Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bhagavan Sri Ramana as I Knew Him

A few weeks ago I was hunting up some references in The Call Divine when I came across a long section in a 1955 issue entitled ‘Symposium: Bhagavan Sri Ramana as I knew him’. The editor, Swami Rajeswarananda, had written to many devotees who had had personal contact with Bhagavan and asked for their recollections of the time spent in his presence. Many people responded, enough to fill almost one hundred pages of the January 1955 issue. I think this was probably the first attempt to collect and publish an anthology of accounts of people who had been affected by Bhagavan.

I went though it and found many fascinating narratives, some of which I had not come across before. Many familiar names were there, along with some I had never heard of. I am presenting a selection of the accounts here.

Since the style and the language were often of a very poor quality, I have rewritten and edited almost all of the accounts. When I have the time, I will go through the rest of the contributions and post another selection here.
The order in which the accounts appear is the same as in the original anthology.

Sri Devaraja Mudaliar, Sri Ramanasramam

It was in 1900 that I first cast my eyes casually on Bhagavan. From 1914 on I began visiting him, though my visits were few and far between. It was not till 1933 when I had my first great adversity that, true to the old adage, Bhagavan, our God, got his opportunity.

From that time on I came more and more under his spell, got to know him better, and as a result have stuck to him for ever. In this long interval between 1933 and his samadhi in 1950 I am vain enough to imagine it has been given to me to know so much of him. It would be difficult to press it all into the compass of a small article, as a contribution to a symposium must necessarily be. However, I must try and do my best.

The first thing that was borne in upon me, which subsequent closer acquaintance has thoroughly confirmed, was the fact that Bhagavan was no more anxious to annex any devotee who came to him than the devotee was fit to be annexed. Even to draw me nearer his spell took him nearly twenty years. He waited for time and circumstances to make me ready for him. In my long connection with him I have discovered this is one of his traits, whether you hold to it to his credit or otherwise. Kavyakanta Ganapathi Sastri was so advanced in mantra japa, tapasya, and had great devotion to Bhagavan. Bhagavan, in return, had great respect for him and showed him great consideration. But even in a case such as this, Bhagavan did not go out of his way to ripen him before his time was due. He was content to wait for the right moment.

I have heard that when, after the Sastriar’s passing away, Bhagavan was asked whether, in his case, there was likely to be liberation from all further births. He replied, ‘How could it be? He had such a strong desire for more powers?’

However, it was well-known that this great person desired powers not for selfish purposes, but for the regeneration of the world and its betterment.

This characteristic of Bhagavan is not to be wondered at. Tagore sings, ‘Time is endless in thy hands, my Lord. Thou knowest how to wait. Thy centuries follow each other, perfecting a small wild flower.’

The reader should not, however, run away with the impression that Bhagavan does nothing. On the contrary, he does everything, each act in its own proper time, as he alone knows best. In the worst years of my domestic grief, which occurred at the same time as the end of my professional success, Bhagavan was a source of help and strength, past all description.
In that period, a devotee, well known in ashram circles as Thiruppugazh Alamelu, was singing before Bhagavan a song from Bharathi’s ‘Kannan Pattu’, but substituting the name Ramana for Kannan. I felt then, and feel even more so now, that all that is said therein of Krishna is true of Bhagavan. The poem says:
If he wants to initiate a soul in the path of perfection, he can do it in a word. He will tell us how to overcome karma and get on in life. When earnestly sought for, he will come without a moment’s delay and without pretexts for holding off. To me, he is what the umbrella is against rain and food against hunger. He will give me money whenever I ask for it. Bear and forbear even when I scoff at him. Console me with dance and song and know without my telling him what is my heart’s desire. Among all saints, where is there one so kind? If I get conceited, he will bring me to my senses by sending a severe blow. He will contemptuously turn away from anything said in hypocrisy. In times of depression his words of grace will flood our soul with light and cheer. When we have our quarrel with him and feel he has neglected us, he will do something to gladden our heart and fill it with gratitude. When we are in great peril, he will come and stand by us and avert the catastrophe. By his grace all evils will be consumed like moths in a flame.
From my experience and also the experience of some other devotees I can affirm all this of Bhagavan, though it must perhaps be added that such things happen to Bhagavan’s devotees more in the earlier stages of their affiliation with him than in the later years, after they had become seasoned followers. Has he not himself exclaimed in the first of his Five Hymns to Arunachala:
You showed your heroic prowess, but having subdued, you do nothing at all now, O Arunachala.

This is not to say that nothing bad or painful will ever happen to a devotee. There would still be cases where some calamity, disaster, sickness or pain has to come, as per one’s prarabdha, which it would not be proper even for great souls such as Bhagavan to prevent altogether. In such cases I have found Bhagavan greatly softens the blow, or at the very least grants all help and resources in various ways so as to enable the devotee concerned to tide over the crisis and bear it easily. I have seen all this happen in my own case, as well as in the case of others. Even now I am just passing through the effects of a small mishap which befell me recently. But while the mishap had to come, Bhagavan has seen to it that it came at a time and place, and under circumstances which were the best for one in my position to face.

Once when I asked Bhagavan how, in answer to our earnest prayers to him for help, we get relief, seeing that he has no mind which can desire to send us the required relief, he was pleased to say, ‘All will still happen. It will happen automatically.’

There is another trait that I have observed in Bhagavan. Though he was equally accessible and kind to all alike, and though thousands of visitors came and went over the years, there was a small coterie of followers among all this crowd whom he definitely took over for his special care. Here again it must be said that he was not making any choice, for where was there a mind in him to make a choice? Such things were happening automatically. However, to all alike he was immeasurably kind.

Now I must draw attention to another characteristic of Bhagavan. He was extremely humble, affable and accessible, and yet kept all at a distance. There was a royal dignity that clothed the naked Bhagavan, and few could ever allow themselves to forget it. Also, even in his kindest and most indulgent moods, even in dealing with children or grown-up children (which some of his disciples like me were), he would never make a concession in stating the truth or advising its pursuit. Kind and loving as he undoubtedly was, he was, unlike some saints, more the strict father than the indulgent mother. I myself used to call him my father-mother in all my letters to him. Whenever anyone used to sing a Tamil song in which that phrase occurred, Bhagavan would look at me and smile. I mention this here merely to illustrate what great attention he was always paying to his devotees.

I wrote of Alamelu Ammal and the Kannan song she used to sing. About two years before Bhagavan’s mahasamadhi, after she had passed away, somebody came and sang that song. Bhagavan said ‘Alamelu used to sing that song’. While apparently indifferent to the hordes who came and went, he was really closely attentive to all that was happening, and helping wherever he could.
Bhagavan has himself said that as soon as someone appears before him, that person was an open book for him. Nothing about us was hidden from him.

