Thursday, September 23, 2010

Guru Samarpanam - Issue # 5

1. Biography

Acting in a Shakespearean Play

In 1906 when Swaminathan was in fourth form, the students were arranging to stage the Shakespearean play ‘King John’ for the annual day celebrations. They could not find a right person to play the lead role of Prince Arthur. The Principal remembered twelve year old Swaminathan. He called him and asked him to take up the role. Swaminathan was very happy that the principal asked him to play the role. Swaminathan conveyed the principal’s message to his parents and requested them to stitch the appropriate costume for the character. His conservative parents did not want their son to act in a play. However they did not have the heart to reject their favourite son’s aspirations. So, they gave their permission to Swaminathan’s acting in the play and also contributed towards his costumes. Swaminathan memorized all the dialogues of the play in just two days. Swaminathan performed exceptionally well and got the commendation of all. He got applause for his monologues and acting ended up getting the first prize for this play. The teachers visited Shastrigal’s house the next morning and conveyed their appreciation for Swaminathn’s performance in the play.

Guru’s Darshan

In the year of Vishwavasu (1906) young Swaminathan’s father Sri Subramania Shastrigal took his family with him to obtain the darshan of then Sankaracharya, Sri Chandrasekarendra Sarasvati the 66th Peedathipathi of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. He was camping in a small town called Perumukkal, near Tindivanam. The acharya while performing his nithya puja, bestowed his benevolent grace upon young Swaminathan. After the conclusion of the puja, the Swamigal spoke to Subramania Shastrigal and made kind enquiries about his family. Perhaps he saw in this boy, a worthy successor to himself who was fit to adorn the Kamakoti Peetam.

The events that unfolded after this first meeting make us wonder whether the Swamigal had made the decision at that moment itself. Sri Subramania Shastrigal and his family stayed on in Perumukkal for two days to get the benefit of Swamigal’s continued darshan. During this occasion, the Acharya interacted closely with young Swaminathan and asked him many questions. Pleased with the young boy’s brilliance and attractive personality, Sri Acharya was heard commenting “He will turn out to be a Maha Purusha”. Hearing this, his father’s pleasure new no bounds. However he had absolutely no inkling that his 13 year old son would be leaving him and his family soon to obtain sanyaas. He took leave from the Acharya and returned to Tindivanam where he was stationed for work. The Acharya had meanwhile, requested Sri Subramania Shastrigal to bring Swaminathan frequently to the Mutt. As per his request, Shastrigal took his son several times to get Acharya’s darshan. During these frequent meetings, the grace of the Guru started flowing in full abundernce over young Swaminathan. One day Swaminathan was found missing from his house in Tindivanam. His parents were very anxious and they searched everywhere including wells and ponds in the vicinity. But he was nowhere to be found. His parents were beside themselves with anxiety, unable to eat or sleep. Two days later, a messenger came from Acharya’s camp which was five miles away. He conveyed the news that Swaminathan had come there for the Acharya’s darshan on his own and he was safe. He added that the Acharya had sent him to convey this message to the parents. One cannot measure the relief and happiness of his parents and friends on hearing the news. Swaminathan was sent home from the mutt two days later.

2. Voice of the God – Teachings of Mahaperiyava


Adisankara Bhagavadpada says that Jivathma and Paramathma (Brahman) are one. That is, he says we are Brahman ourselves. Hiranyakashipu also claimed, ‘I am God’. But it so happened, that God in the form of Narasimha had to destroy him. When the Acharya says “We are Brahman”, is it the same as what Hiranyakashipu claimed? No. Not at all. When Hiranyakashipu claimed, ‘I am God’ it was a egoistic statement meaning that there was no God other than he himself. But, Bhagavadpada by declaring that there is nothing else other than God, means that we are also God. He says if the jivan (individual soul) gives up his ego he dissolves himself in Brahman and becomes Brahman itself. We are now like a spoonful of water with a little power. God with infinite power is like the Ocean. The spoonful of water came from that Ocean. This spoonful of water has to dissolve the ego that is a separate entity and mix with the Ocean and become one with it.

If we are not Brahman, we should be something other than Brahman. If that be so, it would mean that there are things other than Paramathma. In other words, it would mean that Paramathma is one among many things. It would mean that these many things came into existence in a manner unrelated to Paramathma. If so, to say that He is the Paramathma and the Lord of everything will be inappropriate. He is the Lord only if He is the sole power above everything. When we say that He is everything can we be different? Therefore it is not the Adhvaitis who, for all outward appearance, claim as if with ego ‘We are Brahman’ that belittle the greatness of the Lord. On the other hand, it is those who, with all humility, declare that Jivan is not the Lord, Jivan is small, the Lord is very great, they are different from the Lord inadvertently make the Lord one among many and thus minimize His greatness.

If it is said that He is everything, we ought to be Him also. He who is like the Ocean also is the water in the river, in the pond, in the well, in a beg vessel, in a small vessel and in a spoon. He has divided His power into small little figures and presents Himself as several Jivas. He has so designed the order that as a human being the Jiva will experience good and evil and in the state in which he crosses these limitations, he will become Himself. When becoming a man He gives him a mind and makes it indulge in good and bad deeds and experience the result of the same.

When the mind is unstable we cannot at one stretch, reach the state where the good and bad are absent and realize He indeed is ourselves. Therefore, eventhough He is we ourselves, for us to experience it, we have to pray for His Grace. In the beginning we have to think that we are so small and He is so big that He is the Ocean and we are spoonful of water and practice devotion to Him.

