A Unique Seer

Prabha Devi

At some time, some country witnesses the event of the birth of a great soul. Our Guru Paramacharya, Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal is one such. On the occasion of the Centenary of His Holiness I would like to pay my humble tribute.

We have had his darshan on many an occasion at his headquarters in Kanchipuram but we remember with gratitude and awe to this day, His Holiness's visit to Satara in Maharashtra. It was Pradosha day, sacred to the Hindu devotees. A crowd of about two hundred had gathered to witness with absolute attention and devotion the puja performed by Paramacharya. the Rudraksha on His body as well as the Bhilva-mala covering His head were fascinating and, as Paul Brunton remarked on his first meeting with the Acharya, "such a face must have belonged to one of the saints who graced the Christian Church in the middle ages except that this one possesses the quality of intellectuality."

The puja was over, His Holiness offered to the devotees the holy water. When my father briefly introduced himself, his work and family and about the city of Bombay from where we came, the ever curious Acharya shot a volley of questions about Indian shipbuilding industry, government control on the same, the role of companies and also about their managing directors. We were taken by surprise with his penchant for the smallest details. He also enquired kindly the quality of mangoes (that being mango season) we had offered as our homage and offered His men to distribute them as prasad to the devotees. We saw two foreigners, with utmost respect and devotion, changing over to Hindu brahmin traditional attire, the dhoti and the angavastra and then seeking the blessings of the Guru. We felt ashamed of our own people feeling shy to do such a thing and adhering to it as if out of compulsion.

On another occasion, when we paid our respects to the guru in Kanchipuram, His Holiness, all of a sudden gesticulated to His assistants to provide pen and paper for all the assembled devotees. He ordered His men to recite a particular sloka to be written down by the devotees who in turn should recite it and even circulate the same to their friends. This was to enable the people to invoke the blessings of God for good rain. When He understood that there were some devotees from Bombay He jocularly remarked that there was no need for them to recite the sloka as Bombay had that year received heavy rains.