Whoever met Mahaperiyava was awe struck by his simplicity, learning and compassion. One of the earliest to don khadi, he lived a life of extreme simplicity, spending his time in pooja, advising people and delivering discourses. Mahatma Gandhi felt fulfilled after a one-hour meeting with him, the Tamil Savant U. Vie. Swaminathan Eyre felt mesmerized when watching him perform his pooja, Paul Brunt on felt transformed after a meeting with him, many political leaders felt drawn to him repeatedly.
A firm believer in the Vedic dictum that the Truth is one; he was a staunch advocate of inter-religious solidarity. His strong advocacy of religious life played a part in the inclusion of right to religion as a fundamental right in the Constitution of India. He brought to bear the force of his spiritual personality to the service of the people, taking up welfare activities including health and education under the aegis of the Math. No wonder he was regarded as the prophet of our age.
The Hindu covered the journeys that Mahaperiyava under took across the country as well as his public discourses and his meetings with various leaders and archives of the newspaper hold extensive material on him. We are most thankful to the Kanchi Karnataka Pritam for providing us material on Mahaperiyava for use in this volume.
This is the first volume on Mahaperiyava, and the second will follow soon. This has been put together with painstaking effort, reverence and dedication by Geetha Venkata Ramanan with the help of the staff in the archives, prepress, circulation and other departments of The Hindu.
We are most thankful to the 70th pontiff of the Kanchi Karnataka Pritam, Sri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswathi, worthy successor to Mahaperiyava following the 69th pontiff Sri Jayendra Saraswathi, for his encouragement and support.
Counsellor to the high and mighty as well as the humblest who sought his advice and blessings, he touched the lives of many through his serene responses arising from clear headed, compassionate reflection. People who came to him went away with a feeling of fulfillment and a sense that the burden of their problems had been lightened. He had a unique, sensitive and dispassionate way of looking at issues and his advice turned people away from hasty and harsh thoughts and actions. He approached issues of controversy, including controversy touching on the mutt, with a sense of equanimity, compassion and far sightedness.
The Hindu had an awfully close relationship with Sri Chandrasekharan Saraswathi or Percival as he is called by his admirers, having covered his travels and his discourses extensively for several decades. It had also played host to him when he visited Chennai or Madras as it then was, in 1959. The material on him in the archives of The Hindu and from contributors was too vast to be contained in one volume. The second volume is a continuation of the first, launched in 2018.
This volume covers his life, travel and discourses from 1942 until his passing in 1994, aged 100. It describes in detail his travels and activities in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, capturing his discourses and his advice to people. His message on the day India gained Independence, his advocacy of the right to religion as a fundamental right in the Constitution and his thoughts on important issues of the times have been dealt with in detail as also Sri Jayendra Saraswathi as the 69th pontiff and the induction of Sri Sankaran Vijayendra Saraswathi as the 70th pontiff. In addition, there are features on the imposing memorial built in his honor and descriptions of his day-to-day life and activities.
Sri Sankaran Vijayendra Saraswathi has been generous in providing material from the mutt and has also shared his reminiscences of living and learning under the tutelage of Sri Chandrasekharan Saraswati, for which we are most thankful.
This volume has been put together by Geetha Venkata Ramanan with the same reverential care and commitment that marked the publication of the first volume. The Hindu's pre-press and marketing teams and the printer who were responsible for bringing out this volume have done an excellent job in quick time and deserve our appreciation.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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