Sakthi Vikatan 2010-11-05-part1-2                                                                      

 Ramanamaharishi. Guru’s Grace.

Author Balakumaran



     After the family members discovered the letter of departure from home, the family was on tenterhooks. We had no anger issues with him. We were never hard on him. Why did he leave? Where did he go?

Venkatraman’s mother was wailing from losing her son to the world. Being a widow, whom was she going to ask for help? She sought help from the relatives. They were busy with their own needs, responsibilities and duties. Everyone showed concern about the disappearance of Venkatraman.

Hearing that a boy participating in a play in a local theater looked like Venkatraman, they attended the play and discovered it was not him. They ran to Thiruvananthapuram on false news, discovered it was not him and came back disappointed.

They did not know where else to go in search of him. There were no transportation facilities, no roads and no highways those days as seen nowadays. Travel was difficult. These factors put a brake on further search. Azakammai went into grief and deep depression.

Annamalai Thambirān addressed a group of people after arriving from Tiruvannamalai. He said, Bālaswāmy was Venkatraman from Tirucchuzhi. A boy in the audience, related to Venkatraman, informed the relatives of the good news. They were surprised. There was no other Venkatraman in Tirucchuzhi. Concluding, it must be him, Sundaramaiyar’s younger brother, Venkatraman’s uncle went to Tiruvannamalai.

The crowd was big in Gurumūrththam, one Venkatrama Nāyakkar invited Pazhaṉisāmi to stay in his mango grove. Pazhaṉisāmi informed Bālaswāmy about it, both left the Gurumūrtham and moved to the mango grove. There was a sturdy fence around the mango grove. A guard was on duty at the gate. There was a serious reduction in the number of people gaining entrance into the grove. Venkatraman Nāyakkar told the guard not to let anyone inside without permission from Pazhaṉisāmi.

    With no troubles, Bālaswāmy lived solitarily on a raised platform under a mango tree. Below the platform Pazhaṉisāmi sat. Bālaswāmy and Pazhaṉisāmi ate the food brought by Darśan-visitors, asked the visitors not to bother Bālaswāmy and arranged for Bālaswāmy to remain in seclusion.

The family came visiting.

The watchman on duty refused admission to Sundaramaiyar’s brother Nellaiyappar accompanied by a friend Nārāyaasāmy Iyar. Nellaiyappar sent a note about his credentials (paternal uncle). Bālaswāmy himself came the gate and invited them. Seeing Bālaswāmy, Nellaiyappar felt suspicion, ‘could he be really the son of my older brother? Long nails, matted hair, gaunt appearance…

Venkatraman (presently Bālaswāmy, future Ramana) had a large congenital flat mole on the sole of his foot. Nellaiyappar intently looked for the mole and finding it, he was satisfied in his mind about the authenticity of Venkatraman. He could not fathom the state Bālaswāmy was in. He thought he was practicing Hata Yoga.

He begged Bālaswāmy to go back to Madurai and said, “Why are you suffering like this here? Come home. I will arrange for a place where you can continue to practice Samadhi.”

Bālaswāmy did not reply to him. Nellaiyappar was a great Sadhu and soft-spoken. He thought no one should be pressured and manipulated. He was in a predicament with these thoughts. “Why is this child sitting here like this? It is not proper. This state of Samadhi comes only after complete study and elucidation of Vedas and Tattvas. This is most likely a spurious asceticism, leading to an unknown consequence. I am in the dark.”

Nearby, an elderly man was lecturing; Nellaiyappar enquired about Bālaswāmy. The lecturer gave a portrayal of Bālaswāmy in derogatory way saying, “O that Bālaswāmy, it is sitting there in a stubborn fashion. He does not know a thing. Those who have no Vedic knowledge cannot perform Tapas. It is a false pretense for him to sit there with clenched jaws.  To Nellaiyappar, it sounded plausible. The world easily falls into the belief that one is an exponent of Vedas with appearances: Rudrāksha beads, sheared head, Sacred Ash across the forehead, water vessel… His matted hair, dirty body, thin famished frame, long nails, perennial silence, blank looks…give a spectator the impression of mental aberration in Bālaswāmy.

Māyai is a decorative piece. It is falsity. It hides the true nature and projects false appearances. It has no truth. Truth (Satyam) is not bound to anything. Those who are deceived by decorations or external appearances, it is hard for them to understand and comprehend Satya Sorūpam (True form). Those who speak loud like thunder think they are great intellectuals and Jñavāṉs (Paragons of Wisdom). A raft of comparisons, spouting of songs with loud accompaniments...give them a feeling of omniscience. Bālaswāmy with silence and controlled breathing, no one understands.

There was a continued flow of visitors. There were about 10 to 20 people standing around near the gate for Darśan of Bālaswāmy. A little movement precipitated a divine appeal, acclaim and call: ‘Hail Annamalai.’ It became necessary to appeal to the crowd to tone down the clarion call of the divine.

Aruagiri Nāthar Temple was near the Ayyan Lake. For some time Bālaswāmy stayed in the temple. It was a beautiful, cool, ancient Temple. He went to the nearby houses, clapped his hands, got the alms of food, ate it, washed his hands and returned. He asked Pazhaṉisāmi to go in the opposite direction for receiving alms. Bālaswāmy kept even the close friends at arms distance. He had lived a separate life without developing a braided relationship with others.

That brother-in-law Nellaiyappar failed to bring back Venkatraman caused Azakammai disappointment and grief. She developed a great desire to go forthwith to her son and compel him to go home. Not trusting anyone, she decided to take her older son Nagasamy, but he could not take leave from his work. That Christmas, Nagasamy and Azakammai came to Tiruvannamalai.

