Monday, October 17, 2011


Dear Readers,

I am delighted to present the article Guru Samarpanam [Issue # 10].

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.

In the Biography section we are going to see an incident at Mahendramangalam when Periyava was studying Vedas taught by Painganadu Sri Ganapathi Shastrigal. We can also read an interesting episode as told by Pujyasri Sri Sankara Vijayendra Sarasvati Swamigal (Bala Periyava) which reveal the greatness of Paramacharya in explaining intricate Vedantic philosophy in an easily understanding manner to everyone including the learned pundits.

In the section Teachings of Mahaperiyava talks upon “Man and Beast”. Here the Acharya talks about the significance of human birth and how one through knowledge should elevate oneself towards attaining the supreme knowledge which enables a person to attain liberation.

In the Miracles of Mahaperiyava we are going to read “Kaveri Snanam” which unravel the experience of devotee who hails from Maruthuvakudi.

I hope you will cherish reading this!

Please give your valuable feedback.

Happy reading! Warm Regards,

A.V. Devan
15.10.2011 /Chennai

GURU SAMARPANAM – [Issue # 10]

Excerpts from the Biography

Educational Techniques (Continuation..)

Swamigal stayed in Mahendramangalam from 1911 to 1914 and then returned to Kumbakonam. There is a Sankaralayam established in Mahendramangalam at the place where Swamigal had his Vidyabhyasam. Swamigal was twenty years old when he left Mahendramangalam after completing his studies. Within this short period, he turned out to be extraordinarily brilliant in all lines of studies, starting with puranas and the history of each sthalam. Once Swamigal grasped something, he never forgot it. He absorbed all knowledge from scholars and subject matter experts who visited him and also applied that knowledge to investigate and analyze the basis of such subject matter. There are very few who can be compared to our Swamigal in the way he interacted with people, analyzing the capabilities of the folks that he met.

When Swamigal was camped at Kumbakonam, he used to visit Gangai Konda Chozapuram, situated 30 miles away, atleast once every year. He visited the Shiva temple that was built in the same design as Tanjore Periya Temple and research the artifacts found there. P.V. Jagadeesa Iyer from the archeological department and Engineer Ananthazhvar helped Swamigal with this research. Finally, it can be said that our Swamigal after his education, by the young age of 20, obtained all the knowledge required for this position as Peetathipathi.

An episode during study (excerpt from “A succinct Biography” – by Sri A. Kuppuswamy)

One of those who taught the Acharya during this period was Sri Ganapathi Shastrigal of Painganadu near Mannargudi. He was a versatile scholar. Before he was forty years of age, he had written about a hundred works, in Sanskrit – short and long. He was awarded the title of ‘Mahamahopadhyaya’, by the Government of India posthumously just ten days after his demise. Ganapathi Shastrigal was residing in a house opposite to the Sankara Mutt, Kumbakonam. He would go to the Math early in the forenoon and teach the teen-aged Acharya for about an hour.

In the evenings, lessons in Sastras, Sanskrit, prosody etc. were imparted to the Acharya. In the spring season, the teacher and the student would sit for an hour or more on the sands of the dry bed of the Cauvery, near the mutt and there the lessons used to be carried out.

One evening the tutor was teaching. The Acharya was frequently thrusting the fingers of his left hand in the sand. Ganapathi Shastrigal observed this. The next morning he went to the mutt as usual. After prostrating to the Acharya, he said “Please permit me to leave Kumbakonam and go to my village”. The young Acharya was much surprised and he asked the teacher, “What is the reason for this sudden request of yours?” Shastrigal’s reply was a bit stern. He replied, “A student, desiring to acquire knowledge, should be quite attentive when lessons are going on. Concentration of the mind is essential. My guru used to tell his pupils that one sitting on sand but not touching it and one having a knife on his hand, but not doing anything with it and one having his mind fixed in something worthy, as examples for a “Sthita-Prajna” (one with a steadfast mind). Yesterday evening your Holiness was a bit inattentive to what was being taught yesterday evening.”

The Acharya quickly interposed and said, “I was attending although I was thrusting my hand into the sand off and on. I shall now repeat all of what was taught yesterday evening”. Ganapathi Shastrigal who was struck with wonder at the amazing memory and precociousness of the young Acharya, said, “I feel that I am not necessary hereafter. Your Holiness can learn everything without the aid of a tutor and I can go”. The Acharya was loath to part with such an erudite teacher and Ganapathi Shastrigal continued as teacher for about 10 more months.

