A large crowd in a long queue had gathered to have darshan of Paramacharya. Time was slipping by. Slightly tilting his head, Swamiji glanced at the waiting people and saw a twenty year old youth in the queue. Looking intently at the youth, Swamiji called his assistant Ramu, another youth, who came near him and stood, his hand covering his mouth.
"Ramu, you see the person standing as the fifteenth in the queue? A short boy with a slightly blackish complexion. You need to buy a shirt and pant piece that will suit his size", Swamiji ordered. "Get the cash from the office, and buy good quality cloth from the Mudaliar textile shop near the maTham."
Ramu was surprised and confused at this sudden command from the sage. He knew that he couldn't ask the reason, so started to proceed on his task.
"Ramu, come here!" Swamiji called. "You know about the name of the modern textile variety?"
"I know it Periyavaa."
"Come on, tell me?"
"It is called terry cotton, Periyavaa."
"Hm... the same thing. Get a costly piece from that variety."
Within fifteen minutes, Ramu appeared before the sage with the cloth. Swamiji was very happy as he looked at the cloth from a distance.
"Besh, besh. It is very good da!" Swamiji appreciated Ramu. "You do one thing. Get a bamboo plate and fill it with fruits, purna phalam, and place the cloth on them. Tell the manager that I wanted a sum of six thousand and seven hundred rupees, placed in an envelope, get the money and keep it on the plate. I shall tell you later about what to do next."
With this order to his assitant, Swamiji started conversing to his bhakta nearby.
An envelope with the amount ordered was brought. Swamiji gestured that it be placed on the plate.
Now the twenty year old boy was standing before Paramacharya, who looked at him head to toe. The youth prostrated to him. Swamiji turned and looked at Ramu, who came near him, running.
"Ramu, take that plate in your hands." Ramu did as he was told.
Swamiji said with a blossoming face, "Give that plate to the boy and tell him of my bountiful blessings to him and his family."
The youth could not understand anything about the offer of cloth and money. He simply blinked at the sage, looked this way and that, and stood without knowing what to do.
AchryaL understood his confusion and anxiety. He spoke, "Ramu, ask him not to get confused. Tell him it is the blessing from the maTham to him and his family. Ask him to safely deliver the money in the cover at his home."
The youth nodded his head, though he understood nothing. He again prostrated to the sage and moved away with the surprise gift.
Fifteen minutes passed. Everyone had left, having a darshan. AcharyaL came to his room and sat. He called Ramu near.
"Why Ramu, you did not ask me the reason for my honouring the boy in a special way?"
Ramu hesitated and said, "How can I ask Periyavaa about such things? I am here only to carry out your orders."
"Alright, you don't have to ask me! I shall tell you the reason myself."
Swamiji spoke: "This incident happened many years back. Our maTham at that time was finding it a little difficult to make ends meet. I decided to undertake a yAtra to the north Indian regions with my retinue. We started at an auspicious time. I came to the entrance of the maTham. There was a small grocery shop opposite the maTham. It belonged to a Chettiar. The maTham had an account for buying groceries from that shop.
"As he saw me at the maTham entrance, Chettiar came running. He prostrated, tying his upper vastram around his waist. I thought that he had come to offer his respect knowing that I was about to go on a yAtra.
"'What ChettiarvaL, you are fine? How does your groceries business go?' I inquired him.
"He closed his mouth and replied meekly, 'Somewhat alright, Swami, but the going is really difficult. I heard that Swami is going on a yAtra north and would return only after five or six months.'
"I told him, 'That's right, ChettiarvaL. .. might take five or six months to return.' He took his time thinking something, hesitated much and then said, 'It is not that Swami. The maTham has an account with our shop, as Swami knows.
There is a balance amount for the four to five months goods supplied that remains to be paid. I too find it difficult, with four months rent for this shop in arrears. I am just submitting my problems to you. You finish your yAtra and come back.' As he said it, Chettiar again prostrated.
"I said, 'ChettiarvaL! Immediately after coming back from the yAtra, I shall arrange to clear your dues.' and started on my yAtra.
"When I came back finishing the six months yAtra and looked opposite the maTham, the Chettiar's shop was locked. Later when I inquired, I was told that the Chettiar had attained kAla gati three months back suddenly, when he was out of station. Nothing was known about the whereabouts of his relatives! I later inquired about the amount of dues to the Chettiar's shop. It was a sum of eight hundred and seventy five and three-quarters of rupees. I settled the debt with the principal and interest only today! You understand what I am saying? The boy I honoured today was none other than the paternal grandson of the Chettiar. What was due to the grandfather has been settled with the grandson, with principal and interest. No worry henceforth!" Swamiji finished.
Ramu was wonderstruck as he heard the tale. In the meantime another assistant boy came that side. Ramu took leave of the sage and rushed to the entrance of the maTham.
The twenty year boy was standing there with the blessed bamboo plate on his hands. Ramu was very happy to see him and tactfully inquired about the matter.
The boy said, "Yes, I learnt from my grandmother and father that my grandfather had a grocery shop opposite the maTham a long time ago. I heard that his relatives came to settle in Krishnagiri after the sudden demise of my grandfather, closing down the shop due to mounting debts.
"Now my father is running a grocer shop there. I came here touring with my friends from my place. I don't understand why Periyavanga did all these to me. It is very surprising!"
Ramu was speechless as he understood the foresight of his walking God. He went inside the maTham, wondering about what he saw and heard. It was around seven in the evening. AcharyaL was sitting alone in his room.
He saw Ramu and smiled meaningfully. Ramu did not understand. AcharyaL called him near and said, "You had a doubt about the authenticity of what I told you. So you got it confirmed from the Chettiar's grandson at the maTham entrance!" Paramacharya laughed loudly.
Ramu sought his pardon, weeping and saying that he did it out of curiosity only. Paramacharya blessed him with a raised hand, still smiling.
Author: Sri Ramani Anna (in Tamil)