Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Dear Readers,

I am delighted to present the article Guru Samarpanam [Issue # 9].

The issue contains the excerpts from the biography, teachings and miracles of Pujyashri Sri Sri Chandrasekarendhra Sarasvati Swamigal fondly revered as “Nadamadum Theivam” [Walking God], Mahaperiyaval, Paramacharya etc.

Under the biography we can see how Mahaperiyava was engaged in Vedic Studies at Mahendramangalam. Since our Acharya became the head of Kamakoti Peeta at a very young age and under the circumstances where the Peeta was handed over to him due to sudden demise of the earlier two Pontiffs of the Mutt, it was necessitated to give proper training in Vedas to our Acharya. Even though our Acharya studied Veda Shastras for a very little period of five years, his understanding and knowledge of the subject was vast and depth which the great stalwarts in the field had vouchsafed. Such was the mastery of the Acharya on the subjects.

In the section Teachings of Mahaperiyava talks upon “The Sins and The Punya”. Here he seamlessly talks how the desire leads a person to commit sins and gives a solution as to how to avoid sinful acts, which will help us to cross the mighty ocean and enjoy the eternal bliss.

Under the Mircales of Mahaperiyava we are going to unravel the experience of devotee who had gone abroad and reveals Acharyas’ affection towards his devotees and firm faith on the Dharma Shastras.

I hope you will cherish reading this!

Please give your valuable feedback.

Happy reading!Warm Regards,

A.V. Devan
25.8.2011 /Chennai


Excerpts from the Biography

Return to Kumbakonam for Mahamagam

Every twelve years, the day when constellation Magha rises in the lunar month of Masi is celebrated in grandeur at Kumbakonam as Mahamagam. Completing his above mentioned travels, Swamigal returned to Kumbakonam in March 1909. The government and local businesses had made special arrangements for the Mahamagam that year. Special arrangements for staying and food were made at the mutt also for devotees and pilgrims. One of the key sights of that year’s Mahamagam was the sight of the Tanjore royalty in procession, followed by our Swamigal on the elephant, on their way to the tank for holy dip.


In the year 1909 and 1910, the mutt’s aasthana scholars were engaged to teach and train Swamigal in Sanskrit works and Vedic studies. The learned and the academicians of the day were surprised at the brilliance and sharpness of Swamiji’s intellect. Moreover, the devotees and followers of the mutt were visiting Kumbakonam mutt in great numbers to obtain darshan of Swamigal. It became essential to find a quiet place to continue studies effectively. The mutt officials chose the beautiful and picturesque village of Mahendramangalam, situated on the northern shores of Cauveri, about five miles west of Musiri. The last Nayaka King from Madurai, Vijayaranga Chokkanada Nayakar had donated lands in this village to the mutt in the year of Salivagana Sakam (1708). Mahendramangalam was beyond Thottiyam in Tiruchi-Namakkal route and was not easily accessible. To reach this village one has to take the local train and get down at Lalapettai and then get the canoe across Cauveri to reach the Village. Very few would take all this trouble to come to this place in order to get darshan of Swamigal. Considering all these variables, Mahendramangalam was chosen to be suitable place for Swamigal’s vidhyabhyasam (schooling). The Mutt’s administrative office, puja were located in the agraharam at the local rich man – Singam Iyengar’s house. Near the Cauveri shore, a small parnasalai was established. Swamigal left for this village from Kumbakonam in the year 1911 and stopped at Lalgudi on the way. He established a Sankaralayam and Gurukulam at Lalgudi. It is to be noted that many notable scholars hailed from this Gurukulam.

Educational Techniques

The method of schooling given to the Swamigal was very unique. Ordinary folks treat their teachers with respect and devotion and learn from them. However, the scholars who taught Swamigal would pay their respects and devotion to him before and after their lessons. In spite of this, Swamigal paid full attention and learnt from the scholars with utmost respect and concentration in order to grasp all knowledge. Some of the subjects learnt by our Swamigal included arts, Vyakaranam, Tharka Sastra (Science of Logic), Vedantha, Meemamsa etc., The teachers, who were learned scholars, found it very easy to teach our Swamigal due to his sparkling brilliance. This village became the favorite pilgrimage spot of our country’s most famous scholars and leaders in the years 1911 through 1913.

