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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

“What is the way out (‘gati’) for me?”

Once a topmost official in the Government asked Maha Periyava,“What is the way out (‘gati’) for me?”Maha Periyava said, “Once a goat has been caught by the tiger it cannever escape its clutches. So, one on whom ‘Guru kataksha’ (glance) hasfallen he cannot escape it.” The official said, ‘I am not a goat but awild buffalo. The wild buffalo escapes tiger’s jaws!’ Maha Periyavasaid, “But the the scar of the attack has been left by the tiger. Andthat will work!” This person then asked, “Point out to me all the fakeswamijis. I will put them all behind bars,” and further inquired ofMaha Periyava, “How to differentiate the good from the bad?”Maha Periyava said, “Once while camping near Satara I had hidden threeripe mangoes in a basket full of unripe mangoes. When a child came in Iasked it to pick a mango from the basket. It picked up a ripe one! Achild could pick up the ripe mango from amongst a basket full ofunripeones. Just as the way a child knows what is ripe and what is unripe, sotoo would those who go out in search of Truth recognize a true Mahan atsome point of their life.”
A devotee of Maha Periyava, was in tears as He did not visit her home.Maha Periyava said to her, “Why do you invite me into a home built ofbricks? I will come and sit in the home of your ‘hrudaya’ (heart)!”What wonderful words? How could he coin such words out of the blue?
Once, Maha Periyava addressed a big gathering, “All of you haveassembled here eagerly to listen to me. You have extended a big welcometo me here and all of you are also lending assistance to the Mutt.Everybody says that I must speak something. Instead, I feel that I canspend the time better in meditating on Ambal (Devi). What is the use of
mere words? I feel that I should meditate on Ambal. There is no use ofoffering any ‘upadesa’ (counsel) to you all without doing any dhyana ofAmbal. And again there is no need for words once I successfullycomplete the dhyana of Ambal and attain Her! This is because just byseeing me all of you will be transformed! Therefore, words are useless
under all circumstances! ”
Once, Maha Periyava performed a detailed ‘upanyas’ on Adi Sankara underthe heading ‘Egoless Acharyal’. Once, while speaking with His close devotees,Maha Periyava said, ‘It is said that sanyasis (ascetics) should notpossess any desire. But, I have a desire!’ When the devotees asked,
‘What is it?’
Maha Periyava said in all humility, ‘I desire that none in the world should know that such a sanyasi lives!’
Further, in a ‘Deepavali’ special issue brought out by a weekly many years back, the replies of dignitaries from various walks of life tothe question, ‘what is the lesson learnt by you from the world?’ hadbeen published. This question was placed before Maha Periyava also.
Maha Periyava said to them, “Every moment the world is teaching me somelesson. But only I do not possess the required maturity to learn!” Thisshows His humility.
Once, when Paul Brunton (a foreigner who came to India seeking aspiritual Master and the author of the famous book ‘Search in secretIndia’) sought ‘upadesa’ from Maha Periyava, Maha Periyava offered himthe wonderful ‘upadesa’, “Be humble! You will find what you seek!”
Just through deep continuous thought (‘smaran’) of Mahatmas (‘punya purusha’) we will attain their state.”
We also give below an interesting incident that Sri Ekamram (a
householder who had been a personal attendant to Maha Periyava for
nearly three decades) narrated, to show the value placed by Maha
Periyava to all the work of the Mutt without any difference of high or
The different duties in the Mutt were allotted to different staff. As
such it fell on a young man to wash the vessels used in the Sri
Chandramouleeswara Puja. One day this young man while washing the
vessels thought aloud, this is the lowliest and worst of all the
services rendered in this place! This grouse of the young man fell on
the ears of Maha Periyava who happened to pass by. The next day Maha
Periyava instructed all the staff of the Mutt to assemble in His
When all had reported, Maha Periyava said, ‘There are innumerable
people who consider it the highest of blessings to wash the vessels
used in Sri Chandramouleeswara Puja. But here is this young man who
feels otherwise. Therefore, today he should be spared of this duty and
all the rest of you should each wash a vessel!’ And that day even the
manager, who was only a year or two younger to Maha Periyava and a
highly learned and intelligent man, lent a hand in washing the Puja
vessels of Sri Chandramouleeswara.
The young man quickly realized his mistake and fell at the feet of Maha
Periyava. From then onwards he attended to his duty with all enthusiasmRecently, my wife, Lakshmi and I went to Kancheepuram on January 7, 1993, to have ‘darshan’ of our Periaval and to get his blessings for the forthcoming wedding of our son Guruprasad.  On reaching the Kanchi Kamakoti Math, we learnt that Periaval was not giving darshan that day and might not give darshan the following day also.  Still, we waited in line in the place where he usually gives darshan, from 11.30 a.m. to 12 -noon.  Then we watched the puja to Chandramauleeswarar, being performed by His Holiness Sri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswati Swamigal.  After the puja we got his blessings.  Then we went to my nephew Chandru’s house in Kancheepuram.  At about 4.30 p.m. we felt we should go back to the Math, thinking that perhaps we may be lucky to have Periyaval’s darshan that evening.  Well Informed persons told us that was quite unlikely.  At about 5.30 p.m., we were told that Periaval would give darshan for some minutes.  It would have been enough for us but we had fifteen minutes of peaceful darshan.  A Swamigal who was standing by the side of Periaval came to me and told that as part of the birth centenary celebrations of Periaval, a souvenir would be published containing accounts by persons who had been closely associated with Periaval and suggested that I should write about my experiences with Periaval for the souvenir.  I did not know this Swamiji earlier.  Later I learnt that he is called Mettur Swamigal.
When I heard the phrase, ‘Your experiences with Periaval’, my thoughts travelled back in time to a night in the year 1957 at Orikkai Village, a night in which I had my most unforgettable experience my VISHVARUPADARSHAN OF PERIAVAL.  It was a busy day for him.  Around 9 p.m. he asked his regular assistants to go back to Chinna Kancheepuram and told only Sundararaman should be here.” One of the assistants told him, ‘Sundararaman has not eaten, “ to which Periaval replied, ‘He must have by now become used to skipping his meals.” I had no say.  Than he sat in the middle of the Inner yard.  There was only the dim moon light.  He asked me “ Do you know my early story?” I replied ‘I don’t know, even a bit.” (hen followed a narration for about thirty minutes.  My memory is still fresh though I am not sure of the year or the date.  It could have been a day in 1958, during a college vacation.  Even after nearly thirty four years, I remember the Important points of his narration.  It has been sold by Spiritual Masters that ‘Truth never changes with passage of time, nor does one’s experience.” I would be damned if I misrepresent or falsify or exaggerate my experiences with Periaval.
All my conversations with Periaval and others mentioned in this article were in Tamil, but I have done the translation with extreme care.  The main points of his narration about his early story, had been imprinted in my mind.
