Three years ago Sri Ramana Kendram Hyderabad brought out a book entitled Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Enchanting and Uplifting Reminiscences of 160 persons. The title, I hope, is self-explanatory. It was compiled and edited by Professor Laxmi Narain, the editor of Sri Ramana Jyoti, the monthly journal of the
A few days ago Prof. Narain sent me forty additional reminiscences that he planned to include in the forthcoming edition of the book. Here are some of the new stories that are due to appear. Thanks to Prof. Narain for giving permission to post extracts from the new edition before it has even been printed.
Ramakrishna Madhavpeddi, a Telugu, was an attorney in the
I was twenty-four years when I first visited Sri Ramanasramam. At that time I was very much depressed owing to the sudden death at the age of twenty of my closest relative. My father had been urging me to visit the Maharshi. He had already visited him twice with a list of doubts, all of which had been cleared, without a single word being spoken by him. He had also experienced complete peace in the Maharshi’s presence.
It was about when I first reached the Ashram. I was asked to stay in the Guest House for Gents. I entered the guest house and placed down my bedding. As fate would have it N. Balarama Reddy was occupying the space next to me. In addition to my work in the courts I also wrote articles for various journals on Telugu literature, and I dabbled in poetry. This helped in striking up a conversation with him.
He took me to where Sri Ramana was reclining on a sofa and asked me to sit with my eyes closed. Although there was absolute silence in the hall, I could not sit with my eyes closed. I was restless and felt as if the time was dragging. Slowly, my mind began to reflect on all my miseries, one after another. Every day, for three days, I accompanied Reddy garu to the hall, and every time I sat down my thoughts would take off at high speed, increasing my misery. So, on the evening of the third day, I told Reddy garu that I had come to the Maharshi for peace but was only experiencing an increase of pain and misery. He asked me to stay on for one more day.
On the morning of the fourth day I was sitting in the hall with my eyes closed. At one point I happened to open my eyes and saw the Maharshi looking at me intently. Suddenly, all thoughts vanished from my mind and I experienced a delightful blank, or void. Then a resplendent light enveloped me fully. I was empty of thoughts but full of immense happiness. I was one with some indefinable peace and resplendent glory.
After some time I again became aware of my body. This experience made me believe in God for the first time. In spite of all my theories of Marxism, dialectic materialism and atheism I could not deny the truth of this wonderful experience. This condition continued for three days. I witnessed my body go through its daily activities but I remained fixed in that immense peace. The Maharshi’s look pierced into me when I sat before him and even when I was not before him. The eyes of the Maharshi are the kindest and most powerful energy of the universe, and it brings me to ecstasy remembering those first days with him in the Ashram. I left the Ashram after six days, but even after leaving I would suddenly go into meditation. Such was the effect of the sage’s presence.
(Source: Internet, ‘Ramana Maharshi – Stories and Teachings’)
J.C. Molony, ICS, was a district collector in
I was strolling with my dogs on the hill when I stumbled upon an ashram, a hermitage set in a cleft of the rocks and overhung by trees. Water bubbled from a spring and gathered in a stone basin. I spied the hermit within, and my dogs spied him too; and in a second three of them were all over him, while the fourth plunged with a splash into the coolness of his small well. I looked for a tempest of anger; hurriedly I prepared the best apology that I could think of on the spur of the moment. There emerged a tall, lean ascetic, smiling on me and my yelping companions.
‘You like dogs?’ he asked. ‘I love them myself, but I have sent my own dogs away from the summer heat. Why should a dog not like clean, cool water? No harm is caused by the dog jumping in the well. Ten minutes after she is gone, the basin will have emptied and filled itself afresh.’
So we sat together on the parapet of the ashram and looked down on the hot, dusty, town far below. When I reached my camp one of my dogs was missing. In the evening the holy man arrived, leading the truant on a string.
‘He came back to me, and I should have liked to keep him,’ he said, ‘but why should I steal him from you?’
As I write these lines, the fields before my eyes are white with frost; but my thoughts travel back to the kindly recluse on the sun-baked hill.
(Source: Ramana Manjari, a souvenir produced in aid of the building fund for Ramana Kendra,
C. R. Rajamani, associated with the printing business at Madras, first visited Sri Ramana in early 1940s.
I was in my early twenties when I first had darshan of the Maharshi. I saw him seated on a couch. A cast-iron charcoal brazier was radiating a comfortable warmth, and a pleasing aroma of incense, thrown into it at regular intervals, was pervading the entire hall. About thirty people were seated on the floor facing the Maharshi. None spoke or even whispered. What struck me was that no one seemed to show even an inclination to talk. Some were meditating with closed eyes.