It is the mind which the Lord has given us that creates the distinction between Him and us. The mind cannot be destroyed in one go. So in our present state, we should use the mind to fix it on Him alone. The mind which He has created is like a monkey. That monkey has caught hold of the body. But, the Lord has created this body as one that would decay and perish. This monkey of a mind should give up its grip over a fruit that is decaying. If a monkey spots a good fruit, it will drop the bad one which it is holding. The fruit which is sweet and will not decay is Paramathma alone. We should strive to get hold of that fruit and gradually give up consciousness about the body. It is for this purpose that devotion, puja, pilgrimage etc., have been prescribed.

Evolving higher and higher with these aids, if the body consciousness and ego are totally destroyed, the notion that He is Paramathma and we are Jivathma will disappear and we will attain the advaithic state of He being ourselves. This is the state which Saint Arunagirinathar refers to when he says ‘A state in which you are not different from me and I am not different from you.’ Let us attain that state and experience it.

3. Mahaperiyava Miracles

Fruit of Love

Once there was a huge crowd to have the darshan of Mahaperiyava. Suddenly there was some fuss in the crowd and there entered a Big Shot along with his assistants. His assistants were carrying the offerings bustling with noise asking everyone there to pave the way for the Big Shot and his spouse. Someone from the Mutt Assistant introduced the Big Shot to Mahaperiyava. The Big Shot offered his obeisance and placed the fruits he had brought in front of Mahaperiyava.

Mahaperiyava asked, “What these are?”

“My offering to Periyava” replied the big shot.

Periyava smiled and replied “I am a sanyasi and I don’t eat fruits”

Bigshot was now perplexed.

Mahaperiyava called one of his attendant and asked him to distribute the fruits outside.

Manypeople were standing in the queue carrying fruits in their hands. Everybody started thinking that Periyava is not going to accept the fruits which they have brought as an offering to Mahaperiyava. One such person carrying some fruits in his hands was standing along with his wife thought that Periyava is going to reject his offerings also and was slightly worried.

When his turn came he placed the fruits in the tray before periyava and paid his obeisance with sincere devotion.

Mahaperiyava smiled at him and asked his attendant to take it inside the Mutt and said “the big shot person who came now would have brought the fruits which has been already been given to him by those who want their work to get done through this person and hence I rejected the fruits” having blessed the person.

No need to tell that the person was in tears.

Mahaperiyava never let down any body who have approached him with pure love.


· Pujyasri Mahaswamy Divya Charitram – Sri Sambamoorthi Sastrigal, Sri Kuppuswamy Iyer, Sollin Selvan “P.N. Parasuraman”
· Kanchimahanin Karunai Nizhalil – Ananda Vikadan Publications
· Voice of God – Volume – 1 – Kanchi Mahaswami Peetarohana Shatabdi Trust

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Guru Samarpanam - Issue #4

Dear all

The article contains

1. Biography

2. Miracles of Mahaperiyava

3. Voice of God

1. Biography

Birth – Youth

The holy birth of our Swamiji took place at Vizhuppuram in the Salivahana Sahaptam 1817 – year of Jaya, month of Vaikasi, 8th day [20th May, 1894]. He was born as the second son to his father who was working as Supervisor of Schools at Vizhuppuram. Having named his first son Ganapathi, Subramania Shastrigal named his second son after the residing deity of Swamigal, also their family deity (Kula deivam), the holy name of ‘Swaminathan’. Shastrigal had four sons and a daughter apart from our Swamigal. They were our Swamiji’s elder brother Ganapathi Shastri, younger siblings Lalithambal Ammaiyar, Sambamoorthy Shastri, Sadashiva Shastri alias Shivam, Krishnamurthy Shastri alias Kunju Shastri. Krishnamurthy Shastri learnt Rig Veda from the renowned Mayavaram Brahmashri Krishna Shastrigal who had served in the Mutt for a long time. He also had the honor of teaching Vedas to our present Peetathipathi Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal in His youth. Subramania Shastri passed away in his 74th year in July, 1929.

Subramania Shastri performed all samskaras due to by a father in the appropriate age including performing Upanayanam for Swaminathan in 1905, at Tindivanam. The 66th Acharya Swamigal of the Peetam had blessed and sent his prasadam for Swaminathan at the time of his upanayanam. Swaminathan also receievd gifts on the occasion from Shastri’s friend, the Zamindar of Soonampet, Diwan Bahadur Arunachala Mudaliar. Swaminathan’s brilliance prompted Shastrigal to home school him till the age of eight. He also trained the boy in music at a very young age.

Demonstrating the phrase that “proof of the crop can be seen in its infancy” [Vilayum Payir Mulayile Theriyum], Swaminathan was brilliant and was capable of grasping and remembering anything that he saw or heard just once. Mahalakshmi Ammal would teach all the hymns and the stotras that she knew to the kids. Swaminathan like to learn these stotrams very much but did not get the opportunity to learn Sanskrit at that time. When his father was stationed at Tindivanam, he was enrolled into second form at Arcot American Mission High School for the first time. Swaminathan was popular for his witticism, humor and especially epigrammatic speaking conveying multiple meaning in a sentence. His father him a favorite amongst the siblings and affectionately called him a name atfer a parrot.