When he become the Head of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham at the age of thirteen, he soon found that the Math was in disorder.  Workers in the Math were not serious about anything.  The Math was in debt.  The people managing the lands of the Math were not giving even the minimum of the produce from the lands.  Not enough devotees were coming forward to meet the daily expenses of the Math.  Then he narrated about his first All India trip.  With lot of emotions, he mentioned about the various difficulties he had to experience during this trip.  During this trip, he said he had a very good understanding of India and of her then problems.  He breezed through the British Raj, Mahatma Gandhi and Freedom Movement.  I was deeply touched when he expressed his deep feelings for Mother India. (From my experiences I came to regard him as one of the most patriotic and greatest Indians).  To stop him from this somewhat sad narration, I told him humorously, ‘Your situation when you became the Peethadhipati seems to be worse than my present situation.” But he continued, ‘Nowadays people write eulogizing me and our Math.  They don’t seem to know my -difficult Initial years.  Nobody writes about my difficult times.  When you will have a chance to write about me, mention especially about my difficult initial years,” -he said concluding his narration.  I did not expect the least that the conversation would end like this.  I told Periaval immediately; ‘Periaval is now playing with me and teasing me.  I GM nothing.  I will never have a chance to write about anything, certainly not about you.” Preparing to take his bath, he said, “You are certainly going to write and I am certainly going to see.” After his both and short meditation, he told me, “You must be feeling hungry; I have forced you to eat in six houses, one day a week in each house.  I know you don’t like this arrangement.  But I want to see that you complete your University education successfully.  When you are hurrying to your class, if in the day of the house food was not ready, you would go to the class without eating, I am sure.  That is why I told earlier that you must have by now become used to skipping you meals.” He asked me to eat the rice flakes.  I waited for him to begin eating first.  But he asked me to eat and after seeing that I had eaten some handfuls he ate.  I was completely dazed.  While I was eating the rice flakes, I was simply staring at his radiant face with penetrating eyes.  I had a distinct feeling that I was seeing in his face the entire world of the compassionate Almighty.  I thought He was giving me VISHVARUPADARSHAN.  This is probably the best way I can describe this experience.
After this, he went on a long spell of meditation.  Keeping vigil, I was wondering myself, why and on what he was meditating so intensely, Ever since that night his sentences, ‘I always remember my difficult years and You are certainly going to write and I am certainly going to see’ have been ringing in my ears, and, I have been asking myself: Will I ever be able to Pay him back for those rice flcikes9 I have . not understood him completely, On my return flight from Madras to New York on 23rd Jan.’93, I was thinking about the suggestion of Mettur Swamigal.  For about eight hours of the twenty six hours of travel, I ‘relived’ in all my experiences with Periaval, during the years 1952 to 1967. 1 decided, while the plane was flying high above the Atlantic Ocean, ‘I am certainly going to write.” On reaching home, I started to write.  I was all alone in my house.  Only Ramani’s flute and Lalgudi Jayaraman’s violin were playing in the room.  Where should I start?  I though I should start from my most unforgettable experience, my VISHVARUPADARSHAN of , HIM, as described above.  I know If he decides, He will certainly see what I have written here.
What follows is quite personal.  in end readers would see certainly the role of Periaval in my life.  Certainly I did not do anything to deserve his grace Readers will find that I have not written anything about Periyaval’s greatness as a top man in Spirituality, in Philosophy, in Religion and Social Reform.
I had the privilege of close association with Periaval for nearly fifteen years from 1952 to 1967, very close especially during my student days from 1952 to 1960. 1 was a voluntary assistant to him during my vacation days.  People in the Math and visitors envied me for Periyaval’s affection towards me.  I enjoyed this!
Why did Periaval shower his affections on me?, -then a poor college boy.  What did I do to deserve his Kataksham? it is heart breaking to note that, even after I left him, abruptly many years ago and even when I have been quite far off, he continues to bless me.  In 1985 when I was living in Mexico city, one day, I received a letter from my nephew Chandru living in Kancheepuram, after several months of his silence.  The day before he wrote that letter, he had gone to have darshan of Periaval.  As usual there were many visitors and assistants.  Suddenly, out of context, (as per this letter.) Periaval posed a riddle to his assistants and visitors: “I had a person Intensely in my mind, He flew away.  Who is he?”
These are precisely the sentences in Tamil.  Even after haft an hour of mutual consultations, no one could solve the riddle, even guess.  Periaval himself solved It: “Sundararaman, that son of  Duraiswamy.” According to my nephew, no one knew why Periaval should refer to me on that day”.  When I finished reading the letter, believe me my heart almost stopped and I wept.  There was no one in the house except myself.  It is a wonder even today to me, why I did not collapse.  When my wife returned from shopping she asked me why my face looked quite pale, as though hit by a devil.  I showed her the letter from Chandru.  On reading it, she said calmly it was only a very good omen, and said: “it is only natural for Periaval to think about you, since you have been thinking about him always.”
Yes, I have carried my thoughts about him wherever I had been wandering all these past twenty five years, or in whichever country I was sojourning…… I have not found peace within myself.  The dominating thoughts have always been, now foolish I must have been in leaving him, and his presence and how I missed a golden opportunity for salvation in this life itself, Any other person If he had the same experiences as I had with Periaval, he would not have left him for anything in this world.  But it is ironical that I have not been that eager these years to meet him.  I am even afraid of seeing him face to face.  I live and would like to continue to live with my pleasant and unforgettable memories of Periaval of the years 1952 to 1967.
An opportunity to write about myself and about Periyaval’s role in my life arose in 1967, when I applied to Columbia University, New York, for Doctoral Studies in mathematics and to the Fulbright Foundation in India for travel grant.  As part of the application procedures, I was asked to submit a brief autobiographical sketch.  I reproduce below the second paragraph from a copy of the sketch that I have.
“My family was so poor that I could not dream of University education at that time.  However, a turning point in my life took place when Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya Swamigal of Kanchi Kamakoti Math was very much impressed by my sincere desire to pursue University education.  With His Blessings and financial help, University education was possible for me. But for His Holiness’ encouragement, I could not have had higher education and the need for writing this would not have arisen.”
What I wrote then in 1967, applies even more now in 1993.  That I am writing this article goes as a fulfillment of his emphatic prediction: ‘You are certainly going to write’.
I remember nothing pleasant of my first twelve years of life, except for 3 celebration in my village when India became Independent in 1947.  Around 1950, my parents lived in a village called T.Kulathoor, my mother’s birthplace and Kodiyur, a village about five miles from Kulathoor, is my father’s native place.  My mother got married to my father when she was five years old.  My father moved to Kulathoor few years after his marriage.  My mother, being the only daughter of her father, Sundaresa Iyer, received from her father several acres of agricultural land.  My father, after loosing several jobs because of his bad temper, became an acting village maniakkarar ( village munsif ) in the nearby twin villages, called Mettukkuppam-Pavandur.  When the hereditary heir-minor become of age, my father lost this job too.  Then he become permanently a Vakil Gumasta, taking the cases of the illiterate village folk to the advocates of Tirukkollur and Cuddalore.  The village folk were good natured and they settled most of their cases at the village Panchayat itself.  My father’s income became almost nil.  Each year my mother kept on selling her lands, acre by acre.  By the year 1950, my family situation was hopeless.  My two elder sisters were married off earlier.  I had (have) an younger sister and an elder brother.  My father tried his best to have my elder brother Ganapathy complete his high school education in Tirukkollur.  But my brother showed no serious interest in education and he ran away from home in 1951.  After my elementary school education in the village, I had to remain idle for a year or so.  Around 1949-50, Periaval was camping in our village.  As per my mother’s version, on knowing the status of my parents, Periaval blessed me saying, “This boy would bring happiness and prosperity to you and to your family.”  I never believed her.  Later events, proved the truth of her words.  My parents left our village by 1951 and joined the Math, at some camp near Mayavaram in Tanjore district.