Sri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Swamigal – A Hundred Years of Light – III Volume

“During the few years when our Paramaguru imparted lessons to me in the Bhagavatpada’s Sutrabhashya, on my repeated request, the Mahaswami revealed a few interesting episodes pertaining to his youthful years. One of the episode is as follows” :

When the Acharya was in his late teens, during the Chaturmasys period, gathering of scholars were held in the Mutt off and on. Erudite scholars, well versed in two or three sastras participated in these gatherings. Devotees with a quantum of sastraic knowledge belonging to neighboring places would also attend the Vidvat Sadas to hear the Vakyartha-vichara (discussion cum short discourse) of the pundits. The great Acharya would grace the sadas with his presence and attend the discussion. On one such occasion, after the discussion had been over, some of the lay devotees placed a request before the scholars, praying for a clarification of a particular point touched upon by some of the scholars during the discussion.

Mahamahopadhyaya Harihara Shastrigal (who lived in the first half of the current century), who had been a teacher for many a pupil and who had been instrumental in printing and publishing many rare Sanskrit works which had until then remained as manuscripts, came forward to explain. The great Acharya, the assembled scholars and devotees listened with rapt attention to the hour-long elucidation of the famous pundit. But even after this, some of the devotees entreated for a more easily comprehensible explanation. None of the scholars dared to do so. Silence prevailed for some minutes. The Great Acharya, himself, told the assembly that he would clarify the issue. His Holiness spoke in simple Sanskrit and explained the touchy point in a lucid manner. All the scholars including Harihara Shastrigal were struck with wonder and they paid glowing tributes to the Mahaswamigal.

Deivathin Kural – Teachings of Mahaperiyava

Man and Beast

Animals grow transversely. That is why they are called "tiryak" in Sanskrit. Man who grows upright ought to have, unlike beasts, a high ideal before him. He will then obtain more happiness than all other creatures. But what do we see in reality? Man experiences greater sorrow than all other creatures. Animals do not know so much desire, so much sorrow and so much humiliation, as do humans. More important, they are innocent of sin. It is we humans who keep sinning and suffering as a consequence. In one sense it seems to me that Isvara has not endowed us with the same advantages that he has endowed animals with. We are not fitted with weapons of defense.

If a cow feels threatened it has horns to defend itself. The tiger has its claws. We have neither horns nor claws. Sheep have hair to protect them from the cold of winter, so too other animals. But man is not similarly equipped. So he cannot repulse an attack; nor can he run fast like the horse, which has no horns but is fleet-footed. Against all these handicaps, man has the advantage of being more intelligent than all other creatures. In order to protect himself from the cold of winter, man removes the hair (fur) of animals and weaves it into rugs. When he wants to travel fast he yokes a horse to his cart.

God has furnished man with this kind of skill; though he has neither claws nor horns to defend himself, a human being can forge weapons on his own. With the strength of his intelligence he remains the master of all other creatures and also rules over the entire world of inert matter.

All species of animals have their own habitats. Some types of bear that are native to the cold climes do not thrive in our country. The elephant is a denizen of the forests of India and some other countries of South-East Asia and Africa, but it does not flourish in a cold climate. But man inhabits the entire earth. He uses his brains to make any part of this planet fit for him to live. But, even with his superior intelligence, man suffers. All hardships stem from the fact of birth. How can one save oneself from being born again? But, then, what is the cause of our birth?

The wrongs committed by us are the cause of our birth and we have taken this body of flesh and blood to suffer punishment for the same. Suppose a certain number of whiplashes are to be administered according to the law. If the body perishes after ten lashes, we take another birth to suffer the remaining strokes. The sins we commit in satisfying our desires are the cause of our being born again and again. If there is no "doing", there will be no birth also. Anger is responsible for much of the evil we do and desire is at the root of it. It is of the utmost importance that we banish desire from our hearts. But it is not possible to remain without any action after having cultivated so many attachments. If the attachments were done away with we would cease to sin.

What is the cause of desire? Desire arises from the belief that there is something other than ourselves and our being attached to it. In truth it is the one Sivam that manifests itself as everything. The cow sees its reflection in the mirror and charges it imagining it to be another cow. If a man sees his own image thus, does he think that there is another person in the mirror? He is not perturbed by his image because he knows that it is himself. Similarly, all that we see is one and the same thing. Desire springs from our belief in the existence of a second entity, and it causes anger, which, in turn, plunges us in sin. A new birth becomes inevitable now. If we are enlightened enough to perceive that all objects are one, there will be no ground for desire. There must be an object other than ourselves, a second entity, to be desired. No desire means no anger and no sin. In this state there will be neither any "doing" nor any birth. And, finally, there will be no sorrow.

