Stories of Ramana Maharshi - Collection 2
Rajapalayam Ramani Ammal - Part I
Drawn to the Feet of Ramana
My chosen deity in childhood was Lord Krishna. From my youth I had very pleasant dreams and would sometimes see Lord Krishna or other familiar deities in these dreams. But at the age of sixteen or seventeen I once saw a strange sage-like person coming down a hill and was captivated by his grandeur. I later came to realize that this sage was Sri Bhagavan. After having that vision of Bhagavan in my dream, a certain fear that had gripped me for some time all of a sudden disappeared. My relatives and others noticed this and commented how I was now moving about freely. This was Bhagavan's first influence on me.
Also, at the age of sixteen I was reading the Jnana Vasishta. While reading it I experienced that I was enveloped in jyoti, a bright white light. I thought that if this is what happens just by reading it, how much more wonderful would it be if we practiced dhyana and the other spiritual injunctions taught in the book. I used to be thrilled simply by reading those ancient Tamil scriptures. But it wasn't until I was twenty before I got hold of a book on Bhagavan.
Kumaraswami Raja, the Chief Minister of Madras, who was a cousin of mine, brought me Bharati's biography of Bhagavan, Ramana Vijayam, in 1946. Mrs. Kumaraswami Raja was very fond of me, and though other relatives prohibited me from reading spiritual books, she used to stealthily supply me with them. The day she sent this book over with a boy, I was sitting in the house with a friend, a headmistress, who though Christian, was sincerely interested in our religion. The boy who brought the book said, "Mami said to hand this book to you." I got up and went up to the gate to receive it. The moment I touched the book I lost body consciousness. My whole body became stiff.
I somehow managed to return and sit next to my friend. Noticing my plight, she commented that I shouldn't read such books that make me forget myself. Everyone was complaining about this same thing, for in those days most of the time I would be sitting quietly, alert to my spiritual aspirations. All thought that I was simply idle with no work to do.
With difficulty I opened Ramana Vijayam to the first page and was met by the photo of the young Ramana. I became speechless. My friend, who was somewhat alarmed at my condition, had to leave and I somehow saw her off. With great reverence I took the book and started reading it. As I read, my eyes kept closing involuntarily, and I was drawn within, which I later came
to know was meditation. Bhagavan taught me meditation in this way.
After reading this book, I felt I should leave home and go meet Ramana Maharshi. It is my family custom that women never even leave the house, not to mention leaving the town. That vairagya, or desperate determination to leave my house for spiritual fulfillment, was implanted in me by this book; and I am sure it was by the direct influence of Sri Bhagavan himself. Because of my intense desire to go and see Bhagavan, my younger brother was moved to help me. He is a very pious person, with a soft nature. With his help I secretly left home and reached Tiruvannamalai and the holy feet of Sri Bhagavan. But after reaching there, I was overcome with a sense of guilt for running away from home. This feeling of guilt, and a sense of bringing ill fame to the respected Rajagopalan family, was uppermost in my mind when I first came into Bhagavan's presence. I felt depressed because of this.
When I arrived I went to the office to inquire where Bhagavan was. I was told that Bhagavan was near the well. When I came near the well, I saw a thatched shed next to it and all I could see in it was a flaming fire. I thought to myself, "I asked for directions to go to Bhagavan and they have sent me to a sacrificial place where there is a fire." It was only after a few minutes that I saw Bhagavan's comely form emerge from those flames. Even when I had the Jyoti Darshana I was blaming myself, thinking that I had this delusion of seeing a fire instead of Bhagavan because I was foolish enough to come out into the hot sun. It was only afterwards I realized Bhagavan had bestowed upon me this great boon of Jyoti Darshana.
Next I heard Bhagavan saying to me, "You have now come home. Why don't you sit down?" Coming from a family where women never go out, and having never gone out myself, I did not know how to behave in company. When Bhagavan said "You have now come home. You can sit down," I sat down right in front of him and not in the place reserved for women. For three days I kept sitting in front of him and all the while the feeling of guilt for running away from home was haunting me. I kept sitting in front of Bhagavan, not knowing how to act or ask questions, or anything else.
On the third day I heard Bhagavan telling someone: "I also ran away from my home, and at the railroad station I was so frightened that anyone could have identified me as a runaway, caught hold of me and sent me home. I ran away like a thief." When Bhagavan narrated this, it completely wiped out all my guilt feelings from that moment onwards. This was an act of pure
grace directed towards me. It is very strange that by those few words Bhagavan entirely removed any residual fear in me. Bhagavan later said that sometimes you have to do a wrong thing to achieve the ultimate right thing. He even commented that there is nothing wrong in a woman running away at the tender age of twenty to come here.
Once a sannyasi came and stayed in the Ashram for three weeks. On the last day he came near Bhagavan and said: "Swami, I am satisfied in every way with my stay in the Ashram. Now I pray, fill my heart." Bhagavan got up and held the sannyasin's hands. They stood thus for a long time. Then the sannyasi prostrated before Bhagavan and said: "Now I am blessed." With that he departed. Thus would Bhagavan give enlightenment with a word, a look, a touch or in deep silence.
Eternal Bhagavan, Shantammal
Rajapalayam Ramani Ammal - Part II
Story of Harijan Lady
I once remember a Harijan lady who for the past twenty-five years was gathering honey to send to Sri Bhagavan. On every occasion she was unable to bring the honey herself and had to send it with someone. After waiting for twenty-five years, she finally found the opportunity to come. The poor lady was in tattered clothes, standing before Bhagavan. Her eyesight was poor and I still vividly recall the unusual way she looked at Sri Bhagavan, calling out "Oh Darling, where are you? I want to see you." Bhagavan in all his graciousness said, "Grandmother, look this way. I am here." Looking at the honey she had brought with her, he said to me, "They are Brahmins, they won't eat this. We will share it, and eat it."
It is often said, Bhagavan did not give direct Upadesa (spiritual teaching), but what else is all this? Although Bhagavan repeatedly pointed out human frailty, people were not prepared to rectify themselves. As if talking to himself, he looked at this poor old woman in ragged clothes and said, "Poor lady, she must be hungry. And where will she go for clothes? Who will offer her food and clothes?" Upon hearing this, Ondu Reddiyar got up and said, "We will give her food and also see that some clothes are purchased." Then Reddiyar took the woman to the Dining Hall and fed her sumptuously. He also sent someone to town to buy her a sari. As the old woman had no money, she had walked a great distance to come here. Bhagavan knowing this, said in an impersonal way, "Would anyone be interested in getting her a bus ticket?" Reddiyar again came forward and said, "We will provide her with a bus ticket and see her off." When this lady returned from the Dining Hall she was touching the ground, and then touching her eyes. That is a way of prostration and thanksgiving.
It is noteworthy that whenever the poor or untouchables came, Bhagavan took a
very personal interest in them, which was a moving sight to see.