Studies and Prizes

Swaminathan’s excelled in studies coming first in the class, first in all exams in every grade, won all trophies in every annual day celebrations. He even got the first prize in learning the Bible. All the Christian teachers treated him with affection. May be without realizing it they were proud of having a future Saint as their student in their school. When Swaminathan was studying in third form, the assistant superintendent of schools, Manjakuppam Singaravelu Mudaliar came to the school for inspection. He was attracted by the spark in Swaminathan’s face and was amazed at the way he answered all his questions without hesitation. He took Swaminathan with him in his rounds to higher classes, introduced Swaminathan to other teachers and students asked questions from the higher standard curriculum and was astounded when young Swaminathan answered every question. When he enquired about the boy and found that Swaminathan was the son of Subramania Shastri who worked for him, he called Shastri and told him that his son was going to become a genius one day. Subramania Shastri was very pleased at this comment and thanked him profusely. It did not occur to Subramania Shastri that his son was going to become the Jnana Guru of the whole world. He just thought that Swaminathan would one day hold a very high position in the Government.

2. Mahaperiyava Miracles

“Marikozhundu Miracle”

Devotees throng the place wherever Mahaperiyava camps. There were many frequenters who visit Mahaperiyava and he also knows them. One day there was an old lady who visited the Mutt to have darshan of Mahaperiyava. When her turn came she paid her obeisances to our Acharya. Mahaperiyava blessed that old lady and placed some fruits in a tray and asked her to take those fruits as prasadam. Along with fruits there was a small bit of Marikozhundu [small herb or shrub which is an aromatic herb known also called as Artemisia pallens or Dhavanam] in the tray. The Old lady saw and throwed out the small bit of Marikozhundu and took only the fruits with her. Our Paramacharya after seeing this told her, “why you have thrown that (marikozhundu) it will be useful to you please take it with you. The Old lady wondered for a minute as to why the Acharya is asking her to take it. However she instantly took that Marikhondu and ket it safely with her without even questioning it. After having darshan she left the Mutt and reached the Bustand where she catched a Bus to her place. Immediately after boarding the bus she felt tired and slept unconsicously. The lady who was sitting next was a mischivous lady and stole her purse which was kept inside her bag. When the conductor came and asked her to take the ticket she woke up only to find her purse missing and in the hands of the lady sitting next to her. The old laday started shouting that the purse belongs to her and she had stolen it the other lady told the conductor that it is her purse and even told the exact amount of money in the purse.

Now the conductor was confused as to whom the purse belongs. Suddenly there was a spark in the face of old lady and told the conductor that there is one more stuff inside the purse and if the purse belonged to lady asked her to inform what the stuff was. Now the lady who stolen her purse was shocked to hear this statement and could not utter anything. The Old lady then told the conductor that there is small piece of “Marikozhundu” inside per purse and asked the conductor to check this. When the conductor opened he noticed the small piece of Marikozhundu inside the purse. Then the lady who stolen the purse accepted her mistake. Upon the request of old day the other lady was pardoned.

The Old lady now thanked Mahaperiya for asking her not to miss the small piece of Marikhondu!

3. Voice of the God – Discourse & Teachings of Mahaperiyava


It is a distinctive feature of Tamilnadu that wherever one looks around, there are temples for Pillaiyar. In fact even without the need for a regular temple with canopies etc., our Lord Pillaiyar sits under a pipal tree with just skies above. A Pillaiyar temple on every street, Pillaiyar on river sides and under trees and so on. He has thus acquired all over Tamil Nadu a unique place not available to other gods and bestows His grace. The practice of calling Him affectionately as Pillaiyar is unique to Tamilnadu. He is the eldest son of Parvathi and Parameswara, the Mother and Father of the Universe. He is the one entitled to be first called Pillai (Son). Since it is not appropriate to call Him merely Pillai the respectable way of calling Him Pillaiyar is Tamilnadu’s distinction.

‘Kumaran’ means Pillai (son). All over Bharat the names ‘Kumaran’ Kumaraswamy refer to Subrahmanya, the younger son of Parvathi-Parameswara. In Tamil too we say Kumarak Kadavul. But He is not referred to as ‘Kumarar’. He is only called ‘Kumaran’. In order that the eldest son’s name should sound respectable we have named Him Pillaiyar. Vinayaka is the first son and He is Child-God. Yet, He was the beginning before everything else. Pranavam is the origin of everything. It is from Pranavam that the entire universe and all life appeared. Pillaiyar is the visual form of that Pranavam. If one looks at His elephant face with the curved trunk He will look exactly like Pranavam.

Even while being a child and looking a child, Pillaiyar, with the figure of Pranavam, is the first in uplifting His devotees. The example of the poetess Avvaiyar will alone do to show this. Avvaiyar was a great devotee of Ganapathi. Concentrating on Vinayaka of the form of Pranavam between her eye-brows and meditating on

Him, she sang in his praise the “Vinayagar Agawal” which contains the essence of Yoga Shastra. By regular devotional recitation of the same one can gain the highest wisdom [Jnana]. There is a story connected with Avvaiyar. Sundaramurthy Swamigal and Cheranman Perumal Nayanar started their journey to Kailas. They desired take Avvaiyar also with them. But she told them, “you may go as you please. Just to join you I will not hurry up with my puja. Puja to Vinayaka is to me Kailas. They left. Avvai completed her elaborate puja. Pillaiyar appeared before her, lifted her by his trunk and reached her to Kailas in one swing. Sundaramurthy and Cheranman Perumal reached Kailas only after Avvaiyar. There Cheranman Perumal sang the hymn ‘Thiru Kailaya Jnana Ula’. Arunagirinathar makes an oblique reference to this in Thiruppugazh.

