Many civilisations from time immemorial have the habit of worshipping icons, murals, carvings, animals and sometimes human beings also as incarnations of God. Especially in India, worshipping saints as Swamijis (God incarnate) is very much in vogue. At the same time there are iconoclasts who never believe in such form of worship. Also there are some intermediaries who sang ” If you consider it as a mere stone it is stone, If you consider the same as God, it is God”, thus fixing the onus of judgement with the individuals. This is a story of such a Saint worshipped as a Swamiji by villagers. He had opponents too. The story deals with the theme “who wins the war’.
Suri, young lad in his twenties came to his native village after several years on completing his graduation.
Suri is the abbreviation for Surya which again is abbreviated from the full name Surya Narayanan. Surya Narayanan means Sun God, Suri was born as a result of worship to Sun God and the same name was attributed to him
Suri’s ultimate master was his grandfather who was a retired school teacher. For any clarification he would reach only to him and his answer would be the final.
Also for the particular problem the village was facing, only an old timer could have a reply.
The village Kurinji was without rainfall for a decade. The word Kurinji means hilly areas. Kurinji residents had not seen clouds for ten years. Lands had become barren, plants had become dry. First animals started falling to the ground and die because of thirst and hunger. Then new born babies started dying. The pity was parents administered milk from poisonous plants and kill the new born babies. Situation became the worst when farmers committed suicide unable to bear the loss because of failed crops.
“Grandpa, why our village alone is not having rainfall?” was his question. All the surrounding villages were having rain fall, Only Kurinji did not have. He was expecting the reply that it was due to the hill which shielded rain fall, but the answer was totally different and unexpected.
“My grandson, you were in town for your studies. You could not know what happened here”, told his grandpa.
“What happened?”, He asked curiously.
“It is because of the curse given by that holy man”
“What?” Suri was visibly shocked, “This is 21st century and you are talking about curse” he asked in disbelief.
“You do not know it, he had such mystic powers. These bloody villagers aroused his anger and his curse which is the reason for this miserable plight”
“Sorry grandpa, I am unable to believe this”, Suri asserted.
“Please lend me your ears and hear the full story and then you will believe it”. The old man started narrating the incidence as a story.
“Nobody knew where from he came, nor his name, age etc. One day a villager saw him sitting on the hill top He escorted him to this village. On seeing his unshaven face he thought him to be a Saint and started worshipping him. Soon the villagers fell in line to worship him. They had utmost faith in him. He rarely spoke. Sometimes he kept absolute silence for days together.
The days which followed his stay here were the golden days for us.. Rainfall was regular, crops flourished well, all auspicious happenings took place in the village. The villagers contributed their mite at his feet as a reward for all his blessings. They started believing that God himself had sent that God man to them to solve all their problems. They preferred calling him Swamy or Swamiji to give more respect.
This was not liked by Muthu. He worked in a military canteen as an attender and had come back after a short service. He preferred calling himself as ex-serviceman. He declared himself as an iconoclast and questioned all the events in the village.
His prime target was the God man. He started abusing the local people who were worshipping the unknown visitor as God incarnate. The villagers were worshipping him because of the reason “All the good things are taking place after Swamiji’s visit”. But he refuted the claim stating that there were so many mishaps and deaths after his visit. “Will your Swamiji accept responsibility for these mishaps also?” he asked.
On a particular day, there was a great commotion in the village. People ran out of their houses to see what was happening, (“I also rushed to the spot”, grandpa.)
The scene which we witnessed was horrible. A rustic lady of age around thirty was pulled using her long hair and she was crawling on the road,crying and praying for mercy. Several people were seen abusing her with unbearable vulgar comments.
Muthu who was pulling her, dropped his hold when they reached the house of the village head known as village munsif, who rushed outside and enquired about the matter.
“Munsifji, you hear this treacherous affair, make an enquiry and suitably punish the guilty” Muthu roared.
“Wait, I will hear, first of all let me see who this lady is”
The village head was astonished to see Valli, a servant maid who used to help all the people especially the Swamiji.
(At this moment Suri interfered to get a clarification. “Which Valli Grandpa? Is she… ?”
“Yes, you guessed right. It was the same Valli who worked in this house as your maid when you were a very young boy”)
“What happened Valli? You have to tell us.”, the village munsif asked.
Only silence was the reply.
“How will she tell? She is a sinner”, Muthu again roared.
Village head pacified him “Don’t interfere, let her talk” he told.
Only the sobbing sound was the reply.
“She won’t open her mouth, let me say”
The villagers looked at him anxiously.
“She is pregnant now.”
The onlookers were stunned.
“Yes, she is not married but three months pregnant now. Do you know who is responsible for this treacherous act?
“Who..? You tell us”
He pointed out at the holy man sitting in a nearby platform raised beneath a neem- tree and shouted, “This beggar is the father of the baby lying in her womb”
All were stunned.
“Muthu, don’t talk rubbish. He is our Swamiji”
“Swamiji! Ha, Ha, Ha… ” muthu gave a big laugh. “Is a sex maniac who raped an unmarried girl your Swamiji?”
Some of the Swamiji’s supporters opened their mouths. “Muthu, don’t put the blame on a holy man”.
“Am I putting the blame, let himself answer that”
Swamiji was keeping silence.
“You know that Swamiji is keeping silence today. So purposely chose today for creating trouble.”
“Then let Valli say her version.”