"There never was and never will be a time when all are equally happy or rich or wise or healthy. In fact none of these terms has any meaning except in so far as the opposite to it exists. But that does not mean that when you come across any one who is less happy or more miserable than yourself, you are not to be moved to compassion or to seek to relieve him as best you can. On the contrary, you must love all and help all, since only in that way can you help yourself. When you seek to reduce the suffering of any fellowman or fellow-creature, whether your efforts succeed or not, you are yourself evolving spiritually thereby, especially if such service is rendered disinterestedly, not with the egoistic feeling 'I am doing this', but in the spirit 'God is making me the channel of this service; He is the doer and I the instrument'."
On two successive days, in answer to questions from visitors, Bhagavan said in effect what I have summarised above.
Bhagavan Elucidates Meaning of Dakshinamurthy Hymn
When T.K. Sundaresa Iyer was a boy of twelve he first visited the Maharshi on the Hill in 1908. That first meeting bonded him to Bhagavan for the remainder of his life and, consequently, he was a witness to many marvelous events in his Guru's presence. Here is one such incident on a holy Sivaratri night in Sri Ramanasramam, as recorded in his book, At the Feet of Bhagavan. It was Sivaratri Day. The evening worship at the Mother's shrine was over. The devotees had their dinner with Sri Bhagavan, who was now on his seat; the devotees at His feet sitting around him. At 8:00 p.m. one of the sadhus stood up, did pranam (offered obeisance), and with folded hands prayed: "Today is the Sivaratri Day; we should be highly blessed by Sri Bhagavan expounding to us the meaning of the Hymn to Dakshinamurthy (stotra)." Says Bhagavan: "Yes, sit down." The sadhu sat, and all eagerly looked at Sri Bhagavan; Sri Bhagavan looked at them. Sri Bhagavan sat in his usual pose, no, poise. No words, no movement, and all was stillness! He sat still, and all sat still, waiting. The clock went on striking, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, one, two and three. Sri Bhagavan sat and they sat. Stillness, calmness, motionless-not conscious of the body, of space or time. Thus eight hours passed in Peace, in Silence, in Being, as It is. Thus was the Divine Reality taught through the speech of Silence by Bhagavan Sri Ramana-Dakshinamurthy.
At the stroke of 4:00 a.m. Sri Bhagavan quietly said: "And now have you known the essence of the Dakshinamurthy Hymn?" All the devotees stood and made pranam to the holy form of the Guru in the ecstasy of their Being.
Ramana Maharshi: "Language is only a medium for communicating one's thoughts to another. It is called in only after thoughts arise; other thoughts arise after the 'I'-thought rises; the 'I'-thought is the root of all conversation. When one remains without thinking one understands another by means of the universal language of silence."
In Search of the Divine World
When studying the Upanishads in my early days, I always visualized the divine abode in the sun god and was performing the practices enjoined in certain texts. Even later, after settling at the abode of Sri Maharshi, I continued this practice (upasana). It proved very hard to succeed in this process and I had to undergo very trying experiences, so I referred the whole matter to Bhagavan. "So you want to go to the divine world?" asked he. "That is what I am trying to obtain; that is what the scriptures prescribe," I answered. "But where are you now?" the Master asked. I replied, "I am in your presence." "Poor thing! You are here and now in the divine world, and you want to obtain it elsewhere! Know that to be the divine world where one is firmly established in the Divine. Such a one is full (purna); he encompasses and transcends all that is manifest. He is the substratum of the screen on which the whole manifestation runs like the picture film. Whether moving pictures run or not, the screen is always there and is never affected by the action of the pictures. You are here and now in the divine world. You are like a thirsty man wanting to drink, while he is all the time standing neck deep in the Ganga. Give up all efforts and surrender. Let the 'I' that wants the divine world die, and the Divine in you will be realised here and now. For it is already in you as the Self, not different from the Divine (Brahman), nameless and formless. It is already in you, so how are you to obtain that which ever remains obtained?"
"The Self (atman) in you is surely not different from US." Thus spoke Bhagavan.
T.K.Sundaresa Iyer, At the Feet of Bhagavan
Teachings of the Maharshi
The jiva itself is Shiva;
Shiva Himself is the jiva.
It is true that the jiva is no other than Shiva.
When the grain is hidden inside the husk, it is called paddy; when it is de-husked, it is called rice. Similarly, so long as one is bound by karma one remains a jiva; when the bond of ignorance is broken, one shines as Shiva, the Deity. Thus declares a scriptural text.
Accordingly, the jiva which is mind is in reality the pure Self;
but, forgetting this truth, it imagines itself to be an individual soul
and gets bound in the shape of mind.
From: Self Inquiry, A Discussion with Sri Ramana Maharshi
There Will Be a Great War
Mercedes de Acosta:
A Search in Secret India (Paul Brunton's book) had a profound influence on me. In it I learned for the first time about Ramana Maharshi, a great Indian saint and sage. It was as though some emanation of this saint was projected out of the book to me. For days and nights after reading about him I could not think of anything else. I became, as it were, possessed by him. I could not even talk of anything else. Nothing could distract me from the idea that I must go and meet this saint. From this time on, although I ceased to speak too much about it, the whole direction of my life turned toward India. I had very little money, far too little to risk going to India, but something pushed me towards it. I went to the steamship company and booked myself one of the cheapest cabins on an Indian ship, the S. S. Victoria, sailing from Genoa to Bombay toward the beginning of October.
In Madras I hired a car, and so anxious was I to arrive in Tiruvannamalai that I did not go to bed and traveled by night, arriving about seven o'clock in the morning after driving almost eleven hours. I was very tired as I got out of the car in a small square in front of the temple [Arunachaleswara Temple]. The driver explained he could take me no farther.
I turned toward the hill of Arunachala and hurried in the hot sun along the dust-covered road to the abode about two miles from town where the Sage dwelt. As I ran those two miles, deeply within myself I knew that I was running toward the greatest experience of my life. When, dazed and filled with emotion, I first entered the hall, I did not quite know what to do. Coming from strong sunlight into the somewhat darkened hall, it was, at first, difficult to see; nevertheless, I perceived Bhagavan at once, sitting in the Buddha posture on his couch in the corner.
At the same moment I felt overcome by some strong power in the hall, as if an invisible wind was pushing violently against me. For a moment I felt dizzy. Then I recovered myself. I was able to look around the hall, but my gaze was drawn to Bhagavan, who was sitting absolutely straight in the Buddha posture looking directly in front of him. His eyes did not blink or in any way move. As he sat there he seemed like a statue, and yet something extraordinary emanated from him. I had a feeling that on some invisible level I was receiving spiritual shocks from him, although his gaze was not directed toward me. He did not seem to be looking at anything, and yet I felt he could see and was conscious of the whole world.
After I had been sitting several hours in the hall listening to the mantras of the Indians and the incessant droning of flies, and lost in a sort of inner world, (a devotee) suggested that I go and sit near the Maharshi.
