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It has been my great good fortune to have had the privilege of experiencing the presence of His holiness the Paramacharya from my very early age. Apart from the close association of some members of my family with the Paramacharya, my own personal exposure to him started when I used to attend the discourses given by him every evening in the Sanskrit College, Mylapore in 1932-33, when I was a college student.
From the very first day, I was so inspired that I made it a point to attend the lectures every evening though I was in the midst of preparing for my University Examinations. These lectures were in the nature of divine expositions and even though Paramacharya was very young at that time he had the luster(thejas) and brilliance one associates with our ancient Rishis. I still recall the electrifying atmosphere when His Holiness used to come regularly to give these lectures, very fresh and cheerful, even after a very strenuous day of Pujas, interviews and other activities.
In each one of these talks Paramacharya explained with remarkable lucidity the essentials of Hindu Dharma, the importance of the scriptures, the significance of festivals, temple worship etc., and the supreme duty of everyone to cultivate devotion to God. He exhorted everyone to lead a simple, unselfish, clean and godly life. The audience used to listen to him in rapt attention. He had such a mastery over the subject and such clarity of mind that the message he gave went straight to the heart like the message of Lord Krishna in the Geetha. Although, I had met Paramacharya a number of times later, this early association had a profound impact on me and in the development of my late life.
Millions of people, high and low, have felt the exhilarating experience of even the briefest of meetings with His Holiness and many can recount anecdotes of such experience. One such anecdote which comes to my mind relates to Paramacharya’s views on the place of miracles in religion and of those who perform such miracles. in religion and of those who perform such miracles. There have been, and there still are, some holy men who perform miracles and to whom devotees go for satisfaction of various desires, such as success in life, birth of child, marriage, etc., or for getting relief from sickness or pain.
In one of the private meetings with Paramacharya in a small group of devotees, a person was referring disparagingly to another holy person who performed miracles and asked Paramacharya whether he would approve of spiritual men engaging themselves in this kind of, what he called, magic shows. Contrary to what that person expected, Paramacharya replied that there was nothing wrong in this or in a person going to such holy men, with faith, for getting their desires fulfilled and needs satisfied. He observed that the relief one gets from such holy men may look outwardly as being given by him but in reality it comes from God. A person by going to such holy men believes him to be God in human form and so has necessarily to believes him to be God and His powers and Grace to satisfy the desires of devotees. To this extent, the devotee is in the right path. Further, most holy men who perform miracles strive to create faith in God among the followers and this develops Bhakti, which is certainly desirable.
To a person pursuing the spiritual path performing such miracles is not difficult as it is a state of Siddhi. If that person stops with this, he stands the risk of not proceeding to the higher stages of spiritual perfection. None the less, such holy men by giving relief to others and by creating faith in God do perform a useful role and must be respected. There is also no harm in people going to such holy men for satisfaction of the desires so long as it is always remembered that God is behind everything including the relief which he gets from such holy men.
It is within the knowledge of many devotees that on several occasions Paramacharya himself did something or performed some innocuous act or made some casual observation which later turned out to be a miracle, although he never professed to perform any miracle. Thus there were many instances where a seemingly casual warning to a person saved that person from catastrophe or became a turning point in that person’s life.
One such instance within my personal knowledge illustrates this aspect of the miraculous powers of Paramacharya. I had an aunt who had several reverses in her life due to Prarabdha Karma. She was a pious devotee of God and of Paramacharya. One day when she was in great distress and confusion, she sought Paramacharya’s guidance. His Holiness gave her a small lump of sandal-paste which he had used for the Pooja and asked her to worship it as Devi. She did so with faith and devotion by performing Trisathis and other Pujas daily as directed and after several weeks she noticed to her great surprise that the small lump gradually grew into a Moorthi of Devi with face, legs and hands. She felt extremely happy and took it to Varanasi saw this wonder for themselves. However, Paramacharya’s object was only to show that Devi’s powers are unlimited and not to show that He could also perform miracles.
Everything that happens around us, terrestrial or celestial, is a marvel or a miracle although we take them all for granted as they are so common. There are also man made marvels like the computer which performs functions which are miracles by ordinary standards. None but the ignorant will give the credit for the miracles performed by the computer, to the machine or even to he maker, because the scientists tell us that the functions are performed by the chips made from silicon derived from the common sand.
The wise know that this quality of sand as also the quality and behavior of every material in the Universe (Prakriti) as given to it by God Almighty and could not have come from nothing. This is the rationale behind Paramacharya’s teaching that one should see the hand of God behind the miracles performed by anyone including a holy man. When one sees natural miracles like a mathematical prodigy or, when the earth narrowly misses a collision with a comet, or any of the man-made miracles like the modern communication systems, he should think of God and feel grateful to Him for His Gifts. Likewise, the privilege of having Paramacharya in our midst is itself a Gift of God to mankind and so whenever one experiences the thrill of the presence of Paramacharya, one should think of and feel grateful to God Almighty for enabling this generation to enjoy such privilege and pray for many more years of such enjoyment.