Singing in praise of the Lord of Pazhani he refers to Pazhani as a place in Kongu territory ruled by Cheras. He thus relates Kumaraswamy to the event of Sundarar and Cheranman Perumal Nayanar having reached Kailash. However Pillaiyar the eldest is already connected with that event. He reached grand old lady Avvaiyar in a wink to Kailash. Vigneshwara is the Lord who grants great benedictions with effortless ease.


· Pujyasri Mahaswamy Divya Charitram – Sri Sambamoorthi Sastrigal, Sri Kuppuswamy

Iyer, Sollin Selvan “P.N. Parasuraman”
· Kanchimahanin Karunai Nizhalil – Ananda Vikadan Publications
· Voice of God – Volume – 1 – Kanchi Mahaswami Peetarohana Shatabdi Trust

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Guru Samarpanam - Issue #3

1. Biography

2. Mahaperiyava Miracles

3. Voice of the God - Teachings of Mahaperiyava

1. Biography


The holiest of holy days was heralded in the year of Jaya, on the eighth day of the lunar month of Vaikasi, on Sunday 20th May 1894 when the constellation “Anusham” was shining in the sky. This day was the blessed day when Srimad Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya, the 68th Acharya Swamigal of Sri Kamakoti Peetam, established by Sri Adi Sankara was born into this world. This auspicious event took place in the house of Govindarayar, located in the southern tip of an agraharam in Nawab Thoppu in the town of Vizhuppuram in Sourth Arcot district. A Brahmin named Subramania Sastrigal and his devout wife Mahalakshmi Ammaiyar had the good fortune of bringing this holy man into this world as their second son.

Sri Swamigal in His purvashramam belonged to the Hoysala Karnataka Smartha Brahmin community. This community had migrated from Karnataka and settled in the Chola Kingdom, near Cauveri during a time when a prominent member of the community, Govinda Deekshithar was a minister to the Tanjore Nayak Kings. One of the branches of this community settled in the holy place of Thiruvidaimaruthur. It is from this branch that our Swamji’s ancestors hailed. Some of the family members held prominent posts in the court of Maratha King Amarasimha Maharaja (Sarabhoji Maharaja’s uncle) who ruled over Thiruvidaimaruthur. In this glorious family was born Ganapathi Shastrigal, our Swamiji’s grand father.

Grandfather Ganapathi Shastrigal

Ganapathi Shastrigal was well versed in Shastras and trained in Rig Veda at an early age. He was fluent in Tamil, Kannada, Maharastram as well as being an able administrator. The 64th Acharya Swami of Kamakoti Peetam, Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswathi Swamigal discovering his efficiency appointed him as the Chief Executive Officer of the Mutt in 1835. He occupied this post for more than 50 years during the tenure of 64th and 65th Peetathipathi. The 64th Acharya Swamiji performed the Kumbabhishekam of the Kancheepuram Kamakshi Amman temple in 1840 and the Thatanga Prathishtai of Sri Akhilandeswari Amman in 1848. Ganapathi Shastrigal helped to conduct these two events successfully and obtained Swamiji’s blessings. Moreover he was instrumental in effecting important events that were beneficial to the Mutt in the long term. Let’s take a look at one of the key events here.

The 64th Acharya Swamy Srimad Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi Swamigal camped in Thiruvanaikkaval between 1844 and 1848 at Kanchi Sankara Mutt in North Street. The ear ring of Sri Akhilandeswari the residing deity of Thiruvanaikaval had to be repaired and prathistha of the ear rings had to be performed again. The temple officials and authorities requested Swamigal’s to accomplish these events and he accepted their invitation. At that time officals of Sringeri Mutt filed a case at Tiruchirapalli Sathar Ameen court claiming that the right to perform Thatanga Prathishta to Ambal rested with their Acharya only. The judge presiding at that court rejected their claim on 17th October, 1846. The officials of Sringeri Mutt filed an appeal at Trichi civil court. The civil court judge upheld the lower court’s decision and rejected the appeal on January 12th, 1848. Sesha Josyar, the Agent of Sringeri Mutt then filed special appeal with Chennai Sadar Adalat Court (then High Court) on 11-9-1848. The High Court also rejected the case. But a petition was filed to review the decision and the petition was duly rejected. It is to be noted that all judges who ruled against the Sringeri Mutt were not Hindus.

After the conclusion of the above said event, the 64th Acharya conducted the Thatanga Prathishta of Ambal’s ear rings in the proper way after repairing the same during the later part of the year 1848. The Sri Mutt was facing difficult times financially after bearing the expenses of a long legal battle, the Thatanga Prathistha and also because the Acharya was stationed in one place. During that time, Acharya was said to have told Ganapathy Sastrigal, “I am getting old and the debts of the mutt are increasing. Taking these into consideration, I feel I should have let Sringeri Swamigal perform the Thatanga Prathishtai”. Immediately following this event, Ganapathy Sastrigal was not found anywhere around the mutt for few days. When he returned, he was asked about his sudden trip. Ganapathy Sastrigal had gone to visit Tanjore Palace to find out about the feasibility of the Acharya’s visit to the palace on the way from Thiruvanaikaval to Kumbakonam. He was informed by the King and his officials that the visit was not possible.

