'The Kanchi Mutt was energised by Pudu Periyava.'
'Instead of people coming to the Mutt, he has taken the Mutt to the people in several dimensions.'
IMAGE: Sri Jayendra Saraswati, the shankaracharya of Kanchi, with Lucknow Imam Maulana Khalid Rasheed in Lucknow, October 2014.
M R Venkatesh, the well-known chartered accountant and political commentator, has been a devotee of the Kanchi Mutt from the time he can remember.
Here, he pays tribute to the Kanchi seer, Jayendra Saraswati, who passed away on Wednesday, February 28, 2018.
As told to Shobha Warrier.
I do not know how I am going to fill the vacuum Swamiji has created in my life.
I was totally shattered by the news of his passing, but then I remembered his words -- that life is eternal. I took solace that death is inevitable.
Those who have experienced his divinity, that will be extremely personal in nature and I will remember those moments.
I have been going to the Kanchi Mutt as a child with my parents.
Going to the Mutt was like going to a second home for many of us. At that time, Periyava (Chandrashekarendra Saraswati, the senior shankaracharya of Kanchi), the Maha Swami, was alive, hence the attention was on him.
In fact, there is no devotee of a particular person. Everybody is a devotee of the Kanchi Mutt.
To all the devotees of the Mutt, till Maha Periyava was alive, he was the Guru.
Traditional Mutt devotees do not use the names of the seers. They were Maha Periyava, Pudu Periyava (Jayendra Saraswati) and Bala Periyava (Vijayendra Saraswati).
When Periyava was alive, he (Jayendra Saraswati) was Pudu Periyava. Though he had been there for 60 odd years, he was Pudu Periyava to all his devotees.
From today onwards, the head of the Mutt will be Bala Periyava.
The reverence is always to the institution as much as it is for the man.
Last year, in February, I had gone to the Mutt to pay my respects. He (Jayendra Saraswati) didn't speak much then.
After I came out, I had a call from Dr Subramanian Swamy. He wanted to know where I was.
When I said I was outside Pudu Periyava's cabin, he wanted me to go back and do namaskaram on his behalf.
I went inside and told him that Dr Swamy wanted me to do namaskaram on his behalf. He just smiled and let me do it. He then asked me to sit.
There was not much of a conversation between us and after 10, 15 minutes, when I got up to leave, he asked me to wait and went inside.
After 45 minutes, he came back, gave me darshan and gave me a spadika mala (crystal chain). I was taken aback by his love.
That was the last time I met him.
But the last time I had an interaction with the Mutt was when Republic TV broke a story on his conversation with a policeman. The channel was going hammer and tong against the Mutt and Pudu Periyava.
I kept quiet as it was an old story with no evidential value in the eyes of the law.
Then, somebody from the Mutt requested me to speak on the Mutt's behalf and I did. The next day, I got a call from the Mutt -- I do not know whether it was on instruction from Swamiji. I was told the Mutt was very happy with what I said on the channel.
I took it as his blessings.
One of the most depressing moments for all of us was when Pudu Periyava was arrested. We were not just upset, but seething with anger.
The calumny that was heaped on Pudu Periyava by the local media was basically to dismiss the fair image of the Mutt.
Thanks to a very fair trial, he came out unscathed. Today, Jayalalithaa (whose government arrested the Kanchi shankaracharya) is no more and Swamiji) also is no more.
There are times when you don't rationalise things and the relationship with the Mutt is one such thing.
The Mutt is a spiritual gangotri for most Hindus, especially south of the Vindhyas. All of us Hindus have some sort of a symbiotic relationship with the Mutt.
It is just not Brahmins who are devotees of the Mutt. Moreover, a sanyasi is not a Brahmin; he doesn't have a scared thread. There is nothing Brahminical about the Mutt.
Whenever we pass through Kancheepuram, there has to be a stopover at the Kanchi Mutt. It was like a part of our extended family. To reduce it to just a place of worship would be violence to the very thought of the Mutt.
If Maha Periyava was a disciplinarian and confined to Mutt activities, Pudu Periyava will be remembered for his conscious outreach to all sections of people, especially Dalits who were not traditionally covered.
I will not call him a social reformer or anything like that. He made an outreach to all Hindus and there were activities in the secular domain like in health and education.
That way, I would say, the Mutt was energised by Pudu Periyava. Instead of people coming to the Mutt, he has taken the Mutt to the people in several dimensions.