Among our Swamigal’s teachers, some of the renowned ones were Painganadu Panjapakesa Sastrigal, Mahamahopadhyay Shastra Ratnakara D. Venkatasubba Shastrigal, Shastra Ratnakara Vishnupuram Swamy Shastrigal and Thiruvisainallur V. Venkatarama Shastrigal. There were others who stayed in the mutt as aasthana vidwans and dedicated their time educating Swamigal. Some of them are Mahamahopadhyay Painganadu Ganapathy Shastrigal, Mahamahopadhyay Karungulam Krishna Shastrigal and Kodi Kannikadhanam Ubhaya Vedantha Rajagopala Thathachariar. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to know that Swamigal, on top of learning all these arts, also learnt the French language. Late Keerthanacharya C.R. Srinivasa Iyengar used to visit and stay with Acharya often.

As Swamigal showed interest in learning Marathi and in Marathi works, the mutt officials engaged a Marathi Pundit to stay at the Mutt for three years. Swamigal had engaged him in researching a lot of Marathi literary works. Swamigal’s interest in Tamil was unique by itself. During what little free time he had, he got Tamil scholars to train him in Tamil grammar and literature. He continued to research into Thevaram, Thiruvachakam, Periya Puranam, Thiruvilayadal Puranam and Thirukkural. He did not allocate any time to learn fine arts. During his interaction with artists excelling in fine arts, during his free time, he absorbed the intricacies of all fine arts. Amongst the different component of arts, it was music (sangeetham) that was most liked by Swamigal. Swamigal used to take walks in the sand dunes in the middle of Cauveri and enjoy the natural beauty and sometimes get absorbed in meditating in solitude in the beautiful surroundings.

Swamigal like to take photographs of picturesque sceneries. In those days, there used to be a person who would follow swamigal with a camera. Swamigal would order him randomly to take pictures of certain scenes. As he was familiar with the intricacies of photography he would give suggestions and tips to photographers while taking pictures. Moreover, he would advise them on techniques to employ while developing the films, negatives etc. Swamigal also became well versed in Mathematics, Astrology and Astronomy. In order to obtain training in these subjects, Swamigal had requested Marur Ramaswami Shastrigal (who was the student of Thiruvaiyaru Surendra Shrowdhrigal) to stay in the mutt for a number of years and had supported his family also. Swamigal loved to hear Thevaram being sung. Especially when people who had set it to good music visited the mutt, he would sit with them for hours together and make them sing different Thevarams and also sing with them. Swamigal was also attracted to learn Vaishnavite Scriptures including Thiruvaimozhi.

Deivathin Kural – Teachings of Mahaperiyava

The Sins and the Punya

Nobody in this world desires to be a sinner. But we commit more of sinful acts only. All of us desire to have the fruits of virtuous deeds. But we do not engage ourselves in virtuous deeds. Arjuna asked the Lord ‘No one wants to commit a sin. But, Krishna, something prods him towards sin. What is that? Bhagavan tells him “That exactly is desire, my dear, desire’. We try to acquire it somehow or the other, we ignore considerations of Dharma and Adharma. If that desire is fulfilled do we get satisfied? No. When we pour ghee on fire, does the fire get extinguished? It grows into a bigger fire. In the same way when a desire is fulfilled another bigger desire comes up in the mind.

