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Paramacharya's benign grace
C.V. Narasimhan, I.P.S. (Retd)
The occasion when I came in close proximity to Paramacharya's presence was in 1959. He was then camping at Madras, giving daily discourses and darshan to devotees in the Sanskrit College premises at Mylapore. On some mornings he would go by walk into nearby localities, without any prior announcement and surprise the ordinary people around with his benign presence and blessings. I was living in Venkatakrishna Iyer Road in Raja Annamalaipuram.
Thinking rather naively that the Paramacharya wouldn't be happy about persons like me with cropped head and western dress, I did not go to see him, though I was very close by. My younger sister's wedding was celebrated that year. Since my father had passed away in 1945, I, as the eldest son, had the responsibility to perform the Kannikadanam. The date was 21st January 1959 and the venue was my residence in Venkatakrishna Iyer Road. Just as my wife and I sat down to do the preliminaries before the Muhurtham at 9 a.m., some persons on the roadside exclaimed that Sankaracharya was coming that side. Within seconds the gathering in the marriage pandal moved over to the road and the Paramacharya arrived there and stood just near the entrance. He had chosen to walk towards our locality that morning. I was dumbfounded by this extraordinary grace that had been showered on me. My wife and I prostrated before the Paramacharya and in reply to his query I told him briefly us with his benign look and smile and gave us a coconut as prasadam. we again prostrated before him and he turned back to his camp.
I was thrilled by this unexpected experience of having the Paramacharya right in front of any house. That too, on the day of my sister's wedding and blessing! This experience changed me instantly and from then on I have been availing every opportunity to offer worship at his feet.
Solitary moments of silent meditation before the Paramacharya's picture in my house have always helped me to take decisions and act thereon with faith and confidence in several matters. "Deivathin Kural" volumes brought out by the Vanathi Padhippagam and the weekly piece of "Arul Vakku" published by Kalki have been sources of great enlightenment and comfort for me in various situations in daily life.
The next memorable incident occurred in February 1963 when I was posted as Superintendent of Police, Ramanathapuram at Madurai. Paramacharya was then camping at Rameswaram. On the very day I took charge of my post at Madurai, my Hqrs Inspector informed me that the Paramacharya was scheduled to leave Rameswaram the next morning, and enquired if I would be interested in going immediately to Rameswaram to pay respects to him before he left the island. I felt I had to remain at Hqrs that day to fulfil certain official obligations and told the Inspector that I would have to miss the Rameswaram visit with much regret. Imagine my joy when the Inspector brought news the next day that the Paramacharya had at the last minute extended his stay in the island for three more days. I proceeded to Rameswaram the next day and paid my respects to the Paramacharya at his camp. He stunned me by recalling with a smile his chance visit to the venue of my sister's marriage four years earlier. On his enquiry about the welfare of my sister and her husband I told him that they were yet to have a child and that there was no cause for worry and gave me prasadam which I sent to my sister. A son was born to her and by Paramacharya's grace he has progressed well.
When I was witting with a small group of visitors in his proximity at Rameswaram camp, Paramacharya started asking me questions about my ancestry. My forefathers were from Kanchipuram and I could mention the identity of a few only. Paramacharya himself mentioned a few other names and traced their relationship to another family in Madras. Then he pointedly asked whether I knew a particular person in that family. When I said "No", he immediately pointed to the person sitting behind me and said he was that person. Both of us had been sitting there as strangers to each other, unaware of the family linkage of the earlier generations. The entire group broke into laughter. Paramacharya's sense of humour is something unique.