An article written by
Dr. C.R. Swaminathan, former Deputy Educational advisor to Govt. of
India given to a souvenir. Here is a gist of the article.
This happened in the year 1956-57, when H.H. Sri Kanchi MahaswamigaL
was camping at the Madras Sanskrit College, Mylapore, Madras.
One evening, MahaswamigaL was about to address a huge gathering in
which great personalities like Rajaji were present. He was
contemplating about the topic he should speak on.
Suddenly, he called late Prof. Sankaranarayana Iyer, who was standing by
the side of the dais and recited two lines of a Sanskrit verse. He
asked the Professor if he remembered the remaining two lines of that
verse. The Professor pleaded ignorance and got down from the dais.
This conversation took place before the mike, so audience gathered could
easily hear its details. Dr. C. R. Swaminathan, the author of the
article on Mahaperiyava,
heard the beginning of the Sanskrit verse that Periyavaa recited. Since he
happened to know the other two lines of the verse, he went to Prof.
Sankaranarayana Iyer and
told him those two lines.
The Professor went up the dais again and recited the lines before
Mahaperiyava asked him, "You said you did not know the lines. How come
you know them now?"
The professor replied "Someone in the audience remembered it and told
Mahaperiyavaa inquired who was the person and told the Profession to
call Dr. Swaminathan to the dais. When he came, Paramacharya inquired
about his name and occupation. Then the sage asked, "Where did
you study?" Thinking that the question was about his academic education,
Dr. Swaminathan replied that he studied in the Presidency College,
"Not that. Where did you learn this verse?"
Dr. C.R. said that his grandfather taught him the verse when he was a
child.. Paramacharya inquired about his native place, his
grandfather's name and his family details. The entire conversation was
held before the mike, so the audience heard every bit of it.
The verse in question was the following:
arthaaturaanam na gurur
kshudhaathuranam na ruciki na pakvam,
vidyaturaanaam, na sukham, na nidra,
kaamaaturanam na bhayam na lajja.
One who pursues wealth
knows no guru or relations. One who is hungry knows
not taste or if the food was cooked well. One who pursues
knowledge knows neither comfort nor sleep. One who has desires
knows no fear or shame.
Later in the discourse, Paramacharya dealt with the Kenopanishad and
explained how Goddess Parvati came as a teacher to enlighten the
celestials about the supreme Brahmin.
When concluding the discourse, he referred to the earlier incident and
"Before I started delivering my discourse, I called a young man to the
stage to know where from he learnt the subhashita verse, of which I
recited the first half. I knew who he was. What I wanted him to tell
you about his reciting the other two lines this moral verse was that
he had learnt it, not from his school or college, but from his
grand-father, and that too during his childhood days. It was to impress upon you all that children should
get moral education at home from elders because they cannot get it
from the modern schools and colleges".
Dr. Swaminathan concluded his article with these words:
"I am recalling this incident to show that an insignificant person
like myself, extremely nervous, while standing before H.H. on the
dais, noticed by about thousands of people forming the audience, could be
utilized by the Acharya to drive home to the audience that (a) a joint
family system with elderly parents and grandparents can serve as a valuable
supplement to the school education of young children
(b) the elders can usefully spend their time by narrating such stories and
morals to the children and (c) such teaching can be retained in one's
memory only if imparted at the formative age."
The above incident happened 50 years before, but the message holds good
even today and will stand
for years to come.