author:...... Jaanaa Kannan, Mylapore
compiler:... T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
book:......... Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol. 5, pages 043-050
publisher:.. Vanathi Padhippaham (Jun 2007 Edition)
Maha PeriyavaaL leaning on a wooden plank, stretching his holy feet is a scene that everyone can witness. Specifically, when he gives darshan sitting inside his mEnA (palanquin), his feet would remain stretched.
'Why not make a cushion on which Periyavaa might keep his feet?'
Buying some airy, light, soft sponge made of rubber, I cut it into a wide circle; covered it with a velvet cloth and stiched it in place; an eight-petalled lotus flower in a different colour at the centre; I decorated the edges with laces.
When I went for darshan of PeriyavaaL, he was sitting inside his mEnA.
My mother and I submitted the sponge preparation to PeriyavaaL. (That is, we kept it on the floor adjacent to the mEnA.) PeriyavaaL said, "aSTa-daLam (eight-petalled)?" as he took away his feet from inside the mEnA and kept them on the velvet pAda-pITham (feet rest). We experienced a shiver of ecstasy inside our heart. Without saying, "Alright, keep it here and go", as a way of immediately accepting the article we offered with bhakti, he kept his holy feet on it! What other greater bhAgyam could be there than this one?
An aNukkat-toNdar (personal assistant) was standing by the side of PeriyavaaL.
"You know the Lalita Sahasranama Dhyana Shlokam?"
After a minute's thinking, the assistant started with 'aruNAM karuNAtaraMgitAkSIM...'".
"That's it! Look, there is a vidvAn (pandit) standing there. Go and ask him about the meaning of the 'ratnaghaTastha-raktacaraNAM' that occurs in this shlokam (verse)..."
The assistant went to the pandit and came back. "He said the meaning was 'AmbaaL keeping her ruddy feet on the water-pot made of precious stones...'".
Another vidvAn was standing adjacent to the mEnA. Looking at him, PeriyavaaL said: "SaastrigaaL! There was a doubt lingering with me for a long time. Which is that why should AmbaaL be keeping her feet on a ghaTam (water-pot)? Seems that doesn't go quite well here, right?"
The Pandit nodded his head with humility in affirmation. (He did not want to take the chance of 'What meaning would you attribute?' from Periyavaa!)
"That doesn't seem apt here, right?"
"Now, after looking at this pAda-pITham, my doubt simply ran away!"
Periyavaa explained: "It would be right to say that AmbaaL is keeping her ruddy feet on a pAda-pITham such as this one. It seems to me that removing the 'ghaTastha' and substituting it with 'paTastha' would look alright. paTam means cloth, so a soft pAda-pITham. The padam (term) that was initially 'paTastha' could have become in the custom of speech 'ghaTastha', it seems to me. We should consider the 'paTastha' which means 'on a cloth' as a sama-vAcakam (equivalent) of 'on a woolen cloth' (because that should be smooth without hurting the feet!)."
None of us (including the pandit) recovered from the astonishment we had (on hearing it)!
"I was thinking it over for a long time. I understood once I looked at ."
, this velvet pAda-pITham!
PeriyavaaL says his doubt was solved by a simple offer from an innocent like me, who stood on the last row without any sort of qualifications.
The gush of the tears of joy in me has not stopped yet; nor did PeriyavaaL's arULAnanda pozhivu (blissful shower of grace) stop with that!
*** *** ***
The days when I was studying in a college.
The time when I had only known about PeriyavaaL generally, with no special bhakti.
Suddenly he gave me darshan--in a dream! I couldn't push it away as some sort of imagination. He came and gave darshan often.
Should I not give a honour to these holy dreams?
I took up fasting on guruvAram (Thursdays). From that time I got darshan on every Thursday. It was a very happy experience, but it did not last long.
Suddenly Periyavaa stopped coming. What mistake did I commit for that?
