Globe's beacon light at Nagareshu Kanchi
Justice T.S. Arunachalam
A century ago in 1893 Swami Vivekananda realised with agony that Bharath's Veda-ltihasa-purana days of devotion and divinity-the life-line of spirituality, was vanishing slowly due to foreign invasion and political changes. Indians who owned their legacy to Rishis, Vivekananda felt, had forgotten the divinity bestowed with slavery. Swamiji thundered that the renaissance of India can only be on the basic and strong foundation of spirituality.
It was approximately around, at or about, that time in 1894, our Paramacharyal, the Mahaswamigal of Kanchi, had his Avatar as Swaminathan at Villupuram, true to the words of Lord Krishna in Geetha that whenever virtue and truth diminish while vice, tyranny and falsehood prevail or, in other words, whenever the society forgets duties and goes to chaos, He takes birth to uplift Dharma! Humanity's recognition of Divine Avatras, as even in the case of Rama and Krishna, is generally belated. Blessed are we to live in the period of Paramacharya, the incarnation of divinity.
The caption of 'Nagareshu Kanchi' in this article will now be apt. Adi Sankara whose mother, although she appreciated the nobility of his wish to become a Sanyasi, would not easily allow him to devote himself to that way of life, till one day he went to bathe in the river with Sankara, got into the waters and his left foot was suddenly seized by a crocodile. Death seemed imminent. Even then the brave child thought of his great project and cried out to his mother. 'I am lost! A crocodile is dragging me down. Let me at least die as a Sannyasi!' "Yes!.Yes! My son!" his mother sobbed in despair. Sankara in that joy found his strength to free his foot and throw himself ashore. It is under that lineage, and it is at Kanchi, where Adi Sankara established the Math and attained ultimate salvation, that we have our Holiness Kanchi Kamakoti Peetadhipathi Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal Sri Sankaracharya so near to us.
That coming events casts their shadows ahead is well known. Young Swaminathan went off to sleep on a particular night on the assurance of his father that he would wake him up later in the night when the deity of Ilamai Aakiya temple of Chidambaram would be taken out in procession on the eve of Kumbabhishekam. It was Divine will what the father and son slept off and it was in the morning it became known that there was a fire accident during the event when several people perished. Since it was preordained that He should be the Acharya that night God had paved the way, thought none was then aware, for the saving of the Saviour of our Dharma and culture, as spelt out in the Vedas.
Personification of simplicity, he practices more than what he preaches, surely for the benefit of humanity, derived none for himself.
As a young lad, not different from the students of those days, I in my immaturity did not attach much importance to my father's total involvement in Kanchi Mutt and his devoted attachment to Paramacharyal. Then it happened 40 years ago. To satisfy my father as a dutiful son, I agreed to take photographs of Paramacharya who was camping at Chrompet, for photography was my hobby, while my mind was completely disinclined. Those were not days of electronic flashes and every time a Sylvania Bulb had to be inserted after initial complicated attachment of the camera and the flashing unit. The moment came for clicking and I was ready but probably Paramacharya who knew that my mind and the intended act were not in cohesion prevented my 'snapping' him. Hurt as I was, little realising my foolishness of that insight that great should had, I unwound the flashing unit, closed the camera and lodged all implements in the shoulder bag and was about to leave the place after passing a look of scorn at my father, who had assigned me such a 'thankless' job. Not even a minute would have elapsed. The Paramacharyal called me, standing on a small hillock with his 'dandam' and exclaimed. 'Now you can take pictures of me'. A sudden flow of elation and thrill actuated me to assemble in no time the units and click the camera. Again he obliged me sitting on the hillock with his Kamandalam. The place where he was 'snapped' was bound to become important. That is the place where we now have the Kumarankoil.
The story does not end here. A few days later at the West Mambalam Sankara Math, my father and I were standing in the queue with an enlarged photograph of the Acharya, to be shown to him, and on my own part to get his approbation of my photographic skill. It was Paramacharya's will that we were ushered before him out of turn and while asking me, 'If I still had disbelief'-,he admired the picture and asked me if I could leave it there. There cannot be a greater credit to this youngster then, and tears rolled down my cheek in excitement and happiness. Then the compassionate Guru said, "Many may make a demand of you for this picture. Furnish copies after collecting the cost, for as a student, you should not empty your father's pocket on this score". Calls did come for quite a length of time for copies. Those picture still adorn the walls of our ancestral house at Ponneri.
