An evening time many years ago. A large crowd in Kanchi Sri Sankara MaTham to have darshan of Maha SwamigaL ( Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati SwamigaL, Kanchi Sankaracharya) . Coming out of his room, SwamigaL stood for a while looking keenly at the devotees crowd and then sat down leaning against a wall. The devotees came in a line one at a time, prostrated to the Sage, spoke about their problems, received remedial advice and moved away.
A middle-aged man was standing in the queue holding tightly to a boy's hand. Tears flooded his eyes and poured out in a stream. The boy stood motionless, looking bewildered. When he moved to stand before PeriyavaaL, he did a *sAshTaanga namaskaram* (prostrated with eight limbs touching the ground). The boy also prostrated.
Maha SwamigaL looked at him with narrowed eyes and inquired comfortingly :
"Endaappaa ! Aren't you the Mylapore Auditor Sankara Narayanan? Why do you stand with such soggy eyes? What is your problem ?"
His grief swells with Periyavaa's words of comfort . He began to sob and said :
"Yes Periyavaa ! An unbearable misery has fallen on me now. Don't know what to do. You are my God, somehow only you should remedy it for me . There is no other go !" He prostrated to the Sage once again .
Understanding the situation, Periyavaa said with *vAtsalyam* (affection) :
"Sankara, don't get worked up! You sit there for some time . I shall call you after these people have spoken to me and gone !" The Sage pointed to a place opposite him.
"As per your orders Periyavaa... I shall do it ." The Auditor sat opposite the Sage, at a distance.
Within a half hour, the devotees had their darshan of AcharyaaL and left . There were none there except SwamigaL's two assistants . SwamigaL gestured to Auditor Sankara Narayanan to come to him . The Auditor came and prostrated . Looking at him affectionately, AcharyaaL said :
"Sankara is the practice going on (well) ? You are the 'leading' auditor, so what to speak about the practice? Alright, your father Panchapakesa Aiyer is in Thajavaur (right)? He is well (I hope) ?"
Wiping away his tears, the Auditor said :
"The practice is going on well, Periyavaa . My father and mother had gone to stay with my younger brother in Bombay . Its two months now . Only for me a *duHkham* (distress) has happened Periyavaa ! I can't bear it... only you should get it rectified Periyavaa !" Saying this, he hugged the boy nearby and started sobbing.
AcharyaaL understood instantly that something related to the boy had affected the Auditor Sankaranarayan' s mind very much. SwamigaL told him :
"Shouldn't cry Sankara... Whatever it is, *Purusha* (men) shouldn't let their eyes get soggy ! Alright, who is this *puLLaiyAndAn* (boy), your *putra* (son) ?"
"Yes, Periyavaa ! This is my son. Name Chandramouli . It was only for him Periyavaa, suddenly..." Sankara Narayanan was unable to speak further, grief choking his throat .
With a worried face, AcharyaaL asked him :
"Sankara ! What happened to him suddenly? Chandramouli is studying in school ?" and said comfortingly, "Why don't you tell me in detail, without getting upset ?"
Wiping his eyes Sankara Narayanan said :
"Periyavaa, the boy Chandramouli is studying in his seventh standard in the P.S. High School , Mylapore. He is eleven now. Very shrewd in his studies . Stands first in the class. Twenty days ago, suddenly his speech was gone, Periyavaa ! When asked, he gestures that he cannot talk . He has not gone to the school from that day . Takes his meals and tiffin as usual, sleeps well, those things are alright Periyavaa, but then he is not able to talk, what can I do? Only you should show mercy and make him talk !" Tears rolled down his eyes as he prayed to the Sage.
SwamigaL kept silent for some time . Then he asked the Auditor :
" You have the custom of going to temples with the boy ? Chandramouli has Bhakti (devotion) towards God ?"
