Friday, July 22, 2011

A Curious Court Case

A few weeks ago a friend of mine, armed with a letter of recommendation from the president of Ramanasramam, went to an Indian consulate office in Australia and asked for a long-term visa. The consular official, who had obviously never heard of Bhagavan or Ramanasramam, asked my friend for proof that Sri Ramanasramam was a registered charity in India. I had never heard of Ramanasramam’s status being queried in this way before. However, thinking that it might be a standard feature of future visa applications, I went online, typed ‘Ramanasramam’ and ‘charity’ into Google, and found myself being directed to the transcript of a 1959 court case in which Ramanasramam’s legal status was clarified. It was a fascinating document that I pored over for the better part of an hour. I am reproducing it here in full because I want to discuss some of the evidence and assumptions that featured in the case.

First, though, a little background information is needed. In 1938 Bhagavan executed a will that bequeathed all the Ramanasramam properties to his brother, Chinnaswami. It was further stated that Chinnaswami would continue to run the ashram after Bhagavan’s mahasamadhi, and that when Chinnaswami died, those rights would be inherited by his son, T. V. Venkataraman.

There is one word – appanages – in the court’s written judgement that had me hunting through my dictionaries. It appeared to refer to the properties owned and run by Ramanasramam. The only definition I could find, even in the Complete Oxford Dictionary, was ‘The provision made for the maintenance of the younger children of kings, princes, etc.’ I rather like the mental image of ‘King’ Ramana bestowing the gift of Ramanasramam on his younger ‘princeling’ brother in order to support him after he passed away, but I suspect that in legal circles the term may have a slightly different meaning.

Bhagavan’s will envisaged a succession of ashram managers, determined by the laws of primogeniture: Chinnaswami was to be followed by his eldest son T. N. Venakataraman, and he in turn would be succeeded by his own eldest son, the current ashram president, V. S. Ramanan. There were few instructions in the will about what should go on at the ashram: there was a clause that a statue should be erected on Bhagavan’s samadhi, another that a daily puja should be performed at Bhagavan’s samadhi and in the Mother’s Temple, and in a more general instruction Bhagavan said that the ashram should remain open as a spiritual institution so that anyone who wished to could avail themselves of its facilities.

I quite like the fact that there was no attempt to dictate what visitors and devotees should do or not do at the ashram. There is no mention in the will that Bhagavan’s teachings should be promulgated to the people who came, or that people who went there would be expected to learn them or put them into practice. During Bhagavan’s lifetime there was no compulsion to be anywhere at a particular time, or to follow any particular practice. Visitors could follow their own routines and immerse themselves in the sannidhi in whatever way they felt was most beneficial to them.

After Bhagavan’s mahasamadhi the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board (nowadays known as the ‘Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Administration Department’) went to court and challenged the right of Chinnaswami to run the ashram. One of the primary functions of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Board (HRCEB in future references) was to take over Hindu institutions that were either not being run properly, or had no legally established management structure. The HRCEB wanted to take over Ramanasramam since it claimed that Bhagavan’s will did not legally convey the ashram properties and the management of them to Chinnaswami.

I have not seen a record of the first court case, which took place in the District Court of Vellore in 1954, so my information about it is second-hand, and may well be wrong. Some devotees who were associated with the ashram in the 1950s told me that, though the judge recognised that the will was a validly executed document, he concluded that it lacked legality since it could not be proved that Bhagavan actually personally owned all the properties he was disposing of. I am not sure if that is the full story since section 21 of the document I am posting today seems to indicate that Bhagavan did acquire property rights during his lifetime. Or at least Ramanasramam claimed in the court that he did. Bhagavan himself sometimes said that his only possessions were his water pot and his stick.

The judge eventually found in favour of the HRCEB, a decision that legally nullified Bhagavan’s clearly expressed wish that his family should run the ashram after his passing away.

Though Bhagavan’s family had their right to manage the ashram negated by the 1954 court case in Vellore, the rival claims of the HRCEB depended on proving that Ramanasramam was a Hindu institution. The HRCEB could only take it over if it could establish that the entity it was annexing was used exclusively by Hindus, or a specific section of the Hindu community. This they attempted to do by asserting that what they were actually taking over was the Mother’s Temple – the most Hindu feature of the ashram – arguing that all the other components of Ramanasramam were merely adjuncts to this temple. I don’t know what arguments it put forward to support this peculiar and, to my mind, somewhat ludicrous position, but the judge eventually found in their favour.

Sri Ramanasramam appealed against this decision. After a delay of several years (more on that later) it was heard in 1959 by a two-judge bench of the Madras High Court. Sri Ramanasramam argued in its appeal that it was not a Hindu institution, and therefore could not be taken over by the HRCEB. It asked, instead, to be regarded and legally recognised as a public religious trust whose aim was to maintain Ramanasramam in a way that was consonant with Bhagavan's declared wishes.

The HRCEB, in order to sustain its case, had to convince the appeal court of the validity of several points:

(a) That the Mother’s Temple really was a Hindu temple. This depended not on how it looked or what went on there but on whether it met a set of rather strict legal rules.

(b) That Ramanasramam was a Hindu institution, and not one that catered to other religious communities.

(c) That the temple was the centre of Ramanasramam and that all other buildings and activities were subsidiary adjuncts to it.

Having set the scene, I will now give the judgement of the appeal court in full. The principle judge (Justice Ramaswami) expounded at some length on various legal niceties that may not be of great interest to many readers of this blog. There are learned expositions on the legal distinction between public and private, what constitutes a Hindu trust, when and whether a samadhi shrine can properly be described as a temple, and much else besides. For those who want to pass over these sections, I have highlighted key portions in bold type. It is the content of these sections in bold that I will refer to and discuss towards the end of this post.

The online record I found came from a scan of the original court document that had subsequently been processed by text-recognition software. This meant that I had to go through the text quite carefully in order to correct the mistakes that this treatment always introduces. I did my best, but I am not a legal expert. There may be technical terms and references that are still misspelled or misrepresented since I don’t have the knowledge to make an appropriate correction.

* * *

Madras High Court
Equivalent citations: AIR 1961 Mad 265, (1960) 2 MLJ 121
Bench: Ramaswami, Anantanarayanan

Ramanasramam By Its Secretary G. Sambasiva Rao And Ors. vs The Commissioner For Hindu Religious And Charitable Endowments, Madras on 12/12/1959


Ramaswami, J.

1. This appeal is directed against the decree and judgment of the learned Subordinate Judge, Vellore, in O.S. No. 69 of 1954.

2. It is a statutory suit filed under Section 62 of the Madras Hindu Religions and Charitable Endowments Act (hereinafter referred to as the Act) by the persons aggrieved who consist of Sri Ramanasramam, by its Secretary G. Sambasiva Rao, T. N. Venkataraman, A. W. Chadwick, S. S. Cohen, Framji Dorabji, A. Devaraja Mudaliar and C. Somasundaram Pillai. The defendant is the Commissioner for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Madras.

The question for consideration is whether the component part of Sri Ramanasramam, by name Sri Mathrubhutheswaraswami Temple, an institution registered under the Societies Registration Act, (Ex. A. 23 dated 11-9-1950) is a temple as contemplated by Section 6(17) of the Act, as has been held by the learned subordinate Judge or a public religious trust as has been contended by the plaintiffs, with the following objects, viz., to carry out the provisions in the will of Sri Bhagwan, to administer Sri Ramanasramam, Sri Mathrubhutheswaraswami Temple, the Samadhi of Sri Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi with the properties and assets attached thereto and for propagating the sayings of the Bhagwan.

3. Section 6(17) of the Act defines a temple as, "a place by whatever designation known, used as a place of public religious worship, and dedicated to or for the benefit of or use as of right by the Hindu community or any section thereof, as a place of public religious worship".

4. In regard to what constitutes a public religious trust in Hindu law, we have three authoritative works of Pandit Pran Nath Saraswati's Hindu Law of Endowments (T.L.L.) 1892, P. R. Ganapati Aiyar's Hindu and Muhammadan Endowments, 2nd Edn. (1918), and B. K. Mukherjee's (late Chief Justice of India) Hindu Law of Religious and Charitable Trust, T.L.L. (1952), and the following information can be gathered therefrom.

5. In the Hindu system there is no line of demarcation between religion and charity. On the other hand, charity is regarded as part of religion. This is because the Hindu Religion recognises the existence of a life after death, and it believes in the Law of Karma according to which the good or bad deeds of a man produce corresponding results in the life to come. Therefore, all the Hindu sages concur in holding that charitable gifts are pious acts par excellence which bring appropriate rewards to the donor.

6. Hindu religious and charitable acts have been from the earliest times classified under the two heeds viz., Istha and Purtta. The two words are often used conjointly and they are as old as the Rigveda. The compound word Ishta-purtta has been retained in the writings of all Brahminical sages and commentators down to modern days, and although the connotation of these two expressions was extended to some extent in course of time, the fundamental ideas involved in them remain practically the same, By Ishtha is meant Vedic sacrifice, and rites and gifts in connection with the same; Purtta on the other hand, means and signifies other pious and charitable acts which are unconnected with Vedic sacrifices. The meaning of these two expressions has been discussed elaborately by Pandit Pran Nath Saraswati, in the Tagore Law Lectures on the Hindu Law of Endowments.

7. Following a text of Sankha quoted by Hemadri, Pandit Pran Nath Saraswati makes the following enumeration of Ishtha works, viz., (1) Vedic Sacrifices, etc. (2) Gifts offered to priests at the same, (3) Preserving the Vedas, (4) Religious austerity, (5) Rectitude, (6) Vaiswadeva Sacrifices and (7) Hospitality. The Purtta works not only signified such works of public utility as excavation of tanks, wells, etc., but included all acts which either conferred some kind of benefit on those who were in need of it, or were regarded as meritorious from the spiritual or religious point of view. From the numerous Smriti texts bearing on the point, Pandit Pran Nath Saraswati has compiled a list of Purtta works which are generally recognised as such by Brahminical writers.

These are : (1) gifts offered outside the sacrificial ground, (2) gifts on the occasion of an eclipse, solstice and other special occasions, (3) the construction of works for the storage of water, as wells, tanks, etc., (4) the construction of temple for the Gods, (5) the establishment of procession for the honour of the Gods, (6) the gift of food and (7) the relief of the sick. This list is by no means exhaustive. One other form of religious and charitable endowments which is popular with the Hindus is to create places where hospitality can be combined with dissemination of religious knowledge and facilities for meditation.

Charitable trusts are of two kinds--public and private. The Hindu law itself knows no distinction between public and private religious or charitable trusts: Rupa v. Krishnaji, ILR 9 Bom 169. Hence it was that West J. remarked in general terms in Manohar v. Laxmiram, ILR 12 Bom 247 that a trust for a Hindu idol and temple is to be regarded in India as one created for public charitable purposes within the meaning of Section 539 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1882, corresponding to Section 92 of the present Code.

Still that distinction is not without its meaning in Hindu law as now administered. It is, therefore necessary to show here where the distinction lies. In English law the terms "public" and "private" are thus defined: By "Public" must be understood as such as are constituted for the benefit either of the public at large or of some considerable portion of it answering a particular description. The essential elements of a public charity are that it is not confined to privileged individuals but it is open to the indefinite public, or some portion thereof or upon an indefinite class of persons.

It is this unrestricted quality that gives it its public character: 19 American Jurisprudence, 588. The lines of distinction between purpose of a public nature and of private nature is fine and practically incapable of definition. 4 Halsbury 3rd Edn. page 211. See also Ram Saroop v. S. P. Sahi, (a case under Bihar Hindu Religious Trusts Act) and also Moti Das v. S. P. Sahi.

To this class "public" belong all trusts for charitable purposes and indeed "public" trusts and "charitable" trusts may be considered in general as synonymous expressions. In "Private" trusts the beneficial interest is vested absolutely in one or more individuals who are, or within a certain time may be, definitely ascertained and to whom therefore collectively, unless under some legal disability, it is, or within the allowed time will be, competent to control, modify, or determine the trust.

A public or charitable trust on the other hand has for its object the members of an uncertain and fluctuating body and the trust itself is of a permanent and indefinite character and is not confined within the limits prescribed to a settlement upon a private trust; Lewin on Trusts, page 18. The same distinction has been expressed in a simpler language by Mr. G. S. Shastri in his Hindu law at page 491.

He says that when property is dedicated to charitable, educational or religious uses for the benefit of an indeterminate body of persons, the endowment is a public one and when property is set apart for the worship of a deity of a particular family in which no outsider is interested, the endowment is a private one. It seems that it was with this distinction in view that the Privy Council held in a Calcutta case that in the case of a family idol the consensus of the whole family might give the estate another direction: Konwur Doorganath Roy v. Ramchunder Sen, ILR 2 Cal 341 (PC). This decision appears to have been followed in another case which went up to that High Court and approved in a somewhat analogous case by the Bombay High Court: Gobinda Kumar v. Debendra Kumar, 12 Ca,l WN 98, Khetter Chunder v. Hari Das, JLR 17 Cal 557, Rajaram v. Ganesh, ILR 23 Bom 131. These decisions are obviously based on the belief that the endowment in each case was a private one.

Mr. Shastri has, in view of the decisions, gone so far as to assert that if all the members of the family to which an endowment belongs renounce Hinduism and choose to throw the family idol into the water of the Ganges and themselves enjoy its property, no outsider can raise any objection to that course: Shastri's Hindu law, page 491. The Allahabad High Court had, on the other hand, occasion to define what a public endowment was in the case of Puran Atal v. Darshan Das, ILR 34 All 468. Therein Chamfer J. remarked :

"It seems beyond doubt that in order that a trust may be a trust for a public purpose it is not necessary that it should be a trust for the benefit of the public at large. It is sufficient to show that it is a trust for the benefit of a section of the public." It seems it was with some such definition of a "public trust" in view that, where a Hindu provided for the creation and maintenance of a religious endowment in favour of the sect known as the Bhagavatas, appointing managers and directing the manner in which the profits of the endowment properties were to be spent, the Calcutta High Court held that there was a public religious endowment within the meaning of Section 539 C.P.C. 1882 : Kanhaya Lal v. Salig Ram, 1894 All WN 159.

8. In regard to abuses relating to public and private trusts and the powers of the Civil Court to give relief like the framing of schemes of management etc., in the case of public trusts, the powers are regulated by Section 92 C.P.C. and in the case of private trusts, by a long series of decisions. It is enough to refer here to the following decisions : In Narayanaswami Naidu v. Balasundaram Naidu it was held that,

"even in the case of a private trust, it is open to any member of the founder's family wherein his rights are impugned to seek redress in courts of law .....The Court cannot refuse to frame a scheme in the matter of a private trust so far as the members of the family are concerned, who are interested in the trust, if the trustee for the time being mismanages or acts in breach of trust, it is a civil right which is infringed and under Section 9 C.P.C., they are entitled to seek redress in court for the purpose of remedying the mischief".

In Chellam Pillai v. Chatham Pillai, AIR 1953 Trav-Co 198, it has been held that

"though Section 92 C.P.C. in terms does not apply because it relates specifically and definitely to the case of public trusts, in the ease of a private family trust the court has got jurisdiction to frame a scheme for the management of the trust",

In Vaithinatha Aiyar v. Thyagaraja Aiyar, 41 Mad LJ 20 : (AIR 1921 Mad 583), two plaintiffs instituted the suit under Section 92 C.P.C, as the descendants of the founder of the charity, a chatram. On the question of their right to institute the suit, it was held that

"the fact that the plaintiffs belong to the family of the founder would naturally give them an interest in the family charity so as to enable them to bring a suit under Section 92 C.P.C."

In addition, the powers of the civil court in the case of private trusts to frame a scheme have been affirmed in a Bench decision of this court in A. S. No. 221 of 1951, to which one of us was a party.

9. Bearing these principles in mind, let us examine the facts of this case and find out whether the institution under consideration is a temple within the meaning of Section 6(17) of the Act, or is a public religious trust as contended for by the appellants before us.

10. In order to find out whether this institution falls within the scope of the Act, we must first of all determine the connotation of a temple which consists of the following component parts, viz, firstly, that it must be an exclusively Hindu institution and, secondly, that it must be exclusively a place of Hindu public religious worship.

11. In regard to the first point, in Seshachalam Chettiar Charities, Tiruchirapalli v. State of Madras, W. P. No. 1034 of 1957, Balakrishna Aiyar, J. has construed the long title and preamble to the Act which runs as follows:-

"An Act to provide for the better administration and governance of Hindu Religious and Charitable Institutions and Endowments in the State of Madras. Whereas it is expedient to amend and consolidate the law relating to the administration and governance of Hindu Religious and Charitable Institutions and Endowments in the State of Madras, it is hereby enacted as follows:"

The learned Judge observed:-

"I would draw attention to the words "Hindu Religious and Charitable Institutions and Endowments" occurring in both the long title and the preamble. The Act is intended to apply to (1) Hindu Religious Institutions and Endowments, and (2) Hindu Charitable Institutions and Endowments. It seems to me to be manifest that the word "Hindu" is not used in one sense in relation to religious institutions and endowment and in another sense in relation to charitable institutions and endowments. The word "Hindu" must be given the same connotation whether it is read in connection with religious institutions and endowments or whether it is read in connection with the charitable institutions and endowments. Now we can have a Hindu religious institution or a Christian religious institution or a Muslim religious institution. But, I do not see how we can have a religious institution which is at one and the same time partly Hindu and partly Christian or partly Muslim. I am not aware that any religious institution exists in the State which bears such a composite character. There can be no doubt whatever that so far as religious institutions are concerned, the Act is intended to apply to only religious institutions and endowments which are exclusively Hindu in character. The omission of the word "exclusively" on which Mr. Srinivasan laid stress, is of no consequence. In fact, the introduction of such a qualifying word was entirely unnecessary and would only have led to confusion and controversy in other places in the Act. The expression "Hindu temple" is plain enough. By saying "exclusively Hindu temple" we are not making the meaning plainer; we are only introducing a degree of annoyance. "..... Section 9 of the Act enjoins that the Commissioner, every Deputy Commissioner, every Assistant Commissioner and every other officer or servant appointed to carry out the purpose of the Act, by whomsoever appointed, shall be a Hindu. The section also enacts that should a person so appointed cease to be a Hindu, he shall also cease to hold office. Likewise, Section 22 requires that no person shall be appointed to be a trustee of a religious institution ...... unless he is a Hindu. Provision of this kind would be appropriate only in respect of institutions which are exclusively Hindu. The legislature could hardly have intended that provisions of this kind should apply to what may be called mixed or composite institutions, that is to say, institutions which are only partly Hindu and partly non-Hindu. That would amount to discrimination based on religion. It would also probably be correct to say ..... that the Act would apply to institutions which, are exclusively Hindu in character."

