Experiences with Maha Periyava: The Oldest Language in the World
When I went to the Kanchi Mutt to have the darshan of Sri Maha Periyava, there were four foreigners there, an Israeli, an Italian, a German and a British. They had come to do their PhD in Philology on the topic of ‘the most ancient languages in the Occidental and the Oriental world’. They were studying Latin, Hebrew and Greek languages in the Occidental part and Sanskrit and Tamil in the Oriental part.
Maha Periyava was in his private quarters, performing His Nithya Karma Anushtanas and elaborate poojas; they had waited and desired to take a photo of Him but His kaingaryams refused permission. They were heartbroken that they could not take a picture. All the four of them were standing near a tree since morning waiting for Periyava to finish his poojas and give darshan. They asked His sevakas when He would be done with the poojas but got an unconvincing reply.
I told the foreigners that we Indians are used to the way of life at the Mutt, but how had they all been standing for the past 6 hours? One of them looked at his watch and exclaimed, “Oh my God, has it been 6 hours? He is a Man of Certainty and is Beyond Time!”
Maha Periyava came in after 10 minutes and we all went and prostrated before Him. Looking at the man (who had the camera hanging around his neck) who had wanted to take the photos, He gestured with His hands that he could take the pictures now. He posed for three photos and stopped him before taking the fourth.
”Why have you all come here and what is the purpose of your visit? “, asked Periyava.
”We have visited many places regarding our research on the most ancient language”.
Periyava asked, “So, did you arrive at a conclusion as to which is the most ancient language?”
The Israeli replied, “Hebrew is the most ancient in the Occident; but in the Oriental, people say that both Sanskrit and Tamil are the oldest, but we are confused and that is why we are here for Your opinion”.
Periyava said, “There is another language which is more ancient than all these, it is the Vedic Language. It is the source of even Sanskrit and Hebrew.”
“There is a verse about rebirth in Hebrew, can you recite it completely?” asked Periyava to the Israeli by giving the man the first two words.
The Israeli recited it for 3 to 4 minutes. Periyava looked around and asked some boys, “You have all learnt Rig Veda, can you recite this particular verse? He suggested some mantras to the boys.”
Those boys recited the Veda Mantras for 5 minutes.
Periyava then addressed the Israeli ”Did you understand what these boys recited now?”
The four men remain quiet.
Maha Periyava smiled and turned to the boys and said “You all will definitely not understand what this man had recited in Hebrew!”
He then turned to the Israeli and said, “What you have chanted before is the same as what these boys have chanted!”
The 4 foreigners were stunned and did not know how to respond. Maha Periyava told them that he could prove it and asked for a paper and a pen.
“In Vedas it is mentioned that the world has been classified into 32 portions/regions. And in each of the 32 geographic regions, Vedas say how the Veda Aksharas have changed/got pronounced in those places!”
He asked each of them which region they came from and then explained to them how a particular Veda Aksharam got changed in their individual places! He asked the boys to recite a verse from Rig Veda again and told the men how each Aksharam in Rig Veda in that verse would sound in their Regions!
The Sarveshwaran then said, “I will now recite this verse with some difficulty as it has been a long time since I had Abhyasam and the Mahan started to chant the mantra slowly, slightly differing from the basic shloka aksharam so that it matched how it would sound in Hebrew. After he recited the aksharams he asked the Israeli if he understood the recital of the mantra and aksharam and observed any familiarity.
To the boys who recited the Vedas, He said, “I will now recite it in a slightly different form based on how each Aksharam will sound in Hebrew. Please do not think it is wrong; there is this injunction in the Vedas that it can be recited this way also.”
To everybody’s astonishment and surprise, the Israeli started to recite in Hebrew what Maha Periyava exactly chanted- the aksharas in a modified form, as it resembled the Hebrew language. The Israeli therefore chanted it together with Him!!!
We were all stunned!!!
After this demonstration Maha Periyava addressed everyone assembled there, “I told you earlier, the same verse in Rig Veda is present ditto in Hebrew, but the Aksharas have changed slightly. (As we say Yamuna but in the North it is Jamuna, Va in the south is Ba in West Bengal, Paa in Tamil is Haa in Kannada etc). Therefore, the most ancient language in the world is the Vedic language!”
Maha Periyava then asked for paper and pen to be supplied to the four men in order to prepare a table and fill it with how the Rig Veda Aksharams sounded in their language. This was completed in 15 minutes.
The Israeli was shocked and exclaimed, “This is something unimaginable!”
Periyava asked him, “What do you think now, do you now agree that everything has sprung from Vedas?”
The look on the Israeli’s face was not convincing.
Periyava quipped, “What, Are you thinking why could Vedas not have originated from Hebrew?”
The man said, “Yes, it could have been the reverse also, the Vedas could have come from Hebrew”.
Periyava replied smilingly, “You only have the lock, whereas we have both the key and the lock! It is even mentioned in the Vedas as to which Maharishi from here in India went to your region and spread/taught Vedas in Israel!”
The man was fully convinced in the end that the Vedic language is indeed the oldest and the most time honored.
(Translated from Thiruvannamalai Shri Gowrishankar’s Tamil video interview)