"He has it in plenty, Periyavaa. He would start for the school daily only after he takes bath and recites the *Kanda ShashTi Kavacham* and the Slokas on Sri Anjaneya and Sri Rama . There is a large portrait of *KothandaRamar* in our house Periyavaa ; a Thanjavur portrait from my grandfather' s days . This boy would daily prostrate to it morning and evening and would touch the feet of Sita-devi and Sri Rama several times and then dab his eyes (with the fingers that touched the feet) . He would often say, 'I like Sita-devi and Sri Rama very much .' Two or three days in a week he would go with his mother to Kapaliswara, *Mundaka Kanni Amman* and Luz *Anjaneya* temples and have darshan . For such a good child, this has come about Periyavaa..." Unable to control his grief, Sankara Narayanan started sobbing again .
AcharyaaL pacified him and asked, after meditating for sometime :
"You have the custom of taking him to the upanyAsas that take place in Mylapore ?"
" I do Periyavaa ! Sometimes I would take him personally . Even the previous day before his speech had stopped, I had taken him for a Ramayana *upanyAsa* at Rasika Ranjana Sabha . He listened to it with *shraddhA* (eagerness and trust). And this happened on the next day !"
AcharyaaL laughed and said : "You mean to tell me that this happened due to his listening to Ramayana ?"
The Auditor patted his cheeks loudly. "Rama, Rama ! Not that way Periyavaa ! I just wanted to tell you that it was from the next day (that he couldn't talk) ."
"Aright . Whoever did the *upanyAsa* ?"
"Srivatsa Jayarama Sarma, Periyavaa."
" Besh, besh . Somadeva Sarma's son ; a good lineage ; well read . Let it go, Sankara. Did you show him to a Doctor ?"
" I did, Periyavaa ."
" Who was the Doctor ?"
" Doctor Sanjivi ."
" What does he say ?"
" He did all the tests and said, 'Two nerves in his larynx are affected . He may be alright with a surgery .'"
" Did he not say that the boy would surely be alright (after the surgery ) ?"
" He did not give that assurance, Periyavaa. Somehow, only you should make him to regain his speech. Only you should save us !"
AcharyaaL talked after keeping silent for some time :
" You do one thing, Sankara . You take the boy and visit all the temples in this city, have darshan and pray . Take food in the *MaTham* and stay here for the night . You meet me at ten in the morning, finishing your bath and any *anuSTAnam* (religious routine) that you might have ."
AcharyaaL's words were very comforting . Prostrating to Him, both of them went away for temple darshans .
It was ten o' clock on the next morning. AcharyaaL had come earlier and was sitting . There was not much crowd ; only five or six people were waiting . Every one of them had darshan and left . Prostrating to AcharyaaL, Sankara Narayanan stood before him with hands folded on his chest . SwamigaL looked at him penetratingly for a while and said :
" Sankara, do one thing. Take the boy to Mylapore Sri Kapaliswara temple, do a *pUrNAbhishekam* (an elaborate ablution) to Swami and *AmbaaL* (Devi) and let the boy have darshan of them . Thereafter what you do, keep looking for the news of the same Srivatsa Jayarama Sarma holding a complete discourse on Srimad Ramayana . If he holds the discourse in a temple or in a sabha (auditorium) , do one thing, from the Sundara Kaandam until Sri *SitaRama Pattaabhisheka vaibhava * (glory), take Chandramouli and make him do *shravaNa* (listening) ! What you do on the day of completion with Sri *SitaRama Pattaabhisheka* , buy some good hill-grown banana fruits, hand them over to *paurANika* (discourser) , and both of you do *sAshTaanga namaskaram* to him . You pray within your mind to that * Pattaabhisheka Sri SitaRama * and the *paurANika* . That Pattabiraman will save you... do not at all worry... good bye!" AcharyaaL bade them farewell with this advice .
The Auditor started checking daily for any news about Srivatsa Jayarama Sarma's Ramayana pravacana (discourse) in Chennai . One day, he saw the happy news that Sri Srivatsa Jayarama Sarma's Srimad Ramayana *upanyAsa* will take place as *navAham* (for nine days) at Mylai Sri Shirdi Sai Baba temple .
