Author Topic: Remembering Narayana Iyer - Mountain Path - April -July 2008.  (Read 1625 times)

Subramanian.R

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This article is by Smt, T.R. Kanakammal:

Narayana Iyer was a devotee, who came to scoff, but remained as a worshipper.  He was an out and out a sceptic with no
religion in him.  He considered sannasins and sadhus to be impostors and parasites and no one, however great, had the
right to accept the homage of others.  But a chance meeting with Sri Bhagavan wrought a complete transformation in this
doubting Thomas and turned him into a staunch devotee. 

Dr. Ramakrishna Iyer, his philosopher and guide who like Narayana Iyer was also working in Chetpet (not Chennai Chetput
but a semi urban town near Tiruvannamalai), was well acquainted with Sri Bhagavan, being the son of Lakshmi Ammal, of
Tiruchuzhi and one of Sri Bhagavan's childhood playmates.  He invited Narayana Iyer to go with him to Tiruvannamalai during
Deepam festival and his invitation was accepted although Narayana Iyer disliked crowds and temple festivals had no attraction
for him.  He agreed on the condition that he would neither come inside the Asramam nor prostrate to Swami if perchance he
met Him.

Circumstances forced him to accompany his friend into the Asramam.  As they were coming inside a person clad only in a white
loin cloth, a towel on His shoulder, a kamandalu in one hand and a walking stick in the other stopped in His walk in the opposite
direction on seeing them. He spoke kindly to the doctor and inquired about his mother and brother.  Though Iyer guessed that
this must be the Maharshi, he did not look up, thinking that after all, he was a complete stranger to Him.  On being introduced
as the Sub Registrar of Chepet, out of courtesy he looked up  Let us hear him now in his own words:

'What a wonderful face and what a welcoming smile!   Bewitching, fascinating and a powerful look too!  In a moment I was
at His feet on the gravel ground....He is not bogus....looks genuine....but has He solved mystery of life, of the universe, that
we see around us?  If not, I withdraw my homage and go my way....I tried to find out if He had written any books.  I got a copy
of Ulladu Narpadu in Tamizh just published."

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                         

Subramanian.R

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Re: Remembering Narayana Iyer - Mountain Path - April -July 2008.
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2013, 01:52:44 PM »

continues....

As he tried to read the first stanza he was confounded and filled with dismay at the repeated use of the word 'ulladu' which
seemed too closely packed.  The pure language embodying the essence of Absolute Reality, would drive even pandits of
Tamizh prosody to despair.  Someone nearby said, that the Maharshi Himself would explain them the forty verses that night.
In anxious and eager suspense Narayana Iyer waited for the night.

"A solemn stillness pervaded the air.  There was absolute silence.  The Maharshi read the first verse.  The mere reading of it
made the meaning as clear as clarity itself.  Verse by verse, He read and explained in a voice so sweet and melodious that it
seemed to come from a transcendent being.  The climax came when explaining the verse and He said, 'God cannot be seen
with our eyes and known by our senses.  This is what is meant by saying, 'Seeing God is to be God."

Suddenly the stentorian voice of Dandapani Swami boomed out of the listeners. "Is Sri Bhagavan saying this out of personal
experience - swanubhava?"

The question asked with such a naivete' was answered with equal candor, 'Else would I dare to say so?'

It flashed upon Narayana Iyer instantly that if He whom all religions acclaim as god were to appear before him in flesh and blood,
here He is.  Successive ways of bliss flooding from within shook his frame.  He went outside to compose himself. He says, "I came,
He saw, He conquered."   The spell was thus cast.  To him  henceforth Sri Bhagavan was his God.  Sri Bhagavan was the way
and the support on the way as well. 

To Narayana Iyer, the content of Ulladu Narpadu became a Vedic verity and its verses veritable mantras, and he took to chanting
them as japa.  From then on nothing could stop him from frequenting the Asramam.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.     

Subramanian.R

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Re: Remembering Narayana Iyer - Mountain Path - April -July 2008.
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2013, 12:48:38 PM »

continues.....

His job entitled frequent transfers however, there was no let up in his regular visits.  Never a Sunday passed without
Narayana Iyer arriving at the Asramam and he always had some delectable snacks with him which were prepared by
his wife Lalita Iyer who believed that she was cooking delicacies for God.  These were savored by everyone as Sri
Bhagavan would never accept anything unless there was enough for all.  Once when Shantammal inquired of Sri
Bhagavan whether she could prepare some snacks in the Asramam, Sri Bhagavan replied:  'Tomorrow in Sunday.
Narayana Iyer will be arriving and will surely be bringing something to eat." 