I moved near Bhagavan, sitting at his feet and facing him. Not long after this Bhagavan opened his eyes. He moved his head and looked directly down at me, his eyes looking into mine. It would be impossible to describe this moment and I am not going to attempt it. I can only say that at this second I felt my inner being raised to a new level - as if, suddenly, my state of consciousness was lifted to a much higher degree. Perhaps in this split second I was no longer my human self but THE Self. Then Bhagavan smiled at me. It seemed to me that I had never before known what a smile was. I said, "I have come a long way to see you."
There was silence. I had stupidly brought a piece of paper on which I had written a number of questions I wanted to ask him. I fumbled for it in my pocket, but the questions were already answered by merely being in his presence. There was no need for questions or answers. Nevertheless, my dull intellect expressed one.
"Tell me, whom shall I follow - what shall I follow? I have been trying to
find this out for years by seeking in religions, in philosophies, in
teachings." Again there was silence.
After a few minutes, which seemed to me a long time, he spoke. "You are not telling the truth. You are just using words - just talking. You know perfectly well whom to follow. Why do you need me to confirm it?" "You mean I should follow my inner self?" I asked. "I don't know anything about your inner self. You should follow THE Self. There is nothing or no one else to follow."
I asked again, "What about religions, teachers, gurus?"
"Yes, if they can help in the quest of the Self. But can they help? Can religion, which teaches you to look outside yourself, which promises a heaven and a reward outside yourself, can this help you? It is only by diving deep into the spiritual Heart that one can find the Self." He placed his right hand on his right breast and continued, "Here lies the Heart, the dynamic, spiritual Heart. It is called Hridaya and is located on the right side of the chest and is clearly visible to the inner eye of an adept on the spiritual path. Through meditation you can learn to find the Self in the cave of this Heart."
It is a strange thing but when I was very young, Ignacio Zuloaga said to me, "All great people function with the heart." He placed his hand over my physical heart and continued, "See, here lies the heart. Always remember to think with it, to feel with it, and above all, to judge with it." But the Enlightened One raised the counsel to a higher level. He said, "Find the Self in the real Heart." Both, just at the right moment in my life, showed me the way.
I definitely saw life differently after I had been in his presence, a presence that just by merely "being" was sufficient spiritual nourishment for a lifetime. There was a change - a transformation of my entire consciousness. And how could it have been otherwise? I had been in the atmosphere of an egoless, world-detached, and completely pure being. I sat in the hall with Bhagavan three days and three nights. Sometimes he spoke to me; other times he was silent and I did not interrupt his silence. Often he was in samadhi. I wanted to stay on there with him but finally he told me that I should go back to America. He said, "There will be what will be called a 'war', but which, in reality, will be a great world revolution. Every country and every person will be touched by it. You must return to America. Your destiny is not in India at this time."
Before leaving the ashram, Bhagavan gave me some verses he had selected from the Yoga Vasishta. He said they contained the essence for the path of a pure life.
"Steady in the state of fullness,
which shines when all desires are given up,
and peaceful in the state of freedom in life,
act playfully in the world, O Raghava!"
"Inwardly free from all desires,
dispassionate and detached, but outwardly active in all directions,
act playfully in the world, O Raghava!"
"Free from egoism, with mind detached as in sleep,
pure like the sky, ever untainted,
act playfully in the world, O Raghava!"
"Conducting yourself nobly with kindly tenderness,
outwardly conforming to conventions, but inwardly renouncing all,
act playfully in the world, O Raghava!"
"Quite unattached at heart but for all appearance acting as with
inwardly cool but outwardly full of fervour,
act playfully in the world, O Raghava!"
I sorrowfully said farewell to Bhagavan. As I was leaving he said, "You will return here again." I wonder. Since his physical presence has gone I wonder if I shall. Yet often I feel the pull of Arunachala as though it were drawing me back. I feel the pull of that sacred hill of which he was so much a part and where his mortal body lies buried.
Mercedes de Acosta, Here Lies the Heart
How to Pray for Others
I once asked Bhagavan how to pray for other people. He answered, "If you are abiding within the Self, there are no other people. You and I are the same. When I pray for you I pray for myself and when I pray for myself I pray for you. Real prayer is to abide within the Self. This is the meaning of Tat Twam Asi - That Thou Art. There can be no separation in the Self. There is no need for prayer for yourself or any person other than to abide within the Self."
Mercedes de Acosta
From M.G. Shanmugam's Personal Diary
When we were living at Darapuram and I was seven years old, I was initiated into Linga puja. Such traditional upbringing gradually involved me in the study of the Sastras, doing japa, bhajan, saguna and nirguna dhyana (form and formless meditation) and regular puja three times a day. During this period I also had three gurus. I came to the conviction that the highest human attainment was the state of Jivanmukti (full enlightenment whilst still in the body). I was then at Tiruchengode (1921-1925) studying in college. When I was 18 years old, I fervently prayed that I should meet a Jivanmukta and receive his blessings.
My prayers were soon answered! My father, a police officer, was transferred to Tiruvannamalai. I came to know of Bhagavan Ramana living there. I gave up my studies and rushed to Arunachala. At Katpadi, while traveling in the train towards Tiruvannamalai, I had a remarkable vision of Bhagavan. Thus my Sadguru came to me and absorbed me even before l could have His physical darshan!
When I arrived at the Ashrama, Bhagavan gave me a warm welcome with a benign smile. As He was seeing me for the first time, His two spontaneous utterances surprised me. Like an affectionate mother, He asked me, "When did you come?" and "How is your right hand?" My right hand was badly fractured when I was 14-years-old and though it healed up the hand remained bent and short. I used to cover it up with full sleeves and even my friends did not know of this serious deformity. How did Bhagavan know about it? And what affectionate concern He showed! After Bhagavan inquired about it, my sense of inferiority because of the defect totally disappeared. More than all this, He asked me to be seated in front of Him. Gazing at Him I sat down and I do not know what happened to me then. When I got up two hours had elapsed. This was an experience I had never had before and I have always cherished it as the first and foremost prasad and blessing received from my Sadguru. That day I understood the purport of the statement, "The Sadguru ever gives unasked!" That moment I knew I had been accepted into His Fold. This strong bond He allowed me to enjoy until His Mahasamadhi, and even after.
Daily I would go to him by two in the afternoon and return home only at 8 p.m. My father, who was a staunch devotee, was instrumental in constructing, in a remarkably short time, the Old Hall where Bhagavan was to stay for more than twenty years. Bhagavan would quote from Ribhu Gita, Kaivalya Navaneetam, Jnana Vasishta and other Advaitic texts and explain to me their greatness. All the while I was aware I was in the blissful presence of a Brahmajnani, so highly extolled in all our scriptures.
He was a sarvajna (all-knower). I got many proofs of it, though I never demanded them. Daily pocket-money of three annas was given to me by my father. I bought for that amount sambrani (incense) which was burnt in the presence of Bhagavan. One day I did not get the three annas, so I could not buy the sambrani. I Therefore refrained from going to Bhagavan that day. The next day when I went, Bhagavan graciously remarked: "Yesterday you did not come because you could not get sambrani. Veneration in the heart is enough."