Though Bhagavan’s main teachings are well known and need no further publicity, I shall refer briefly to them here. His whole teaching was succinctly expressed in the biblical quote, ‘Be still and know that I am God’. That is to say, one should attain quiescence or real mauna and realise the Self that is within each of us as ‘I am’. To attain this state of thoughtlessness Bhagavan asked us to concentrate on the question ‘Who am I?’ He wanted us to find the source of this I-thought, which is the root of all other thoughts. Through this enquiry, he said, the individual ‘I’ will disappear and the Self will emerge.
Though Bhagavan always said this vichara method was the best, he almost always added, ‘If you say this method is too hard for you, or if you are too weak to follow it, you had better completely surrender to God. The same result will follow.’

Thus he advocated the bhakti method almost in equal measure, saying that the bhakta will eventually come to realise there is only the Self and not a dichotomy of God and devotee. I never, however, saw Bhagavan recommend either the karma yoga or raja yoga methods.

Yogi Shuddhananda Bharati, Yoga Samaj, Vadalur

November 20th: Krithikai Day. The ashram is busy with the pouring crowds. Bhagavan is sitting outside his cottage. The ashram was then just a cottage of thatched leaves. I was sitting inside. I did not stir from my perch from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Even the call for food did not shake me. My friends had come that day to take me to Pondicherry. I was rather unwilling to leave the presence of this dynamic force. I could not even open my lips for permission. For my mission and its fulfilment were clear before me. I was hanging and swinging between ‘this’ or ‘that’, ‘here’ or ‘there’. My friends sat before me putting questions to me. Silence was my answer. They went to Maharshi and rolled out their conundrums. Silence was the answer. We were in silent heart-to-heart communion as my friends pestered him.

What is the good of remaining mum like this? What is the goal of man? What is God? What is ‘I’? Why are we born? How to get swaraj [self-rule] for the country? Violence or non-violence? What is Vedanta? What is Siddhanta? What is the meaning of the Vedas? A series of serried questions and a cascade of thrilling silence followed. One self-sufficient man lost his patience; he was a follower of modern education. His brain was full with Kant and Descartes. He had very poor opinion about our Sankaras and Gaudapadas. He had more regard for hatted and booted western armchair philosophers than for realised bald heads.

He hurried up to me and remarked, ‘Swamiji, you, as a well-educated man, must not be like this. You must be more like Bergson, Berkeley, Jung, Huxley. You must go to America and London and acquire name and fame.' My reply: silence.

At this time Maharshi rose up and came inside. The crowd was melting away for supper. The evening was solemn. Maharshi sat quite near me. I touched his feet, and then caught hold of his hands. His force was flowing into me. I saw his eyes; for Maharshi to me was his vision in and out. I saw the fire of knowledge radiating from those two red binocular-like eyes that saw the world around like a cinema show. His eyes darted into me. Tears flowed from my eyes. I did not move my tongue. Maharshi was reading my heart and mind, which were being saturated with divine consciousness. Silence for five minutes.

Then Maharshi spoke out in a calm, mellow, silvery voice: ‘Bharathi, take refuge in silence. You can be here or there or anywhere. Fixed in silence, established in the inner I, you can be as you are. The world will never perturb you if you are well founded upon the tranquility within. You have a sankalpa – to write out your inspirations, to bring out the Bharata shakti [power of India]. It is better to finish off sankalpas here and now and keep a clear sky within. But do it in silence. Gather your thoughts within. Find out the thought centre and discover your Self-equipoise. In storm and turmoil be calm and silent. Watch the events around as a witness. The world is a drama of gold, women, desire and envy. Be a witness, inturned and introspective.’

I wept and mumbled, ‘Do you want me to remain?’ I felt I must come back the next day. Maharshi, after a deep silence, saw my face. After his gaze had sunk into me he whispered, ‘You must come back, and you will. For every one must come to this path. Wind wanders before returning to the silence of the akasa.’

‘Are you saying that I will not return in a week?’

Maharshi smiled now and said, ‘Why a week? Even after years you must come here. Only take refuge in silence. Allow karma to work itself out and march on in faith. You will not miss the goal.’

With this he fell into trance while I fell at his feet. One hour passed. Then half an hour more. My philosophically inclined friend also stood there, struck dumb. His questions were rushed into silence. I placed a lump of dates into the hands of the Maharshi. He took a piece and returned the rest to me. I understood, ‘Today’s date is a sweet one. It is the date when I received the message of silence. I must taste in silence each date of my life by having communion with the divine.’

For two decades I was silence itself. Years later I returned. The former simple ashram had disappeared; the body of the Maharshi had disappeared. But the vibrating presence whispered into me ‘Silence, yet more silence!’

Prof. V. B. Athavale, M.Sc., F.R.G.S., Kirloskarwadi

I had the good fortune of meeting Sri Ramana Maharshi in April 1944 and observed for one week his state of supreme consciousness in which worldly knowledge appears insignificant and produces no worries.

When Paul Brunton asked, ‘Will the world soon enter a new era of friendliness and mutual help, or will it go down into chaos and war ?’ Maharshi replied, ‘There is one who governs the world. He knows how to look after it. He bears the burden of the world and not you.’

Maharshi’s reactions to my unspoken intentions were, however, very tender and marvellous. I reached his Tiruvannamalai ashram with my wife on 16th April. To investigate the relation between Gita and the Vedic literature with regard to the Vedic quotations explicitly referred to by Maharshi Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa, (the author of the Gita) I had prepared a genealogical chart of some 350 persons mentioned in the Rigveda. I intended to show this chart to Sri Ramana Maharshi and talk to him about my Gita study. But when I found that no one talked in the hall, I dropped the idea and decided not to talk about it unless the Maharshi showed some interest himself.

Next day, when I entered the hall at 8 a.m., I was surprised to find that the Maharshi had asked Mr Iyer to hand over a Gita book to me that contained 746 verses instead of the normal 700. Mr Iyer had also been asked to get my opinion on this difference. Thus I got the chance of opening the Gita topic.
To avoid disturbing the peace in the hall, Maharshi asked me to meet a pandit that afternoon to talk about the Gita. The pandit was going to relay our discussion to the Maharshi later. I ended up talking to this pandit for four days.

Maharshi eventually saw my genealogical chart and asked me, via the pandit, what I had to say about ‘tenaiva rupena chaturbhujena’, the reference to the four hands of Krishna in the 11th chapter. I explained to him that Arjuna has addressed Krishna twice as ‘Vishno’ in the 11th chapter. In the 10th chapter we are told that Krishna was Vishnu out of Adityas. Though this expression is usually interpreted to mean the sun in the twelve signs of the zodiac, it cannot be correct. Because, the next words say ‘I am the sun among the stars’. The Rigvedic expression ‘Astau putraso Aditeh’ tells that Aditi had eight sons and Adhvaryu Brahmana tells that Vishnu was one of the eight sons of Aditi. Yajurveda states, ‘Narayanaya vidmahe Vasudevaya dhimahi tanno Vishnuh prachodayat’. It means that Vishnu was called Vasudeva patronymically. Thus Krishna and Vishnu had the identical name Vasudeva patronymically.

