I am also one of the fortunate who was able to get HG's blessings directly during HG's lifetime when I was very young.
It is difficult to believe that such a noble and virtuous human being in flesh & blood lived amidst us in these days of self-centred and individualistic society.
The advantage of studying/remembering the life of Pampady Thirumeni is that HG was physically with us till very recently (just 37 years back) and at least one generation is still alive who has known him in person. First hand information about the Holy life of Thirumeni is still available in plenty without any need for imagination/exaggeration. Unlike remembering other Saints who have departed us much earlier, we do not have to depend on historians to learn about Pampady Thirumeni.
I would like to share one incident which has moved me few years back.
During the early Eighties, after my graduation I was working for a college in Coimbatore and I was staying in the college hostel where another catholic gentleman was my roommate for sometime. He was a Lecturer from REC, Calicut doing his PhD in the same college. One day I happened to see an old passport size black and white photograph of a bishop, which was cut from some news paper, falling down from his purse. With lot of respect I have seen him putting back the same to his purse. I was slightly curious, since the photograph resembles that of one of our bishops. Out of my curiosity, I asked him, how come you are having the photograph of our Thirumeni? That photograph was of Pampady Thirumeni and he explained to me that this is one promise he has made to his late father. His father has advised him that all their blessings are because of this Saint Thirumeni and try to remember HG throughout his life and that day onwards he try to keep a photograph of Thirumeni in his purse. I was so overwhelmed to see the testimony of faith of this catholic gentleman.
My friend was from Kunnamkulam (Trichur Dist.). What happened in Kunnamkulam in the Nineteen Thirties (if I remember correctly) is known to most of us. Kunnamkulam, a historic place was once infected with Plague and many people were dying on daily basis and there was no immediate cure/remedy available to prevent this deadly epidemic from spreading further. Even the Govt. agencies were so helpless and the people were in such a hopeless situation. In spite of advises from the church hierarchy and well wishers to the contrary (because the disease was so contagious and chances of death was very high for the affected), Pampady Thirumeni took up the challenge with courage and conviction and rushed to the plague affected place. He visited house after house of those who were affected and silently prayed for his people irrespective of caste, creed or religion and not a single person died of this deadly disease after HG stepped in to Kunnamkulam. His Majesty The Maharaja of Kochi was very much pleased when he came to know what Pampady Thirumeni had done for the plague affected people of Kunnamkulam. The king specially invited Thirumeni to his palace on his return. When Thirumeni came to the palace, the Maharaja along with Maharani and his whole family came to meet the hermit(very rare privilege on those days) and requested him to pray for the whole royal family. The King presented very costly gold ornaments as a token of his gratitude to this divine personality. But Thirumeni very humbly declined and told that these costly gold ornaments would not serve him any purpose and requested the Maharaja to utilise them for some projects for helping the poor and HG humbly gave the packet back. The Maharaja was taken aback on experiencing true selflessness. My colleague referred above was from one of the families affected by plague during those days. Every year in the walking pilgrimage (Rasa) to the Dayara from Pampady Valiyapally (about 6 KM mountainous terrain) conducted on 4th April evening, a large number of people from Kunnamkulam still participates. Thirumenis Amshavasthram worn during the last journey was also gifted by people from Kunnamkulam about six months before his demise.
Even now, throughout the passage where the Rasa passes in the evening of 4th April, you will find people standing in deep meditation in front of all houses, with a lighted traditional Nilavilakku and decorated photograph of HG, irrespective of religion or faith. There is no church faction fight or politics when it comes to Pampady Thirumeni's Perunnal there. I am a witness to many known Hindu/Nair families with even rightist RSS background doing this, which is a true testimony of the respect the late Thirumeni commands in the society and a live example of communal harmony especially when issues like Ayodhya etc are heating up.
Even the 12 acre land for the Ashram (Dayara) founded at the desolate Pothenpuram Hills near Pampady in 1914 was donated to HG by his former school master Madathil Asan, a devote Hindu.
To understand HG's personality, looking at a person, Thirumeni could see only his/her positive traits and not his negative traits (unlike in the case of most of us ordinary people). That is the reason Thirumeni do not have any hesitation to gift even costly items received by him to even beggars, when the onlookers interpret it as cheats trying to deceive POOR Thirumeni. His philosophy was very simple, you are seeing the negative traits in a fellow human being only because you have those qualities in you. What you see in others is the reflection of your own character, and not theirs. The results were amazing, many ordinary people who thought of taking short term gains by exploiting the simple nature of Thirumeni, all returned weeping after experiencing the selfless love. Instead of taking anything from Thirumeni, they all returned to give whatever they have to Thirumeni.
Thirumeni firmly believed that all creations of God including humans, animals etc are equal before God. Respect all other religions for no religion advocates the negative and lower qualities of man.
So many people approached Thirumeni with their problems and he prayed for all of them and they received heavenly gifts in plenty. Sick people were healed, family problems were solved, children were born to infertile couples.
While Pampady Thirumeni was alive and even after his demise, many miracles have taken place by his prayer and intercessions. The only "tool" available to HG was PRAYER and nothing else.
