Several days ago was Chellappaswami's Mahasamadhi day. In honor of this great sage you can read about his life and teachings in The Guru Chronicles.
Yogaswami explained that most people try to get you to love them by giving you something you like so you will pay more attention to them; you transfer some of your attachment from the thing you like to the person who gave it to you. He told disciples, "Chellappaguru, through subtle guile, pulled me to his side by taking everything away. He did not allow me to put on any show, nor to do any service, nor to know the future, nor to have any siddhis, nor to associate with other saints or sadhus. He did not even allow me to wonder."
Mrs. Inthumathy (Amma) Navaratnarajah shares this image of Chellappaswami and thoughtful insights into his guise of lunacy in her manuscript Yogaswami, Life and Teachings.
The great personage Chellappar sat on the chariot house step every day. Yet no divinity was visible on the dark-complexioned sadhu who sat with a vacant look on his face. Coarseness was the only visible sign. Even during festival times when the crowd was so dense that a ray of light would not pass through, he would sit on the step, his face shining, laughing to himself. Sometimes he would lie on the step, looking at decriers. Sometimes he would berate with belittling words those who were wandering about aimlessly. They would in turn abuse him, call him a lunatic and go away. He would not bother about this abuse and would continue to harangue them, taunting them to oppose him.
Sometimes he would stand in Lord Skanda's presence, before the sanctum, wearing rags, and scold in foul language those coming and going. At times he would wander to Tirunelveli, Columbuthurai and other places. People seeing him wander around would ridicule him as insane. He would stand begging before houses, accepting whatever was given. On some days he cooked rice and a curry. He did not sleep much. After midnight, using his hands as a pillow, he could be seen sleeping on the ground.
His versatility with his hands in weaving palmyra and coconut leaves into various objects of art was the only factor that showed that he was not mad. But is this one factor alone enough for the crazy world to realize his sanity?
Chellappaswami lived exhibiting the qualities of a madman and a great sage immersed in spiritual meditation. Those who were deluded by him considered him a madman. Those thirsting for spiritual knowledge saw him in his true colors--a man of deep knowledge. Siva Yogaswami saw him as the royal sage, who in the form of a guru redeemed and saved him. "At the teradi, I saw him, the crescent jewel of grace. He made me his own and showed me the way of bliss."
With these baffling disguises Chellappa wandered alone, hiding his real nature; so that no one realized his true self. Even scholars who were well-versed in Vedanta and Siddhanta, even those who had a long-standing friendship with him could not realize his true inner nature. Chellappa acted well the role of a lunatic he had taken on himself. Yogaswami once noted, "For forty years he acted the role he took without anyone suspecting, and went away."