That was the day of starting the *Sundara Kandam* . Sankara Narayanan went to Sri Sai Baba temple with Chandramouli . It was a moving *upanyAsa* and Chandramouli listened to it forgetting all about himself . Sometimes tears started issuing from his eyes . At those times, his father Sankara Narayanan caressed his back and comforted him.
It was the day of completion of Srimad Ramayana *upanyAsa*. A 'good' crowd in Mylai Sai Baba temple . At 10:30 hours in the night , Srivatsa Jayarama Sarma finished the Sri *SitaRama Pattaabhisheka* narration and ended his discourse telling the audience about the fruits of listening to a Ramayana discourse . One by one, the people from the audience prostrated to him and moved away. After both of them prostrated to him, Sankara Narayanan gave the bunch of a dozen hill-grown banana fruits to Chandramouli, asking him to submit them to the discourser and prostrate to him again . He did as his father told him . The discourser took the banana bunch happily and gestured them as *arpaNa* (offering) to the holy portraits of *Sri Rama Pattaabhishekam* and Sri Shirdi Sai Baba behind him . Then he plucked two fruits from the bunch, gave them to Chandramouli and said :
" Kozhandhe! (My child !) You will remain in prosperity . You eat both these fruits ," and blessed him.
As they came out of the temple, Chandramouli ate the two bananas. A miracle took place on the next morning . After he brushed his teeth in the bath room and came to the hall, Chandramouli gave voice loudly to his mother :
"Amma, is the coffee ready ?"
Astonished, his father who was reading the newspaper and his mother who was in the kitchen came running to the hall . Chandramouli was standing there smiling .
" Was it you who gave the voice inquiring about the coffee, Chandramouli! " His mother hugged and kissed him, happiness overwhelming her .
Sankara Narayanan took the boy on his shoulders and danced ! Chandramouli started talking fluently as before . All the familiar people came over and were happy witnessing this change.
It was 5:30 hours in the evening on the same day . Maha SwamigaL was sitting in * ekAnta* (alone) . There was not much crowd . Auditor Sankara Narayanan came in a van with ten to fifteen people .
The Auditor prostrated to the Sage with Chandramouli and got up. AcharyaaL's first question was :
"Chandramouli, you are able to talk now fluently ? Besh, besh ! It is all the grace of that Sri Sita Rama !"
Chandramouli immediately chanted loudly : "Hara Hara Sankara... Jaya Jaya Sankara." Everyone stood in ecstasy .
Maha SwamigaL talked after sometime :
"Sankara, I shall tell you now, listen ! There was no other reason for this sudden happening to Chandramouli . By nature he had abundant *priya* and *bhakti* (love and devotion) towards Sita Devi and Sri Rama . He could not withstand if they came to any distress . When he first listened to the *upanyAsa* , Jayarama Sarma should have been narrating about the part where Ravana abducted Sita Devi . Am I right, Sankara ? "
The Auditor who stood amazed opened his mouth to affirm :
"The same thing Periyavaa, the same thing ! On that day, he talked very movingly only about that part ."
SwamigaL continued : " The moment he heard that a * rAkshasa * (demon) was abducting Sita Mata, towards whom he had abundant love and devotion, he suffered from a condition of mental pressure inwardly that resulted in helplessness and stoppage of the faculty of speech . It was nothing else . What was the only remedy, way out for this ? It occurred to me that if heard with his own ears from the same *paurANika's* words that Mother Sita had been rescued without any distress to Her that would ease the pressure in his mind and speech . It was for that reason that I asked you to do what I advised you . Now everything has concluded well with the grace of Sita Rama . Chandramouli, you will remain * parama kshema * (in complete prosperity) !"
Everyone who heard the words of that Maha SwamigaL stood transfixed !
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Author : Sri S. Ramani Anna (in Tamil) .
Source : Sakthi Vikatan issue dated Mar 18, 2007 .
EkAnta - a lonely or retired or secret place
paurANika - versed in ancient legends and stories, a mythologist
purusha - a man, human being, male, person
shravaNaH - ear, listening to, hypotenuse of a triangle