The evidence in the instant case shows that this institution is a composite institution and it is only in accordance with Sri Ramana Maharishi's universal outlook making his Asramam open to devotees of all religions; vide B-16 pages 74, and 284; Ex. A-27 page 201 and Ex. A-30 page 13. The contributions came also largely from non-Hindus; See Exs. A-38 to A-47 and the account books of the Asramam (Ex. A-17 and Ex. A-14). It stands to common sense also that no exclusively Hindu shrine would be an appendage of a cosmopolitan Asramam, and which would have been totally inconsistent with Sri Ramana Maharishi's teachings and life.

This is not the place for further dealing with the life and teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi which would amply bear out this conclusion, because they are not in dispute. It would be enough to refer here to a valuable publication of the life and teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi by the late Sri B.V. Narasimhaswami, a distinguished lawyer and legislator of this State, of which the 5th Edn. has been revised by Mr. S. S. Cohen, one of the appellants before us.

12. The oral evidence has established beyond doubt that persons of other religions were consistently paying homage to the shrine, see Ex. A50 and the deposition of Dr. Syed. In other words, the evidence in this case clearly shows that the first requirement, viz. that it must he a place exclusively dedicated to the Hindus and is an exclusively religious place, does not stand made out.

13. Then we have to define the religious worship of Hindus. The term "religion" whatever its best definition, clearly refers to certain characteristic types of data (beliefs, practices, feelings, moods, attitudes etc). It primarily involves some immediate consciousness of transcendent realities of supreme personal worth vitally influencing life and thought, expressing themselves in forms which are conditioned by the entire stage of development reached by the individual and his environments and tending to become more explicit and static in mythologies, theologies, philosophies and scientific doctrines.

14. The lexicographers' definition of "religion" can be gathered from the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Funk and Wagnall's New dictionary of the English language, Webster's International Dictionary of the English language, Murray's New English Dictionary and Earl Jowit's (former Lord Chancellor of England) Law Dictionary, 1.959.

(i) Action or conduct indicating a belief in, reverence for, and desire to please, a divine ruling power; the exercise of practice of rites or observances implying this.

(ii) Some system of faith and practice, resting on the idea of the existence of one God, the Creator and Ruler to whom his creatures owe obedience and love. As to conditions as to religion, see Re Allen, Faith v. Alien, 1953 Ch 810, Re Wolffe Shapley v. Wolffe, 1953-1 WLR 1211, Re Alien, Faith v. Alien, (No. 2), 1954 Ch 259.

(iii) A belief in an invisible superhuman power (or powers) conceived of after the analogy of the human spirit, on which (or whom) man regards himself as dependent, and to which (or whom) he thinks himself in some degree responsible, together with the feelings and practices which naturally flow from such a belief.

(iv) The outward act or form by which men indicate their recognition of the existence of a God or of Gods having power over their destiny, to whom obedience, service, and honour are due; the feeling or expression of human love, fear, or awe of some superhuman and overruling power, whether by profession or belief, by observances of rites and ceremonies, or by the conduct of life; a system of faith and worship; a manifestation of piety; as, ethical religions, monotheistic religions; natural religion; revealed religion, the religion of idol worshippers.

Religion (as distinguished from theology) is subjective, designating the feelings and acts of men which relate to God. As distinguished from morality, religion denotes the influences and motives to human duty which are found in the character and will of God while morality described the duties to man, to which true religion always influences.

15. Religions, by which are meant the modes of divine worship proper to different tribes, nations, or communities, and based on the belief held in common by the members of them severally. There is no living religion without something like a doctrine.

16. What is worship? The word itself is English and almost untranslatable into other languages. Originally it implied acts prompted by veneration, but with stress of time and weight of usage, it has come to be applied to the whole range of religious behaviour, so that one might well say that worship is the active side of religion (Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. 12 page 752, and foll.)

17. The lexicographer's definition of worship can be gathered from Balantine Law Dictionary, Webster's International Dictionary of the English Language, Murray New English Dictionary, Funk and Wagnall's New Dictionary of the English Language, Shorter Oxford English Dictionary as follows: Worship is the act of paying honour to the Supreme Being; religious reverence and homage; adoration paid to God or a Being viewed as God with appropriate acts, rites or ceremonies: See Hansher v. Hansher, 132 Illionis 273 : 8 LRA 556.

18. So far as the Hindus are concerned, worship includes the place of worship, and forms in which this active behaviour and veneration should be expressed and those are all regulated by Agama Sastras. In Saraswathi Ammal v. Rajagopal Ammal, it has been held by the Supreme Court that in the case of Hindus the institution must be shown to have a Shastraic basis. This Shastraic basis is not only provided for by the Agama Sastras, but it has also got an equivalent when particular practices have obtained recognition as constituting long religious practice and usage of a substantially large class of persons.

Thus in South India several places of public-worship not governed by the Agama Sastras have grown up, on account of the super imposition of the Aryan culture over the Dravidian native culture. (See Kanakasabhai Pillai, Tamil Eighteen Hundred Years ago (reprint by the South Indian Saiva Sidhanta Works, Tirunelveli) Ch. XV, P. 22S and foll.). One illustration may be given. In Commissioners Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras v. Narasimham, 1939-1 Mad LJ 134 : (AIR 1939 Mad 134) the curious temple consisted of the images of as many as 66 heroes who were said to have been killed in a war between two 'neighbouring kingdoms in the 13th Century,' and they were systematically worshipped.

Similarly, cave temples, and the village deities like Poleri Amman, Mariamman, Ellai Amman etc., which have no roof over their heads may not conform to the Agama Sastras. But on account of the long worship by the Hindu public they have in course of time come to be classed as temples. In other words a temple must conform to Agama Sastras or by immemorial public usage must have come to be regarded as a place of public religious worship notwithstanding its non-conformance with the Agama Sastras.

It is as against this background we have got to examine whether the Mathrubhutheswara temple in the Ramanasramam is a Samadhi only or has evolved into a public temple. In Elumalai Chetty v. Commr., Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, Madras, 68 Mad LW 260 (2) one of us has set out the origin and development of temples in Southern India. In India during the Vedic period there were no temples on account of the domestic character of Vedic worship (Saraswati, Tagore Law Lectures p. 34). No traces of temples built in the pre-Buddhist period is known.

But the Ramayana and Mahabharata mention Chaityas in several places. Originally, Chaitya seems to have been a tree planted on the grave. Tree planted on the Chiti became Chaitiya. Later shrines probably of wood were erected. It is even possible that they had upper storeys. For the Ramayana in one place (Book I) compares the upper parts of the places in Ayodhya to the Vimanas of the Shidhas, a species of Gods.

Although the Arthasastra of Kautilya does not describe anywhere a temple, it mentions Chailyas and gives in book 2, 3, a description of the temple of Kumari the Goddess of War. Kautilya agrees with Megasthenes that the temples were under the control of Government and there was a special department to govern religious institutions and its head was known as the superintendent of religious institutions. Religious edifices are certainly known for the first time in Buddhism.

Hindu temples doubtless owe much in their inception to Buddhism and proliferated into a great variety in structure, size and ornamentation. Temple buildings reached fresh heights in the Gupta period. The Agama Sastras naturally came into existence to formalise and regularise temples and worship in temples.

18a. So far as Southern India is concerned, in course of time by the 7th Century A.D. substantial temples in stones came to be constructed. The earliest well known Hindu temples in South India are those of Mahabalipuram in the Chingleput District.

The inscriptions show that they were hewn out of the living rock by the Pallavas in the 7th Century A.D. There has subsequently been a ceaseless building of temples by the warrior kings and noblemen and men and women of piety of all castes. It is enough to mention here that one type of shrine was built at graves. The connection with the graves is seen not only in the case of the temple of the village deities but in that of temples of certain Gods like Siva-Smasaneswara.

Shrines over and near the burial grounds called Palli-Padai are recorded in the inscription of the 9th Century A.D. at Selapuram in North Arcot Dt. recording that the Chola king Rasaditya caused a Siva temple to be built on the spot, where his father had been buried. Similar Inscriptions relate to Tondamanad in Chittoor Dt. and Cheleswara temple in Melpadi. We have already referred to the shrine of the 66 heroes who fell in battle. In South Arcot Dt. there are shrines in existence called Veerakkala commemorating the fallen village horses grappling with marauding tigers.

Over the tombs of saints shrines have also been built and Guru Poojas performed. It is quite true that notwithstanding the non-conformity with the Agama Sastras, by reason of long public worship they have become temples. But it has now become settled law so far as this State is concerned that a Samadhi by itself and not treated as a fitting object of public Hindu religious worship for over a long period does not evolve into a temple. Otherwise all of us can deify ourselves.

In Ratnavelu Mudaliar v. Commr. for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, a Bench of this Court had to consider whether an institution known as Apparswami Pagoda situated in Mylapore, is a temple. It is reputed to be the samadhi or tomb of one Apparswami. It attracted a concourse of worshippers and the building has got all the normal features of a temple in that it has got a Prakaram, Dhwajasthambam, Balipeetam and Nandikeswara, and there are shrines for Bhairavar, Kasi Visalaki, Chandikeswarar and other deities.

It has a 16 pillar mandapam and there are Gopurams all over the shrines. Festivals are being performed and the deity is taken in procession and Archanas are performed by the worshippers. The Bench held that on account of the fact that this institution for over a century at least had been regarded as a place of religious worship by the public entitled thereof as a matter of right, though the institution had its reputed origin in a Samadhi and continued to retain traces of its origin and Guru-pooja was performed in the precincts, the institutions would be a temple.

Reference was made in the judgment to the decision of Viswanatha Sastri J. in Ramaswami Servai v. Board of Commrs. for Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras, where on account of the long public religious worship what were originally memorials for heroes or martyrs had subsequently developed into temples and come to be recognised as temples. In Bodendraswami Mutt v. President of Board of Commrs. for Hindu Religious Endowments, it was held that a Samadhi of a holy man and a saint cannot ordinarily evolve into a temple for public religious worship and that the mere presence of idols of Gods, and recognised deities in the Matam round the Samadhi and the festivals which have grown up round such Samadhi inevitable in the case of all tombs of saints and great men in this country, would not bring it within the definition of a temple and that a Samadhi is not a temple.

We have already referred to the Supreme Court decision in which it was held that the dedication of property for worship at a tomb is not sanctioned by Shastraic practices and is not valid amongst Hindus. A number of decisions of this court were referred to with approval, viz, Kunhamutty v. Ahmad Musaliar, 68 Mad LJ 107 : (AIR 1935 Mad 28), A. Draiviasundaram Pillai v. Subramania Filial, 1945-1 Mad LJ 328 : (AIR 1945 Mad 217), Veluswami Goundan v. Dandapani, 1946-1 Mad LJ 354 : (AIR 1946 Mad 485), for the position that the building of a Samadhi or tomb over the remains of a person and the making of the provision for the performance of Gurupoojas and other ceremonies in connection with the same, cannot be recognised as charitable or religious purposes according to Hindu law.

18b. That the institution in question called Mathrubhutheswaraswami is only a Samadhi and not a temple is established by the facts of this case. It is admittedly the Samadhi of a Hindu Brahmin widow viz., the mother of Sri Ramana Maharshi. It is elementary that a South Indian Hindu brahmin widow is not entitled to Sanyasam. If support is required see Ex. A 28 and the deposition of P.W. 6.

If that lady who was the Baktha of her own son was not entitled to Sanyasam, she is certainly not entitled to Samadhi, since our Hindu Sastras require that she should be cremated. In fact the classical instance of the mother of the greatest Adi Sankaracharya can be remembered. That lady was a widow when her son wanted to become at very early age a Sanyasi and she would not give her consent which was necessary before a Brahmin can become a Sanyasi repudiating his obligations.

It is said that one day while bathing a crocodile caught hold of the young Sankaracharya and his mother when she begged piteously from the shores of the river for the freeing of her son, she was told by him that the crocodile would free him only if she allowed him to become a Bala Sanyasi. The mother agreed on one condition viz., that on her death her son should perform her last obsequies and cremate her and not leave her to the tender mercies of the hostile Nambudiri reversioners.

It is said that Sri Sankaracharya when the moment of his mother's death came to be known to him by his foresight, he managed to be at the spot and the cremation of the mother was done by him which normally he could not, having renounced the world, but for the promise made to his mother. So even Sri Ramana Maharshi could not confer Sanyasam on his deceased mother, in fact it must be said that he never thought of it even.

Such a Samadhi cannot be consecrated and Prana Prathishta done, which is essential for the installation of the idol. Otherwise, the Lingam would be a mere piece of stone and nothing else. It is only Prana Prathishta which makes it a living God a juristic entity, entitling it to be an object of gift. Then there is another provision in the will for the installation of a statue or image or symbol of Sri Ramana Maharshi himself and certainly it would be idle to contend that this would evolve into a public temple. It is also seen that along with this Brahmin widow laid to rest, a cow by name Lakshmi, a dog and a monkey also be buried there.

From the point of view of the Maharshi, who saw divinity in every thing, this is not bizarre, but certainly it would be outrageous to say that the burial place of the bipeds and quadrupeds would evolve into a public temple. In fact so far as Hindus are concerned, entering Rudra Bhumi causes pollution and has to be expiated by a bath and it need not be pointed out also that a burial place for cows, dogs and monkeys would certainly be considered by Hindus as being a sacrilegious adjunct to the temple. In fact even if deaths are to occur incidentally inside the premises there can be no worship until Samprokshanam is performed. Then only worship will be presumed.

19. In the circumstances of this case it cannot also be said that there has been a dedication exclusively to the Hindu public or a section thereof. In fact contrary to the notions of Hindus, Sri Ramana Maharshi, who was above all rules and restrictions and practices governing the lives of Hindus in the matter of religious worship, considered that the death of his mother did not cause any pollution. Similarly, the Bhagvan, universal in his outlook, threw open his Asramam to devotees of all religions.

This Asramam itself, as mentioned before, has been built by contributions given largely by non-Hindus. The oral evidence shows that persons of other religions came to pay homages at the shrines. It stands to common sense that there would not have been an exclusively Hindu shrine in the cosmopolitan Asramam, inconsistent with Sri Ramana Maharshi's teachings and life.

So, if there was a dedication, that dedication must have been to persons of all castes and creeds and not to the Hindus only or to any definite section thereof only. In fact, Ex. A. 12, the site plan of the Asramam, shows that the frontage is Sri Ramana's hall. This place was the magnet that attracted all the persons seeking self-realisation. It was in search of Bhagwan and the solace of peace that his presence gave that the devotees belonging to all castes and creeds came from all over the world.

It is significant that for the celebrations within the Asramam invitations were not sent to all and sundry. But a list of invitees was kept, who were the devotees of the Asramam. This is borne out by Ex A. 4, the deposition of Sri Ramana Maharshi (Ex. A. 18), the deposition of Mr. K. Sundaram Chettiar (Ex. A., 37), Ex. B. 16 (pages 1 and 284), Ex. A. 29 (page 152)and Ex. A. 32 (pages 28 and 29) and the admission of Mouni, the contestant in the proceedings, and the other witnesses in the earlier case.

20. To sum up, the Samadhi described as Mathrubhutheswara Swami is an adjunct to the Asramam and is certainly not the core around which the Asramam grew.

21. This can be tested from another angle also. The properties have been acquired only personally by Sri Ramana Maharshi. According to them, himself and his institution "Ramanashramam" are one entity; vide Exs. A. 1, A. 3 and A. 6, documents relating to the acquisition of property and also the admission of D.W. 4. The Asramam accounts show that the monies were brought into the Bhagwan's accounts and then disbursed. Ex. A. 4 recognises that the Bhagwan held properties as his own. The Bhagwan's will Ex. A. 5 came into effect on his Siddhi. Nothing transpired on his Siddhi or thereafter to convert these private properties into public properties excepting by being registered under the Societies Registration Act.

22. In fact, what has really happened is absolutely clear. The origin of the Shrine is a matter of yesterday's history. In this case we are fortunately in possession of information showing the circumstances under which the Samadhi came into existence and the other appanages were built around it from the Bhagwan's own mouth as well as of persons present at the foundation and construction. The remains of Sri Ramana Maharsbi's mother instead of being cremated were, by the devotees of Sri Ramana Maharshi, his brother and others, buried in a grave and a structure has been erected thereon and a Lingam, which has made available was installed thereon.

