Meaning of Jaggadguru

Sri PeriyavaaL's 'visit' to the Banaras Hindu University on an evening.

When PeriyavaaL went there, Madak-kulatthur BrahmaSri Chinnasamy SastrigaL was giving a lecture, about 'vidhi rasAyanam', a Mimamsa work written by Appayya Dikshitar. Sri PeriyavaaL was enraptured by Sri Dikshita's style of writing. He was happy talking about it to 'AtmaVidya BhushaNam' Injik-kollai BrahmaSri Jagadeeswara SastrigaL who had accompanied him. (Only later to this incident, Sri PeriyavaaL read all the Granthas of Appayya Dikshitar).

A reception to PeriyavaaL was held in the Kashi Raja's palace. Notables from the city were present. And a large number of Pandits. A feeling of derision in their hearts; an asUya (displeasure) that could not be placed: 'Why should this man bear the title Jagadguru?... With two questions, we can corner him!"

As PeriyavaaL came and seated himself, a Pandit asked in Avesha: "Who is that Jagadguru?"

"Myself", said PeriyavaaL.

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"Oho? You are the Guru for the entire Jagat?"

"No, jagatAm guruH na (I am not saying it in the meaning 'a guru for the Jagat'). jagati padyamAnAH sarve mama gurave" (All the creatures in the world are my gurus--in that meaning I am Jagadguru)."

The North Indian Pandits were dumbfounded. They never expected such a simple explanation.

PeriyavaaL looked at the nests that sparrows had built in the pigeon holes constructed on top of those buildings. He showed it to the Pandits and asked, "kimitam (what are these)?"

"nIDa (nest, resting-place)."

"kena nimitta (built by whom)?"

"caTake (sparrows)."

"Sparrows with no hands or legs build nests. Though we have hands and legs we can't build nests like them. The sparrows have a kriyA shakti. That, I don't have. Therefore, the sparrow is my guru..." PeriyavaaL said, and worshipped them with folded palms, after patting his cheeks.

The North Indian Pandits who saw this in person were amazed. They bowed to him, adoring him, "You are indeed the Jagadguru!" Until the last day PeriyavaaL stayed in Kashi, there were coming to him daily and prostrated.