It was decided that Swamigal and his followers would leave for Kumbakonam via Thiruvaiyar in a couple of days. On the appointed day, the caravan including carts belonging to Sri Mutt, elephants, horses etc., were travelling on the way to Thiruvaiyar. At the cross roads leading to Thiruvaiyar the officials from Tanjore Palace waylaid the mutt caravan and ordered them to turn towards Tanjore. Carts belonging to Sri Mutt were forced to travel towards Tanjore. After some time, when Acharya Swamy reached the Thiruvaiyar/Tanjore cross roads he was received and welcomed with great respect by the Diwan, palace officials and Vedic Scholars and taken to Tanjore.

Acharya Swamy camped at Tanjore for more than a week. Special food was provided to everyone belonging to the Sri Mutt as well as the general public at Shreyas Chathiram, Vennathangarai Chathiram and Rathri Chathiram. On the night before his departure, Sri Swamy was taken on a procession on an elephant with the King’s son-in-law seated behind His Holiness. On another Elephant, the king followed along with Ganapathy Shastrigal and the procession continued around all the four streets and thousands of people gathered to watch the glorious sight.

Next morning, when Sri Swamigal was about to leave the palace, He was requested to sit in an asana under a tree. The King Shivaji Raja showered Sri Swamigal with small gold flowers which covered upto His Holines’s neck. The sudden change in the King’s attitude that had previously rejected Ganapathi Shastrigal’s proposal of Sri Acharya’s Tanjore visit was revealed at that time. Two days before Sri Swamji left Thiruvanaikaval the King had a dream where someone kept asking him how he could not do aradhana for Sri Acharyal and Chandramouliswarar Swamy when they were passing by to go to Thiruvaiyar that is so close to Tanjore. Immediately Shivajiraja made all arrangements including the stay and Kanagabhishekam.

Eventhough, Sri Swamigal was not keen on keeping the gold from kanagabhishekam, Ganapathi Shastrigal wanted use the money to obtain revenue yielding land for the mutt. After finally obtainin the consent of Sri Swamy, Ganapathy Shastrigal consulted Perunilakizhar Mopanar from Kapisthalam. He purchased 250 acres of fertile lands belonging to Anaikudi Ramaswamy Pillai at Karuppur, which is situated two miles from Tanjore. The lands in this village are the most extensive and most profitable of all of the mutt’s properties. It is believed that the lands in Karuppur were purchased within a few years of the ascension of the monastery by 65th Peetahipathi of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Sri Mahadevendra Saraswathi Swamigal.

Father Subramania Sastrigal

Ganapathi Sastrigal had three sons namely Subramania Sastrigal, Ramanatha Sastrigal and Sundaramoorthi Sastrigal. The eldest of the three Subramania Sastrigal was Mahaperiyava’s father. He was born in the year 1855 had upanayanam performed at an appropriate age and obtained Vedic instruction. Ganapathi Sastrigal also provided Anglo-education for his son. In the year 1872, Subramania Sastrigal matriculated in the first place from Kumbakonam Government Kalasala. Leaving Kalasala, Subramania Sastrigal joined as a teacher at a school started by Rao Bahadur Appu Sastrigal, Swaminatha Iyer and other prominent persons at Kumbeswara Swamy South Street, Kumbakonam. He got this with a recommendation from the principal of Kumbakonam Government Kalasala Sri Gopal Rao. After working there for sometime he was appointed to teach the famous land lord Thyagaraja Mudaliar at Kavalakudi village near Thiruvarur. He worked there for a few years and then joined the government education department as a teacher. Later, he was promoted to supervisor and moved around Virudachalam in South Arcot district, Chidambaram, Parangipettai, Vizhuppuram, Tindivanam, Vikravandi and Manjakuppam for around 30 years.

Mother Mahalakshmi Ammal

Our Swamiji’s maternal ancestors belonged to the illustrious Raja Govinda Deekshitar who was a very able administrator and minister in King Sevappa Nayakkar, the first Nayakkar king to rule Tanjore. Govinda Deekshitar belonged to Upamanyu Gothram, conducted various Yegnas and was considered a Maha Vidwan. During his times, he was very well known by another name “Ayyan”. Around Chola Kingdom there are many places named after him like Ayyankulam, Ayyan Vaikkal, Ayyan Street, Ayyan Kadai etc. He claims the acclamation of building various mandapams and stone steps along the banks of Cauveri in Chola Kingdom. He also has the credit of repairing temples in Thiruvannamalai and other temples around Chola nadu. He has also dug tanks and canals in lots of plces. Govinda Deekshitar retired to a famous place Pateeswaram near Kumbakonam. Even today his wife’s and his full size statutes can be found inside the Shiva Temple here. Our Swamiji’s mother Mahalakshmi Ammal belonged to this Deekshitar lineage.

Mahalakshmi Ammal was born to Nageswara Shastri and his dharmapatni Meenakshi Ammaiyar at the beautiful village of Eechangudi that is four miles east of Thiruvaiyar and on the northern banks of Cauveri. Nageswara Sastrigal hailed in Upamanyu Vasishta Gothram did adhyayanam of Rig Veda and was well versed in Dharma Shastras. Numerous families in Kumbakonam area respected him and considered him their Acharya. One of the families is that of our Swamiji’s grandfather Ganapathi Shastrigal. Once when Nageswara Shastrigal visited Ganapathi Shastrigal’s house for an occasion, he expressed his wish to give his daughter Mahalakshmi’s hand in marriage to their son Subramanian. Who in their right mind would reject Mahalakshmi knocking on their front door? Moreover an offer from his Acharya to wed his own daughter to his son was not something Ganapathi Shastrigal could refuse. The wedding of Mahalakshmi Ammaiyar in her 7th year and Subramania Shastrigal in his 17th year took place at Eechangudi.

