Experiences with Maha Periyava: Student completes thesis on Bharata Shastra
A very moving incident was narrated to me by a PhD student. The candidate had gone for darshan.
His Holiness: “What are you doing at present”?
Candidate: “I am writing a PhD thesis on Bharata Shastra”.
His Holiness: Have you completed it?
Candidate: “I have finished more than half, but the work could not proceed further due to some problems”.
His Holiness: “What is the problem?’’
Candidate: I am trying to trace the origin and development of various aspects of Bharata Natya with evidence from literature, music, sculptures and the Shastras. I am not to get the evidence required for about three centuries in the beginning of the millennium, although I have collected the evidence for the earlier and later period. So the work is unfinished.
The candidate told me that Maha Periyava hardly appeared to be listening as He was giving prasadam and talking to visitors in between the conversation. A few minutes later, He turned to the candidate again.
His Holiness: Have you been to Chidambaram?
Candidate: Yes, many times.
His Holiness: Have you visited the Nataraja temple?
Candidate: Yes, almost every time I visit the town, I go to the temple also.
His Holiness: “Do you go to Ambal’s sannidhi every time?”
Candidate: (Shame facedly) No, not always. Often I am in a hurry and have darshan of Lord Nataraja and return without having a darshan of Goddess Sivakami.
Maha Periyava did not reply and went on giving darshan to visitors. The candidate took leave and returned home.
A few months later during a visit to Chidambaram the candidate visited the temple. Suddenly the memory of what Maha Periyava said, that Ambal’s sannidhi should also be visited came as a flash.
The candidate then told me. “As I entered the prakaram of Sivakami Amman I suddenly realized that all the sculptures in the four prakarams were the missing link for the evidence of three centuries for my PhD thesis. What I could not find out for several years, Maha Periyava divined in a few seconds and gave me the lead. It took me several months even to understand that hint".
The thesis was quickly completed and submitted to the university and the candidate was awarded the PhD degree, thereafter.