    Before their arrival, Bālaswāmy moved to another place. On the east side of Tiruvannamalai, there was Pavazhakkuṉṛu. On the top of the mountain, there was a temple and a cave. When Bālaswāmy went into the temple, the officiating priest not knowing Bālaswāmy was inside, locked him up inside the temple many times. Pavazhakkuṉṛu was more peaceful. Thereto, some came. The crowd thinned out. He experienced and enjoyed the solitary life there. A test of that experience came.

Bālaswāmy’s mother Azakambikai and her brother-in-law Nagaswamy came to Tiruvannamalai, searched for him in the mango grove and Gurumūrtham and finally came to Pavazhakkuṉṛu. As cotton catches fire, mother Azakambikai caught sight of his son. She exploded with crying, sobbing and welling of tears. She was happy to see her son but cried with sorrow. Anyone with heart, mind, soul, eyes, ears…will be perplexed and disturbed.

‘This is my son. This is my son. Yes, he is my son! Venkatrāmā! Venkatrāmā, my son you are… You are my son. Azakambikai cried aloud to the surprise of the assembled motley crowd. But, Bālaswāmy stirred little and sat there like a stone idol.

A few other Mahāns had this ordeal.  ‘Go anywhere, do anything! When I die, you must stand by my side and take me to the shore. I don’t want to be an unclaimed helpless dead body, Saṅkarā! As the mother made this plea, the Jñāṉi gave his assurance to his mother, came by air and according to her desire lighted the funeral pyre and performed the funeral Saṃskāras.

That Sannyasi could dismiss the pleas of others. How could he reject the pleas of his mother? How could he reject Sathyam asked of him? The mother had him on her breasts, shoulders… held him on her waist, on her lap, embraced him, helped him stand and walk, put him to bed keeping awake until he went to sleep, fed him, clothed him, (changed his diaper) loved him more than life. How could he reject her request?

The mother stood before the recluse, ‘My son you are! Venkatramā, come home. I will serve you rice. You can sit in my room. No one will bother you. Come home. You are my son, right…Do not give up on your mother. What mistake did I ever make? What sins did I commit? Why did you abandon me? I never said a word in anger. Don’t study, Venkatramā! Don’t have to go to school, Venkatramā. I will prepare and serve you the Kuzhambhu and curried Brinjal preparations you.

You sit on a mountain wearing matted hair. I bore you in my womb. Now it is burning.  What… (addressing her dead husband) You went out in comfort, leaving me to witness these cruel things Have you seen the condition of your son? Why don’t you give him some advice? You are the boy who grew up without a father. The townspeople will blame you for dying and leaving him without a father. The blame on you: is it not a blame one me?

With no stirring of body or soul, and no tears in the eyes, Bālaswāmy sat like a statue. That he was totally detached caused his lack of empathy with his mother.

Azakambikai anger and frustration took a turn.

- தரிசிப்போம்... Let us get Darśan.



Sakthi Vikatan 2010-11-05-part2 

Kanchi Mahan the God of Mercy

 Author Sarukesi


Pattābhi (the live-in caretaker) had been to many places with Periyava.  He rendered service to him to his heart’s content, both in and out of Mutt.

 “With Periyava, Guru Mahādēvēndra Sarasvati Swāmygaḷ Ārāthaṉai took place on the banks of river in Ṣahābhāth town. That Ārāthaṉai is called Guru Ārāthaṉai. Periyava took ritual Śnāṉam (bath) twice a day.

Mettur Chemical Ramai was the grandson of engineer Vaidya Nāthaiyar. The Mumbaikars used to come to him bringing Dhoti, fruits…

Wherever Periya stays, the Guru Ārāthanai was conducted with fanfare. Mettur Rajagopal was responsible for the proper conduct of the ceremony. He made all the arrangement for the conduct of the Ārāthanai in the traditional fashion and according to injunctions. He lives in Govindapuram, having received Sannyasa vows from Periyava.

       Guru Ārāthanai involves much work: Dakia, Vēṣṭi. I was of help to Rajagopal in the conduct of Ārāthanai.

Once it is over, Periyava conducts the evening services. After completion, he called Rajagopal and told him, “Bring a couple of Vēṣṭis (Waist cloth, Dhoti) and 101 Rupees.

He received and gave them to me with blessings saying, “This is Guru’s Prasadam. You remain hale and healthy always.”

In my joy, I did not know what to tell. I am blessed and lucky to receive with felicitation Guru Prasadam, that too from Periyava on his own accord.

It is not just the clothes. I have never to this day worked hard in my life. Because of grace, all my needs are fulfilled.

‘I am the servitor of the servitor. That is my oft-repeated phrase. That is the way I conducted myself in and out of Mutt including during pilgrimages.

Stop and Reign (). Use of this phrase is in vogue. Bhagavan stops his Bhakta from following the path of Māyā ( = prevent, obstruct, stop Māyā) and extend God’s Reign () over you (for your own good).  Guru employs the same stratagem on you. Likewise, Lord Periyava exercised ‘Stop and Reign.’ He played with me. He did his līlai (God’s sportive act). Even now, it appears Periyava touches me on my head with his staff and blesses me.

In Rishikesh, I used to bathe in the Ganges and performed daily Sahasra Gayatri. But the mind deters one-pointed mode. Why so? Ganga has Power that draws the mind towards it.

Once Periyava told me, “Until the day you die, do not give up Gayatri and Gangā Sahasra Gayatri. To this day, I kept my vow. It has its power. It offers protection to me.

Telling this, the tears were welling up in his eyes.

Darśan will continue.