Prema Nandakumar

SAGE OF LOVE AND GRACE: Bharanidharan; Homoepathic Medical Publishers, 201 Dinar, 20, Station Street, Santacruz (W), Mumbai-400054. Rs. 150.Three flames illumined the spaces of the world from India in the 20th Century. Two of them, Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo, withdrew to the Home of Light in 1950; Mahaswami of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam continued to remain in the physical for nearly another five decades and helped keep sanity in a world buffeted by a million uncertainties. The author, Bharanidharan has been a steadfast recorder of the Mahaswami's gestures and words in Tamil and now we have a select few of his essays rendered into English by V. Krishnamachari. The volume comes with an expressive portrait by Maniam Selvam and a set of photographs that are an eloquent record by themselves of the sage who was an image of 'maitri' and 'karuna'.

Ideal preceptor

Anointed the 68th pontiff of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam on 13th February 1907, Swami Chandrasekharendra Saraswati was the ideal Acharya who had as his twin wings, knowledge (jnana) and practice (anushtana). Unfurling them, he soared high in advaitic bliss while keeping himself very much close to the struggling humanity below. What seemed miracles to eager acolytes was but a natural way of life for him. He never held out miracle cures, but the cures came; he never assured weaklings of success but the poor of heart became rich in character. He knew of the weaknesses of the younger generation and yet would not lash out at them. He simply believed in showing the right way for he had faith in the discrimination of his devotees.Of untarnishable fame, the Mahaswami remains a divine inspiration and Bharanidharan has brought this out well. A fair amount of the 'I' is unavoidable in such chronicles though some devotees may feel that incidents like the author writing the Mahaswami's message for a leading magazine could have been avoided. These are minor shortcomings in a volume, which brings out the abundant love the Mahaswami had for humanity, his insatiable thirst for knowledge (from stratosphere to Pazhavanthangal) and his gentle humour. Sage of Love and Grace is also dear to us because it is dedicated to the fine 'sahridaya', R.V. Raghavan of Mumbai.