"My father was suddenly transferred to Vellore. None of us, particularly myself, wanted to leave Tiruvannamalai since darshan of Bhagavan would then be denied. We ventilated our grievance to Bhagavan. He gave me a benign smile. A few days after, strangely, the transfer order was cancelled!
Attachment Decreases with Meditation
Many times I complained to Bhagavan that I was not making any appreciable progress, bemoaning the persistence of desires. Bhagavan replied making light of my trouble:
"It will all go, all in time. You need not worry. The more dhyana (meditation) one performs the more will these desires fall away."
Rajapalayam Ramani Ammal - Part III
How Ramana Reads People's Minds and Puts Them at Ease
I should narrate how my first Giri Pradakshina (sacred peregrination around Arunachala Hill) took place. I was not accustomed to walking at all, but whenever people came to tell Bhagavan that they were going on a Giri Pradakshina, I longed to go too. One day Venkataramayya and others were going round the hill, and in this group there were two devotees who were over eighty years old. I did not say anything to Bhagavan, but was all the time praying that I should be included in that party. Immediately Bhagavan said to Venkataramayya "Take this girl - the one seated there - with you."
Bhagavan didn't stop there, for he even said, "She will walk very slowly. Will that be all right?" Then Bhagavan turned towards me and said, "These are our own people. Are you prepared to go with them?" Looking at me, he simply said, "Go!"
The Pradakshina took almost six hours. At Adi Annamalai I could move no more. I requested the group to proceed without me, and told them I will reach the Ashrama later. But they said, "How could we leave you when Bhagavan entrusted you to us? Even if it takes you another day to complete the Pradakshina, we will stay with you. Only with you can we reenter the Ashrama."
I was again feeling very guilty when we finally arrived. I was thinking that others take three to four hours to complete the Pradakshina and I have taken six hours, wasting not only my time, but theirs too. I felt that they were all older than me, and a younger person, like me, had caused them so much inconvenience. When I entered the Ashrama my heart was heavy with this feeling. With great difficulty we entered into the presence of Bhagavan and as soon as I sat down, Bhagavan started narrating how the Pradakshina should be done by walking as slow as a royal queen in her ninth month of pregnancy. "So there is nothing wrong in what she did," he concluded. After this, many times I used to go around the hill all alone.
Put Full Faith in the Guru
Once a visitor said: "I have been coming to you, Swami, many times, hoping that something will happen and I shall be changed. So far I do not see any change in me. I am as I was: a weakling of a man, an inveterate sinner." And he started weeping piteously.
"On this road there are no milestones," replied Bhagavan. "How can you know which direction you are going? Why don't you do what the first-class railway passenger does? He tells the guard his destination, locks the doors and goes to sleep. The rest is done by the guard, If you could trust your guru as much as you trust the railway guard, it would be quite enough to make you reach your destination. Your business is to shut the door and windows and sleep. The guard will wake you up at your destination."
Krishna Bhikshu, Sri Ramana Leelas
Saved from Drowning by Bhagavan
K. V. Mama's mother died when he was only an infant, and it was her dying wish that he should be raised by Echammal in Tiruvannamalai. Echammal, whose life in the world was a succession of tragedies, went and brought the motherless child directly to Bhagavan and placed the boy in his hands. "On seeing the babe, tears trickled from my eyes," Bhagavan later said, recalling the occasion.
The Maharshi looked after that child and protected him from harm. To illustrate this we need only relate the following story told to us by K. V. Mama:
"Once when I was a young boy, a friend and I were in the Arunachala Temple. As it was very hot we went to the tank in the temple and began splashing and playing in the water. I inadvertently went into the water over my head and began sinking. I came to the surface a few times but was unable to stay afloat. My friend got scared seeing me in distress and ran off. Just before I went under for the last time I remember distinctly seeing Bhagavan's face, and then everything went blank - I became unconscious.
When I later regained consciousness I found that I was lying on a step just near the tank. I asked someone nearby how I got out of the water. I was told that an old man had come and pulled me out, laid me down on the step and then went away. Somehow I survived the ordeal. After nearly drowning, I went to the ashram and sat in the hall without telling anyone what had just happened. Bhagavan turned in my direction and said with a gentle smile on his lips, "Did you have a nice swim?" I put my head down, as I felt extremely guilty and thought that everyone was watching me. Who else was it than Bhagavan who saved me?"
Bhagavan Ramana's All Knowing State
Kunju Swami was very young when he first came to Bhagavan. At times Kunju Swami and a friend, for fun, would see how many times they could run from Skandashram to Virupaksha Cave and back. Chinnaswami would object: "This boy is so irresponsible! It is his duty to bring us food from the town - what if he falls and breaks a leg!" Bhagavan would tenderly say, "It is not he who is doing it... It's his age that is doing it!" In speaking of a misdeed, the strongest word Bhagavan would use was "mischief".
Kunju Swami described Bhagavan's state of mind as all-knowing, yet without an element of personal will; that is, he did not "read" minds nor would he give any indication or display of this ability. It was simply his natural state. The thoughts and past deeds of all were immediately apparent to him. About this facet Bhagavan once commented, "It is true I know the innermost thoughts of you all, but if I brought them all to light would any of you stay here?" Kunju Swami narrated this with a laugh.
Bhagavan's complete and total disregard for siddhis set him apart from virtually all other saints, Kunju Swami noted. It seems on one occasion Bhagavan said he had experienced his body dissolving into the five elements, yet called it back. "There has never been a saint so unique as Bhagavan, who remained so human, so simple and so ordinary to all appearances," Kunju Swami exclaimed in ecstasy, "and I don't think there could ever be another one like him again!"
Evelyn Kaselow Saphier
Bhagavan's Presence Within All
Sri Bhagavan recalled an incident about a little girl who used to live in Ramana Nagar. She had observed people bringing food and offering it to Sri Bhagavan and then distributing it to the people in the hall. One day she approached Sri Bhagavan hesitatingly, and upon asking he found out that she had wrapped a few papads in her dress, having got them from her kitchen at home. Sri Bhagavan and the girl shared the papads. The next day she repeated the act by bringing fruits from her garden. After sharing the fruits with her, He asked her if there was a picture of him in their house. The girl said that they had one. Sri Bhagavan asked her to henceforth offer the food to the picture and eat it herself and think that he ate it.
A Muslim Devotee
Dr. Syed was a Muslim scholar and a great devotee of Bhagavan. His wife too became a devotee without losing her faith in the ways and conventions of the Muslim religion. She would not appear before other men. Stealthily she would come to the Ashrama, hide herself in one of the rooms and implore her husband to ask Bhagavan to come to see her. It was a most unusual request, but such was Bhagavan's grace and compassion that even this was granted. Mrs. Syed would at first keep silent, rather than talk to Bhagavan through her veil; then later she would talk to him without a veil. But it took a long time for her to venture into the Hall without a veil and sit there like everybody else.
