[Advaita-l] Faith and Devotion

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Nov 4 01:48:30 CDT 2016

'Anubhavam Ayiram' (Experiences, a Thousand): Did Anjaneya Come?
Author: Ramani Anna
Source: Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Sep 15, 2008
Type: magazine, fortnightly, Tamil
Publisher: Viketan Publications

One Friday afternoon. In Sringeri, Jagadguru Sri Sri  Abhinava
Vidyatheertha Maha Sannidhanam, finishing his nitya pUjas, and after the
bhikShA was over, sat in ekAntam (privacy) and was conversing with the
MaTham disciples.

The students studying in Veda PAThashAlAs in Tirunelveli, Madurai and
Ramanathapuram that had Sringeri as their Guru PiTham had come there to
have darshan of Sri Sharadambal and the Jagadguru. Acharyal had directed
them to stay for some days before returning home. Those students also were
listening to Acharyal.

The talk then came about the upanyAsakas (speakers) who give pravachana
(spiritual expositions). A student called Sankara Subrahmaniyan, of the
Veda PAThashAlA, Thallakulam, Madurai got up and prostrated to the
Jagadguru. Then he said, "About this pravachanam, I desire to do vijnapana
to Gurunathar, something in my mind." Looking a little up and down at him
Acharyal directed, "ennatu, sollEn (what's it, why not tell me)!"

Forthwith in a low tone he said, "Nothing else GurunathA! These days some
upanyasakas who do kathA pravachanam leave the sarAmsam (essential truth)
and talk much only about other subjects! By this, the sarAmsam gets
forgotten, (whereas) the other subjects stay well in memory. We don't get
the trupti (satisfaction) of listening to a good pravachanam! Is this a
shortcoming of those who do the pravachana or those who listen to it? Only
Acharyal should explain and give us clarification!"

Others who heard this, said that they too had this doubt. The Jagadguru
smiled. Sitting upright in gaMbhIram (majesty), he inquired with
compassion, "First, have all of you done your bhojanam (meal)?"

They all rose up, joined palms and said, "done, Acharyal."

"santoSham (happy)", the Jagadguru smiled and continued: "Wherever,
whatever we listen to, we should only absoryfb the good sarAmsam in it and
leave the rest. For this, we should have paripakva of mind.2 Only that is
the lofty guNam (personality). Those who do upanyAsa, doing anusAra of the
time and audience, at the same time without leaving the 'subject', complete
it. Only we should absorb from it like the anna pakShin (the swan bird).
What, you understand?" he asked and laughed loudly.

His reply created amazement among the disciples. Looking at the Jagadguru,
they discussed something secretly among them!

A shiShya by name Suryanarayanan got up and prostrated to Maha Sannidhanam.
Then he asked with bhaya bhakti (reverential devotion): "A prArthanA
(prayer) to Jagadguru! We all desire to listen to Srimad Ramayanam. Only
Jagadguru should show kRupa..." Before he finished, "adukkenna... bEshA
(why not, very well) we can arrange it. I shall get well-read paurANikas
(puranic exponents) from Mysore and ask them to narrate it," said Acharyal.

Hearing this, the shiShyas looked at one another with yearning. A shiShya
named Yajnanarayanan got up hesitantly and prostrated to Jagadguru. Then he
beseeched with humility, "To do shravaNam of Srimad Ramayanam through
Jagadguru's amruta vAk (nectarine speech) is our longtime desire.
Gurunathar should do anugraha."

Acharyal was still laughing, not showing out His feeling. He said, "Oho! So
much pIDikai only for this?! Let's see, let's see," and went inside.
Disappointment for the disciples!

Days passed by. That day was Friday too. The time of sandhyA kAlam
(sunset). At Sri SharadambaL's temple, the crowed filled up and swelled.
Suddenly... Acharyal came to have darshan of Ambal. It would have been
eight o' clock when he came out finishing His darshan! The disciples
waiting readily at the temple entrance, on seeing Acharyal, fell flat and
prostrated. Acharyal stood transfixed.

Looking at them and smiling, he said, "EtEtu, viDamATTEL pOl irukkE
(whatever way, it seems you people will not leave Me)? Alright, alright. It
can be held it as desired by you! Selecting an auspicious day, we shall
have the prArambhaM", and moved away quickly.