My eldest brother-in-law, Mr., A. Venkataraman (no more now) was one of the three or four who had completed high school education.  After teacher’s training, he become a good and popular teacher, in 1951, in Kancheepuram.  I studied my seventh standard in his school, staying with him and my sister.  The next year he was transferred to Chithalingamadam, where I studied in the eighth standard.  There I came Into contact with an unusual Swamigal, called Jñãnanda, living in a house just opposite to the school.  He was aloof most of the times.  Only very rarely, he had visitors.  After school hours every evening I used to spend at least an hour with him.  He used to call me affectionately, “Sundaram, speak with me and give me some sweets and fruits every evening.  He was like a grand-father to me.  Nobody there know anything about his past. Few years earlier, he had come to that village from somewhere.  He used to tell me some stories.  I became quite attracted to him. After a few years, he moved to Arakandanallur, near Tirukkoilur, where he became quite famous.  He is no more now.  I am writing about this Swamiji here because it is he who told me first, even as I was very young, that, “Periaval is a walking God; He is not just the head of a Math; people would soon realize the true nature of Periaval.”  Jñãnanda had also told me, whenever I was in a dejected mood, “Periaval will protect you and your family.”
After nearly eight months of joining the Math, my father wrote a letter to me saying that Periaval enquired about me and wanted me to study in a High School.  I was excited by the prospect of going to a High School.  On reading the letter, I thought Jñãnanda’s prediction was coming true.  After my E.S.L.C examination and after bidding farewell to Jñãnanda, I appeared before Periaval in April 1952, at Anandatandavapurom near Mayavaram.  Periaval asked me, “You are going to study in High School are you not?” I replied that I was eager but did not know how and where.  Then Periaval asked my mother to set up family in Chidambaram.  At this point I would like to emphasize that even though neither my parents nor I had any idea, much less a plan, for my higher education, Periaval had already a complete plan in his mind as it looked to me in retrospect.
I joined the Ramaswamy Chettair High School in Chidambaram.  I did excellently in my studies.  I used to visit Periaval during my vacation.  I was some sort of an assistant in handing out and mailing prasadams to devotees, in reading to Periaval the daily Newspapers, and such odd jobs.  I wrote my S.S.L.C. examination in April 1955.  By then Periaval had moved to Chinna Kancheepuram.  He was often camping at nearby Sivasthanam and Orikkai.  Immediately after the examination, I went to Kancheepuram and spent the next two months with him.  When my results appeared in The Hindu in June 1956, I happily reported to Periaval.  The next day when he was going to the Polar river, he asked me to follow him.  I was standing near him in the waters of the river when he was about to have a dip.  By then a large number of devotees had gathered on the bank of the river.  Then followed a discussion between him and me for about fifteen minutes, which changed my entire life.  It is then and there I received my GEETOPADESAM from him.
“Now that you have passed your S.S.L.C. examinations what are you going to do?,” he asked me.  My father, two months earlier, had underwent hernia operation.  His condition was foremost in my mind.  I replied to Periaval that I was thinking of taking up a job and take care of my parents.  With an enchanting smile he said, “You seem to think that you have answered my question intelligently,” and looked straight at me.  I thought he would approve of my decision.  Then raising his voice, he went on.  “Your father was not created with the hope that you would take care of him.  You seem to study well.  Get as much of higher education as possible and equip yourself with maximum qualifications and take care of your life.”  Then he took a dip in the river.  I did not quite understand what he was trying to tell me.  I asked “Does Periaval want me to study in a University?” “You seemed to have got the message,” quickly come forth the reply.  With utmost desperation, I told him, “Now Periaval is playing with me and mocking at me; Periaval knows my circumstances.  Even If I don’t have to take care of my parents, where will I go for the money needed for four or five years of higher education?” “I don’t like your attitude, always self pitying.  Do you know how Hanuman crossed the ocean?.  You can achieve anything you want to If only you have self-confidence and faith and work hard towards your objective.” Instantly I remembered Lord Krishna’s everlasting GEETOPADESAM to his troubled disciple Arjuna.  Meanwhile the visitors at the bank of the river were getting restless.  Some complained too with-in my hearing, ‘That son of Duraiswamy has been engaging Periaval in some unnecessary arguments.” I didn’t want to get into trouble with them by taking more of their time, I started going back to the other bank of the river.  But Periaval called me back and asked point-blank, “Do you have faith in me or not?”  With tears pouting down to the river, I told Periaval.  “I do have faith in you.” “Then, go and get the application from Annamalai University.”, he commanded and dismissed me from his presence.
I rushed to Chinna Kancheepuram to tell my father of what happened to me at the Polar river.  My father was more surprised than I was.  He said that if I had faith in Periaval, I should do as Periaval wished. He added I am sorry I cannot be of much help to you, Then he went to do his Kainkaryam.
Only few days were left for sending the application.  There was a hitch.  My mark list had to be attested by a Gazetted Officer, as per the instructions.  Frankly I did not know who a Gazetted Officer was.  There was a visitor from Madras, an elderly orthodox looking person.  I went to him, showed him my application form and asked him whether he knew of any Gazetted Officer. He said that he would very gladly attest my marks list.  I hurriedly took back the application from him, stating that it had to be signed by a real Gazetted Officer.  This person laughed loudly and asked me, “Don’t I look like a Gazetted Officer?”  Then he introduced himself as a Chief Professor of the University of Madras.  I was ashamed and apologized to him.  He wished me well in my studies and attested my marks list.  This incident was a big lesson to me.  From that day onwards, I never judged a person by his or her appearance.
A few days after I sent my application, I received simultaneously the acknowledgment as well as the admission letter from Annamalai University.  I rushed to Periaval who was engaged in a discussion with some visiting experts.  I was hesitant to approach him at that time, He saw me, abruptly stopped his conversation and asked me, “You have received the admission letter, is It not?”  I nodded my head.  Then Periaval called one of the persons in the audience and asked him, “Are you not the Manager of the gold merchant, Rathnaswami Chettiar of Chidambaram?  That person admitted It to be so.  Will your Chettiar do something he can if I ask him to do?” Periaval asked that person.  Chettiar is a great devotee of Periaval and he will do anything that Periaval bids, that person replied.  I am not asking much; I am interested in this good boy; He has secured admission in your University.  Ask your Chettiar to do the needful so that this boy joins the University, Periaval told that manager.  The manager replied, It will be done.  Then Periaval turned towards me and said, Your problem is solved; go and study well.  Little later I met the manager of the Chettiar and told him that I expected that Mr. Chettiar would pay my first term tuition fees of Rupees 110/,.  The manager said there would not be any problem and asked me to meet the Chettiar, as soon as I arrived at Chidambaram.
