Early 90s, Kanchi Mutt-I looked around bewildered, as devotees ran past me whispering, "seekkaram, seekkaram"...(hurry, hurry....in Tamil). The person from Kanchi mutt office (forgot his name) rushed towards my mother and myself. My mother asked him anxiously,
" What's happening?""Periyava (Mahaperiyava) is giving Darshan right now in His palanquin. Everybody is rushing there, I'll find a place for you to sit, please meet me there." He rushed off without waiting for our response.
My heart skipped a beat. My mother and I hurried towards Mahaperiyava's palanquin (placed on the way to Mahaperiyava's present Adhishtaanam/Brindavanam).
By the time we reached the palanquin the place was jam packed with devotees, many of the ladies were in madisaar and gents in dhothi/angavasthram.
My mother and I somehow found ourselves standing right in front of the palanquin, at a reasonably close distance. In front of us many devotees were seated on the floor. My mother and myself happened to be in the first row of devotees who were standing.
The palanquin was shut and devotees were waiting with bated breath for the palanquin to open. The pin-drop silence despite the large gathering was overwhelming. The heavy under currents of intense devotion bordering on fascination was almost palpable. I felt goosebumps all over my body. The entire atmosphere was so charged, and the synergy so high that there was a surreal quality to the moment.
I realized that I was sensing absolute divinity even before the doors of the palanquin were opened and Mahaperiyava showed Himself. His powerful vibrations seemed to reach out to touch each and everybody around the palanquin.
"That man is calling you" the person next to me said, pointing to someone.
Feeling strangely disoriented I looked in the direction he was pointing to.
The Kanchi mutt administrative staff who told us he would be arranging for my mother and myself to be seated was gesturing to me wildly from a corner of the palanquin. He was asking us to come to where he was standing.
I looked at my mother, "Amma you go if you want, I want to see Paramacharya from here."
My mother, her gaze never leaving the palanquin shook her head negatively indicating that she wanted to remain in the same place.
Looking at the Mutt person, I smiled politely and gestured that we wanted to remain standing in the same place.
Suddenly the silence was shattered by a loud chorus of gasps from the huge number of devotees who were gathered there.
I turned my head to look at the palanquin. The doors (or was it a cloth screen....? I don't remember..) were opened by vedic pundits.
Inside sat huddled against the back frame of the palanquin, a frail and delicate figure in saffron robes. The morning sun's rays matching the colour of Mahaperiyava's robes rushed into the palanquin, to cast a golden hue inside the palanquin...In the golden light, the pale, fair and wrinkled skin of Mahaperiyava shone like molten gold and His eyes were sharp and brilliant like precious gems. I was struck by the contrast between His frail, delicate structure and the power of wisdom that emanated from His eyes.
"Amma!! Kamakshiii... Thaaye!! Ammaaaa......." cries and excited gasps of devotees filled the atmosphere. A few started to cry loudly. A woman cried out loudly, her voice quivering, "Kamakshi, Thaaye, Ambikaye, Ammaaaa....!!" Few men and women were chanting Hara Hara Shankara Jaya Jaya Shankara in low, emotionally charged voices.
All around me people were whispering and gasping their prayers fervently... yet there seemed to be a stillness to every passing moment. Time seemed to stand still. Somehow Lord Krishna's "Kaalosmi (I am Time)" flashed across my mind. When Time stood still God came to the fore!! I understood that the omnipresence of God could be felt by each one of us who were gathered there!
Mahaperiyava was moving His head slowly from side to side, His calm and serene gaze taking in the crowd which was gathered around Him. In between He weakly raised His hand and some times both hands in gestures of blessing. Whenever Mahaperiyava lifted His hands the cries of devotees grew louder, their cries rose and fell in accordance to the smallest movement of Mahaperiyava, like an orchestra of musicians performing to the signalling hands of a music conductor!! I was afraid to even blink my eyes for a moment as I didn't want to lose the treasured sight of Mahaperiyava. I was drinking in every detail of the Darshan and realized that my two eyes or any amount of time will not give me the satisfaction of actually registering His awesome Presence.
At one point Mahaperiyava shifted uncomfortably and stretched His legs exposing the soles of His feet to the gathering.
At the sight of His feet devotees started to wail loudly,"Paada Darshanam Paapa Vimochanam...!!!!!" Many devotees started to strike their own cheeks in devotional fervour.
"Amma...Kamakshi...Paada Darshanam Paapa Vimochanam....Thaaye...!!" I realised that my cheeks were wet with tears, I was shocked that I was crying without my knowledge.
A saffron-robed devotee seated in front of me (I noticed this devotee in saffron robes from the moment I stood there. He exuded a powerfully divine aura and seemed like a very advanced practitioner of the spiritual path) suddenly got up from his sitting position to stand up. A vedic brahmin went upto Mahaperiyava and pointed to the saffron robed devotee.Bending down reverently he whispered something in Mahaperiyava's ears. Mahaperiyava focused His gaze on the saffron-robed devotee standing right in front of me and lifted both His hands as a blessing. Standing right behind the saffron-robed devotee and yet visible to Mahaperiyava's gaze, I felt convinced that His blessing Hands were also directed towards myself and my mother....On this day of Guru Poornima....