The Universal Guru

Dr A.C. Muthiah

During the last few years my family members and I have been devotees of His Holiness, the Paramacharya. And I may truthfully claim that a bond of imperishable link has been forged between us and the great Acharya.

Much has been spoken and written about him during the last few months by many who could do so with more authenticity. I shall only attempt to lay bare a few impressions of mine formed during our visits to the Kanchi Math to have Swamiji's darshan and the ennobling impact His grace had on me and members of my family. I have not seen a face so serene and so much at peace, a face radiating nothing but sweetness and compassion. The fascinating charm of his magnetic eyes which had nothing but kindness to offer to those who flocked to him is what often moved me and sometimes overwhelmed me.

On an occasion like this, I may permit myself to narrate briefly one or two events which have fastened us to the Kanchi Math and its Acharyas. I should normally be reluctant to speak in public about what may seem to be reluctant to speak in public matters. Nonetheless, I venture to do so, if only to stress that whatever the Paramacharya did, he did it for conferring a blessing on his devotee. Another point which needs to be highlighted is that any work, however difficult or complicated, undertaken by any devotee of the Paramacharya for the Math gets blessed by Him and gets completed with amazing speed and to a fine degree of perfection.

A few years back, on a day when there was a heavy downpour, I was told that two persons completely soaked in rain, who had come from Kancheepuram wished to see me to convey a request on behalf of the Kanchi Math. I called them in. They mentioned that at Paramacharya's behest a diamond kireetam (Crown) was being made for Lord Nataraja of Chidambaram, but the work could not be completed for want of some more funds. The visit of Madras was to collect donations and offering from devotees to hasten the job. I immediately told them to convey to the Paramacharya that I will provide the balance amount. Soon after, we called on the Paramacharya and fulfilled our promise. The Kireetam (Crown) was completed without any delay with the Paramacharya' bountiful blessings; also our family's attachment to Paramacharya and the Math became closer

About 3 years back, at the time of Gulf War, when the Hon'ble Shri R. Venkataraman, our former President, was at the math, the doctors looking after the Paramacharya expressed the view that it would be advisable to scan the body of His Holiness to make sure about his physical condition. Since Paramacharya would not travel by any vehicle, he could not be taken to Madras or any other place where scanning equipment was available. The President felt that a mobile scanning machine might be obtained from USA. I understand he contacted President Bush to help with a mobile scanning equipment. President Bush could not help, because the available mobile machines had been sent to the Gulf-war front. Luckily one scanning equipment was located with a private source in U.S. At the instance of Shri R. Venkataraman and Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, I was given a role in getting that equipment down to Kancheepuram. Everything about transporting that sophisticated equipment from U.S. to Kanchi went off surprisingly smoothly. I felt greatly jubilant when the equipment arrived here unscathed and even more elated when the scanning revealed that His Holiness's health was in the most perfect condition. This was another of my unforgettably blessed experience.

I may relate yet another one. My wife and I had gone to the Math to seek the blessings of the Paramacharya for the success of the inauguration of Sri Venkateswara Engineering College by the President of India, scheduled to took place in the first week of January '92. After we took his blessings and took permission of Him to leave, a shawl was presented to me. The Paramacharya had a look at the shawl and apparently he was not very pleased. To our surprise, He asked me to wait. Then He took out the shawl that He himself was wearing, rubbed it gently over his head, beckoned me to his side, asked the attendant to hand it over to me, signaling to me to given it to my wife, Suffice it to say, we were all thrilled beyond description.

During a subsequent visit to the Math, nearly 10 months before my son's wedding, yet another remarkable event took place. The wedding of our Ashwin had been finalised, and this fact was being mentioned by the inmates of the Math when we were having darshan of His Holiness. We had proposed to see Him again later to seek His blessings with the formal invitation card as is the usual practice. It however so happened that His Holiness asked for coconut to be brought and gave it to us-an advance token of His blessings. This was usually done only when His holiness's blessing are formally sought. But with the DIVINE Vision that He had, He did this in advance. The fact is that we could not make the formal visit to the Math because His Holiness had attained Samadhi a fortnight before the wedding! His Holiness Jayendra Sarasvathi Swamigal was amazed at what had happened.

Yet another blessing which came to me unsought in 1988 was my being asked to take over the Management of Sri Venkateswara Engineering College at Sriperumbudur, just when I was planning to establish in Tamilnadu or Pondicherry a College of Science and Technology, inspired by the example set by my revered grandfather Dr. Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar. That the Sri Venkateswara Engineering College is one of the front ranking Engineering institutions in Tamilnadu toady, poised to blossom into a center of excellence, is solely due to the blessings of Paramacharya and His two most beloved Disciples.

Quite recently, I had the unique privilege of being chosen as Chairman of the "Upasamithi" set up for collecting offerings of gold/donations from devotees for conducting the "kanakabhishekam" ceremony in May 1993. In all, conscience, it was a daunting job from A to Z. But then His unfailing grace and blessings enthused us in no small measure. Bounteous donations poured in spontaneously. The logistics of purchasing and transporting the gold would normally have posed many intractable problems, but everything went off without any hitch from day one. The ceremony itself was conducted on 27th May 1993 with appropriate elegance and dignity, to the delectation of the vast multitudes who had gathered to witness the rare event.

His Holiness was indubitably the most outstanding spiritual personality of this century. His long life was crowded with notable events, noble endeavor and splendid achievements. He was an ocean of knowledge. What is more, he was an ocean of compassion. He was a master of the country's different philosophical systems with a deep and profound understanding of the cultural streams that constitute our proud heritage. His main concern throughout his life was to preserve the pristine purity of this heritage. He was the universal Guru transcending all barriers of caste, sect, religion and country. A sight that touched the hearts of the TV viewers on the day he passed away was the presence of a good number of nuns from the Christian churches and quite a few devout Muslims who filed past his body reverentially on 8th January.

I need hardly add that Swamiji was the authentic voice of Hinduism, nay, he was the authentic voice of India who embodied in himself all that is most noble and sublime in the spiritual culture of India. Happily we of this generation were fortunate and blessed enough to bask in the sunshine of his blessings, when he was very much with us. may his benign grace and blessings continue undiminished to embellish our lives. May He continue to be a beacon light to us and guide to attain bliss and peace. That is my solemn prayer.