Now that my tuition fees has been arranged, I began to think about my boarding and lodging.  Since I did not have the least Idea that I would be studying at Annamalai University and also because of my father’s operation, my mother shifted out family from Chidambaram to Chinna Kancheepuram.  I did not want to ask Periaval explicitly about this at that time.  Since I had already confided in him that I had faith in him, I thought, there was nothing else I could do.  My second elder sister and her family were in Chidambaram.  I thought I would stay with her few days till Periaval made arrangements for my boarding and lodging. I went to Chidambaram and met Mr. Rathnaswami Chettiar in his big gold shop.  Mr. Chettiar said his manager had told him about me and asked me what I wanted from him.  I told him I needed Rs.110/., to pay my tuition fees.  Then Chettair said, “I don’t know how you misunderstood my manager; how can I give you Rs.110/, just like that?  Do you have any land or house or jewelry as security so that I can lend you this amount?” I said that I had none of those.  Then Chettiar said, “You have already got the admission.  I won’t give you the money you ask.” His manager was not to be found anywhere in the shop. This was my first and most humiliating experience. My faith in Periaval got momentarily shattered. Why did Periaval subject me to this humiliating experience?  I rushed to the Post Office and gave a telegram to the manager of the Math, “Inform Periaval that Chettiar is unwilling to give me the money for tuition fees.  I await further Instructions.” Feeling completely helpless, I returned to my sister’s house returned via the West Gopuram and the North Gopuram of the famous Nataraja Temple.  That morning Sri Ramakrishna Sastrigal, a learned man of the Math had come to my sister’s house. Ramakrishna Sastrigal greeted me. I did not even bother to acknowledge his presence. I went inside and laid down myself flat, upside down. Then the Sastrigal patted my back and said, “I like you very much”, to which I retorted “Yes! All you people like me because Periaval is kind to me; now this Periaval has completely let me down and I am completely humiliated.” “Don’t say a word against Periaval,” Sastrigal said, “Look at me, it is he who has sent me here with the money you need.” On hearing this, I looked at him angrily.  He said, “You may get angry with me; don’t say a word against that Karunamurthy.  After you left him and after his puja, he called me and said that he was worried about you as he was not sure whether Chettiar would give you the money. He asked me to go to the cashier of the Math and get Rs.110/. I got the, money. Then Periaval asked me to go over here taking the next available train.  He asked me to observe the situation here and if the Chettiar has not given you the money, only then he asked me to tell you and give you the money.  You are a blessed boy.” Handing out the money to me Sri Ramakrishna Sastrigal left for Kancheepuram. I became speechless, I regained my momentary loss of faith in Periaval.  I thought this was one of the mysterious ways of his action.
I paid my tuition fees and joined the Annamalai University.  The Manager of the Math thereafter kept on sending regularly my term fees for five years.
Two months later, one morning, Mr. Rathnaswami Chettiar come in his big car to my sister’s house looking for me. We were quite surprised to see him.  Chettiar, with folded hands, told me, “I am sorry for my misbehavior when you came to see me in my shop.  Some days ago, I went to Kancheepuram to have darshan of Periaval.  He briefly mentioned about you and asked me whether I remembered you.  in the presence of many devotees, he asked me how could I break the heart of a young boy sent by him.  I could not open my mouth.  All along I thought I was very rich, but that day he made me look very poor in the presence of many people.  After returning from Kancheepuram, I am coming straight here to see you and apologize to you.  I will bear your entire educational expenses, Please accept”. I could not believe this happening.  But I did not loose my head.  I told him politely, “I was with Periaval ten days back.  I would be going again the following week.  If Periaval asks me to meet you, I will come and see you in your shop.” Chettiar left saying, “I hope, you will come and see me soon.”
Two weeks before the above visit of Mr. Chettiar, I had an unexpected visitor with very good news.  It was Thiru Murugesanar, one of my Tamil teachers in my high school.  I was quite surprised to see him, He was a member of the rationalist atheist group.  I greeted Thiru Murugesanar with due respects.  Murugesanar said, “You know, I am a strict follower of Periar; even though I have some Brahmin friends, I don’t go to a Brahmin’s house.  I have come to congratulate you; you have brought name and fame to our school; you have stood first in the entire Madras State in the Tamil examination of the S.S.L.C final examinations; I just learnt that there is another student in another town, who has scored exactly the some marks as you have secured.  The Dharmapuram Adheenam had instituted since few years back, a cash prize of Rupees 300/- to be awarded to the student who stands first in Tamil in the S.S.L.C examination of each year.  They have given a telegram to our Head Master, asking a representative to be sent to the Adheenam’s office in Madras.  They are going to decide, on the basis of a lottery, to whom the prize money should go.  You know I don’t care much about these Adheenams But I am going to represent you at the Adheenam.” With a smile Murugesanar said, “I, a staunch follower of Periar, am going to represent you, a devout follower of Acharyar”.  My sister and I felt jubilant.  Murugesanar was about to leave.  I thanked him and asked him whether he would drink a cup of milk in a Brahmin’s house.  Murugesanar replied, “Our relationship is teacher-student relationship; nothing else matters now; I will gladly drink on this happy occasion.” Murugesanar drank the milk and left.  Three days later Head Master, Velayudam Pillai sent a school boy to tell me the news that I had won Rupees 300/-.  The next day there was a small celebration in the school, when my name was entered in a new honor Role Board and I was awarded the cash prize.
After getting rich, unexpectedly, with Rupees 300, I rushed to Chinna Kancheepuram to report to Periaval.  He was camping in nearby Sivasthanam.  I did my usual namaskarams.  I placed the three hundred rupees in a bamboo plate before him.  He seemed to be quite surprised and looked at me.  Proudly, I told him of my big award.  “I am very happy to hear this,” he said. “’What did the Chettiar tell you when you went to him for Rs.110?,” Periaval asked me immediately, I told him briefly what happened to me at the Chettiar’s shop, since Ramakrishna Sastrigal would have told him the details. “You see the mysterious ways in which Bhagavan acts,” Periaval remarked.  I said to myself, “I don’t know any Bhagavan but you.” “So, you rushed to tell me the good news, place your money before me and take it back!,” he said smilingly.  I kept my mouth shut.  He continued, “You must have already thought of a plan as to how to spend it.” I told him I was going to pay Rs.100/- to a doctor in Kancheepuram as fees for the forthcoming cataract operation of my mother and I was going to buy a second hand bicycle for Rs.100/-, “Still you are rich, left with Rs.100,” Periaval remarked humorously, gave me prasadam and asked me to return to Chidambaram.  The simple and serene Sivasthanam temple has always attracted me.  After taking leave of Periaval, I went to do my ‘pradakshinams’ in the Siva temple.  At the end of my first pradakshinam, I saw a young orthodox Iyengar, standing at the entrance of the temple and shouting, “There is a rich man here and Periaval. wants to see him.” There were about forty visitors at that time and nobody responded.  The young Iyengar returned to Periaval.  At the end of my second pradakshinam, I saw the same person, shouting as before.  Nobody responded and the Iyengar returned to Periaval.  After the third pradakshinam, I went inside the temple to witness the ‘camphor harati’ and came out.  By then the same Iyengar was then heard shouting more definitely, “There is a rich man here with exactly three hundred rupees and Periaval wants him.” It was now quite clear to me.  I rushed to Periaval in the hut.  I was wondering what was in store for me.  With an enchanting smile, he asked me, “Are you the rich man, I have been looking for?” I humbly replied, “I have three hundred rupees at this moment.”  Periaval said, “Will you give me thirty rupees?” I placed all the three hundred rupees in the bamboo plate before him.  He said, “I just want thirty rupees.” Then I left thirty rupees in the plate and took the remaining amount.  Then pointing out to me the young Iyengar, Periaval said, -You have won this money for your expertise in Tamil; this young man wants to earn his living by teaching Sanskrit; he wants to prepare himself for this by passing some private examinations in Sanskrit.  Tomorrow seems be the last day for paying his examination fees.  He asked me to give thirty rupees.  Then I remembered you.  With your own hands, give these thirty rupees to this scholar in Sanskrit,” Periaval concluded.  I did as I was told and left.  The Sanskrit scholar came out of the hut to thank me.  I told him we should all know whom to thank! I returned to Chidambaram.
