Friday, September 19, 2008

Discovering Mastan

As I was driving home from a shopping trip this morning I suddenly remembered the story of Mastan, and how I managed to find out information about him. The memories grabbed me so strongly, I felt an urge to write them down as soon as I reached my house. So, here they are…

I first heard about Mastan from Sadhu Om in the late 1970s. He had gone to Mastan’s home village around 1960 to interview Akhilandamma, one of Bhagavan’s earliest devotees. At that time she was over eighty years of age. Among the many stories she told him was one about Mastan Swami, and how she first took him to Bhagavan in the Virupaksha Cave era. I didn’t read Sadhu Om’s account, which had been published in Tamil, but he did tell me that Mastan was such a great devotee, people today still went to his samadhi shrine because they felt that it was a place where one’s wishes could be fulfilled. Years later I read Kunju Swami’s reminiscences, and these included the story of how Bhagavan sent him to Desur (Mastan’s home village) when Mastan passed away there with instructions to make him a special samadhi shrine that is usually reserved for Saiva saints. I did a little checking and discovered that Bhagavan had only commissioned or requested samadhis of this kind on four occasions: for his own mother, for Seshadri Swami, for Lakshmi the cow, and for Mastan Swami. This put Mastan Swami in very elevated company.

In the early 1980s I came across an account by the editor of Arunachala Ramana. He too had gone to talk to Akhilandamma, and she had obliged him with the moving story of how Mastan Swami had passed away. In his final hours he had seen Siva ganas and Apeetakuchamba (the Sanskrit name of the consort of Siva in the Arunachaleswara Temple), and spoken excitedly of how they had all come to collect him to him home.

This was definitely someone I wanted to find out information about, but where to start? Mastan himself had passed away in 1931, and he had received little more than passing mentions in the ashram books I had read. He was present on the famous occasion when the ashram was robbed in 1924, and also on the occasion when the golden mongoose visited Bhagavan at Skandashram, but he didn’t appear to have a major role to play in either incident. I took the relevant information from Sadhu Om’s Tamil account of Akhilandamma, and then began to hunt for any extra tidbits that might have escaped the attention of earlier writers. I only began this work in 2001, so I didn’t have access to devotees such as Kunju Swami, Ramaswami Pillai and Annamalai Swami who would, undoubtedly, have been able to provide me with useful information.

I knew the English and Tamil sources of information on Bhagavan well enough to know that there was not much to be found in the literature of either language, but I thought there might be something in Telugu I had overlooked. Several of my friends were devotees of Sri Sainaathuni Sarath Babuji, an Andhra householder and Guru, who had thousands of devotees in Andhra Pradesh. He was in Tiruvannamalai at the time and my friends had all told me that he had a great respect for Bhagavan and an encyclopaedic knowledge of all the stories about him. I asked one of his devotees to ask him if he could remember reading anything in Telugu about Mastan Swami.

Sri Sainaathuni Sarath Babuji is a great devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba. His first teacher had been Acharya E. Bharadwaja, a man who had done much in the 1960s and 70s to spread the teachings of Shirdi Sai Baba. In his youth Sainaathuni Sarath Babuji had spent quite a lot of time in and around Ramanasramam, and he had also spent time with Poondi Swami, an eccentric yogi who lived about 20 km from Tiruvannamalai. In later years his devotion focused exclusively on Shirdi Sai Baba, although he does acknowledge that Poondi Swami played a major part in his spiritual development.

Sainaathuni Sarath Babuji’s devotion to Shirdi Sai Baba became so intense, he began to acquire some of the wish-fulfilling powers that Sai Baba was famous for. People began to flock to him when these powers became public knowledge, so much so, he found it hard to live a normal life in Andhra Pradesh. If he ever went anywhere by train, hordes of people would descend on him at each place the train stopped, each hoping to have his or her desire fulfilled. Sainaathuni Sarath Babuji never did anything consciously to help these people; he always said that if people brought a problem to him, as often as not Sai Baba would attend to it. He never claimed to be doing any of these things himself.

He moved to Shirdi, in Maharashtra, in 1989, and at the time of this story he had small houses in both Chennai and Tiruvannamalai where he would occasionally meet with the many people who wanted to see him. Mostly, though, he lived a reclusive life, and his public appearances were severely rationed. I sent my request via an old friend of mine who was lucky enough to be attending satsangs with him on a regular basis. She asked my question – ‘Do you know any Telugu sources of information on Mastan Swami?’ – but Sainaathuni Sarath Babuji (who is known as ‘Guruji’ to all his followers) made no reply.

Later that evening his attendant asked him privately, ‘What answer should I give to David? You didn’t say anything during the satsang.’

Guruji replied, ‘Tell him that Baba is taking care of it’. The next day my friend reported this to me in a very excited tone of voice. When I asked her why she was so excited – it didn’t seem to me to be much of an answer – she told me that this was what Guruji said when he knew that Sai Baba had intervened in some way and was taking care of a request or a problem.

‘Just wait,’ said my friend. ‘If any information exists, it will all end up in your hands, probably from the most unlikely sources.’

The first improbable event occurred soon afterwards when I was standing in the Ramanasramam library, looking at a shelf of books. A. R. Natarajan came up to me and asked what I was working on.

‘I’m looking for information on Mastan,’ I replied, 'but I am not getting very far. ‘Did you ever turn up any information on him?’

‘No,’ he replied, ‘but I do have the notes that B. V. Narasimha Swami wrote when he was interviewing devotees for Self-Realisation. There is a one-and-a-half page Tamil account there by Mastan Swami. I can send you a copy.’

A. R. Natarajan had taken all of Narasimha Swami’s notes to Bangalore several years before, so I was not aware that there existed an account by Mastan himself of his time with Bhagavan. I thanked Natarajan for the offer and waited to see what would turn up.

A few days later I received a xeroxed copy of the information that Mastan had given to Narasimha Swami. Though brief, it was a fascinating account of his early life and the questions he had asked Bhagavan.

Next, I went to see Sri V. Ganesan, since I knew he had spoken to many of Bhagavan’s devotees about their time with him. I was aware that Kunju Swami had briefly mentioned that Mastan Swami had gone into samadhi on first meeting Bhagavan, but details of the event were frustratingly sketchy. I asked Ganesan if anyone had given him more details of this incident.

He looked surprised. ‘Didn’t I mention that in one of my books? That’s a great story. Viswanatha Swami told me all about it. I can’t imagine why that one hasn’t been printed before.’

Then he proceeded to tell me the extraordinary story of how Mastan Swami had come to see Bhagavan in Virupaksha Cave. He told me how, on one occasion, even before seeing Bhagavan, Mastan had, while opening the gate to the cave compound, fallen into a deep samadhi that had lasted about eight hours. More remarkable still, Ganesan remembered Viswanatha Swami telling him that Bhagavan had said that Mastan was ‘in an entirely different category to most of the people who came’. High praise indeed from Bhagavan, who rarely made public comments on the differing levels of maturity that he saw in the devotees in front of him.

Next, I organised, via Ramanasramam, a trip to Desur, the village 40 miles from Tiruvannamalai where both Akhilandamma and Mastan Swami lived. One of the ashram’s office workers came from that area, so we took him along to make use of his local knowledge. Chandramouli also came with the ashram’s video camera in case we turned up any interesting stories.

We had a highly productive day. The pujari who looked after the samadhi shrine had made a point of collecting stories about Mastan Swami from the local people. He had recorded these in Tamil in a notebook that he allowed me to copy. The shrine itself contained a very blurry photo that I assumed to be Mastan. I took a photo of it and found out later that it had been taken from a group photo which had been taken at Skandashram. I believe that this is the only surviving photo of Mastan. There is no one else who looks like him on any of the other group photos of this era.

As we were traveling around Desur we tracked down two old men who had actually known Mastan Swami; both were happy to share their memories with us. And as we were sitting next to the shrine, reflecting on a good day’s work, an old man wandered past who not only knew Mastan, he had actually been part of the group that had dug the samadhi pit in 1931. This was all most extraordinary. We had gone to a village to find information about a man who had died seventy years before and unexpectedly found a group of ninety-year-olds whose memories were still working well enough to give us illuminating details of Mastan’s Swami’s life.

Around the time I was doing this research Venkatasubramanian, Robert and I were working on the translation of Padamalai. I can’t remember exactly what we were looking for, but at one point Sankaran, who looks after all of Muruganar’s papers, opened his trunks to find something for us and accidentally brought out a poem that had been written by one of Mastan’s devotees. The devotee had sent the poem to Bhagavan; Bhagavan had passed it on to Muruganar; and Muruganar had decided there was enough merit in it to keep it and store it along with all his other papers. In addition to descriptions of the beauty of Desur and praise of Mastan Swami, the poem includes the only known ‘teachings’ of Mastan.

When I began my research, the known published material on Mastan Swami amounted to a couple of pages at most. A few weeks later I had managed, somewhat miraculously, to assemble enough material to write a twenty-page chapter for part three of The Power of the Presence. Was this due to ‘Baba taking care of it’? I am inclined to say ‘yes’ simply because too many seemingly fortuitous things happened in too short a space of time for them all to be attributed to chance or good research. I didn’t go to Guruji for a miraculous intervention; I just hoped he would pass on any knowledge he had. Now, having had this experience, I can see why so many people flock to him with their problems and requests.

