Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvathi Swamivarulu, Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, is my Master. Here goes a true story how he came into our lives. My mother died at the age of four. I was suffering continuously from asthma and was soon becoming an invalid, corticosteriods proved to be effective but they should be taken daily. I was married to Nageswari on 10-10-1971. She told me that at the age of 7 she went to Snowden Hospital, Simla and found that she had lost the vision in one eye and the other might not serve for long. But with her arrival, every thing had changed dramatically in our, otherwise a barren home overnight.
One year after the marriage, Something divine goaded me to go to Thiruvannamali. There we felt the presence of Sri Ramana Maharishi. We could get His communication that ‘I am not your Guru and searching for you a Guru’. We were exhilarated at the divine turn of events after three days, when we were leaving the Ashram, we tried to pay some donation, The person in charge had thrust a book into my hands saying that it would go like a hot cake and its price was only Rs. 5/-. We had some initial hesitation, but the person succeeded in making me purchase the book. So a precise dramatic moment had come in my life. This book has had to transform my entire life. The book is no other than ‘The Search in Secret India’ by Dr. Paul Brunton.
After three months, I casually opened the book and I got confronted with the heading, with the Spiritual Head of South India’. I read the entire chapter and wanted to know about ‘this Master’. I was sipping a cool drink when the owner of shop told me that the Master lives in Tenambakkam on the outskirts of Kanchi. Till then, I did not know that a spiritual Head called Sri Sankaracharya is there. I was brought up in such surroundings. We changes two buses from Nellore and reached Tenambakkam by dusk time. The first time I saw Him he was drawing water in a wooden vessel from the well. His disciple Sreekantan told Him, “Andhra-Kara”.
Sreekantan told His Holiness about my asthmatic condition. The Master sprinkled water on me with His fingers. No words and no solace and no reaction other than sprinkling of water. That is the first encounter, with the Great Master which happened on 23rd August 1973.
Later, on another occasion I reached Thenambakkam at hour for a second time. It was drizzling and I slept on the sandy floor. I woke up around I found a figure moving inside the hut and then, I moved towards the well. I found master walking very slowly towards the well. He began to sweep the floor and then very slowly took a tub bath in front of me. It was almost two hours that I was alone with Him at that hour. All my craving were fully satisfied with that ‘Ekantha Darsanam’.
During our third visit, the Master suddenly looked in my eyes and a ‘delicate power’ pierced my eyes and quickly Master went back into the hut. From then on, there was a sea change in my character-many an obstinate wall of limitation was broken.
During the fourth visit, Master spoke cryptically that I was His ‘devotee’. I was mesmerized by such wonderful words coming from the mouth of such a Great Master. These words have sustained me subsequently through the dark chapters of my life.
On a Telugu New Year’s day the master blessed me that a son would be born to me. During the summer vacation, on my query the Master advised me to stay with Him for three months when my wife was pregnant. During that time, a scorpion stung her at the house. I ran to the Master in great haste and He said that it was God’s will, but quickly assured me that nothing would happen to her. In the evening after the pain had somewhat subsided. I took her to the Master. When the last day arrived for us to go to Tirupati, Master called us and pronounced some personal benedictions and said, ‘Vellirandi’ (come again). Immediately clouds gathered around the Ashram in the hot summer day and there was downpour for two hours; we took it as a happy augury and happily left for our home.
During the early days of our quest with Master, I recited poems from ‘Gajendra Moksham’ to make Him aware of my suffering. Master in a jovial mood said, ‘Once more’. The second time Master asked me to chant ‘Gajendra Moksham’ was at Orikai village on the open sands of a midsummer day, when the then Vice President of India, Dr. Sankar Dayal Sarma had just left, after meeting His Holiness. Again at Kanchi during the period of intense suffering, I was reciting it all through the night in His presence. The Master woke up around and as if to say, ‘I hear your petition’ What is the salary of your son-in-law” and then got back into the palanquin. I slowly realised that the suffering was dwindling in His presence.
When we first went to master, we initiated the western habit, which was observed at Sri Ramanasramam, I began to address Swamivaru as ‘Bhagavan’.
During the ‘Ugadi (Telugu New year’s day) of ’75 at Kalavai, Master walked to the distant Siva temple. There was a small wayside canal. Master enquired whether it was a flowing canal or not. Then he dipped His body with difficulty and bathed there. The episode made me rethink about the lack of cleanliness and all attendant viruses. I then understood that purity is altogether different. Then He asked for the ‘small silk cloth brought by me and walked back to the quarters wearing white vastram instead of His usual robes; Then a drama troupe came to Him. He was inside the quarters. Suddenly the Master came out dancing! The person who played the role of Anjaneya went into ecstasy and danced most spiritedly Then everybody in the troupe began to join and dance. The incident sent thrills of joy through my spine. He did not feel then, the insignia of the Pontiff or Monarch of Great Peetha. Queer are the ways of Great Men.
An interesting episode occurred between Malaprabha and Ghataprabha rivers in Karnataka. From Tirupati I traveled two days to reach a small village called Ramadurg. By then, the Master did not arrive at the village. I could not find any shelter in the village.
Then a tractor was going towards the forest where He was staying. I jumped into the trailer and after some journey found the Master near a waterfall. I thought He would be pleased to see me in the forest at that hour, but in His omniscience He acted differently. He posed me the question, ‘How is Raja Rao related to you? I was baffled since the Master knows my father very well. Then it flashed to me how I quarreled with my father a few days ago. I mentally repented before Him. Then He smiled and quipped: “Here is a Tamilian, here is a Kannadiga and now and Andhra has arrived. National integration has come in to the forest at hour! Through many such acts, He made us to understand what true patriotism is. If the spiritual ideal is saved, society is saved. For sound social organisation leading to the good of man is based on the spiritual ideal’. Master hopes that “a wiser generation will fuse the best points of Asiatic and European civilisations into a higher and balanced social scheme”. I humbly pray at the Lotus Feet of the Master that His age should be the “Golden Age” in the History of India.