This is in accordance with the practice of honouring the dead prevalent among several sections of the people in Southern India and to which a more detailed reference will be made when we come to deal with the learned Government Pleader's arguments. As pious and charitable people contributed funds for the glorification of this Samadhi, more and more appanages were built around. This Samadhi however continues to be a part of the various other places which have been erected within the Asramam compound and the frontage of the shrines, as mentioned before, is the hall of the Bhagwan with a dais for him to sit upon.

Naturally, legends have grown up regarding what happened to the mother and her demise. These theological and philosophical aspects of what happened after the mother died do not constitute any solid basis for discussion especially in view of Sri Ramana Maharshi's own deposition Ex. A. 18 where there is no reference to any apotheosis of his mother. In Southern India it is the commonest thing that in announcing the death of elderly persons, it is generally stated that he or she has reached Sivapadam, or attained Mukthi or had become one with the divine.

In fact all the Brahmin ceremonies beginning from the tenth day and ending with the annual shradha are all directed towards the soul merging in the divine. But stripped of all these embellishments, the body of the deceased practically illiterate Brahmin widow whose only claim to fame was devoted service to her ati-ashramite son was nothing more than a simple corpse buried there and in fact the pooja is stated to be only for the Annai or mother. All the Ashramam publications inclusive of the Kumbabisheka Patrika, emphasise that the so-called temple enshrines the remains of the mother only.

23. In this connection we may refer to the following publications : Ex. B. 16 (1944 Edn) Self-realisation; Ex. A. 29 (1931) Edn. Self-realisation; Ex. B. 2 Kumbabisheka Patrika; Ex, A. 5 Sri Ramana Maharshl; Ex. B. 14 (1951) Tamil History of Sri Ramanashramam, Ex. A, 49 (1939) Sri Maharshi, Ex. A. 52 (1947) Sri Ramana Maharshi; and Ex. B. 15 (1951) Book on Sri Maharshi, in English. We may also refer to the oral evidence of persons present, viz, P.W. 4, Raju Sastri (whose deposition before the Deputy Commissioner is marked as Ex. A 28) and Sri Ramana Maharshi himself (Ex. A. 18).

24. The learned Government Pleader wants to get over this fact that the sanctum sanctorum enshrines only the mortal remains of Sri Ramana Maharshi's mother and constitutes nothing more than a Samadhi of recent origin and it could not certainly be stated to have evolved into a temple by three arguments, viz, (a) the extract from the Judgment or Varadachariar J., 1939-1 Mad LJ 134 : (AIR 1939 Mad 134); (b) the Samadhi contained all the indicia of a temple; and (c) the public worship is to the Sivalingam installed on the Samadhi, which is the deity and not to the Samadhi.

25. The following is that extract from the judgment of Varadachariar J. relied upon by the learned Government Pleader :

"That what the evidence in this case describes as taking place in connection with the institution is public worship can admit of no doubt. We think it is also religious. The test is not whether it conforms to any particular school of Agama Sastras; we think that the question must be decided with reference to the view of the class of people who take part in the worship. If they believe in its religious efficacy, in the sense that by such worship, they are making themselves the object of the bounty of some super-human power, it must be regarded as a religious worship".

26. In regard to the actions of a public temple, he relies upon the decision of this court set out in Paragraphs 33 to 45 of the decision in 68 Mad LW 260 (2) and add to these decisions the subsequent decisions in Ramanatha Iyer v. Board of Commrs. Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras, , Mahadeva Gurukkaly. Commissioner to the Board of Hindu Religious Endowments, Madras, 1956-1 Mad LJ 309 : (AIR 1956 Mad 522), Commissioner of H. R. and C. E. v. Kal-yanasundaram Mudaliar, 1957-2 Mad LJ 463, and Deoki Nandan v. Murlidhar, (S) .

(26a) We have already discussed the scope of the observations of Varadachariar J. about the possibility of having temples not governed by the Agama Sastras. But this does not mean that when according to the learned Government Pleader a public temple was constructed as per Agama Sastras, viz, with a Dwajasthamba, Prakaram, Balipeetam etc., we can consider as irrelevant the established Shastraic injunction against constructing a temple over the tomb of a Brahmin window not entitled to Sanyasa.

We cannot invoke the Agama Sastras for one purpose and ignore it for another purpose, in the teeth of the decisions of this court. Gopala Mooppanar v., Subramania Aiyar, 27 Mad LJ 253 : (AIR 1915 Mad 363) has laid down that Agama Sastras regulate the temple rituals etc. In 1946-1 Mad LJ 354: (AIR 1946 Mad 485) it was held that where a temple is only an adjunct to the tomb, a dedication of property for daily worship, Gurupooja and annual Annadhanam even though there is provision also for worship three times a day with offerings of Naivedyam etc. and a Sivalingam was kept and worshipped there, will be wholly unlawful and the gift invalid and it would not make it a temple and the Lingam would be regarded as an adjunct to the tomb. It is unnecessary to multiply other instances to show that such a Samadhi cannot evolve into a temple notwithstanding the rituals and appanages betokening the character of a temple.

27. The learned advocate Mr. T. M. Krishnaswami Aiyar points out: Sivalingam is an emblem of the omniscient and all-pervading God Entity. It is a matter of common faith that God lives in every human being and God living in the limitations of the human body is described as the Jivatma. It is ordained according to the Sastras and the aphorisms of the great sages that the object of every worthy life must be to bring about the unification of the Jivatma, the human life, with the Paramatma, the Universal life.

On the background of this faith, the achievement of a pure and purposed life is understood to be the union of the Jivatma and the Paramatma. Hence when a man dies, the remains of the body, wherever it is buried, are associated with the habitation of Jivatma which when it deserts the body is supposed to have coalesced with the Universal Paramatma, which is signified in the form of a Linga, which is being placed on the grave.

The graves of religious-minded Hindus of the Saivite class are found to be mounted with Sivalinga. The indication is that a Jiva whose physical body lies buried has attained its Mukthi or union with the God of the universe which is represented in the word of form and names and matter as Sivalinga. The installations of a Sivalinga on the graves of religious minded persons are not by themselves intended as dedications for worship of the Universal God Siva as He is described.

They are not constructions of temples to God but are resting places of a Soul which by its own goodness, the mercy of God and the pious good wishes of relatives and friends interested in its attainment of Heaven reach sayujyam. It means no more than this: "Here lies the remains of one whose life has united with the Lord". In fact, one has only to travel along the highway from Madras to Conjeevaram to see innumerable saliyar tanks with Sivalinga placed therein reverently tended with flowers, lamps etc., on either side of the road.

Similarly on the road side of the Nandavanam of Nadars around Virudhunagar. In the case of a Vaishnavite, more often than not, a Tulasi plant is nurtured over the grave. In the case of pious Christians the Cross or the figure of the Virgin or some patron saint or a symbol of the deceased is placed on the grave or tomb. The magnificent public cemeteries in Geneva, Florence and the tombs in the Church of Saint Peter at Rome are a few of the places where such symbols adorn the graves and are often the handiwork of the great Italian sculptors like Canoova, Michael Angelo etc. They do not become churches notwithstanding the saying of prayers over the tombs by the pious Catholics or daily services like placing flowers, lighting lamps etc.

28. The use and purpose of the symbol is twofold : (1) to set forth in visible or audible likeness what cannot really or fully be expressed to the physical eye or ear, or even clearly conceived by the limited faculties of the human mind. All language is in the last resort symbolic, and religious language in an especial degree, for it endeavours to present a mystery, a reality too deep for words. The Hindu faith had at its service a language of the utmost delicacy and flexibility, with a vigorous and fertile growth and an almost unlimited vocabulary and found itself in a world of tropical luxuriance, with a tropical wealth of beauty and suggestiveness.

It was not to be wondered at that it became profuse in type and symbol and laid under contribution all the facts and phenomena of nature to serve its religious and priestly ends. All the great Gods had their resemblances, animal or material forms, in which they presented themselves embodied to human sight, which served to recall to the worshipper the deity, whose mind and character they more or less inadequately reflected. Other more rare and refined symbols were presentative of qualities or attributes, a Lotus, the emblem of spotless purity preserved under the most unfriendly conditions. All idols, totems fetishes are symbols. The wise man does not worship the symbol, the shape in clay or wood or stone, but is thereby reminded of the invisible substance or reality which they each represent.

(2) The image or symbol serves the purpose also of providing in material and suitable form a convenient object of reverence, to meet the religious need of those whose minds, through darkness and ignorance, are unable to grasp the conception of an unseen formless deity. Such men, if left without a visible object to which their reverence and fear may attach themselves, will wander in a maze of doubt, disquiet and unbelief. It is better that they would worship erroneously, worship a thing, than that they should not worship at all. There is much that might be urged an favour of the Hindu view that regards the worship of the external symbol as a stepping-stone to higher, clearer forms of belief; it is a view unacknowledged perhaps but not unknown to other faiths. And in Hinduism, whatever may be said of or claimed by the wise and instructed thinker, the puja of the multitude to the image of the God is reverent and sincere. In some respect also and within definite limits the Indian contention has justified itself that the symbol has proved a signpost and a guide to better, higher thoughts and to a truer worship of Him whom no form can express or language describe. See Hastings, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. 12, p. 142).

29. For an exposition of the symbolism of Sivalinga, see pages 710 of Vol. 4 of Kalaikalanjiam published by the Tamizh Valarchi Kazhagham Sennai.

30. Therefore, as repeatedly decided in the decisions of this court, the Sivaligam is only an art adjunct to a tomb and it will not evolve the tomb into a temple.

31. The third point has already been discussed above and the mere fact that there are the appanages of a temple plus the front hall of Sri Ramana Maharshi, would not make this institution fall within the ambit of the cases set out above. A Samadhi of a Brahmin widow who died recently is a Samadhi and all the decisions of this court cannot make it into a Hindu temple wherein Hindus can congregate for the public religious worship as prescribed in the Sastras.

32. The net result of this analysis is that the institution under consideration is not a temple but is a religious public trust of a cosmopolitan character.

33. On that conclusion it follows that the issues have to be found as follows : under issue I that the Sri Mathrubhutheswarar shrine is not a temple within the meaning of Act XIX of 1951 and is only an adjunct of the Sri Ramanasramam, a public religious trust; under issue 2 that the orders in O. A. No. 58 of 1952 and App., No. 36 of 1953 are illegal and have to be set aside; and under issue 3 that it does not advise for consideration.

34. The decree and judgment of the learned Subordinate Judge are set aside and the suit is decreed for plaintiffs to the above extent. There will be no order for party and party costs in the circumstances of the case. The plaintiff will take their costs out of the estate.

35. Having come to the conclusion that the suit institution is a public religious trust and not a temple, we are also of the opinion that this is an eminently fit case where a scheme should be framed under Section 92 of the Civil Procedure Code. The learned Advocate T. M. Krishnaswami Aiyar for the appellants unhesitatingly shares our view. In fact the learned Advocate General who appeared in Court at our instances was also agreeable to the framing of a scheme provided we came to the conclusion that this is a public religious trust and, secondly, indicated our view as to the necessity for the framing of a scheme.

That if we came to the conclusion that the institution is not a temple as strenuously contended for by him but only a public religious trust, a scheme for the better management of the institution would be essential was not denied by the learned Government Pleader. Therefore, we direct that a copy of this judgment be forwarded to the learned Advocate General for his taking the requisite action at an early date in the light of the observations made above.

Anantanarayanan, J

36. I find myself in entire agreement with the conclusions of my learned brother in the judgment just delivered, which I had the advantage of study. I think that the question whether the suit institution is a "temple" within the scope and definition of Section 6(17) of the Madras Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act (XIX of 1951), which is the crucial issue before us, is one that cannot be satisfactorily determined if we are to leave out of account, particularly when we remember that the foundation or dedication is so recent, the life and ideas of the founder himself, and the unique circumtsances of the Case, as evident in the record.

As for the definition in Section 6(17) itself, I am unable to see how it can be construed and applied apart from the entire purpose of the legislation, or the scheme of the Act. I am in respectful agreement with the dictum of Balakrishna Aiyar J. in (W.P. No. 1054 of 1957 (Mad) ) that the Act itself is intended to apply only to religious institutions and endowments which are exclusively Hindu in character.

It is with this broad perspective that we must approach the individual question of fact. In such a view, the words "used the Hindu community or a section thereof, as a place of public religious worship" would be all important, in the definition. Clearly, we are not concerned here with a shrine, a place of worship, or by whatever other designation the place is known, which transcends Hindu credal categories altogether, or is non-Hindu in character.

37. When this is borne in mind, I do not think that the case law presents any peculiar difficulties. A Samadhi over one who comes to be regarded as of the illuminati, or even the tombs of heroes may evolve in course of time as a shrine of Hindu public religious worship. 1939-1 Mad LJ 134 : (AIR 1939 Mad 134) and relates to such instances. Nor is the existence or consecration of an idol, a prerequisite. But in all such cases, what must be essentially regarded, and never lost sight of, is the character of Hindu public religious worship evinced at such shrines, whether this has grown through the decades and attached itself to the institution, or whether it was the full-fledged purpose at the birth of the shrine. Where this is present and undeniable, it will not matter that the origin is unsastraic, that the temple evolved from a samadhi, though ordinarily this conception is not in harmony with Hindu concepts, as emphasised in or if the Agama Sastras had been adhered to or not.

In my view it is with this background that we should comprehend and appreciate the dicta of Varadachariar J. in 1939-1 Mad LJ 134 : (AIR 1939 Mad 134) to the effect that the test was not whether the foundation conformed to any particular school of Agama Sastras, or of Viswanatha Sastri J. in that it was sufficient that the worshippers considered themselves likely to be the recipients of the bounty or blessings of a Divine presence, which they believed to exist at the place. Divorced from their contexts, such observations ought not to be interpreted as supporting a theory or thesis which would be opposed to the very purpose and scheme of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Act.

38. But though Hinduism is a pervasive creed, with a genius for the assimilation of protestant movements which sprang up from its own field, where such movements still retain their individuality and character, they ought not to be confused with it. Thus, I do not think that it could be seriously maintained that a Jain or Buddhist temple is a "Hindu temple", though the founders of these creeds were Hindus conscious perhaps of a purificatory evangelism, but not of a mission to destroy the background of religion that gave them birth.

Equally I do not think that it could be justifiably argued that a meditation hall of a Theosophical Society, or the Durga of a Muslim Saint with characteristic appanages (Firs) is a "Hindu temple" within the scope of the definition, merely because the Hindus also worship there in public on certain occasions. We must remember that the core of Hinduism is tolerance of all creeds, and a tendency to bow the knee at the shrines of all faiths. Surely, the legislature never intended that shrines or places of congregation and prayer or meditation, essentially non-Hindu in purpose and spirit, should be assimilated to Hinduism, or to Hindu religious institution by a kind of legal fiction. That is not the purport of the Act at all.

39. Particularly in the case of this institution where the life and teachings of the founder are so recent, and still vividly available to us, it will be a great mistake to ignore these aspects, and to assume that this shrine was ever intended to be a Hindu temple by its founder, or that it has already evolved into this, because of certain insignia, or of ritualistic worship, or installation of a Sivalinga over the mortal remains of the mother of the Maharshi.

My learned brother has already referred to, and discussed, these facts which so startlingly belie the interpretation that this shrine was ever intended to be a place of Hindu public religious worship, or that it could be permitted to evolve into a Hindu temple, without desecration of the universal principles and of realisation transcending all creeds including Hinduism, for which the Maharshi stood: and which he expressed in his life. Certainly, these aspects which are definitely repugnant to Hindu notions of installation and worship ought not to be ignored, and this is no mere question of adherence to the Agama Sastras or perhaps unintentional and unknowing departures therefrom.

The Samadhi of a Brahmin widow, even if she was a most worthy and excellent person who gave birth to one who was surely among the Illuminati, cannot be consecrated ground according to the Sastras. Without Prana Pratishta, which spiritual descent cannot be invoked at such a place, there can be no idol; and the Linga installed can only be symbolic of a union (Sayujya), like the cross erected over a Christian tomb, as a symbol of redemption. The record is definitely against the interpretation that the Maharshi authorised the worship of his mother, as one who had attained realisation, a Mukta.

Certain words used by him support the interpretation on the contrary, that he considered all as Muktas, and even included the dumb creatures within the scope of his vast acceptance and affection. My learned brother has already referred to these facts which, if interpreted in the same mode, would authorise Hindu temple worship at the tomb of a cow or a pet monkey, which have equally found burial within the Ashram premises.

40. The Maharshi described himself as an Atiyasrami, literally one who has transcended the four Asramam of Hinduism, like Sukha or Jada Baratha. Thus, he could not even be described as a Sanyasi. His teaching was a method of introspection into the Centre of the self within each and all of us, the meditation "Who am I"? carried on with ceaseless vigilance until the dawn of a perfect awareness obliterates limitations.

Such a teaching had its exemplary origin in the silence of Avatar Dakshinamurthi, rather than even the most refined metaphysics of Advaita Vedanta. Everything else appears to have been a concession to human frailties round him, which he did not care to meet with opposition. The record shows that the Maharshi could not be described as having devotees, for he gave no Diksha (Initiation) and acknowledged none as a disciple.

He came away to Tiruvannamalai in his seventeenth year, penniless and friendless, and never accumulated wealth, personally speaking. He never married and had no family; even the provisions in his will relating to the continued management of the Shrine and Ashram after him by his Sanyasi brother Niranjanaudaswami (Sarvadhikari), and that line of descent, were clearly prompted by a concern to retain his abode at Tiruvannamalai as a spiritual centre, not for self-glorification or the security of dependants.