The president of Ramanasramam read my account while he was on holiday in the US. He immediately called the ashram and asked the people there to take steps to renovate Mastan’s shrine and make sure that it was looked after properly. The place was depressingly unkempt on the day I went there. We had to hunt around for half an hour to find the key to open the front door, and once we had gained access, we found the interior to be dusty and filled with cobwebs. Unfortunately, there seems to be some sort of village feud over who owns or controls the shrine, so for the moment, none of the renovation plans have been executed. However, I hope all this gets settled and the shrine restored in some way. It marks the final physical resting place of one of Bhagavan’s most extraordinary devotees.

Here, just to remind you of what a great man he was, is what I wrote in the Power of the Presence chapter.

Mastan


Mastan, who appeared in Ramanatha Brahmachari’s chapter as the weaver who made the cloth for Bhagavan’s clothes, was born in 1878 in Desur, a small village about forty miles from Tiruvannamalai. He came from a Muslim family but was drawn to Bhagavan by Akhilandamma, a widow of the village who made regular trips to Tiruvannamalai to see Bhagavan and cook for him. A document preserved in the shrine where Mastan is buried states that at a very early age he would spontaneously fall into a samadhi-like state while he was working on the family loom. His hands and feet, which were plying the machinery of his trade, would stop and he would become absolutely still. His parents, Hussain and Salubi, thought that he was falling asleep on the job. Whenever they saw him in this condition, they would hit him, bring him back to his waking state, and tell him to get on with his work. These episodes seem to have been a recurring feature of his childhood. The notebook in which this story is recorded says the ‘he plunged into jnana’ on these occasions, making it clear that they were not just fainting fits.

Mastan himself made no mention of these dramatic experiences when he described his early years:

I came under the spell of bhakti before the age of twenty. During the Muharram festival I would put on the garb of a pandaram [a Saiva monk], smear vibhuti on myself, carry a begging bowl and roam around.

I discovered and read the verses of Gunagudi Mastan [a Muslim saint who probably lived during the early 19th century]. It occurred to me that at the following Muharram festival I should dress up as a pandaram and sing these verses. I obtained a copy of this book, read the portion entitled ‘Ecstatic Joy’ and tried to learn it by heart.


While I was doing this, it occurred to me that I should never again put on this pandaram outfit.


‘It is of no use,’ I thought. ‘I should, instead, seek liberation.’


For one year after this decision I didn’t sleep either during the day or the night. Most of the time I was going through Gunagudi Mastan’s verses. I also went through the poems and songs of Thayumanavar and Pattinathar.


There is one verse of Gunagudi Mastan that says: ‘O mind, is it possible to speak of the misery and desolation experienced by those who get wedded to women?’
This impressed me very much. There would be no marriage for me. When I became aware that my elder brothers, who were employed in the army, were making arrangements to get me married, I shuddered.

At the age of fifteen I lost my father, and when I was twenty-five my mother died. After these deaths I gave up the family weaving business. I had a Rs 100 debt from this work, but a devotee paid it off for me, freeing me from this occupation.
This information came from the interview that Narasimha Swami had with him in 1930. Nothing more is known about Mastan until the day he accompanied Akhilandamma on his first visit to Tiruvannamalai in 1914. This is how Mastan described the meeting when he spoke to Kunju Swami:

When I came to Bhagavan, he was seated like a rock…. [His unwavering gaze] was filled with grace, compassion and steady wisdom. I stood by his side. After giving me a look, he opened the gate of my Heart and I was also established in his state. I stood like that for eight hours, absolutely without fatigue, but filled with total absorption and peace. Bhagavan in those days used to open our Heart with a simple gracious look, and it transformed us. There was no need for any questions since he made us, by his look, like himself. (The Mountain Path, 1979, p. 154.)

The version of this first meeting that Mastan gave to Narasimha Swami was far less dramatic. It completely omitted the spectacular experience that Mastan had there:

The first time I saw him he was near the mango tree that is adjacent to Jada Swami’s ashram. Afterwards I had his darshan in many caves. I often spent about a month in his presence.
Having gone through Mastan’s brief interview with Narasimha Swami, I am convinced that Mastan was deliberately downplaying the experiences he had had with Bhagavan. The accounts of Mastan’s life that have come from people who knew him well indicate that he was a quiet, humble man who went out of his way to avoid attracting attention to himself. The following story, narrated by Viswanatha Swami, shows that Bhagavan himself was less restrained when he spoke of Mastan’s early visits to Virupaksha Cave.

Many of Sri Bhagavan’s activities, utterances and reactions were to some degree predictable. When you live in close proximity to a great being such as Bhagavan, becoming drenched in his presence and teachings, you start to believe that you understand him, at least to a certain extent. However, once in a while Bhagavan would spontaneously say things that astounded us all, making us realise how little we really knew and understood him. I remember one such statement very well.

Bhagavan once told me, ‘All sorts of beings gravitate towards the presence of a jnani devas [inhabitants of the heavenly realms], rishis [sages], Brahmanishtas [those established in Brahman], siddhas [perfected beings with supernatural powers] and yogis. Some come in a normal human form, but others turn up in their subtle, astral bodies. Some of these great beings show up in the guise of beggars or madmen, and some of them even manage to appear in the forms of birds and animals.

‘Among those who show up in a normal human body, and who subsequently stay on and become devotees, there is a huge range of spiritual attainment: complete beginners mix with highly advanced souls. The most advanced are ripe fruits, just waiting to fall. They only have to come into the presence of a jnani in order to plunge into a deep experience of the Self. One such devotee was Mastan.

‘He was such a ripe soul, when he came to Virupaksha Cave to see me he would sometimes go into a deep samadhi before he had even entered the cave. As soon as he touched the railings of the gate, he would have a paralysing experience of the Self. He would stand, rooted to the spot, unable to move, for six or seven hours. This happened several times. Usually, these experiences would happen before he had even seen me since I would be inside the cave, unaware of what was going on at the gate.

‘Mastan was in an entirely different category to most of the people who came. He was highly spiritual, although outwardly he looked like an ordinary man. He was a kind generous man who was always looking for an opportunity to help other people. He never showed any self-importance. On the contrary he liked to stay in the background, unnoticed and unappreciated by ordinary people.’ (Unpublished story narrated to V. Ganesan by Viswanatha Swami in the 1970s)

These samadhi states did not give him a full and permanent experience of the Self. When his mind reasserted itself, he went to Bhagavan for advice:

Once, while I was on my way to see Bhagavan, I prayed for his grace.

On my arrival at Virupaksha Cave he asked, ‘Do you like saguna upasana [meditation or worship of form], or do you like nirguna upasana meditation or worship of the formless]?

I replied, ‘I only want nirguna upasana’.

Bhagavan then told me, ‘Fix the mind in the Heart. If you keep your attention at the source from where all thoughts arise, the mind will subside at the source and reality will shine forth.’

I had already come across similar teachings in Maharaja Turavu, Mastan’s verses and Sukar Kaivalyam. I had also seen these instructions in several other books. I took a firm decision that this was the way for me. After this meeting with Bhagavan I had no further doubts about this. No doubts at all. (From B. V. Narasimha Swami’s interview)

In a brief, unpublished account of Mastan’s life Kunju Swami made the following comments on Mastan:

‘Mastan had a very peaceful disposition.…After [his] first visit he used to come to Arunachala whenever he felt like it and have Bhagavan’s darshan at Virupaksha Cave for long periods, but standing at a distance. He would not speak anything to anybody… He did not get married and remained a brahmachari. He was leading a peaceful life, practising his weaving profession and having Bhagavan’s darshan.’ (Taken from Ramana Bhakta Vijayam, an unpublished manuscript Kunju Swami was working on when he passed away. It was going to be an account of all the major devotees of Bhagavan whose stories were known to him.)

Though Mastan was clearly an outstanding devotee, very little information is available about him or his years with Bhagavan. The few stories that exist come from people who were associated with him. Akhilandamma, who probably knew him better than anyone else, has described how they used to come to Tiruvannamalai together:

Mastan and I would come to Arunachala from our village to have the pleasure of serving Bhagavan. Mastan, a weaver, belonged to our village, but he did not stick to his craft. A man of whims, he would suddenly suspend his weaving and go to live with Bhagavan for months on end. During this time he would keep his body and soul together on alms that he begged.

In those early days we had no buses. I would make a bundle of provisions, such as rice and pulses, and put them on his head. Loaded in this way, we would start on our journey of forty miles to Arunachala. We would walk slowly and leisurely, telling each other stories of Bhagavan.

Mastan occasionally made towels and kaupinas and offered them to Bhagavan, who accepted them with deep regard.

Bhagavan once remarked, with great joy, ‘Mastan’s craft, though it did not give food either to him or his parents, gives me clothes’.

On full moon nights we would go round the hill in the divine company of Bhagavan. In those days there would be about ten of us – Perumal, Mastan and a few others. On those moonlit nights we would walk in rapture, forgetting the entire universe, except for the sacred mountain. I don’t think those enchanting days will ever come again!

On one of those occasions Mastan began to sing at the top of his voice. I had never heard him singing so loudly.

‘Mastan, what happened to you today?’ asked Bhagavan as soon as the pradakshina was over. ‘You never ever sing, so why did you sing like that?’

‘It was nothing,’ replied Mastan, casually. ‘Perumal instructed me that I had to sing in order to ward off your drowsiness. To raise my spirits and to equip me for the job, he made me take a drink containing ganja.’

‘So that’s what happened. Ganja intoxication was behind your wild singing. How many times have I told you that I need no external help to keep me awake? Also, I have told you before not to do anything for my sake. Don’t listen to other people who tell you differently.’