According to old traditions Vishnu holds in his four hands (1) Shankha, (2) Chakra, (3) Gada, (4) Padma. Krishna had in his normal two hands the famous Panchajanya conch and the reins of the four horses. Arjuna first saw the four-handed form of Vishnu. Hence the 17th verse mentions only ‘Gada’ and ‘Chakra’ to be the two weapons, which were not in the hands of Krishna. The Mahabharata states that Krishna had decided not to wield any weapon in the war. In verse 44 Arjuna says, ‘I am terrified by this thousand-fold form. Please show me your original form with four hands. Verse 45 again mentions the same two weapons ‘Gada’ and ‘Chakra’. Verse 51 refers to the normal human form of Krishna.

Maharshi was pleased when he heard the explanation. He gave me his blessings for the study and suggested that I should write a commentary on the Gita.
On 23rd April I was sitting as usual in the hall. One gentleman, who was sitting near me, was reading some English passage from a book in a loud whisper. I heard the sentence, ‘A siddha is inferior to a conjuror’. I thought that the author of the sentence had committed a mistake, but didn’t intervene. On 24th April I went into the hall in the morning and informed Maharshi that I was leaving in the evening and requested him to give his autograph. The secretary told me that Maharshi never signed his name. I expressed regret for my ignorance of the rule and said that I merely wanted the handwriting of Maharshi and not his signature. The gentleman, whose sentence I had heard the previous day, was sitting near me. I was thinking of asking him the name of the author who had written that a siddha was inferior to a conjuror. I wanted to point out the mistake and demand its rectification.

Meanwhile, Maharshi took a pen and a piece of paper in his hand and asked Mr Iyer to tell me that he was writing a reply to my query. Mr Iyer told me that my wish had been fulfilled and that Maharshi was giving his handwriting to me. The verse that Maharshi wrote was a reply to my unspoken query to the gentleman, as well as to my mental comments about the sentence I had heard.

The book which the gentleman was reading was the English translation of a Tamil rendering by Maharshi of an old Sanskrit poem, called Rama Gita. The verse says, ‘A conjuror deludes others by his tricks but he himself is never deluded. A siddha who manifests his siddhis is, however, deceiving others as well as deceiving himself.’

hen Maharshi handed over the Devanagari script to me, a flash in his eye suggested that I was free to point out the mistakes of the author of the statement.

The handwritten verse that Bhagavan wrote for the professor

Dr Hafiz Syed, M.A., Ph.D., D.Litt., Allahabad

It was in March 1935 that a friend of mine, Mr. Bertram Keightly gave me a copy of A Search In Secret India by Paul Brunton. I devoured it, felt interested in Ramana Maharshi, and longed to meet him. The same year during the Christmas week I paid my first visit to Madras to attend the Theosophical Society convention. From there I went to Mysore in response to the invitation of Sir Mirza Mohd. Ismail. On my return to Bangalore I accidentally met Maurice Frydman. His ascetic life made me curious to know who he was and what made him lead an austere life. It was he who told me a great deal about Ramana Maharshi and roused my sleeping interest in him.

Through his good offices I arrived in Tiruvannamalai one morning and was ushered into Maharshi’s presence by Paul Brunton himself.
After three days’ stay there, while taking leave of the Maharshi, I begged him to give me his ashirvad [blessings] before I left him. He was gracious enough to nod his assent, which meant a great deal to me.

Next year, 1936, I visited him again during Dassara holidays. In 1937, the most momentous year in my life, I was attacked by a series of misfortunes. I had to stay in one of the rooms in the ashram itself for more than a month on account of a serious illness. It was during those days that I realised vividly his greatness as a divine man who was endowed with all spiritual and human qualities.
While I was lying ill with a high fever, Maharshi was considerate enough to visit me three times and prepared upma for me with his own hand. My eyesight was affected by the high fever. When parting with him to start for Madras for treatment, I took hold of his toes and touched my eyes with them. For me, that was a sufficient guarantee that my eyesight would not fail me. So it has not. I shall never forget the grace he gave me during my serious illness. I had no idea what it was till I returned to my place in North India and felt its purifying effect on my life. I never felt so light and free from all taint of desire as I did in those days.

In 1939 I went on a sacred pilgrimage to him during the summer vacation. As there was a big crowd in the ashram, I could not take leave of Maharshi before leaving Tiruvannamalai. The result was that, somehow or other, I was deprived of the inestimable privilege of having Maharshi’s darshan for three years. From 1943 onwards I never let a year pass without visiting him. I was present during his final illness and saw him undergoing an operation for sarcoma without any sigh, shriek or anaesthetic. The doctors were amazed at his composure and an unheard-of peace of mind.

During his serious illness he was so considerate and thoughtful of the feelings of others that, despite his intense suffering, he did not deprive any one of the privilege of having his darshan. His sense of humanity was as great as his sense of spirituality.

Once, during one of his birthday celebrations, I read out an article in the hall that contained the statement, ‘The more a person is spiritual, the more he is human’. I asked about this, and he agreed that it was true. The sight of suffering, or a mere tale of it, touched his heart.

I invariably noticed during my close contact with him that he was indifferent to his body, as he believed that it was transitory. The real in him, and in others, was beyond any change.

One of the plainest teachings he gave to seekers of truth was self-surrender to God or Guru. He recommended it because he himself had surrendered himself to the divine and reaped its fruit. This method of approach to truth, he said, was the easiest and the safest if one had an earnest desire to attain liberation. I have often felt strongly that his method of approaching truth was so definite, clear and direct, it must appeal to the modern mind because it is essentially scientific. Maharshi never expected anyone to pin his faith in any particular scripture, or practise any sadhana, or repeat any mantra. All he expected of us was to closely and critically analyse the content of our own being, to discover what we really were to see if there was any thing in us which survived the decay of our bodily frame. His words went straight into our heart because he lived what he taught. His grace was ready for those who were ready for it; in other words, those who had made themselves fit recipients of his grace.

The dominating feature of his philosophy was the unity of life, the oneness of the divine essence which is the indwelling Self of all. In view of this deep-seated conviction of his, we noticed that he made no distinction in everyday life between great and small, rich or poor, holy or profane. He treated all alike. He habitually saw the one life vibrant in all. Another remarkable and distinguishing feature of his life was that he showered grace on every one whom he considered eligible for it, whether they were frequent visitors to his ashram and attached to him or not. Those who came from other ashrams and were the disciples of other Gurus received the same transmissions of grace, if they were ready.

I heard him repeatedly say that there is one who governs the world and that it is his task to look after the world. He who has given life to the world knows how to look after it also. It is he and not us who bears the burden of the world. He would also say that each was helped according to his nature, in proportion to his understanding and devotion.

Yogi Ranganathan, Madurai

[This account is by Rangan, one of Bhagavan’s childhood friends. I included a chapter about him in The Power of the Presence (part one, pp. 1-38). I took the first few pages of my account from a chapter in one of Chalam’s books. Going through this 'Call Divine' account, which I was not aware of when I compiled The Power of the Presence, I can see that Chalam himself used it extensively in his Telugu version.]