Are we to seriously accept the hypothesis that such a person desired to exclude a Muslim, European or Parsee attracted to his teachings, from his shrine? The Maharshi was perfectly aware of the normal postulates of Hinduism. He must have been aware that such a shrine of him over the Samadhi of his mother, with a statue of himself as another symbol of adoration in the same hall, could be no Hindu temple. He was not an iconoclast, intent on a revolutionary transformation of Hindu creeds or practices.

The probabilities are overwhelming that, as far as the founder's message, intentions and outlook are concerned, the Mathrubhuteswar shrine was not founded as a Hindu temple, but essentially as a public religious shrine or institution of a universal character. The evidence on record clearly establishes further that it is not a place of Hindu public religious worship, though the forms of puja or archana might be similar to those adopted in Hindu temples, but that it is a shrine in which all who are drawn to the Maharshi's teachings, whether Hindu, Christian, Parsee or Muslim, have equal rights of access and to the acquisition of spiritual benefit by prayer or meditation.

41. For these reasons, I concur in the judgment of my learned brother, and further fully endorsed his view that it is most desirable in the interests of the wider public that a scheme should be framed under Section 92 of the Civil Procedure Code for the better management of the shrine and the public trust or endowments relating thereto, conserving the universal spirit and character of this foundation so clearly expressed in the life and teachings of the founder. I agree that this appeal should be allowed.

* * *

The first and most important thing to note is that this decision emphatically removed the possibility that the HRCEB would end up running Ramanasramam. The judges accepted that Sri Ramanasramam met the requirements of a public religious trust and laid the framework for the constitution that governs the ashram to this day.

A scheme was subsequently drawn up under which Ramanasramam would be recognised as a public religious trust, governed by a board of trustees, with the president of Sri Ramanasramam being a permanent member. He was allowed to designate two more trustees, while the government was allowed to nominate two. The four nominated trustees had fixed terms of office. This arrangement enabled the ashram president (originally T. N. Venkataraman and latterly V. S. Ramanan) to run the ashram with a three-to-two voting majority on the board. It may not be exactly what Bhagavan envisaged when the will was signed in 1938, but in practice it has meant that his original wishes are being respected: the ashram properties are in trust, and they are managed by the descendents of Chinnaswami.

I remember speaking to Krishnaswami, chief attendant in the hall for most of the 1940s, in the 1980s. He told me he once broached the possibility with Bhagavan that the ashram might become a government-run trust after Bhagavan passed away. Krishnaswami was not a fan of Chinnaswami, and I think he was hoping his control of the ashram might lapse with Bhagavan’s passing away.

Bhagavan clearly did not want that to happen. He remarked, ‘Let those who have worked for it look after it. If outsiders come in, they will not care about the place so much, and they might use it to make money for themselves.’ This, unfortunately, is often what happens when outsiders are brought in as trustees to manage religious bodies in India.

I would take ‘those who have worked for it’ to mean Chinnaswami and his designated successors. Bhagavan’s ‘will’, in the general rather than the legal sense, has ultimately prevailed. The ashram remains open to all seekers who want to visit, and it has been managed since his mahasamadhi by the people whom Bhagavan designated in the 1930s.

The road to the final resolution of the case was a long and winding one. Bhagavan’s wishes on the future ownership of the ashram, expressed in his will, were considered by the Vellore judge to be legally unenforceable, and the ultimate battle was fought over what, to most devotees, were totally irrelevant issues: was the ashram a Hindu institution, and was the samadhi of Bhagavan’s mother a Hindu temple, and not just a samadhi?

The evidence that the ashram catered to all religious communities was well presented by the Ramanasramam lawyers. Accounts were produced which demonstrated that non-Hindus were major supporters of the ashram’s projects, and in a nice touch the appeal itself has the following four devotees listed as ‘aggrieved persons’:

S. S. Cohen [Jewish]
Framji Dorabji [Parsi]
Devaraja Mudaliar [Hindu]
Major Chadwick

I think Chadwick was listed to give the impression that there was also a Christian on the ‘aggrieved’ list, but at that stage of his life, he was more Hindu than most Hindus.

The question of who is and who is not a Hindu is one that has vexed both lawmakers and the leaders of Hindu spiritual movements. There are some who would maintain that one has to be born a Hindu, and that one cannot adopt it later on in life as a system of beliefs and practices. A caucasian foreign-born devotee of Bhagavan such as Chadwick would never be accepted as a Hindu by large swathes of the Hindu community, even though he devoted years of his life to promoting and preserving vedic traditions at Ramanasramam. I have spent thirty-five years in India associating with Hindu Gurus, practising their teachings, living in their ashrams and propagating their teachings, but that doesn’t make me a Hindu in most people’s eyes. In fact, I never claim to be one.

Years after the Ramanasramam court case was concluded, the Supreme Court of India grappled with the competing ideas of ‘Who is a Hindu?’ and came up with the following marvellous judgement:

In principle, Hinduism incorporates all forms of belief and worship without necessitating the selection or elimination of any. The Hindu is inclined to revere the divine in every manifestation, whatever it may be, and is doctrinally tolerant, leaving others – including both Hindus and non-Hindus – whatever creed and worship practices suit them best. A Hindu may embrace a non-Hindu religion without ceasing to be a Hindu, and since the Hindu is disposed to think synthetically and to regard other forms of worship, strange Gods, and divergent doctrines as inadequate rather than wrong or objectionable, he tends to believe that the highest powers complement each other for the well-being of the world and mankind. Few religious ideas are considered to be finally irreconcilable. The core religion does not even depend on the existence or non-existence of God or on whether there is one God or many. Since religious truth is said to transcend all verbal definition, it is not conceived in dogmatic terms. Hinduism is, then, both a civilisation and conglomerate of religions, with neither a beginning, a founder nor a central authority, hierarchy, or organisation.

This remarkably tolerant and catholic expression of what constitutes a Hindu formed part of a 1977 judgement. I read it in The Hindu newspaper in the early 80s, and was so impressed by it, I copied it out and had it reprinted in The Mountain Path when I was briefly its editor. Many years later I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Papaji had read this particular quote in The Mountain Path and taken the trouble to copy it out in one of his journals.

If one accepts this all-embracing definition, I would say that Ramanasramam is a Hindu institution, and that virtually all the devotees of Bhagavan who come here from abroad would qualify as Hindus. The quoted passage radiates the inclusiveness and tolerance that were hallmarks of Bhagavan’s life and teachings.

I am not qualified to comment on the other principal issue that the judges considered: is the building constructed over the samadhi of Bhagavan’s mother a temple as defined by Hindu law, or is it merely a samadhi? I can see from what the judges have written that the ultimate legal definition of this issue is determined by Hindu case law and agamic rules that I have no knowledge of. However, I will say that the two judges do appear to have derived their conclusion from the erroneous starting point that Bhagavan’s mother was merely a ‘brahmin widow’ and not a fully enlightened jnani.

Let us consider the sequence of events from the point of view of Bhagavan and his devotees. Bhagavan is accepted as a jnani by his devotees, and when his mother passed away he declared that she too had attained this rare and final state. He asked that she be buried in a way that is reserved for Saiva saints, in a specially constructed tomb whose specifications are laid out in a chapter of the Tirumandiram. Since she was not a sannyasin, this in itself indicated that she was not merely a brahmin widow. Years later Bhagavan ordered the construction of a vedic temple over her samadhi. The work took ten years and was done in accordance with the exacting standards laid down in the Vedas. To inaugurate the temple a kumbhabhishekam was performed, supervised by the Sankaracharya of Puri. Bhagavan was also in attendance. Vedic rites were performed there every day by qualified brahmin priests. Did this make it a temple? Not in the eyes of the judges.

There is a saying, ‘If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck’. It appears that one cannot apply this line of logic to buildings that appear to resemble temples, and which function in ways that are indistinguishable from ‘real’ temples.

If anyone is interested, I wrote an article in the early 1990s, entitled ‘The Evolution of the Mother’s Temple’, which chronicles the history of The Mother’s Temple and Bhagavan's intimate and prolonged association with it. It can be found at:

The sticking point for the judges appeared to be the spiritual status of Bhagavan’s mother at the time of her death. If she had simply been an unenlightened non-sannyasi brahmin widow, their conclusions are probably correct. But what if they had started from the premise that what Bhagavan said about her was true: that she was a fully enlightened being? What do the Agamas have to say about this? Are there any agamic experts reading this who would like to offer an opinion?

There are other factors that complicate this issue. Bhagavan’s mother was buried in a Hindu graveyard, traditionally a place where most vedic rites (including those done regularly at the Mother’s Temple) are not supposed to be performed. This created a problem for the Paramacharya of Kanchipuram, Chandrashekarendra Saraswati Swamigal. When the priests from Ramanasramam went to his math in Tiruvannamalai, they were told that they must have a purificatory bath before they would be allowed on the premises. The Sankaracharya had decreed that since Bhagavan’s mother was not a sannyasin, the structure over her body was not a temple. And since it was not a temple, it was still a Hindu graveyard, and anyone who went or worked there would need to take a purificatory bath after leaving it. This particular incident is narrated by Ra. Ganapati and can be found in an article he wrote entitled ‘The Maha-Svami and The Maharishi’. It appears online at:

In the same article Ra. Ganapati reports that the Paramacharya seemed to change his position once the kumbhabhishekam had been performed in 1949. Although he is a little vague on this topic, Ra. Ganapati gives the impression that the Paramacharya hinted that some part of the ceremony sanctified the Mother’s samadhi in such a way that it had become a temple which could be visited by the orthodox.

The Paramacharya fully accepted that Bhagavan was a jnani. Ra. Ganapati records this conversation in the same article:

He [the Paramacharya] went on, brimming with his admiration for the Maharishi.
‘We have read in the books about the Atma Nishthas (those absorbed in the Self), Brahma-Jnanis (knowers of Brahman) and Jivan-Muktas (those liberated even while living in the body), to whom the existence and extinction of the body made no difference and who, fully one (with the Self) did not have an inkling of desire to see or hear anything. Ramana Rishi was among the few extraordinary (apurva) persons of the recent times who have demonstrated all that as true. He is the one who has brought, for the world to see, the hoary Jnani-tradition down to the present day.’
‘Authentic saint?’ I said, partly in the affirmative, partly as a question.
‘And a jnani at that. Authentic jnani,’ he amended.

Though the Paramacharya fully accepted Bhagavan to be a jnani, there is nothing in his comments about Bhagavan and the Mother’s Temple that indicates that he regarded Bhagavan’s mother as a jnani. I find it a little odd that he accepted Bhagavan’s credentials as a jnani, but not his judgement on who else might be a jnani. The notion that only a jnani can determine who else is a jnani is not one that appeared to carry any weight in this situation. The Paramacharya seemed to derive his position from the same premise as the Madras judges – that Bhagavan’s mother was a non-sannyasi brahmin widow – and ended up in the same doctrinal place: that any building constructed over her body cannot be a temple.

I appealed earlier for expert agamic help. I make the same appeal again for vedic knowledge. If the Paramacharya had accepted that Bhagavan’s mother was a jnani, would that have enabled him to change his opinion on the status of the Mother’s Temple in the years prior to its kumbhabhishekam? According to the Vedas, could a jnani’s body in a graveyard have a temple constructed over it that could be visited and used by orthodox Hindus?

Ganapati Muni, an accomplished vedic scholar himself, fully accepted that Bhagavan’s Mother was enlightened and that she deserved the vedic worship that was bestowed on her samadhi. His disciple Kapali Sastri seemed to believe that it was the divine energy emanating from the Mother’s Temple that enabled Ramanasramam to expand the way it did in the decades that followed her passing away.

Ganapati Muni’s position on the status of the Mother and the propriety of the temple are probably derived from answers he received from Bhagavan himself. Ganapati Muni's wife Visalakshi, asked her husband to obtain answers from Bhagavan to the following two questions:

If obstacles confront women that abide in the Self, does the sastra sanction renouncing the home and becoming ascetics?

If a woman liberated while alive, happens to shed her body, what is the proper thing to do, cremation or burial?

Bhagavan: Since there is no prohibition in the sastra, there is nothing wrong in women abiding in the Self and, fully ripe, becoming sannyasis. As in mukti and jnana there is no difference between man and woman, the body of a woman liberated during life is not to be cremated, for it is a temple. (Sri Ramana Gita, chapter thirteen, verses 5, 6, 8, 9)

It should be noted that this was said several years before Bhagavan’s mother realised the Self. Kapali Sastri in his commentary on these verses (Sri Ramana Gita, p. 177) concedes that smrti 'prohibits the fourth stage of life for women' but concludes that Bhagavan's authority to decide this matter is paramount. He remarked that Visalakshi's question was asked 'fully knowing that the authority of Sri Maharshi's words is mightier than the Dharma Sastras'.

Bhagavan clearly disagreed with the consensus that was reached by the judges in the 1959 case by stating clearly that sannyasa was an option for spiritually mature women and furthermore, that it was perfectly correct to regard the buried body of a woman jnani as a temple. However, Bhagavan’s views appeared to carry no weight in this legal discussion.

T. K. Sundaresa Iyer, himself a student of Ganapati Muni, noted in an early issue of The Mountain Path (1965, p. 136):

Bhagavan was above formal orthodoxy or unorthodoxy. Whatever he did was orthodox because he did it, since he was higher than Manu and was himself the source of orthodoxy. People who failed to see that were putting the letter above the spirit.

What we have here is two different sources of authority clashing. The Sankaracharya didn’t recognise the sanctity of the Mother’s Temple because his ultimate rule book said there were too many irregularities going on there. Bhagavan’s devotees, on the other hand, recognised that the Mother’s Temple was a genuine temple because Bhagavan had given his imprimatur to the spiritual state of his mother, on the structure that was erected over her body, and the rites that were conducted there. The devotees (quite rightly in my opinion) accepted that their Guru, a jnani, had the authority to say what was and what was not acceptable in the spiritual world.

This view is nicely summarised in verse 96 of Sorupa Saram, a text I posted here a couple of months ago:

Question: What is proper conduct and what is prohibited conduct for jnanis?

Answer: Actions they undertake are proper conduct; actions they abandon are prohibited actions.

For the jnani who has become one, tranquil and blemishless, everything, beginning with space [and including the other elements] is his own form. The actions he abandons are prohibited actions, and the actions he takes up are proper actions.

The Madras judges and the Sankaracharya have given their own respective verdicts on what constitutes a Hindu temple. The arguments of the former were backed by Hindu case law and agamic rules, the latter by vedic tradition. But when Bhagavan said, ‘The body of a woman liberated during life is not to be cremated, for it is a temple,’ (Sri Ramana Gita 13.9) he was putting his authority behind a radically different idea about ‘What makes a Hindu temple a temple?’

Let us remind ourselves of what happened when Bhagavan’s mother realised the Self in her final moments at Skandashram. When someone commented ‘Mother has passed away,’ Bhagavan immediately interjected, ‘She did not pass away. She was absorbed.’ Here was the first public proclamation of her liberation.

Then, in a very telling comment, Bhagavan addressed the devotees who were with him, saying, ‘We can eat. Come on; there is no pollution.’ (Self-Realization, p. 129, 1993 ed.)

Ordinarily, coming into contact with a dead body, or just being near it, puts one in a state of ritual impurity. Before one resumes one’s other activities, one needs to take a bath. In this case, though, Bhagavan said that, though dead, the mother’s body could not be a source of pollution. Why? Because her liberation had transformed her body into a temple.

The body of Bhagavan’s mother was carried down the hill and interred the following morning. The site where she was buried did not ‘become’ a temple by having a building erected over it, or by having a kumbhabhishekam performed there. It was a temple from day one because it contained the physical remains of a mukta.

According to Bhagavan, the mother’s body was not a source of pollution (as the judges and the Sankaracharya claimed); it was a temple in itself. It follows from this that the building which was subsequently erected over it was a geographical extension of the original body-temple in much the same way that the outer courtyards of a big temple merely extend the physical boundaries of the sacred terrain.

If one accepts Bhagavan's verdict on the sanctity of a mukta's body, then one might take exception to an assumption that is made in
Justice Ramaswami’s written judgement:

…it would be outrageous to say that the burial place of the bipeds and quadrupeds would evolve into a public temple. In fact so far as Hindus are concerned, entering Rudra Bhumi causes pollution and has to be expiated by a bath and it need not be pointed out also that a burial place for cows, dogs and monkeys would certainly be considered by Hindus as being a sacrilegious adjunct to the temple.

This may be the traditional scriptural view, but I, for one, would not consider it ‘sacrilegious’ if the authorities at Ramanasramam decided one day to erect a temple over the remains of cow Lakshmi. I accept Bhagavan’s judgement that she attained liberation shortly before she passed away, and this means (in my inexpert opinion) that her qualifications to have a temple erected over her remains are the same as those of Bhagavan’s mother.

There is one other aspect of this appeal case that particularly intrigues me: the junior member of the two-judge bench, Justice M. Anantanarayanan, had a strong connection with Bhagavan and by extension Sri Ramanasramam, which was one of the parties to the case. Four years before he made this concurring judgement he had made a free rendering of Upadesa Undiyar (Upadesa Saram in Sanskrit), wrote a commentary on it, and had it published by Sri Ramanasramam under the title The Quintessence of Wisdom. The book had a brief foreword by Dr S. Radhakrishnan, who was Vice-President of India when the book was first published in 1955. This is what Anantanarayanan’s son, A. Madhavan, wrote about his father’s connection with Bhagavan in an online memoir ( that was published to commemorate Anantanarayanan’s birth centenary:

Appa’s [Anantanarayanan’s] next [judicial] posting, also at the same stagnant level, was to Vellore in North Arcot district, only a couple of hours by train or car from Madras. He varied his routine by visiting Tiruvannamalai, where Ramana, the great rishi lived and died. Appa had met Ramana and talked to him. The teachings and conversation of the sage had a deep influence on Appa’s mystical aspirations. We heard at home the basic question which Ramana wished everyone to reflect upon: ‘Who am I?’ It was here that Appa began his translation of Ramana’s ‘Thirty Verses’ from Tamil to English, with his own commentary and introduction. It was different from the usual run of books on Ramana, suffused by his reading of the Western philosophers. It was the first book he published.

