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My experiences with Sri Paramacharyal

Srimathi Radha Sadasivam

This happened in 1930 when His Holiness was camping at the Madras Sanskrit College. The discussions on scripture and poor feeding were held in Sri A.K. Ranganatha Iyer's house opposite the road. To have minimum exposure of the Acharya Swamigal, my father-in-law, Dr. Seethapathi Iyer, made an opening in the garage to facilitate His Holiness to cross the road and enter the opposite house without much trouble. On one such occasion my husband and his brother arranged a contrivance to have a basketful of flowers showered on His Holiness as He passed our porch where He usually halted for a minute. But every time the Acharya used to elude us by standing a foot ahead or behind. He had always an enigmatic smile on His face as He tricked us. Years later my husband had the privilege of meeting His Holiness at Tiruchi. He surprised my husband by asking whether he was the one who continued to shower of the flowers! his memory is something remarkable. In continuation, similar things happened to my niece. After nearly 20 years of married life she went for a darsan with her doctor husband, who introduced her as Dr. Seethapathi's grand daughter. His Holiness looked at her with a smile and asked "Were you the little girl who tried to tilt a basked and shower the flowers on my head?" She was astounded.

I am giving below a few anecdotes from my niece which show the divine and loveable qualities of His Holiness.

Once she and her husband were summoned to go over to Singaperumal Koil near Madras to meet the Paramacharya. At that time my niece was at Nagerkoil. They found there a special wood used to make the wooden sandals (padaraksha) for His Holiness. Their carpenter had made 2 pairs and they were waiting for any opportunity to take them to Him. When they arrived, His Holiness was squatting outside a small hut surrounded by a host devotees. Someone told Him they had come and were promptly ushered in. As they prostrated, He asked `Have you brought my sandals?' `Yes' said her husband and placed a pair in front of Him. At once He got up and slipped His feet into them remarking "It fits perfectly, how did you know the measurement"?

Her husband replied "Every time I prostrate before you, I see only Your holy feet". His Holiness laughed and said: "You teach me high philosophy! Keep the other pair till I send for them. It may be lost as I travel". It is a wonder how He knew they had made the wooden sandals (and that too, 2 pairs) and got them that day for Him.

On another occasion they both had gone to Kilambi, a village near Kancheepuram where Paramacharya was camping. he enquired after their welfare and in His usual breezy style said, "These people are Karmayogis. They must not be asked to wait long". He game them prasadams and permitted them to go. He called for an old gentleman and asked them to take him in their car. He was no other than Mahamahodapdhyaya Subramanya Sastri who was to go to Delhi the next day to receive the honour of Mahamahopadhyaya. It was gathered that he was made to wait by His Holiness giving no reasons and he had been uneasy with anxiety because he had to catch the train the next morning little knowing that His Holiness had already planned his return safely. On their way to Madras they saw a bus involved in an accident and all the passengers were stranded helplessly on the road. It was 7 p.m. As the car passed after assuring themselves that there were no casualties, Subramanya Sastri slowly said, "Now I know why His Holiness made me wait. I should have been stranded like these men and could not have reached Madras on time to catch the train to Delhi".

On many occasions His Holiness will send word to my niece and her husband to come and see him wherever He was, whether around Madras or near about. This time it was Kancheepuram and they were asked to come around 6 p.m. Obedience to Him being natural to them they were at His camp about 20 to 25 miles from Kanchi. Once again they waited for nearly 3 to 4 hours and no explanation or reason could be found. They waited and it was getting late. A drive back to Madras was easily 2 hours or more especially on a new moon, dark night. They both felt uneasy though, of course, they did not show it. At last at 9.30 p.m. His Holiness sent for them and wanted to talk to them alone and sent all His aides away.

he said "It is new moon darkness. My puja accessories should be taken to Kancheepuram. Take them by your car to the Math and then go to Madras." This was the command and subsequently He instructed His aides to load their car with the puja articles and accessories and two of Hid disciples accompanies them. My niece, another doctor, had no other thought but carry out His order, no fear, no qualms. Reaching Kancheepuram past 10 p.m. they handed over the puja articles to the right person and go home by midnight. Only then did they realise the risk and responsibility they carried with the precious cargo!

There is a place called Bukkai in Andhra on the way to Tirupathi. His Holiness was camping there and in His customary way send word to my niece and her husband to come and meet Him. Immediately they went taking a few friends with them. His Holiness welcomed them as if He was waiting for them. He asked them to go around and inspect a Siva temple, have bath in the falls nearby and then come back and report which they did. Then He said `what is unique in that falls'? They said it is coming from the basement of the temple whereas, the river Swarnamukhi is 100 ft. down below. With the smile He replied `That is nature's trick and the play of the Infinite' At that time one of her friends wanting to capture His smile and the mood, flashed his camera. His Holiness said, `Don't take any picture, and everyone warned him not to do so. A few minutes later he was tempted and tried again. His Holiness shook His head calmly. A little later their friend tried a third time expecting Him not to take note. But He did and said "Don't waste and trouble yourself. You won't get anything". When their friend developed the film back home, to everyone's astonishment the three he clicked focussing His Holiness were totally blank when all the other films were positive and clear.

Once His Holiness was walking from one village to another down south. He and His entourage had to get past another little village where communal riots had been fierce. His devotees hesitantly tried to warn Him not to cross now but wait for a day or two. `Nothing will happen; let us go' said the saint and kept walking. His followers were shivering with fear and tension. Near the village a huge mob had gathered with sticks and sickles to attack this small group of devotees following the saffron-clad Swami. The leader of the mob raised his hand to quieten their anger and walked towards Swamiji. A silence of 2 minutes ensued when everyone held the breath and awaited the worst. His Holiness and on His countenance His famous soft smile. The mob leader stopped shouting, "O Swaminatha! We do what You say," and prostrated before His Holiness. The crowd at once dropped their weapons in utter surprise and confusion. The leader turned round commanding the mob to give way and escort His Holiness to the other end of the village in silence and reverence. "He and I were classmates in the school" explained His Holiness calmly to the shocked disbelief of all around Him. Later He wished to meet their Imam and was conducted to his presence. There His Holiness quoted from Koran where the importance of brotherhood, love and compassion were stressed which alone takes man to the kingdom of God. The whole village joined to shower praises on His Holiness and took Him in a procession to the next village.

In this connection I would like to mention an incidence which shows Paramacharya's concern to all living creation. The occasion was when attempts were made to dig a temporary well for the exclusive use of Paramacharya. He himself pointed out a sport in the compound of the Sanskrit College in Madras where He said there would be an underground steam. After digging for hardly six to eight feet, copious fresh water welled forth. After a few weeks of use, algae appeared in a bloom. My husband who was then heading the Botany Department at the University of Madras was summoned to have a look at the algae pollution was to use an algaecide (chemical treatment). The Paramacharya promptly asked as to what they would die, he said "Siva! Siva! Don't do that. We have not right to kill even the smallest microbe."

We are drawn to His Holiness by His inimitable qualities. Bubbling over with a boyish enthusiasm He infuses His unbounded spirits into one and all. His smile hypnotises you and you turn to His presence to find Him making tender enquiries of your health, work, home and before you know it, you are adoring Him and undertaking some important work in promoting His mission. His Holiness bathes us in the effusion of His deep wisdom and learning, kindling the flame of religion and hauling us out of our lethargic complacency into a reverential desire to learn our scriptures and to reach back to the heights of our glorious past. If he is not the answer to the present need of the age of destruction and annihilation, then who else is? Yes, WHO INDEED!!