It is even beyond our imagination that an 18 year old deacon through his prayers could bring heavy down pour in a season of severe drought in Pampady in the early Nineties. While he was staying as a deacon at Pampady church, a severe drought wrecked the lives and crops of the people there. He declared a three day fasting at Pampady church and called all people to come and join a prayer vigil. To mark the end of the fasting on the third day, he made arrangements for mass "Kanji" (rice porridge) supply to all the participants. While preparations were progressing, The Deacon continued to pray and suddenly, a heavy down pour started with thunder and lightning. This made him famous as a man gifted with heavenly blessings.
HG was the true representation/reflection of SELFLESSNESS AND EMPATHY. Giving everything to everybody. The local Society responded knowing his needs. In my younger days I have seen our Appachans and Ammachies earmarking the best agricultural products like Banana etc for Thirumeni at conceiving stage itself. Thirumeni used to make beggars coming to Dayara sit in a line and he himself served them food. That was how he treated the poor and needy several times.
HG Geevarghese Mar Ivanios, the current Metropolitan of Kottayam Diocese and a successor of Pampady Thirumeni firmly believes that by God's grace and through the prayers of Pampady Thirumeni HG was miraculously healed from cancer, which was considered incurable by even medical fraternity. Even experts in the medical science consider Thirumeni's case as a divine miracle.
In Thirumeni's own words, "I am certain Pampady Thirumeni's prayers were a great source of strength for me. Pampady Thirumeni was a man of prayers and simple life. While Pampady Thirumeni was alive he could demonstrate the power of the Kingdom of God through healing miracles. Many could receive blessings in various ways through the prayers of Pampady Thirumeni. His life of prayer was a source of inspiration for many. Thirumeni was a man of divine love and hospitality. Still Pampady Thirumeni continues his intercession for the church and for the faithful who seek Thirumeni's blessings."
As per the traditions of our church, normally any saintly person will be considered for canonisation and proclaimed as a Saint by The Holy Episcopal synod after 50 years of death after close scrutiny of many aspects. It is heartening to note that now itself, there is unanimity in the Holy Episcopal Synod that Pampady Thirumeni should be canonised as a Saint of Orthodox Church latest by the year of HG's 50th Dhukrono Perunnal in 2015.
It can not be considered a mere coincidence that the saintly Metropolitan passed away on the day he had completed 80 yrs and his own pocket watch stopped at 02:35 AM of 5th April 1965 the moment HG had his last breath. You can see this pocket watch with the time as 02:35 hrs with your own eyes along with HG's other belongings which are nicely displayed at Pampady Dayara.
A good number of reputed institutions have sprung up in and around his Shrine and they all continue their heavenly patron's avowed missions in life. K. G College, B M M Central School, the Orphanage, the Balabhavan, the I T C etc. are some of these. Only because of the quality education provided in these institutions in a truly Christian atmosphere, parents are queuing up even from North Kerala towns for admission. It is a fact that MG University's many rank holders are the product of this village college, after competing with colleges from towns like Kottayam, Cochin etc. His Grace Geevarghese Mar Ivanios Metropolitan, the current Bishop of Kottayam and Very Rev. P. C. Yohannan Ramban, the Manager of the Dayara leave no stones unturned to perpetuate the hallowed name of the departed saint. The present bishop is in every way a true successor to the Saintly Pampady Thirumeni. Prayers, fasting, charitable activities and absolute sincerity, are some of the hallmarks of the late lamented bishop's sterling character blaze forth in his successor in full measure. Very Rev. P.C. Yohannan Ramban who joined the services of Pampady Thirumeni while very young, has now completed fifty years of dedicated service at the Mar Kuriakose Dayara, where his spiritual Guru takes his eternal rest.
There are about 20 destitute children of different ages staying in the MGM Abhaya Bhavan and about 32 old aged people staying in MGM Abhaya Bhavan.
How we can participate in this great noble mission in the name of this Saintly Thirumeni in a very humble way?
There is a system there; by paying RS.1,000/- we can sponsor one time feast for these less fortunate inmates in the name of the Saintly Thirumeni (RS. 400/- for the 20 children of Bal Bhavan & Rs.600/- for the 32 inmates of Abhaya Bhavan). What the faithful normally can do is, when we celebrate our God given blessings like Birthdays of our children, Wedding Anniversaries, Marriages, other special occasions etc we can sponsor a one time feast for these destitute persons. The name of the sponsor will be written and made known to the inmates so that they can remember him/her in the intercessionary prayers in the name of the Saint Thirumeni. Many faithful who are unable to personally visit Dayara due to living abroad etc are meticulously adopting this method and deriving satisfaction and blessings.
We can book the dates in advance to coincide with such auspicious occasions by writing well in advance to: Very Rev. PC Yohannan Ramban, Manager, Mar Kuriakose Dayara, Pothenpuram PO, Pampady, Kottayam Dist., Kerala along with the amount payable by cheque/DD in favor of The Manager, MGM Abhaya Bhavan, Pampady. (Phone No. 0481 2505431)
May the saints prayers to be a fort for all of us.
Note: I have depended for many facts in the above article from the Biography
of Pampady Thirumeni by Prof. K.M. Kuriakose, Published by Indiana