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My experience with Paramacharya of Kanchi

G. Subramanya Shastri

His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swami of Kanchi Kamakoti Math turns centenarian this year.

Soon after He become the Peethadhipati, the Paramacharya dedicated Himself to the promotion and propagation of the Vedas, revived many Pathasalas and honoured Vedic scholars by providing them with lifelong financial assistance. He also inspired an ever growing interest in the young scholars in Veda Bashya by conducting examinations in the subject and presenting purses to the successful candidates.

Once His Holiness, while on a visit to our village, said to me, "Having acquired erudition in the system of Nyaya, it would be befitting for you to study, Advaita-Siddhi (the highest philosophical treatise in Advaita)" and thus encouraged me in further studies.

His Holiness adhered to the strict canons laid for the Sanyasin (recluse) in the matter for food, from the very moment of becoming an ascetic. On the principle of mind and that in its turn leads to memory power of ones own self. He shaped his food habits in the strictest manner.

Keeping in mind the Sruti (scripture) injunction "anyo vaco vimuncata atha muni" meaning "after accepting the ascetic order the Sanyasin shall give up all mundane speech", the Sage spoke rarely, that too a few words, opting to remain silent most of the time.

As a result of the practice of self-discipline, His Holiness possessed knowledge and the further and the power t bestow boons. I can cite one or two instances.

The incident narrated below is said to have occurred in one of those days in which His Holiness Himself performed the daily pooja (worship of deities). Whenever His Holiness performed the worship there was o stipulated time for ending the ritual. He used to be immersed in the act for a very long time. All the while the devotees thronged around the place of worship and waited patiently till the end of the pooja in order to partake "teertha" (holy water sprinkled over the deities) from His Holiness. On that eventful day, while the pooja was in progress, suddenly a woman cried "Alas! My necklace is stolen!" His Holiness heard the cries but calmly went through the proceedings. At the end of the pooja , the giving away of the holy water commenced. The devotees queuing up a line partook the holy water one by one. A woman, too, came along the line near the alter to receive the water. Then His Holiness ordered her "You are in possession of a necklace of another woman. Give it back and take the teertha". Hearing it the woman turned pale and returned the jewel to its owner.

On another occasion while His Holiness was sojourning at some part of the State of Maharashtra, a devotee came to have Darshan. The devotee had earlier proposed to go back as soon as the Darshan was over and hence came after reserving a ticket for his train journey by train.

After the darshan was over, he pleaded to take leave of His Holiness. For reasons best known to His Holiness the devotee was denied permission to leave. He was detained until the train in which he had reserved ticket had departed. Then he was blessed and allowed to go. Later it was learnt that the very train in which devotee was to travel derailed resulting in a pathetic accident.

This is a striking example which demonstrates the prophetic vision of His Holiness and His compassion towards devotees.

Now I shall relate my own experience I happened to encounter with His Holiness some time back. From a month of June 1992 I became very weak and fragile and was eventually unable even to attend my daily curriculum, such as performing rituals, teaching student, etc. My voice too became very frail. At that time I involved in the completing of a short commentary (Based on the system of Indian Logic on the Brahmasutra Bhashya of Adi Sankara. the work was being printed by the conscientious efforts of Sri Vaidyanatha Iyer, under the auspices of Sankara Bhaktha Jhana Sabha. I had gone to Kanchi with the purpose of presenting that book to His Holiness and other erudite scholars who had gathered there to take part in the Advaita Sabha which had commenced from the 6th day of September, 1992. On that particular day, I became extremely weary and my Vakyartha (oral presentation of a certain topic in logic or philosophy, etc to a group of learned scholars) was spoken in a feeble voice, which I think could have hardly reached anybody's ear assembled there. In the evening I was led to the soothing presence of His Holiness. I presented the book to His Holiness and circumambulating and offering obeisance took the holy feet of His Holiness and placed them, reverentially on my head. I was graciously blessed by His Holiness with an enchanting smile. All the while His Holiness Shri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Swami was also present there. He blessed me and said, "After a long span of time, today we saw the smile of Paramacharya."

From the very next day onwards my health was restored to normality. Now I am able to teach with an audible voice and also can walk short distances.

SHREE CHANDRASEKARA GUROH SHATABDI ANTARA JEEVANE KARYO ANUGRAHA ITI EVA SANKARAM PRARTHAYE SADA. I always pray, Adi Sankara Bhagavatpada to bestow another hundred years of life on the preceptor, His Holiness Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamiji.