Saints and spiritual leaders have their own way of communicating and facilitating events. I saw this from personal experience in the recent past, when a series of interconnecting events led me to what the title of this story says.
A series of fortuitous events led to a vintage formal portrait of HH Pandurangashram Swamiji coming to my attention from a distant land, doubtless by His Grace! Let me explain.
I have, for quite some time now, been in touch with an academic focusing on South Asian History and Civilizations at a European University (Lausanne, Switzerland), Dr.Philippe Bornet, (courtesy Dr. Frank Conlon`s good offices). Dr Bornet was working on the Malabar area, and we had, as students of history, exchanged notes on maritime trade, inland economic and social developments in peninsular India 18th /19th century, and allied subjects. All these discussions were online, naturally, as this was a time of global lockdowns. With prolonged contact, we became good friends. Somewhere along the line, I recall him asking me if I was a Tamil (maybe from the name now made famous in quite another context). In response, I had explained to him my Chitrapur Saraswat origins, mentioning that the successive line of our spiritual leaders was centred at Shirali in North Karnataka. I had also described him the history of community migrations/movements from North India to the coastal South West.
In the course of his researches, Dr Bornet had come across a German missionary tract that detailed out religious practices and had accompanying photo-engravings covering different religious practices/religious leaders across the world. This tract, circa 1883, was titled “Bilden Tafeln zur Landen-und Volken-Kunde” (lit) “Image Panels on Geography and Ethnology” with a number of photo engravings of religious figures and practices, with brief commentaries on each. (I will allude to the commentary later in the article). The Church perhaps created this book for their own knowledge and internal education. In this tract, Dr. Bornet had come across a portrait of a religious leader captioned “Der Swami von Schirale (Kanara)”.He asked me if “Schirale” was the same as our Shirali. One look at the portrait, and I knew, to my delight, that it was our Pandurangashram Swamiji!! When I confirmed it was, he spontaneously asked me if I wanted a print of the picture. He said he could get any size printed as they had the equipment. I chose paper of A2 size as appropriate for Swamiji`s portrait, and in due course this photo, beautifully printed and packed, winged its way to Delhi from Lausanne.