The Mystic Who Dazzled the Western Professors

author:..... Dr. Padma Subramanyam, 'Nrutyodaya', Chennai
compiler:... T.S. Kothandarama Sarma
book:......... Maha PeriyavaL - Darisana AnubhavangaL vol. 2, pages 231-235
publisher:.. Vanathi Padhippaham (May 2005 Edition)

A few years back some Russian and American professors, who came to Chennai, had darshan of Maha SwamigaL.

In the year 1987, Soviet Union celebrated the Indian Cultural Festival. It was my custom to write research papers related to our culture and tradition and show it to PeriyavargaL. We took one such blessed paper to hand over to Professor Ribekov, the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow. The only picture that adorned his room was of the Kanchi Periyavar! What wonder, he had not even seen SwamigaL in person until then. He said, 'When I come to Chennai--one, I should meet the Kanchi sage and converse with him and two, I want a valampuri shaN^khu (a conch with threads going clockwise)'.

After some years, Ribekov came to Chennai. We went to Kanchi with him. As we entered the MaTham, they said, "No darshan today, PeriyavargaL has fever."

The man who came with me had noted down the questions he had in his mind and were seeking answers for them. When it seemed that we would be disappointed, somebody came and told us, "Periyavaa asked me to bring you people to him." A crowdless, private darshan for us.

PeriyavargaL, who was lying down, got up and silently looked at the newcomer. Within minutes, tears of joy started issuing out of the man who came to meet the sage. No one talked, it was very silent. At length Periyavar himself talked to me: "Tell him to ask whatever questions he has to." Ribekov said, "I got the answers even without asking them." He could not get around to speak anything more.

PeriyavargaL: Though Sanskrit is seen mixed in the Russian language, is it there in the dialect spoken in the extreme north of that country?" Ribekov was taken aback. "It is true, it is not so," he said.

PeriyavargaL: Your country has the name Rishivarsham. The reason was, it was only there that Rishis like Yajnavalkya established a Vedic research centre.

The sage gave us many more such details and made us go ecstatic. When we took leave of him, Ribekov told the sage, "What should I do to become a Hindu?"

"Even without doing anything you are a Hindu."

Not satisfied, he said, "I would rather have a Hindu name." Looking at us and laughing, PeriyavargaL said, "With a white beard this man has the look of a Rishi. Let him have the name 'Rishi'." Ribekov was immensely happy. Rishi (Ribekov) has now started a branch of the Ramakrishna MaTham in Moscow.

*** *** ***

Professor Robinson was the President of the South Carolina University, U.S.A. He was trained in Greek philosophy.

A team of professors from many departments of some of the universities of the U.S.A. came to Chennai.

I told Robinson, "You must go to Kanchi and have darshan of Periyavar." That was all! His eyes blossomed. He narrated the wonderful story of their visit to Kanchi on the very same day. They roamed Kanchi in small groups, knowing nothing about Sankara MaTham or PeriyavargaL. Robinson and two others came accidentally opposite the entrance to Sankara MaTham. They entered, thinking it was a temple. He narrates what happened there, himself:

"The cot was a charpoy fitted with ropes. A man of matured old age was sitting on it. A large crowd around him. We did not understand anything. Suddenly a boy came running to us. 'Are you from America?' he asked us. Surprised, we said 'Yes.' There was absolutely no chance that anyone there would know us. The next question stunned us. 'Who is Professor Robinson among you? I have orders only to bring him to the sage.'

"I had darshan of Periyavar. He asked me to sit near him. That was all! I was not conscious of the passing of them thereafter!" Robinson was unable to continue talking, overwhelmed by tears of joy. I understood that the one who said it did not see and the only that saw it did not say.

(This same Robinson, when he came to the American Embassy in Chennai in April-May 1994, rang up Dr. Padma Subramanyam and inquired, "Is Maha SwamigaL fine?" When he was told that Sri SwamigaL had attained siddhi, he had asked, "Is it on January 8th or 9th?"

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"How do you know it so correctly?" Dr. Padma had asked him.

Robinson replied in a voice choked with emotion, "On that day Maha Periyavaa gave me darshan (in a vision), said 'Goodbye' thrice and disappeared... If I told this news to anyone in our place, they wouldn't be able to understand it, which was why I couldn't verify it with anyone here."