Though Bhagavan rebuked Mastan in this way, I don’t think he took the criticism very seriously. Mastan was a very innocent man, and events like this didn’t touch him.

I remember one incident that took place when Bhagavan lived at Skandashram. A golden mongoose entered the ashram premises and made straight for Bhagavan. It sat on his lap for a while. Later, it wandered around and closely inspected all the different parts of the cave. When the inspection was over, it disappeared into the bushes on the hill. While all this was happening, Mastan was the only devotee with Bhagavan.

Some time later Perumal came back to the ashram and Mastan told him about the visit of the mongoose. One can get a glimpse of Mastan’s state of mind at the time from the remarks he made.

‘I was afraid that the mongoose might harm our peacocks,’ he said, ‘so I kept myself ready in case it made an attack. I had a big stick handy. Fortunately, it moved away without making any move towards the peacocks.’

Perumal told him, ‘Mastan, you should have caught it. If you had managed to capture it, we could have brought it up here and kept it as a pet.’

Bhagavan was listening to this conversation.

Addressing Mastan, he said, ‘Whom do you think he was? Do you think you could have caught him, and do you think that this other man could have domesticated him? This was a sage of Arunachala who took on this form to come and visit me. He wanted to pay his respects to me. How many times have I told you that sages come to see me in various forms?’

Mastan never told me about this mongoose. Bhagavan himself mentioned the incident to me on one of my later visits. (‘My Reminiscences’ by Akhilandamma, Arunachala Ramana, May 1982, pp. 5-9)

The story of the visit of the golden mongoose has been narrated in many accounts of Bhagavan’s life, but this is the only version I have found which states that Mastan was the only devotee with Bhagavan at the time of the visit. Since the unusual visit took place on a busy festival day, other people were visiting Skandashram, but none of the other ashram residents of Skandashram was present. The mongoose had earlier visited Palaniswami, Bhagavan’s long-time attendant, in Virupaksha Cave before coming up the hill to see Bhagavan. This would place the incident in 1915, the year that Palaniswami died. When Bhagavan moved to Skandashram that year, Palaniswami stayed in Virupaksha Cave, where he passed away a few months later. This is Bhagavan’s own account of the visit of the mongoose:

I was living up the hill at Skandashram. Streams of visitors were climbing up the hill from the town. A mongoose, larger than the ordinary size, of golden hue (not grey as a mongoose is) with no black spot on its tail as is usual with the wild mongoose, passed these crowds fearlessly. People took it to be a tame one belonging to someone in the crowd. The animal went straight to Palaniswami, who was having a bath in the spring by Virupaksha Cave. He stroked the creature and patted it. It followed him into the cave, inspected every nook and corner and left the place and joined the crowd coming up to Skandashram.

I noticed it. Everyone was struck by its attractive appearance and its fearless movements. It came up to me, got on my lap and rested there for some time. It went round the whole place and I followed it lest it should be harmed by the unwary visitors or by the peacocks. Two peacocks of the place looked at it inquisitively. The mongoose looked nonchalantly from place to place and finally disappeared into the rocks on the southeast of the ashram. (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 82 dated 16th October 1935)

Some writers who have mentioned this incident have speculated that the visiting mongoose was Arunachaleswara, the presiding deity of Arunachala, who had come to visit Bhagavan in this form. Bhagavan never confirmed or denied this speculation when it was mentioned to him. This account by Akhilandamma is the only one in which Bhagavan seemed willing to commit himself to a definite identification of his visitor.

In 1914, shortly after Mastan had become a devotee, he and Akhilandamma decided to open a math in the village of Desur that would function as a choultry, a place where visiting sadhus and pilgrims could be accommodated and fed. Akhilandamma had been feeding sadhus prior to this date for many years, but her operations had been based in her own house. Her relatives had not approved of the amount of time, energy and money she was devoting to sadhus, so she left her family home and found a separate house in Desur. For many years this was the base of her charitable activities.

Around 1914 an opportunity arose to have a proper math in the village. Kannappa Mudaliar, a long-time resident of Desur, has described how the math came into existence:

I started going to Bhagavan around 1930, having been influenced to do so by Mastan and Akhilandamma, who both came from my village. In those days there were only about ten families in Desur. We all got on very well. We were like one big family. Mastan never married, but the descendants of his family are still living in the village. I met Akhilandamma at the Sri Ramanananda Mathalayam, the math in our village that was dedicated to Bhagavan. Akhilandamma once told me about the early days of the math.

Mastan, she said, helped in the construction of the math. He cleared the ground and did some of the building work himself. The math functioned as a choultry, offering food and accommodation to visiting pilgrims and sadhus. Many of the sadhus from Ramanasramam came to stay here, particularly when they were sick and needed someone to look after them. We also had visitors from other places.

When the building was completed, Mastan regularly did parayana of Bhagavan’s works there. By this time Mastan had more or less abandoned his career as a weaver. He lived as a sadhu and usually went out to beg his food, although sometimes Akhilandamma fed him. Akhilandamma would cook in the math. If no food was available there, Mastan would go out to beg. Whenever devotees would come to visit, Mastan would take them to the math and talk to them about Bhagavan.

In 1928 Nandagopal Mudaliar, a local man, gave some money that was used to construct a new building on the north side of the math. A plaque was placed on the wall stating that Nandagopal Mudaliar had given the money for its construction. Mastan, it seems, wasn’t happy with this plaque. He didn’t want to live in a place that had a name other than Bhagavan’s on the wall. He was so offended by this plaque, he decided to leave the math and live elsewhere.

Muniswami Gounder, a man who lived a few kilometres away, heard about this development and invited both Akhilandamma and Mastan to come and stay in his village at his expense. He lived in Matam, a small village about four kilometres from Desur. Muniswami Gounder was sponsoring a math in his own village that was named after Appar and he expected Mastan and Akhilandamma to live in this place. Mastan, though, had already made it clear that he didn’t want to stay in any place that was named after anyone other than Bhagavan, so he also refused to stay in this second math. As a compromise, Muniswami Gounder built him a small hut near the math. Akhilandamma decided to stay in Desur. Both of them would occasionally leave and go to visit Bhagavan in Tiruvannamalai. Sometimes they walked there and sometimes Mastan would drive a cart loaded with provisions for the inmates of Bhagavan’s ashram. (From a personal conversation with Kannappa Mudaliar, September 2001)

When Akhilandamma told Bhagavan that she had opened a math in her village to serve his devotees, he said to all the devotees present:

'Now our name and fame will spread over the entire country. You see this Desuramma has girded up her loins. She has set up Ramanananda Mathalayam.’

Saying this, he laughed loudly. (‘My Reminiscences’ by Akhilandamma, Arunachala Ramana, June 1982)

‘Desuramma’ means ‘the mother from Desur’. Since Bhagavan was known to dislike publicity, his first sentence can definitely be taken to be ironic.

When Bhagavan heard at a later date that Mastan had moved to the village of Matam, he asked Akhilandamma to move there as well to look after him. She took this as a direct command.

Saying, ‘Wherever he is I will serve him,’ she went to the math in Matam. (Taken from the notebook that is preserved at Mastan’s shrine.)

Mastan himself has recorded only one other encounter with Bhagavan: a conversation that took place shortly after Bhagavan had moved down the hill from Skandashram.

For some time, while I was meditating at night for about an hour, I used to hear the sound of a big bell ringing. Sometimes a limitless effulgence would appear. In 1922 when I visited Bhagavan at his new ashram at the foot of the hill, I asked him about this.

He advised me, ‘There is no need to concern ourselves about sounds such as these. If you see from where it rises, it will be known that it arises on account of a desire [sankalpa] of the mind. Everything appears in oneself and subsides within oneself. The light, too, only appears from the same place. If you see to whom it appears, mind will subside at the source and only reality will remain.’ (From Narasimha Swami’s interview.)

Mastan continued to visit Bhagavan throughout the 1920s, although his visits were less frequent than in earlier years. He was present in Ramanasramam, along with a small number of other devotees, on a famous occasion in 1924 when Bhagavan was attacked by a gang of robbers who were under the mistaken impression that a large amount of money was kept there.

Bhagavan received a severe blow on his leg during the robbery, but in a characteristic response he told the robbers, ‘If you are not satisfied, you may strike the other leg also’.

Ramakrishna Swami, one of the devotees present, was so outraged by the assault on Bhagavan’s person, he took up an iron bar with the intention of attacking the intruders.

Bhagavan restrained him, saying, ‘Let these robbers play their role. We shall stick to ours. Let them do what they like. It is for us to bear and forbear. Let us not interfere with them.’

Mastan appeared to follow Bhagavan’s advice during this attack since there is no record of him reacting in any way to the violent invasion. In one of his rare recorded statements, Mastan is reported to have said, ‘Even if the sky falls on your head, or even if a sword is firmly driven through your chest, do not slip from your true state.’ (See verse five of the concluding poem.) The final clause, which can equally well be translated as ‘do not get agitated’, seems to sum up Mastan’s response to this event.

Akhilandamma rushed to Tiruvannamalai when she heard the news. This is her report of how Bhagavan reacted to the assault:

What one could not imagine had happened: Bhagavan was beaten up by thieves. The news took wing and many like me ran to the ashram in great anxiety.

Seeing me Bhagavan expressed surprise and said, ‘Oh, Desuramma, you have come as well. Kunju Swami is telling the story over there. Go and listen.’