How do we obtain such enlightenment or jnana? Our body is sustained by our mother's milk. It is Ambal who nourishes us with the milk of jnana. She is indeed the personification of jnana. We will be rewarded with the light of wisdom if we firmly hold her lotus feet and dissolve ourselves in her. One who does so becomes God. The first step in this process of enlightenment is to make a man truly a man, by ensuring that he does not live on an animal level. The second step is to raise him to the heights of divinity. All religions have this goal. They may represent different systems of thought and philosophy. But their concern ought to be that man is not condemned as he is today to a life of desire and anger. All religions speak in one voice that man must be rendered good and that he must be invested with the qualities of love, humility, serenity and the spirit of sacrifice.

Mahaperiyava Miracles

Kaveri Snanam (As narrated by a devotee who hails from Maruthuvakudi)

Several years ago Sri Kanchi Maha Swamigal along with his parivaram (entourage) did vijayam (visit) of the Thanjai (Thanjavur) district areas. It was the month of Ani (jyaishtha). People from the villages of the surrounding taluks kept coming to have darshan of Maha Periyavaal who was camping in a large dharma chatram (free choultry) at Aduturai.

The pramukhas (notables) of the villages Natarajapuram, Govindapuram, Thyagarajapuram, Sattanur, and Tirumangalakkudi surrounding Aduturai, had arranged on behalf of their places, for a Samashti Bhiksha Vandanam (collective feeding of a sage and his retinue). At a distance of only one k.m. from Aduturai is my native place Marutthuvakkudi village located. My father BrahmaSri Santhana Vadhyar was then the Mudradhikari of Sri Kanchi Matham of that area. On behalf of our village too he wanted a Samashti Bhiksha Vandanam to be held. The local pramukhas had agreed for this. On the morning next day, my father started for the choultry where Swamigal was camping. He took me also with him.

On seeing him, the Matha Karyasta (secretary) said, "Shastrigal aren't you the Mudradhikari of Marutthuvakkudi? Shouldn't you have the Bhiksha in your place one day? You have it on the coming Sunday possibly?". My father said forthwith, "I too came over here to have it fixed. We shall have it on the Sunday." He asked the Karyasta, "Approximately what will it our expenses?"

The Karyasta said with a smile, "Shall tell you. Should remit two hundred and fifty rupees as the kanikkai (offering) to the Matham. Then your expenses of buying coconuts, fruits, vegetables and so on. After everything is over, when receiving prasadam from Acharyal, pada samarpanai (offering at feet) as convenient to your village. All told it might take rupees five or six hundred for your expenses." And he asked, "Won't there be enough collection at your place?"
With no hesitation my father said, "Besha Ayidum (will be accomplished well)". He continued with eagerness, "That's alright, but how much do the people of other places offer as Pada samarpanai?" "From five hundred to a thousand they do it", said the Karyasta. My father lapsed into deep consideration.

When we had darshan of Acharyal within a short while, we prostrated to him and got up. My father informed Swamigal about the Bhiksha Vandanam. "Besha Nadakkattume (may it take place well)", Swamigal gave anugraha. "Are there tanikal (rich men) in our place who can do it Ekadesham (alone)?" he asked.Lowering his tone, my father said, "Three or four persons are there. Among them two or three had now gone to Madras. The uddeshah (thinking) is that we all get together in the village and do Bhiksha Vandanam for Periyavaal." He prayed, "Acharyal should give anugraha." Smiling, Swamigal raised both his hands and blessed him.

There were only four days for the coming Sunday. My father started the collection. In the three Agraharams together, there will be about 30 houses. The collection was over by Thursday evening. 400 rupees had been collected. My father and the other Vaidikas in the village submitted another hundred rupees. Thus the total collection amounted to rupees 500! It was just enough for the Bhiksha Vandanam.

Only for Periyavaals pada samarpanai, money was required. It was my father's wish that at least five hundred rupees must be offered. He did not sleep well that night.Friday! We went to have darshan of Acharyal. Sitting in a thatched shed in the choultry, Swamigal was giving darshan. The crowd surged like a wave. At a distance, in a corner, joining our palms, we prostrated towards the direction Swamigal was seated. I looked at my father. His face was soaked in worry. His worry was whatever can be done for the pada samarpanai.

Suddenly a voice full of compassion: "Santhanam! Come near. Why are you standing there?" Laughing and gesturing, Acharyal beckoned him near. We both went near him, prostrated in shastaangam and got up. "What Santhanam, yesterday you were not seen here at all! any joli (work) in your place?" Swamigal inquired.

"Nothing of that sort Periyavaa. Aren't we doing Biksha Vandanam on behalf of our place this Sunday. On that account I was making some arrangements, that's all." Before my father could finish, Swamigal interrupted and asked, "That's alright Santhanam, the laukikams (collection) were completed as expected?" with a laugh. My father hesitated to reply to this.

Before he could open his mouth to say something, as if Swamigal had understood something, "Worry about nothing! By the krupa (compassion) of ChandraMauleesvara, things will happen as you have thought about them", Swamigal fondled him with words.