My father, an Inspector of Police, was transferred to Tiruchuzhi in 1885. Bhagavan’s father Sundaram Aiyar was then practising there as a vakil. The two became close and intimate friends. I was a classmate of Bhagavan. My elder brother was in the same class as Bhagavan’s elder brother. Our two families moved on the friendliest terms, almost as close relations.

Around the middle of 1888 my father was transferred to another place and we left Tiruchuzhi. Bhagavan and his brother went to Dindigul for education and from there came to Madurai to continue their education. By that time we had also come to Madurai for our education.
Bhagavan was first reading in the Mission School, whereas I was attending the Native College. However, the institutions were adjacent to each other. If my school closed earlier I would wait for Bhagavan; and if his school closed earlier, he would wait for me. I and my brother, along with Bhagavan and his brother, would go to the Vaigai River, play on the sands and return home. Other boys would join us. I was just one year older than Bhagavan. Bhagavan left Madurai in August 1896. After that, I didn’t see him again for a long time.

When I saw him for the first time in Tiruvannamalai, I was accompanied by my wife, mother and daughter. I asked Bhagavan whether he recognised me. His reply sounded as if he was speaking from the back of his throat.

‘Rangan,’ he croaked.

In those days Bhagavan spoke rarely, and he had almost lost speech through lack of practice.

Turning to Palaniswami, he pointed out my mother and asked him ‘Do yon recognise this lady?’

‘Yes,’ he replied.

She had visited Bhagavan when he had been living at Pavalakundru in the 1890s.
I spoke to Bhagavan for some time.

As I was taking leave of him I remarked, ‘You have attained a great stage’.

His reply was, ‘Distance lends enchantment to the view’.

I learned later from the many teachings that he gave to me directly, and from advice given to other people that I overheard, that he was implying ‘A householder’s life was as good as that of an ascetic, and could equally lead one to jnana’.

On my next visit, when I was still ten or fifteen steps from Skandasramam, Bhagavan, who was then cleaning his teeth near the parapet wall, observed my coming and told his mother, ‘Mother, Rangan is coming’.

She said, ‘Let him come. Let him come.’

When I got up after prostrating before Bhagavan, he said, ‘It is a rare privilege to get the darshan of saints. It is good to go and visit them frequently. They will weave the cloth and give it to you.’

From this I gathered that if one had Bhagavan’s grace one could gain jnana, even without any effort on one’s own part.

During my next visit, when Bhagavan, his mother and I were alone together, I told Bhagavan’s mother, ‘I have also a right to a share in all that Bhagavan has gained’.

Mother asked Bhagavan, ‘Did you hear what Rangan said?’
Bhagavan laughed and said, ‘Is he not also one of us? He has also a share.’

On another occasion I came to Bhagavan on my way to Madras where I wanted to try for a job.

When I got up after prostrating, Bhagavan asked me, ‘Men can go anywhere and somehow eke out a livelihood. But what arrangements have you made for your wife and children?'

I replied, ‘I have provided for them’.

I stayed for a few days with Bhagavan and then went away to Madras. A few days later my elder brother visited Bhagavan. Bhagavan made kind enquiries of him whether my wife and children were getting on well, without any hardship.

My brother had to tell him, ‘He left some money when he started for Madras. All that has been exhausted and they are now suffering great hardship.’

Then he continued his journey to Madurai.

When, after making some efforts for a job at Madras, I returned to Bhagavan, he asked me, ‘You told me you had provided for your wife and children. Your elder brother told me they are undergoing hardship.’

I did not make any reply. Why? Because Bhagavan knows all and is also all-powerful. I again went to Madras and, finding my efforts for a job there were in vain, returned to Bhagavan and stayed with him for some time.

During that time, one night, when I was sleeping outside on a double cot that was lying there, Bhagavan suddenly came and sat near my feet. Seeing this I got up.

Bhagavan asked me, ‘What is the matter with you? Are you restless and not getting sleep because of your family troubles? Would it he enough for you if you get Rs 10,000?’

I kept silent.
Once when Bhagavan and I were going round the hill he said, ‘There are herbs on this hill which can transmute base metals into gold’.

That time too I kept silent.
Bhagavan used to often joke with me and laugh, asking, ‘Oh, are you suffering very much?’

He then told me, ‘When a man sleeps, he dreams he is being beaten and that he is suffering terribly. All that would be quite real at the time. But when he wakes up, he knows it was only a dream. Similarly, when jnana dawns, all the miseries of this world will appear to be mere dream.’

A few days later I returned to Madurai and through a friend got a manager’s job in a motor company. Later, I was also appointed as agent for the sale of buses in Ramnad and Madurai by another company, with a commission of 5% on all sales effected by me. From this and in other ways I got Rs 10,000, which I spent on clearing off my debts and marrying two of my daughters.

I never used to mention my family troubles to Bhagavan, nor ask him for anything. He was himself looking after me and my family. Why, then, should I make any requests for this or that particular thing? I left everything to him. It never occurred to me to ask him for any wealth.

I frequently used to tell Bhagavan, ‘I have entrusted my body, possessions, soul, all to you. The entire burden of my family is hereafter yours. From now on I am only your servant, doing only what you ask me to do. I am a puppet moved by your strings.’

Bhagavan would just laugh.

Once, at Skandasramam, when Bhagavan was standing, I felt his legs from the knee downwards, running my hands over them.

I remarked, ‘When in the old days we played together, I used to feel as if I was pricked with thorns whenever your legs came in contact with my body. Your skin in those days was rough and scaly. Now I find your legs are soft, like velvet.’

Bhagavan responded by saying, ‘My body has completely changed. This is not the old body.’

One day Bhagavan told me, ‘Let us go to Pandava Tirtham and swim in it. Can you still swim?’

I told him I had not forgotten and that I would be happy to go with him. The next morning, at 3 a.m., we went and swam there, playing as we did in the old days. We returned before people came there for their early bath.

Bhagavan said, ‘Let us do it again tomorrow. But we have to go early and return before people come there for their morning baths.’

I agreed and we went swimming there every morning for the next few days.

One day, before dawn, when I was restless in my bed, rolling from one side to another, Bhagavan came to me and asked, ‘Are you not getting sleep? What are you worried about?’

I told him, ‘I am thinking of taking up sannyasa. If I do it here my people would discover it. So, I want to go away to a distant place like Banaras and become a sannyasi there.’

Bhagavan went away and came back with a copy of Bhaktha Vijayam. He read from it the portion dealing with Vithoba’s determination to remain a sannyasi in a forest, along with the advice from his son Jnandev that the same mind goes with a man whether he stays at house or retires into a forest. He told me I could attain jnana while continuing to be a householder.

I asked Bhagavan, ‘Why then did you become a sannyasi?’

He replied, ‘That was my destiny’.

Then he added, ‘Though it is irksome to remain a householder, it is easy to attain jnana that way.’

Once at Skandasramam, after Bhagavan and I had taken a bath and he was drying his body with a towel, I noticed that from his knee to his ankle the skin had peeled off and blood was oozing. I asked him what the matter was with his leg. He said he didn’t know.

I asked, ‘Is it not your legs that blood is oozing from? You seem to know nothing about it!’