That auspicious day too came. It was decided that Acharyal would do
exposition of the Sundara KANDam for seven days. The news, 'Maha
Sannidhanam himself is going to do pravachana anugraha' spreading, the
crowed was heavy. It had just finished drizzling!

Those who had darshan of the Jagadguru who came and sat in gaMbhIram on the
Asanam (wooden plank), felt as if sAkShAt Veda Vyasa Bhagavan Himself had
come and seated. The pravachanam started in a majestic voice. Half an hour
would have passed. Acharyal halted his pravachanam suddenly and called an
assistant of the MaTham. To him he ordered, "Was to tell you in the
beginning itself... forgot! What you do, on my side at a small distance you
lay a wooden plank. Spread a silk cloth over it. Then, in a silver plate,
keep two guava fruits before the seat. shIghram (Quickly)!" His orders were
carried out and he continued with his upanyAsam.

The fifth day upanyAsam was also completed. Acharyal, who elaborated well
in a way the students could understand, also explained to them the nuances
of dharma shAstras.

A student named Venkatesan belonging to the Tirunelveli Veda PAThashAlA
came up slowly, prostrated to the Jagadguru and said with hesitation, "I
have a doubt, Gurudeva."

"What doubt, ask it", said Acharyal.

He stuttered as he asked: "GurunathA! From the day the upanyAsam was
commenced, you ask them to place a plank near you and also keep the guava
fruits in a plate before it! Can't understand what is it for..."

Hearing this and laughing, Acharyal said, "Shall tell you, listen... 'yatra
yatra raghunAtha kIrtanam, tatra tatra krita-masta kAnjalim'--'wherever Sri
Rama's greatness is talked about there will readily come Sri Anjaneya
Swami' is a belief. Here we recite Srimad Ramayanam itself. So Swami would
come certainly? Can we make him stand? He is the 'nava vyAkaraNa pandita'!
The Asana palakai is for him to sit on. Then... this is like doing
upachAram with fruits, bakShaNam (savouries) to a guest who comes to our
home. Swami likes koyyAppazham (guava fruit) very much. Have you understood

Venkatesan nodded. Didn't that Go know that for this tender fruit it wasn't
clear as yet!

Heavy crowd on the sixth day too. Jagadguru completed that day's upanyAsam
in a way that moved everyone.

After everyone prostrated to Acharyal and went away, the PAThashAlA
students also, one by one prostrated and moved away. At the last of them
was the Tirunelveli PAThashAlA student who prostrated shASTaangam and stood
with joined palms. Acharyal glanced at him with a smile and asked, "What's
your full name?"

"Prasanna Venkatesan, GurunathA!"

"Which place is your pUrvIkam (native)?", Acharyal asked.

"A hamlet near Tirunelveli Kadayanallur, GurunathA!"

"What is (your) takappanAr (father) doing?"

"upAdhyAyam (Vedic occupation), GurunathA!"

Saying "bEsh, bEsh", Acharyal took with His golden hands the two guava
fruits offered to Anjaneya Swami and gave it to him. Then he gave him leave
with the words, "VenkatesA! These are the uchChiShta prasAdam (remnants)
eaten by Anjaneya. Cut it, drop a piece in your mouth and share it with

But then Prasanna Venkatesan did not move away from that place. He stood
rolling the guava fruits in his hand and looking at them!

Having understood his flow of thoughts, Acharyal said smiling within
himself, "What Prasanna Venkatesa? Keeping the fruits in hand, what is that
deep contemplation? Why not tell me a little, let me also know it!" He

"Come on", the Jagadguru emboldened him.

"Nothing else, GurunathA! On that seat, Anjaneya Swami comes and sits and
listens to Srimad Ramayanam, eats the guava fruits dedicated to him and
leaves...", Acharyal interrupted him before he could finish.

"This is not told by Me! This is a custom observed tradition after
tradition with pUrNa nambikkai (full faith) by the elders who do Ramanayana
pravachanam. This is satyam too! What is your doubt in this?" asked the

Even in that chill weather Prasanna Venkatesan was perspiring. He hesitated
to talk. Asking him to come nearer, Acharyal encouraged him, "Whatever the
matter... tell me boldly what strikes your mind."

