Mahaswamigal of Kanchi

Srimathi Sarojini Varadappan

We are all privileged to have been born and lived at the time of Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal entering his 100th year. His deem it a great privilege to have been associated with this great saint almost from my childhood. I used to go and have darshan of this Sage of Kanchi along with my father. My father had the full blessing of Sri Sankaracharya, when he was the Minister of Hindu Religious Endowment Board, Government of Tamil Nadu. Whenever there was any problem in regard to the Hindu religion and temples, His Holiness used to call my father and discuss. His wise counsel was a great strength to my father in discharging his duties. My father was so privileged as to have a book on my father released at one of his birthdays at Kanchi and obtain His blessings.

We also had the unique privilege of Sri Sankaracharya staying in our village, Nazarathpet, many times which gave us ample opportunities to be closely associated with His Holiness. During such occasions, my husband decided to gift 40 acres of land to the Sanskrit Society in His presence and we consider this a great honour conferred on us.

Whenever there was any wedding in the family. we used to rush to Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham and we never failed to receive His blessings. His memory power is phenomenal. He used to trace our family background for the past three generations and recall very many interesting episodes. His Holiness had same affection for both my uncles, Sri P.T. Rajan and Sri O.V. Alagesan. The entire family of ours including my father-in-law was devoted to His Holiness. It is thus that we developed a very close relationship to the Kanchi Matham.

When I went to receive His blessings on the eve of my visit to Delhi in 1973 to assume office as Chairman, Central Social Welfare Board, I had a very long talk with His Holiness. He was asking me about all the details of this post and recalled my position in 1960s as Chairman of the Madras Board and wanted to know how I could manage in Delhi if it were purely an honorary post. I was touched by His concern. Finally, He advised me to learn Sanskrit which I did, I can say without any hesitation that if I had been successful Chairman of the Central Social Welfare Board after Burgabai Deshmukh, it was entirely due to His blessings.

Once I took a few of the delegates from Northern India to Kanchi to have darshan of His Holiness. It was His silence day and the Math people told me that I could only have darshan and that He would not talk to us. But to the astonishment of every one, He broke His silence and enquired all about the delegation and blessed the members.

Later, when my father became old and a bit disables, His Holiness was very much concerned about his health, particularly after my mother's death. Whenever I visited Him, His first enquiry will be about my father as to whether he has some responsible person to assist him. This was a great moral strength for my father, which he did not receive even from the political leaders.

There took place another interesting incident. My sister's son was getting married. We went to receive Acharya's blessings. Again it was a very heavy day with a big crowd in Kanchi. His Holiness looked very tired. But when He was told that we had come He came out and we gave Him the invitation. He put on His glass, went through the invitation twice, thrice and so on. Then he called my nephew, gave him karkandu packets to be distributed to all the children who had come there to have His darshan. We were touched by this concern of His Holiness. There were so many such touching scenes that I can narrate.

When His Holiness was camping at Jalakanteswarar temple, Vellore, I went with a few friends of mine to have His darshan. When we reached there it was a bit late and the authorities said that He was tired and had gone to rest in the Pallakku. the screen was drawn down. I waited for a little while with a sense of disappointment, since I had to return urgently back to Madras. Somehow, I gathered some courage and requested the person standing near the Pallakku just to announce to His Holiness that I had come to get His darshan. Everybody was amazed to see the screen open and sage gave us darshan and blessed us. The moment my father's name was mentioned it used to work wonder. His Holiness had great consideration and concern for my father because of his devotion and dedication to Hindu religion and temples.

When Smt. Vasumathy Ramasamy and myself decided to start a religious group of women to learn Soundaryalahari we approached His Holiness to bless us. He gave His full blessing and advised us to visit a temple every month on Poornima Day, recite all the hundred slokas of Sankara's Soundaryalahari and give a Thirumangalyam to a poor, deserving girl to be married. We were a bit taken aback. We had our own fear as to how to manage to get this much every month. Anyhow His Holiness had given His blessings and we decided to start this service. The following month, Full Moon coincided with my mother's first death anniversary. So I offered to gave the first Thirumangalyam. Next month Vasumathy gave. Thus it was the grace and blessing of Sri Sankaracharya that this service is very successfully being continued till today. We have completed nearly 25 years and to our surprise, sometimes we get more than two offers of donations in a month. Nearly 2000 girls had been benefited by this and it is entirely the grace of Sri Acharya and we are only a tool.

I wanted to start a school in memory of my father after his death. I acquired land at Korattur and I wanted to take His blessings. I rushed to Kanchi. His Holiness was so weak that day, lying down in His room. But the Math people were kind enough to go and whisper in His ears about the purpose of my visit and allowed me to go near the room. He got up, saw me, raised His hand to say that He had blessed me. I was so touched, when He gave an apple with His blessings.

Even when He is not able to speak, He will show His benign recognition by sings. The moment He sees me, He will ask about my friend Vasumathy and also would like to know whether we are continuing the Thirumangalya Dharmam.

I must say that He had no barriers of casts or creed. When we gave the land to the Sanskrit Society, He started a Pathasala and asked me to send young boys of all castes to learn Sanskrit. His political knowledge was of a very high caliber. He is a nationalist, a Yogi, and a practical sage without any fanfare. Our prayer to Almighty is that He should bless His Holiness to live very many more years and guide us.