Dr. Syed and his wife used to stay in a rented house outside the Ashrama and cook their own food. One day she felt a very strong desire to invite Bhagavan to their house for food. She nagged her husband, but he did not have the courage to request something so unusual. Meeting his wife outside the Hall was unusual enough, and twice he had asked Bhagavan to consent to it; that Bhagavan should go to their house for food seemed unthinkable. But the intrepid lady went on pressing her husband until he became more afraid of her than of the enormity of her request and hinted her wish to Bhagavan, who smiled and kept quiet. She would not give up. She was certain that Bhagavan would grant her wish if the matter were put before him in the proper spirit and form. At last, while Bhagavan was going up the hill, Dr. Syed and his wife stood before him and told him her desire. Bhagavan just laughed and went up the hill.
When they returned home in the evening, there was quite a row in their house, she accusing him that he had not asked Bhagavan in the proper way. At last he had enough of it all and said to her: "How am I responsible? The truth of the matter is that your devotion is deficient. That is the reason why Bhagavan refused." These words of his must have touched her deeply and she sat in meditation throughout the night. She wanted by sheer intensity of prayer to bring Bhagavan to dinner. During the early hours of the morning she must have dozed. Bhagavan appeared to her in a dream or vision and told her: "Why are you so obstinate? How can I leave the Ashrama and come to your house for food? I must dine along with others, or they won't eat. Besides, as you know, people are coming from distant places, facing a lot of trouble to see me and to have food with me. How can I leave all these guests and come to your place? Feed three devotees of mine and it will be the same as feeding me. I shall be fully satisfied." In her vision she saw the three devotees whom she had to invite. One was Dr. Melkote, the second Swami Prabuddhananda and the third was myself.
She told of her vision to Dr. Syed, who invited all the three for food in his house, telling us that we could not possibly refuse. We were astonished and asked him the reason. Dr. Syed told us the whole story. We were all Brahmins and, although we were delighted to represent Bhagavan at the feast, we were afraid of what the Ashrama Brahmins would say. For a Brahmin to eat in a Muslim's house is a serious breach of convention.
Dr. Melkote was in the guest room near the flower garden. I went to him and asked him, "What are you thinking about?"
"I am thinking of the dinner at Syed's place."
"Are you going ?"
"I wonder. They are Muslims."
''If we go, we are bound to get into a lot of trouble."
"Yes, they may turn us out of the Ashrama."
"Then are you going ?"
"I am going," said Dr. Melkote. "I am taking it as Bhagavan's direct order. Otherwise, how could Mrs. Syed pick us? How could she know our names and faces so as to show us to her husband?"
"Prabuddhananda can go, for he is a sannyasi and can eat anywhere. Besides, he is not afraid of the Ashrama authorities, for he cooks his own food. But we are taking serious risks," I said.
"Well," said Dr. Melkote, "we are going, and Bhagavan will attend to the risks."
In spite of these brave words Dr. Melkote was perplexed. We were to dine in a Muslim's house. Even if the food were vegetarian, what about the kitchen and vessels? What do Muslims know about the Brahmin rules and habits concerning cleanliness? How would we explain our going to a Muslim house for food? Why should we trust the vision of some Muslim lady? Could we really say that we were merely obeying Bhagavan's orders? Who would believe us? Surely not the Ashrama Brahmins! And what an assortment we three made! One was a Kanarese householder, the other an Andhra bachelor, the third a Bengali sannyasi!
The next day when the bell for dinner was rung, we three went before Bhagavan and bowed. Bhagavan did not ask us the reason, he merely looked at us. Instead of going to the dining hall with others we marched out of the Ashrama, passing before Chinnaswami who - O wonder! - did not ask us why we were going out without taking food.
Mrs. Syed got up early in the morning, swept the kitchen and washed the vessels carefully herself. She would not allow the servant girl to enter the kitchen. She had been scolded repeatedly by her relatives and the Muslim Moulvis for her devotion to a Hindu saint. She told them that while she used to say her prayers she would see the Prophet standing by her side. Since she met Bhagavan, the Prophet had disappeared and Bhagavan was coming to watch her pray. So great was her devotion!
After getting everything quite clean, she lovingly prepared dish after dish, and when we arrived, we found the food excellent. After the meal she offered us betel with her own hands.
When we were returning to the Ashrama, Dr. Melkote had tears in his eyes. He said: "I come from Hyderabad and I know well the Muslim ways and customs. A Muslim lady will give betel leaves with her own hands to nobody except her husband or a fakir (a saint). In her eyes we were fakirs, the forms Bhagavan took to go to her place."
When we returned to the Ashrama we were astonished that nobody enquired why we had not been present in the dining hall, where we had gone or what we did in a Muslim's house. How wonderfully does Bhagavan protect those who obey him!
From Ramana Smrti Souvenir
Sin of Being Born a King
Once the Maharaja of Mysore visited the Ashram. He would not visit Bhagavan in the Hall and asked for a private interview. We were perplexed, for Bhagavan never allowed such a thing. Whatever had to be said was said in public, by letter, or in the mind. Finally, it was decided to bring the Maharaja in when Bhagavan was having his bath. The Maharaja entered the bathroom and we were all standing outside. Trays and trays of costly presents and all kinds of sweets and dainties were offered at Bhagavan's feet. For ten minutes the Maharaja just stood looking and then prostrated before Bhagavan. Tears flowing from his eyes actually made Bhagavan's feet wet. He sobbed for some time and went away.
A few days later the Maharani of Travancore also came to the Ashram. When Bhagavan was sitting alone in the dining hall after lunch, I asked him: "The Maharani was here. What did she do?"
"She asked many questions and went away."
"And the Maharaja of Mysore?"
"Oh, he is a ripe fruit," said Bhagavan, and with great feeling he re-enacted the scene. We could almost see the Maharaja's eagerness, his humility and sadness. The Maharaja had told him: "They made me a Maharaja and bound me to a throne. For the sin of being born a king I lost the chance of sitting at your feet and serving in your glorious presence. I cannot stay here and I do not hope to come again. Only these few minutes are mine. I can only pray for your grace."
Shantammal, Eternal Bhagavan
Major Chadwick's Dream Incident
Sadhu Arunachala (Major Alan Chadwick):
"We are such stuff As dreams are made of and our short life Is rounded by a sleep."
Shakespeare really did know what he was talking about and it was not just poetic effervescence. Maharshi used to say exactly the same.
I suppose I questioned Bhagavan more often on this subject than any others, though some doubts always remained for me. He had always warned that as soon as one doubt is cleared another will spring up in its place, and there is no end to doubts.
"But Bhagavan," I would repeat, "dreams are disconnected, while the waking experience goes on from where it left off and is admitted by all to be more or less continuous."
"Do you say this in your dreams?", Bhagavan would ask. "They seemed perfectly consistent and real to you then. It is only now, in your waking state that you question the reality of the experience. This is not logical."
Bhagavan refused to see the least difference between the two states, and in this he agreed with all the great Advaitic Seers. Some have questioned if Shankara did not draw a line of difference between these two states, but Bhagavan has persistently denied it. "Shankara did it apparently only for the purpose of clearer exposition," the Maharshi would explain.
