A Few moments with Paramacharya

Kulapathi S.Balakrishna Joshi

Thousands of devotees from nooks and corners of the country and of the world throng at Kanchi day after day to have darshan of His Holiness Sri Paramacharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, mingling softly with the swelling crowd and bidding their turn in supreme peace. They do so unmindful of difficulties and inconveniences because they intuitively realize that He is a visibly perennial reservoir of divine grace and gaze of His will flood their minds with tranquility becoming crystallized into an invisible talisman. Ardent spirits that resolve to visit sacred shrines like Kashi, Rameshwaram and Tirupati, go to these holy spots, fulfil their vows and come back home satisfied, with their minds at rest. But, in the case of our Divine Paramacharya, the irrepressible longing to have yet a glance of His spiritual personality again and again, brightens into a radiant element of their aspiration. They feel strongly that His Grace would come to them unasked at the right time. Myriads of miracles that are not exposed to publicity, get wrought unsought and unexpected in the case of the disciples that have installed Him in the sanctuary of their hearts. The unique feature is that He does not deliberately and with a predetermined will cause the miracles. He is not himself aware of the unpremeditated benediction that the devotees seek.

This observation may sound strange. But it is absolutely true as experienced by those that perceive God in Him. Saintly personalities at all places and at all times have manifested their spiritual powers to save and offer succor and solace to good men and women through incredible miracles in response to their prayers. History is replete with instances that bear witness to this amazing truth. But the remarkable feature about our Paramacharya is that devotees get startled by the unexpected good that happens to them without being caused by their supplication. One of several such instances that have fortified my faith in the Paramacharya is narrated below.

In 1957-58, His Holiness who was camping in Madras, performed the Chaturmasya Pooja in the campus of the Sanskrit College, Mylapore. Much as I desired, I could not be at the holy spot every day to witness the Pooja which was sheer inspiration. On a Sunday morning during the period, I went through my humble program of religious rites as usual. As I stood up near the divine pictures, without my knowledge the tip at the bottom of my Dhoti caught fire from the flame of the lamp nearby. The cloth was becoming ablaze as the flames spread up rapidly. Resourcefulness which was not the product of my will, impelled me to shout for a new Dhoti. It came soon and, wearing it, I discarded the old one. Thus I averted what should have been a major fire accident. I bowed to God and came out of the Pooja room to the small central hall. The incident however made me uneasy. Before I could reconcile myself to it, Sriman Ramachandra Iyer, an ardent devotee and representative of the Math, shot in my home like lightning and ejaculated the 'Periyaval'(Gurudev) desired that I should meet him positively with information about the way Jain monks observe the Chaturmasya Vrata. With him I immediately hastened to Sri Shivchand Jatanlal Daga, a pious and influential Jain gentleman whose son had been my student. When I revealed the object of my mission, he sent for the Jain priest, attached to the temple near his home in Mint street. Luckily for me, he came promptly. I was able to gather from him details about the observance of the Chaturmasya Vrata. With the elder, I went to the Sanskrit College. The time was about 10.30 a.m. A very large crowd had assembled in the courtyard if front of the Pooja Mantap, agog with fervor to witness the Pooja. I took my place in the rear-most group that was standing, since I did not want to jostle my way to the front rank. In less than two minutes His Holiness came from inside to the Mantap. It was such an inspiration to observe Him approaching the place with a majestic mien and measured step, the personification of serenity. He went to the Mantap, had a gaze at it and retreated his steps in a clock-wise manner. I was very much baffled, as the entire congregation was, at this unusual act. In a minute's time a disciple who would remain close by His Holiness, made his way through the congregation shouting, "Joshi, Joshi". He identified me and said almost peremptorily, "Periyaval wants you at once." He led me to the ante-chamber of the raised platform on which the Pooja Mantap was installed. His Holiness was seated on a plank. I attempted to offer my obeisance. Before I could do that he said in a voice which sounded like the chiming of a temple bell, "All this may come after. You had a fire accident today. First take the Prasaadam," pointing to a half coconut on a small stool in front of Him. I was stuck dumb with exhilaration. How did His Holiness know about the accident? How did He spot me in the multitude before a wink of the eye? Why did He go round without settling down for the Pooja? All this was something beyond my comprehension.

I realised soon that intuitively He had sent for me to give his benediction on that fateful day after saving me from the accident

Just then another Swamiji, who stayed with His Holiness and whom we, devotees, used to refer to as 'Anjaneya Swami' entered the room. His Holiness accosted him and said, "Joshi has brought information about the observance of the Chaturmasya Vrata by the Jain monks. You will listen to him and note what he has to convey. "After this direction, He went to Pooja Mantap and started worship. Is not this marvelous expression of Grace an unexpected miracle? I was only reminded of the lines of Sarojini Naidu"

"He that holds the storm by the hair,
Hides in His bosom our lives. "

I leave it to the devout reader to determine for himself if His Holiness is not God incarnate!