He replied very casually, ‘When I was sitting down, the fire from the charcoal brazier in which incense powder was being burnt might have burnt my skin and caused this sore’.

I at once sent for some ointment and applied it to his legs. From this I learnt how completely detached from the body Bhagavan was. He lived only in the Self.

One day, Bhagavan and I went round the hill by the forest foot path close to the foot of the hill. After I had gone a little distance on that path, which was full of thorns and sharp stones, I stepped on a thorn.

As I was lagging behind, Bhagavan observed me, came back to me, removed my thorn, and said ‘Now, we can continue’.

We carried on together but after a few yards he too stepped on a thorn. Noticing this, I ran up to him, lifted up his foot and saw the marks of several thorns there. I then examined his other foot and found several marks there too.

Bhagavan said, ‘Are you going to remove the new thorn or the old thorns?’

Then, with the greatest indifference, he pressed his foot on the ground, pushed it forward, and the thorn broke off. We then continued with our walk. It confirmed for me that he was living completely detached from his body. I further imagined that both of these incidents were somehow staged by Bhagavan to impress on me that he was not his body.

On another occasion Bhagavan said to me, ‘You think you are undergoing great troubles. Hear some of mine. I was once climbing the hill up a precipitous track and when I caught hold of a rock above me. The rock dislodged itself and I fell on my back. The moving rock dislodged others, all of which fell on top of me while I was lying on the ground. I managed to remove the rocks that were covering me and climb out. I found my left thumb was dislocated and hanging loose. I forcibly brought it back to its place and reattached it there.’

At that stage in the narration Bhagavan’s mother appeared and remarked, ‘Don’t ask for that horrid story. He came home with blood all over his body. It was too heart-rending a spectacle.’

I cannot understand who came and removed the rock, treated his wounds and fixed up the thumb. Who was that doctor?

One day Bhagavan’s mother told me in his presence that once, while he was standing, she saw various kinds of snakes all over his body, round his neck, chest, waist, legs. She became very afraid, but after some time the snakes all went back to their places. I believe that this was one of the visions vouchsafed by Bhagavan to his mother to wean her from the belief that Bhagavan was her son and to impress on her that he was God Himself.

Once, at Skandasramam, when Bhagavan, his mother and I were the only people there, mother told the following story: ‘About ten days ago, at about this time, ten in the morning, I was looking at Bhagavan. His body disappeared gradually and transformed into a lingam like the one in Tiruchuzhi Temple. The lingam was lustrous. At first I could not believe my eyes. I rubbed them, looked again, and still saw the same sight. I became afraid because I thought he might be leaving us. But slowly and gradually his body reappeared in place of the lingam.’

After hearing this account I looked at Bhagavan, who smiled at me. From this I gathered he was confirming his mother’s account. When I returned home I mentioned this to the members of my family. My eldest son, who was writing an account of what he called ‘Bhagavan’s marriage with his bride jnana’, included this incident in it.

Later, when that work was being read out before Bhagavan by my son and this incident came up, Bhagavan asked ‘Who told you this?’

My son, of course, replied ‘My father’.

Then Bhagavan said, ‘Oh, that fellow came and told you everything, did he?’

Some of the devotees who were listening to the work being read out asked what exactly was the incident referred to. Bhagavan dismissed it, saying it was nothing.
I myself gathered from this vision of Bhagavan’s mother that Bhagavan was God himself, and that the vision was granted to mother to impress on her that she was no longer to think of him as her son, but as God Supreme.

One day, when Bhagavan and I were climbing the hill, I told him that because I have had the good fortune to have Bhagavan’s darshan, all my sanchita and agami karma had been burnt away like a bale of cotton by a spark of fire, and that only my prarabdha karma was left.

He replied, ‘Even prarabdha will remain only so long as the mind remains. If the mind is destroyed, to whom does the prarabdha belong? Think over that deeply.’

From that I understood that once the mind is killed and jnana is attained, there is no such thing as prarabdha.

Once a devotee who had behaved improperly towards Bhagavan asked me what he might do to expiate his offence. I advised him to do pradakshina round Bhagavan three times.

He walked around him three times, prostrated before him and said, ‘Bhagavan should not keep in his mind the mistake I have committed’.

Bhagavan replied, ‘Where do I have a mind? Only if I have a mind can I keep something there’.

It is clear from this that Bhagavan has attained mano nasa, extinction of the mind.

When Bhagavan was in Skandasramam, a gentleman from Malabar, greatly learned, and an expert in yoga sastras, came and lectured for four hours on yoga.

After he had finished, Bhagavan said, ‘Now, you have finished, I hope, everything that you wanted to say. The end of all your yoga is seeing lights and hearing sounds. The mind will be in laya (a suspension of mental activity) while the sound or light is there. When they disappear, the mind will again emerge. The real thing is to achieve mano nasa or extinction of the mind. That is what is called jnana.’

The other man said, ‘What you say is the truth,’ and took leave of Bhagavan.

Sri Mouni Sadhu, Australia

Those who ‘knew’ Sri Bhagavan Ramana know him forever. This is because even a single encounter with the great rishi on our life’s path is an event that can never be forgotten or dimmed in our consciousness by the passage of time. For some of us, it meant a complete change in the course of our present and future lives, and this could never have happened otherwise.

The scope of the subject is far too broad to be described in detail within the framework of such a short article. I am therefore compelled to condense it as much as possible.

The first time I met him I had come directly from the cart that had brought me from the Tiruvannamalai railway station. Before visiting the ashram, I had been conversant with Sri Maharshi’s teachings for some four years and the many photographs I had seen had made his features quite familiar to me. When I was ushered into the dimly lit dining hall, I was therefore able to recognise him immediately, even though at that time his figure was much more meagre than in the pictures I had seen. He was sitting close to a wall, eating his evening meal. I bowed in greeting, and with an incomparable expression of kindness on his face, he asked me where the other devotee was who had come with me. I wondered at his very sharp memory because the letter announcing my proposed visit had been written many months before. My friend’s absence was explained; he had not been in a position to come. Sri Bhagavan then asked that supper be brought to me.

When I became conscious that at last I had found what I had been seeking all my life, this knowledge did not come through conscious deliberation but via an intuitive flash. I immediately became absorbed into the presence of the Master. At first I was worried about his precarious physical state, but my grief quickly became dissolved in his spiritual radiation. The outer appearance soon merged into that mysterious inner link with him that has remained unbroken from that moment up to the present time. While I was at his feet, I learned to stop the thought-current in my mind, a thing that formerly had devoured long years of effort, and which had never been completely successful, despite the many exercises of various occult systems. I never returned to those exercises; they were quite inadequate in the sublime spiritual atmosphere surrounding the Master, which in itself permitted much faster development.

The key to it – concentration – came of itself. Firstly, and most importantly, I became aware that there is a thing above all things that I had never known before. This cannot be adequately described in words, but nevertheless, perhaps some direct hints will give an idea about it. The eyes of the Master conveyed in silence that there is a state which is beyond and untouched by all human troubles, a state which is certainty and peace in itself, in which we know everything. For in that state everything is in us. This mysterious process in consciousness was induced by Sri Bhagavan, or rather by his presence, for he was himself all harmony and peace.

