- Kanachi Periyava Devotee
First, a brief introduction about how I came into contact with Sri S.V. Narasimhan and then how I came to be the devotee of Paramacharya of Kanchi.
It was sometime in 1965. The place was Calcutta. I was called for an interview at Diana Rolling Shutters for the post of Stenographer. The gentleman, who interviewed me, seemed highly qualified. He spoke English eloquently in its correct accent and I could not make out which State he hailed from. I even felt a little nervous. Anyway, I did my best and returned. Since I was not confident of my performance, I was not very hopeful and went my own way.
Other than searching job, I had another activity; to collect donations for the forthcoming Saastha Preethi to be celebrated at Saastha Samooham. Myself and few friends were on a collection drive and were knocking at South Indian houses. We had an easy method of identifying a South Indian house by spotting the Kolam (Rangoli) in front of the house. One night, we identified such a house and knocked at the door.
As the house owner opened the door, I found to my surprise that he was none other than the one who interviewed me. He warmly received us and offered us seat. It was his turn to get surprised now. “I had seen you somewhere. Where was it”? He asked me. I said I was the one he interviewed. He was glad to know that apart from Stenography connection, I had this Saastha Samooham connection too. After giving a liberal donation, he said: “Come tomorrow and collect your Appointment Order”. Profusely thanking him, I left his house along with my friends. ‘So, it was not my professional skill but the sense of service in me that got me the job’, I told myself. I became an employee of Diana Rolling Shutters and served there for five years till I joined the Public Sector, Fertilizer Corporation of India Ltd. (later came to be known as Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers Ltd.)/ In retrospect, I realise that in my career spanning 50 years. This brief period of 5 years with Sri Narasimhan gave me a sense of fulfillment in life.
Narasimhan was very gentle, understanding and friendly. 'An Officer and Gentleman', you may call. Above all his qualities, it was his devotion that characterized his personality. He was proprietor of Hauer Trading Company. He was the President of South Indian Bhajan Samaj. He was an ardent follower of Maha Periyaval.He used to visit Kanchi very frequently and it would appear as if he derives his strength from Kanchi Acharya. I deem it a privilege to be associated with such a personality and I narrate here certain instances which occurred in his life and which proved that Maha Periyava was indeed a God Incarnate.
1966: It was long since I went to my native place. I approached Narasimhan with a request to grant me leave. “I will grant you leave on one condition” he said taking liberty on me. “You should break your journey at Madras, go to Kancheepuram and see Maha Periyaval”.
I was too eager to see my parents, breathe the air of Trichur. When I wanted to rush over there without losing any time, his advice to visit Kancheepuram has dampened my enthusiasm; firstly because visiting Kancheepuram would deprive me of two days of my precious leave which otherwise I would be spending with my dear and near ones and secondly because I had no precise idea about Maha Swamigal at that time and I was not clear of the ‘utility’ of such a Darshan. However, I could not think of saying 'no' to a person like Narasimhan.
I never knew that Narasimhan was planting the seeds of devotion in my heart. I was like any other youth, spending time with friends, going to cinemas and coffee houses and thinking of material advancement. As Arunagirinathar said, I did not study scriptures, I did not chant the name of Muruga and I did not seek the grace of Gurus (Padikkinrilai Pazhani Tirunamam. Kandar Alamgaram 75). Without even a mark of Vibhuti on my head, I was standing in the queue to see Maha Periyaval. I visualized the scenario. The moment I reach Swamigal, he would give me the Akshadai or something, signal his blessing and turn towards the man next to me. “It is going to be a routine affair", I thought. Nearing him, I readied myself to pay obeisance, receive the blessing and move away. However, a look at Swamiji’s divine face has brought a transformation in me. There was some attraction in those eyes. I felt as if I was standing before a divine power. It was as if some innate urge or a seed lying dormant in my heart suddenly bloomed. I felt as if I have awakened from slumber and experienced a new sense of vision.
Then the sage of Kanchi proved all my notions wrong. How wrong I was in imagining that it was going to be a casual affair of seeing and moving on. I was stunned when he, the Jagat Guru, asked me to sit before him. He asked me where I was working in Calcutta and what my activities are. When I told him that it was Narasimhan who sent me, he was pleasantly pleased. “Sariya Pochu” he said smilingly. He made me feel that I am not one among the crowd. As I talked to him, I felt as if we have known each other for quite long time. I wondered whether he would have read what was going on in my mind when I stepped into the Mutt. He made me feel as if i was sitting with my friend and chatting.
All the barriers that I created in my mind have fallen one by one. Nothing mattered, neither the parents’ love nor the Trichur air, than being in the presence of Maha Swamigal. It was a wonderful experience. Here I am, a common man sitting before a towering spiritual leader, here is a man nursing all desires in mind facing a saint who has renounced everything. Despite the divergence, he was talking to me on equal footing. Was it a message that given the conviction, I can reach up to his ideals and rise up to the level of his privileged disciple? I came out with a great sense of fulfillment and with a determination to follow the path shown by him.
It was indeed a divine experience; the experience of the grace of Guru, the experience that lasts now as fresh as it happened some fifty years before, the experience that put me to the right path of devotion. I am very grateful to Sri Narasimhan for showing me the way to the gates of Guru. Guru comes in one’s life in many forms. Sometime he comes as friend, guide and philosopher, sometime as Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal or sometime as boss.
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