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Divine experiences

Chennai: 26/03/2012: The Hindu: Friday Page: Book Review Column:
Title: In the Presence of the Divine, narratives of Experience with Maha Periyaval Volume I.
Author: Translated by Vijayaraghavan.

Chennai: 26/03/2012: The Hindu: Friday Page: Book Review Column: Title: In the Presence of the Divine, narratives of Experience with Maha Periyaval Volume I. Author: Translated by Vijayaraghavan.

An astrologer, who visited Maha Periyava at the Sri Matha said this to a group that surrounded him: “I can't make predictions here. Periyava's vibration permeates this place and beyond.” That in a nutshell gives the power of the divine soul that Paramacharya was. This and many more incidents are narrated in Volume 1 of “In the Presence of the Divine.” The book opens with the first person accounts by Sri Jayendra Saraswati and Sri Vijayendra Saraswati of their initiation into asceticism.

Dr. Sujatha Vijayaraghavan, Professor of English, Pondicherry University (0413-2654346), has translated the Tamil book, “Darisana Anubhavangal,” a compilation by the Sri Matha of devotees' experiences, written by Sri Kothandarama Sastri. The people are from different walks of life, from various parts of the country. Each account is a revelation, throwing light on yet another dimension of the Sage of Kanchi. From the common man to the Minister, they unanimously agree that his grace was assured, be it a glance or a long meeting.

Compassion personified

Subtle were his ways and fortunate were those who came under his protective umbrella. There are those, whose lives have changed by just praying to him. They marvel at his compassion, omniscience that enabled him to understand agony even without the sufferer having to express it. He cured illnesses, both physical and mental, without the fanfare of a miracle. He resolved disputes quietly without hurting anyone. His concern for Veda samrakshana and the soft corner he had for Vedic scholars surface again and again.

From silpa sastra, agama and Vedas to administration and music Paramacharya knew everything, including the nuances. He sounds a stone the sthapati has carefully chosen for sculpting and points out that there is a toad in it. It is broken and the creature leaps out. The sthapati is dumbfounded. Visiting Tirupati with his the math staff and close aides he learns that rule permits only four persons to accompany him into the temple. “An officer says he can take with him as many as he wants. “It is not correct. I should not embarrass you. Rules are there to be observed, not broken,” Paramacharya tells him.

Former Minister Rajaram narrates how on assuming office as Agriculture Minister when the State was in the grip of a severe drought he went to the Acharya for his blessings. The Minister wants to know whether a yaga could be performed to bring rain to the parched lands. The sage gives his assent and the Minister is moved to tears when a torrential downpour begins as he gets into his car. The State has a bountiful harvest much to the relief of the Government.

One after another anecdotes unfold with Paramacharya as the common thread. He comes across as the responsible Pitathipati, secular religious head, guru with an extraordinary vision and more than anything else a soul that personified kindness. A Periyava devotee does not tire of reading about him, even if incidents are familiar. His words are sacred and gestures scriptures. This volume will be cherished by all those who worship him.

Proceeds of the sale of this book are offered to the Kanchi Sri Maha Swami temple at Tirupanipettai near Tiruvidaimarudur, housing icons representing all the Acharyas of the Kanchi Kamakoti Pitam as Sivalingas and statues of Adi Sankara and Paramacharya. The benefits will go towards the afternoon bhiksha puja of the Acharyas. Sole stockist of the book is Giri Trading Agency (all branches).


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