Cherished visits of the Sage
Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, chose to shed his mortal coil on January 8, 1994. N. VANCHINATHAN recalls Paramacharya's visits to Chennai, which remain treasured moments for his devotees in the city.
THE TWENTIETH day of May 1894, in the Nineteenth Century and the eighth day of January 1994, in the twentieth century are venerable dates. The first mentioned is the birthday of Sri Chandra Sekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal, worshipped as the Paramacharya and on January 8 (1994) he chose to shed his mortal coil after blessing this country for a period of 100 years.
On February 13, 1907, at the age of 13 Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi took the holy orders and ascended the "Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam", as the 68th Peetathipathi. For 87 years (1907-1994) he travelled on foot throughout the length and breadth of this country blessing the vast multitudes of people, drawn from all sections of society. After darshan, every devotee had the supreme satisfaction of having been specially blessed. It was a marvellous experience.
He made searching enquiries regarding the genealogy of every devotee. Such was his concern for every devotee who came to him for "solace."
The Pattabhishekam for His Holiness was performed on May 9, 1907, (94 years ago) at the Kumbakonam math. This memorable event was attended by all the eminent people of those days, including the representatives from the Raja of Thanjavur.
His Holiness began his Vijaya Yatra on foot and after blessing the people at various places in this country for more than 20 years, he came to Koyambedu (near Chennai) in 1930. The residents of Chennai approached Him and earnestly requested him to visit the city. On September 28, 1932, after completing the Chathurmasya rituals at Bukkai, Periyaval came to the city via Thiruthani and devotees gathered in thousands all along Luz Church Road, and Mowbrays Road, with garlands and Poorna kumbham. It was 8.30 p.m. and the Paramacharya, was received by K. Balasubramaniya Iyer on behalf of the reception committee and by T.S. Ramaswamy Iyer, Mayor of the Corporation of Madras. It was an unforgettable event when the night was almost converted into day resplendent with fabulous lights.
The Paramacharya stayed at the Sanskrit College, Mylapore, when addresses of "Swagatham" were read over, in Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. He also visited the Ramakrishna Students Home. G.N. Balasubramaniam rendered a vocal concert on that day.
During his stay in Madras, for more than four months, every night after the puja, the saint gave his Anugraha Basha devotees listened to the discourses with rapt attention. The discourses were from the "Soundarya Lahari," "Sivananda Lahari" and from the slokas of Appayya Dikshitar.
In January 1933, Rao Bahadur, M.C. Raja, Head of the Harijan Society, had darshan of the Paramacharya. Before taking leave, Mr. Raja's wife, with deep devotion picked up a handful of sand from where Swami was standing. Mr. Raja regretted that this supreme idea did not occur to him at all. Before leaving Madras His Holiness gave titles to Maha Mahopadyaya Kuppusamy Sastrigal, T.R. Rama Chandra Iyer and the title of "Dharma Rakshamani" to K. Balasubramaniya Iyer who had dedicated himself to the task of making his stay in Madras, comfortable and pleasant.
Again, in 1957, after the Chathurmasya Sankalpam at Kanchipuram, the citizens of Madras requested Periyaval to visit the city along with Sri Jayendra Saraswathi who had been installed as the 69th Peetathipathi of "Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam."
The Paramacharya asked the devotees to receive Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, on his behalf. But Sri Jayendra Saraswathi expressed his desire to stay with his `Guru'. Also he did not wish to undertake the yatra to the city without him. The sage obliged and once again K. Balasubramaniya Iyer was blessed to head the `reception committee'.
From September 23 to March 15, 1959, the Paramacharya along with Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, stayed in Madras for 534 days 211 days at the Sanskrit College, Mylapore, and the remaining days at various places in and around the city.
On March 15, 1959, there was a mammoth gathering of devotees from all walks of life, including Rajaji, K. Balasubramaniya Iyer, T.V. Viswanatha Iyer, P. Sankara Narayana Iyer, Brahmashri Ananta Rama Dikshitar and K.V. Jagannathan, to bid farewell to the Paramcharya and Sri Jayendra Saraswathi.
Rajaji said: "His Holiness is for the entire humanity in `Bharath' and he has to grant darshan to all the devotees in this country for which he has to go on his yatra from one place to another and hence we should not think that we alone are to get that "Ananda" the Supreme Happiness. We should always remember the noble teachings of His Holiness and the best homage we can render to His Holiness, in all humanity, is to follow and practise his teachings".
His Holiness replied thus, "Sri K. Balasubramaniya Iyer and others had been requesting me to visit the city for a number of years, but considering the lack of facilities I can get at Madras for the Chandramouliswara Pooja and for my daily anushtanam, I hesitated for sometime without giving my decision. Then considering the fact that most of the villagers had come down and settled in the city, because of their employment or for other reasons, I thought I could well meet them here. Further, there may be many eminent and erudite scholars in Madras and in communicating with them I thought I can expand my knowledge. Now, I can say I have attained that benefit."
"Madras has much to offer by way of entertainment cinema, dance, drama etc. But thousands of people have assembled here to listen to my lectures at night. They have been waiting for a long time without being deterred by the inconvenience. If you can ponder over all that I said in my discourses and if it helps you to improve yourselves, that will give me supreme satisfaction. Sri Chandra Mouliswarar will bless you all." The audience dispersed moved by this farewell address, by the way the Paramacharya conveyed his thoughts to his devotees.
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