After the visit of Mr. Chettiar, that week end, rushed to Chinna Kancheepuram to report to Periaval.  I told Periaval about Chettiar’s meeting with me in my sister’s house and about, his offer to me.  Periaval asked me, “Did Chettiar himself come to your house and apologize to you?” “Yes, he did”, I replied.  Periaval went silent for a few minutes.  Then he said, “I was somewhat harsh with Chettiar, when he came to see me. He regrets now, what he did to you when you went to see him.  But, you see, the mistake is not entirely Chettiar’s.  I should have told his manager explicitly what I wanted the Chettiar to do for you.  Certainly he should not have asked you whether you had lands or house or jewellery.  If you had any of these, I would not have sent you to him.  Now that Chettiar is willing to take care of all your expenses, what do you want to do?”, Periaval asked me.  I replied, “I don’t feel like accepting anything from Mr. Chettiar.” “You seem to be still angry with him; he made a mistake and repents for it what else you want him to do?.  He is also one of my devotees; if you don’t accept anything from him after all this, he is going to feel terribly bad and I don’t want that to happen,” Periaval said.  Then Periaval asked me how much I needed for my monthly pocket expenses and I replied that not more than rupees ten would be needed.  Then Periaval proposed a compromise, quite fair to both of his devotees, that I should get from Mr. Chettiar rupees ten every month, ten months a year until the completion of my studies. I returned to Chidambaram and told Mr. Chettiar what Periaval wanted. me to do.  Thereafter, every month I used to go to Chettiar’s shop to receive ten rupees.  On these occasions Chettiar used to make brief enquiries about Periaval and about my education, I knew precisely to whom he was showing his respects.  In all, I had received about Rs. 460/- from Mr. Chettiar.
After these arrangements for my tuition fees and ‘pocket expenses’, I was wondering what Periaval was going to do  for my boarding and lodging. I thought there were only three choices for Periaval. He could ask my mother to set up family again in Chidambaram, or He could ask me to continue to stay in my sister’s house in Chidambaram or He could ask me to stay in the University hostel.  Little did I know that meanwhile, Periaval had been making a radically different plan.
A week after I returned from Kancheepuram, an unknown couple, in their fifties, came to see me in my sister’s house in Chidambaram.  They introduced themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Swaminatha Iyer.  They said they had just returned from Kancheepuram after having darshan of Periaval.  Then Lakshmi mami, Mrs. Swaminatha Iyer, said that when they were about to take leave of Periaval, Periaval said, “I am Interested in a boy, who has just joined the University in your town; If you give him boarding and lodging, it would be your biksha to me.” I replied Immediately, “We would take care of that boy very gladly for the entire duration of his studies.” But Periaval added a condition that we should provide boarding and lodging only for one day a week, for the duration of studies.  We reluctantly agreed; we are not blessed with children. We thought we were going to have a boy all to ourselves. Periaval also asked us to tell our two neighbours Pattammal and Kokila that Periaval wanted each of them to provide the boy with boarding and lodging, one day a week, for his period of education.  Pattammal and her husband Duraiappa are great devotes of Periaval.  We told Pattammal and Kokila what Periaval wanted them to do.  They are immensely pleased.  We got your address from the Math and have come to invite you to our house.” I become quite embarrassed.  I cannot now adequately describe what were my feelings then on hearing this story.  I thought that the mysterious Periaval was watching the whole proceedings.  I was deeply touched. I Immediately prostrated before the venerable couple. I told them that Periaval never even hinted to me of such an arrangement for me and that I would come to them, only after seeing Periaval. They left reluctantly, saying, please give us the happiness of having you in our house. My sister Meenakshi and I, both, got quite confused by the turn of events.  Before I could have time to think about the couple and their proposition, the next day, an elderly looking diminutive man came to see me.  He said he was a medical doctor and that he had just returned from Kancheepuram after visiting Periaval.  Then he told me exactly the same story, as told, the previous day, by Mr. and Mrs. Swaminatha Iyer; that he and his brother, timber-merchant, Mahalinga Iyer were staunch devotees of Periaval and that it would be their great privilege to give me boarding and lodging, one day a week in each of their houses.  I thanked him and told him that I would come to see him, after visiting Periaval.  Then I went to my classes.  When I returned, I saw a young man waiting for me. He introduced himself as Sundaresan, the second son of Katcheri street Rajam mami.  He said for his mother there was no other God other than Periaval and that she had just returned from Kancheepuram, after having darshan of her God. Then Sundaresan told me the exact story, as told earlier by Mr. and Mrs. Swaminatha Iyer.  Sundaresan said his mother was anxiously waiting to meet me and was looking forward to having me in their house once a week.  I told that University student, Sundaresan, that I would see his mother after visiting Periaval. It was becoming too much for me to make out anything.  Before another visitor showed up with a similar story, I wanted to visit Periaval. I took the night train to Kancheepuram.  The next morning, I waited for Periaval to finish his morning ‘anushtanams’.  Then I appeared, before him and did my namaskarams.  I did not say anything, when he looked at me: Periaval was silent for a couple of minutes and then said.  “So, except for one day in a week, your weekly boarding and lodging have been arranged.”  I did not respond and stood still.  He continued, “You seem to be not quite enthusiastic about my arrangement.”  Again I did not utter a word.  May be you think it would be a humiliating experience.  Each of the persons, who came and saw you, is a great devotee of me; you will be a royal guest in their homes.  I continued my silence.  He went on “You are an expert in Tamil; you must have known the famous Poetess Aauvayaar’s saying, I “Getting educated is good; Getting educated is good, even if one has to beg.” If you think that my arrangement is some sort of a begging, I tell you, you did not beg; I did the begging for you”. Without my realizing it, tears welled up in my eyes.  When I went to Periaval, I was not sure whether I would accept his arrangement, because I considered that it would be quite a humiliating experience.  But when the God Himself told me, “You did not beg; I did the begging for you,” I all my ego in me got evaporated instantly.  With tears flooding my eyes, I did my sashtanga namaskarams and told him, I do accept your arrangement for me. In order not to make my God beg another person for the missing day of my weekly meals, I told Periaval that I would eat one day a week in my sister’s house.  I could not stand before him any more because of my emotion. I was leaving, but he called me and asked point-blank, Did you accept my arrangement for you, because I did it, or because you want somehow to compete your higher education? it is because of both , I said and left.