Mahalakshmi Ammaiyar was a very humble woman well versed in prayers and hymns in Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit languages. She spent her time taking care of her husbands’ needs and bringing her children up with lot of care and attention. She also performed all pujas and vratas observed by women in the appropriate times. Especially she was known to keep equilibrium without being carried away by good times or bad times leaving it all to God. She had five siblings, two girls and three boys. Her last brother Subramania Sastrigal was trained in Rig Veda, Shastras and South Indian languages and spent more than 60 years working in the Mutt.

2. Mahaperiyava Miracles

“Ghee for 1 Rupee”

Mahaperiyava was camping at Pandharpur [Pandaripuram] in the year 1981. Devotees were thronging at the camp to have darshan of Periyava. Amidst the crowd there was a North Indian Seth [Settu] who came there to present his offerings to Jagadguru. When his turn came he prostrated before the Acharya and offered one full can of ghee and paid his obeisances.
Paramacharya then murmered “One Rupee” “One Rupee” [Oru Rupaai, Oru Rupaai]. Devotees who have congeragated there could not understand this and every body started taking One Rupee from their pockets.

Mahaperiyava then asked his Mutt Sishyas to enquire from the Seth as to why he brought one full can of ghee instead of ghee worth one rupee. Now the surprise increased for everyone to know as to why Periyava asked the Seth to buy ghee for one rupee.

When they enquired this to Seth he narrated the incident

“Few days before somebody kidnaped my daughter and when I was confused and worried Mahaperiyava appeared in my dream and informed me to buy ghee for one rupee and come to Pandharpur and told me that your daughter will return safe please don’t worry”

“As told by Periyava I got my dauther back the next day. I got relieved and very happy to see my daughter back and hence decided to offer one full can of ghee instead of one rupee” thus by telling this Seeth broke the suspence to everyone.

The above incident confirms that Karunamurthy periyava will come to the rescue of his devotees in need of help under difficult circumstances.

3. Voice of the God – Teachings of Mahaperiyava

"Dasoupadesam" (The Ten Commandments of Mahaperiyava)

1. One of our duties as human beings is to avail ourselves of every opportunity to do good to others. The poor can serve others by their loyal work to the country and the rich by their wealth to help the poor. Those who are influential can use their influence to better the condition of the lowly. That way we can keep alive in our hearts a sense of social service.

2. Man by himself cannot create even a blade of grass. We will be guilty of gross ingratitude if we do not offer first to God what we eat or wear - only the best and choicest should be offered to Him.

3. Life without love is a waste. Everyone should cultivate "Prema" or love towards all human beings, bird and beast.

4. Wealth amassed by a person whose heart is closed to charity, is generally dissipated by the inheritors: but the family of philanthropists will always be blessed with happiness.

5. A person who has done a meritorious deed will lose the resulting merit if he listens to the praise of others or himself boasts of his deeds.

6. It will do not good to grieve over what has happened. If we learn to discriminate between good and evil, that will guard us from falling into the evil again.

7. We should utilise to good purpose, the days of our life-time. We should engage ourselves in acts which will contribute to the welfare of others rather than to our selfish desires.

8. We should perform duties that have been prescribed for our daily life and also be filled with devotion to God.

9. One attains one's goal by performance of one's duties.

10. Jnana is the only solvent of our troubles and sufferings.


· Pujyasri Mahaswamy Divya Charitram – Sri Sambamoorthi Sastrigal, Sri Kuppuswamy

Iyer, Sollin Selvan “P.N. Parasuraman”
· Kanchimahanin Karunai Nizhalil – Ananda Vikadan Publications

Monday, May 31, 2010

Guru Samarpanam - Issue # 2

Speech by Sri Muralidhar Swamigal about Mahaperiyava

Today is Mahaperiyava's Jayanthi (28th May 2010). Speech by Sri Muralidhar Swamigal about Mahaperiyava is enclosed.

There have been Mahatmas in every age. They have divine vision. Nothing is unknown to them. Sri Ekambram (a householder who had been a personal attendant to Maha Periyava for nearly three decades) said that once when Maha Periyava had camped in Pandaripura, there lived in this holy kshetra a young boy who used to do severe sadhana. He used to visit Periyava every day. His hair was unkempt and he wore religious marks on his body. He repeatedly sought sanyasa from Maha Periyava. But Maha Periyava's only response to all his pleadings was silence. Whereas, there was this man who was doing 'bhiksha kainkarya' (cooking and serving food) to Maha Periyava and who was not in the least interested in sanyasa.

But Periyava coaxed him into it! This man went on grumbling, 'I did not want sanyasa but Periyava has given it!' And people around found fault with Periyava's actions. They said, "How religious and spiritual this young boy is but Periyava has refused sanyasa to him whereas He has given it to another who does not want it and does not seem to deserve it!"

