My Guru Param Thillairajah’s zest for learning was unbelievable. One day during the classes, he played a cassette and told me “Badri! we must learn this song and sing it” and that was the Dwadasa Ranjana Mala consisting of 12 different Ranjanis one for each line along with chittaswaram. And the next few days, we immersed ourselves totally and finally got it. He was 75 then but he was learning as if he were a child.
To say that he was a TV addict would be an understatement. He would watch tamizh serials, sports like cricket and tennis and news especially BBC. He had the different episodes of “Sondham” serial taped and distributed freely to me.
He had a high regard for well qualified individuals and would talk very highly of them. I remember him giving me “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind” by Deepak Chopra. My wife Geetha read it in a few days and when I mentioned this to him on returning the book, he was so impressed with her keenness for learning that he used to mention this to anyone whom he knew.
He loved my grandmother’s songs especially the ones on Lord Muruga. He would ask me to sing “manam varumo muruga” in the raagam Hamsanandi whenever there was an occasion at his home or when someone called on him.
He was very upset when he learnt that I was leaving Australia back to India and even suggested that I apply for permanent residency and get my mother there. But when he knew that I was keen on going, he became very supportive and in fact came to the airport to see us off.
I vividly remember his trip to India in 2002 when we had the fortune of hosting him in Chennai for a few days. He would climb the three flights of stairs (no lift) but would not complain. He and amma travelled to so many destinations in north and south India during that trip and I am still left wondering of their willpower.
I can go on and on, sharing memories of that incredible person full of life, warmth and hospitality. I consider it my “poorva janma puniyam” that I even came into contact with him let alone be the recipient of his unlimited love and affection.
No thought of Ayya can be complete without a deep sense of gratitude to amma. Her patience was amazing especially in the face of the several demands he would make of her and her infectious smile would immediately wipe away any stress or tension in others.