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April - June 2023

My experience with Maha Periyava

The most sacred relation a devotee possesses in his life is his relation with his Guru.  It is the Guru who guides the devotee to the right path and also to attain his highest objective. How the Guru enters into the life of a devotee is also a wonder.  The individual may not even be looking for the Guru but by some strange turn of events, the devotee meets the right Guru at the right time at the right place.  All that the individual needs is a mix of devotion and an urge to find the master.  Here is the story of this writer who was so involved in his Vyavahara that  circumstance  forcefully brought him near Guru.  As he stood impatiently and even reluctantly he never knew that he was standing before Jagadguru, a privilege a multitude of devotees across the land was aspiring for.

It was sometime in 1966.  I was serving a company in Calcutta whose head was Sri S.V. Narasimhan, an ardent disciple of Paramacharya. Having completed a  year of service, I went up to my employer Sri S.V. Narasimhan with a request for leave.  I was too anxious to visit my native place, Thrissur and meet my parents, relations and friends after many years.  While sanctioning my leave, Narasimhan suggested that I break my journey at Madras, go to Kancheepuram and see Maha Periyava. I learned that Narasimhan held Kanchi Acharya in high esteem and reverence. The suggestion was not quite pleasing to me because I had no occasion to know the greatness of Maha Periyava at that time.  Besides, I was very eager to proceed to my native place and visit ‘my own people’.  Since I could not say ‘no’ to a well meaning advice, I said ‘yes’ and  landed at Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. Standing in the queue, I noticed Paramacharya, seated on the ground and surrounded by other disciples.  He was smilingly giving Prasad to the devotees coming in front of him and conveying his blessing.

When an individual takes an earnest and noble step towards a divine mission, the mind comes in between and generates diverse thoughts.  It happened in my case. ‘Acharya would just give the Prasad, bless me and turn towards the other person. I too would get the Prasad and make way for others’, I thought.  But, the moment I stood before the sage of Kanchi, all thoughts vanished and I experienced for the first time a divine positive energy radiating from him. I was surprised when, rather than waving his hand, as he did to others, he asked me to come near him and sit.    He asked me in Tamil: “Where are you coming from?” I said: “I am coming from Calcutta”. I have been wanting to tell him that I was sent by Narasimhan but he surprised me by asking “Do you know Narasimhan, the President of Ved Bhavan?” I was stunned. I said: “I am working in his company. He only advised me to come and seek your blessings“. “Sariyana Idathil Irukkiraai” (You are in the right place) he said in his characteristic smile.  After giving me some flowers, he raised his hand as a mark of blessing.    I was spellbound.  As I kept talking I experienced a sense of close affinity and affection, as if I was talking to a friend. I realized that there was a magnetic power in him that attracted all devotees towards him.  I could not believe that Jagadguru, who is venerated throughout the world, looked into my eyes and bestowed his benign blessing to me.    Perhaps he has known in advance what was going on in my mind and like a real Guru, given me the vision to transcend the mind. His simplicity, his humility and above all the divine aura that surrounded him moved me beyond words.   I returned with the supreme satisfaction that I could get the privilege of being with Jagadguru, the God in human form,  for about 5 minutes; a privilege millions of devotees were aspiring for.

I realized the need to go beyond the concept of ‘my people and my native place’. I realized that just  by being in the presence of Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, one gets the cumulative  experience of going to temple, listening to discourses, reading the scriptures and engaging in spiritual practices like meditation or Dhyana. This divine  experience which I gained at the age 25 still reverberates in my heart as I am completing 83.  It is said that Maha Periyava, the embodiment of compassion, has come to earth to highlight the principles of Sanatana Dharma, to kindle the light of devotion in our heart and grace us all with life of purity, virtue and discipline.  I am also deeply indebted to late Sri Narasimhan who showed me the easy way to reach God.

While narrating my experience with Paramacharya, it will be pertinent to describe one of the experiences of Sri Narasimhan with Paramacharya.  In the midst of his busy schedule, Sri Narasimhan used to find time to visit Maha Periyava and get instructions on various initiatives to be taken by him.  Maha Periyava wanted an Institution at Calcutta with an objective to promote Vedic studies, to do research, to continue the tradition of oral recitation of Vedas under Guru Sishya Parampara.  It was Narasimhan that Paramacharya had chosen to fulfil his wish.   He advised Narasimhan to look for a suitable site and make arrangements for its purchase.  Accordingly, after search,  Sri Narasimhan met a land owner, Sri Asuthosh Mukherjee and negotiated a deal.  It took some time to arrange funds for the land deal.  When Sri Narasimhan approached Sri Mukherjee to finalise the date of registration, the land owner said he has changed his mind and not willing to sell the land now.  Though Sri Narasimhan tried to persuade, he could not because Sri Mukherjee was not willing to listen.

Unable to decide what further steps he should take, Sri Narasimhan rushed to Madras to seek guidance from Paramacharya.  Having learned that Paramacharya was camping at a place in Andhra, Sri Narasimhan  went there, met Acharya and informed him the developments.  Acharya listened calmly and smilingly and told Narasimhan: “Go back to Calcutta and meet Sri Mukherjee again.  Also meet Sri Annadhurai Ayyangar and  get Rs. 50,000/-  towards the cost of the land”. Narasimhan did not subscribe to the optimism expressed by Acharya because he knew that Mr Mukherjee was very firm in his stand.  However, since Acharya’s advice had to be carried out, he came back to Calcutta, went to the residence of Mukherjee and pressed the calling button.  He was sure that on finding him after opening the door, Mukherjee would shut the door on his face.  But after opening,  when Mr Mukherjee saw Narasimhan, he was very pleased and invited him inside.  Even before Narasimhan could speak, Mr Mukherjee said he was willing to sign the agreement.  When Sri Narasimhan asked what caused his change of mind, Mr Mukherjee said that Kali Maa had came in his dream and ordered him to agree to this deal.  A year later, a beautiful building came up which turned out to be a unique institution in Calcutta, imparting lessons on Vedas. Maha Periyava honoured Sri Narasimhan with the title “Kainkarya Siromani”.