Experiences with Maha Periyava: The 64th Nayanar
There was a bank director in France who was keen on having a darshan of Maha Periyava having heard a lot about him. Dr. Raghavan used to receive frequent phone calls from the bank director. He would ask if he could come and have a darshan of Periyava. Dr. Raghavan who was a Sanskrit professor in the Madras University would inform Periyava about the request. Even though he said, “He is very keen to have darshan of Periyava; he bothers me frequently”, Periyava did not give his consent to meet him. Some years passed in this way.
Suddenly one day Dr. Raghavan received intimation that said, “I have arrived at Bombay. I shall come over to Madras and meet you. Please arrange for the darshan.”
At that time our Acharyas were staying in the Mylapore Sanskrit College. One evening Dr. Raghavan was waiting to have darshan of Maha Periyava. Periyava called him and inquired. When told about the Frechman’s proposed visit to Chennai, Periyava said, “Alright, bring him.”
Before he sat for the upanyasam after the puja, Periyava called me and said, “If any European turns up, seat him on a chair, as he would not be able to sit on the floor. I shall see him after the upanyasam.”
When the upanyasam was over and Periyava was about to get inside he asked, “Did anyone turn up?” “No one turned up”, I replied. At that time a man wearing a dhoti and towel came to the front and prostrated to Periyava four times. (The sampradaya is to always prostrate to sannyasis four times.) Behind the man came Dr. Raghavan and SankaraNarayana Aiyer (professor of Philosophy at Mylapore Vivekananda College). Since that European came in dhoti and towel, I was misled. Periyava told me, “Ask him how did he knew about prostrating four times.” The European said, “I did as everyone did here.”
Periyava told me, “Bring only the Frenchman.” I said, “I wouldn’t understand the English he speaks. It would be better if Dr. Raghavan or SankaraNarayana Aiyer is present.”
“The English you know would suffice. You bring him,” quipped Periyava. Dr. Raghavan and SankaraNarayana Aiyer stood outside the thatti (a coconut leaf weaved sheet of cover).
The Frenchman who came inside and sat spoke: “I have been studying Vedanta for sometime now. Suddenly one day I felt that my entire body had gone numb, that I was residing outside the body, and my figure was extended from the earth to the sky. I also saw the Universe hanging from my body. It was very blissful at that time. There was no trace of sorrow. After this incident, nothing bothers my mind in my daily life. My wife is deceased. My son too is dead. These occasions did not create any ripple in my mind. I was always blissful.
“People in the bank think I am insane, looking at this mental state of mine. So I have an inherent fear that one day they might put me behind the bars of a hospital”.
Periyava uttered cryptically with love beaming in his face and a strange kind of admiration at the Frenchman, “What is inside? And what is outside? Is not everything inside the four walls?”
This question created a big change in him. His eyes were seen brimming with tears as if he was one with the Universe represented by the Pontiff.
There was silence, not a leaf whispered…
Then he composed himself and then requested Periyava, “You should always be with me.” Finally, he asked Periyava to give him some upadesham.
Periyava said, “Continue what you are doing now (meditation). I shall be with you till your attainment.” He tore a piece of the vastram he was wearing then and gave it to the Frenchman with the words, “Keep this always with you as my prasadam.” Such a great anugraha for him on that day. He took leave with immense happiness, having received the grace.
Coming outside, the Frenchman prostrated to Dr. Raghavan and said, “It was only because of you I got this much bhagyam.”
Periyava went to bed after they were gone. After he retired, I asked him about a doubt in my mind.
Without replying anything to me, Periyava lapsed into sleep. He called me the next morning before he started his one hour japam. He asked me, “Do you know how many Nayanmars are there?”
I replied, “The Arupatthu Moover Utsavam is held (every year)! So, only sixty three.”
“Go to the Kapaleeswarar temple, count and come back,” he said. When I did it, I counted sixty seven. I told this to Maha Periyava.
“Who are those four people in excess?” he asked me.
I went back to the temple, inqured and came back. “One of them is the ‘Appalum Adi Sarndharukku Adiyar!'” I said.
Periyava graced me with the knowledge, “Appal is those who are beyond desam and kaalam. Since the element of time is involved, it also refers to the Adiyars to be born hereafter also. This man is beyond desam. He has just four janmas left.”
Though Periyava who was such a jnani is not among us now, he is always living in his figure of grace and giving us abhayam!
Author: Paanaampattu Kannan (in Tamil)
Source: Maha Periyaval – Darisana Anubhavangal vol. 4, pages 1-5
தர்மோ ரக்ஷதி ரக்ஷித: ஸ்ரீனிவாஸ் ஸர்மா 9789094777