In the afternoon, devotees bringing snacks would offer the entire lot, in their containers, to Sri Bhagavan.  After a quick
look around the Hall, Sri Bhagavan would pick up a little and hand over the rest to the attendant nearby, to be distributed
in equal measure among those present.  Muruganar, a keen observer of Sri Bhagavan's ways, used to recall with wonder,
that if the attendant gave each one present exactly the same amount that Sri Bhagavan had taken, it would just suffice for all,
whether the number present was great or small.  This was found to be unfailingly true;  whatever the quantity Sri Bhagavan
allotted for Himself was found to be the right quantity for distribution to all that day.

In those days, (the early thirtees) the area surrounding the Asramam was very bare. Mother's shrine was yet to be
constructed.  Anyone approaching the precincts of the Asramam, could be easily seen from the Old Hall.  Once, between
two successive week end visits by Narayana Iyer, the Asramam administration, feeling that Sri Bhagavan needed some rest
in the afternoon after lunch, had imposed a restriction that none should be allowed between twelve noon and two pm.
Neither Sri Bhagavan nor Narayana Iyer was aware of this new decree.  The following Sunday afternoon, as usual, Iyer arrived
with omappodi (a snack made of gram flour and spices) in hand.  As he approached the Hall those strategically positioned to deflect
the would be visitors until 2 pm. the new receiving hour, apprised him of the rule.  Iyer, though still at a great distance from
Sri Bhagavan, made his customary prostration from where he was, retraced his steps and waited until the appointed hour.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         
               

Subramanian.R

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Re: Remembering Narayana Iyer - Mountain Path - April -July 2008.
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2013, 01:47:19 PM »

continues....

At two pm.  he came to before Sri Bhagavan. Sri Bhagavan had spied him on his arrival and disappearance.  As soon as
he entered the Hall, Sri Bhagavan asked him:  'Didn't you come at one O' clock?  I saw you through the window and was
expecting you to come to the Hall at any moment. But you didn't come.  Did you have to  go elsewhere? 

Narayana Iyer, who had no idea that Sri Bhagavan was supposed to know of the new arrangement, replied in all innocence,
'My train arrived late and I could come only at   one O' clock but was informed that Sri Bhagavan nowadays rests in the
afternoons and is not to be disturbed until two pm. hence I come only now.'

Sri Bhagavan listened without any comment, other than his customary, 'Oh, is that so?'

The next day after lunch, instead of going into the Hall, Sri Bhagavan sat outside the Hall.  The attendant very hesitantly
suggested that He go inside, as it was becoming very hot.

Sri Bhagavan said, 'Nobody is allowed to enter the Hall until 2 pm.  Is there also rule that I should not come out until two?'

Then Sri Bhagavan, the very embodiment of compassion added, 'People come from far away places by various means,
suffering innumerable hardships in order to get here.  How can they be sure of the exact time of their arrival?  When they
come after all that, how fair is it to deny them ready access?'

Hearing this, the management immediately revoked the new rule.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                 

Subramanian.R

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Re: Remembering Narayana Iyer - Mountain Path - April -July 2008.
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2013, 10:21:12 AM »

continues.....

Owing to the profound grace of Sri Bhagavan, in due course, Narayana Iyer was posted to Tiruvannamalai itself.  He was
the first in the long line of devotees, to have had the rare privilege of establishing a residence near the Asramam in order
to be in the holy presence of Sri Bhagavan on a regular basis.  His entire sadhana comprised of simply remaining wiith
Sri Bhagavan whenever possible, in the Hall or in the kitchen, cutting vegetables, grinding chutney and preparing breakfast
in the wee hours of the morning.

Prior to constructing the house Iyer took the plans to Sri Bhagavan to have them blessed. After careful perusal Sri Bhagavan
observed, 'The plan is alright.  But where is the well?'

Though Iyer had a location in mind, it was not marked on the blueprint.  This turned out to be a benediction, as Sri Bhagavan
selected the site and marked the exact location.  Later on, one could see what a blessing it was. Not only the water was as
sweet as tender coconut water, but the well never ran dry and was thus a source of succor for the entire neighborhood in times
of severe drought. 

His wife was a truly sattvic woman, given to dharmic ways and scrupulously adhering to the sastraic injunctions pertaining to
a brahmin housewife.  Simple, carefree and unattached, she ran the household with a contented mind and to the satisfaction
of the entire family, making optimum use of the resources available to her.