From that day onwards, I decided  that I will not subject my Periaval to do anything for me.  Even in my prayers to him, I never sought any benefit for me or for my family . He had blessed me even when I was a very young boy.
Let me continue my story. My Experiences with the six families were like a royal guest, as Periaval said.  Soon I became an affectionate member of each of these families.  Contrary to what Periaval was afraid, I did not have to skip even a single meal.  A gentle and benevolent widow Sundaram mami (sister of Shri Neelakanta Iyer of B.G. Paul & Co) took care of my book expenses each year.  Annamalai University also awarded me a Merit-cum Means Scholarship of the value of Rs.150/- per year.  My higher studies progressed without any problem.  When I was in the second year of studies, my sister Meenakshi and her husband Ramamoorthy also joined the Math.  From the very beginning, I was completely overpowered by Pattamal’s affection for me. After two years, I stayed with her permanently during the rest of my course and a couple of months more when I became a Lecturer in the Annamalai University.  The other families rightly understood Pattamal’s overpowering influence on me and my decision to stay with her.  Duraiappa’s younger brother’s only son.  Natarajan was also studying in the same University.  We became very good friends.
After my final B.Sc. Hons. examinations in April 1960, I spent the next two months with Periaval.  He was then camping at Tiruchirapalli in the National High School campus.  When there, every night he was delivering a lecture.  I spent time in understanding these lectures.  I would like to mention one of my most moving experiences of this period.  One morning, I went to a barber’s shop opposite to the National High School for my hair cut.  As we all know, while doing their jobs, barbers usually talk a lot about Interesting things, about politicians and film stars in particular, to keep their customers from being bored.  While doing his job, this barber asked where I was from and why I was there in Tiruchi.  I told him that I was from Chidambaram and that I had come to pay my respects to the Samiar, camping in the school, opposite to his shop.  Then the barber said, “We all barbers here are followers of Periar E.V.R.”. I felt a little uneasy.  I had a tuft and his knife was on my head! He continued, “I have always thought that all samiars are bogus and hypocrites.  But this Samiar seems to be different.”  I become less nervous and asked him why he thought so.  He replied, “Every day, he goes by this street; for the first few days, I did not even look at him; then one morning, I was, face to face with him just in front of my shop.  His face looked quite innocent and his eyes were sparkling, Suddenly there was a tingling sensation all over my body.  Without my realizing it, my hands got raised taking the form of showing respect.  With difficulty, controlled myself and brought my hands down.  I told this incident to my barber friends.  They also said that this Samiar seemed to, be genuine.  We all decided that we would not cause any harm to the persons who came to see this Samiar.  So, you don’t have to be afraid of us,” he assured me, finishing his job. This incident has been ever fresh in my memory. Around 2 p.m. that day, I ran accidentally to the backyard of the school.  I was not supposed to see him on that day, because of my haircut.  Persons, after having a shave should not move out where Periaval was or see him.  I thought the backyard of the school was a safe place. I turned around so as not to face him.  But he called and said, “I have finished my biksha; it seems you had today a nice shaving.”  After making sure there was no Math-official around, I faced Periaval and said, “Yes, Periaval is right.” Did your barber entertain you with some nice stories?,” Periaval asked humorously.  I replied very seriously, “On the contrary, my barber talked to me about Spirituality; and he even praised you” Then I narrated to him the talk of the barber.  Periaval was silent for a few minutes.  Then he said, and I quote quite translating what he said in Tamil; “Sometimes, I have wondered whether all my meditations and prayers have produced any effect on society.  From what you said just now, It seems they have not gone waste.”  Then he went inside.  I said to myself, “Your meditations and prayers have indeed produced and will continue to produce desirable changes in all persons in the society”.
Now, I go back in time a few years.  It was an important occasion for me, but I don’t remember the exact timing.  I was spending a summer with him.  One day at Orikkai, he suddenly asked, “I see you are not invested with the sacred thread; why is it?” I replied that my mother had been telling my father about this and that my father had been telling her that he had not saved enough money for my I ‘upanayanam’ function.  I quote below what Periaval said in his thought provoking lecture to me:
“I am quite unhappy about present Brahmin community.  They have converted purely sacred and simple functions like ‘upanayanam’ into social melas.  They waste lot of money on unnecessary things, like silk sarees and coffee-drinking.  They don’t pay attention to the main part of the function.  I don’t mind, even though I don’t approve of it, if the rich people spend their money showing off their wealth.  But, the trouble is the poor try to imitate the rich.  They borrow beyond their means to conduct simple functions such as ‘Upanayanam’. They postpone the performance of the ‘upanayanam’ which has to be done at the right age.  Actually, the money needed for the celebration of ‘upanayanam’ is quite modest.  Boys remain without the sacred thread until the days before their wedding.
He stopped abruptly and was silent.  Then raising his voice, he said angrily, “Why, I talk about others?  You, yourself, are standing before me, showing your bare chest to me, I did not observe this before!” I, got really afraid.  I tried to leave. But Periaval commanded, “Go and bring your father here and bring also a ‘panchangam’, My father appeared before Periaval, leaving his work in the middle. While looking at the ‘panchangam’, Periaval told my father, “This is a good month for performing ‘upanayanam’ of this son of yours, who is standing here showing his bare chest to me.” My father attempted to say something.  But Periaval intervened and told him, “Don’t tell me that you have not saved enough money and there is no time to invite your relatives.  The Sastrigals in the Math can be asked to help you to perform the ‘upanayanam’, you can pay them whatever you can afford and you can take the necessary provisions from the ‘ugranam’ of the Math.  Apart from the boy, his mother and you, no relatives are necessary for this function”.  My father said, Periaval has already assigned to me preparing of the ‘neivedyam’ on the next Thursday.” Periaval replied, “You will be doing it without fail and you will also be performing the ‘upanayanam’ of your son on that day.  The function should take place exactly at this place in this cow-shed.  The cows should not be disturbed. You do the ‘poorvangams’ very early in the morning.  Then go and prepare the ‘neivedyam’ to Chandramauleeswarar.  By the time, I start my puja, you come back to continue the activities here.  Now you go back to finish your work”, he concluded, dismissing my father from his presence.  I disappeared with my father.  I went to Chinna Kancheepuram to report to my mother.  She was happy and unhappy at the same time.  She was unhappy because there was not much time to invite all her relatives and there was not enough money to celebrate the function in a grand manner.
