Experiences with Maha Periyava:
I was working as the Chief Vigilance officer at the Indian Oil Corporation between 1979 and 1982. Belgaum was in one of the marketing divisions of Indian Oil Corporation and as the Chief Vigilance Officer I had to visit Belgaum.
The train from Bangalore reaches Hubli in the morning but the onward journey between Hubli and Belgaum used to take about two hours as it stopped at each wayside station like a passenger train. It was the usual practice that when a Senior Officer visited Belgaum, an Officer and Assistant Manager would meet the visiting officer at Hubli and drive him to Belgaum.
On the way, one would pass Kittur. Kittur is a small town. It was once the headquarters of the Rani of Kittur who is said to have fought against the British.
On reaching Kittur, we found to our surprise there were hardly any devotees. I found the saint sitting under a big tree. There were few people seated on the ground a little distance away. The Assistant Manager, Krishnan and I attempted to prostrate before the saint but his hand was held up as though to stop us from doing so. The Secretary of the Srimatham standing near the Paramacharya asked us not to do the namaskaram.
It was a disappointment but later on the implication was explained. I was told that till that morning the Acharya was observing a vigorous virutham (fast) and that if I had prostrated before him he would raise his hand and bless and in that process powerful cosmic energy would emanate from the centre of the palm and I may not withstand the force it would transmit. It did not mean that the Acharya was averse to blessing me.
Finally, talking about my personal life, it looked as though he knew everything about me and he was trying to test me to check if I was speaking the truth. He then asked me the name of my native place. I told him I hail from the village called Aduthurai in Tanjore District. He cross examined me as to how I claim to be so.
When I told him that I had gone there often along with my mother, he said that it is my mother’s village and that one should mention the native village which was that of my father. When I pleaded my ignorance he gave me broad hints to help locate the village. For some reason he would not name it. But he specifically told me that in that village there is a temple which was built by my great grandfather, and, that there is stone idol of Anjaneya which was lying in the temple without being consecrated.
He wanted me to locate the village. “Go to the temple and see that the Anjaneya idol is installed as the agama shastras and that this should be done without delay”. I then took leave of him.
It was at the time mentioned earlier that the secretary told me why I was not allowed to do the namaskaram and also said that in his experience there were very few people to have had such close interaction with the Acharya Swami.
After this incident, I went to my father’s sister, the lone survivor of my father’s family. She was then in her 90’s and living in Kumbakonam. From her, I learnt that my father’s village is called Thillaambur on the banks of river Kudamurtti, 9 kms south of Kumbakonam on the Mannargudi road adjoining Nannilam. Soon after, I went to the village and found that what the Paramacharya said was true….
And thereafter some of us including Krishnaswami, son of the former Village Officer, and Shri. Narasimha Charya, the landlord got together. Over the last two decades we have slowly improved the conditions in the temple. Now particularly the Anjaneya in the temple is becoming quite famous, in that, it is said that if the parents of unmarried daughters worship at this temple for six Saturdays, they will be able to find a good match easily for their daughter.
I feel this is a unique experience in my life… not only to have been before great saint, but to have had such personal interaction with him over men and matters. I was not able to look into his eyes directly. It was so radiant and powerful and I felt as though I was looking at the sun. Even today I can close my eyes and recreate the scene. I am indeed very fortunate
Narrated by: K.A.Rajagopal, Chennai