“Valli, now you tell us who is responsible for this”
Valli silently pointed her finger to the Swamiji.
Shock and disbelief were reigning high.
“Valli, don’t bluff, we will kill you by stoning..”
They started collecting stones.
“Stop it, if anybody attack her I will shoot you..” Muthu took the rifle which he was keeping as the only proof for his military connection and which he used to hunt birds.
“He is the culprit. He has spoilt the life of the poor girl who was assisting him”
The wind changed sides. There were whispers. People did not know what to do.
The holy man got down from the platform and started walking towards the hill.
“Where are you going? you take Valli also”, so saying Muthu ordered Valli to accompany him.
Then the most unexpected event happened.
A lad from somewhere rushed towards the Swami and cried, “Swamiji, please forgive me, I am the reason for this. I had to keep silence because Muthu threatened both of us. He wanted to put the blame on you. Please all of you forgive me”
So saying he prostrated before the crowd.
The villagers changed the target. They started stoning Muthu. Nobody was afraid of his rifle and he had to flee and never was seen in the village.
Within thirty minutes, the lad tied the knot to Valli and the village head declared that they were legally married.
But Swami did not return to his place. Any amount of persuasion did not deter him from his decision to leave the village.
He walked fast, climbed the Kurinji hill and vanished into the other side of the hill.
This was the thing that happened ten years ago. Once the holy man left the village, rains failed, all the fertility and prosperity went off and we are living in perpetual sorrow. God punished us for doubting Swamiji”.
Grandpa finished his narration.
“Oh, I am very sorry to hear all these grandpa. Did you not try to locate him and bring him back?”
“Yes, some of us located him in Tirupati (one of the holiest temple cities of India). We persuaded him to come back. But he bluntly refused. It seems that he has taken a vow not to come back. He can not break his own pledge”
After a pause Suri told, “Grandpa, I will visit him along with some villagers and persuade him to come back.”
“Is it? I am very happy” Grandfather replied happily.
Next week itself twenty villagers started the errand to Tirupati. The travellers included family members, women and children. Persons who had earlier seen the Swamiji guided them.
Tirupati temple town is situated on top of a hill. It was just 200 kilometres from their village. They first travelled by train and reached lower Tirupati. Regular bus service.was available and they reached the temple after another hour travel.
One villager took them to the place where Swamiji was living. It was near a water falls. On seeing the crowd, Swamiji raised his eye brows. Suri explained the purpose of their errand. It seemed that he was keeping vow of silence on that day also. The villagers prayed for his mercy but of no avail. Then a lady stood up and declared “If you do not come with us, I will jump into this waterfall and die with my baby”. Almost everybody agreed to her proposal. They were of the firm decision that instead of returning and dying in famine, they could very well jump into the waterfalls and die.
Suri explained the situation to him. Everybody was waiting patiently.
Finally the miracle took place. Swami stood up and after signing them to follow, he started walking.
“Oh, finally Swamiji has agreed to come with us..” The villagers jumped in joy.
Arrangements were made to receive him at the railway station which was ten kilo metres away from Kurinji. He started walking from Station.
The sky was already dark with heavy clouds. The weather reports declared that there would be heavy rain in that area.
There were band music, Nagaswaram (Traditional South Indian music), dances, crackers and fireworks all along the route.
The moment he laid his leg into the soil of the village, rain drops started pouring which became a thunder shower in a short time.
Villagers danced and celebrated beyond any control.
But a sudden scream stopped their ecstasy.
“Hey,, what has happened to Swamiji?”
To the utter disbelief of villagers, Swamjji fell in the ground and was dead. With utter disbelief and dismay they started crying.
Then some elders consoled them saying, “He broke his vow which is a promise to God, so he has died.Only his physical body died, There is no death for his soul. The villagers consoled themselves and buried him in the place where he died.. It became a place of worship and people were worshipping him as God for the supreme sacrifice he made.
The story does not end here.
Suri went abroad getting an I.T job.
He returned home after five years.
He was surprised to see a temple like structure where Swamy was buried. People showed their gratitude by converting the place into a full fledged temple with the tomb in the middle.
There was absolutely no rush in the temple. He removed the footwear and entered the temple. His eyes moistured on thinking about the Swamiji.
For ten minutes he was motionless in a meditative state.
Suddenly presence of a lady attracted his attention.
Oh! She was Valli. Swamiji’s personal attendant who created a big havoc 15 years back. Though She was very old then, he was able to recognise her.
“Valli, you are here”
“Who is that? Suri, how are you? Do you remember me yet? Are you married?”
He talked for ten minutes, took leave of her and started.
“Mummy” a teen aged young boy presumably a school student entered and told, “I am hungry”.
“He is my son” Valli told with pride and asked her son to go and wait in the dining hall.
Suddenly something struck his mind.
On seeing him, particularly his face, something struck him.
“Valli, you are like my mother. You took care of me in my childhood. I was told that you used to wash, feed and take care of me more than a mother. Now you tell me the truth. “Who is the father of this boy?”
There was a pause.
Then with a deep sigh Valli answered,
“Yes, you are like my first son. I should tell at least one person the Truth. Then only I can have a peaceful death.
The father of my son is… “
She did not finish.. Just pointed out her finger.
The Swamiji’s tomb was situated in that direction with a large size painting of Swamiji blessing all those who worship him.
Next moment, Valli disappeared into the kitchen.