanam. The manager told him that nothing was left literally for the next morning even for pooja and he dare not ask again any one in the village for meeting the operating expenses. He said there were even no provisions to offer Biksha to Mahaswamiji on the following day.Mahaswamiji smilingly told him that he was ready for upavasam. The manager replied politely it may suit Mahaswamiji but the employees including himself could not do so. Paramacharyal just told him that " Do not worry, Ambal padi alappal ".( an expression to say Ambal will take care, padi is an old measure for grains ) The manager just murmured how could Ambal do so in this remote village. He told Mahaswamiji that even if someone was to give cash suddenly, things would have to be procured from far off place since nothing was available in the vicinity. Mahaswamiji just smiled and went to retire.
The manager was trying to sleep in a cot outside their camp but with a heavy responsibility on his shoulders, sleep was evading him. At about 11 pm in the night, he saw a line of bullock carts with lanterns dangling between the two wheels coming along at a distance. When they came near the camp, one of them jumped out and asked the manager the whereabouts of a Sadhu from southern side who was camping in that village. When the manager replied they have hit the right place, their chieftain got out and told the manager that they were from a nearby village and after the harvest, they usually offer their first lot of to the village deity. After hearing about this great Sadhu, they decided to offer Him this time since they considered both the offerings to be on the same plateau. As they had to resume the work the next morning, they decided to come that night itself to fulfill their obligation.
The manager was spell bound and speechless. Regaining the power of utterance after a while, he went inside and woke up Mahaswamiji . He sought His permission to accept the offer. Mahaswamiji came out and blessed the villagers; he told the manager to accept the grains, vegetables etc. At that point the chieftain humbly told Mahaswamiji that they wished to offer them in their own customary manner and Mahaswamiji nodded His head.
They took out the "padis " that measuring jar in metal - filled them with various grains and then poured them in the receptacles at the mutt. The manager was in tears seeing how " Ambal padi alanthal "in that middle of night. Mahaswamiji also took out a yellow pumpkin from the lot of vegetables and gave it to the manger saying " So, you can have your favourite paal (milk) kootu tomorrow " subtly telling him that he need not fear of having to observe any upavasam the next day.
2. Mahaswamiji is also known as for His wit and humour and for the pun of words.
Once an artist came to Him and told Mahaswamiji that he is going to offer something different from other devotees. He then said to Mahaswamiji that he is offering his " kavalai " (worries) to Him so that he will be relieved. Mahaswamiji replied spontaneously that whenever a devotee offers Him anything He takes a small part of it and returns the remainder to the devotee. By that practice,Mahaswamiji told the artist that He will take the " va" from his offering and return back the " ka lai" to him. (kalai = art)
3. The intensity and depth of Paramacharya's memory is legendary.
Here is an anecdote recounted by Sow. Poornimaji in that regard.
Mahaswamiji was camping in MIT campus in Chennai and one day after Bhashan offered prasadam including kungkumam (vermilion) to the students coming in a line. After one student getting the prasadam and walking away from Him, Mahaswamiji summoned him back and asked him in Kannada language whether was he from Dharwar" a place north of Bangalore in Karnataka. The student replied in affirmative. He then asked the student per chance was his name Chandrasekhara or Chandramouli. The student with an exclamation said it was indeed Chandramouli. He also confirmed his age as 22 when he was posed that question. Then Mahaswamiji enquired about the welfare of his parents and blessed him again. The entire dialogue was in Kannada.
Chandramouli hesitatingly informed Him that was the first occasion he was seeing Him and how come Swami knew so much about him. Mahaswamiji told him that when He was camping in Dharwar about 23 years ago, a couple came to Him and sought His blessings for a baby. Paramacharyal blessed them. When He gave the prasadam to the couple, the husband applied the kungkumam in the forehead and then a small bit of it on his right shoulder in a fast moving action (Theethi kondaar )
Mahaswamiji told Chandramouli that he did the same kind of action after receiving prasadam from Him and so was immediately reminded of his fatherâ€™s similar action. Also remembering their place, He just added the bits and derived his age too. He also figured that his parents, having been blessed after Chandramouleeswara pooja,would very likely named the baby as Chandramouli.
See even that small insignificant motion of hand has been captured in His mental framework and recalled effortlessly after so many years.
4. Mahaswamiji also possessed a great sense of humour that may not be known to many.
He once lamented to one of the devotees, Sri Vedagiri - that Adi Shanakra was fortunate to have an unquestioning disciple Sri Thodakashta and it is not easy to get such disciples. Vedagiri in his earnest told Paramacharyal that he will do whatever Acharya says but Mahaswamiji told him that it will not be that easy. However Vedagiri was insistent.
Mahaswamiji then to pointed out to Vedagiri an old Brahmin widow in the crowd of devotees assembled outside. True to the then prevailing tradition, the old lady was dressed in a white saree with a shaven head and shining Vibhuthi in the forehead.
Mahaswamiji told Vedagiri to go to that lady and enquire whether she was "sumangali " . Vedagiri was very hesitant and reluctant to do so, as was naturally to be expected.
Mahaswamiji told him it was not be easy to be a Thodakashta. Not to disown his own words in such a short time, Vedagiri summoned all his courage and came before that old lady. She was with a few of her family members who seemed able bodied too. Praying all the Gods, he can remember, Vedagiri feebly asked the lady " Neengal Sumangaliya ?" expecting a barrage of blows physically or verbally.
The lady's face brightened up immediately and she said with a glee " yes " and also wondered how He knew about it. Confused to the hilt, Vedagiri came back to Mahaswamiji and narrated him the entire thing. Yet he could not figure out what had happened and how the lady could agree with Mahaswamiji's poser.
Mahaswamiji solved the mystery by explaining that Sumangali is village in Tanjore district and the lady hailed from there. (you can now read that question again and appreciate the appropriateness.)"