Monday, May 3, 2010

Poondi swamigal


Poondi swamigal video(click Me)

Once I had occasion to visit the Samadhi of Sri Seshadri Swamigal in Tiruvannamalai, when the priest there, after giving me the holy water (Teertham) and sacred ash (Vibhuti). suggested that I should visit the "Saint of Poondi". Since Poondi was situated only about twenty miles from there, I assured the priest that I would try to make the visit. Shortly afterwards I met a young Brahmachari from Uttarkasi, by name, Mallikaljuna, and we decided to visit the Saint of Poondi together, and so we soon tarted off by bus, and arrived at Poondi.
As the bus came to a halt, we jumped out and immediately noticed that on the right side of the road, on an open verandah, an old man was seated and wa garlanded very profusely. The first look at him created a poor impression: "If this were to be the Swami of Poondi, then I have come to one who parades himself exactly at the place where the bus stops". And he was looking from the right corner of his eyes at all the people alighting from the bus. I was almost sure that he was on the look out for devotee visitors. His hair was partly tied up into a knot at the top of his head with flower garlands, and the rest of it was falling behind hi back. He had a shapely beard, and in his left hand he held a large number of currency notes. In his right hand, between his fingers, were two or three c!garettes, and there were some rings on his fingers, only one of which seemed to be of gold.