At Paleru in Andhra Pradesh, another auspicious event occurred in our lives. I bought a cow for Master at Tirupati; was in a dilemma as to how to take it to Master. In His infinite mercy, He ordered that a lorry of the Peetham should fetch it. On seeing the cow, Master exclaimed stroking His stomach vigorously, “the milk is for this stomach only” and imposed a condition that ‘when the cow becomes pregnant, Subbaramaiah shall take it home and after ‘delivery’, he shall bring the cow to me”. He used to personally enquire about its yield and drank only its milk.
During the Master’s sojourn in Andhra Pradesh, my wife began to lose her vision. When the Master reached Kanchi, she became totally blind. At Kanchi, the Master asked her and blessed her to perform the ‘Upanayanam’ of our son Saraswathi Chandrasekhar in His presence. It was the day after Sankara Jayanthi day. To our utter surprise Master did not give ‘darshan’ to people during the course of the function. It was a gorgeous function. His disciple Chandra arranged even a ‘video’. Many teachers of the Veda and their numerous students graced the occasion and blessed the vatu. Master gave several presents for the boy. It was a wonderfully rare occasion for the boy to be personally garlanded by the Master with a gorgeous ‘bilvamala’ which He was wearing. The previous day, the Master told the gathering around Him that upasana of a particular deity also leads to the ultimate. The day after the function, He was pleased to give me the brass vessel in which He used to spit, which we consider as ‘Akshaya Patra’ bestowed on us.
My wife was examined at Sankara Netralaya and was being treated for a complicated cataract arising out of the disease called ‘Rentinal Pigmentosa’ for almost three years. I repeatedly entreated the master several times that my wife’s vision be restored. One day, His disciple Balu gave us letter to one Mani Iyer, and advocate at Madras High court, for the operation. She was prepared for the operation and some more tests indicated that she had no intrinsic vision and we were told that to operate on a dead eye was trauma for her. We immediately went to the master and wept before Him.
He then asked me. ‘who asked you to go to Sankara Netralaya’? Then I recollected what Mani Iyer pertinently asked me, whether Acharya sent you or Balu had sent you. I said that Balu gave the letter. Then Iyer quipped that it was altogether a different affair. His consent was not there. But quickly the master reacted and asked His disciple Pattabhiraman to take us to Vengudi doctor in the Matham in Jatka. The doctor also found a highly deteriorating condition but told us, “since the Master had sent you, I shall give the treatment”. He prescribed some fifty injections but when we brought them to the Master, He was silent. Many years had elapsed. Every full moon day, when Master completed His pournama Puja, I used to implore Him to give her sight: ‘Master, please, tell me a word’ but to no avail. One day Master had reacted to my pleadings, “I do not have one eye; my brother does not have both the eyes”. He then cryptically asked me whether myself and my son have proper vision: but, then few words of immense bliss came through His mouth: “I am daily praying to Eswara for her”. Tears rolled through my eyes when Thyagaraja’s song come to my mind: ‘Samayaniki tagu mataladene’.
Meanwhile, Master observing my condition of ‘Seven year war’ with continuous fever arising out of corticosteroid drugging for more than a quarter of a century, took pity on me and initiated me into two mantras: a Garuda Mantra for fever and a ‘Savithra mantra for the eradication of asthma. Like the Rishis of ancient lore, I took up to the mantras very seriously and began to meditate on the Sun God from dawn to dusk without food. Again a year or two elapsed without any effect and on one Rathasapthami day, I desperately stared at the Sun God from morning till evening chanting the mantra. By evening, the retina was burnt black at its middle. Even in that critical condition, seeing an advertisement in the papers of a treatment for Retinal Pigmentosa for my wife, I left to Kanchi en route to madras. It was Chandra-grahanam day and I could not go anywhere near the Master for the entire night. The next morning I went to Madras and found only a bogus address. I immediately rushed back by the same bus and then I could go very near the master. Master smiled at me and raised His hand in full blessing; but then I wanted to talk. He went back into the inner quarters. I am reminded of Sri Aurobindo, that “the divine working is not the working which the egoistic mind desires or approves; for it uses error in order to arrive at truth, suffering in order to arrive at bliss, imperfection in order to arrive at perfection’ and that He ‘acts not through a succession of arbitrary miracles’. Events led us to Arvind Eye Hospital, Madurai, dedicated in honour of Sri Aurobindo. Within few hours they tested her and put her to early morning operation. At the operation table, one doctor expressed the futility of operating on her eye but Dr. Venkataswamy remarked ‘A small vision is enough for her and instructed to proceed with the operation. At this juncture, to her happiness, she found Master at the operation table with a benign smile.
On the fifth day, to our utter happiness, she could see us after a lapse of ten years! Afterwards, Master appeared to her and to her blood relatives and told them that because of the sacrifice of the husband, she was getting back her eye sight. She had no vision in one eye for thirty long years and another eye for ten long years, both covered by a complicated cataract. Doctors at Nellore and Tirupati expressed surprise that her case should have entered the Guinness Book of World Records and that the incident warrants a belief in God on their Part!
“Takkuvemi manaku Ramundokkadundu varaku”(where is the lack when Rama is ever present with us).