I now venture to portray him, through the thoughts of some of the great sages and saints, whose blessings I have enjoyed.
Yogi Ramsurathkumar, the God-child of Tiruvannamalai is Avatar of Lord Shiva to his devotees. A close friend of mine on his first visit had seen this Swamiji as a pillar of fire, signifying God of Annamalai. I believe that I had the vision of Yogiji as Siva and Krishna. His Holiness, Bala Swamigal of Kanchi, once told me that yogiji is continuing the work of Ramana Maharishi. Yogiji had found his Guru in Swami Ramdoss of Kanchankode, after his visits and darshan of Ramana Maharishi and Sri Aurobindo.
Whenever conversation centers round Paramacharyal, yogiji goes into rapture and one could easily visualise that his thoughts and act are fully concentrated on the Acharya, he said once that the whole world owes a deep debt of gratitude of Paramacharyal who is solely responsible for the preservation of Vedas and our culture. this centenary year of the great Acharya is bound to bring a change for the better in the global atmosphere.
It appears that once Sri Chandramouli of the Kanchi Peetham sought the permission of Paramacharyal to proceed to Tiruvannamalai to have darshan of yogiji. Paramacharyal did not accede on the day after the birthday of Tiruvannamalai sage, Paramacharyal directed him to meet Yogiji with special prasadams of Lord Ekambareswara, for whom the Kanchi saint had arranged for exclusive Abhishekams, Archanas, Aayushya Hamam, Avahanthi Homam etc., on that birthday of yogi. Recollecting this incident Yogiji says, 'Paramacharyal is always very kind to this beggar.
Yet another instance portrays how great sages know their wavelengths, which are probably in unison. The same Chandramouli again was directed by Paramacharyal to proceed to Trivannamalai to take the Yogiji in a taxi to Govindapuram, to the Adhisthanam of Bodhendra Sarasvathi Swamigal with a request of Yogiji spend few hour there before he could be escorted back to Tiruvannamalai. When Chandramouli was conveying the desire of Paramacharyal to the Yogi, a District Judge and his daughter were present. Yogiji always proclaims that all that he knew was Ram Nam. "Ramnam is everything. Chant the name all the 24 hours. I do as ordained by my Master. That is enough for this beggar". Not only is it firmly believed but experienced by some, that at Govindapuram at Bodhendra's Samadhi, even now Ram Nam is heard. That probably was the reason for the direction of Paramacharyal.
Yogiji was surprised and stunned at the mission for he has not left Tiruvannamalai after 1949. Yogiji in deep meditation sought for a suitable direction. I presume from 'His Father', for Yogiji always propitiates Father to bless His devotees. The clear message of inspiration Yogiji got in his meditation was to proceed to Kanchipuram and not to Govindapuram. Yogiji with those then present with him, proceed to the taxi stand and with Chandramouli commenced the journey to Kanchi.
By the time they reached Kanchi, Paramacharyal had finished his daily routine rituals and had retired behind closed doors. Yogiji desired Chandramouli to inform Paramacharyal about his arrival but the latter was hesitant for fear that the Acharya might reproach him for not having obeyed his directions. Blessed by Yogiji, mustering courage, Chandramouli tapped and waited for the beaming arrival of the Paramacharyal. The summoner and the summoned must have known that Govindapuram and Kanchi were the same in uniqueness and visit to either could make no difference, for our Acharya is after all the descendant of Bodhendra Sarasvathi Swamigal. To use the words of Yogiji, "This beggar prostrated before Paramacharyal who with great compassion blessed this beggar and queried if this beggar belonged to Surya Vamsa (solar dynasty). This beggar couldn't reply". Both the saints were face to face for some length of time and when the moment for departure was nearing, Paramacharyal loaded Yogiji with prasadams of Goddess Kamakshi and his own, which yogiji carried to Tiruvannamalai and with visible happiness he said 'This beggar distributed the prasad to all the devotees at the Annamalai temple. Paramacharyal has immense love and concern for this beggar." I must hasten to add that I had taken the permission and blessings of Yogiji to narrate these incidents, which he lovingly repeated.
Matha Amirthananda Mayi of Vallikavu, the Avatar of Goddess Parasakthi to her devotees, once received a prominent businessman, after slight delay,. When a devotee offered his pranams, Mother said.: "You have those around, her conversation was puzzling till the devotee later told them that earlier in the day he had the darshan of Paramacharyal and had arrived there with His blessings.
Let us seek Paramacharyal's blessing for the peace of the world.