A Bookfair in Thiruvannamalai

Bhagavan recounted once when there was a book fair in town his grandfather took him there to accompany him in searching for great spiritual books.  In one particular stall, his grandfather sat the young avatar down near a bookstall with the stall owner, and went his way to look at other books.

As soon as Mudaliar was out of sight, Bhagavan began searching for books for himself. He excitedly looked through sections of books with illustrations. Suddenly he jumped with great enthusiasm at a book that featured the great epic Ramayana with pictures for kids. The stall owner saw his enthusiasm for the book and asked him if he wanted to keep the book. After leafing through the pages, the young Avatar’s face looked disappointed. He replied to the shop owner, “No! I don’t want this book. I will look at some other book.”

The owner asked why. Bhagavan then explained, a small boy teaching this elderly bookshop owner, that the book was a misrepresentation of Ramayana and that instead of narrating the story with pictures for support, it appeared as though for the sake of the pictures, they had made up the storyline.

The stall owner was shocked at the conviction, clarity and authority with which the boy was talking.

He asked him, “Why don’t you narrate to me the Ramayana as you know it in its true form?” Bhagavan jumped at the invitation and started narrating in earnest, from what he had heard from his grandfather and from what he had read in various books on Ramayana. The stories that his grandfather had told him became the substance of impromptu discourses, called “Kathakalakshepam”, in Tamil. The stall owner started understanding that the boy was no mere boy. He put him on the table, bowed to him and listened as tears streamed from his eyes.

At that time, the young Avatar could not understand the emotions of the man but continued with the narration upon insistence from him. By the time he finished, an audience of excited book fair-goers gathered around him. When he concluded, that gave a thunderous applause.

The stall owner was by now overwhelmed. He touched the child’s feet and repeated many times amidst sobs that the child was certainly bestowed with divine grace, else he would not be able to narrate the story with such ease and confidence at such a young age. Bhagavan asked his grandfather what he had done to make the man cry so much. His grandfather too was emotional. Once they reached home, Bhagavan got his grandfather’s assurance once more that he had not done any wrong to make the man cry. That night, Mudaliar blissfully reported to his deities that the miracle that happened with his grandson. From up above, they all listened eagerly to his story, laughing and endlessly smiling at the bhaava of Sadashiva as a small child, teaching the Ramayana to a scholar.

The lessons from his grandfather did not even end there. Not only did he learn these beautiful habits and became trained as speaker,  he also picked up the habit of serving people food from his grandfather.

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