No relatives were invited and no new clothes were bought.  The upanayanam function was in progress, exactly as per the plan of Periaval, in the cow-shed.  There appeared a very good looking couple, each with a big bamboo-plate in their hands.  The nadaswara vidwans of the Math were standing before this couple, playing music.  At once, I recognized them.  My parents and I knew them. They were Nangavaram Sundararaja Iyer and his wife.  Then Sundararaja Iyer spoke: “We came yesterday evening and appeared before Periaval.  Then we learnt from Periaval that, one in whom Sri Periaval had taken much interest is to have Brahmopadesam today” and presented my parents and myself with new clothes and flowers, fruits, sugar candy etc.  They remained till the end of the function.  When Periyaval was a doing candana-abhishekam in the adjoining hall (separated by a thick wall), exactly at that time, my upanayanam muhoortham took place.  My parents and I waited in the cow-shed for Periyaval to finish his puja.  Periyaval came straight to the cow-shed where we were. We hurriedly did our namaskarams. He took a fruit from the plate and gave it to me and bade us all eat at the general samaradhanai saying that “it will be the kalayanam meals.”
Starting with such an upanayanam function, any mentally sound person would be doing his Sandhyavandanams regularly for the rest of his life.  This wretched writer deserves to be damned for this omission.  I have been reciting the ‘Gayatri Mantram’, at odd times in odd places.  Perhaps this will save me.
There have been many occasions when I felt completely distressed, I thought I would throw away my poonal (sacred thread), wrapping my chest like a serpent.  What prevented me from doing this was, that I remembered the circumstances of my unique upanayanam function.  Perhaps, Periyaval himself suspected that I would one day (of would have already) throw (thrown) away my poonal.  I visited Periyaval in July 1986, after nearly six years, while on a brief visit to India from Mexico.  One evening, my wife and I went to Kancheepuram.  The next day was the day of ‘avani avittam’, a day in which, after purificatory ceremonies, a male adorns new poonal, discarding the old one.  I had my new poonal in a group ceremony held at the Math.  That afternoon, we had darshan of Periyaval.  Paattu Ramamoorthy was by the side of Periyaval.  He introduced saying, “Duraiswamy Iyer’s son Sundararaman and his wife have come from Mexico; they are doing namaskarams to Periyaval.” Periyaval looked at us and asked Paattu Ramamoorthy by gestures, whether I was wearing poonal. (I said within myself, “I am not standing before you, showing my bear-chest.”) Paattu Ramamoorthy replied to Periyaval, “Yes , he is wearing.” Then Periyaval gestured to him, whether I had changed my poonal that day.  Ramamoorthy replied, “Yes, he has done so in the group sravanam in the Math, I saw it.” Then Periyaval gave us prasadams.  I decided that day, “I will never throw away my poonal, however imperfect I am and have been, and under no circumstances.” The next week, we went to Los Angeles, my new place of job at the University of California.
Presently I am retracing to the years from 1956 to 1960, – to the periods of vacation.
On one occasion I took leave of Periyaval staying in Chinna Kancheepuram, went to my house and put on newly washed shirt and dhoty.  I was about to leave for the Railway Station. I remembered that I had not taken leave of my father. I hurried to the Math, removed my shirt, held it on my left hand, saw my father working in the backyard and took leave of him. My father said, “Periyaval is sitting near the well, all alone, go and do namaskarams and then leave”.  I told my father that I had already taken leave of Periaval.  My father said, “Nothing will be lost If you do your namaskarams to him once more.”  Reluctantly, I went near the well.  Periyaval was sitting with legs stretched out and eyes half-closed.  It looked to me as though he was about to sleep.  There was a pool of muddy water between his legs and the place where I was standing.  I had to do my namaskarams.  I carefully put my shirt on a high raised stone (meant for washing clothes), carefully bent myself with the toes of my legs and fingers of my hands touching the clean parts of the ground.  I did this exercise four times.  I was about to leave, without making any noise.  Suddenly Periyaval laughed and asked me what I did just then. I replied that I did my namaskarams to Periyaval. “Really, I thought you did your namaskarams to your clean and white veshti (dhoti)”, said Periaval. I knew I was caught red-handed.  He continued somewhat angrily, “Why this hypocrisy?  Did I ever ask you to do namaskarams to me?” I rolled over the slushy and muddy pool at drainage water several times, with a feeling of doing ‘anga pradakshinam’ (as devotees do, in the holy prakaram in the temple of Lord Venkateswara in Tirupati.) “Stop, Stop, It is enough.  You have completely ruined your clean and white veshti; I hope you have an alternate veshti for changing; go home, take a bath, dress up and run to the station to catch your train”, Periyaval said.  I did not utter a word; I felt as though. my tongue was pierced through by a big needle.  I thought just then, ‘I was, completely exposed and severely whipped publicly.  Earlier my father said without knowing what was in store for me?, “Nothing will be lost if you do your namaskarams to him one more time.”  But I came out of the Math with a feeling as though I lost all my hypocrisy.
It is well known to people who have had associations with Periyaval that Periaval found time, amidst his busy schedule of activities, to learn about what was going on in the world at large.  Devotees were one source of information, and daily newspapers in Tamil and English another. In regard to Judgment of these, he made his own analysis and judgment. One day, after biksha, he was reading the Tamil daily Swadesamitran.  There was a report about the devastating effects of radiation on people living in and around the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. The report detailed the effects on those unfortunate people, even 15 years after the nuclear attacks on the two cities. The report started in the first page with a bold heading and was continued in a particular column, in a particular page.
But the report was not continued in the column of the page mentioned, perhaps it was a printer’s devil. We were three or four around him there. Periaval asked us to find out where exactly the report had been continued. My friends spent each about five minutes and told Periyaval they could not locate the page. They were just looking for the heading. When my turn come, I read the report from its very beginning and looked for its logical continuation in other pages. I found the continuation in the lost but one page. With a sense of discovery, I told Periyaval, that “I had found it”. “It is in that particular page and in that particular column, is it not?”, Periyaval said, shattering my feeling of discovery. He said, he had already read the full report.  To assuage my feelings he began to call me ‘Discoverer of Atom Bomb’, for the duration of the visit. The main point in this particular experience is the concern he expressed then for the affected Japanese people, it was quite moving.  The moral concerns he expressed, in a chain of questions, got imprinted in my mind.  ‘What is an atom bomb?  Why scientists hail this as one of the greatest Inventions of modern science?  What was the world-context when this terrible Invention was made?  What sort of problems can one imagine that would arise If these mass-killer weapons proliferate?  What is the use of Science without moral consideration? After each question, he paused and finally after the lost question, he went into a long silence. With some scientific background, I could understand the depth of these questions. By the way, contrary to what some might think, Periyaval was (at least the Periyaval I knew of those years) was all for scientific research and development, especially in the context of India.  But on the nuclear issue, he had very definite views.  He was for a Nuclear Weapons Free World.
