Thursday, September 23, 2010

Guru Samarpanam - Issue # 5

1. Biography

Acting in a Shakespearean Play

In 1906 when Swaminathan was in fourth form, the students were arranging to stage the Shakespearean play ‘King John’ for the annual day celebrations. They could not find a right person to play the lead role of Prince Arthur. The Principal remembered twelve year old Swaminathan. He called him and asked him to take up the role. Swaminathan was very happy that the principal asked him to play the role. Swaminathan conveyed the principal’s message to his parents and requested them to stitch the appropriate costume for the character. His conservative parents did not want their son to act in a play. However they did not have the heart to reject their favourite son’s aspirations. So, they gave their permission to Swaminathan’s acting in the play and also contributed towards his costumes. Swaminathan memorized all the dialogues of the play in just two days. Swaminathan performed exceptionally well and got the commendation of all. He got applause for his monologues and acting ended up getting the first prize for this play. The teachers visited Shastrigal’s house the next morning and conveyed their appreciation for Swaminathn’s performance in the play.

Guru’s Darshan

In the year of Vishwavasu (1906) young Swaminathan’s father Sri Subramania Shastrigal took his family with him to obtain the darshan of then Sankaracharya, Sri Chandrasekarendra Sarasvati the 66th Peedathipathi of the Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. He was camping in a small town called Perumukkal, near Tindivanam. The acharya while performing his nithya puja, bestowed his benevolent grace upon young Swaminathan. After the conclusion of the puja, the Swamigal spoke to Subramania Shastrigal and made kind enquiries about his family. Perhaps he saw in this boy, a worthy successor to himself who was fit to adorn the Kamakoti Peetam.

The events that unfolded after this first meeting make us wonder whether the Swamigal had made the decision at that moment itself. Sri Subramania Shastrigal and his family stayed on in Perumukkal for two days to get the benefit of Swamigal’s continued darshan. During this occasion, the Acharya interacted closely with young Swaminathan and asked him many questions. Pleased with the young boy’s brilliance and attractive personality, Sri Acharya was heard commenting “He will turn out to be a Maha Purusha”. Hearing this, his father’s pleasure new no bounds. However he had absolutely no inkling that his 13 year old son would be leaving him and his family soon to obtain sanyaas.

He took leave from the Acharya and returned to Tindivanam where he was stationed for work. The Acharya had meanwhile, requested Sri Subramania Shastrigal to bring Swaminathan frequently to the Mutt. As per his request, Shastrigal took his son several times to get Acharya’s darshan. During these frequent meetings, the grace of the Guru started flowing in full abundernce over young Swaminathan. One day Swaminathan was found missing from his house in Tindivanam. His parents were very anxious and they searched everywhere including wells and ponds in the vicinity. But he was nowhere to be found. His parents were beside themselves with anxiety, unable to eat or sleep. Two days later, a messenger came from Acharya’s camp which was five miles away. He conveyed the news that Swaminathan had come there for the Acharya’s darshan on his own and he was safe. He added that the Acharya had sent him to convey this message to the parents. One cannot measure the relief and happiness of his parents and friends on hearing the news. Swaminathan was sent home from the mutt two days later.

2. Voice of the God – Teachings of Mahaperiyava


Adisankara Bhagavadpada says that Jivathma and Paramathma (Brahman) are one. That is, he says we are Brahman ourselves. Hiranyakashipu also claimed, ‘I am God’. But it so happened, that God in the form of Narasimha had to destroy him. When the Acharya says “We are Brahman”, is it the same as what Hiranyakashipu claimed? No. Not at all. When Hiranyakashipu claimed, ‘I am God’ it was a egoistic statement meaning that there was no God other than he himself. But, Bhagavadpada by declaring that there is nothing else other than God, means that we are also God. He says if the jivan (individual soul) gives up his ego he dissolves himself in Brahman and becomes Brahman itself. We are now like a spoonful of water with a little power. God with infinite power is like the Ocean. The spoonful of water came from that Ocean. This spoonful of water has to dissolve the ego that is a separate entity and mix with the Ocean and become one with it.