It was as though Bhagavan had directed some children to go and listen to a story that was being told some distance away. I learned that Bhagavan had appointed Kunju Swami to relate all the incidents surrounding the robbery. From his reaction I gathered that the persistent questioning by devotees annoyed Bhagavan more than even the beatings of the thieves.

Sitting at the feet of Bhagavan and stroking the wounded leg, I expressed surprise and sorrow, saying, ‘How unjust! What injustice!’

Bhagavan contradicted me. ‘What injustice is there in this? As you feed me sweets, so they have fed me blows, and I have received them too. However many times I tell you that I am not the body, it never goes into your head.’ (‘My Reminiscences’ by Akhilandamma, Arunachala Ramana, June 1982, pp. 23-4)

When Bhagavan described the incident, he sometimes said that he had received poosai from the thieves, a Tamil term that denotes both beating and worship. Though Mastan had only the tiniest of roles in this drama, I have included the whole story here since it has not been told by any of the narrators in the Power of the Presence series.

The math that Mastan and Akhilandamma ran in Desur had been established to serve travelling sadhus, particularly those who were devotees of Bhagavan. The following story, narrated by Viswanatha Swami, indicates that Mastan took this responsibility very seriously:

In those days [the 1920s] some of Bhagavan’s devotees used to travel on foot to nearby towns such as Polur and Desur. We used to undertake these trips to visit devotees who lived in those areas. Bhagavan always gave us his permission before we undertook any of these trips. The members of the group would vary from trip to trip but we could usually count on devotees such as Kunju Swami, Ramaswami Pillai, ‘Nondi’ Srinivasa Iyer, Ramanatha Brahmachari and Ranga Rao to be enthusiastic about these adventures. I also went on many of these trips. Some of our expeditions would be to Cuddalore or Vellore, but most of them would be to locations in the Polur and Chengam areas.

When we travelled we would never stay in houses. When night came we would shelter in mantapams or caves. Sometimes we would just sleep under trees. We would beg for our food on the way. Sometimes people would give us provisions for a meal. If that happened we would stop and cook. If we received cooked food in our bowls, we would share it out equally among all the members of our group. Although we had a lot of fun, we were also aware that we were sadhus on a pilgrimage. As we walked we would chant scriptural works or meditate in silence.

On some of these trips Mastan would somehow find out in advance where we were going. We would arrive at a town, Polur for example, and find him waiting for us. Once he had discovered our whereabouts, he would make us sit while he went out begging for us. We didn’t want to be served in this way, but Mastan was very insistent. He told us on these occasions that he was the ‘devotee of devotees’, a role and a title that he took on himself.

He would say, ‘I want to serve the devotees of Bhagavan. You must stay here while I find food for you.’

Mastan would generally return with a huge amount of food, far more than we could possibly eat. After we had eaten as much as we could, we would share the leftovers with any local people who lived nearby. If we were living in caves or other out-of-the-way places, we would give the leftovers to monkeys.

As he fed us Mastan would make one persistent request: ‘Please tell me some stories about the glory of our Master. Tell me everything he has said during the time I was not with him. To me, every word Bhagavan speaks is holy. The words that come out of his holy mouth are so powerful, merely listening to them can give liberation to ripe souls.’ (Unpublished story narrated to V. Ganesan by Viswanatha Swami)

Mastan continued to be based in Matam until 1931, the year he passed away. He was aware well in advance of the date and time of his death, for he gave full details to Muniswami Gounder, the man who was looking after him there. Muniswami Gounder, though, paid no attention to the prediction. The day before he died Mastan sent a message to all the devotees of Bhagavan who lived in his vicinity, asking them to come to see him as soon as possible. Most of them failed to arrive in time, either because they lived too far away, or because they did not receive the news before it went dark. Akhilandamma was present when Mastan died. This is her description of his final moments:

He was sick and bedridden for about a week. During those days he spoke of many things not of this world, as if he were actually seeing them.

He said, ‘There, Nandiswara [Nandi the bull, the vehicle of Siva] is descending. He is very affectionately licking all over my body! Look! The Siva ganas [celestial followers of Siva] are dancing here! See! They are beckoning me to come to their world. Look at those lotus ponds where celestial swans are swimming!’

We thought that this was nothing but delirium, but on the last day a very strange thing happened, and we cannot lightly dismiss it as delirium. On this day he suddenly got up from his bed and stood up, looking as if someone, face to face, had been calling him.

Then, in great excitement, he exclaimed, ‘Mother Apeetakuchamba, [the consort of Siva in the Tiruvannamalai temple] have you come yourself to escort me?’

The next moment he fell down dead. I immediately sent a message to Bhagavan.

When Bhagavan learned of Mastan’s passing away, he sent Kunju Swami to our village with full instructions on how to make a samadhi for Mastan. There is a Tamil book [Tirumular’s Tirumandiram] that faithfully gives the details of how saints who have followed Lord Siva have to be buried. In accordance with these details Bhagavan drew up a plan of the dimensions of the samadhi and sent it along with Kunju Swami. It seemed very strange to us that a Muslim should be given a Saiva saint’s burial and stranger still that Bhagavan, who did not generally encourage ceremonial rites, actually laid down in the minutest detail the rites to be followed in the samadhi of Mastan.

Whatever the reason, just as Bhagavan stipulated, we made a tomb for Mastan in our village. It is a village whose population is predominantly Jain. These inhabitants of the village felt that having a Hindu samadhi in their midst would be very inauspicious. When they first heard of it, there was even talk of their abandoning the village completely. However, in the time that has passed since Mastan’s samadhi was constructed, the village has thrived and grown rich. Nowadays the samadhi is a visible deity to all people from the village, whatever their caste or religion. What a wonder! (‘My Reminiscences’ by Akhilandamma, Arunachala Ramana, May 1982, pp. 5-9.)

There are several points in the last two paragraphs that deserve some comment. First, so far as I am aware, Bhagavan only ordered this type of samadhi for three of his devotees: his mother, Lakshmi the cow, and Mastan. Since Bhagavan publicly declared that the first two realised the Self, one can make a strong case for saying that Bhagavan felt that Mastan was also in this state at the time of his death. If this is true, the final realisation must have occurred sometime between 1922, when Mastan was still asking questions about his sadhana, and 1931, the year he passed away.

Tirumular (verse 1916) recommends that the samadhi pit of a jnani be five feet by five feet on the surface and nine feet deep. Within this pit triangular walls three feet long are built. The body is placed inside the triangular structure in the full-lotus posture. The inner chamber is then filled with large amounts of vibhuti and camphor. When Bhagavan sent Kunju Swami to Matam with detailed instructions on how to build the samadhi, he also sent enough vibhuti and camphor from Ramanasramam to take care of all the necessary rituals. Kannappa Mudaliar, who was present during the construction of the samadhi, told me that he remembered helping to build the inner triangular walls. Tirumular states (verse 1913) that if the ‘body of the jnani’ is properly buried according to these instructions, ‘the rulers and the people of the land will receive the blessings of infinite grace’.

The funds for the samadhi were provided by Simhakutti Nayanar, a local Jain. It is a remarkable feature of Mastan’s life that people of all religions revered him as a saint. This may be partly explained by the fact that Mastan didn’t like or indulge in any rituals that would mark him out as a follower of any particular religion. The manuscript at his samadhi states that he disliked, ‘pujas, drums, prostrations, delicious food and garlands’. He did, though, like smearing his face with vibhuti. Kunju Swami has reported that he always showed up at Ramanasramam with vibhuti on his forehead, and in the one surviving photo, taken at Skandashram with Bhagavan, his forehead is liberally smeared.

When news of Mastan’s death spread, a nearby Siva temple lent a chapram so that Mastan’s body could be taken in procession through the local villages prior to its burial. A chapram is a four-wheeled wooden trolley that temples use to parade deities through the streets. This particular one was brand new. It had only just been completed and it had never been used by the temple. I find it an astonishing testimony to Mastan’s holiness that a Hindu temple would allow one of its vehicles to be used to carry a Muslim’s body on a funeral procession.

Mastan passed away on 8th November 1931. That year this was also Deevali day. With Mastan’s body on board, the chapram was pushed and pulled through three of the local villages in a torrential downpour. One man, whose uncle built Mastan’s samadhi, told me that at times the devotees had to manoeuver the chapram through waist-deep water. Neither the weather nor the difficulties of pushing the vehicle seemed to dampen the spirits of the funeral procession. At each place the chapram visited, local people joined the funeral and helped to push. When the procession returned to the site of the samadhi, a funeral feast was arranged. Muniswami Gounder, who had looked after Mastan’s needs for many years, donated 200 kg of rice and fed everyone who attended. For the rest of his life Muniswami Gounder organised a similar-sized meal on Mastan’s samadhi day. The practice stopped when he died.

I asked Chockalingam, a local resident, about the tradition that the samadhi has wish-fulfilling powers, something that Akhilandamma referred to in the final paragraph of her account.

He replied, ‘In the years that followed his samadhi everyone noticed that the family affairs and businesses of people who had helped Mastan prospered, whereas those who were opposed to him found that their fortunes declined. Everyone could see what was happening, so people started coming to the samadhi to ask for blessings. Even today, many people still come here to pray for their desires to be fulfilled.’

Some days later Akhilandamma went to Tiruvannamalai to tell Bhagavan about Mastan’s passing away:

I went to Bhagavan and described the final days of Mastan.

Upon hearing about them Bhagavan commented, ‘Maybe the universal mother, Apeetakuchamba, personally came to take him. All his descriptions tally with the world of Siva. Mastan was an unassuming devotee. He had a wealth of hidden spiritual experiences. It is a matter for gratification that he passed away in your care and under your supervision.’ (‘My Reminiscences’ by Akhilandamma, Arunachala Ramana, May 1982, pp. 5-9.)