It was a Thursday. Sitting on my bed, I pray closing my eyes: 'At least today should give
hmhUm (no). PeriyavaaL did not come.
Two days later, he gave darshan in a dream. "PeriyavaaL darshan was given me often in the earlier times. Nowadays Periyavaa never comes", I told him sorrowfully.
PeriyavaaL smiled slowly. "Am I not aged now? I have become a kizhavan (old man). (Showing his daNDam) I can't come that far carrying this staff. Only you should come to see me."
"If Periyavaa's anugraham (favour) is there, I shall come."
"You will come for the utsavam (festival)?"
"Shall come if there is anugraham."
The dream dissolved. Nothing was intelligible. Should come for which festival? What is the connection between it and PeriyavaaL darshan?
The surprising event happened the very next day.
My periyammA (mother's elder sister) had to attend a marriage in Chennai. "You come with me," she said. "If you come, on the way we can have darshan of PeriyavaaL in Kanchipuram."
I was ready the next minute!
When we reached the entrance of Kanchipuram MaTham the next day, Goddess Kamakshi who had come on a procession was standing there. A very large crowd. All the three Periyavaas were going around the Goddess.
"What is the speciality today?" I asked a local woman.
"Don't you know? Kamakshi Kovil utsavam is going on."
I don't have to narrate how I would have felt then. "Come for the utsavam?" was not a mere dream; deiva saMkalpam (divine will)!
*** *** ***
Having monthly darshan became my custom (from then on). Every time I went, I would submit some such thing as a garland or kirITam (crown) of cardamoms.
Once he asked his assistant Panaampattu Kannan who was nearby, "Whenever she comes to see me, she brings ten garlands? Count how many garlands are there on my neck."
Since the garlands worn were not removed, there were a number of them on his neck. Counting each by touching them, when the last one arrived for counting, Kannan said, "patthu (ten)".
"pOi kaiyai alambu (go and wash your hand)", said PeriyavaaL with a sportive smile.
(Those who observe the AcAra-anuSTAna [scriptural precepts of daily routine] would understand what patthu, thIttu, ecchal means. It is a custom of Acara that if a cooked article is touched that would result in deficiency of purity known as patthu. Since Kannan said 'patthu' PeriyavaaL asked him to wash his hand to remove that shortcoming. PeriyavaaL's words of frolic and humour--it is not possible to limit them to letters!)
Kannan told him: "sakala jIvarAsis (all the beings) are in Periyavaa's sharIraM (body). Therefore there is neither patthu nor padinonRu (the number eleven--as 'patthu' also denotes the number ten)!"
Yes, we have only one thing: PeriyavaaL!
*** *** ***
A motivation to submit some article that can be used by PeriyavaaL.
In those days, when Periyavaa sat down, they would place a wooden plank on the wall for him to lean on.
It seemed to me that leaning on the wooden plank would not be comfortable, so something that gave hitam (welfare) to the sharIraM could be made and offered to him.
'Shall keep sponge on the plank and cover it with velvet? Or will a cloth of wool be necessary?'--thoughts streamed by when sitting in PeriyavaaL's sannidhi (presence).
At that time, PeriyavaaL who was conversing with his assistant Chandramauli said in continuance of the conversation, "To lean on, I need only wool." I had the answer!
During my darshan the next month, I submitted a plank covered with sponge and knitted with the threads of wool to cover it.
That kSaNam (moment) when PeriyavaaL leaned his back on it gives me a permanent darshan.
Later the personal assistants told me: "The woolen plank you gave is very useful. To use it in his mEnA for his one hour japam, PeriyavaaL specifically asks for it!"
Had Periyavaa wished, the Maharajas would have offered him a golden plank. What I submitted was a mere wooden plank!
One hand is not enough to write down PeriyavaaL's limitless compassion; many hands would be required.
But then am I an aSTAdasa bhuja durga (Goddess Durga with eighteen arms)?