If we are not Brahman, we should be something other than Brahman. If that be so, it would mean that there are things other than Paramathma. In other words, it would mean that Paramathma is one among many things. It would mean that these many things came into existence in a manner unrelated to Paramathma. If so, to say that He is the Paramathma and the Lord of everything will be inappropriate. He is the Lord only if He is the sole power above everything. When we say that He is everything can we be different? Therefore it is not the Adhvaitis who, for all outward appearance, claim as if with ego ‘We are Brahman’ that belittle the greatness of the Lord. On the other hand, it is those who, with all humility, declare that Jivan is not the Lord, Jivan is small, the Lord is very great, they are different from the Lord inadvertently make the Lord one among many and thus minimize His greatness.

If it is said that He is everything, we ought to be Him also. He who is like the Ocean also is the water in the river, in the pond, in the well, in a beg vessel, in a small vessel and in a spoon. He has divided His power into small little figures and presents Himself as several Jivas. He has so designed the order that as a human being the Jiva will experience good and evil and in the state in which he crosses these limitations, he will become Himself. When becoming a man He gives him a mind and makes it indulge in good and bad deeds and experience the result of the same.

When the mind is unstable we cannot at one stretch, reach the state where the good and bad are absent and realize He indeed is ourselves. Therefore, eventhough He is we ourselves, for us to experience it, we have to pray for His Grace. In the beginning we have to think that we are so small and He is so big that He is the Ocean and we are spoonful of water and practice devotion to Him.

It is the mind which the Lord has given us that creates the distinction between Him and us. The mind cannot be destroyed in one go. So in our present state, we should use the mind to fix it on Him alone. The mind which He has created is like a monkey. That monkey has caught hold of the body. But, the Lord has created this body as one that would decay and perish. This monkey of a mind should give up its grip over a fruit that is decaying. If a monkey spots a good fruit, it will drop the bad one which it is holding. The fruit which is sweet and will not decay is Paramathma alone. We should strive to get hold of that fruit and gradually give up consciousness about the body. It is for this purpose that devotion, puja, pilgrimage etc., have been prescribed.

Evolving higher and higher with these aids, if the body consciousness and ego are totally destroyed, the notion that He is Paramathma and we are Jivathma will disappear and we will attain the advaithic state of He being ourselves. This is the state which Saint Arunagirinathar refers to when he says ‘A state in which you are not different from me and I am not different from you.’ Let us attain that state and experience it.

3. Mahaperiyava Miracles

Fruit of Love

Once there was a huge crowd to have the darshan of Mahaperiyava. Suddenly there was some fuss in the crowd and there entered a Big Shot along with his assistants. His assistants were carrying the offerings bustling with noise asking everyone there to pave the way for the Big Shot and his spouse. Someone from the Mutt Assistant introduced the Big Shot to Mahaperiyava. The Big Shot offered his obeisance and placed the fruits he had brought in front of Mahaperiyava.

Mahaperiyava asked, “What these are?”

“My offering to Periyava” replied the big shot.

Periyava smiled and replied “I am a sanyasi and I don’t eat fruits”

Bigshot was now perplexed.

Mahaperiyava called one of his attendant and asked him to distribute the fruits outside.

Manypeople were standing in the queue carrying fruits in their hands. Everybody started thinking that Periyava is not going to accept the fruits which they have brought as an offering to Mahaperiyava. One such person carrying some fruits in his hands was standing along with his wife thought that Periyava is going to reject his offerings also and was slightly worried.

When his turn came he placed the fruits in the tray before periyava and paid his obeisance with sincere devotion.

Mahaperiyava smiled at him and asked his attendant to take it inside the Mutt and said “the big shot person who came now would have brought the fruits which has been already been given to him by those who want their work to get done through this person and hence I rejected the fruits” having blessed the person.

No need to tell that the person was in tears.

Mahaperiyava never let down any body who have approached him with pure love.

· Pujyasri Mahaswamy Divya Charitram – Sri Sambamoorthi Sastrigal, Sri Kuppuswamy Iyer, Sollin Selvan “P.N. Parasuraman”
· Kanchimahanin Karunai Nizhalil – Ananda Vikadan Publications
· Voice of God – Volume – 1 – Kanchi Mahaswami Peetarohana Shatabdi Trust

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