People see and judge a person outwardly whereas a Mahatma 'sees' through him and knows him inside out. After some years it was learnt through newspapers that this boy who had sought sanyasa from Periyava had married a foreign lady! With our limited mind we cannot see within. But a Mahatma's viewpoint ('drishti') is always right. To comment on their actions or to analyze their actions is very wrong. Maha Periyava came to the peeta (of the Kanchi Mutt) at the young age of 12.

Maha Periyava took sanyasa at the young age of 12. He came to the Peeta at this tender age. Just as we say a father should behave like a father, a mother should behave as befitting her status, so was Maha Periyava as a 'Peetadipathi' (Head of a Religious Mutt). He was an example of how a Peetadipathi should be. He was so in all aspects - as a Sanyasi, as a Guru, as a Vidwan and as a Tapasvi. He possessed highly exceptional qualities that are beyond description ('anirvachaneeyam' ).

He was an adept in Mantra Shastras. Once, a poor boy came to Maha Periyava in deep anguish. He had none to call his own except a sister whom he had married off. But she had become mentally deranged and her in-laws were pressuring him to take her back. He had no permanent earning or place of stay, and so was perturbed about bringing his sister back. She used to behave abnormally. Periyava asked the boy to bring the sister while He performed Lord Chandramouleeswara puja. Periyava said that after the puja He would do japa with the sandal paste ('chandan') which He would splash on her; and, she will react violently and run to a mango tree. Periyava instructed that none should follow her or stop her. She was very restless when she was brought in and would not stand there. Maha Periyava did as He had said. She ran out and hit against a tree and fell. She then became all right as the 'brahma rakshas' that had caught hold of her had left her. No allopathic medicine can cure such troubles. They will call it nervous weakness and at the most put the person to sleep using sedatives.

We proudly declare that a person had lived for 100 years but what is the use of living that long without a goal? But if Maha Periyava has lived a hundred years it had been a real living. He has shown how one should live. He remained as a beautiful ornament to the Peetta that he had occupied.

Once a topmost official in the Government asked Maha Periyava, "What is the way out ('gati') for me?" Maha Periyava said, "Once a goat has been caught by the tiger it can never escape its clutches. So, one on whom 'Guru kataksha' (glance) has fallen he cannot escape it." The official said, 'I am not a goat but a wild buffalo. The wild buffalo escapes tiger's jaws!' Maha Periyava said, "But the the scar of the attack has been left by the tiger. And that will work!" This person then asked, "Point out to me all the fake swamijis. I will put them all behind bars," and further inquired of Maha Periyava, "How to differentiate the good from the bad?"

Maha Periyava said, "Once while camping near Satara I had hidden three ripe mangoes in a basket full of unripe mangoes. When a child came in I asked it to pick a mango from the basket. It picked up a ripe one! A child could pick up the ripe mango from amongst a basket full of unripe ones. Just as the way a child knows what is ripe and what is unripe, so too would those who go out in search of Truth recognize a true Mahan at some point of their life." A devotee of Maha Periyava, was in tears as He did not visit her home. Maha Periyava said to her, "Why do you invite me into a home built of bricks? I will come and sit in the home of your 'hrudaya' (heart)!" What wonderful words? How could he coin such words out of the blue?

Once, Maha Periyava addressed a big gathering, "All of you have assembled here eagerly to listen to me. You have extended a big welcome to me here and all of you are also lending assistance to the Mutt. Everybody says that I must speak something. Instead, I feel that I can spend the time better in meditating on Ambal (Devi). What is the use of mere words? I feel that I should meditate on Ambal. There is no use of offering any 'upadesa' (counsel) to you all without doing any dhyana of Ambal. And again there is no need for words once I successfully complete the dhyana of Ambal and attain Her! This is because just by seeing me all of you will be transformed! Therefore, words are useless under all circumstances! "

Once, Maha Periyava performed a detailed 'upanyas' on Adi Sankara under the heading 'Egoless Acharyal'. Once, while speaking with His close devotees, Maha Periyava said, 'It is said that sanyasis (ascetics) should not possess any desire. But, I have a desire!' When the devotees asked, ‘What is it?’ Maha Periyava said in all humility, 'I desire that none in the world should know that such a sanyasi lives!' Further, in a 'Deepavali' special issue brought out by a weekly many years back, the replies of dignitaries from various walks of life to the question, 'what is the lesson learnt by you from the world?' had been published. This question was placed before Maha Periyava also. Maha Periyava said to them, "Every moment the world is teaching me some lesson. But only I do not possess the required maturity to learn!" This shows His humility.

Once, when Paul Brunton (a foreigner who came to India seeking a spiritual Master and the author of the famous book 'Search in secret India') sought 'upadesa' from Maha Periyava, Maha Periyava offered him the wonderful 'upadesa', "Be humble! You will find what you seek!"

Just through deep continuous thought ('smaran') of Mahatmas ('punya purusha') we will attain their state.” We also give below an interesting incident that Sri Ekamram (a householder who had been a personal attendant to Maha Periyava for nearly three decades) narrated, to show the value placed by Maha Periyava to all the work of the Mutt without any difference of high or low.

The different duties in the Mutt were allotted to different staff. As such it fell on a young man to wash the vessels used in the Sri Chandramouleeswara Puja. One day this young man while washing the vessels thought aloud, this is the lowliest and worst of all the services rendered in this place! This grouse of the young man fell on the ears of Maha Periyava who happened to pass by. The next day Maha Periyava instructed all the staff of the Mutt to assemble in His presence.
When all had reported, Maha Periyava said, 'There are innumerable people who consider it the highest of blessings to wash the vessels used in Sri Chandramouleeswara Puja. But here is this young man who feels otherwise. Therefore, today he should be spared of this duty and all the rest of you should each wash a vessel!'