Naryana Iyer derived inordinate pleasures in serving his cow.   Tending his garden was also dear to him.  The occasions when
his cow was about to give birth were significant enough to merit a day's leave from his work.  This exclusive privilege, Mrs. Iyer
humorously used to remark was the cow's alone, and not extended to his wife for her deliveries.

Iyer's one passion was to chant Ulladu Narpadu uncesingly.  Neither conventional Vedic duties nor extravagant ritualistic
observances had any attraction for him.  The constant chanting of Ulladu Narpadu was all the religious observance known
to him.  It would start right from the morning.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                         

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Re: Remembering Narayana Iyer - Mountain Path - April -July 2008.
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2013, 10:21:29 AM »

continues...

Dyed in South Indian Brahminical custom, Narayana Iyer looked forward to his invigorating cup of morning coffee.  The person
who milked the cow used to turn up at 5.00 am.  announcing his arrival by ringing his bicycle bell.  Iyer, who would invariably
be chanting Ulladu Narpadu loudly, would open the gate for him.  The day, would, therefore, begin with Ulladu Narpadu, a
routine so predictable and punctual, that the neighbor opposite him, an Andhra lady, remarked that she could safely set her
clock by his recitation in the morning.  His chanting continued throughout the day while he watered the plants or gave the cow
a bath. 

If ever he were to hear a voice raised in argument among children, he would simply raise his voice and chant louder.  It was a
wonder to see the children immediately quietened as if the mesmerizing spell of this powerful mantra made them aware of of
Sri Bhagavan's very presence. 

Iyer had unshakable conviction that Ulladu Narpadu was verily the Upanishadic truth.  The Taittiriya Upanishad of the Asramam's
Vedic parayana extols the greatness of OM.  As per the Vedic tradition, the sacrificial fire, during havan, is ignited with this
single syllable.  Permission to offer the oblation is sought wit this OM and granted with OM.  Ulladu Narpadu, for Iyer, enjoyed
similar exalted status.

I (Kanakammal) stayed in Iyer's compound occupying a small cottage for ten years.  He looked upon me as his own daughter.
He always made himself aware of my requirements when he procured groceries for his own household and would always meet
my needs.         
                 
contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

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Re: Remembering Narayana Iyer - Mountain Path - April -July 2008.
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2013, 11:13:27 AM »

continues....

Nights were an ideal time to be with Sri Bhagavan though the ladies were not allowed this privilege.  In the sweet and silent
hours of the early night, permeated by the powerful presence of Sri Bhagavan, those around Him never knew the passage of
time. That was when Sri Bhagavan regaled devotees with the most interesting stories and soul-stirring incidents immersing
them all in waves of Bliss.  And what Bliss it was to be alive then!  To be in the Presence was heaven indeed.  These few
devotees had Sri Bhagavan exclusively to themselves, for even the attendants would quietly depart, leaving them alone with
Sri Bhagavan.

As Bhagavan's Mahanirvana approached Narayana Iyer never moved away from the vicinity of Sri Bhagavan.  At that time,
Sri Bhagavan's water pot and walking stick were in His room as He could not use them anymore. Iyer sensed that several
people had secret designs on them wanting to take them away and preserve them ass private, sacred relics.  After the
Mahasamadhi abhishekam and arti were performed and the holy body was taken in procession in a small ratha around the
Mother's shrine.  Iyer took this opportune moment and picked up the walking stick and kamandalu  and slowly walked ahead
of ratha up to the Samadhi chamber where the body would be enshrined.  He descended into the chamber where the body
was placed and laid Sri Bhagavan's walking stick and kamandalu on either side of the body.  The Samadhi pit was then slowly
filled in.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

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Re: Remembering Narayana Iyer - Mountain Path - April -July 2008.
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2013, 11:09:39 AM »

continues.....

In the aftermath of Sri Bhagavan's Mahanirvana, Iyer did not giver up his earlier routine of having Sri Bhagavan's darshan
daily.  He had darshan of Sri Bhagavan at the Samadhi Shrine and continued to visit the Old Hall.  The Iyers stayed on
in Tiruvannamalai as did Chadwick who for a time, took up residence in the Iyer compound in a small thatched roof
cottage until he was invited by the Asramam management to move back there again.  Later in life, they moved to Madras
where their children took care of them in their old age.

Narayana Iyer and his wife were in the grahastha asramam and followed  dharma meticulously.  Yet mentally both had donned
ochre robes and their lives, the way they lived was a penance (tapas) requiring no other spiritual practice.  Wherever Iyer
went his continued recitation of Ulladu Narpadu made the air around him vibrant with the holy Presence of Sri Bhagavan,
compelling an inner response from all.

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.
.