He said in reply, "While listening to the pravachanam I was also looking at
that plank often... For my eyes, nothing of Anjaneya Swami coming and
sitting was seen! I also checked up with the sakas (friends) near me. They
also said having seen nothing. That's why..." Venkatesan gulped and

Acharyal asked, "Alright, alright. This is your first doubt! The two guava
fruits are intact, they should have been parted had Anjaneya Swami eaten
them is your second doubt (right)?"

Then He explained, "With AtmArta bhakti (soulful devotion) and shraddhA
(trust), we too can have darshan of Anjaneya Swami sitting bhavyam (pious)
with bhakti and doing Srimad Ramayana shravaNam! If Anjaneya comes in His
form and sits, will everyone have the shakti to look at Him and bear the
sight? So He would come in sUkShma rupa (subtle form) and return after
listening!" Further he asked Venkatesan, "You know to read grantha letters?"

"I know, GurunathA!" said the boy.

Forthwith, he asked for a Upanishad related grantha book to be brought to
him from inside. Opening it at a page and showing a small passage, "You
should memorize this in five minutes and recite to me, try if you can", he
said with a laugh.

Venkatesan moved to a distance with the book. Precisely five minutes passed
by. Coming back to Acharyal he recited the specific pasage with no mistake
of even a syllable.

Parama santoSham on Acharyal's face. He took the book in his hand. Keeping
the passage he asked the boy to memorize, he said, "Venkatesa! As asked by
me you read and recited (the passage) in just five minutes! Just because
you have absorbed those specific akSharas (letters), they haven't
disappeared from their places! Aren't the grantha letters intact in their
places? This is similar to that! Whatever we dedicate to God, He does
svIkAram of only the ruchi (taste) accompanied by bhakti shraddhA and
leaves the padArthas (eatables) to us with supreme compassion. Do you now
understand the secret of those two guava fruits remaining intact, in full,
without withering or shrinking?", Acharyal asked him and laughed rattlingly.

Prasanna Venkatesan was sitting in amazement. Peace prevailed there for
sometime. They all did sashtanga prostrations.

The day of pravachana pUrti (completion of discourse)! At three in the
afternoon itself Acharyal came to the stage. The upanyAsam was going on
very movingly. The time of completion, and everyone was listening,
forgetful of their own selves. It was at that time that miracle took place!

A large vAnaram (monkey) came by leaps and bounds to the upanyAsam hall.
Without taking heed of anyone, it jumped up the stage, went and sat quietly
on the Asanam meant for Anjaneya Swami, facing Acharyal! The Jagadguru was
looking at it for sometime without moving his eyes away. It did not even
regard the guava fruits kept before the seat! The crowd wondered at this

Five o' clock in the evening. That vAnaram did not sway this way or that
until then. Did not also touch the fruits. Completing his upanyAsam,
AchAryAL recited the phala sruti. Then turning his head to his right and
looking at the vAnaram, he said, "Anjaneya Swami, very happy that you came
and sat here to listen to Srimad Ramayanam!" and requested, "Those two
guava fruits are only for you, should do svIkAram of them." Looking around
at the crowd once, the vAnaram took the fruits and keenly looked at
Acharyal for sometime with affection.

Meantime a voice proclaimed from the crowd, "Anjaneya... Rama, Rama!"
Everyone looked towards the direction the voice came from. Prasanna
Venkatesan was standing there with joined palms, his eyes filled with
tears. By this time the vAnaram descended slowly from the stage, walked
majestically and disappeared.

Coming to Jagadguru with filled eyes Prasanna Venkatesan said, "Gurudeva!
That which came and sat on the plank near you did not appear as a vAnaram
to my eyes. I saw sAkShAt Anjaneya Swami with his sharIram (body) that is
AjAnubAhu (arms reaching knees) sitting in gAmbhIryam (majesty)! I also saw
Swami saying something to AchAryAL! The tAtparyam of what you told me is
now understood by me, GurunathA!" He fell at the Jagadguru's pAdAravinda.
With so many people consoling him, no one could control his flowing tears.

That Para brahman blessed him with raised Hands!

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