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Thursday, December 11, 2014

"Exp: Some SriMaTham Assistants Speak"

author:..... SriMatham Assistants
compiler: T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
book:....... Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol. 2, pages 252-260
publisher:.. Vanathi Padhippaham (May 2005 Edition)

Bhogi Sri KaNNaiyan

When he was ten years old, one Sri KaNNaiyan came, along with his father, to SriMaTham Vyasa Puja held at Thuvarankurichi in the year 1940. His father, Kunju was then the bedda bhogi (head of the bhogis who carried Paramacharya's palanquin). From that day, until this date when the use of mena (palanquin) has stopped, the memories of KaNNaiyan, who had linked himself to SriMaTham, are sweet. The interest he had towards Maha SwamigaL and the compassion Maha SwamigaL had for the bhogis were very deep.

Now on, let us listen to what KaNNaiyan says (about his experiences).

Our grandfather was bhogi to Maha Periyavanga's Guru and Paramaguru. From that time, we have been serving as the head of the mena carriers. Maha Periyavanga had abundant love for us. He used to call me kunju mavan or bedda bhogi.

There were six menas in the MaTham. The Karnataka Pallakku was used only for pattaNa prevasam (going round the city). It would look like a cradle. There were two separate palanquins, one for the day and one for the night.

The mena would look like a box. Bhogis used to come from Chidambaram, Mayavaram, Mannarkudi and Kattu Mannarkudi. We came from the Udayar Palayam zamin.

Once we lift the mena, we would walk for six kilometers. In order not to feel the burden and the strain of walking, we would speak aloud the names Kanchi Kamatchi, Madurai Meenakshi, slowly. Our pace was that of a bicycle. Another group would be ready at the sixth kilometer, where we would change shoulders. Then we would go ahead in a cart and wait for the next trip. There were eight people to carry the mena, four on the front side and four on the back. Generally, our trips would be from seven to ten o' clock in the night.

When we go for our meals, Maha Perivanga would wait for us, sitting. When we returned, he would inquire if we had our meals properly.

In those days, the daily bata (allowance) of a bhogi was six annas. Apart from that they would give us a hundred kalams (measure) each of paddy from the Kuravai and Samba harvests. This arrangement was in place until 1963.

Once (when Bhaktavatsalam was the chief minister) we started on our trip at three in the morning from Pulaccheri on the eastern side of Thanjai. The camp was arranged at Kalaiyar Koil, at a distance of seventy-five kilometers. When we reached there, Maha Periyavanga ordered that hot water be readied for our bath. He said, "Paavam, the shoulders of the bhogis would ache." From the place we stopped, SwamigaL's camp was a distance of one kilometer. He said he would go on foot and started on. From there we started at three in the afternoon and went to Sivaganga. Once we reached there, we were given rest for two days. He ordered, "IvaaLukku romba shramam. (It should be very difficult for these people). Server them meals with vadaa and paayasam. As he speaks these words, KaNNaiyan's eyes turn red with emotion.

It was around nine o' clock in the morning one day. Vedapuri Sastry was serving SwamigaL. At that time, SwamigaL was doing Achamanam, saMkalpam and then japam. Some people from the town came to see him. Vedapuri told them, "Periyavaa is doing japam, you can't see him now." So they left. When Periyavanga opened his eyes, he asked, "Where are those people from the town?"

"They are gone," said Vedapuri.

"Did they come to see you or me?"

I was beside them at that time. Periyavanga said, "They would be standing in the bus stand, bring them." I ran and told them the news. They were very happy. They came rushing, had darshan and left. When they desired to give some money as offer to the MaTham, Periyavanga asked them to do something for the bhogis. He was so affectionate towards us!

It could be some forty years ago. Periyavanga was doing tapas inside the mena on the banks of Kollidam. Darkness had already set in. The manager came and slowly slided the door of the palanquin. SwamigaL was not to be found inside! It happened so suddenly! After two minutes, somewhere from the darkness came Periyavanga asking what the matter was!

"You people did not see Maha SwamigaL getting out of the mena?"

"God! That is what we do not know... The door remains closed!"

My remembrance is that it was in 1985, 86. There was a bhAi (a Muslim brother) who was doing the business of selling kailis (lungi, a dhoti-like wear commonly worn by Muslims). He was the all India proprietor for the Sanku Mark kaili/lungi firm. He came in the queue to have darshan of Periyavanga. When his turn came, Periyavanga asked me to wrap a shawl around him. The Kaili Proprietor was in ecstasy! His heart melted with the words "Allah...Allah!"