Desur Mastan Swamigal Bhakti Rasa Patigam (Eleven Verses of Tasty Devotion on Desur Mastan Swami)


Though Mastan never wrote about any of his experiences with Bhagavan, an associate of his, Sambandan, did record a few of his spiritual sayings in an eleven-verse poem that was composed after Mastan passed away. The language and sentiments of the verses indicate that Sambandan was a disciple of Mastan. The verses clearly show that Sambandan regarded him as an enlightened being who was fully qualified to give out spiritual instructions. Mastan had originally encouraged Sambandan, who must have resided somewhere in the Desur area, to compose some verses extolling Bhagavan’s greatness. Since Mastan knew that he had a talent for composing Tamil verses, he asked him to put it to good use. Sambandan subsequently filled a notebook with about 200 verses that praised Bhagavan. This manuscript found its way to Ramanasramam. Muruganar, who was shown the poems, made many corrections and improvements to the verses. Inside this notebook was a small printed leaflet that contained eleven verses by Sambandan that praised both Bhagavan and Mastan and included brief teachings that both of them had given out. It seems that these eleven verses were composed and published to commemorate one of Mastan’s death anniversaries. The notebook and the printed poem come from the collection of Muruganar’s papers that was passed on to Sadhu Om in the 1970s shortly before Muruganar himself passed away.

The term I have translated as ‘liberated one’ that occurs at the beginning of each of the first ten verses has several other meanings such as ‘sun’, ‘light’ and ‘consciousness’.

1

Mastan, the liberated one who shines in Desur! Divine one! Holy one praised by the lotus-born Brahma and other devas such as Indra! Through grace you told me, a sinner, to sing in the language of poets the divine glory of Ramana Guru, the much-famed God who shines and abides at Arunachala, where forests flourish.

2

Mastan, the liberated one who shines in Desur, where many tanks are filled with fragrant lotus flowers! Shining one! You told me, ‘This great world, which is a painting drawn by Brahma, is only “us”. It is not different from us. If you give up name and form, delusion will go.’ [Without attempting to realise this,] I wasted much time.

3

Mastan, the liberated one who shines in Desur! Liberated one whose renunciation was firmly established, who is praised by devas beginning with Brahma, and who spoke only of the glory of Ramana, that peerless God who, like the vast ocean, abundantly bestows his cool grace! You said, ‘Destroy ignorance. If you restrain the mind within, then that itself will be the blemishless swarupa.’ In this way you destroyed your own ignorance and reached the village of Matam.

4

Mastan, the liberated one who shines in beautiful Desur, which is surrounded by honey-rich groves! Good Guru who gave me the teaching, ‘Abide blissfully at the source from where the world rises’. Precious gem who obtained the cool grace of Sadguru Ramana, praised by the noble! You renounced this worldly life, which is like vomited food, and attained the life of true jnana.

5

Mastan, the liberated one who shines in beautiful Desur, you are like my own mother! [You told me,] ‘This body composed of flesh and so on will certainly cease to exist one day. Knowing this, always abide in your Heart. Even if the sky falls on your head, or even if a sword is firmly driven through your chest, do not slip from your true state.’ Though my ears consumed this delightful teaching of yours, I am not following it in practice.

6

Mastan, the liberated one, who is praised in beautiful Desur, which is surrounded by ponds of flowing water! Good and pure renunciant who remained forever like a child, who roamed like a ghost, and who lived without associating with women. One who showed much grace to those devotees who came to your feet! Lamp shining in the bright mind of Akhilandamma, whose shoulders are like bamboo!

7

Mastan, the liberated one who lives in Desur, which has the greatness of being surrounded by fortified walls over which clouds hover! You said to me, ‘Wherever you may be physically, always remain and abide in your Self’. Guru who possesses the wealth of grace and who stroked me with his hand, showering grace like a rain cloud! I did not obtain the cool grace of staying with you and serving you. What will I do now?

8

Mastan, the liberated one who lives in Desur, where swans with reddish legs walk through the water channels. Ocean of satchitananda who realised truth without any obstruction, and became that reality! You said, ‘If the vishaya vasanas [the tendencies of the mind that make it move towards objects of the five senses] are destroyed, the mind will also be destroyed. Then, the incomparable reality, whose own nature is tranquillity, will shine of its own accord. That reality is not apart from you.’

9

Mastan, the liberated one who shines in Desur, which is rich in water resources! Immaculate one who travels in the path of renunciation in every way, without ever forgetting the lotus feet of jnani Ramana, he who teaches by abiding in the truth declared in the Upanishads: ‘Knowing consciousness is true knowledge; all knowledge of non-Self is knowledge born of delusion.’ When will my agitating mind subside?

10

Mastan, the liberated one who shines in Desur, which is rich in honey-bearing groves. One who excelled in mauna and who showed in practice the devotion of not forgetting the fragrant lotus feet of the peerless primal Guru Ramana Maharshi, who is praised by the world and who declared, ‘Not to allow any thought to arise is mauna’.

11

Praise be to the purna! Praise be to the jnana Guru! Praise be to the light shining in our minds, showing the heart of the Vedas! Lord, undo this misery-causing bond of samsara. Accept these poor words of this devotee-slave, which are addressed to your beautiful divine feet.

53 comments:

Krishnanand said...

Dear David

It was a wonderful co-incidence .Only yesterday afternoon after a long time I re-opened your book Power of Presence Part 3 and read the Chapter on Mastan and today after a long time I came back to your blog and was thrilled to find an account of Mastan .I consider this as a wonderful co-incidence .

Maneesha said...

David,

We all are indebted to you for bringing out such wonderful accounts! We just can't thank you enough!

Nandu Narasimhan said...

First Papai, now Mastan Swami. Now who do I see when I think of my beloved Bhagavan?

Or is this Bhagavan's way of telling me thatI should not focus on His form?

Beautiful , just too beautiful - the story behind Mastan Swami's account in POTP.

David, I am greedy, but are there any other stories like this during the writing of POTP, or of any of your other books?

The reason I ask is that these stories bring 'damp pieces of coal' like me closer to Bhagavan.

Anonymous said...

David - Many thanks. It will be great if you can provide pointers / articles on Maurice Frydman, Prof Swaminathan, other devotees who have been missed out Power of presence / have no reminiscence accounts ( I am not aware of accounts of Maurice frydman and hence will appreciate being pointed to it).

Anonymous said...

David,

You are like Mastan to us. Your research and stories are food for Bhagavan's devotees.

Thankyou.

Anonymous said...

@David,
Fascinating post! 'Unfortunately, there seems to be some sort of village feud over who owns or controls the shrine'. That's sad. Why can't the people involved in the feud take turns in taking care of the shrine? Have you met Sainaathuni Sarath Babuji?

@anonymous,
I asked David about Maurice too in the comments section of 'An Interview with Prof. T. M. P. Mahadevan' and you can read his answer there.

Anon 2

Yogi Bear said...

Children,

These semi-historical accounts are all very well, and enjoyable, but beware letting the romance deflect you from your true path.

Prags said...

It is a wonderful history to know and to cherish.Without you I would have missed "Dicovering Mastan"
Through google alert"Saiva"I came across your article.Even though it is lengthy I read it in one sitting.
We are followers of Vallelar, basilcally Saiva siddanthist
It is wonderful.Thanks a lot for giving this article.

Anonymous said...

David,

Thank you for doing such a wonderful job of tracing out the lives of the lesser known devotees of Bhagawan. I know that it would not have been easy and you must have spent an enormous amount of time and effort in doing this.

Speaking for myself, I must tell you that I love reading about the devotees of the saints (as the Tamil saints have said - "I am a devotee of the devotees of the Lord"). I think this too is a valid sadhana.(If I am not mistaken, Bhagavan too told many such stories about devotees like Eknath Maharaj, the four Tamil saints and others).

I can do no better than telling a story about a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna - Swami Ramakrishnanda.

It seems a disciple told Sw. Ramakrishnanda - "I want to read and study the Upanishads". The Swami replied "Read and study our lives. They are themselves a Upanishad".

Looking forward to many more such posts from you e.g I loved the post on TMP Mahadevan.

Thank you,
shiv

Shiva Biradar said...

I am overwhelmed by the fact that you fulfilled my desire to know more about Mastan Swami. I heard about Mastan Swami last weekend in the bay area celebrations of Ramana Maharshi advent to Arunachala. Thank you!

Srikantha said...

Dear David!
I had seen a pamphlet put up at the ashram few days back, about Kumbhabhisheka for Mastan Swami's Samadhi, but never really knew that he was such a great devotee.

Thanks for efforts and putting it up this blog!

Haramurthy said...

“Discovering David”
-- contextualizing reflections of appreciation:

One of the most amazing achievements of the Indian culture of philosophical literature, understood in the broader sense, is the art of communicating deepest spiritual truths within exquisite narrative frameworks. A vast body of works like the Mahabharata, the many Puranas, the Yogavasistha down to the Tripurta Rahasya (just to mention a few well-known Sanskrit titles of the broader Hinduistic tradition) provide ample evidence in this regard.
The basis for enormous amounts of this type of literature has been the rather fundamental insight (one that recently has also been gained in Western philosophy and psychology) that conventional human life simply takes place within, along, and in terms of, narrative structures. Ordinarily, and this is what avidya is about, life is thus enclosed within narrative horizons as within a cage. Yet this very fact mostly remains unconscious to due cultural conditioning. And even if an awareness of this “cage” emerges, and if it is faced as a fact with growing awareness, it is by no means easy, as many of you know from first hand experience, to leave it.