However I tried to twist my questions, the answer I received was always the same: "Put your doubts when in the dream state itself. You do not question the waking state when you are awake, you accept it. You accept it in the same way you accept your dreams. Go beyond both states and all three states including deep sleep. Study them from that point of view. You now study one limitation from the point of view of another limitation. Could anything be more absurd? Go beyond all limitation, then come here with your doubts."
But in spite of this, doubt still remained. I somehow felt at the time of dreaming there was something unreal in it, not always of course, but just glimpses now and then.
"Doesn't that ever happen to you in your waking state too?" Bhagavan queried. "Don't you sometimes feel that the world you live in and the thing that is happening is unreal?" Still, in spite of all this, doubt persisted.
But one morning I went to Bhagavan and, much to his amusement, handed him a paper on which the following was written:
"Bhagavan remembers that I expressed some doubts about the resemblance between dreams and waking experience. Early in the morning most of these doubts were cleared by the following dream, which seemed particularly objective and real:
"I was arguing philosophy with someone and pointed out that all experience was only subjective, that there was nothing outside the mind. The other person demurred, pointing out how solid everything was and how real experience seemed, and it could not be just personal imagination.
"I replied, 'No, it is nothing but a dream. Dream and waking experience are exactly the same.'
"'You say that now,' he replied, 'but you would never say a thing like that in your dream.'
"And then I woke up."
From the Call Divine, March 1954
N Balaram Reddy, My Reminiscences
Giving to Others is Grace to Yourself
One night last year I had a marvelous dream. In a big choultry on a hill-top I saw Sri Bhagavan and Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Pitham seated before me. My heart overflowed with joy to see the two great Souls together. Sri Sankaracharya enquired how far I had advanced in my study of Sanskrit. Sri Bhagavan replied to him saying that my Sanskrit knowledge was up to the mark. Thereupon Sri Sankaracharya recited a 'Rik' from the Vedas and asked me to translate the rik. I did it to his satisfaction. Then Tirtham (Holy Water) was brought in a vessel. Sri Bhagavan first took a spoonful and passed it to Sri Sankaracharya who also tasted another spoonful and handed it to me to distribute among the vast crowd of devotees that filled the hall. I went round and as I served the last person, I found that the last drop of Tirtham was gone. Then I brought back the empty vessel. Sri Sankaracharya asked me whether I had taken the Tirtham myself, I replied "No." Then Sri Bhagavan observed "It does not matter. Distribution to others is Prasad (Grace) to yourself."
Bhagavan was familiar with, and had respect for, the classical English works. He had read many English books and would daily read an English newspaper. W. Y. Evans-Wentz had given Bhagavan copies of his published books, and of these books Bhagavan liked best Tibet's Great Yogi, Milarepa. He once requested me to read it.
Non Reality of Time and Space - Lila's Story
The Maharshi was often questioned about death and reincarnation. He would sometimes answer: "Let us know first who we are" or "The birth of the 'I-thought' is one's own birth, its death is the person's death. After the 'I'-thought has arisen the wrong identity with the body arises. Thinking yourself the body, you give false values to others and identify them with bodies. Just as your body has been born, grows and will perish, so also you think the other was born, grew up and died."
In so many ways Bhagavan tried to bring home to us the true nature of the Self, which is eternal, unborn and free. When an illogical sequence in an apparent death and rebirth was brought to his attention, he would often cite Lila's story from the Yoga Vasishta.
An elderly gentleman, formerly a co-worker with B. V. Narasimha Swami and author of some Vasishtadvaita work, visited the place for the first time. He asked about rebirths, if it is possible for the linga sarira (subtle body) to get dissolved and be reborn in two years after death.
Ramana Maharshi responded: "Yes. Surely. Not only can one be reborn, one may be twenty or forty or even seventy years old in the new body though only two years after death."
In another documented case of reincarnation, a boy who is seven years now recalls his past births. Enquiries go to show that the previous body was given up 10 months ago.
The question arises how the matter stood for six years and two months previous to the death of the former body. Did the soul occupy two bodies at the same time?
Sri Bhagavan pointed out that the seven years is according to the boy; ten months is according to the observer. The difference is due to these two different upadhis (limiting adjuncts). The boy's experience extending to seven years has been calculated by the observer to cover only 10 months of his own time. In order to explain this phenomenon, Sri Bhagavan again referred to Lila's story in Yoga Vasishta.
A lady arrived with her brother, a woman companion and a burly bodyguard. When she came into the hall she saluted Maharshi with great respect and feeling, and sat down on a wool blanket in front of Sri Bhagavan. Sri Bhagavan was then reading Trilinga in Telugu on the reincarnation of a boy. The boy is now thirteen years old and reading in the Government High School in a village near Lucknow. When he was three years he used to dig here and there; when asked, he would say that he was trying to recover something which he had hidden in the earth. When he was four years old, a marriage function was celebrated in his home. When leaving, the guests humorously remarked that they would return for this boy's marriage. But he turned round and said: 'I am already married. I have two wives.' When asked to point them out, he requested to be taken to a certain village, and there he pointed to two women as his wives. It is now learnt that a period of ten months elapsed between the death of their husband and the birth of this boy.
When this was mentioned to the lady, she asked if it was possible to know the after-death state of an individual.
Sri Bhagavan said, 'some are born immediately after, others after some lapse of time, a few are not reborn on this earth but eventually get salvation in some higher region, and a very few get absolved here and now.'
Sri Bhagavan once again cited Lila's story from Yoga Vasishta an excerpt of which appears below.
O Goddess, you said that it was only eight days ago that the holy man had died; and yet my husband and I have lived for a long time [in the present birth]. How can you reconcile this discrepancy? (The "holy man" was reincarnated as Lila's present husband, who had now again just died).
O Lila, just as space does not have a fixed span, time does not have a fixed span either. Just as the world and its creation are mere appearances, a moment and an epoch are also imaginary, not real. In the twinkling of an eye the jiva undergoes the illusion of the death-experience, forgets what happened before that, and in the infinite consciousness thinks 'I am this', etc., and 'I am his son, I am so many years old', etc. There is no essential difference between the experiences of this world and those of another - all this being thoughtforms in the infinite consciousness. They are like two waves in the same ocean. Since these worlds were never created, they will never cease to be: such is the law. Their real nature is consciousness.
Even as in a dream there is birth, death and relationship all in a very short time, and even as a lover feels that a single night without his beloved is an epoch, the jiva thinks of experienced and non-experienced objects in the twinkling of an eye. And, immediately thereafter, he imagines those things (the world) to be real. Even those things which he had not experienced nor seen present themselves before him as in a dream.
This world and this creation is nothing but memory and dream. Distance, measures of time like a moment and an age, all these are hallucinations. This is one kind of knowledge-memory. There is another which is not based on memory of past experience. This is the fortuitous meeting of an atom and consciousness which is then able to produce its own effects.
Liberation is the realisation of the total nonexistence of the universe as such. This is different from a mere denial of the existence of the ego and the universe! The latter is only half-knowledge.
Liberation is to realise that all this is pure consciousness.