Anantanarayanan’s connection with Bhagavan led him to the writings of Muruganar and Sadhu Om. He wrote an introduction to Sri Ramana Anubhuti, one of Muruganar’s books of devotional poetry; he wrote another introduction to the first Tamil edition of Sadhu Om’s The Path of Sri Ramana, and encouraged him to bring out an English edition of the book; he also actively encouraged Sadhu Om in his editing of Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham, the nine-volume series of Muruganar’s poetry that was published in installments throughout the 1980s and 90s. Though he does not appear to have written about his personal connection with Bhagavan, he gave occasional public talks on Bhagavan and Muruganar in the 1950s and 60s. He eventually became the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, a position he retired from in 1963.

M. Anantanarayanan, sometime in the 1940s

Now I am not suggesting that his connection with Bhagavan biased him in favour of the legal arguments of Sri Ramanasramam, but I am wondering what the rules are in India about judges who find themselves presiding over cases in which they have a strong personal interest. If there are any lawyers reading this, I should like to know how close a judge needs to be to a party in an appeal case in India before he or she is obliged to recuse himself (or herself) from presiding over the case.

T. N. Venkataraman, the president of Sri Ramanasramam while this court case was going on, did actually think that having Anantanarayanan on the bench would give him an advantage. I mentioned early on in this post that I would explain later why there was such a delay between the 1954 judgement in Vellore and the appeal that overturned it in 1959. Sadhu Om, who was intimately involved in the ashram’s affairs in the 1950s, told some of his devotees that the president was so uncertain about the outcome of the case, he repeatedly asked for and obtained six-month postponements to the appeal. However, when he heard in 1959 that Anantanarayanan would be on the bench for the appeal, he decided to go ahead on the assumption that he would never have a better chance of winning the case.

There is one other amusing Sadhu Om anecdote from this era. Sri Ramanasramam knew that the HRCEB would attempt to prove that the Mother’s Temple was, in fact, a temple under the legal definition of the term. Sri Ramanasramam had always maintained that the building over the Mother’s samadhi was a temple, but while the court case was pending, it tried very hard to pretend otherwise. In the early 1980s Sadhu Om recalled that he had been employed by Ramanasramam in the mid-1950s to perform the rather quixotic task of going through all the ashram’s Tamil publications to prepare new editions of the works that would have the phrase ‘Mother’s Stone Building’ replacing the original term ‘Mother’s Temple’. I don’t know if these revised Tamil editions of Ramanasramam publications were ever printed. If anyone out there has a 1950s ashram book in Tamil that repeatedly mentions the ‘Mother’s Stone Building’, do let me know. It’s a wonderful story, and I would like to back it up with some hard evidence.

There is one final story about Anantanarayanan that I would like to include. It has absolutely nothing to do with this court case, but it is so irresistibly entertaining, I cannot avoid the temptation of including it.

In 1959 Anantanarayanan wrote a novel entitled The Silver Pilgrimage and found a publisher for it in New York. This publisher managed to get the book reviewed in The New York Times. There, the review came to the attention of John Updike, the famous American novelist. Though he never read the book, he immediately became captivated by Anantanarayanan’s name and promptly wrote a poem about it.

I Missed His Book, But I Read His Name
by John Updike (1932-2009)

Though authors are a dreadful clan,
To be avoided if you can,
I’d like to meet the Indian,
M. Anantanarayanan.
I picture him as short and tan.
We’d meet, perhaps, in Hindustan.
I’d say, with admirable elan,
“Ah, Anantanarayanan –
I’ve heard of you. The Times once ran
A notice on your novel, an
Unusual tale of God and Man.”
And Anantanarayanan
would seat me on a lush divan
And read his name – that sumptuous span
Of “a’s” and “n’s” more lovely than
“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan” –
Aloud to me all day. I plan
Henceforth to be an ardent fan
of Anantanarayanan –
M. Anantanarayanan.

The poem was published in Telegraph Poles, and appeared later in a volume of Updike’s selected verse.


Subramanian. R said...

Dear David,

The whole story is mind
boggling, like a Harry Potter
novel, but in the other extreme
sense of fear/suspense,
a la Agatha Christie.
People say "Law is an ass." In a
way, it is a terrible ass, which can kick humble, docile people with all its four legs.

I remember Sri Bhagavan telling,
"Do you think this is all going
to be over with this? [i.e. the
will where He put a two horizontal
strokes as signature]. How true
His words were!

I am not sure, whether it was
during the pendency of this case,
or later, that Kanchi Paramacharya
was also telling that there is a
Stree-Samadhi in Ramanashram and priests should not go and do pujas there, as it is prohibited, as per sastras. As Krishna Bhikshu said, Sri Bhagavan was beyond orthodoxy and unorthodoxy, beyond Manu and his codes, and law does not comprehend such a great Jnani and
makes out rules for such cases.
Because law is an ass and not a Jnani.

I would read this post once again
and realize how much of mental tension it might have given for
Sri V.S. Ramanan and devotees of
Sri Bhagavan at that time.


Ravi said...

"I find it a little odd that he accepted Bhagavan’s credentials as a jnani, but not his judgement on who else might be a jnani."
I will comment in detail a little later.For the moment I will just say that there is nothing at all odd in this.
The paramacharya ,himself a Jnani is not one to be swayed by expediency(court case pending,etc)or credentials of a person(Be he a Jnani or otherwise).The Acharya would have gone srictly by the Sastraic injunction.
When did Sri Bhagavan's mother become a Jnani?!Sri Bhagavan only said hat she had attained Mukti.
More Later.

Anonymous said...

Sometime in 1946-47, news was received to the effect
that the Mounaswami of Courtallam had attained samadhi
(final beatitude). On hearing it, Bhagavan told us about some
incident relating to him and his good nature. A new devotee
enquired, “Who is that swami actually? People say he is an
Andhra. Is that a fact?” Bhagavan replied, “Yes, yes, he is an
Andhra. His name in his purvashrama (the stage of life before
taking to sannyasa) was Sivayya. When he first came to see
Recollections of Sri Ramanasramam 711
me, I was in the Virupaksha Cave. Thereafter he came off
and on; quite a number of times I should think. Later on he
took to sannyasa, went to the south on a pilgrimage, reached
Courtallam in due course and then became a big swamiji.
He established a peetam (a monastery with temple) there.”
Rajagopala Iyer said, “He is reported to have acquired many
siddhis (occult powers). Is that a fact?” “Yes, It seems he was
making gold and showing it to others,” said another devotee.
Bhagavan kept quiet even though he was hearing all that
was being said.
For some days thereafter devotees continued
discussing the same matter amongst themselves in the
presence of Bhagavan. One day, a devotee remarked, “It
seems disputes have arisen over the ownership and control
of the peetam and its properties in Courtallam.” Another
devotee replied, “Yes, Yes. Disputes have arisen. It seems
the deceased swami made out a Will saying that only an
Andhra Niyogi brahmin should succeed as mathadhipathi (the
head of the peetam). The Tamilians disputed it saying, ‘After
all it was we Tamilians who have donated the properties to
the peetam and so we should have the right to decide about
the succession.’ The matter has gone to court.” “What! to
the court?” exclaimed Rajagopala Iyer and looking at
Bhagavan, said, “This matter has gone to court even though
there is a Will!” With a smile Bhagavan said, “Yes. It is so.
What else will happen if property is accumulated? Why?
Will not this also (meaning the Ramana Ashram) go to
court?” Folding his hands with great humility, Iyer
remarked, “We have a Will, don’t we?” “Yes sir, Yes. There
is a Will. First Chinnaswami, then Venkattu and thereafter
Sundaram, and so on, should manage according to the Will.
What of that? Will not this too go to court?” So saying
Bhagavan resumed silence.


David Godman said...

I posted this at about 9 a.m. this morning. Around midday I found a few extra thoughts and opinions forming in my mind. I have therefore added a few paragraphs. They have been inserted after the quotation from Sorupa Saram.


I agree that the Sankaracharya was just 'doing his job' when he made the pronouncements on the sanctity of the Mother's Temple. Bhagavan said this himself in the Ra. Ganapati article I linked to. I am sure that he interpreted the rules in the correct way. However, since Bhagavan was not constrained by these rules, he was able to put his support behind the Mother's Temple in all the phases of its development.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear David,

This incidentally reminds me
of one more anecdote. Kanchi
Paramacharya had visited
Tiruvanamalai while Sri Bhagavan
was in body and he was giving
evening discourses, perhaps in
the Temple. Some devotees attended
and then came back to Sri Bhagavan and said: Bhagavan! Paramacharya is
speaking only about karmas etc., He
does not cover anything on Jnana.
The devotees were looking at Sri
Bhagavan anxiously. Sri Bhagavan
replied: "Had I been in his position, I would have also done
the same thing." A Matathipati
has a role in the scheme of Hinduism. A Brahma Jnani has an
altogether different role in the
same scheme of things.


Ravi said...

I will try to get hold of the 8 Volume set of 'Deivathin kural'-Voice of Divinity and try to dig out relevant aspects regarding the samAdhi vs temple aspects and the sastraic position.
"I agree that the Sankaracharya was just 'doing his job' "-This needs to be correctly understood that this job is not anything 'personal' or governed by 'head of a mutt'.Here is an excerpt from 'Voice of Divinity' where the MahAswami explains succinctly the Role of an AchArya viz a viz a Guru.
"This silence is our natural state. We having lost our real self, are stuck in unnatural endevours and exploits. They call it Maya. Then we are told that Maya is Ambal! The same Ambal comes as the Gnaanambigai or Guru and nurture us back to Gnaanam from nescience. She excels in variety. You take anything in nature and look at the infinite variety that is there! For example, take animals, birds, insects, human forms and flowers. Simply take one variety the flower and see what variations in colour, shapes, shades, fragrances and sizes are there in them!
64. Take the human mind and see the variety there. To suit each of them you need a different Guru. That is why you have teachers, tutors, trainers, lecturers, professors, readers, deans, upaadhyaya-s, aacharya-s, guru-s, gnaana guru-s and satguru-s. The list is endless. As many traditions are there, each tradition with many variations in speech, arguments, words and actions; there are guru-s to suit the disciple, than the other way around. But the truth is one and so inherently the real Guru is one only. The Guru that removes the darkness of nescience and spreads the light of Atma Gnaana, in what ever form is God!
65. So in essence what I have said is that, the very person who gives us Gnaana is called in the two names of Guru or Acharya. By the inner weight of a person's greatness, we call him Guru. The outer behaviour, education, knowledge, instructional ability are the qualities based on which we call someone Acharya. One is beyond the parameters of any system and the other is within systemic tradition. One causes the change in you just by a glance or touch or thought. The other guides you in the right direction through the behavioral constraints of traditions and scriptures."


Ravi said...

kAnchi mahAswAmi on The AchArya and The Guru continued...
"Thus though we talk of them as different beings, the Acharya if he is fully capable, will also be a Guru. That is, inwardly he will be beyond all rules, regulations and systems; individually he would be one to have had personal experience of divinity capable of erasing the disciple's ignorance. Simultaneously, he will be living as a role model of disciplined behaviour. All our Acharya-s of each and every tradition in India, in the Hindu Religion have been intrinsically a Guru also. Since only a small percentage of the disciples are likely to be so matured as to attain to the absolute by the slightest glance or touch or thought of the Guru; for most of the disciples, he is likely to be an Acharyar only! If we correctly understand the situation, we should note that no one can play-act greatness without being so!
67. Discipline as a binding is like the egg shell. That is, the feeling that one is bound by those restrictions, is the covering only. If someone is living exactly as per the dictates of 'good-behaviour-Do's and Don't's', he is not an Acharya but only a disciple! When the control is not imposed from the outside but inherent from within, then only the beauty of such a life becomes a source of inspiration for all. When discipline is a natural inclination and a free choice, instead of being a compulsory force from outside, then and only then, it leads to the finest expressions in the fine arts of painting, music, sculpture and the art of Instructional ability too.
68. Till discipline is forced on us, we are only students, disciples or Sishya-s. As time goes on, what we initially did under compulsion, becomes our second nature. When thus discipline becomes a natural intelligent choice, the individual imbibes in himself such leadership qualities capable of motivating others. When he instructs others from that position, it touches the core of the disciple's hearts to cause emulation!"


Ravi said...

kAnchi mahAswAmi on the AchArya and the guru continued...
" In times long past, 'Anushtaanam' (the fact whether the teacher practices what he preaches), was very much a matter of everyone's concern, especially that of the student. More than even the student, the Acharya was very keen that there should be no smear or smudge in his attitude and behaviour even seemingly! This 'Anushtaanam' is also not the be all and end all! There is another place where this 'Anushtaanam' gets completed. That is Anubhava or Swanubuti, meaning personal experience. When this happens, good behaviour becomes automatic! When knowledge fructifies in to personal awareness of the truth of what one is teaching, that person is on the 'auto-mode'! Knowledge becomes firm on the basis of Anushtana. Anushtana in turn rests on the foundation of intrinsic experience.
71. Guru is one who has gone through the whole process from scratch to completeness. The distinction that Acharya is the practicing yet to be Guru and Guru is the fully experienced; is all not very correct. Till you experience the truth, you are still a transient. It all comes down to the fact that the true Acharya is one who having become fully experienced, continues to be the practicing demonstrator. So the inner Guru is the outer Acharya. For the sake of the disciples, so as to bring them under discipline, he lives as a role model. Keeping absolute silence inwardly, he preaches a lot outwardly!
72. Guru and Acharya are one and the same. If he is a true Acharya, he cannot but be a Guru too. When we do not know either way, we were looking at both of them as one. Then I started telling you that there are some points of differences and described those differences. Having gone to the depth of the matter, now I am confirming to you that both are one and the same. The differences in them rather depends upon our level of understanding and maturity!
73. From olden times these two words have been used as synonyms. In the Upanishad-s considered as the ‘Veda Siras and Veda Antam’, that is the head as well as the end of the Veda-s, it says, “Acharya Devo Bhava”. It also says that the disciple should give the Acharya, the type of ‘Dakshina’ that he loves. It also says that the disciple who is ‘Acharyavaan’ that is totally devoted to his Acharya, will be the one who will eventually get Gnaana. Having said so, when it comes to living with the Acharya, it is Guru Kula Vasam and not Acharya Kula Vasam!"

Subramanian. R said...

Dear Ravi,

You were asking when Sri Bhagavan's
Mother Azhgagamma became a Jnani?
This is a question that no one
can answer excepting Sri Bhagavan.
Sri Bhagavan kept her under His
probation for 6 years keeping her
desires restrained/nullified, and developed her internal renunciation in these
years. She was made to ignore the
unscientific acharams, madis etc.,
She also started chanting and contemplating on Vedanta songs
like those of Avudai Akka and started treating even non brahmin
devotees like Kunju Swami as her sons. When some coolies came for
food in Skandasramam and since Mother had not taken food by that time, she was hesitant to feed them. Sri Bhagavan called her and said: What do you think these people are? They are Arunachala Swarupam. Mother saw them as Arunachala Swarupam and quietly brought the food to serve them. She also at some point of time started wearing ochre colored sarees. Of course, what is more important is internal renunciation and this was achieve by her through her own son's guidance. One can safely presume that she had become a Jnani at that point of time.

No doubt vasanas were there still. Like Jadabharata, who even after becoming a Jnani showed undue love and affection for a deer. These vasanas were quickly played and the screen became empty when Sri Bhagavan touched her head and chest with His hands and made her go through this as scenes in a cinema and then finally the breath that was inhaled became quiescent in the Heart.

The question raised was whether a lady and that too a widow can become a sannyasi. As per sastras No. As per Sri Bhagavan Yes.


Ravi said...

"There is Guru Kula Vaasam. We have never heard of Acharya Kula Vaasam! The day of expressing gratitude to one’s preceptor is ‘Guru Poornima’. The lineage of Vyasacharya, Sukhacharya, Gouda Paada Acharya, Govinda Paada Acharya, Sankaracharya, Sureshwaracharya and Thotakacharya; together are known as ‘Guru Parampara’ only. Similarly paying obeisance to the lineage after Ramanujacharya or Vallabhacharya or Madhvacharya; are also known as ‘Guru Vandanam’ only.
75. The old customs and traditions of the Tamil language and culture very closely follow the Vedik methods. So, the dictates of the Veda such as, “matru devo bhava, pitru devo bhava, acharya devo bhava”, gets reflected in ‘mata pita guru deivam’. Here too, the word ‘Guru’ replaces the word ‘Acharya’. In the tradition of Saiva Siddhantam too, their lineage of preceptors are known as, Meikandacharyar, Samayacharyar, Sandanacharyar, Sivacharyar and so on. Their rememberance day Aaradana is called ‘Guru Pooja’.
76. So, instead of being in a state of attachment and involvement, like the rest of us, Guru is someone in a state of absolute freedom like a bird of paradise! For our sake, so as to motivate and encourage us to follow a life of discipline, he leads the life of a role model to be emulated. We should look at Guru as an incarnation of the God and adore him. That reverence will give us faster results. Since it is God who is everything, in the form of Acharya and Guru too, it is God only. So there should be no problem in looking at the Guru as an incarnation of God!
77. From that perspective, the question arises, "Are we also not the same God?" That leads to, "When we are ourselves God, why should we be subservient to somebody else, thinking of him to be God?" Yes everyone and every thing is God! But, how many of us are truely aware of our Godlyhood? Even if we were fractionally aware, will we be slave to so much of, passion, greed, anger, hate fear, untruth and falsehood? So though we are all Him only, unaware of our greatness, we seem to be play acting only the minor roles! We are blind to our true being and are totally unrecognizable. Acharyar on the other hand is not play acting the joker's role! "


Ravi said...