*** *** ***

BrahmaSrI R. Ramamoorthy SastrigaL

BrahmaSrI R. Ramamoorthy SastrigaL did his adhyayana (study, especially of Vedas) in the Mahadanapuram pAThashAlA (school). He was rather dull-headed; and he had the habit of stammering in addition! He would stammer only when he talked. There would be no such hurdle when he was uttering mantras.

Something was to be done for a living! He could't survive doing vaidikam, because nobody would support him with calls.

When he was twenty-four years old, he joined SriMaTham in the year 1957. His father supplicated to Maha SwamigaL, "This boy is not fit for anything. He is dull-headed. Let him do some assitance in the MaTham."

SwamigaL ordered him, "You wash and dry the clothes here. Also read mUka pancati."

Sri SastrigaL's service continues even today. His face blossoms as he talks about Maha PeriyavaaL. (He speaks about his reminiscences below).

Those were days of much AnandA (happiness)! Lots of bhAgyam I had! As he ordered, I would read mUka pancati on and off. I did not know where the stammer was gone! All his anugraham.

He used to take bath five or six times in a day. In those days, it was considered vizhuppu (ceremonial impurity before bathing) even if we touched a piece of paper! If we touched paper, we needed to take bath!

People who came for darshan would speak about their private problems. 'The cow should give birth to a calf', 'The son is unemployed and is simply going round the town like a vagabond', 'He is not giving me the lease'--Maha Periyavaa would patiently listen to such complaints from them. He would say, "Thinking that I am like the Eswara, they tell me their problems, why not let them speak?"

On some occasions, when there were too many devotees waiting, it would be late for the pujas. If someone told him that it was late for the pujas, he would reply, "Let it be. All these people have come from wherever they reside. Should they not have the satisfaction?"

I was suffering from stomach ache since the year 1980. Maha Periyavaa said, "Drive your days as such." In the year 1989, I couldn't withstand the severe stomach ache. The doctor diagnosed it as a case fit for surgery. I told Periyavaa. He asked me not to undergo any operation. A disciple said, "Eat Periyavaa's ucchishtam (remnants of food eaten by others)." Accordingly, when Periyavaa's bhikSA was over one day, I consumed the remnants from his leaf. Looking at that, Periyavaa laughed! After that incident, there was no pain at all!

If a devotee who comes for darshan supplicates for Periyavaa's anugraham for a successful operation in the throat, nose, ear, eye or some such organ, Periyavaa would say no to any such operation. And the patient would become cured of the ailment automatically! He has given anugraham for a large number of people in this way.

It was only Periyavaa who arranged for the marriage of my daughters. Till date I do not know what it costed him. He arranged the marriages as kannikA dAnam. He would simply ask for the gotra, not even the nakSatra, and there was no horoscope! Only Periyavaa's words were the words of grace. He would not only say, "give your daughter (in marriage)" or "give your son (in marriage)", but also give the marriage date, asking only for the subsect among the smArta, vadamA, brahatcaraNam sects.

Very happy days, those were!

*** *** ***

Sankar Shivram Pawar

The Sandur Samastanam was a region (ruled by a king) in the Hampi-Hospet area. It has now become part of the Bellary district.

The descendants of the Sandur Samastana kings are very much devoted to Sri Kanchi Kamakoti PiTham.

Once Maha SwamigaL camped in Hospet and was performing special pujas in the Shiva temple there during the holy time of Navaratri.

Sandur was at a distance of thirty kiolmeters from Hospet. To have darshan of Maha PeriyavaaL, the Maharaja of Sandur came walking all those thirty kilometers, without even wearing sandals on his feet. He was accompanied by the yuvarajA (prince) Shri Y.R.Ghorpade.

It was not possible to control the crowd of devotees. The people did not disperse even after lathi charge by the police. They left only after having darshan of Sri SwamigaL and getting his blessings.

At that festival time, the Sandur Maharaja had sent ten people as security staff for SriMaTham. Seven people during the day and three at night. Sankar Shivram Pawar was one such person who came for the security work. (Age 64).

The SriMaTham camp left Hospet to tour other places. Nine of the ten security guards returned to Sandur. Pawar did not go; he got himself united with SriMaTham. Sri Jayendra SwamigaL directed him to remain with the MaTham.

He says: "I am doing service at Maha SwamigaL's Brindavanam here. My salary is remitted from Sandur. The Sandur King used to visit Maha SwamigaL with family now and then. His grandson is now aged eight years. His name is Ekambar. He was adamant one day that he should see the Kanchi thAtthA (grandpa). The King immediately sent him here with an escort!

"Even now, Yashwant Rao, the Queen and the Yuvaraja are coming here for darshan."

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