Bhagavan's Mysterious Assistance
I approached the ticket counter at 5:30 p. m. to buy my ticket to Tiruvannamalai, but to my amazement the clerk refused to sell me one! Nonplussed, I was standing transfixed when a kind elderly man nearby informed me that the town of Tiruvannamalai is quarantined because of a plague epidemic and so no tickets to that destination can be sold. He advised me to buy a ticket to Tirukkoviloor, and to quietly get off at Tiruvannamalai when the train stops briefly to unload mail. Tirukkoviloor is the next station after Tiruvannamalai. When asked for a ticket to Tirukkoviloor, the ticket clerk asked me for additional money. I didn't have it. Crushed with unimaginable frustration, I stood to one side thinking of Bhagavan and overcome by sorrow. When there was only a few minutes left before the train to Tiruvannamalai was to arrive - wonder of wonders - the mystery of Bhagavan's grace descended upon me! Between the two rails, just a short distance from where I stood, a quarter-rupee coin lay glittering. I immediately picket it up and ran to the ticket counter. My train arrived in the station the very moment I was handed the ticket to Tirukkoviloor. Thrilled with the thought of Bhagavan's grace on my poor self, I got on the train and found a seat.
Seshadri Swami explained to Mudalier that the science of the Self was very easy to comprehend and that by neglecting it Mudalier was incurring Brahma hatya, the mortal sin of slaying a brahmin. Mudalier got frightened and went to Maharshi in whom he had more faith and reported this remark.
“Well said,” replied Maharshi, “You are indeed murdering Brahman by refusing to understand that you are Brahman.”
Grace Poured Forth to Kanakamma from Ramana's Look
This incident took place when Bhagavan had moved into the new hall. During those days, the front row closest to Bhagavan was reserved for important people, although Bhagavan did not know about it. There was a specific unspoken seating arrangement and others who occupied those places would even be asked to go and sit elsewhere. On this day, Rani Mazumdar and myself were sitting by the window at the end of the hall when we noticed that the front row was empty. Rani suggested that the two of us could sit there close to Bhagavan. I agreed. The front row would begin at the pillars closest to Bhagavan's couch. No one could sit right beside the couch in order to give people room to move about. On seeing the two of us, a telugu lady called Kameswaramma also came and sat next to us in the front row. The three of us were directly facing Bhagavan.
As soon as we had settled there, Bhagavan began looking directly at me. Unable to bear the intensity of his direct look, I immediately closed my eyes. How long I remained like that I do not know, but sometime later, I opened my eyes and found Bhagavan seated motionless looking at me just as before. Again I closed my eyes. Sometime later, Mauni Srinivasa Rao came with the day's mail. Hearing Bhagavan talk to him, I opened my eyes. However, I was still in the same state that I was in when my eyes were closed and whatever was happening didn't really register in my mind. After attending to the correspondence, Bhagavan got up to leave for the cow shed. I got up along with everybody else but again without any real awareness of my surroundings.
Kameswaramma, who was sitting next to me, hugged me and said, "Kanakamma, you are extremely fortunate. Ever since you sat there, Bhagavan has been steadily looking directly at you up until the Mauni came with the mail. You have got everything. Bhagavan has given you all that you need." So saying, she hugged me close to her. But I was in no state to give a reply. I just told her, "Tears are streaming down my eyes. I don't know what to say." The waves of peace coming over me kept me from talking.
Teachings of the Maharshi
If anything comes your way, by reason of prarabdha (destiny based on the balance sheet of past lives) you can't help it. If you take what comes, without any special attachment and without any desire for more of it or for a repetition of it, it will not harm you by leading to further births. On the other hand, if you enjoy it with great attachment and naturally desire for more of it, that is bound to lead to more and more births."
The only freedom man has is to strive for and acquire the jnana which will enable him not to identify himself with the body. The body will go through the actions rendered inevitable by prarabdha and a man is free either to identify himself with the body and be attached to the fruits of its actions, or to be detached from it and be a mere witness of its activities."
Professor N. R. Krishnamoorthy Aiyer - Part I
Blasted out of Materialism
The next day we had a meeting with Bhagavan. This was about the time he arrived at the present site of Sri Ramanasramam (1922). There were no buildings at all, except for a small shed covering the samadhi (grave) of the Mother.
Bhagavan was seated on a bench under the shade of a tree, and with him, lying on the same bench, was the dog named Rose. Bhagavan was simply stroking the dog. I wondered, among us Brahmins the dog was such an animal that it would defile all purity. A good part of my respect for the Maharshi left me when I saw him touching that unclean animal - for all its apparent cleanliness and neatness it was unclean from the Brahmin point of view. I had a question for the Maharshi. At that time I was an agnostic. I thought nature could take care of itself, so where is the need for a Creator? What is the use of writing all these religious books telling 'cock and bull' stories, which do not change the situation.
I wanted to put to him straight questions: is there a soul? Is there a God? Is there salvation? All these three questions were condensed into one:
"Well sir, you are sitting here like this - I can see your present condition - but what will be your future sthiti?"
The word sthiti in Sanskrit means 'state' or 'condition'. The Maharshi did not answer the question. "Oho," I thought, "you are taking shelter under the guise of indifferent silence for not answering an inconvenient question!" As soon as I thought this the Maharshi replied and I felt as if a bomb had exploded under my seat.
"Sthiti, what do you mean by the word sthiti!" he exclaimed.
I was not prepared for that question. "Oho, this man is very dangerous, very dangerously alive. I will have to answer with proper care," I thought. So I said to myself, "If I ask him about the sthiti or 'state' of the body it is useless: the body will be burned or buried. What I should ask him was about the condition of something within the body. Of course, I can recognize a mind inside of me." Then I was about to answer "By sthiti, I mean mind," when it struck me what if he counter-questions with "What is mind?" This I am not prepared to answer.
As all this was passing through my mind he was sitting there staring at me with a fierce look. I then questioned within me, "What is mind? Mind is made up of thoughts. Now, what are thoughts?" I landed in a void. No answer. I then realised that I could not present a question about a mind which did not exist! Up to that point, the mind was the greatest thing that existed for me. Now I discovered it did not exist! I was bewildered. I simply sat like a statue.
Two pairs of eyes were then gripping each other: the eyes of the Maharshi and my eyes were locked together in a tight embrace. I lost all sense of body. Nothing existed except the eyes of the Maharshi. I don't know how long I remained like that, but when I returned to my senses, I was terribly afraid of the man. "This is a dangerous man," I thought. In spite of myself, I prostrated and got away from his company.
Bhagavan on the Formless God Giving Rise to Form
"Does not your mind remain formless when you do not perceive or think, say, in deep sleep, in samadhi, or in a swoon? And does it not create space and relationship when it thinks and impels your body to act? Just as your mind devises and your body executes in one homogeneous, automatic act, so automatic, in fact, that most people are not aware of the process, so does the Divine Intelligence devise and plan and His Energy automatically and spontaneously acts - the thought and the act are one integral whole. This Creative Energy which is implicit in Pure Intelligence is called by various names, one of which is Maya or Shakti, the Creator of forms or images."
