Guru Nanak college
13, 1st cross street,
13, 1st cross street,
It was in the year 1949 that I had my first Darshan of Sri Mahaperiyava when He visited Nellore, Andhra Pradesh along with His entourage of disciples, elephants, palanquin etc. Nellore is my place of birth and I was about eleven years old at the time of that visit. I distinctly remember His visit since He graced the house of my father’s co-brother, Sri Kota Narasimmam Garu, a retired Subjedge of the Nellore District Court and our own family was also residing in the same house. In fact I was brought up by Sri Narasimmam garu my periapa, because my father had passed away when I was just ten years old.
Exactly 39 years later in 1982 I had the good fortune to have the Blesings of Paramacharya while He was in Kurnool, AndhraPradesh, for Chaturmasya! At that time my eldest son was working in Kurnool. My wife and I went over there to visit my son. That trip was prompted because I came to know that Paramacharya was in Kurnool. While young I was brought up in the traditional Brahmin culture. My five day Upanayanam was performed in Garbhashtakam and I could learn to recite the Thaithireya Upanishads and a few Stotras by the time I was twelve when disaster struck me with my Periappa, the Subjudge also passing away. From then on life had been a struggle as well as reasonable success for me, the eldest of four children. Ultimately by God’s Grace I could settle down in Madras working as a professor of Maths in Gurunanak College at the time of visit to Kurnool. During that period of my life I had neglected the traditional duties of a true Brahmin as prescribed in the Vedas. However I had not lost faith in God and used to visit temples and offer prayers whenever possible?!
Continuing with the Anecdote, when I went to Kurnool the urge to have the Blessings of Paramacharya was so much that I purchased new sild Dhoties and performed the daily rituals before I went for Darshan along with my wife and son. I also carried with me a book containing the Upanishads. We reached Paramacharya’s temporary abode in an outhouse of a big mill on the outskirts of Kurnool Town. Several devotees were already there. We were sitting at the very back of the crowd. The Paramacharya, who I was told had not come out the previous couple of days to give Darshan, was very much there with His disciples. Staying there for sometime my wife and son went away to visit other temples in the town while I chose to remain there itself in the presence of Paramacharya. With the help of my book I was reciting the Upalnishads and kept on praying from the bottom of my heart for the Paramacharya to speak to me on that day. The intensity and sincerity of my prayer had brought tears flowing out incoluntarily from my eyes.
After a couple of hours all those present were asked to leave after pranamams to Paramacharya and receiving prasadam. I was one of the last in the crowd to do so. After I had taken a few steps on my way back, one of the disciples called me back to say that the Parmacharya would like to speak to me! I rushed back with tears of joy in my eyes. For the next fifteen minutes I had the most memorable experience in my life with the Paramacharya speaking to me at length. His communication could have been in sign language or lip language interpreted by one of His disciples that I don’t clearly remember.
The Paramacharya asked me where I had come from. When I said, “Madras”, he wanted to know my native place. I told him “Nellore”. Then he asked for my father’s name. when I told Him it was Tanikella Venkata Jagannatham, he stated that there was another person who had brought me up. I told him it was Kota Narasimham Garu. Immediately he exclaimed, “Oh, the judge!” When I said “yes”, He asked me if I remembered His visit to our house. I responded that the event remained vividly in my memory. He also informed me that the Judge, my periappa, had married twice and that he had no children. He enquired about the adopted son of the Judge! He then went on to narrate how my Periappa became a Judge! It seems that my Periappa had started his career as a court writer in a Magistrate Court. This happened about 10 years back (from now) during the British Regime! I was told that my Periappa was so good in English and the Laws of the country that he himself used to prepare the judgements on the cases which were read out in the court subsequently by the Magistrate! This news reached then District Collector who wanted to test and verify the same by himself. One day there was a crucial judgment to be delivered in the court. The Collector sent for my Periappa and asked him to come late to the Court on the appointed day. When the Magistrate came to the court that day he found my Periappa missing. He started sweating and was filled with tension. After some time my Periappa came to the Court and gave the judgment copy prepared by him to the Magistrate which was subsequently read out ! The Collector who had been personally keeping tract of all the happenings promptly promoted my Periappa as a magistrate and late on he became a Sub Judge.
Paramacharya also told me that my Periappa had earlier accompanied Him on His Padayadira for one year! Paramacharya also enquired about some respected citizens of Nellore, Sri Gopalachari, Sri Shyam Iyangar and others who used to live near Shri Ranganatha Swamy temple on the banks of the river Pennar! That the Paramacharya remembered vividly about what happened to a particular individual’s life over five or more decades earlier is a testimony to His Divine Powers! And what else can I say to the fact that he could identify me, a mere nothings, 32 years after he first saw me as a 11 year old youngster! In between he would have interacted with million of people and yet he recognized me!
After receiving the blessings from Paramacharya I jubilantly came away. All the people around were thunderstruck at my good fortune. It seems that the previous two days Paramacharya had not given Darshan to the public and that I was the only one with whom he had spoken for such length on that day! I told everyone that it was not my god fortune but my Periappa’s punyam’. At the same time I realized what a sincere prayer from the bottom of the heart could achieve. If that small and ignorant prayer of mine reciting Upanishads with all mistakes in intonation etc., could fulfill my desire of having the Paramacharya speak to me, then a pious life following the traditions as ordained in the Vedas and accompanied by a sincere prayer could certainly achieve anything- the sky is the limit! With that realization I quit smoking (I was a chain smoker earlier) and learnt a few more verses from the Vedas and started to perform regularly Rudrabhishekam and so on. But I doubt whether these were performed with intensity and sincerity of purpose.
Seven years later the sequel to the above Anecdote resulted in a disaster for me when I went to Kanchipuram to have Paramacharya’s Darshan. By that time I had become the Principal of Gurunanak College in Madras and had gained recognition for my good work over there as also in cricket administration. My wife and I went to Kanchipuram in 1989. We were among the crowd receiving blessings from Paramacharya. His Holiness blessed all the people around us, enquired my wife of her well-being. But when I came face to face with him. he abruptly turned His face away as if indicating that He didn’t wish to speak to me at all! I also noticed a frown of displeasure on his face. I had gone to Kanchi with a feeling of certainty that I would have a similar, if not a better experience, to the one that I had in Kurnool sever years earlier and that too after I achieved the distinction of becoming the Principal of a prestigious college as well as being more regular in performing Pooja etc., BUT HE TURNED AWAY HIS HEAD AND THAT GESTURE FELT LIKE A SLAP ON MY FACE! Alas realization dawned on me too late that my ego had been the cause for that rejection and I felt that my fate was probably sealed forever. I returned home with utter dejection and realization that there had been no sincerity in my prayers at all in contrast to my effort in Kurnool.
The lesson is that we should pray from the bottom of the heart with all sincerity and totally surrendering ourselves to the Almighty. Then only we can hope to receive His blessings and not by mechanically performing rituals without intense belief and concentration. Also our ego and misdeed will certainly result only in disaster.
OM! HARIHARA SANKARA! JAYA JAYA SANKARA!
Article Courtesy: Sri Shivaraman