“I started to sing ‘Sama Gana Vinodhini’…”
Ilayaraja’s experience with Him
“The Jeer sent Shri Desikan to Swamigal to apprise Him that Mantralaya temple which had initally accepted to take responsibility to construct the Gopuram of Srirangam Temple is having second thoughts on this and requested Him to come with another person for this task. He was in Silence that time.
He Himself drew the picture of a Gramaphone on the ground and asked the persons near Him to start telling the names from the Cine field. One by one the names were said and He asked them to continue… Suddenly, someone mentioned my name, upon hearing which He gestured with His Hand that I was indeed the one!
I came to know of His decision through an acquaintance of mine, a person called Chandramouli from Tiruchi. This person used to play the Mridangam. He met me unnannounced at Prasad Studios in Madras one evening at 7 pm and told me all that had happened!
“He asked you to build Srirangam Temple Tower (Gopuram) and gave His anugraham”, said he.
“Oh, Periyava has said this? Then I will definitely do it”, I told Chandramouli.
When I think of it now, I was taken aback on hearing this. Until then I had never seen Him. There was no direct communication from Him to me or from the Jeer regarding the construction of the Gopuram for Srirangam temple.
“The total cost for the Gopuram will be Rupees 22 lakhs but He requested you to take care of the 6th Tier only which will cost approximately 8 lakh rupees”, he told me.
“I had already given my concurrence for the whole Gopuram itself! Do you know from where I got the conviction to say that? It is all His Grace only, I left the burden of the work to Him only, what else? If He says something then He will ensure that it happens, I have no role in it at all!”, I told him.
After that, I developed an intense desire to meet Periyava. I told this to Shilpi the famous artist and he said he would also come. We two along with Chandramouli planned to have His darshan. At that time we came to know that He was camped in Satara.
We met Him at a nearby village called Mahagaon. It was in the remote suburbs and He was in a cowshed in a garden and we reached that place at around 3 pm afternoon. We passed on the word of our arrival to His Kaingaryams. He was observing Mounam, a vow of Silence. We were taken inside the place where He was present. He asked in sign language, “Who we were?”. The Kaingaryams introduced us one by one to Him. And then He raised His right Hand in blessings to us! Next when He moved His Head slightly, I had a vision of His effulgent eyes. So luminous were they. I had never seen such brilliance in One’s eyes until then in my entire life! Those eyes did something to me. (it is interesting to note that Shri Ilayaraja begins to talk in ‘pure’, in a ‘written’ Tamil from this point to until the end of the interview! The thought of Those eyes really did something to him even now at the time of the interview!)
On seeing that Luminiscent One, I was frozen. I simply lifted my hands above my head in respect and started to weep profusely. He was holding a Mango in His hands for a while and He gave it to me as a prasadam. That is the biggest anugraham (blessing) I have ever had!
We came to know from someone that He was planning to go to a nearby village in the evening. We felt sad on hearing this that we will have to return home. But He gave me limitless joy when it transpired later that He was not going anywhere that day!
That night all of us were sitting in the garden under the open skies. It was Pournami (Full moon night) I think. There was not a single cloud in the sky. The infinite stars in the sky were shining gloriously presenting a magnificient spectacle. Without getting my consent, His Kaingaryams told Him that I was interested to sing a song! He gestured Ok to me. I started to sing ‘Sama Gana Vinodhini’, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar’s song.
When I started to sing the words ‘Sama Gana…’ He suddenly turned His Head towards me with all His infinite compassion. I started to weep again while I was singing. I lost control and struggled to complete the song somehow. After this He came out of His Silence and started to converse with me. I got the feeling that He was talking to me just to bless me.
(Unable to type, I am gripped…)
Then He identified 27 Nakshatarams (Stars) in the sky for me and told me their names one by one! He explained in great detail about each of them and their positions in the sky. He also pointed out the 12 Rasis Mesham, Vrishabham etc. Oh, what a blessing! Sarveshwara.
To this day, I am unable to fathom why He explained in so much detail about these stars us on that spectacular night!
With that our stay in Mahagaon came to an end. This incident triggered more desire in me to meet him regularly in the future. To see His physical form is like seeing a ‘Thava Yogi’. His form represents Compassion, Love, Devotion.That is He! It will always be in our hearts. Those who were fortunate to see Him can never forget That ‘Yogic’ form of His, or His Eyes, or His Divinity or His Compassion. I was blessed to receive them in my Heart. I consider it to be His anugraham (blessing) for me.”
This is my translation of the video interview which was posted here recently. The caricature is a late 80s one of Shri Illayaraja by Sage of Kanchi Facebook member Shri Keshav. Swamigal’s photo is the one which adorns our Pooja Room at home. Today has been a weeping day for me. This is one of the best incidents I liked. Maybe because of the magnificient stars in the Sky and Our Sarveshwaran surveying it like a King. Maybe for that simple musical genius. Sarveshwara.