If that be so, can it be said that it is better if the desire is not fulfilled? That is not so either. If the desire is not fulfilled we get impatient. Just as a rubber ball that is thrown against a wall rebounds, the unfulfilled desire rebounds on us as anger and prods us into further sins. Next to desire it is anger that has been mentioned by the Lord in the Gita. This is also the result of desire. So the only way to avoid sinful acts is to destroy desire. How to do this? We cannot remain without indulging in activities. Even when the body is not engaged in work the mind is working. It is the nature of the mind to keep thinking about something or the other. All our activities of the body and mind are centered around our selfish desires. Due to this only they drive us more and more into sins. If that be so and if we consider whether we can remain inactive and keep quiet, human nature does not allow that. Thayumanavar Swamigal said, ‘Rare is the ability to still the mind and be in a state of inaction’. Even if the bodily activities are stopped a bit, the mental activity does not stop. In addition to being active itself, the mind prods the body also into action. It is not possible to stop the desires by any direct means. Activities too cannot be stopped. If so, is there no solution to this problem? Solution is there. In the state in which we are, it is not necessary to stop all activities. But the situation that we are acting for selfish ends should be changed and we should engage ourselves in activities that do not benefit us but are of benefit to the larger society and the world and for our spiritual elevation. If we develop a taste for such activities and engage in them more and more desires will keep decreasing, sins will decrease and virtue will grow. That is to say we should practice to engage ourselves in activities without desires. The activity that is performed without desire is a virtuous deed.

We commit sins in four different ways. Bad deeds indulged in by the body, speaking untruth, bad thoughts of the mind, not to speak of the sins committed with money. We should get into the habit of virtuous deeds with the same four agents with which we commit sins. We should gain merit by rendering bodily help to others, circumambulating the Lord and worshipping him. By chanting the Lord’s names, we should gain merit. You may say “The entire time is taken for earning money. There is no time for this’. Earning money is necessary for the householder but if we think of it, we will see that not all the time is spent for earning money. How much time is wasted on useless talk, ridiculing others, idle gazing, newspaper comments! All that can be spent in meditating on the Lord’s name. Even if a separate time cannot be set apart for this, it does not matter. While journeying to the office by bus or rail, we can mentally chant the Lord’s name. Not a paisa of what is earned by a lot of running about will go with the body. In the other world it is only the Lord’s name that is legal tender.

Mind is the Lord’s resting place. We have made it a dustbin. After cleaning it and installing the Lord in it we should sit in peace. Daily we should meditate like this at least for five minutes. This is a routine that should go on without interruption even if there is deluge, because this is the only thing that will come to our rescue when the world is deluged. Money must be used in the service of the poor and the Lord and merit gained. Sin has two powers. One is that it drives us into wrongs here and now. The result is that it prods us to commit the same wrong again tomorrow. For example the use of snuff has a bad effect at the time it is used and it also prods us to use it again. This is the effect of habit. This should be dimmed and by virtuous deeds we should add Punya.

It is Vasana (impressions of our mind) that draws us into sin again and again. But, it need not be feared. Those who were like us and even greater sinners than ourselves have become great devotees and Jnanis. What is great about the Lord if the sinner is not redeemed? It is because we are sinners that He has got the title ‘Pathitha Pavana’. We only give Him that greatness!. “Surrender unto me, I will release you from all sins” (Sarva Papebyo Mokshayishyami Ma Sucha) says Lord Krishna as a firm commitment to protect. Therefore, let us be courageous. If something is wound over something else, only by unwinding it fully it will become free. For the expiration of all the sin as much virtuous deeds need to be performed. In between, there should be no impatience and hurry. If we show hurry, the thing will get tied up in difficult knots. If, with faith in God, we patiently act by the ways of Dharma, He will definitely extend his helping hand.

All these religions have come up only for turning the mind, body and the tongue away from enjoyment with senses and get into the habit of turning of all these to Bhagavan. Every great person who came into this world and gave a religion did so only to redeem the jivas from the sins committed by them for sensual pleasures. The pleasure got through the sense organs as a result of sins, is only very temporary. The object of every religion is to release it from worldly bonds, saying, “Look, to be with the Paramathma is Permanent bliss’.