". In him Godliness is easily recognizable. So, if we rever and adore him as a form of God, we will eventually get rid of the unwanted qualities and characteristics in ourselves. The very Easwara who play acts all these roles, comes infront of us as the Guru to cleanse ourselves of all the dross. If we understand this much and be devoted, he will remove all the make-up and reveal the truth to us. Reveal Himself to us! Then and only then will we be cleansed of our foolishness and made to realize our oneness with Him! To reach that destination, all that we have to do, is to think of the Guru as God and abide with his instructions!
Adopt the Customs and Traditions to which Born.
79. Saastraa-s say that, "our birth is decided by our own past actions by inviolable and interconnected set of rules of nature, that is God!" So if we are born in any religion of any tradition, we should think that as His Decision (by our actions of the past). Having accepted that, we should try to remove the Karma by refining and ennobling ourselves. For this all that we have to do is to follow the advice, "While in Rome do as Romans do"! Abide with the instructions of the Aacharyar in the Kulam or Gothram to which born. There will be an Acharyar, if you belong to Adwaitam or Dwaitam or Visishtadwaitam or Saivam. There will be a Monk or Pastor or Mullah or Rabbi or a Woodoo Priest; if you were born in any one of those religions! It makes no difference if the concepts and principles of them were somewhat lacking in refinement in your opinion. All that you are required to do is accept those as 'God given' and abide by them.
80. See the beauty of it all! You are born in that due to some deficiency in your past actions. Accept your birth as God's own direction and that very religion which you think is not good enough will do the needful to make you complete! There will be a preceptor in that religion. Simply but sincerely follow his instructions and advice. Have complete faith in God and say, "Oh! God! You have given me this life in this tradition. I follow this Acharyar. Decision is all Yours!" Leaving everything in the hands of the very competent and capable hands of the God, do as Acharyar tells you to do. Once you have the trust, belief and faith that Acharyar is God in human form, He will never let you down. Upanishad Santi Pata Krama, says exactly this. Once you surrender to any Acharya / Guru / Preceptor, thinking of him as God only, it is as good as having surrendered to God. The effect is the same.
81. "yo brhmaanam vidadaati poorvam - yo vai vedaascha prahinoti tasmai I tam ha devam aatma buddhi prakaasam - mumuktchur vai saranam aham prapadye. II" This means, 'The one who created Brhma and gave Him the Veda-s that God of Gods is the one who makes our minds and intelligence shine. Having decided to follow the path of liberation from all limitations, I surrender unto that God'.
82. If we do not submit ourselves to any system, by our own selves, we are bound to create more chaos and confusion. Such brilliant self righteous characters do more harm than is done by all the fools put together. Our Acharyal(sri Sankara-ravi) says so in 'Upadesa Manjari', that those who do not follow any system are worse than idiots! For Gnaanam, more than bookish knowledge, devotion to one's Guru is what is essential!"
We need to recognize the fact that mahAswami is not adressing a few individuals who may be exceptions and may have found succour in 'Other systems' but the mass of people in General.We need to recall that there were many western Devotees of mahAswami as well and some like Paul Brunton who were directed to appropriate Gurus by the MhAswAmi.


Subramanian. R said...

Dear Ravi,

I agree with you as per your
last paragraph. Mahaswami
was addressing a mass of
individuals who have to go through
chitta suddhi and then take up
householdership, vanaprastha and then sannyasa as per the rule laid
down. As you have correctly said that there could be exceptions as in the case of Sri Bhagavan who was a Jnani, through ati-varnasramama. That is why
Mahaswami directed Paul Brunton
and others to Sri Bhagavan because
people like him, cannot go through
the asrama dharma as per Hindu sastras.


Ravi said...

"The question raised was whether a lady and that too a widow can become a sannyasi. As per sastras No. As per Sri Bhagavan Yes."
You have talked about Sri Bhagavan asking his mother to give up unscientificAchAram-We will talk about that later.yes,every sadhaka will progress in his/her way by sheer satsangh with the Guru.This in no way establishesthat he or she is a Jnani or ajnAni.As for Sri Bhagavan such a distinction does not exist!
We need to view these things dispassionately and not just swayed by mere sentimental attachments.
Coming to the question of a Widow and sanyAsam-This needs to be clearly Stated.We are talking about 'sanYasam' and 'Widow' and specifically Hindu widow.
Now arises the interesting position whether Sri Bhagavan is "Hindu".If we take the position that he is not 'Hindu',then obviously his position that 'Hindu Widows can take Sanyasam' is untenable.If we take the position that Sri Bhagavan is part of the Hindu Tradition(There are sufficient grounds to consider this as well!),then the question arises that when Sri Bhagavan did not consider 'SannyAsa' as necessary for even men,where is the question of his recommending or even advocating the same for women and still less a widow!
Let us have a relook at what sri Bhagavan has said-"Since there is no prohibition in the sastra, there is nothing wrong in women abiding in the Self and, fully ripe, becoming sannyasis."
Where does he talk about 'Widow'?Where does he go against sastra?

We also need to remember that the Sastra is not as inflexible as all that!For every rule,there are always exceptions.The same Kanchi mahaswami who upholds adherence to SastrAic way of life made an exception to the sanyasa of andavan pitchi!David has a post on this Blog.
The Real position is that we have a smattering knowledge of the sastras and glibly dismiss them as a bundle of superstitious outgrowth,which they are not!Like the Various Standards like ISO,CMMI,PCMM the sastras have evolved over a period of time as a Body of systemmic Knowledge and they have their place in the spiritual as well as Material wellbeing of not just mankind but all forms of Life(in this world and the Next!)and the environment.These Standards ensure that the 'outcomes' do not depend on a few Brilliant and endowed individuals but something that can be adapted as a Blueprint and adopted by the masses as a whole for the collective good.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear Ravi,

Your question was whether Mother
Azhagammma was a Jnani. For
this, I have said how Sri Bhagavan
made her under His probation
period of 6 months, to look at
everyone as equal and also treat
everyone as the Self, without
discriminating coolies, non brahmins like Kunju Swami, and her knowledge of some Vedanta songs etc., I also said no one can say whether another person is a Jnani or not unlike he himself is a Jnani. [Bhagavan has said about this in some conversations in Talks.]

I also said that Jnanis can also
have certain uncleared vasanas
and I gave the example of Jada

What came up for discussion from
David's original post was whether
a Stree can have a samadhi or not.
Why not? Samadhi is constructed
only for a man or a woman who has
attained Jnana Bodham and then left his or her mortal coil. Where the difference comes between a
woman and a man? For that matter,
even Echammal and Mudaliar Patti
were also widows.

The other details I gave were only to highlight that Mother also took up wearing ochre sarees etc., These, I know, are only externals and Sri Bhagavan did not give much importance to them. But one thing is, He did not permit anyone to wear Ochre robes [without attaining true internal renunciation] excepting Akhilandamma. In the same way,
He did not object to His mother wearing ochre sarees at some point of time in Skandasramam.
That only means that He was satisfied with her internal


Ravi said...

You have raised a whole lot of related and unrelated subject/events for discussion.I will take it up later when I find time and am inclined to reply!

Anonymous said...


my humble submissions,
a - the Mahaswami of Kanchi is a mirror image of Bhagavan
b - both are Parabrahma Swaroopam

my questions,
1 - have you seen the Mahaswami?
2 - have you researched Him as much as you have learned about Bhagavan?

R p

Ravi said...

Coming to women Jnanis,we have temples dedicated to nAchiyAr(the Glorious AndAl)and kAraikAl ammaiyar,so why worry whether samadhi is permissible for women jnAnis.Sastras have permitted these temples!
Please visit:
More later!

S. said...

salutations to all:

if am not wrong, david's question was on whether the judges and paramAchArya would have treated the temple as a "temple" if it had had been built on the remains of a jnAnI in a smashAnam; i.e., does the 'pollution' of a smashAnam cease to be if it comprises a samAdhi of a jnAnI, which now is recognised as a 'temple'? are kAraikkAl ammaiyAr's or AnDAL's or sadAsiva brahmendra's or rAghavendra's samAdhis etc., built within a hitherto graveyard?

i didn't understand what subramanian meant by ["...I also said that Jnanis can also have certain uncleared vasanas ..."]! - unlike the popular expression of a 'bhakta' used for all & sundry, i suppose nearly everyone employs the word 'jnAnI' only for those who are jIvanmuktas (how does an ajnAnI know someone as a jnAnI is a different question). so long as one has the least trace of any vAsanA, one isn't a jnAnI, for to be a jnAnI is to abide in the self, isn't it? if manonAsha is a pre-requisite, how can even momentary flashes of the self entail someone to be a jnAnI?

Ravi said...

Here is an excerpt from the Talks of Kanchi mahAswami(Deivathin Kural)that refers to the 'Preta SamskAram'-that deals with the Rationale behind the samskAra to be done for the Dead:
"Preta Samskaaram : Importance of the Body.
335. You could possibly have a doubt as to, how this body can be very important. You may say, "OK. We will agree about what you said earlier, that doing monthly Tarpanam and yearly Sraardham for the departed soul and such actions can all be considered as part of 'Paropakaaram', as a way of helping another person. But once life is gone, how does it matter as to how we dispose off the physical body? What is the need for all the Samskaaram for the body?"
336. "As it is we are finding it difficult to take care of living beings. After the death, what is the need for 'Seva' for the cadaver? OK! Just because it is the custom and tradition, as and when death occurs in ones own houses, out of fear and social embarrassment, we have to do the Preta Samskaaram for ones dear and near ones death. As though that is not enough, when some orphaned, unclaimed, unknown individual dies and when the municipality people are going to somehow dispose of the body, what is the use of interposing ourselves that we will still do the Preta Samskaaram? As it is the dead body causes fear in our minds. That too a totally unknown some-body literally! What is the Paropakaaram needed here for just a dead body?" That could be your question. Let me answer you!
337. If you carefully look into the Saastraa-s, one can notice that even after the departure of the Jeeva (or Life) from the body, in it's various body parts, there is still some divine presence. Sun in the eyes, Fire in the mouth, Indra in the hands and so on do not vanish at once! They are to be returned to their origins through Preta Samskaaram. This can be more clearly understood by carefully studying the Apara Mantra-s.
It is said that the Jivaatma is made up of 16 'Kala-s' or ingredients. 15 of them together go to make the Life. The sixteenth one is the body itself. That one is also required to be disposed off as an offering to God, for which the 'Antyeshti' samskaaram is required. In Saastraa-s this 'Antyeshti' is considered as a final 'Yagna', as the word meaning indicates:- 'anta + ishti = Antyeshti', to mean, 'end + yagna'! This is also one of the Yaaga-s where there is an element of our wish to be fulfilled. That is why, it is an 'ishti'! From the time the woman accepts the pregnancy, till the departure of life from the body; there are 'samskaaraa-s', i.e., cleansing actions. The very word 'samskrit' as a name for the language Sanskrit, means, 'well done!'


Ravi said...

kAnchi mahAswami on the 'preta samskAra' continued...
All the 40 Samskaaraa-s from the time a life is borne in the womb, till it is finally assigned to flames, all of them are for maturing the Jeeva to such fineness as making it capable of being accepted back in its source! For a person who has made his very life an offering to God, the last and the least that the others can do for him (which includes her), is the final Yaaga, this Antyeshti or Preta Samskaaram. He did all other Yagna-s by using this body. That body itself is the final 'Aahuti'. So say the Preta Samskaara mantra-s! As all other items offered in Homa are all cleansed in ghee, so is this physical body cleaned and cleansed in ghee and offered in Homa. Offered to the God Almighty. What is interred in the earth is also similarly an offering to God!


Ravi said...

continuing further kAnchi paramAcharya wonderfully concludes how the Body is a 'Temple'!Not just the body of a 'Jnani' alone(Does the Jnani has a Body!?)but of anyone ,even if he be a stranger!!!
"There is something more. It is true that, our ancestors have iterated that this body is dirty. Full of dirty excretions, from the nine holes in the body. Manikka Vaachagar says, ‘...malanga p pulanaindum vanjanayai seyya...’, meaning that all the five senses are all the time duping us! But, from another perspective, this human body is worthy of much praise, awe and admiration! This body is a super-duper machine, instrument, tool, calculator, computer, artist, innovator, creator and so on, all rolled into one! Each part of the body is a far advanced, sophisticated, marvel yet to be matched by modern science! The eye is capable of seeing far and near and differentiate between shades of colours. With two such equipments, it is capable of seeing the depth, by a process of compare, contrast, assess and mutually superimpose! Ear is capable of hearing a wide range of sounds. By using two of them, it can make a fair guess of the origin of sound in three dimensions!
341. Though these two sets of equipment are controlled only by the same mind / brain, the ear cannot see, and eyes cannot hear, though located in each others vicinity! Then there is a mouth near by. It knows the taste. It can speak. By manipulating the vocal chords, it can produce wonderful music and play on a variety of musical instruments! Then the power, dexterity and softness of the hands, I can never tire of admiring. Whether holding hands or plucking the strings of the Veena, playing an instrument or flying a plane or wielding the chisel to shape a stone, or coaxing a piece of clay on the potter’s wheel, nothing can match their ability! There is a beauty in the way the hands have been formed, with its bones and nerves and muscles! Then the legs suitable for walking, stepping, climbing, running and kicking the ball! Look at the concave portion between the foreleg and the heel, to let small creepers and insects under foot to get away, when being stepped upon! The engineering of the knee with its bone and muscle structure is a marvel, enabling us to sit on our haunches! Look at the blood circulatory system, breathing system, nervous system, digestive system, immunology system and so on, with their various parts and their inter actions and responses! The subtlety and intelligence that has gone in to making these, cannot be by accident and or chance; however many million times it may happen. Accidents and aberrations can be by chance.
342. Then the brain controlling all this! How beautifully all these have been created! Flesh, muscles, nerves, blood, bones, skin, each with a purpose! There is living marrow inside the bones, with its own manufacturing process. Then the crores of cells in the human body is a separate world of wonders. Not only is there so much difference and separateness, the way they all function together, mutually co-operating, co-ordinating, nourishing with mutual feed-backs; is all wonder of wonders!"

Ravi said...

kAnchi mahAswami on 'Body as a Temple' continued...:
" So, may be one in a million may come to the correct conclusion of Gnana, that this mind is a lie and the body is Maya. All the others have to take this body to be real, a wonderful gift from God! Then he has to live life within the discipline of moral uprightness and Dharma, while endeavoring to move to Gnana! Come to think of it, why should we decry this body as something demeaning? After all it is only an instrument of the mind! If the mind gives the correct orders, the body and its parts will only obey truthfully. Hands will do Paropakaaram or Pooja. Legs will go to the temples. Eyes will feast on Gods vision. Mouth will chant the mantra-s or speak sweet words to everybody else! So. it is utterly wrong to detest the body! It is to be considered as God’s precious gift. It is the body that enables us to do the Dharma Karyas. There is a statement as, “...sariram aadhyam khalu dharma saadanam...”.
344. “Deho devaalaya : prokto jeevo sanaatana :”, is a statement which means that, ‘this human body is a temple of God and the Jeeva who resides there is forever’! Appar also says, “...kaayame koyilaaga...”, with the same meaning. Thiru Moolar similarly says, “ I used to think of this body as a handicap. But once I identified that God Himself resides here, I started taking good care of it.” Sambhomahadeva."

So,David,your Rationalization of what constitutes pollution vide this arguement -"Ordinarily, coming into contact with a dead body, or just being near it, puts one in a state of ritual impurity. Before one resumes one’s other activities, one needs to take a bath. In this case, though, Bhagavan said that, though dead, the mother’s body could not be a source of pollution. Why? Because her liberation had transformed her body into a temple." is not valid,in the sense that the body of even an ordinary mortal is already recognized as a temple ,it does not avert the 'pollution' caused by Death of the same!"

I am still scanning the Voluminous talks of the Sage of Kanchi on the core issue of 'temple in a Graveyard'.


Anonymous said...


Mahaswami was Bhagavan redux with speech added. Verily and truly the "talking" Bhagavan.

R p

Ravi said...

R p,
Yes,mahAswami is a rare soul,one who was born to resuscitate Vedic Dharma.I had the good fortune of seeing him and being in the innocent ,electrifying presencefor an hour!Truly mahAswami(Great one)and absolutely unique-all great ones are!!!

Anonymous said...