Contrary to philosophical systems, to whose dogmatic tenets their adherents tend to stick, narratives are “softer” means of transmittng insights: implicitly they remain aware of their metaphorical nature. Not intending to provide a dogmatic description representing ultimate truth, philosophical narratives rather wish to suggestively “transport” the listener/reader into a sphere of rarefied appreciation (and thus “unhinged”, the unforeseeable may enter).

Unlike culturally dominant Western interpretations insisting on successions of narrative dramas (typically making up a human personal history) to be qualified with the adjective “real”, the classical Indian mind embedded personal narrative events within a psychological depth dimension continuously actualising into variants of always the same basic patterns (call these “archetypes” if you wish). As they manifest, these variants narratively disclose possible meanings of life from particular perspectives, the common feature of all of these, however attractive or repulsive, being their character of passing. And whatever comes and goes is notoriously difficult to be taken as “real” (given the fact that whatsoever is absent achieves a personally valid presence only in terms of mental constructions/phantasies, whereas what is Now cannot be grasped, be it as real or unreal).
Thus altogether contrary to cultural notions idealising being historically somehow special, to feel so by identifying with particular narrative structures is classically derided as absolute narcissistic stupity in the Indian (though rather pre-modern than contemporary) context.

Unfortunately, someone who imagines as naive (“children”) those attending to what he deems to be only “semi-historical” (that is, less than historically true), advising them better to attend to their “path” (as their own propper history) cannot quite escape being compassionately smiled at by many another Yogi visiting David’s virtual (yet wonderfully virtuous) Arunachala Sabha.
Mildest said, the notion of “path”, necessarily the continuity of a narrative process, is an extremely problematic one in the context of Advaita -- and, naturally, David is one of those most acutely aware of this.

With the above in the background, what I ever again appreciate about David is the degree to which he inscribes himself into, continues and reinvigorates, that old tradition of spiritual instruction by narrative exemplification. His intent being less writing biography (in the literally strict sense) than hagiography, succeeding to do so in a rather cool style. And the many reactions on this site seems to testify that he does not fail to evoke states of rasa, aesthetic delight (associated with a certain suspense of, a momentary break from, the constraints of the literalness of one’s own personal biography), in the awareness of his readers.
Such a suspense of the habit of being all too closely attached to the literalness of personal history may achieve a certain distance to it, which in turn may be conducive to the perception of it as a metaphorical narrative structure.
Once the latter is actualised with a sufficient degree of transparency, to invest any such structure as real, and as something worthy of identifying with, has become fairly unlikely. Here, then, is the “no-path land”, where “one” gets acquainted with what Gaudapada called Asparshayoga (related to the topic of Ajata).

What above all triggered this comment to the topic “Mastan” was the following:
the authorship of the Great Mahabharata is ascribed to Vyasa, which is not a personal name (while he is given other names in the MBh), but connoting someone, who arranges, assembles and edits textual materials (hence there are other textual bodies with Vyasa as author). And as may be well-known to some of you, Vyasa, the epic author, himself participates significantly in his vast narrative, he enters and leaves it in various phases, and decisively interacts with his narrative heroes and heroines (indeed, in a superb scene, he even describes how he biologically fathered the original constellation of personalities letting the subsequent epic events ensue).

Despite the obvious fact that their narratives are necessarily different on various levels, David fascinates me as being a sort of contemporary Vyasa, who generates quasi-mythological narratives (with a significant power of suggesting horizons of existential, aesthetical and spiritual validity), while in a variety of ways -- the one in connection with Mastan being just a single instance -- he may enter the narrative (online), and be narratively involved in a vitally important manner, thus illuminatingly dissolving the boundaries between narrator and narrated, between “subject” and “object”, in the transparency of decontracted awareness.

What likewise seems to emerge from being here in David’s Arunachala sphere is:
if enlightenment (bodhi) would essentially consist in getting altogether rid of narrativity, “we” (as processes of narrative structures) would not know about it.
On the other hand, the very nature of narrative structures, if properly understood, clearly indicates that there is noone at all who might achieve enlightenment.

Srikantha said...

David,
At one instance the blog says Maharshi had suggested Samadhi for 4 of them, while in another instance it says 3 (Sheshadri Swami being left out). Just wanted to bring this to your kind notice.

David Godman said...

Anonymous said...

David - Many thanks. It will be great if you can provide pointers / articles on Maurice Frydman, Prof Swaminathan, other devotees who have been missed out Power of presence / have no reminiscence accounts ( I am not aware of accounts of Maurice frydman and hence will appreciate being pointed to it).

***

I went to the ashram archive building this morning and talked to a devotee who is cataloguing all the material from The Mountain Path. I checked his index and there are several items on or by Maurice Frydman. Right now, the material is not stored in a form that is electronically retrievable, but I will try to assemble all this material and make a single post out of it in the not-too distant future.

David Godman said...

Srikantha said...

David,
At one instance the blog says Maharshi had suggested Samadhi for 4 of them, while in another instance it says 3 (Sheshadri Swami being left out). Just wanted to bring this to your kind notice.

***

I differentiated between those whom Bhagavan suggested be buried in this way (four, including Seshadri Swami) and those of his own devotees who had tombs of this kind (the other three: his mother, Mastan and Lakshmi the cow).

Bhagavan kept a copy of the Tirumandiram on his own bookshelf and sent it to the people who were making the tomb of Seshadri Swami. When the tomb was ready, Bhagavan himself went along and presided over the last rites himself.

David Godman said...

Anonymous said...

@David,
Fascinating post! 'Unfortunately, there seems to be some sort of village feud over who owns or controls the shrine'. That's sad. Why can't the people involved in the feud take turns in taking care of the shrine? Have you met Sainaathuni Sarath Babuji?

***

I have never spoken with him, but I have attended some of his darshans here in Tiruvannamalai.

Anonymous said...

http://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/mastan.html

Ravi said...

Haramurthy,
Friend,Just wanted to check my understanding of what you have expressed here:
The Value of any story is not whether the Historicity is proven or not-It is more whether it is able to invoke deeper sense of values in the Readers.
This is what Sri Ramakrishna told the Brahmo Devotees-You need not accept the Historicity of Radha and Krishna;It is enough if you can appreciate the Deep Yearning and Love that they had for each other(as narrated in the Bhagavatha) and bring it into your lives.

Coming to Mastan Swami,I recall this moving reference -Mastan wove towels and loin-cloth for Bhagavan on his loom- Bhagavan once said, “Mastan’s craft, though it did not give food either to him or his parents, gave me clothes.”

Thanks very much.

Haramurthy said...

Ravi,

as to the question of whether historical validity is crucial for the value of a given story – this depends on the context in which a story, or any sort of oral and/or textual evidence, is employed in order to make a point, to articulate something meaningful, something significant and true.

If one is trying to understand a particular philosophical notion – say, the notion of Ajata – in terms of how it has originally come about, where and why it was conceived at all, and how it came to be interpreted in the course of its being employed by different philosophers, then a proper evaluation of the critically assessed historical evidence in the form of textual sources is, of course, crucial.
All the more so, since an idea-historical researcher will quickly discover that traditional accounts (for example a text like the Digvijaya, said to account for the life of Sankaracarya) tend to be utterly useless for gaining any historically valid insights (say, for adequately contextualizing Sankara and his intellectual as well as other achievements).

However, if one is trying to find out the possible significance of the notion of Ajata for oneself in terms of its value as something to be realized, one may certainly look at, and attempt to assimilate, the views of different philosophers (say, Nagarjuna, Gaudapada, Sankara and Harsha) without giving much consideration to historical questions; and it is sufficient to be aware of the existence of different interpretations in order to understand, for example, the somewhat biased nature of Micheal’s “conclusions” in his comment to David’s Ajata post. But philosophers, despite of their command over conceptual realms, are not necessarily the most privileged “souls” to deal with the non-conceptual. Unlike a simple soul without much indulgence in all kinds of conceits and pretensions, a philosopher (living in his own anticipations of what may enter his mind as valuable) may thus not even recognize when hitting upon a jewel.
That is, lightheartedly one may suddenly hit upon this story (David surely knows where it can be found), in which Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, surrounded by a lot of Brahmins worshipping him with a birthday celebration, coolly remarked that, rather than celebrating birthdays, it would be better to inquire into “who is born at all”. This story, being related to a particular situation in life, is vibrantly complex in its suggestiveness.
Of course, Ramana hereby suggests his being the Unborn aware of its being the Unborn, but he also portrays the paradoxical absurdity of the whole situation; implicitly he likewise exposes the pretense of professional priests, religious institutions, etc. and their often concealed egoism: merely reconfirming themselves while ritually giving importance to invoking a false and superficial aura of holiness (thereby actually misusing a saint, disregarding the sincerity and depth of his teaching, while satisfying themselves with the narcissistic feeling of being good and privileged).
And there is so much more suggested in this tiny story, given Ramana non-dually speaks about oneself, the reader, as the Unborn.
It should be clear that the precise historical details (“took it place in the 30ies or 40ies? at Skandashram or where? And who were the priests?”) are fairly irrelevant for appreciating its spiritual depth.
(Which is not to say that it wouldn’t be possible to appreciate the extra charm of situational annotations, if for example David would provide such).

