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Friday, December 12, 2014

The Merciful Who Elevated His Devotees-

My wife was performing the KutthuViLakku Puja in accordance with the divya vAkku (divine saying) of Sri Kamakshi AmbaaL.

Sri Kanchi Kamakoti PITham Maha PerivaaL darshanam and saMbhASaNaM* both became a prApta (fulfilment) for us during the Sankara Jayanti vaibhava (celebrations) in the house he was born, which is in the East Hanumar Koil Street, Villupuram.

maN^gala vAdyas were playing. Vedas were being recited. The jaya ghoSas (loud proclamations of divine victory) rent the sky. An ocean of people all around. A dampati (husband and wife) went swimming across the crowd. Their body and heart were filled with joy.

Moving, the procession reached a mammoth pandal (thatched shed). It was around six in the evening. The elephant that came in the procession reached near the stage erected at the far end of the pandal.

Because of the crowd, the dampati couldn't enter the pandal. As they were standing in the street, they sighted an assistant of the MaTham swiftly entering the pandal. The woman (among the dampati) approached him and asked, "Swamy! I wish to take 'mutthu Arati' in this lotus plate to Periyavar. When can I do it?" He said, "This is the right time, you people come with me." He created a path in the crowd by gesturing along and brought them near the elephant that was standing by the stage. The elephant bowed to the dIpam (flame that was being waved). Adi Sankara's pAdukAs (icons of holy sandals) were gracing the stage. PuduPeriyavAL and the MaTham vaidikas recitedTothakashtakam and prostrated. Thereafter, PuduPeriyavAL gestured to my wife, and she took the Arati.

In March 1966, Sri Kanchi MahA PeriyavAL and PuduPeriyavAL were camping in the agrahAram (street of brahmin houses) in the Hanumar Koil Street, Villupuram, for the Sankara Jayanthi. We both came down from Nellikuppam and stayed in my younger sister's home. After witnessing the puja performed by Sri PeriyavAL in the MaTham, we returned to my sister's home. We started again to the MaTham in the evening. She (my wife) came with her many-colored kumkumam-decorated brass plate to take the mutthu Arati. Though I had told her that it would be very difficult to take it inside the MaTham with the decorations intact, and that it might not be possible to get near PeriyavAL in that heavy crowd, she did not listen to my words. She carried the plate with extreme care. I have narrated above what happened when we approached the MaTham.

Sand was spread on the floor. Sri Maha PerivaaL was sitting on the sand below the stage, folding one leg horizontaly and keeping the other straight up but bent double at the kneecap, and holding his long daNDam (holy staff) in his hand.

He graced the crowd of devotees with his blessed look. Sometime later, he called someone in the crowd by a gesture. One by one the men got up in response, only to find that it was not him. People nearby aroused us saying, "It is only you he is calling."

As I stood up hesitating, he nodded his head in affirmation. I went near him and prostrated. My hands and legs were shivering. I stood near him folding a hand on my chest and covering my mouth with the other.

I saw him as a flame of sacrifice, a tapasvi (great ascetic) in his seated posture, covering his holy frame and head with a saffron cloth. His splendrous tirumukha mandalam (orb of holy face) blossomed, revealing a row of white teeth. Then he called my wife also. She came and stood by my side.

"Where are you coming from?"

"From Nellikuppam."

"When did you people come here?"

"We came here this morning."

"Where did you eat in the afternoon?"

"We ate in my sister's home in Santana Gopalapuram. We came here again at six in the evening."

"What was happening then?"

I narrated him the details.

"She prostrated saying a shloka (right)? You came only then?"


"What are you doing?"

"I have the job of a clerk in the Nellikuppam Suger Factory."

"In the same factory, there is one by name Subbu, a Telegu; would have a small cikai (tuft of hair); very quiet, won't talk much; the vibhuti on his forehead would be a touch-and-go (pattum padAmalum)."

"Yes. This man (adiyen, me) is also working with him."

"A relative of his, by name Mani, is working there, you know him?"

"I know him."

"He would have smeared his front brightly with vibhuti. Would always be talking humourously, right?"


"There is a paatti (old woman) in their home, you know?"

"I have seen her. They are staying near our home; only after seeing Mani's mother and that old woman standing outside here, we came in."

"His ammA (mother)? You know her? svIkAra ammA (adopted mother)? Own mother?"

"That I do not know."

"That ammA's ears cannot listen! You know that?"

"Maybe; has she not become aged?"

"Is it not good that the ears can't listen?"

We both kept silent.

"It is good if the ears can't listen! Because, the apasmAra (twisted) words of others won't get into the ears; that itself is good; can remain having bhagavat cintanam (thought of God)."

We both nodded our heads to say yes.

"That ammA knows Telegu; knows SamskRutam (Sanskrit); knows all about Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavat Gita and Srimad Ramayana; she would tell a lot of divine information."

"This man (I) has not talked to that mother."

"You know Telugu?"

"No. This man is a SriVaishnavite."

"What, you are a SriVaishnavite?"

"Yes, only a SriVaishnavite."

"You are a SriVaishnavite? A SriVaishnavite?"

"Yes, SriVaishnavite. (A gap of silence.) People say that PeriyavA is coming to Nellikuppam."

"Are they making arrangements?"


"strI, purushA (women and men) all are keen about it?"


"Brhamins, how many of them are there?"

"May be about a hundred families."

"How many are having a tuft of hair?"

"Only about ten people are having tufts."

"Only that much?" (A gap of silence.)

"Would you come again this Sunday?"

PeriyavA had kept the answer he expected in his question.

"Yes, we are coming."

Even after this long saMbhASaNaM (conversation) he did not give us prasAdam.

Smiling, he raised his hand and gave his anugraha, also giving us his anumati (assent) to take leave.

We stood hesitating. Again he raised his hand, giving his anugraha and nodded his head with a meaningful smile and look.

Only we were not given the prasAda. We prostrated wholeheartedly and started to move away.

darshanam, sparshanam, saMbhASaNaM (darshan, touch, dialogue) are the three great bhAgyas that a devotee or disciple can have of a Guru or Acharya. However, in the tradition of the pIThams, the pIThAdhipatis (pontiffs) have no tactile contact with the devotees or disciples, so sparshanam by them is unthinkable. With Gods, in the Bhakti Yoga path, not only these three but also AliN^ganam (embracing), by the devotee and the deity is also possible in the bhakti bhAva (state of devotion). -- sd
Pages 27-33

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