Sastras in practice:Hypocrisy, Pollution,Corruption,Filth and Holy Hookers.
In the words of the Mahaatma...
I arrived there in the morning. I had decided to put up with a panda. Numerous Brahmans surrounded me as soon as I got out of the train, and I selected one who struck me to be comparatively cleaner and better than the rest. It proved to be a good choice. There was a cow in the courtyard of his house, and an upper storey where I was given a lodging. I did not want to have any food without ablution in the Ganges in the proper orthodox manner. The panda made preparations for it. I had told him beforehand that on no account could I give him more than a rupee and four annas as dakshina,/2/ and that he should therefore keep this in mind while making the preparations. The panda readily assented. 'Be the pilgrim rich or poor,' said he, 'the service is the same in every case. But the amount of dakshina we receive depends upon the will and the ability of the pilgrim.' I did not find that the panda at all abridged the usual formalities in my case. The puja/3/ was over at twelve o'clock, and I went to the Kashi Vishvanath temple for darshan. I was deeply pained by what I saw there. When practising as a barrister in Bombay in 1891, I had occasion to attend a lecture on 'Pilgrimage to Kashi' in the Prarthana Samaj hall. I was therefore prepared for some measure of disappointment. But the actual disappointment was greater than I had bargained for.The approach was through a narrow and slippery lane. Quiet there was none. The swarming flies and the noise made by the shopkeepers and pilgrims were perfectly insufferable. Where one expected an atmosphere of meditation and communion, it was conspicuous by its absence. One had to seek that atmosphere in oneself. I did observe devout sisters who were absorbed in meditation, entirely unconscious of the environment. But for this the authorities of the temple could scarcely claim any credit. The authorities should be responsible for creating and maintaining about the temple a pure, sweet, and serene atmosphere, physical as well as moral. Instead of this I found a bazar where cunning shopkeepers were selling sweets and toys of the latest fashion.When I reached the temple, I was greeted at the entrance by a stinking mass of rotten flowers. The floor was paved with fine marble, which was however broken by some devotee innocent of aesthetic taste, who had set it with rupees serving as an excellent receptacle for dirt.I went near the Jnana-vapi (Well of Knowledge). I searched here for God but failed to find Him. I was not therefore in a particularly good mood. The surroundings of the Jnana-vapi too I found to be dirty. I had no mind to give any dakshina. So I offered a pie



Anonymous said...


This did not perturb me. 'Maharaj,' said I, 'whatever fate has in store for me, it does not behove one of your class to indulge in such language. You may take this pie if you like, or you will lose that too.'

'Go away,' he replied. 'I don't care for your pie.' And then followed a further volley of abuse.

I took up the pie and went my way, flattering myself that the Brahman had lost a pie and I had saved one. But the Maharaj was hardly the man to let the pie go. He called me back and said, 'All right, leave the pie here, I would rather not be as you are. If I refuse your pie, it will be bad for you.'

I silently gave him the pie and, with a sigh, went away.

Since then I have twice been to Kashi Vishvanath, but that has been after I had already been afflicted with the title of Mahatma, and experiences such as I have detailed above had become impossible. People eager to have my darshan would not permit me to have a darshan of the temple. The woes of Mahatmas are known to Mahatmas alone. Otherwise the dirt and the noise were the same as before.

If anyone doubts the infinite mercy of God, let him have a look at these sacred places. How much hypocrisy and irreligion does the Prince of Yogis suffer to be perpetrated in His holy name? He proclaimed long ago: 'Whatever a man sows, that shall he reap.' The law of Karma is inexorable and impossible of evasion. There is thus hardly any need for God to interfere. He laid down the law and, as it were, retired.


Anonymous said...

Tamilians and Pollution Again
First it was Vivekananda, then Bhagawan and now Mahatma talking about Tamils and Pollution
Even here I was face to face with untouchability in a fair measure. The Tamilian kitchen was far away from the rest. To the Tamil delegates even the sight of others, whilst they were dining, meant pollution. So a special kitchen had to be made for them in the college compound, walled in by wicker-work. It was full of smoke which choked you. It was a kitchen, dining-room, washroom, all in one--a close safe with no outlet. To me this looked like a travesty of Varnadharma./1/ If, I said to myself, there was such untouchability between the delegates of the Congress, one could well imagine the extent to which it existed amongst their constituents. I heaved a sigh at the thought.
Over the centuries application of Sastras lost their original meaning and what was left is only hypocrisy, pollution, supersition, scaremongering and livelihood; all not just now but even by Buddha's day.


Ravi said...

Sastras only serve as guidelines-It is upto us to understand and implement.Why look at the millions of Hypocrites?Has Hypocrisy cesaed in us?Have we given up all lies,flattery and the like in our lives?
Let us take a simple example,a mundane act like a morning cup of Tea or Coffee.We may do it after taking a Bath,or brushing the Teeth,or we may take it straight out of the Bed(What is called in Star Hotels as Bed Coffee).Now depending on our upbringing,we may select anyone of these modes of taking coffee(We may also not be taking at all!).We may now approach it from a purely physical standpoint and say that it does not matter which way we drink coffee,in as much as it is coffee!Yet,from a spiritual standpoint,we may say that we may take that coffee after we are through with other more important(Higher in Priority)things like Brushing a Teeth,Taking a Bath and saying a Prayer(Example).When we start doing the later,the Body also gets adjusted to this and will not "demand' coffee as soon as we get up from bed!
AchAram is all about this type of conditioning to maximize and prioritize the spiritual Dimension as well as other Dimensions.Again just like a sick man will not be in a position to take bath and has to skip the usual Bath,he may do so after just brushing the Teeth.Likewise,Sastras also permit some exceptions to the norm.

If there is one Genuine person demonstrating this sort of a thing,that is Good enough for others to get inspired and absorb,assimilate what Good there is in these things.No point only reading a portionof what Vivekananda had said,as elsewhere he would have said the Oppositeas well and since you appreciate this concept,Except perhaps when it comes to sAstras!,Why not read his Talk 'My Master' to balance the understanding.

It is the remnant of some of these Good Practices that are still helping the world being what it is-despite force of Atavism.

As an aside,one of our friends from the U.S visited us(India)and wondered how we had Good Teeth!After she pointed out this,I noticed this,and I would attribute this to the usual Practise of 'Brushing our Teeth' that we Strictly adhere to!Hope we do not lose this precious advantage by capitulating to 'Bed Coffee'!!!


Anonymous said...

Every person is a single mind. Go speak to it.
Whether you, whether I, it tells the same story.

Anonymous said...

The fish trap exists because of the fish; once you've gotten
the fish, you can forget the trap. The rabbit snare exists
because of the rabbit; once you've gotten the rabbit, you can
forget the snare. Words exist because of meaning; once you've
gotten the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I
find a man who has forgotten words so I can have a word
with him?

Chuang Tzu

Subramanian. R said...

Dear S.,

Then, has Jadabharata been a Jnani
and then he ceased to be a Jnani when he started loving that deer-calf?

Jnanis can also have some vasanas which are good vasanas - subha vasanas. I remember, do not ask me the reference quote - that Sri Bhagavan wanted chilli powder for His idlis when doctors had told that chilli powder should not be given. He wss given only once and then He had himself voluntarily asked the kitchen workers to stop serving chilli powder. Similarly, even after realization in Madurai, He had some harmless subha vasnas, which remained for some time and then left. E.g. ganji and avaiyal. On that morning, He asked for additional helpings of ganji and avial, which He never asked even when other delicious food were served. He had used snuff for some time. He had used betel leaves and nut powder for some time. On some pretext, He later left them.


Subramanian. R said...

Dear Ravi, Anon., and others,

The old unwanted practices have given way to new unwanted practices. Take Christians for example. Christianity, as a religion has no caste or creed. But when [at least in Tamizh Nadu] when dalits get converted to Christians, the upper class converts, say an erstwhile brahmin, mudaliar or a pillai still continue the dalit christian as a lower being; though they do not practice untouchability in real sense, they treat them as untouchables mentally. I have witnessed this in Tirunelveli, Madurai and Ramanathapuram in younger days when my father was working there.

The days have come to a full circle now. One reason which is now quoted, for Manmohan Singh not taking any action against A. Raja, the former Telecom Minister, for a long long time, was that he was a dalit. The politicians are afraid of dalits today, because they constitute a heavy vote bank. Once brahmins were ill-treating the dalits. Today, everyone is afraid of dalits.

Brushing of teeth, is a good example quoted by Ravi. In the olden days, we were brushing the teeth and taking bath and then taking coffee. In spite of betel leaves and tobacco, because of good brushing, the teeth were clean and shining. Today, that practice has been given a go by. At least some are brushing the teeth and then taking morning coffee, if not after a bath. Many do not. The result, more
dentures among men and women.

Again for the care of hairs. In olden days, they were using only good coconut oil and nothing else. Today all sorts of shampoos and creams have come in bazaar; still the lice have not vacated the head.

Several examples can be given. Handpound rice reduces the effect of high glycemeic index and it was protecting people from diabetes. Today white rice has come in its place with more prevalence of diabetes. People have almost forgotten other grains like millet and maize etc., which are better for health than even hand pound rice. These were considered as inferior grains fit for lower caste people. Today, after diabetic attack, people buy oats [Rs 160 per kg] and take it. Had they taken hand pound rice or maize, these diseases would not have appeared in the scene at all.

About temples. The North indian temples are always poorly maintained than the South Indian temples, even today. One has to forget the Kasi Panchakam and then go to Kasi. Touching the God's idol or stone image is a pollution in South India. But in North, everywhere, one can touch the god's image and pray. All prana pratishta effect is gone once an unclean man or even an unclean priest touches the god's image.

Last week, when I went to Murugan Temple in Bangloare, I saw the priest reading newspaper inside the sanctum, standing and spreading the paper in full, that he totally hid the god's image from viewing by devotees. What to do? Even priests can read newspapers and smoke cigarettes, but only after finishing the work inside the temple and reaching his house.

The old bad orders have given way for new bad orders in life.


Ravi said...

The Sastras have to be seen from a spiritual angle.They are not the handiwork of people with vested interest but the considered recommendations of seers down the ages.Lookin at it superficially ,one would see only inequality,exploitation,etc.I have already dwelt at length and unless one develops spiritual insight into these matters ,one would continue in one's beliefs,convictions,etc.It is only when one grows in dispassion and look at these things deeply that one will understand the beauty behind the Vedic Dharma.
Exploitation always take place and it takes place between a Brahmin and a Brahmin-only it may go unnoticed;if a dalit is involved it gets the Headlines-that is all.These have nothing to do with sastraic recommendations.If one has an open mind and go through what the Sage of Kanchi has said regarding these matters,one will see the pure intent behind these classifications and natural order,and not be misled by the caricature that it has become.Rather than blaming the system,one would then learn to see how to mend matters and strive to take the first few steps in that direction.

hey jude said...

Subramanian, You are very funny! "Again for the care of hairs. In olden days, they were using only good coconut oil and nothing else. Today all sorts of shampoos and creams have come in bazaar; still the lice have not vacated the head."

Ravi said...

R.Subramanian/hey jude/Friends,
"Today all sorts of shampoos and creams have come in bazaar; still the lice have not vacated the head."
Humourous and interesting observation by our friend Subramanian!Like Sri Bhagavan said about 'Disease' as a 'Guest' who would prolong his stay if attended to,so also these 'guests'(Lice!)are being treated to Royal Luxury of a Shampoo and conditioner,et all;So why would they relinquish all this and go elsewhere?!!!

Ravi said...

"Then, has Jadabharata been a Jnani
and then he ceased to be a Jnani when he started loving that deer-calf? "
It was King Bharata who developed compassion for the deer and was reborn as jadabharat-Jada means 'Inert'.Jadabharata remained a Jivan mukta and hardly spoke.When asked to carry a Palanquin by the King's men who saw that he was a Hefty man,he simply obliged and carried it.

Subramanian. R said...

Dear Ravi,

Your post of 1.11 PM.
Thanks for the clarification.

I would like to sum up like this:

Mahaswami being a
Matathipadhi had to take care
of all the four aspects viz.,
karma, bhakti, yoga and jnana.
He had to run a Math and also
tour to kshetras.
People of different types came
to him. Many mothers asked
when their daughters would get
married or how will they find
money for marriages. [Brahmin
marriages were quite expensive
those days, dowry being the
most fearsome thing, for the
girl's side]. He told them to
chant this sloka or that sloka
or do so many pradakshinas for
Kanchi Kamakshi etc., He also
helped them through some other
moneyed devotees. He had to
necessarily take care of karma and bhakti aspects for devotees. Yoga,
I think, he did not speak much.
For people who want pure Jnanopadesam, he did give that too
but in some cases like Paul Brunton and Annamalai Swami - he directed
them to Sri Bhagavan. So he was
the champion of all four margas.

In Sri Bhagavan's case, such request for blessing for daughter's marriage or how to overcome the poverty etc., were very few if not nil. People
came mainly for Jnana Upadesa and to know the way of Jnana Marga. That is why Westerners came to Him, because, He said Atma is common to all and no conversion of religion is necessary.
Thus He was primarily the champion
of Jnana marga.

In Srimatam it was not possible. No doubt people like Aldoux Huxley came to see Mahaswami. He spoke to them at length about advaita. But they could not sit with Hindus shoulder to shoulder and watch pujas and rituals.

I would like to mention two small things in my darshan of Mahaswami. After asking about my family, he asked me whether I had performed the marriage of all my 6 sisters, [all younger to me]. I said, appa also helped me and I put my share and did that. No doubt, huge loans were raised but these are all almost cleared. Then he looked at me, Pinna ennadaa! Unakku moksham thaan po! 'What else needed? For you it is only moksha. Go.' Thus, he attached highest importance to one's karmas.

The other one was when I quoted Tirunavukkarasar's song as Sambandhar's song, when he asked me whether I know Tevaram. He corrected me. And briefly told me the stories of both the saints! This happened in the year 1986.


Ravi said...

I enjoyed reading your meeting with kAnchi mahAswami-what a blessing from him!Those words"unakku Moksham thAn pO"-are the words of a JnAni and are equivalent to "Tat Tvam asi"-Truly you are blessed!
I will narrate this interesting incident where the mahAswami deftly handled a delicate situation-How he balanced Sastraic adherence and Humane consideration.
It happened in 1967,if I am not mistaken when M S Subbhulakshmi had given a concert in the United Nations-mahAswami's wonderful message 'Maitreem Bhajata' was beautifully rendered by MS as the Grand finale.(How she had a hoarse throat and was practically voiceless when she sat down to begin the concert,and how she prayed to our mahAswami and how he like Krishna coming to the rescue of Draupadi cleared her voice, how she sang so wonderfully is another story!)
Now MS and her husband sadAsivam returned to chennai(Madras).sadAsivam immediately proceeded for the Darshan of mahAswami and reached the kAnchi mutt.
mahAswami was giving Tirtha prasAdam(water from a spoon will be given to the devotees by the Sage,for them to sip and take as prasAd)and sadAsivam joined this queue.Ahead of him in the queue was none other than our rA ganapathi and he saw sadAsivam behind him.He immediately knew that sadasivam has just returned from the U.S(abroad and across the seas)and as such without a purificatory ceremony in gayA,is considered unfit to receive the Tirtha prasadam,as per sAstraic injunction.Ganapathy was keenly aware that mahAswami will not be in a position to give tirtha prasadam to sadasivam,and was wondering how an awkward and embarassing situation might ensue;now before he could even sound sadAsivam on this,he found himself right in front of mahAswami and after receiving the prasAdam moved out and watched sadAsivam taking his turn in front of the mahAswami!The hand of the mahAswami that was distributing the tirtha dropped the uddharini(spoon) and picked up a nearby coconut.Right there mahAswami broke the coconut and offered the coconut water into the greatful palms of sadAsivam-All this happened in a trice.sadAsivam was gleeful that he had received 'Special Blessing' from the mahAswami.Never for a moment he felt that the tirtha prasAdam was denied to him!!!He was simply not aware of this and only rA ganapathy had seen what had happened!What a way mahAswami found to adhere to the sAstras and yet be accessible to his devotees!

There are a million such wonderful incidents that are a treat to the soul.These unfortunately are not brought out in English.

Truly a Great soul!


Subramanian. R said...

Dear Ravi,

Delighted to read your post
regarding the visit of
MS and Sadasivam. When Indira
Gandhi came to visit him, there
was some embarassment for the
devotees/workers in the Math.
She was a widow and she was
having hairs. How can Mahavswami
see her. Mahaswami made use of
a rare provision in sastras.
He saw her across an open well
inside the Kanchi Math. Sastras
say that Matadipathis can see a
widow with hairs, across an
open well. Nobody knew before
hand this rule excepting Maha

Deivathin Kural has come in one
single volume [abridged]
under the title Voice of the
Divine in English. Perhaps
Giri Trading Mylapore may have


Ravi said...

Deivathin Kural(Voice of Divinity)is translated in a fine manner by Lt Col KTSV Sarma and I have posted what he has translated from this site:

The mahAswami had an encyclopaedical knowledge on any subject,as can be seen by a cursory glance at any of the page of the 8 Volume of his Talks compiled by Sri rA Ganapathi.There is also a sapthaham (7 day talk)on the Life of the MahAperiyava by Sri Ganesa Sarma that wonderfully brings out the multidimensional aspects of the sage.This is available as a mp3 CD.I will send across this along with the Nochur CDs.

karthik said...

There is an incident that I read in, where paramacharyal is said to have pulled a plate having either a salagramam or a lingam with his leg, as a response to an orthodox brahmin pundit who is struggling to come to terms between rituals, rules orthodoxy and the advaitic principles that paramacharya represents. I am sorry I am only recalling this from my memory and am not able to get the link from any where else. If this be true, then, Paramacharya clearly stood by the rules of orthodoxy, when he needed to be explicit or vocal and understood the irrelevance of the same when appropriate.

could some one get the correct link or material of the above mentioned incident please ?


Ravi said...