When you, Ravi, referred to Ramakrishna and a Vaishnava context, you are certainly right that within a Bhakti spiritual horizon historicity is even less pertinent: preferred imaginations of, say, relationship constellations between Radha and Krishna serve to channel and intensify the flow of emotional energy into various kinds (vatsalya, madhura, etc.) and stages of prema-rasa. Historical concerns are hereby disturbing. Engaging in this type of spiritual practice, you need to sustain, psychologically speaking, your projections, and may, even as a male, have to dress up as a female Gopi, if you are in love with Krishna and feel the need of having to provide yourself with an additional portion of devotional fervour convincing yourself of its reality (that is, as a Bhakta you need to strictly keep up your specific projective strategies, while as a Jnani you are requested to see through any projective strategies, especially the more subtle one resulting in ordinarily unperceived ego identifications).

Yet, there are other important differences of how a story relates to history. Naturally, a story is always a narrative (= a construction of more or less artfully selected words to articulate something deemed to resound with meaning in other heads), also if it is placed into a given historical setting. The differences concern the function history is made to play. Thus a psychologist writing a book may quote various “case stories” to underline the validity of certain theoretical frameworks. History, in the form of empirical evidence, is hereby employed to verify the tenability of psychological theories. And thereby the psychologist’s focus is upon mental dysfunctions, he concentrates upon that which generates problems and suffering for oneself and in connection with others. Would a psychologist have written a biography, for example, of Harilal Poonja, he would of course have accounted for Poonjaji’s not always particularly pleasant psychological constitution (that is, he may have been interested in Poonjaji’s belligerent character, perhaps pointing out its nature of psychologically compensating inferiority complexes, having a complicated genesis, not least in view of having to live up to his uncle as idolised by his mother; thus a psychologist may have found Poonjaji’s problematic relationships to his mother, to his wife, to his Western lover-disciple and their common daughter, who in turn had a rather traumatised relation to her father, extremely fruitful). Surely that would have resulted in a biographical account much different from David’s fascinating hagiographical trilogy “Nothing ever Happened” – which naturally has its own and very specific thematic focus (while David is typically sustaining his interest with an admirable amount of research).

As distinct from heavily focusing on instances and structures of problematic psychological involvements in social (“samsaric”) contexts, the selected “case stories” achieving pertinent significance in hagiographical literature are relating an altogether different perspective: they account for instances where spirit, rather than drowning in samsara, touches history and thereby dissolves it, or at least transforms it.
Whereas, as referred to, the Brahmins celebrate history (what else is yearly celebrating “birthdays” about), Ramana really IS, while invitingly indicating so, where all history has dissolved.
And when David, above at the beginning of “Discovering Mastan”, provides an account of how this “discovering” proceeded, he offers a perspective allowing another dimension to enter and transform “history”.
Similarly, Ravi, when you quote Bhagavan’s remark about Mastan’s craft, the anecdote merely employs the reference to a historical happening in order to indicate that Mastan, far from sustaining history (food, parents), only touched it in order to express his gratitude to the door (sadguru) through which he had left it.

michael said...

Haramurthy,

i think i like your approach to the balance between inner and outer sources of information, but i'm not sure if i understand yet where you're coming from.

would you please expand on your recent comment about my conclusions to David's ajata post, or on any of my other comments to David's recent posts, such as 'glimpses of the self' or 'answering one's own questions'?

i do have strong opinions on the topic of self-knowledge because of some non-dual glimpses of the self, but so far i've been frustrated in terms of finding someone to connect with intellectually and experientially.

as much as i respect the Great Teachers, i'm beginning to feel that it's possible to focus too much on our ideas about them and their teachings (a secondary source of insight) to the expense of first-hand non-dual experience (the only truly primary source of insight).

the primal experience is so simple that it just does not need to be connected to anything else, even reverance for a teacher or tradition.

even the phrase "non-dual experiences" is a concession because, onece It has been 'seen', It's point-of-view (bias) dominates, so the phrase should really not be used as a plural.

anyway, i welcome your feedback on my perspective.

respectfully,

michael

Ravi said...

Haramurthy,
Friend,I read and reread your post.I think I get what you are trying to get across-especially as i read the papaji incidents that you allude to.
This is exactly what Sri Aurobindo said when someone wanted to write his biography-“ No one can write about my life because it has not been on the surface for man to see.” - Sri Aurobindo from: On Himself.
A Biogrpaher will latch on to the external events and impregnate them with his own ideas and significance.
On the other hand,sometimes what is considered trivial helps to add to the contextual setting.This is what I have found unique about the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna-the small details like date,the place ,the people around,etc helps to recreate the setting for one to participate more actively than just a pedantic Question and answer type of presentation.

Yes, I get your appreciation of David's contributions in this context.

Best Regards.

Haramurthy said...

Ravi,

Not only biographers impregnate events with own ideas and significance, but we all do (and cannot do otherwise) to the extent we perceive life (our own and others) at all. And no one can live another’s life, while to live a life is to move along in terms of one’s own ideas (for the specific choice of which nobody else can be made responsible [despite of multifarious influences]), that is, it is to move along within the manifold spaces made up of meaning constantly surrounding us. Accordingly we differ from each other also in terms of How we evaluate certain events by focusing on personal, intersubjective, social, professional, political, psychological, spiritual etc. perpectives – and all approaches may be useful and justified depending on one’s focus (a mother’s is different from the one of a schoolboy, of a professional, of a sannyasin, of an actor etc.). Of course, not all biographers are psychologists; on the other hand, there are likewise different types of hagiographies, some types coming close to mythological descriptions, other kinds incorporate a lot of historical and anthropological material.
As to Sri Aurobindu: it seems that, despite Aurobindu’s discouraging remark, his life is rather well-documented, even his many later years, where he never left the building he stayed in. After all, he was an immensely productive spirit – and given most of what he wrote is published, we are fairly well-informed about what he did …. that is, when he was not absorbed in meditation, perhaps trying to work out his idea of effecting the descent of higher types of consciousness.
---You’ll find a fine account of Sri Maharshi’s views on Aurobindu in David’s The Power of the Presence, Part One, pp. 240ff.
There cannot be any doubt about the uniqueness of Sri Ramakrishna – and it might interest you that there is a quite sensible chapter on him in the psychologist Sudhir Kakar’s booklet “The Analyst and the Mystic”.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

Here I impregnate events with own ideas and significance. But I just wanted to say that Haramurthy's comments are the most interesting by far that I have read.... You can't beat this sentence

'Would a psychologist have written a biography, for example, of Harilal Poonja, he would of course have accounted for Poonjaji’s not always particularly pleasant psychological constitution (that is, he may have been interested in Poonjaji’s belligerent character, perhaps pointing out its nature of psychologically compensating inferiority complexes, having a complicated genesis, not least in view of having to live up to his uncle as idolised by his mother; thus a psychologist may have found Poonjaji’s problematic relationships to his mother, to his wife, to his Western lover-disciple and their common daughter, who in turn had a rather traumatised relation to her father, extremely fruitful). Surely that would have resulted in a biographical account much different from David’s fascinating hagiographical trilogy “Nothing ever Happened” – which naturally has its own and very specific thematic focus (while David is typically sustaining his interest with an admirable amount of research)'

That is about one of the funniest sentences I have ever read, and spot on. Haramurthy's comments are, the one's I've read, filled with worthwhile commentary, but filled with a frightening ammount of liberal arts college lingo, that I did a double take, and realized the brilliant content.

These writings cannot come from a novice, with intellectual pretentions but someone who from experience is able to see the mind's workings, the ego's workings. His analogies, are surprising though. In another post, likening "glimpses of the Self" to glimpses of sex from an impotent husband. It's an analogy that I might find in a American Football locker room, but very direct.

And I do like his pointed criticisms of California New-Age neo-advaita. It's axiomatic that I'm not from California.

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

Haramurthy's comment posts are flowing with brilliance, worth actually taking time on and diving into.

In his last comment, the analysis of how religious institutions misuse saints for their own veneer of holiness, absolutely brilliant.

In some of the other posts I've read, his criticisms, are subtle but pointed, sarcastic even, but clearly bringing out some faulty point in a previous comment.

His comments clearly bring out the tendency to create a narrative, and then live in it, all the while with the other hand saying, "this is real".

Until today, I overlooked these worthwhile and genuinely helpful comments

umesh said...

There is picture of Sri Mastan Swami on this link.
http://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/pdf/Saranagathi_eNewsletter_October_2008.pdf

Sysop said...

David:

"Essence of Devotion" is probably a better translation of "Bhakti Rasa" than "Tasty Devotion".

Thank you for your invaluable blog.
Sri.

satheesh kumar said...

Dear David,
As for Bhagavan specifically instructing to build samadhi's for devotees, it also includes Mudaliar Patti i think...
Let me know if this is correct.

Remember reading that in 'Face to Face with Bhagavan', where in bhagavan asks the devotees & relatives of the great lady devotee to have a samadhi inside their house itself. Though at a later time, another person bought that house, dislodges that samadhi only to face unpleasent consequences...

David Godman said...

Mudaliar Patti was a householder who ordinarily would have been cremated. However, after she died Bhagavan said that she should be dressed in orange and buried as a sannyasin. He did not suggest a samadhi of the sort that was constructed for Masthan Swami.

satheesh kumar said...

David
Thanks for the update.

By the way, any idea whether there are such samadhis for Ganapathi Muni or Yogi Ramaiah (if recommended by Bhagavan), who also possibly be in that category of devotees like Masthan Swami?

Love,
Satheesh

David Godman said...

