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Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Bhakta's Devotion

Neyveli Mahalingam was hailed as "Kannappa Nayanar" by none other than Periyava himself. He always spoke to Periyaval in a loud voice. He would pour out the feelings of his heart in words without the slightest trace of guile. Those listening to him would feel annoyed at his seeming impudence. One would even feel enraged and wonder what kind of man he was who could speak to Periyaval in this manner. But Periyava would sit quietly, not moving a little, and listen to all that he said.

One day Mahalingam said, "Appa! You roam about in sun and rain from place to place and kill yourself with fasting. All the orthodox gentlemen and ladies who don traditional wear and come here calling you a "Walking God", are frauds. They eat their bellies full in a hotel before they come here in a car, bus, or train. They stand with their hands upon their mouth as if in great reverence and address you as "Periyava" repeatedly. You are taken in by all this and believing it to be a sign of devotion, you shower your blessings upon them. No one cares for your health. Look...take this! I have brought biscuits, tonic and other medicines. Take all these regularly, without fail", and pushed a cardboard box towards Periyava.

During another visit he said, "I am the only son of my father. So come to my house and stay there". His loving words expressed his affection for Periyava, as well as the hope that Periyava would stop straining himself fasting and moving from place to place, but stay in his house and perform his japa and penance without discomfort.

Periyava would listen to the gentleman with a smile. Not once, even for form's sake, did he reprimand him or tell him not to speak in this manner. Periyava would listen to Mahalingam joyously and send him away with prasada.

Kannappa Nayanar was worried that Kudiminatha of Kalahasti might feel the pangs of hunger. The nature of the food offered by the two devotees differed ofcourse. But the devotion that impelled them to do so was one and the same. There were many centuries between the two devotees. But the Lord of Time does not age as the wheel moves on, or change in any way.

On the mountains of Kalahasti he appeared as a stone linga for Kannappa. For Mahalingam's sake, he would walk from place to place, wearing a cloth of ochre. ALL IS ONE.

Source: In the Presence of the Divine
Narratives of Experiences with Maha Periyaval - Volume 1
Translated by: Sujatha Vijayaraghavan

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