I tried to analyse the changes that arose in me when I meditated at his feet. I found that the mind was easily freed from thoughts, and that memory – in the usual meaning of the word – was no more. Also absent was the concomitant subdivision of time into past, present and future. Instead, there appeared something that cannot be properly described in words. Perhaps a conception of living eternity would be best. There were no visions but, strangely enough, one knew that there could be nothing unknown to him, for by completely directing the attention, one could know everything. These experiences have been more explicitly described in the book In Days of Great Peace.

In some wonderful way the Maharshi seemed to supervise these inner processes in us, just as an operator watches the work of complicated machinery that he knows thoroughly. Moreover, he mysteriously helped in these inner experiences, but how he did it still remains a mystery to me. At the same time, without any deliberation from my side, a potent love for him was created in my heart, simply because it could not be otherwise. Altogether, a man emerged from these experiences greatly changed and quite often with a totally different idea about everything in this world. I myself called it ‘the spiritual alchemy of the Master’.
As time passed, I ceased to consider Sri Bhagavan as a being of flesh and blood. This was the most wonderful experience and conquest. From that time on the Master could never be lost to me, although I was only too well aware that his days on this earth were numbered and few remained. I saw the spiritual essence of the man, the indestructible core instead of just the mortal frame. This was the chief factor that enabled me to bear his physical departure without any inner catastrophe.

The word ‘spirit’ is plainly misused by a world that cannot connect the term with anything real, often confusing it with emotional and mental impressions, creating from them an idea of something indefinite and dim. All his long life Sri Maharshi taught that the true reality is beyond all forms, no matter to which plane of existence they belong. And yet, for many people this remains merely a myth or theory. After the Master left this earth, I tried to analyse what it was in his manifestation amongst us that was the most important thing for future generations to remember him for. I reached the conclusion that it was that he himself showed the example of what final attainment is, thereby making it accessible to everyone else.
An eternal wisdom lies in all his utterances. He confirmed the truth of them by being that wisdom himself. For example, Maharshi demonstrated that he was not the body and that his true Self never suffered when that body was attacked by a painful disease, one that would be terrifying for an average person to undergo. However, we all felt that, though he was detached from his bodily pains, he could have overcome the disease if such an outcome had been necessary.

When such a sage testifies to the immaterial truth of being, and daily pointed us all towards it, how could I ever seek something apart from it?
The Maharshi himself knew very well the decisive role he played in the lives of those who were fortunate enough in their karmas to come to him from all sides of the world.

He says, ‘Association with the sages who have realised the truth removes material attachments. These attachments being removed, the attachments of the mind are also destroyed. Those for whom attachments of the mind are destroyed become one with That which is ever motionless. They attain liberation while yet alive. Cherish, therefore, the association with such Sages.’

Such a sage was and is Sri Ramana, and there are many of us who used to know and revere him.

M. K. S., Karachi

No man can be happy without the knowledge of God. Scriptures are our guides in the path to the Godhead. It is said in the Bible, ‘Many are called but few are chosen’. Religion is essential for all. Man needs spiritual bread for his sustenance in the struggle of life. A stage arrives in the evolution of a human soul when man is not satisfied with mere teachings and promises of a life hereafter. He longs for God. He thirsts for God. He gets intoxicated in his love of God. He sets aside his Bible, his Koran, his Gita, his Gathas. He wants to see God face to face. He yearns and pines for his visual revelation. He discards everything in life. He is prepared to go through all the trials, tests and ordeals that may be necessary for attaining the object of his heart. He starts on the journey in the quest of truth. He yearns to unravel the secrets of the universe and be merged in God.

In July 1947 I was ordered by my Spirit Master to pay a visit to Tiruvannamalai and sit at the feet of the Sage of Arunachala, Bhagavan Sri Ramana. The journey was long but the longing to see the sage was greater. Accompanied by my wife, we embarked upon the journey, a distance of more than two thousand miles by rail. Passing through Bombay and Madras we arrived at Sri Ramana’s ashram with hearts gladdened by the prospect of attaining spiritual enjoyment. We arrived when the moon was shining in the sky, casting its shimmering, pale, silvery light through the foliage of trees, through which we passed to reach our destination. It was all so quiet.

We stayed in a cottage, named ‘Detachment’. The very name of the cottage was enough to send thrills of delight through every nerve and fibre of our being. It appeared God was preparing in His subtle manner for the great future that was awaiting.

The next day we were in the presence of the sage in the hall. Prostrating at full length, we sat near him on the floor. My friend Doraiswami, the Honorary Secretary of the Spiritual Healing Centre, Coimbatore, had also accompanied us from Madras.
As I sat for hours and hours together without being fatigued or exhausted in that hall, with many other devotees squatting on the floor, my eyes were rivetted upon the magnetic personality of the sage. Naked, except for a loin cloth that he wore, his face kindled with the fire of the inner light, his deep, searching eyes that seemed to penetrate into the soul of every devotee gathered in that silent throng, his majestic look, his tall frame made slender by the years of abstinence and tapas practised in the forests and the caves where he communed alone with his God – all this made a deep impression upon our minds.

Sri Ramana appeared to be the very soul of India. This country has been known as a land of rishis. And it is India’s pride that in spite of the wave of materialism that is sweeping all over the world, this tradition of her spirituality has been maintained so beautifully. In fact, India’s greatest contribution to the world is her spirituality. We are living in an age of rush and crash. Passivity is decried and activity is hailed as a mark of progress in all phases of life. We do not deny the role of human activity in the economy of life. But it is incorrect to say that passivity is alien to progress and that it is tantamount to sin. The life of the sage of Arunachala is a most salient and solid rejoinder to this vile accusation. This man lived all his life in the vicinity of Arunachala. He lived a life of silence, seclusion and solitude, away from the maddening crowds, in utter renunciation, and he realised God.
God-realisation is the only real goal of life.

This is lost sight of by westerners, and passivity is wrongly criticised. By passivity, we mean, passivity of the right type, when man yearns for God and in his yearning, he is prepared to forego everything and seeks Him by the marga of silence, seclusion and deep meditation. Ramana left his home, when he was just a lad studying in a school, when the longing came to him to give himself up solely to God. He went in search of his Lord and found Him in the seclusion of his heart in the midst of surrounding quietude of nature, away from the dust and din of a skeptic world steeped in ignorance of God’s light and beauty. To sit at his feet in that silent hall vibrant with the radiance of his soul pervading the whole atmosphere was a feast for the soul.

Devotees of various classes come for his darshan. Some come in the hope of solving their difficulties. Some come for his blessings. Some come out of sheer curiosity. Some come with an understanding heart, that the sage in his invisible, subtle manner, would kindle a fire and let loose the soul from the bondage of the body. I was fully aware that this miracle would be performed by him.

