When Sri Periyaval was camping at Orirukkai, a foreigner came to India. He wanted a ticket from Delhi to Mumbai. He was not able to get it. So he took the flight to Madras. When he came out of Meenambakkam he wondered where to go. He asked the taxi driver, "Is there any self-realized leader here?"
The taxi man replied, "The Sankaracharya Swami of Kanchipuram is here."
"Take me to Kanchipuram at once," said the man and soon reached there. Sri Periyaval was then staying in a thatched shed at Orirukkai. He was resting after taking his bhiksha. The foreigner was very eager to see Sri Periyaval. We told him, "please wait for sometime. Swami is taking rest."
After a while Periyaval got up, did acamana and applied vibuthi on his person. Repeatedly he asked us "Has he come?"
A devotee, Nagalakshmi and some other ladies were there.
We told Periyaval, "Nagalakshmi and a few others are here. No newcomer is here."
Again Periyaval asked us "Has he come?"
"A foreigner has come".
"Yes, I was asking for him, said Periyava".
We brought the foreigner to Periyaval. What devotion he had! What joy! He came and sat close, very close to Periyaval, his face expressing his elation. We went near to him to tell him not to do so. But Periyaval stopped us, telling us with a gesture , "Let him sit here, don't say anything to him."
The foreigner sat watching Periyaval's face peacefully and joyously.
"What makes you so happy", we asked the foreigner.
"Didn't you see the light there?" he said. Then he asked us, "Is it the Sankaracharya referred to by Paul Brunton?" When he learned that it was indeed the same Sankaracharya, he exclaimed "My God! My God!"
Sri Periyaval gave darshan to the foreigner for about forty-five minutes. Then he instructed us to tell him, "The purpose for which you came to India is fulfilled. Your goal is achieved. Know love".
The foreigner was intoxicated with the darshan he had of Periyaval. He sought permission to extend his stay. "I want to stay here for a few days", he said.
"That is not necessary. Start immediately," said Periyaval giving him an orange.
After he left, we asked Periyaval, "You shower such grace on a foreigner who comes from a far-away place. He too rejoices as soon as he looks at Periyaval as if he has seen God himself. But we who are so close to you know nothing. We have not attained any wisdom at all".
Periyaval smiled and said, "If all of you become Jnanis, then who will help me with my bath? Who will give me my meal? So you need not know anything now".
We can know Periyaval only if we have done meritorious deeds for many births.. We attendants, told each other in remorse, "We do not have a little of the good that the foreigner from some far-away place had to his credit".