I stood for a moment, wondering whether he could be the Swami so highly spoken of by the priest at Tiruvannamalai, and the young Brahmachari accompanying me suggested that we had best find out for sure whether he was the man we had come to see. Upon our enquiry one young man told us that we were in fact in the presence of the Swami who we had wanted to see. We immediately accepted the situation, and, turning all our fanciful thinking towards the task of patient observation, we offered to garland him with the flowers that we had brought from Tiruvannamalai. The Swami, instead of allowing us to put them around his neck, leaned back so as to be beyond our reach, and taking the garlands with his hand, he kept them away from him. Seeing the rupees in his hands I too offered him one rupee, which he accepted. Then he gave us holy ashes and Kumkum. We then went to the back of the thatched shed, and introduced ourselves to a young man, Mr Ramani from Madras. While the Brahmachari started to talk with him, I kept up my observation of the Swami. The first thing that I observed was that the Swami did not pay attention to his visitors, other than formality demanded of him. He seemed to be not looking at anyone in particular, and I found out that his side-long look was not a look for eager devotees, but was just his natural look, like the left-bent gaze of Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi. Furthermore 'Poondi Swami' was indifferent to the money in his left hand, for not once did he change it over to his other hand, nor did he remove it to, a relaxed position. Nor did he smoke, though he held so many cigarettes between hi fingers, and his mood did not change even with the passing of four hours. Obviously he was not waiting for any devotees, for as they came and went, he paid little attention to them. He seemed neither happy nor bored, nor did he change his sitting posture even once. This was a stunning revelation for me. It was not that he was sitting in meditation or anything like that. He simply was not aware of the way he was sitting, and his body did not demand any attention to it by seeking any change in his posture. On keen observation, this complete unawareness of the separate existence of his body, seemed to correspond with his unawareness of the separate existence of others. When someone comes for his blessings, he focuses his attention as if by an effort, and as soon as his blessing is given (either by accepting the offerings of the visitor, or by giving holy ashes), his focused attention seems to melt into a general, vast, abstract awareness. Even visitors standing for hours in his presence do not attract his attention. Curiosity is totally absent in him.
People who visit him walk towards him, offering fruits, flowers, money, coconuts, incense sticks and camphor. Some offer him tea or coffee, which they fetch from the nearby stalls. Others offer him soda, coca-cola or orange crush, and give him cigarettes or beedies. He accepts, takes them, and puts them aside, paying no attention to them. By evening there are huge piles of these accumulated things, which he never gives to anyone. Every night all these gifts are cleared up and dumped in the rooms behind the Swami, and the heaps have accumulated to such an extent that the rooms seem to be almost full, and all the offerings of of earlier days peep out of the spaces in the shutters. Yet nothing rots nor stinks, and the vapour that can be occasionally sensed is as from fresh flowers, fruits and coconuts. He holds all the money that is offered to him from morning until evening, and this has been going on for the past ten or eleven years. On Saturdays and Sundays the crowds are particularly large, owing to the arrival of those who take off the weekend in order to do homage to him.
Those who visit the Swami repeatedly, know that he never eats nor drinks by himself The thought does not seem to arise at all in him. Some of the devotees lean very close to him and put their offerings straight into his mouth. Even as they approach him he casts a piercing glance at them and at the offering, and immediately seems to decide whether to eat it or not. Sometimes he calmly eats what is put in his mouth, otherwise he takes it with his hand and puts it aside. Generally he does not say anything, except for the occasional 'No' or 'I'll eat later,' 'Keep it there' or 'Hm.' When he accepts drinks, he first transfers the money from his right hand to the left, takes the vessel, and drinks it up, right to the very last drop.
His rejection or acceptance of such offerings does not depend on his liking the articles offered or otherwise. For what he rejects when offered by one man, he accepts from another. In one case that I observed, two people offered him orange squash in two bottles. With one he just glanced at the man, and at the drink, and then kept silent, neither accepting not rejecting. People do not know what to do in such a context. The man stood waiting for a full five minutes, and then requested him to accept it. "Put it there," said the Swami, and again kept silent. After further waiting the man put it where indicated, and stretched out his hands for Vibhuti. "Take it," said the Swami, without even looking at him. The man took a pinch of the Vibhuti and left, casting a searching glance at the Swami and at the bottle of squash still untouched. The next man, a poor villager, walked in and offered a bottle of orange squash. With a sidelong glance the Swami changed the money over to the left hand, took the bottle, and drank it up right to the last drop, looking intently as the very last traces ran down the side of the bottle and into his mouth. He returned the bottle with a belch. He next took up a pinch of Vibhuti, put it on the forehead of the villager, and applied a little Kumkum. The man whispered a petition, to which the Swami said, "Nalladu" (Meaning 'approval or 'sanction' in Tamil), and bowing he too left.
One of the visiItors offered the Swami a packet of cigarettes and matches, and tried to put a cigarette in the Swami's mouth, but the Swami took it out and placed it on the side. The man took Vibhuti and left. Another visitor then walked up, put a cigarette in the Swami's mouth, and the latter, like a child, opened it in passive acceptance. When it was lit, the Swami immediately started taking brisk, rapid inhalations of the smoke, and all his attention seemed to be on his new task. It was like a breathing exercise. After just a dozen rapid puffs he had finished more than half of the cigarette, and the man who had offered it bowed gratefully, picked up some Vibhuti and left. The next visitor extended a sweet to the Swami's mouth. The Swami seemed to waken from his engrossment in smoking, looked at it for a moment and took it into his mouth. At the same moment he completely forgot all about the burning cigarette in his hand. A few more people came, and the offerings continued. He accepted a tumbler of coconut water from one, a cup of coffee, a soda, an orange drink, some more sweets, some mango, and so on. It was stupefying to see how he could go on accepting whatever was offered. When it seemed that the fullness of his stomach was the reason of refusing more offerings, he suddenly accepted something from the next person.
Nobody knows exactly who he is He was found for over thirty years wandering about in the neighbouring villages and towns. He never spoke to anyone, never asked anyone for anything, never changed his clothes, never washed. He answered the calls of nature wherever he sat, and never ever washed himself. Yet strangely enough he was never found stinking. When things were offered to him, he would only rarely accept. He only ate what people placed in his mouth, never taking any food in his hands. If he took any cigarettes or matches, they would be seen tied up in a portion of his clothes, but they would never see him smoking them. When in the vicinity of Poondi or Kalasapakkam, he would sit mostly in the sand of an adjoining rivulet. Neither the sweltering heat of the sands on a summer noon, nor the biting cold of winter nights could drive him any place to seek shelter from the extremes of weather. He was found lying for days on end in the hot sands. When it rained, he seemed to be unaware of it. Occasionally he would walk into and around the villages, and would sit wherever suited. He never answered questions of people, regarding his name, place or age. He would bless when his blessings were sought. Very few people recognised him to be the Saint that he undoubtedly was. Most people took him to be a madman. It was a peculiar incident that brought him to the attention of the public. Once he sat on the riverbed, even when the water in it rose up. Usually he sat on a bank and the water flowed past him on either side, but on this occasion the river was quite full. The villagers thought that he had been washed away by the swirling waters, or that he must have been buried in the sand. After some days the water level fell, and huge sand dunes were left behind. Nearly twenty-five days later, when some people were removing the sand heaps, they found the Swami lying under the sand. As soon as the sand was removed, the Swami got up as though from a sleep, and just walked into the village. In this way the Swami was recognised, and so he came to be venerated. Once a milkman of Poondi was carrying five litres of milk on his head. On the way he met the Swami and offered him some. He kept on offering it until the Swami had drunk it all up, and he considered this a rare honour. On another occasion, on Deepavali day, he went and sat in the frontyard of a house nearby the Ishwara temple in Kalasapakkam. The housewife came out and was overjoyed to see, the Swami, and offered an oilbath, as is the custom on a holy day. After he kept quiet she applied the oil to his head and body herself and then requested him to go to a pool nearby, where he could take a bath. The Swami agreed and went to the pool, smeared himself with soapnut water and then stretched himself out on the ground. The lady thought that the Swami must have left after taking the bath, and so did not go to look for him. But in fact he remained on the ground for a few days, until a passerby noticed him lying there all covered with termites. He immediately cleared the Swami's body and asked him to get up. The Swami stood up, told the man not to trouble the insects as they were only feeding on him, and then walked away. On another occasion the Swami was seen at a temple in Palagoil, and he used to lie down in the temple in such a way that the Abhisheka water would fall on to his head.
"Paramahamsas like Samvartaka, Aruni, Swetaketu, Jadabharata, Dattatreya, Suka, Vamadeva, Haritaka and others, take eight mouthfuls only, and strive after Moksha alone, through the path of Yoga. They live clothed or naked, at the foot of trees, in ruined houses, or in burning-grounds. With them are no dualities such as Dharma and Adharma, gain and loss, purity and impurity. They look upon gold and stone with the same eye, living on alms, begging from all without any distinction of caste, and looking upon everything as Atma alone. Living as nature made them, freed from the sense of duality, from covetousness, and being engaged in pure Contemplation (Sukla Dhyana) , meditating on Atma, and begging just enough to keep the body and soul together. They reside in ruined houses, temples, straw huts, anthills, the foot of trees, potteries, places of Agnihotra, the sand in the bed of rivers, mountain caves, cavities, hollows of trees, waterfalls etc. Having advanced far on the path of Brahman, being pure in mind, they leave the body through the method prescribed for Paramahamsa Sanyasins."

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