Professor N. R. Krishnamoorthy Aiyer - Part II
Visions, Cosmic Consciousness, then Silence
My next visit to the Maharshi was in 1934 on a Jayanti Day. He was sitting on a raised platform under a pondal (thatched roof), specially constructed in front of the Mother's Shrine. As the celebration was going on, all the devotees were seated around him.
While sitting there, my eyes were intensely fixed upon the Maharshi and I saw his form assume different manifestations. It first changed to the Avatar of Vishnu (Vahar Avatar). Then his form changed into that of Ganesha, the elephant God. Next it suddenly changed and I saw Ramana and Arunachala as one. Then I had the vision of the whole Arunachala Hill - the top of the Hill was transparent and inside it I saw a Shiva Lingam, similar to what we see in temples.
Devotees were singing the Marital Garland of Letters. When they began singing the last couplet, "My Lord let us exchange garlands - the devotee (the bride) garlands the Lord Arunachala (the groom), and the Lord garlands the devotee," I suddenly saw garlands of flowers all over the pondal. The Maharshi had a string of flowers garlanded around his neck, and all the devotees (including myself) had a string of flowers around their necks. I saw a large garland around the Shiva Lingam on the hill top. All these garlands were shining with a dazzling brilliance. This experience convinced me of the existence of the deities mentioned in our ancient scriptures.
Later that evening in the Old Hall I sat at the feet of the Maharshi. He was reclining on the couch gazing westward and I sat on the floor facing him. Our eyes fixed, one upon the other, were pinned together for quite a long time. I then saw the form of the Maharshi take the shape of Ardhanareswara.
Ardhanareswara is one aspect of Shiva - one half is the Mother and the other half is the Father; one half of the form had a breast and the other had a trident. Around us the pundits were reciting Sanskrit verses. As it went on, I began to witness certain changes in my body taking place. I saw a pair of serpents rising from the base of my spine in a crisscross, spiralling manner. They rose to the crown of my head and spread their hoods. One was red; the other blue. The whole cranium became suffused with a bright light. My attention was fixed upon the point between my eyebrows where the serpents' heads were pointed.
All of a sudden there was a splitting of the skull from the top front to the back. This was followed by an upward gush of a reddish flame shooting out from the top of my head. While this was flowing out, a stream of nectar issued from the single breast of the Ardhanareswara form of the Maharshi and a second stream of nectar flowed out from the top of Arunachala. Both streams landed on my head and sealed the break in my skull. When the skull was sealed I experienced a brilliant light, like that of an arc lamp, and an indescribable joy and coolness filled my being. This light and joy continued for several hours. During this time I didn't move about and I was unconscious of what was going on around me.
You may have seen a light focused on to a concave mirror. Its light is reflected with a single beam onto a point. Well, sometime about midnight all the light, like a concave mirror, was focused onto the Heart. Then all the light drained into the Heart. The Kundalini was completely sucked into the Heart and the Heart was opened - that is the seat of Arunachala Ramana.
The Heart is normally closed, but when it was opened (I never knew any of these things and never read any theory. These are all practical experiences.) a flood of nectar gushed forth and drenched every pore of my skin, drenched my whole physical system. It poured out and out, went on coming out in a great flood. The whole Universe was filled with that Nectar. The wonder of it was that my awareness was not in the body - my awareness was over the whole of the space filled with that Nectar. The whole Universe was Nectar. I call it Nectar; you could call it Ether, something very subtle, attached with awareness at every point. And everything living and non-living was like snow flakes floating in that ocean of Nectar.
If you ask me what my body was, my body was the whole universe of Nectar, attached to awareness at every point. No particular association from the one body from where it started - this body was like every other body. By morning everything subsided, though the underlying experience remained. I was totally unconscious of my body. I was moving around like an automaton, unaware of my body. In that state I returned to Madurai where I was a physics professor.
This was during a Christmas vacation. For the next two weeks I remained in that state. With the opening of college I was scheduled to give lectures and my relatives became rather concerned, for my behavior had changed considerably.
I then returned to Ramanasramam with the intention of returning to my regular mundane condition - I do not know what urged me to do this. I went and sat before the Maharshi in the Old Hall. He gave no acknowledgment of my plight and sat, seemingly, unconcerned. After a long time I said to myself, "Well, the son (Maharshi) seems indifferent to me. Let me go and seek refuge in my mother, Alagammal." I came and sat in the Mother's samadhi room. It was then only a thatched room. I picked up the book, Jnana Vasishta, and began reading it from beginning to end with the hope of finding the solution to my dilemma. I continued reading without eating the whole day. In the evening the answer came: a stanza in Jnana Vasishta said:
"Between two thoughts there is an interval of no thought.
That interval is the Self, the Atman. It is pure Awareness only."
In those days I was repeating the mantra 'Ram, Ram'. So I said to myself: "'Ram' - that is one thought; and 'Ram', again-that is another thought. But in the interval between these two thoughts there is silence. That Silence is the Self." And so, I came to the conclusion that if I go on repeating 'Ram, Ram' it will resolve itself into that Silence.
I was very happy. I rushed home and found I was my normal mundane self, teaching my classes in the usual way. But all the time, even while the lectures were going on, 'Ram, Ram, Ram' went on repeating in my Heart. For nine years it went on like that and then stopped of its own accord. It ended in Silence.
The conquest of the mind is the greatest of all conquests. It is the Divine Himself who appears as world, individual and the beyond. So abidance as the Divine at all times and in all places will result in conquering the mind. Then will you come to realize "All is the Divine; I am that Self;" and you will attain the natural state.
His Grace is Still With Us
One day when he was still convalescing in the dispensary, Chadwick and I were standing outside nearby when one of Bhagavan’s attendants accosted us and inquired if we wanted to come in and see Bhagavan. This was not the usual procedure of having a personal audience with Bhagavan while he was ill; nevertheless, we jumped at the opportunity. Moving quickly into Bhagavan’s room, we stood at his bedside and simply rested our eyes on him. No words passed between us, but I can never forget those cool, compassionate eyes that opened and bathed us in peace and love.
This small event may seem insignificant to the onlooker. Yet, by that one look, soaked with immeasurable peace and grace, we felt complete security and the confidence that his blessings would always be with us. Even now, more than forty years after he left his body, I feel that this same grace is flowing, enveloping me, guiding me. How can it be described in words?
The Recollections of N. Balaram
Today, I find people who have never seen Bhagavan physically, never heard his voice or listened to his upadesa, sit in the Old Hall or the Samadhi Hall, oblivious of themselves, often shedding tears, and going round the hall as if impelled by some unseen force. What gives these people their experiences? As Bhagavan always said, "Is this body Bhagavan?" When somebody expressed sadness at having to go back home from the Ashram, Bhagavan said, "What am I to do? You say that this body is Bhagavan. I say that it is not. Now, if you insist, what am I to do?" To others, he would say, "Look! He says he is going to a place where I am not." These new devotees of Bhagavan are proof of all he told us.