The incident that you allude to,I have heard from my uncle.I have not read this in any book.
Uncle used to dramatize what he had read as if he had seen it in person!So cannot vouchsafe the authenticity of this incident.I always used to wonder about this,but now that you are also referring to the same,looks like it must have been recorded somewhere.I will try to find out more about this.
The Story that I heard from my uncle was that the old man wanted to handover custody of his sAlagrAmam and other pooja items to the mutt.This is the custom when old people who are unable to continue their daily pooja ,finding that there is no one in the family(son or anyone else)willing to continue the practice,would handover the same to the mutt.It was on one such occasion that mahAperiyavA just dragged the bag containing the sacred items with his foot!This was witnessed by one who wondered whether the MahAswAmi was an advaitin at all.

Ravi said...

Here is an interesting excerpt from the Talks of mahAswami,from 'Deivathin kural' Volume 6.This is also translated into English and is available as a pdf download-called advaita saadhanaa:
"46. The NaaDis of the heart: JnAni’s life rests, Other’s lives leave
Isn’t it strange? From that very heart things take place – even those which are not related to Love! That is Ishvara’s mysterious MAyA shakti! All this because, the heart is the locale for the ego. The nADis that
Maha-swamigal’s Discourses 131
control and monitor the jIva’s personal matters of life start from there and proceed to the other organs giving them the life-force, as we have seen earlier.
Several semi-flesh nAdis go forth from this heart in all directions. Among them are those which end in one of the nine Gates. (*nava-dvAra*). For all those who have to take another birth – in other words, for ninety-five percent. of all the people, life leaves through one of these gates. Besides these nine there is a gate of the size of an atom at the top of the head. For all people life enters into the foetus through that gate. But at the time of death of all those who have to have another birth, life leaves not by that gate but by one of the other nine gates. For those who do not have to be born again, other than the JnAni, life leaves only by the gate at the head. That is what is called “kapAla-mokShaM”.
I said “other than JnAni”. So what is the case of the JnAni? Other than the JnAni, who are those that are not destined for a rebirth?

Ravi said...

The Sage of Kanchi continued...
"The prANa of the JnAni does not go anywhere outside at the time of the fall of the body. There is no mokSha which he has yet to get. And in the same way, there is no mokSha which has to be obtained at some time after death, for him. Whenever he got his jnAna, that is, the Realisation of Brahman, then itself, his antaHkaraNaM (the mind of the jIva) has been extinguished and he has been released from MAyA; so he becomes a mukta, a JIvan-mukta then and there. Thus he has been ‘released’ even when being in the body and the prANa does not have to go anywhere after the fall of the body, for mokSha.
He has been thinking of the Atman, as his life, the supreme life. Without even recognizing it as bhakti, but with a great attitude of bhakti, he has been doing his SAdhanA for the purpose of dissolving the ego. By this process, it dissolves and dissolves and reaches such an emaciated slender state, that it enters the small gate of the heart which is the locale of the Atman, converges into the Atman, unifies with it and itself gets extinguished. And immediately he becomes a mukta.
However, his life (PrANa) has not left him. He is living and he is also a mukta; that is why he is called a JIvan-mukta. Then in due time one day his body dies. Why should he live after reaching the mukta state, and when does his life part with him – these are questions into which we don’t need to enter at present. Mostly the opinion is that he lives in order that his *prArabdha* may exhaust itself. When it thus exhausts itself, then life also leaves. Let us be content with that (explanation). Thus even after Brahman-realisation he has his life (prANa). What happens to that prANa at the time of his death? Just as the ahmkAra (since the
mind and intellect has gone into the ahamkAra – so we can as well say it is antaHkaraNaM now) has already gone into the heart-gate and merged into the Atman-locale, so also now when death takes place the prANa also merges in the same way in that Atman-locale. In other words, when the JnAni’s body dies, his prANa does not go outside anywhere through any nADi. In the Upanishad and the Brahma-sUtra it is so declared clearly. (Br. U. III-2-11; IV-4-6) (Br. S. IV-2- 12 to 16).
In general parlance also, it is never said that the JnAni’s life is gone; it is usually said that it has ceased, settled or disappeared."
The sage then goes on to describe the other possibilities for other than jnAnis


Ravi said...

Those who can follow Tamil,here is the original discourse of the kAnchi mahAswAmi on what I have already posted:
Volumes 1 through 6 are available online at

For a pdf copy of advaita sadhana(which is excerpted from volume 6 of Deivathin Kural as given in the link above),please visit:


Ramprax said...


I am not an expert on any of the topics dealt with in this post.
Nevertheless, here is what I feel:

Bhagavan said, ‘.. the body of a woman liberated during life is not to be cremated, for it is a temple,’

I feel that the key phrase here is 'during life'. I assume it refers to jivanmukti.
If it is accurate that Bhagavan used the phrase 'during life', then Bhagavan has said nothing about whether a shrine erected over a person who attained videhamukti can be considered a temple or not.

I feel, Bhagavan's mother was liberated finally at death and not 'during life'. What Bhagavan's mother attained is probably videhamukti, but not jivanmukti.

Since, Bhagavan has not explicitly said anything, the only thing to go by is the shastras or the words of someone like Paramacharya.

So, technically, there could still be a difference between samadhis of people like kAraikkAl ammaiyAr or AnDAL or sadAsiva brahmendra and the samadhi of Bhagavan's mother.

I also had an interesting thought. Could it be that Paramacharya's opinion has in its own convoluted way helped settle the issue of who should own and manage Sri Ramanasramam?


S. said...

salutations to all:

Ramprax said: ["...I also had an interesting thought. Could it be that Paramacharya's opinion has in its own convoluted way helped settle the issue of who should own and manage Sri Ramanasramam?..."]

a very similar thought occurred to me when i read it the day it was posted! also, while sharing my thoughts with another good friend (an ardent devotee of bhagavAn), there was another thought which also incidentally coincided... on the one hand, i'm tempted to think bhagavAn must have seen this litigation on the anvil and accordingly did whatever was done; on the other hand, also can't help but wonder how bhagavAn would have dealt with the situation!

we all know bhagavAn to be an atiAsrami, which besides the four 'AsramAs' of life totally applies to the physical structure known as 'ramaNAsramam' as well, shouldn't it? bhagavAn was undoubtedly and incontrovertibly beyond all categories commonly attributable to the material organism, that's very clear. but i fail to understand what in the 'activities' of the Asramam are 'not' hindu in nature! there is nothing 'non-hindu' about any of it; if 'hinduism' can rightfully be assumed as a synonym for 'sanAtana dharma', then every major activity in the Asramam from the vEdapAtasAla to the srichakra-puja is as per the sampradAya of sanAtana-dharma, which 'is' hinduism (here we aren't talking about 'why' the endowments board was created, and that too has its pros & cons!). the Asramam cringing under the 'non-hindu' banner seems to me as nothing more than diplomatic cowardice...

those who may argue saying "if it had had been taken over by the endowments board, would it have been administered as nicely as is being done by the Asramam today?" - all i can say is while i'm glad about the outcome, yet even it had been otherwise, bhagavAn's sannidhi would have radiated exactly in the same way as it is today :-). the Asramam came around bhagavAn but bhagavAn is 'not' the Asramam; he never was & he never will be! the 'self' can't be institutionalised! :-) will it affect aruNAchalA even if all the temples & all the Asramams at tiruvaNNAmalai cease to survive for whatever reason? wouldn't aruNAchalA continue to guide sincere seekers as always? :-)

reminded me of the beautiful verses of the 'hastAmalaka' stotram that contain the answers given by hastAmalaka to sankara. here is bhagavAn's translation of the very first words said to be spoken by hastAmalaka (2nd verse of the stotra):

நானலன் சுரனி யக்க னானல னந்த ணன்மற்
றரசனும் வணிகன் சூத்ர னல்லனற் பிரம சாரி
கிரகியும் வான ப்ரத்தன் கேடகல் சந்நி யாசி
நிரையினி லாரு மல்லே னிசபோத வடிவ னாமே

(nAn alan suran yakshan nAn alan andhaNan maRRu
arasanum vaNigan sUtran alla naR brahmachAri
giragiyum vAnaprasthan kEDu agal sanniyAsi
niraiyinil Arum allEn nijabOdha vaDivan AmE)

[i am neither a god nor a celestial, neither affiliated to the four castes nor belong to the four stages of life; i am pure awareness alone]

bhagavAn would've said precisely the same, wouldn't he? :-)))

Ravi said...

" the Asramam cringing under the 'non-hindu' banner seems to me as nothing more than diplomatic cowardice..."
There is absolutely no doubt that this is just expediency if not cowardice.
The rAmakrishna Mission also reverted to an identical expediency when it declared itself as 'Non-Hindu'!!!How they swallowed and conveniently set aside the famous parliament of Religions at Chicago in 1893 where Swamiji represented sanAtana Dharma(hinduism)is something that can put the modern day politicians to shame!Please read this article :
"Why Did The Ramakrishna Mission Say They Are Not Hindus"

Master TGN narrated this interesting incident-Swami sivAnanda of Divine Life Society,Rishikesh once asked a swami from kerala(I guess that it is swami tapOvan maharaj,guru of swami chinmayAnanda)-Asramam evviday?(Where is your Asramam?).The Swami replied-'AA sramam namakku illA'(I do not have all that 'trouble').


Subramanian. R said...

Dear Ramprax, S., and Ravi,

I agree with what Ravi said, because, we have seen many temples
taken over by the HRCE board have become a treasure house for politicians. They take money because their own govt officer is the Chief Executive Officer of the Temple. They are doing what Moslem rulers were doing when they ruled India. So both SRK Math and Sri Ramanasramam had to utter some falsehood for expediency.

Of course, Sri Ramanasramam has not got that kind of huge money
to enable some lower souls to plunder.

S/. was asking whether the power of Sri Bhagavan's Presence might have diminished due to govt take over. Yes. Definitely. Imagine some MLAs and Chelas smoking cigarettes and playing cards in the Samadhi Hall or some other petty politicians closing the doors of Old Hall and drinking rum and brandy. Do you think that Sri Bhagavan's presence would be felt in such places? You may say that Sri Bhagavan is the Self and He is beyond all these. But what about the devotees? They are not Bhagavans. They may start feeling less of Grace and less of Presence in such places occupied by unwanted elements.

Am IAS officer who is normally in charge of such temples as CEO
is a pawn under politicians and he cannot open his mouth.


Subramanian. R said...

Dear Ramprax,

Saint Tiruvalluvar said: Even a lie when uttered to get result of blemishless good, it is equivalent to truth. Poymaiyum Vaaimaiyidathe....Sri Bhagavsn
uttered such a lie and quietly
left Madurai to Tiruvannamalai.

I was imagining the following pageant in Sri Ramanasramam:

In 1967 Annadurai came to power. Then Karunanidhi followed in 1969. In 1969, Karunanidhi would have installed a statue of Annadurai and Periyar on the car parking area. Again MGR came and went. Now Jayalalitha would instal a statue of MGR om the car parking area. On the birthdays, all local politicians would come and garland these statues. Apart from this, these statues will also be good places for play by monkeys and squirrels. Of course, peacocks will use them only as latrines to drop their excreta. Then, they will tell beggars who are having allegiance to ADMK only should be given food at 10.30 A.M. every morning. They will wear MGR or Karunanidhi badges and stand in the queue. The local upstarts will charge Rs 500 per alms seeker for enabling such ADMK alms seekers alone to get food. After all, for 30 days food, Rs 500 is not a hefty fee. The alms seekers may also be asked to wear dhotis with red and black lines on the edges!

Oh! Bhagavan, save us from such
tragedies in future also.


Anonymous said...

Ramprax and Friends,
God has already given you a chance by staying silent.I suspect God stays silent for a while so we could exorcise our bad vasanas while fighting for our rights and polish our mind like a clean mirror so it can reflect the Pure Self.Follow in the footsteps of Papaji,Ganapathi Muni, Aurobindo, Vivekananda and others:

Please participate in the local referendums and warm for Annaji's fast on Aug16th for Janlokpal and NOT *Jokepal* that the govt is keen to pass.

Spread the word to all your family, friends, colleagues and even your domestic helps to come out on Aug16th.

Janlokpal is a good jump start to break the vicious circles of poverty, illiteracy and vote bank politics.

Janlokpal vs Jokepal

Please dont say God will take care of everything or All is Maya.If God will take care of everything he should also take care of your Self-Realization.Why bother with Self-enquiry as there is no bondage nor seekers.Lord Krishna did not say to Arjuna that he will take care of everything but only asked him to do his duty and he will take care of everything.As a citizen our duty is to safegaurd our rights, I mean bare minimum rights and bare minimum respect.

Anonymous said...

Dont forget the Lord of the Universe, the supreme Godhead saying Aswatthama Kunjaraha.


S. said...

salutations to all:

Subramanian/ Ravi/ Others:

(request ravi to please post the episode of svAmiji and the kshIr bhavAni temple)

subramanian said: ["...whether the power of Sri Bhagavan's Presence might have diminished due to govt take over. Yes. Definitely. Imagine some MLAs and Chelas smoking cigarettes and playing cards in the Samadhi Hall or some other petty politicians closing the doors of Old Hall and drinking rum and brandy. Do you think that Sri Bhagavan's presence would be felt in such places? ..."]

guess that was a clear case of a sentiment gone overboard! :-) i'm not taking sides for the government but have also never seen anybody smoking/ drinking in the sanctum sanctorum of the aruNAchalesvara temple! i also seriously doubt if people smoke/drink in the meenAkshI /tiruvArur/ rAmesvaram temples (to name a bare few), do they? aren't these under the governance of the endowments board? save a few exceptions, so is the case with nearly every major temple in the country...

through the centuries of untold ups & downs in the political milieu, in what way has aruNAchalA's grace lessened? not an iota, i'd say. to me, bhagavAn is aruNAchala personified, and bhagavAn's sannidhi shall radiate the same munificent grace regardless of whether the Asramam is controlled by X or Y, whether the Asramam exists or not (for that matter, even if the samAdhi itself is consumed by time, no cup will ever be enough to limit bhagavAn's & aruNAchalA's timeless grace)! it appears people have surrendered to the Asramam and 'not' to bhagavAn! :-( bhagavAn's grace is sublime enough to neither enhance nor diminish by what people do or don't do :-) it is what it 'is'...

Subramanian. R said...

Dear S.,

I have seen in Akhilandeswari
-Jambukeshwara Temple in
Tiruvanaikka, [I lived in
Tiruchy for many years and used
to go to that temple on every
Friday evening], in the outmost
prahaaram, people playing cards
and smoking cigarettes. I
think those were the days
of total prohibition and so
there was no drinking liquor.

I have seen in Chamundeswari
Hill Temple and Nanjangud Temple
in Karnataka, people doing the
same just outside the sanctum.

All these are due to
Government or Chief Executive
Officer's negligence to enforce
discipline in the temple precincts.

Chidamabaram Nataraja Temple was
still recently under the control
of dikshitars. May be, they were
a little corrupt and were favoring known devotees, but the Temple was neat and clean and no 'such' activities. The Government of
Tamizh Nadu, HREC has taken over
since two years. Let us what happens in future.


Shrini said...

Bhagavan’s message has always been about the direct path. He did not refer to any scriptures to get enlightened. In fact, only after his death experience did he co-relate his state with that mentioned in the holy texts and that too, many times he did not agree to some of the inferences made in these texts. So, we need to understand that his way was not the way prescribed in any religious texts and he did not care whether anybody approved it or not. With this in mind, we need to understand that when Bhagavan declared that his mother has attained Mukti, it is so and there is no need to verify any reference to prove/disprove this statement.
Now coming to the question of the status of Ashram’s status as presented in this interesting judgement, the way the status of the ashram has been presented in the case, though done to maintain its independence, is very much in line with Bhagavan's will (I am not referring to the physical will here). Declaring that the ashram is not affiliated to Hindu religion in the strictest sense clearly makes Bhagavan's teaching that much more universal and that is why David mentioning the beautifully worded Supreme Court judgement is very relevant here. Now regarding the speculation of what would have happened to Ramana’s teachings and the Ashram, we need to accept that Ashram ultimately is only a symbol of Bhagavan’s teachings and not Bhagavan himself. Politics of the Ashram, its status and any happenings related to this will not affect Bhagavan’s message in any manner. Anything created is bound to undergo change and always “Things fall apart”. But truth will always prevail. Bhagavan will remain in our heart always and his message will remain irrespective of an ashram or whether sanctified by any scriptures. Thanks David for this very interesting post.

Ru-an said...

Hello David.

This is not about the blog post but I didn't know where else to ask. If you feel it doesn't belong here then just delete.

I heard somewhere that Maharaj told you OSHO is a jnani. Is this true? I ask because Maharaj said only a jnani can spot another jnani. I started watching some youtube videos of OSHO and thought the guy was possibly enlightened, but then I see an interview on his website where he says that I Am That and other books on Maharaj is sheer nonsense and he was disrespectful towards Maharaj. Here is the link:

I have more and more doubts on whether OSHO was a jnani. In fact I am sure he is not. I am not a jnani myself so who am I to judge? But if Maharaj did say that OSHO was a jnani, then could he have been wrong? I want to know because I would like to think a Maharaj could not have gotten this wrong, having claimed that a jnani knows a jnani.


Anonymous said...

I did a little bit of research to find out the views of Sri Ramakrishna and his disciples on the subject of whether women can take up sannyasa.

The views of the Holy Mother Sri Sarada are as follows :

"A women devotee requested the Holy Mother to order her daughter to marry.

Mother replied - 'Is it not misery to remain in lifelong slavery to another and always dance to his tune ? Though, there is some risk in being a celibate, still, if one is not inclined to lead a married life, one should not be forced into it and subjected to life-long wordliness. