Once Sri Devanarvilagam Azhagiasingar was camping at Hyderabad for observing Chaturmasyam. The premises identified for hosting the Pontiff and his retinue was a beautiful property, with spacious accommodation, plenty of well water and peaceful environs ideal for Srimad Azhagiasingar’s anushttanams. HH liked the place very much and used to conduct Abhigama Aradhanam daily with his usual devotional fervour, attended by quite a big crowd. The locality however was predominantly muslim, though the accommodation itself was insulated from any such influences.
Among the daily congregation which assembled to have a glorious eye-full of Sri Malolan’s tiruvaradhanam by Srimad Azhagiasingar was a pious muslim of royal lineage. Attracted somehow by the Pontiff’s serene countenance shining with the light of wisdom and penance and also by the incredible beauty of Sri Malolan, the muslim watched daily from a distance, honouring the traditions of Sri Ahobila Mutt.
This went on for several days. The Chaturmasyam period was about to conclude. One day, the muslim gentleman made bold to approach Srimad Azhagiasingar through a kainkaryapara, with a request for the Pontiff to visit his (the muslim’s) residence and perform Malolan’s worship at his palatial house. It appeared that the gentleman was indeed of royal descent and very well endowed. Despite being a devout moslem, Sri Malolan and Srimad Azhagiasingar had made indelible impressions on his mind and he was eager to have them stay at his house, affording him a chance to worship both. Having informed himself about the Mutt’s travel plans, he also submitted that his residence at Begumpet was right on the way to Bombay and that he would be honoured if they did stay at his house for a week. He was prepared to bear all expenses of the stay, allot a separate and spacious house for Sri Malolan and His retinue and to keep his distance, without in any way hindering the religious observances of the Pontiff and others.
This request gave rise to a rather piquant situation. The gentleman was obviously overwhelmed by devotion to Sri Malolan and to His personal servitor. However, for Srimad Azhagiasingar or the Lord to stay at or even visit such a place would have been unprecedented and not in tune with Shastraic provisions. Hence, after due deliberation, the muslim gentleman was advised that his request could not be fulfilled. He went away, crestfallen but understanding the compulsions behind the decision.
Chaturmasyam came to an end the very next day and a day later, Sri Malolan’s camp was road-bound again, en route to Bombay. Sri Malolan was travelling in His palanquin, while some distance behind, Srimad Azhagiasingar was travelling in his own. Though the weather was fine when the travel commenced, shortly thereafter there was a severe cyclonic storm with a torrential downpour. The rain was so heavy that visibility was reduced to a few feet.
In the pell-mell, confusion and lack of visibility, the party got separated. Srimad Azhagiasingar and some of the kainkaryaparas lost their way, while Sri Malolan and His bearers continued on the same route till they realized that they were no longer with the main body of servitors. Not knowing what to do, they decided to take shelter in the portico of a huge house standing nearby, till the rains stopped.
At the other end, Srimad Azhagiasingar and his entourage were beside themselves with anxiety, not knowing the whereabouts of Perumal and people went different ways to locate the missing party. At length the rain stopped and Srimad Azhagiasingar too could locate and reunite with Sri Malolan, who had spent His time in the portico, sheltered from the torrential downpour.
By this time, the master of the house, who peeped out for ascertaining that the rain had stopped, found a large group of people in his portico. And when he found out the identity of the group, he came running down from the third floor and prostrated at the feet of Srimad Azhagiasingar from a distance. And the Pontiff was flabbergasted to realize that the house-owner was none other than the muslim, whose offer of hospitality had been declined earlier.
Tears ran down the Pontiff’s face when he realized the lengths to which Sri Malolan went to satisfy His devotees, with little regard to caste, creed, colour, economic or social status. Overcome by emotion, HH immediately performed a mangala haarati to Malolan, which the muslim gentleman witnessed from a distance. The muslim gentleman too was overwhelmed when he was told what had happened and it was with very great reluctance that he bade goodbye to the Lord and Srimad Azhagiasingar, who resumed their interrupted journey.
As the purport of what had happened slowly sank into their intellects, the kainkaryaparas were overawed at the divine will which made itself manifest in the chain of occurrences—the sudden downpour, the separation, the “accidental” availability of a house as a refuge from the rain, the further coincidence of its belonging to a person who had wished fervently to have Malolan in his house and so on.
The words Ezhai Edalan keezh magan ennaadu irangi mattru avarkku innarul surandu flashed in the hearts of kainkaryaparas: We have only heard of Valmiki’s tribute to Sri Rama for having blessed Guha Perumal with a bear hug with scant regard to questions of birth and status: but fortunate indeed were the Lord’s servitors who were treated to an endearing display of His soulabhyam on that stormy day. And fortunate indeed are we too, who are able to at least hear it second hand.
This Article is written by Sri Sadagopan Iyengar Swami, Coimbatore