Sri Ramana’s body was luminous like burnished gold. He was clad in his usual kaupinam, with a small towel across his chest. He appeared to be occasionally dozing off and had to steady his head often. He frequently stretched his palms over the fire and massaged his long fingers. In spite of his apparent dozing, his eyes did not look drowsy. On the contrary, they were extraordinarily bright and alert. He was not looking at anybody in particular. I felt I was in the presence of an extremely affable person with a lot of natural grace, at perfect ease and without any pretension whatsoever.
I saw a white-skinned boy, about ten years old, sitting a couple of feet to my left. Next to him was a white man, presumably his father. Further to my left, was a white woman, whom I thought was the boy’s mother. I then saw Sri Bhagavan’s eyes alight on the boy for a brief minute. I thought it was just a casual look. The boy was all the time looking at Sri Bhagavan with a sort of fixation, as if on the verge of asking a question. But, no! He broke into tears. A cascade of tears came gushing out of his eyes. They were not tears of pain, for his face was radiant with joy. I could see that Sri Bhagavan’s glance, though only resting on him for a brief moment, had opened in the boy’s heart a veritable reservoir of pure joy.
Whenever I recall this incident, it creates a feeling of being very near to something truly divine. Of course, I have had my own share of Sri Bhagavan’s grace in my later years. I have also had some ever-fresh visions which I dare not devalue as creations of a fevered imagination for they have strengthened my faith in Sri Bhagavan. Some of them occurred decades after Sri Bhagavan’s mahanirvana. They have been firm confirmations of his continued Presence and reassurances of his immortal words, ‘They say I am going! Where can I go? I am always here!’
I learned that the boy had come along with his parents, who had come to attend the Theosophical Society’s world convention which is usually held at Adyar,
He shed tears for quite some time and later said to his mother, ‘I am so happy. I don’t want to leave his presence. I want to be always with him!’
His mother was most upset. She pleaded with Sri Bhagavan, ‘Swami, please release my son! He is our only child. We will be miserable without him.’
Sri Bhagavan smiled at her and said, ‘Release him? I am not keeping him tied up. He is a mature soul. A mere spark has ignited his spiritual fire.’
Turning to the boy, the Maharshi said, ‘Go with your parents. I will always be with you.’
He spoke in Tamil throughout, but the boy understood him fully. He bowed to Sri Bhagavan and reluctantly left with his parents.
(Source: google.co.in Ramana Maharshi – Stories and Teachings, Collection 3.)
Rajalakshmi was the granddaughter of Venu Ammal, the younger sister of Echammal who had served food to Bhagavan for about forty years. The following is based on her video interview and an article contributed by her son, with whom she lives at Chennai. She says:
On the death of my mother, my grandmother was completely devastated, unable to bear the loss of her only daughter. She walked all the way from Tiruvannamalai town to then distant Ramanasramam at on a dark, lonely night. She cried uncontrollably and fell at Bhagavan’s feet. Chinnaswami, Bhagavan’s younger brother, objected to her falling at the feet of Bhagavan for a worldly reason. To this Bhagavan countered by asking Chinnaswami if he would have objected to his sister Alamelu doing the same thing in a similar circumstance. Bhagavan shared her grief in his inimitable way and consoled her.
I first saw Bhagavan in 1923 when I was three years old. My grandmother, who was serving at the Ashram, took me along with her every morning, returning home in the evening. Once, I was playing a ‘cooking’ game by offering small pieces of stones as cooked rice to Bhagavan and asking him to eat them. Bhagavan readily put those stones into his mouth and pretended to eat them. When my grandmother objected, Bhagavan replied that the child was happily offering him the stones as food and he did not want to disappoint her.
On another occasion, when seated next to Bhagavan in the dining hall, I asked my grandmother to serve me more of a particular preparation. She declined. When she was about to serve more of the same preparation to Bhagavan, he refused to have it on the grounds that what was applicable to the child was also applicable to him.
Bhagavan taught me Tamil, Telugu, and Sanskrit, starting from the alphabets. He also taught me arithmetic. The first Sanskrit sloka he taught me was from Upadesa Saram. Eventually I learnt all the thirty slokas and recited them before Bhagavan, who was very pleased. Bhagavan presented to me a copy of the book Ramana Vijayam by Suddhananda Bharati after writing my name on it. The book includes the story of Bhagavan’s stay at Pathala Lingam. Being curious, I visited the place in the
In my school, children used to play kolattam [a game using two wooden sticks]. I did not have the sticks to play. My grandmother was not willing to spend one and a half paisa for the sticks. When I told Bhagavan of my problem, he asked his attendant Madhava Swami, to get two wooden sticks, out of which he made two beautiful kolattam sticks and presented them to me.
Somebody told me not to address Bhagavan as ‘Thatha’ [grandfather]. Bhagavan replied that as I was at the Ashram since childhood, there was nothing wrong in calling him ‘Thatha’.
(Source: Mountain Path, April-June, 2008.)