The Dance of the Dazzling Peacocks
It is always an enthralling treat to read about incicents and events which surely would have not been possible if not for the divinity involved. They bring out the fact that there is indeed a supreme being, watching over us and protecting us day and night. Such thoughts are often comforting in today’s world where people and science sometimes challenge the existence of this Parabrahman, proving through countless methods that there is no such thing (As if He needs to be proved!!!).One such incident that still sends shivers of hope down my spine everytime I read or hear about it was staged by divine hands in 1923, at ‘Namma Chennai’, amidst a very busy Thambuchetty Street.
Shri pamban Swamigal is a much loved and respected guru in the circle of Murugan Devotees everywhere. His Samadhi in Thiruvanmiyur draws large amounts of devotees to it to get the blessings of a Guru which is of utmost importance in the path to God. Swamigal came to Chennai from his native village of Pamban on the orders of Shanmuga. A staunch sanyasi and a stauncher Guha devotee, he soon had a large gathering of sishyas, all of whom worshipped him and Guha as their supreme protector. He wrote the famous Shanmuga kavacham, a heart rending composition in Tamil, that extols the glory of Muruga and his infinite grace towards his devotees.
In December 1923, when Swamigal was staying in Georgetown, the seat of the British Government of South India, he met with an accident. When he was walking down Thambuchetty street in Parrys, a Jatka drawn by a strong horse ran over his legs in a hurry to get past the street. Swamigal was at once taken to the General Hospital for treatment. A team of doctors discovered that the ankle bone had been broken due to the impact of the wheels. Inspite of their best treatments they did not have much hope. The chief doctor met with Chinnaswami Jothidar, one of the first disciples of Swamigal and spoke to him about the possible ways out. “I am very sorry, but your Swamigal’s leg is fractured pretty badly. And at seventy five the self-healing capacity of the bones are lost. I am afraid that we have to amputate his legs to prevent possible spread of infection”, he let him know with a definite sulk in his voice.
Chinnaswami Jothidar was heart broken. He approached Swamigal’s ward and let him know what the doctors had just shared with him. Swamigal, on the other hand remained as calm as always and said “If that is what they say, then let them do it. I have no problem, Chinnaswami.” Chinnaswami however still firmly trusted in the powers of his guru and the all powerful Shanmuga Kavacham. He rushed home and requested all the followers of Swamigal to do Shanmuga kavacham Parayanam, praying for the recovery of Swamigal. Devotees thronged to Swamigal’s ashram and chanted Shanmuga kavacham continuously. Chants were also recited at devotees’ homes and offices, every word praying for the recovery of Swamigal.
At Swamigal’s house, divine sprit was definitely high. The continuous chanting had created an atmosphere charged with divinity. Chinnaswami was himself leading the chanting and then, all of a sudden, when a high canto of the Kavacham was being sung, there was a flash before Chinnaswami’s eyes, and then a glorious Vel, shining with a splendour of a million suns appered in his vision. It was by the bed of Swamigal. In a jiffy, the Vel rose up and in an eyeblink, it entered the broken ankle of Swamigal. And then everything went blank.
Chinnaswami opened his eyes and rushed out of the house. He ran to the hospital and banged into the ward. Swamigal was up on his bed, a smile on his face, looking as calm as ever. The doctors were examining his leg, a look of astonishment on their white british faces. “Mr Chinnaswami”, they greeted him, “We don’t know how to explain this to you, but the leg seems to have cured itself. It is an absolute miracle. Your swamigal will be ready for discharge in a few days. We stil need to get over this.. this… lets say… fortunate happening.” With a smile to conceal his look of total astonishment, the doctor walked away. Chinnaswami looked at Swamigal, who with a look of all knowingness, lowered himself into the bed and drifted off into blissful sleep.
As if this were not miraculaous enough, on the 11th day following his admission into the hospital, Swamigal was resting in his ward, when all of a sudden two peacocks flew in through the window. In front of his very eyes, they flung open their feathers into a fan and danced around the ward, gently and gracefully, complementing and supplementing each other, shaking their fans in perfect unison. Swamigal was stounded and stared at them, the divine mounts of Skandha dancing before him. And then when he slightly tilted his head down to adjust his mattress, lo and behold, there was Skandha himself, lying next to him in his bala swaroopa. Shimmering with divine light, with a tiny vel clenched in his petal like fingers, Skandha smiled back at Swamigal and then everything vanished, the peacocks and the lord, leaving Swamigal in a state of perpetual joy. ” Aaha!!! What a blessing, what a blessing”, he kept saying to himself.
To comemmorate this event, the followers of Swamigal organize a grand festival near his samadhi and call it “Mayoora Vaahana Sevanam”. They often quote that Swamigal always said that the saying ‘Velum Mayilum Thunai’ is not just a saying. It is indeed a proof of the protective will of Muruga, whose Vel and Peacock are always a source of protection to his devotees.
The British doctors were so surprised at the sudden cure of Swamigal’s leg and the appearance of peacocks in a crowded urban hospital that they decided to honour Swamigal by naming the ward after him. Even today, a ward exists in the General Hospital at Chennai, named “Pamban Swamigal Ward”, and stands in eternal testimony of the existence of the supreme being and his miraculous ways by which he protects his true devotees from pain and suffering.