On the last day, before bidding adieu to the Sage, I sat for a long time, squatting on the floor and lo! to my surprise, I fell into a sort of samadhi – the first of its kind experienced. It was like awakening in a new world. It was all rapturously divine. The sage had worked his miracle. The secret purpose of my visit was understood. He opened the inner valves and gave me freedom. My soul was free. I left the sage of undying fame and his ashram with a heart bounding with joy and bursting with gratitude.

Sri M. S. Madhava Rau, Mangalore

My claim to write is that of one who saw Him. I dare not say ‘I know Him’. Twice I and my wife had the beatific privilege of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi’s darshan, with a space of ten years intervening. A decade after the last visit I am now writing of the deep and abiding impression he made on me.

My first visit was in the company of Maurice Frydman from Bangalore. Suddenly one morning, early in 1934, he said that he was going to Tiruvannamalai that night. He asked us if we would like to accompany him. He had been there many times before but never invited us. Nor had we ever thought to ask if we could accompany him. This time, though, the question and our own wishes were beating in unison.

The offer came at an unfortunate moment since we didn’t at that time have the money required for the trip. However, almost immediately, the post brought a letter from relations in Mangalore asking us to meet that day a person to whom some of our articles had been sent. We called on her and received the parcel. Inside, among other things, was an envelope containing some currency notes. An accompanying note said that in the haste and confusion of our departure from her house a few months earlier this money had been left in a cupboard in their home. We counted it out and discovered that the newly acquired sum would be just sufficient for a trip to Tiruvannamalai and back. And so we went with Maurice.

At the ashram Maurice introduced us to the Maharshi. He welcomed us with a gracious smile and made enquiries about where we were from. When we replied ‘Mangalore’, the Maharshi said that M. S. Kamath (of the ‘Sunday Times’) was a frequent visitor to the ashram. He then told the other people in the hall a few interesting tidbits about the languages, customs and so on of that part of the country. When he learnt from us that for some years we had lived and worked in the Theosophical Society, Adyar, he smiled again and said that we would then easily make ourselves at home in the ashram. And we did, very happily too.

The Maharshi’s serene and busy life reminded us of Dr Annie Besant in several respects. In the evening a visitor arrived, a big and prosperous-looking Punjabi Sikh gentleman, dressed completely in European clothes. Noting his discomfort while he was attempting to perform the full pranam that Indian etiquette requires, the Maharshi immediately set him at rest, saying it was unnecessary. He also arranged for a chair for him to sit in. The gentleman said plaintively that he was pining for peace of mind. The Maharshi asked who it was that was pining. The visitor was puzzled. In humble and anxious tones he pleaded that he was too ignorant and busy for such deep introspection. However, he added that he would be grateful for some japa, prescribed in the Maharshi’s own words, and conveyed with his blessings. He promised to do the japa in whatever spare time he had.

The Maharshi told him that devoting the same amount of time he had to spare for his japa to enquiry instead would be more beneficial, and that, with practice, it would amply repay his efforts and could even be done at the times when he was busy at work. This was not what the Sikh visitor wanted to hear. After he had failed in his repeated attempts to persuade the Maharshi to give him some japa, he asked, sadly, whether, having come with such high hopes, the Maharshi was now going to send him away empty handed. The Maharshi assured him in a compassionate way that he should not think in this way.

The following morning the Maharshi cited some verses to the Sikh visitor that came from an edition of Yoga Vasishta that had been printed by Maurice Frydman. This appeared to revive his spirits and he left for his train in a good mood.

That evening Frydman and I took Bhagavan’s permission to return to Bangalore and come back. Bhagavan repeated the ‘come back’ part of the request in an affectionate and slightly quizzical way.
We did come back, but not for another ten years.

In 1944 my wife and I came with Mr and Mrs Sanjiva Rao. That time we put more planning and organisation into our trip. The ashram premises and the neighbourhood around it had expanded immensely in our absence. There were many more visitors, and more ashram activities had been added. The Maharshi had clearly advanced in age. He looked much older, and he had grown weak as well. We spoke to Dr K. Shiva Rao about it and he confirmed that Bhagavan’s health was in decline. We were told that he consistently refused to take any special food that might improve his condition, saying that he would only take what was offered to everyone else in the ashram.

We were introduced to him again. He looked at us and said that the introduction was superfluous since we had been introduced by Frydman many years before. He remembered us. Life in the hall was more active and varied than on our earlier visit. There were numerous visitors who had come from all over the world. Mothers frequently brought their babies for a blessing, which he bestowed on them with a tender smile. The morning and evening prayer times were silently vibrant with a power that stirred and pacified one’s innermost being. People mostly sat quietly or meditated, and as they did so Bhagavan’s eyes would impersonally scan the room, imperceptibly alighting for a moment on the people who were sitting there. Animals came and went freely and often left with food given by Bhagavan himself. One day I saw a brahmin woman, dressed in rags, come into the hall and begin to wail in a pitiful way. Bhagavan rose from his seat and met her half way. He enquired about the cause of her misery and learned that she was an ill-treated and abandoned wife who had been driven from her home. Bhagavan asked her to stop crying and invited her to sit down and have a rest. She followed his advice and shortly afterwards looked consoled and calm.

On one afternoon there was discussion among a small group over an ignorant questioning of the Maharshi’s teaching in some British or American philosophical journal. The Maharshi joined in with a few brief remarks, and resolved the doubts of those who had raised questions about the contents of the article. He ended the discussion in a humorous way, speaking partly in English and partly in Tamil, by saying, ‘Indian philosophy begins where western philosophy ends’.

The sublime and the mundane were readily mixed. Early one morning he was making a joke about a laxative he had concocted himself. He said that one devotee, in an excess of zeal, had taken an overdose and paid for it by having no rest for several hours.

One experience impressed itself on me indelibly. Before beginning meditation in his presence, I decided that at some point during that day I should ask the Maharshi about a personal problem I had been agonising over for some time. As I sat there meditating, the answer flashed before me, and along with it I was filled with an indescribable flow of happiness. Without needing to vocalise the problem to him, I had received both an answer and the experience of his power and grace. This experience in his presence was sufficient for me to sense the truth of both his message and his silent teaching.


Subramanian. R said...

Dear David,

Thanks for one more post in such a short interval. I read the accounts of all the persons described there. Only Mr. Karachi, I do not remember to have read about him before. Rangan is Yogi
Ranganathan, this fact I came to know only a couple of months ago. Rangan's account is mostly the same that he had written in Mountain Path and as mentioned by you in the Power of the Presence.

Devaraja Mudaliar's statement, that Sri Bhagavan does not annex any people immediately - is somewhat intriguing. I strongly believe that He takes people as they are and tries to improve them, by removing their dirt and dust. Some are easily cleaned up and some are not. Nevertheless His annexation helps anyone in the long run. He has never said either in words or in silent language that one is not fit enough to come to Him. Once when a cooly and his lady love [who was also a cooly] were amongst many in construction work, Chinnaswami on being reported on the giggling to each other and talk of sweet nothings, promptly dismissed them. Sri Bhagavan did not interfere. Next day, when He was coming down from the Hill, He saw a dog and a bitch vigorously copulating. He looked at those creatures intently [to the wonder of fellow devotees who were nearby] and then asked: "Who is going to dismiss them?" On another occasion, He had said: "I am not here to punish but only to grace everyone. If I start punishing, not even a crow would fly over the asramam!"

