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    The astrologer who understood

    A josyar (astrologer) from Kerala came for darshan. Periyavaa was observing kASTa maunam (vow of silence with complete inaction) on that day. He did not talk to the Josyar, but offered a fruit to the man with a smile.

    The Josyar came out. The SriMaTham staff members surrounded him. Wasn't it natural that everyone had a problem? Everyone was eager to know when there will be a dawn for his own problems.

    The Josyar said: "I cannot offer josyam in this place. This is a place where PeriyavaaL's sAnnidhyam (divine influence) remains paripUraNam (completely full). No gRha (astrological planets and mansions) would speak within three hundred feet from where Periyavaa stays; no devata would reply. You people come to the lodge where I am staying; I shall answer your questions."

    The Josyar had understood PeriyavaaL in a single look.

    Puja for the 'kuzhandai swAmi' (God of the children)

    In those days even in the games played by children there used to be the reflection of our sampradAya (tradition). Those were days when the new games of the present times did not enter and pollute the social life.

    In such a situation, how would be the recretational games of children in places like Kumbakonam where there were many temples, and temple festivals and swAmi vIdhi valams (divine procession on the streets) were held incessantly?

    All that hubbub in a real swAmi purappAdu (start of divine procession) was there in the games too.

    Bring a basketful of clay and let four hands knead it, and the Swami is ready--with all the paraphernalia of the veNNai tAzhi (butter pot), garuda vAhanam, kudirai vAhanam (vehicles of Garuda and horse) and so on!

    No dearth of flowers, with so many trees along the Kaveri bank.

    As for the mantra, should one pass out of a pAThashAlA (Vedic school)? sivAya namaH, vishnuve namaH, subrahmaNyAya namaH, puLLayArAya namaH...

    In this way, one Swami came on bhavani (procession) on the SriMaTham street in Kumbakonam!

    Swami came and stood before SriMaTham. No one expected it. Periyavaa came out. He did not slight it as just a play by the children.

    He bowed to that 'kuzhandai swAmi with his daNDam (staff); joined his palms into a kumbidu (namaste). Asked his people to do nivedanam (offering) with coconut and banana fruit. Asked them to distribute bananas and suger lumps to the boys. Then, lifting his hand in blessing, he allowed Swami to go ahead.

    kushiO kushi (extreme happiness) for the children!

    Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol. 1, pages 123-141

    (Would Kannapiran (Sri Krishna) have played with the shepherd lads of Gokulam in this fashion in the Dvapara Yuga?)

    Is this not a unique way that Periyavaa used to respect the childrens' bhakti and motivate it for further growth?

    It is a known thing to all of us that Periyavaa performs daily, long and elaborate puja in ekAkram (single-pointed devotion). In the same way, he would also honour the pujas performed by others.

    Among the bhaktAs who come to SriMaTham, there would be those who do daily Panchayadana Puja. Periyavaa would visit those pujas and pray to the individual Gods.

    Once he sights a Pillaiyar temple when he goes out--he would not mind if it is a dilapidated temple, a small temple or one that does not adhere to the Agamas. There would be sidarkkAi (coconut breaking) for all the Pillaiyars!

    There is no chekku (oil-press) in Rameswaram

    Every kSetra (holy place) would have its own custom of worship.

    PeriyavaaL would be knowing many things about such customs that are not known even to those who reside in the kSetra.

    A purohita (priest) came from Rameswaram. He said for three generations they were living in that place.

    "You have seen the Nataraja of the RamanathaSwamy Kovil?"

    "Yes I have. I have also taken the sevArthis (devotee doing service) and showed them."

    "Are there seven curtains for Nataraja (there)?"

    The Purohit was confused. He did not know what to reply.

    Periyavaa said: "On the day of Tiruvaadirai (Arudra darshan), they would do puja to Nataraja, hanging seven curtains. After the seven curtains move aside, one can have darshan of Nataraja. Alright, how many Nataraja (images) are there in that temple?"

    The man from Rameswaram was shaken a little. "I have seen only one Nataraja."

    "There would be three Natarajas. Go and have a look."

    "Yes I will."

    "Is there a custom in the Rameswaram temple as there is in Guruvayur, to do abhiSekam (ablution) with the sesame oil obtained by grinding in a chekku (oil-press)?"

    "Yes", said the man, taking a chance.

    "There is no chekku in Rameswaram! The Swami of that kSetra is one who was formed by an image of the sand. There is an aitikam (tradition) there that there should be no grinding of chekku."

    Then to assuage the Prohit against any feelings that he might have, Periyavaa inquired about his kutumba kSema-lAbha (family welfare and prosperity) and gave him prasAdam.