Mahaperiyava Miracles

Ellu Punnakkum Thaiyal Ilayum

As per the Hindu Dharma Shastras taking a voyage by sea or visiting the lands beyond India were prohibited. The reason being that the travelers could not maintain their daily ritual worship while traveling and would be polluted by the influence of foreign religion and culture upon arrival at their destination. There was a staunch devotee of Kanchi Mahaperiyava who had high respect on our dharma shastras. He got an offer in overseas and considering his family conditions and for his future career he accepted the offer. Even though the environment and job were satisfactory he used to always ponder whether he had done any mistake by working in a foreign nation. Hence he used to pray Mahaperiyava always to ward off his worries.

Once he planned a vacation to India and he felt very happy not for meeting his family but more for visiting Kanchipuram and to have darshan of Kanchi Mahaperiyava. He finally landed in Chennai and immediately took a taxi and proceeded straight to Kanchipuram.

That day in Kanchipuram Mahaperiyava was discussing with the Mutt officials about what are the items which are getting cooked and was even instructing them about how should be the food etc., which everyone was wondering why Periyava is taking such great care today as Periyava normally does not get involve in these trivial matters.

The devotee who was travelling from Airport to Kanchipuram reached the Mutt and offered his obeisance to Paramacharya. Mahaperiyava then blessed the devotee and asked his Mutt officials to told them, “Ok please take the devotee inside and offer him the prasadam immediately.” The devotees who assembled there were wondering why periayava instructed them to offer the food immediately upon his arrival. The devotee then had sumptuous prasadam from the Mutt and again came to have darshan of Periyava. Periyava then kindly asked him, “Has your Vratha (vow) is now completed?”. The devotee had no words to reply only he could able to mutter “Periyava…Periyava” and tears were rolling down his cheeks.

Periyava then told everyone assembled there that “Naane Sollideren” i.e. I myself will tell the details and then told everyone that “He is coming from a foreign country and had not taken any food since he started travelling. He is having a vow that he will not have anything till he see me and reached here”. He then asked the devotee whether whatever he told was correct?. Everyone was astonished to hear the vow taken by the devotee and what to say of the devotee who was personally taken care by Mahaperiyava himself. While the devotee was having in food , Mahaperiyava had asked the crowd gathered there “What can ask from the devotee who had come from a foreign nation”. It is of customary practice that not to receive anything directly from a person who had gone abroad. Keeping that in mind Periyava had asked this question to everyone who assembled there. Everyone kept mum. When the devotee returned back Mahaperiyava again told them that nobody had suggested anything as to what he should get from the devotee.

Later, Periyava himself broke the silence and told one of the Mutt official to take this devotee out to the market so that he can buy for him “Ellu Punnakku and Thaiyal Elai”. [Ellu Punnakku is Sesame Oil Cake used for feeding live stocks. Thaiyal Elai is made of Stitching Parasu Leaves (Butea Monosperma)].

The devotee was very happy that Periyava himself is requesting something from him. However the Mutt officials were rather confused and were reluctant to ask why periyava was asking Ellu Punnakku and Thaiyal Elai. Periyava after reading their minds started speaking, “The devotee is showering his devotion on me and wants to give some thing to me. However I cannot accept from him since the dharma shastra doesn’t permit me to accept anything from a person who had gone abroad. However I cannot also upset the devotees intention of giving something to me. He stopped for a while and then continued, the Ellu Punnaakku which he is going to buy offer it to the Cows and give me the milk. Since the dosha on the Punnakku is removed after it got consumed by the Cow and giving the same in the form of Milk. The doshas i.e. bad effects are removed if we receive it through the Cow. Similarly The Thaiyal Elai I will use the same in the backyard (toilet) so that I can remember my bhakta immediately after waking up.

The above incident clearly depicts how much affection Periyava had towards his devotees and the importance given by Mahaperiyava in not deviating from the Dharma Shastra.


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
Mahaperiyava Manimozhigal – By Sri Swami – Alliance Publications – Ellum Punnakkum – [Charukesi]

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