Saint Manikkavachagar says: "Puzhuthalai pulaiyanen thanakku, semmayai ahiya siva padam aLitha selvame... Even me, an outcaste, with his head full of worms, you have given sublime sivapadam, the great boon, O my treasure."

Sri Bhagavan is Siva. He is Ramana-Sivam. He gives only Sivam, only faith in Him is required. The other dirt and dust would leave automatically.

Thanks once again.

Anonymous said...

You say :
From my experience and also the experience of some other devotees I can affirm all this of Bhagavan, though it must perhaps be added that such things happen to Bhagavan’s devotees more in the earlier stages of their affiliation with him than in the later years, after they had become seasoned followers. Has he not himself exclaimed in the first of his Five Hymns to Arunachala:
You showed your heroic prowess, but having subdued, you do nothing at all now, O Arunachala.

Did you not make us feel welcome and warm and answered our questions and was patient with our ramblings when each one of us came new to this blog.HAVING SUBDUED US YOU DO NOTHING AT ALL NOW, O DEAR DAVID.


Sankar Ganesh said...

Thanks for this post. Really moving. Melted my heart in many places.

Sankar Ganesh.

hey jude said...

Mysterious Gestures

Did you ever hear the story of how John Daido Loori became a student
of Master Maezumi, his principal teacher? Its quite funny. It goes
something like this: (From an interview with Meditation Pathways)

"We were both teaching at the Naropa institute, and were both in
faculty housing. He had the apartment right next to mine. I saw them
moving him in, because I was already a Zen student studying with
another Master. I decided that it would be good to go over and
introduce myself and pay my respects. I brought a little gift, and we
chatted a bit, but he didn't take a lot of intrest in me. I left, and
later, around dinner time there was a knock on the door. I went to the
door, and there were two monks with a bagful of Kentucky Fried
Chicken. They said, "Roshi is inviting you over to have Kentucky
Fried Chicken with us."

So I went, and that night, a lot of other students of Naropa began to
show up and the room filled up. There must have been 50 or 60
students, but Roshi kept me sitting next to him at the table. Every
time I tried to move or mingle, he would grab my arm and say, "Please
Daido, stay with me." I would stay and he would lean over very close
to me and say, "Daido", and I would say "Yes Roshi," and he would say,
"Tell me," and I would look at him and say "Tell you what?" and then
he would look away.

Then it would get quiet again and we would just sit there and there
was all this noise everywhere, people partying all over the place and
he would lean over to me a few minutes later and he would say,
"Daido," and I would say "Yes Roshi," "Ask me," and then I would say
"Ask you what?"

Well, that went on the entire evening. It was well after midnight
before the last people left. Every time I would try to leave he would
stop me, and every few minutes he would lean over and say, "Ask me,"
and I would say "Ask you what?" and he would say "Tell me," and I
would say "Tell you what?"

At one point I figured he wanted to do what's called Dharma combat, so
when he said, "Tell me" I reached for this glass of water and held it
up and took a big drink and smashed it onto the table and went
"Ahhhhhhh," and he looked at me and held his nose and made a noise and
turned away.
to be continued.....

hey jude said...

Daido's story continues...At two o'clock in the morning I finally said, "Roshi, I have to go. I
can't stay any more. He said "Okay". Everybody had left, and there was
stuff all over the place. I was going to clean up and he said "No, no,
no, it was okay."

It seemed odd that a Zen Master would leave such a mess, but he pushed
me out the door. I went next door and I was lying down on the couch,
when about two hours later there was this gentle knock on the door. I
opened the door and there was Roshi. Now he is in robes and his
demeanor is very different, he says to me, "Come with me," like an order.

I immediately followed him back into the apartment which was now
immaculate. Everything was washed and put away. The big round table
had four bowls on it. There were four chairs, and there was just the
two of us. He pointed to the first chair and he said "Yasatani Roshi"
and that was his teacher, and he pointed to the second bowl and said
"Daido" and then pointed to this bowl which was his.

He then proceeded to do the traditional tea ceremony and made green
tea and offered it to Yasatani Roshi, who is dead by the way, and made
tea for my Roshi, gave one to me, and took one for himself.

The air was electric. As I raised the bowl to my lips to drink I was
overwhelmed with feelings, and tears started flowing and dripping into
my green tea. I felt a little embarrassed by it and looked around to
see if he noticed. I then observed tears flowing from his eyes.

I finished the tea, and then he got up and I got up. I said "Roshi,"
and he covered my mouth with his hand. He took me by the arm, led me
to the door, opened the door, and whisked me out. Needless to say, I
followed him to Los Angeles to study with him." -John Daido Loor

David Godman said...


It's not Mr Karachi. It's someone with the initials M.K.S. who comes from Karachi. The format in all the accounts to have a name followed by a location.

Peter said...


Very enjoyable to read of peoples' experiences with Ramana Maharshi.
Thank you for all the work you undertook putting the stories together.


Titus said...

" I will go through the rest of the contributions and post another selection here."
@David, Please do so! Thanks a lot for this selection.

m said...


Thanks a lot for posting these wonderful accounts about Sri Bhagavan. :)

best wishes

Sridhar said...

Namaste David
There is a saying that goes " Kodukkira Deivam Kooraiyai Piythukkondu Kodukkum" loosely translated it means that when God gives something he'd give it in torrents. Thats how one felt when being sent so many of these new accounts. Hope many more such 'secrets' continue to be unearthed.
Many thanks and pranams
Sridhar Aravamudhan

Rama said...

Dear David,

Thanks for this wonderful posting. Thanks for your efforts in compiling them and sharing with many of us.



Rama said...

Dear David,

Thanks for this wonderful posting. Thanks for your efforts in compiling them and sharing with many of us.



Sankar Ganesh said...

Dear David,

After a long gap, I am entering this blog and posted the earlier comment. I feel posting comments without moderation has been removed here. That's why my comments did not get immdtly posted. Sorry for the repetitions.


Sankarraman said...

Whatever Suddhananda Bharathi says, is the outcome of his wild imagination, and is not true. The only good work done by him is the writing of the biography of Bhagavan written in Tamil called, ' Ramana Vijayam.'

Sankarraman said...

There is an account in Major Chadwick's book of a Japanese man having with him a book containing the teachings of J.Krishnamurti; but being unable to understand the teachings contained, the gentleman requested Bhagavan to explain it to him, and Bhagavan very patiently explaining it. Chadwick writes that he was very much surprised as to how Bhagavan was very solicitous with the man. It is stated by Chadwick that that gentleman was mistaken to be some Axis terrorist and was arrested by the Police for the alleged espionage activities indulged in by him. Chadwick says in that book that Bhagavan, knowing the impending doom of that man, was specially gracious towards him. This makes an interesting account of Bhagavan's great catholicity.