The only samadhis I know of that were built in this way, with some input from Bhagavan, are those of Bhagavan's mother, Seshadri Swami. Masthan Swami and Lakshmi the cow.

Yogi Ramaiah outlived Bhagavan and is buried in his ashram in Andhra Pradesh. Ganapati Muni passed away in Sirsi in 1936.

Anonymous said...

This mastan is a devotee of Gunangudi Mastan, a great Tamil, Muslim, saint, regarded as a great advaitin by the late Paramacharyar of Kanchipeetam. The songs of Gunangudi Mastan are similar to those of saint Thayumanavar. In fact, Gunangudi Mastan can be considered as one of the important siddhas of the rank of saint Ramalingar.

satheesh kumar said...

David
By the way, i think Bhagavan has not said to build a samadhi of sort for Sivaprakasam Pillai, even though he has commented that 'Sivaprakasam Pillai sivaprakasam aanaar / He has become sivaprakasam (meaning merged with Supreme)...Is that right?

Also, any info about Keerai Paatti who has also fed bhagavan in earlier days? Devotees beleived that she has come back as cow lakshmi, but any info about when she passed away or what Bhagavan said about her?

David Godman said...

Bhagavan did comment 'Sivaprakasam has become the light of Siva' when he was informed of his death, but, so far as I am aware, he did not make any suggestions for funeral arrangements.

Keerai Patti passed away in the early 1920s and was buried somewhere near the current site of Ramanasramam since in those days the surrounding area was a public graveyard. In the 1980s I asked both Kunju Swami and Ramaswami Pillai if they could remember where she had been buried, but neither could. One of them (I can't remember which one) thought it was somewhere in the area opposite the Dakshinamurti Temple. That would probably place it somewhere or near the Morvi Compound at Ramanasramam. The whole area is now covered with buildings.

Anonymous said...

David,
One of your comments said 'I have never spoken with him (Sri Sainathuni), but I have attended some of his darshans here in Tiruvannamalai.'. Does he come to Tiruvannamalai on a regular basis? Do you know when he's likely to come next because I would like to have his darshan too?

David Godman said...

Anonymous

He has an apartment here in Tiruvannamalai and a few years ago he stayed in it for several consecutive months. However, in recent years his trips to Tiruvannamalai have been rare and random. No one knows he is coming until more or less the day of his arrival. And even if he does come, quite often he will elect not to see people.

Anonymous said...

Thanks David. Do you know if and when he gives darshan in Shirdi? How about Nannagaru? Do you have any interesting stories about him? Does he see people now?

David Godman said...

Anonymous

He travels to Shirdi for important festivals such as Vijayadasami, and while he is there he usually gives public darshans. However, since these events are known to his devotees, they are attended by thousands of people.

Nannagaru still visits Tiruvannamalai, where he has an ashram, but in the last year or so he has been coming here less than usual. I suggest you check out his web site. I am sure there will be information there about his possible trips to Tiruvannamalai,

Murali said...

I have been visiting Nannagaru frequently these days. His home/ashram is in Jinnuru, in the West Godavari district. He comes often to Hyderabad. He is highly accessible and is a very warm person. Many time, in Jinnuru, you can catch him alone without anyone around. Last July, I went to his Ashram and he is all alone and I spent 1 hour with him.

However, during events like his visit to Hyderabad, there will be a very big crowd.

He re-iterates and strongly emphasises the teachings of Bhagavan. He does look into your eyes deeply but my stupid ego was too hard to have had any reaction.

My opinion is that he is a very warm person and almost child like. You will feel at-ease in his presence. There is utter simplicity with him and around him and the way he talks is very down to earth. This simplicity attracted me many times to him.

He is a core telugu person and his english is not very sophisticated.

Offlate, I found that he is getting old fast.

Regards Murali

Anonymous said...

David,
I checked his website and the 'Schedule' doesn't list any future visits to tiruvannamalai. According to the schedule, he doesn't seem to have visited tiruvannamalai this year either. In case you do come to know of his future visits to tiruvannamalai, please let us know.
Murali,
Thanks for your information on Nannagaru. I suppose the easiest way to have his darshan is to go to Jinnuru. Can you visit him any time or do you have to get permission in advance from the managers of the ashram before you go visit?

Murali said...

There is no need of getting any permission from anyone. Only thing is that he should be there in town. You can call up the numbers in the website and someone there will tell.

There are some darshan timings (4 to 6PM). During these times, the access is open to everyone. You just need to go to his house and he is sitting on the verandah on an easy chair and who ever comes just sit around him. No one to control anything. Who ever comes, he warmly receives, asks questions and makes you sit near him. You can ask anything you like. After the darshan hours, he simply does a namaskaar and polites goes inside his house.

As I said, he gives a very normal down-to-earth impression and there absolutely no air of any kind of superiority around him.

The way to go to Jinnur is that you should first reach Hyderabad. From there, you should take the Hyderabad-Narasapur express which takes you to a place called Palakollu. Palakollu is just 10 kms away from Jinnuru.

Regards Murali
Regards Murali

David Godman said...

Bhagavan did comment 'Sivaprakasam has become the light of Siva' when he was informed of his death, but, so far as I am aware, he did not make any suggestions for funeral arrangements.

Keerai Patti passed away in the early 1920s and was buried somewhere near the current site of Ramanasramam since in those days the surrounding area was a public graveyard. In the 1980s I asked both Kunju Swami and Ramaswami Pillai if they could remember where she had been buried, but neither could. One of them (I can't remember which one) thought it was somewhere in the area opposite the Dakshinamurti Temple. That would probably place it somewhere or near the Morvi Compound at Ramanasramam. The whole area is now covered with buildings.

satheesh kumar said...

David
By the way, i think Bhagavan has not said to build a samadhi of sort for Sivaprakasam Pillai, even though he has commented that 'Sivaprakasam Pillai sivaprakasam aanaar / He has become sivaprakasam (meaning merged with Supreme)...Is that right?

Also, any info about Keerai Paatti who has also fed bhagavan in earlier days? Devotees beleived that she has come back as cow lakshmi, but any info about when she passed away or what Bhagavan said about her?

Anonymous said...

Scott Fraundorf:

Here I impregnate events with own ideas and significance. But I just wanted to say that Haramurthy's comments are the most interesting by far that I have read.... You can't beat this sentence

'Would a psychologist have written a biography, for example, of Harilal Poonja, he would of course have accounted for Poonjaji’s not always particularly pleasant psychological constitution (that is, he may have been interested in Poonjaji’s belligerent character, perhaps pointing out its nature of psychologically compensating inferiority complexes, having a complicated genesis, not least in view of having to live up to his uncle as idolised by his mother; thus a psychologist may have found Poonjaji’s problematic relationships to his mother, to his wife, to his Western lover-disciple and their common daughter, who in turn had a rather traumatised relation to her father, extremely fruitful). Surely that would have resulted in a biographical account much different from David’s fascinating hagiographical trilogy “Nothing ever Happened” – which naturally has its own and very specific thematic focus (while David is typically sustaining his interest with an admirable amount of research)'

That is about one of the funniest sentences I have ever read, and spot on. Haramurthy's comments are, the one's I've read, filled with worthwhile commentary, but filled with a frightening ammount of liberal arts college lingo, that I did a double take, and realized the brilliant content.

These writings cannot come from a novice, with intellectual pretentions but someone who from experience is able to see the mind's workings, the ego's workings. His analogies, are surprising though. In another post, likening "glimpses of the Self" to glimpses of sex from an impotent husband. It's an analogy that I might find in a American Football locker room, but very direct.

And I do like his pointed criticisms of California New-Age neo-advaita. It's axiomatic that I'm not from California.

Shiva Biradar said...

I am overwhelmed by the fact that you fulfilled my desire to know more about Mastan Swami. I heard about Mastan Swami last weekend in the bay area celebrations of Ramana Maharshi advent to Arunachala. Thank you!

Prags said...

It is a wonderful history to know and to cherish.Without you I would have missed "Dicovering Mastan"
Through google alert"Saiva"I came across your article.Even though it is lengthy I read it in one sitting.
We are followers of Vallelar, basilcally Saiva siddanthist
It is wonderful.Thanks a lot for giving this article.

Maneesha said...

David,

We all are indebted to you for bringing out such wonderful accounts! We just can't thank you enough!

ramaswamy said...

Dear Mr.David.
I somehow had an impulse of reading incidents connected with mastanswamy.When I came to the the portion of Mastan revealing that mother Aoeethajuchamba has come to escort him to the other world I suddenly had tears rolling from my eyelids and there was an shouting of my inner consciousness to the effect that this is truie this is true. verymany thanks for publishing mastanswamys account ramaswamy1940@rediffmail.com 19th nov 2010

Sankar Ganesh said...

Ramaswamy,

In this year's Trisakthi Deepavali Malar (2010), there is an interesting account on Devi Kanyakumari by T V Anantharamaseshan (former asst. editor of The Hindu Newspaper).

Thanks, Sankar Ganesh.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for information about Sri.MASTHANSWAMI, Once RAMANABAGHAWAN said," Masthan is a riped fruit, look after HIM, it may fall anytime!!".i had read it somewhere,

Bayan The One said...

Mastan Swami's shrine apears to be looked after nowadays

http://gkamesh.wordpress.com/2010/06/18/a-day-trip-to-desur-2/

Bayan The One said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bayan The One said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bayan The One said...

here you can see the trolley used in Mastan's funeral

http://gkamesh.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/a-day-trip-to-desur-%E2%80%93-3/