After my college-studies, I became a lecturer in Mathematics in the Annamalai University in June 1960, with strong recommendations from my esteemed professors V. Ganapathy Iyer and G. Sankaranaryanan.  There was a problem, though.  As per the rules of the University teachers of the University who had tuft (‘kudumi’) must wear turbans to cover their heads, when they teach.  I though it was total nonsense. I protested to my Professor V. Ganapathy Iyer. He said there was no use in fighting. I could disobey, If I did not care about my job for the next year.  The trouble was the then as Vice-Chancellor Mr. Narayanaswami Pillai himself was wearing urban, even though he had cropped head. It was one of the vestiges of the British Raj, I suppose. I needed the job very badly.  With the help of two advocates, of Chidambaram, I learnt to prepare and wear a turban.  I now realized the significance of Adi Sankara’s Bhaja Govindam, especially the line,” ‘Udara nimitiam bahukrita vesham.’ I had lot of dense and unwieldy hair. To confine them inside a turban was a sort of mathematical packing-problem. I must have looked quite funny, for I knew students were laughing behind me. One morning I arranged the family barber to shave off all the hair in my head. Much reluctantly, he did a fine job. Later the kudumi was transformed into crop.  My mother came from Kancheepuram. She was so angry with me that she did not even speak to me.  I did not have the will power to face the world. A feeling of guilt had become part of me. I thought I would punish myself by not seeing Periaval for one full year, I did not visit him from September 1960 to August 1961. After a year of unbearable mental restlessness, I got bold and decided that I would go and see him. Did he not already tell me, good or bad , anyone can visit him?  I went. He did not talk to me, Then I began to visit frequently. He began to talk, but not directly to me. What all he asked and all my replies were conveyed through one of the assistants by his side. It was quite a strange experience for me. But I was not discouraged; I kept on visiting him, whenever I had time.  Finally, during a visit in June, 1962, he talked to me directly. He asked about my mother. (Since September 1960, I had established with my mother a family in Chidambaram.  My father continued in the iron-grips of Periyaval). Then he asked about my job and how much I was able to save each month. After making sure that I was doing reasonably well, Periyaval asked me, “Will you give me biksha?” Tears from my eyes began to flood the ground and I actually wept.  Periyaval asked me to compose myself.  “Oh god, why is this?  The God who begged for me, now asks me for biksha.”, I cried, and told him that I was at his feet. Then Periyaval told me, ‘There is a Mahavidwan in Karaikudi.  I respect him very highly.  He has a large family. One of his sons has got admission in M.Sc. in your University.  The biksha I ask you to give is: Give this boy boarding and lodging in your home for two years.” I said with Periyaval’s blessings, I would gladly undertake this responsibility.  Few days later, the young man Ramachandran came to see me in my house. Ramachandran was only a few years younger than me. We became very good friends. Ramachandran became a member of my family.  Ramachandran is now a senior scientist in the Geological Survey of India. He lives in Madras.  The Mahavidwan, his father, is no more. There ate many persons I know, whose lives have become enriched, in every sense of the word, by direct and Indirect associations with Periyaval.
I got married on June 30,1963. My wife Lakshmi and I went on a trip to a village (Narayanapuram?) near Madurai, where Periyaval was camping and got his blessings and I managed to get Periyaval’s permission to take my father from the Math to live with us.
My wife and I had the pleasure of both my father and mother living with us. By then, we shifted to a house at Annamalai Nagar, very near the campus of the University. We lived quite peacefully. In late 1966, I applied to Columbia University for my ‘higher studies’.  I applied to the Fulbright Foundation for a travel grant.  I got the Fellowship in April 1967 and the travel grant in late June 1967. My University refused to give me ‘Study Leave’. I did not hesitate to resign. I did not have time to go to Periyaval’s camp. I sent a letter and he sent me prasadam. I received my Ph.D. Degree from Columbia University in the city of New York in 1971. I remembered Periyaval’s Geetopadesam to me at the Palar river in 1955: “Get as much higher education as possible.” “I continue to be a student in Periyaval UNIVERSITY, where one learns by being eager and earnest, by patience and persistence, by hard work, by minute observations of people, by questions and answers, by stead-fast faith, by getting lost in silence and meditation and by being truthful, honest and humble always.”
I would like to end this article with my latest darshan of Periyaval on January 21, 1993.
After the wedding of my eldest son Guruprasad with Sow. Vidya on January 18,1993 at Tirupati, we wanted to visit Periyaval to have his darshan and to get his blessings.  After performing Kalyana Utsavam to Lord Venkateswara on January 20,1993, we left Tirupathi in the morning of the next day for Kancheepuram, We wanted to start early.  But I misplaced the keys of the rooms of the Guest House where we were staying. This caused delay. We could leave only around 9 a.m. I told the drivers of the taxis that we should reach Kancheepuram by 11 a.m. to be in time for Periyaval’s darshan.  I assumed that Periyaval would give darshan that day! We had to go through three railway gates between Tirupati and Tiruttani.  We got abnormally delayed because of the second railway gate also having been closed.  I told my sambandi Rajagopal, who was sitting next to me, that I lost the hope of having darshan of Periyaval on that day.  At that time, a private car negotiated its way to the front of our car and stopped just before the gate.  On the outside of the back window of the car, the name ‘CHANDRASEKAR’ was written in big letters.  I told Mr. Raiagopal, somewhat humorously, that unless ‘THAT CHANDRASEKHAR’ comes to our help, the gates will not open.  I thought Rajagopal might not have understood what I said.  I explained that unless CHANDRASEKHARENDRA SARASWATI comes to our help, the gates will not open in time for us to be in Kancheepuram.  Just then, would the readers believe it, the driver of the car in front got out, went to the gate keeper; talked to him for a minute and came back.  Immediately gate-keeper operated the gates.  The “chandrasekar’ car fled through and our three taxis followed it.  When that car and our three taxis reached the third gate, it was also found closed.  I told Rajagopal that I was praying that the same thing should happen again.  It did.  After some more distance, the Chandrasekar car went in a different direction.  Rajagopal told me that the car must have belonged to a Minister or some senior official of Andhra Pradesh Government.  But I told him, “It is my Periyaval’s one more arrangement for me.” We reached the Kanchi Math at 11.40 a.m. My brother Ganapati and his wife were there already, waiting for us.  My brother told us that Periyaval was about to finish giving darshan and that we should rush to the place where Periyaval was giving darshan.  By 11.50, we were all in front of Periyaval.  Our friends who were by the side of Periyaval, introduced us one by one. My newly wedded son Guruprasad and his wife and then the rest got prasadams from Periyaval. The curtain was closed, soon after. Then we paid our respects to His Holiness Sankara Vijayendra Saraswati and His Holiness Sri Jayendra Saraswati and got their blessings and prasadams and went to Madras that evening.  I “The memory of those thirty returned, with my second son Prabhakar, the next day to U.S.A.

I these pages of narration of my experiences with Periyaval, I have used the words, ‘my Periyaval’, Periyaval’, ‘Karunamurthy’ and God’.  I know I have not defined God (Could I have?) and have not attempted to prove that Periyaval is God (Could I have?).  I leave these to the readers. I think that all I would say, like what Max Mueller said of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, that Periyaval is a wonderful mixture of God and Man.  As for me, I am sure now, more than ever, that I lived with God for fifteen long years.

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