Suddenly, "Why Santhanam in the Kaveri river in this place, are there plenty of waters flowing

now, you know about it?" he asked. Everyone was confused as to why Periyavaa should inquire about the Kaveri waters.

"It is flowing in plenty Periyavaa", said my father. Periyavaa did not leave him at that. "Alright, when did you last go for your Kaveri snanam (bath)?"

"A week ago Periyavaa!", my father replied.

"Let it be. Is there much water flowing now, you know about it?" This is Periyavaa.

A local Anbar (devotee) present there said with humility, "I had gone for the Kaveri snanam this morning. A fair amount of water is flowing Periyavaa."

Swamigal was not at samadhana (reconciled) at that. "Flowing fairly means... not understandable! Does it flow so one can immerse and do snanam, I should know about it", he said.

Looking at my father, he continued, "Santhanam, you do one karyam. Go for Kaveri snanam at dawn tomorrow morning. Have a look and tell me if enough tirtham (water) flows for bathing with good immersion." Saying this, he suddenly got up and went inside!We returned to our place thinking that Periyavaal was asking all these details for his own immersed bath in Kaveri.

Saturday! It dawned. There was a slight drizzle. In accordance with Periyavaal's orders, we went for the Kaveri snanam. It was then seven o' clock in the morning. Apart from me and my father on the banks, there was nobody not a single fly or crow. Taking bath my father said, "Waters are flowing enough for taking a good, immersed bath! Should go and tell Periyavaa."

Then he started saying the Kaveri snana sankalpam in a loud tone. Suddenly, from the banks was heard a clear and loud voice: "Sastrigal! please stay awhile. I too shall join you. For me too kindly do the snana sankalpam. There will be punyam for you!" We both turned and looked. A man who could be estimated to be of 55 years of age was descending into the waters. A face that was not familiar at all! Finishing the sankalpa snanam we climbed up to the banks. Changing his clothes, that man gave my father five rupees towards snana sankalpa dakshina (ritual gift). My father inquired about him.

He started saying: "For me too our purvikam (ancestry) is only Marutthuvakkudi. My maternal grandfather too is from the same place. For my paternal grandfather Venkatachalam Aiyar, there was an own house in Marutthuvakkudi. After my grandfather, none of us remained here. We went to Bombay. Melur Chandramauleesvara Swami near Tiruneelakkudi is our kula deivam. 'Whenever you went by the side of our place, have a snanam in Aduturai Kaveri', my mother often used to say. I got that bhagyam only today. I am going to Thanjavur in connection with a family legal case. Now having got Kaveri snanam with sankalpam, much trupti (satisfaction)!"Then he asked, "Sastrigal I witnessed as I climbed down from the train. Many people in madisar and pancha kaccham are moving in throngs. What is the vishesham here?"My father elaborated to him about Acharyal's vijayam and the grama bhiksha vandanam. He was very happy to hear about it. "Even to listen to it is happiness. There is this nirbandham (constraint) for me not to participate in the Bhiksha Vandanam for the loka guru done on behalf of our place. Still, as an offer from our family, please include this amount too in the Bhiksha Vandanam." Saying this, he prostrated to my father, and handed over an envelope to him. My father could understand nothing. He opened the envelope and looked. 500 rupees inside it!"I shall take leave Sastrigal", my father stopped the man who was just leaving. "Your namadeyam (name)?", he asked the man. The answer he gave: "Chandramauli". We both stood amazed. Then we went straight to the choultry. Periyavaa was not there. They said he had gone to Govindapuram Sri Bodhendraal Matham. As my father went to the Matham Karyasta and said, "Periyavaa asked me to check if enough water is flowing in Kaveri for an immersed bath." Before he could finish, the secretary said, "Periyavaa returned at four dawn time this morning finishing his Kaveri snanam", giving it a grand finale. Our amazement grew!

Sunday. The Bhiksha Vandanam was over. All of us in the village prostrated to Periyavaal. My father submitted that 500 rupees as pada samarpanai in a plate full of fruits. Looking keenly at that fruit place for a while, Swamigal said laughing, "What Santhanam! Isn't your wish fulfilled by the krpa of Chandramauleeswara?"

All of us stood amazed and fell shastaangam before Periyavaal.


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]
Anubhavam Ayiram – Ramani Anna – Sakthi Vikatan (Aug 30, 2008) []

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I live in Guwahati (Kamarupa Khsetram)and am practicing Sahaja Yoga. In our aarti song we sing 'Sant janoki dharthi hai Bharat Mata', that is this Bharata Bhoomi is the land of all sadhus and saints. It is always pleasant to read the happenings in the life of Mahaperiyava. Thanks to you all.