Kanchi Mahaperiaval

Dr. N. Mahalingam

A mere thought of Mahaperiaval makes one come out with the expression "He has seen God". This was what the followers of Moses said when he returned with the Ten Commandments. Such people are born once in ten thousand years and are called as Avatarapurushas. Moses gave Ten Commandments but Paramacharya's life itself is a Commandment. Every word of what He speaks is a word of wisdom. Thousands have written on Mahaperiaval, on His traits of greatness, on His capacity to bless people, to solve the problems of people and lead humanity. Let me in this article highlight some of the statements of the great men on this great sage.

Eminent foreign scholars like Paul Dukes, Paul Brunton, Eughina Borghini, Milton Singer, Robert Walser and many others of international renown have come all the way to India to meet His Holiness and receive His blessings. In my opinion, no other Acharya had attracted so many foreign disciples as our Paramacharya. Every one of these people has been inspired by His Holiness. He kindled an intellectual spark in them. It was the great writer K.S. Venkataramani of international renown who wrote in Bhavan's Journal of May 16, 1981, "Wherever my Acharyaswami is, there you find, burning steady and pure, the lamp of life and knowledge. He has surrendered everything at a tender age, youth, wealth and all the civil pleasures, for the service of man and the continuance of a mission. He is dear to us, even as the rolling sea is to the land-soiled art. Passionate and deep-rooted is our attachment to Sankara. He is our greatest blessing and our Adi Jagadguru". He is our greatest blessing and our Adi Jagadguru". The author of these words was acknowledged as a great writer by no less a poet than Rabindranath Tagore. K.S.V. is no more, but he was a farsighted writer. When he wrote these words, he was the only, rather the first person, who compared Paramacharya with Adi Sankara. Today everybody, almost every writer calls him a an Avatara of Sankara. What does it show? Great men see far ahead of times.

Bhartuhari, the saint king who authored the Trisataka said in his Neeti Sataka, "Those great and good men are rare who in thought, word and deed are filled with the ambrosia of Punya and who by series of benefaction satisfy the three worlds and who harness together even the little good qualities of others into the strength of a mountain and make them blossom in their own hear". Those words aptly apply to Paramacharya. His greatest trait is His detached attitude. I would call it "detached attachment". He came into contact with thousands of people of all sorts belonging to different types of traits. But He discerned only the good qualities in them and associated with them only in the context of their noble traits, always unmindful of the defects of the individual. By this detachment he showed that he was compassionate impartially and stood head and shoulders far above other mortals.

Dr. T.M.P. Mahadevan described Paramacharya as a "Mahapurusha" and according to Him "His presence is a blessing to the world. Thousands of people profit, even without their knowing, by contact with a Mahapurusha. There is no discard or divergence of views among the wise. The peace that pass the understanding is what they spread. Let the people resort to them for gaining liberation from the letters of finite existence."

Who is a Mahapurusha? A Mahapurusha is one who radiates wisdom and light to others. I have from my own experience found out that Paramacharya is a Mahapurusha who can radiate light and wisdom to others.

There were three occasions when I had the spiritual experience of being at close proximity with a great sage of the level of Vyasa. Once when He visited our Sakti Pipes Factory at Elavur where he gave all of us the benefit of witnessing the Chandramouleeswara Pooja. The second occasion was when I went to Him to have His blessings for the Kumbhabhishekam festival of Vadalur Satya Gnana Sabhai which he gave spontaneously with a heart full of joy. The third occasion was when I met Him with Bhageerathan just to pay my respects. He asked me to have the darshan of the Goddess at Thiruvanchiyam which I did and I was immensely benefited. Of course, I received His blessings recently when I went to Kanchi to hand over copies of "A Hundred Years of Light" which I brought out on the occasion of His Centenary Celebrations.

Paramacharya has a highly pragmatic and spiritual approach to problems. In an exclusive interview to the illustrated Weekly of India on 11th August, 1963, he stated: "It (Sanskrit) is still a living language, in a recognizable form, in Thailand, Burma, Indonesia, Ceylon and several other countries. When we adopt Sanskrit as the national language, we show our readiness to share the common heritage of all the South-East Asian countries, which will at once accept India as one among them. The Russian language also contains a number of words derived from Sanskrit. It is high time we raised our classical language to the status of a modern language for practical, utilitarian purposes. Meanwhile, let us not banish English form our hospitable land. It is a wonderful language, is it not? It is our only medium of communication with the outside world/"

In fact, I have been in my own humble way propagating this view during the last ten years. To my pleasant surprise I found that His Holiness was the pioneer in this matter. Obviously it was the will of God that I should be His agent to give circulation to this view of Mahaperiaval.

Like his predecessors, the Sage of Kanchi, with His capacity for subtle inspiration, guides the national mind and He has been doing so for many years. Instances are many. However, a few can be cited. He fully identified Himself with the National and Swadeshi movement in those days, changed over to Khadi as His saintly attire and this was His symbolic personal association with the national cause of freedom struggle.

Again, when the Indian Constitution was being framed, Paramacharya called a well-known Vedic scholar and asked him to meet Sardar Vallabhai Patel to pass on a message from Him on the need for a vital provision in the Constitution to the effect that the religious belief. This message was duly transmitted through a meeting arranged by "The Hindu" with the visiting officials of the Indian Government with the Vedic scholar deputed by Paramacharya. As a result Article 26 of the Constitution was enshrined and this extended constitutional protection, not just to the major religions-Hinduism or Islam-but to every sub-sect of these religions.

Another instance of the national spirit of His Holiness was the lifting of the ban on RSS through the influence he exerted on T.R.V. Sastry who negotiated with the Government of India and succeeded in the effort. Addressing the Swayam- sevaks in the Sanskrit College lawn in 1962, the Sage said "This is not a reception to me individually. It is really an honour for the cause I represent. In olden days, the kings used to receive and honour Sanyasis. Today our rulers are not following that tradition. In order that we do not feel that we are not honoured, you have given this honour". He looked upon the RSS as a national organisation which stood for the national cause.

To Mahaperiaval, Hindu culture and Indian culture are one and the same. That does not mean sectarianism or fanaticism. In his eyes Hinduism is a broad-based religion. One example will make it clear. the Israeli Consulate in India published a booklet which it says that in 107 out of 108 countries the Jew were singled out for persecution and that the only country where they were allowed to survive and treated as brothers and sisters was India. Thus religious toleration was part and parcel of Hinduism.

One can write volumes on Paramacharya and volumes have been written on Him. The late Mrs. Indira Gandhi who visited His Holiness often said "The Acharya is one of the greatest men living on earth. He is in line with the ancient sages of India who by their mere presence gave strength and understanding to all of us. To meet the Acharya is a rare spiritual experience. He is a living Truth and Compassion."

What H.G. Wells said of Asoka applies to Paramacharya. With a slight modification I assert: "Amidst the thousands of sages that have crowded columns of history, the name of Sri Chandrasekharendra Sarasvati Swamigal shines and shines alone - a star in the firmament of philosophy, religion and literature."