That day even the manager, who was only a year or two younger to Maha Periyava and a highly learned and intelligent man, lent a hand in washing the Puja vessels of Sri Chandramouleeswara. The young man quickly realized his mistake and fell at the feet of Maha Periyava. From then onwards he attended to his duty with all enthusiasm and reverence."

Guru Samarpanam - Issue # 1

Voice of the Guru -
Now people want to live in comfort and to be provided with all sorts of amenities. There is no end to their unseemly desires. In America, it is said, everybody has a bungalow, car, radio, telephone, etc. But are people there contented? No. There is more discontent in that country than in our own. There the incidence of crime is more than anywhere else. It is all right that every American has a car. But today's car is not good enough for them tomorrow. More and more new models keep coming in the market and each new model offers more comfort than the previous one. This means that the American citizen is compelled to earn more with the appearance of each new car. A time may come when aircraft will be used in the U. S. for people to fly from house to house.

Similarly, we see such a progression all over the world in the matter of housing. First there was the hovel or the hut; then came the dwelling with the tiled roof; afterwards houses with cement and concrete walls. The flooring also changed over the years. First the floor was wiped with cowdung; then it was plastered and cemented; the mosaic flooring came later; and the search is on for smoother and shinier surfaces. It is the same case with clothing - better and finer fabrics are being made everyday.

Although we are already living in comfort we are all the time using our ingenuity to discover objects and gadgets that will make our life still easier. However, all the time we are likely to have the feeling of uneasiness with all the comforts we already possess and this means there will be no end to our yearnings. Not knowing any contentment or peace of mind we are compelled to earn more and more. It is like thinking that fire can be extinguished by pouring petrol on it; we keep discovering newer and newer objects but in the progress we keep further inflaming our longing for ease and comfort. This truth was known to our sages, to our forefathers. They taught us that we ought not to seek more than our bare needs. In recent times Gandhiji impressed upon the people the same lesson.

In this century, people seek ostentatious living in the name of progress. So long as the hunger for new comforts continue neither the individual nor society will have contentment. There will always be feelings of rivalry, jealousy and heart-burning among people. In the varnasrama dharma, the Brahmin and non-Brahmin are equal economically speaking. In spite of the caste differences, the same simple living is enjoined on all. The ideal of equality can be achieved only if all people live a simple life. In this order every individual experiences contentment and inner happiness and no one has cause of envying others their prosperity. No man, whatever his vocation, should have either too much money or too many comforts. Above all what is important is that for which all these are intended but that which cannot be truly obtained through them: contentment and a sense of fullness within.

Only when there is inner satisfaction can one meditate on the Lord. And only in the mind of a man who has such contentment is the Ultimate Truth realised as a reality. When a person has too many comforts he will be incapable of going beyond the stage of sensual pleasures. If he is addicted to enjoyments, without any need for physical exertion, he will do injury to his mind, and his inner being. Hard work and the capacity to suffer discomforts are essential for those who yearn for Atmic uplift. They will then learn to realise that there is comfort in discomfort and in hard work.

Mahaperiyava miracle experienced by Ghatam Mastero Vikku Vinaykram

An ardent devotee of the Paramacharya, he attributes all the success to his bountiful blessings. “I have felt his divine presence on more than one occasion,” he says.

Once Vinayakram went on a tour to Athens to perform a concert alongwith L. Shankar and Zakir Hussain. Somehow the ghatam he took got broken a few days before the scheduled date. Vinayakram was in tears and called his wife in Chennai and told that he would like to return as there is no point in staying in Athens. His wife told him to wait for one day and she went to Kanchi Mutt and told the same to Acharya. Acharya did not reacted for her statement and kept quiet. She was in tears and when she was about to leave Paramacharya gave a full coconut and remained silent.

Meanwhile Zakir Hussain went scouting around Athens and atlast found it in a show piece in an American’s House. The American was initially skeptical in giving telling that the person who gifted to him asked him not to give or sell it to anyone. When asked who has gifted him the Ghatam he told it was “Vinayakram” to everyone’s surprise. Zakir then told him that the ghatam is required by the same person who has gifted you. The American then decided to part the ghatam with a letter to Vinaykram that the is happy to part the ghatam if it of great use and you will not be let down by the Lord whom you worship. Even more surprising the instrument was exactly in the same sruti in which Vinaykram were to perform.

In another occasion in Germany, after missing a flight to the U.S., Vikku spent some time going around a music shop. On learning that the visitor was Vinayakaram, the shopkeeper showed him a ghatam and asked him to certify it. It was made by a German lady. Vikku was satisfied with the tonal quality that equalled the ones made in India. A jubilant shopkeeper gifted it to Vikku despite the latter’s protests. On reaching the U.S., Vikku found his own ghatam in a broken condition and used the one he got as a gift for the concert. The sruti was G (5kattai) and it perfectly matched the concerts aadhara sruti of C (1kattai). Convinced that it is Maha Periyaval’s ghatam, Vikku has found for it a place in his puja room.

Reference :

Hindhu Dharama – by Sri R.G.K.
The Hindu – “Pot of Rhythm”
Talk by Sri Ganesa Sarma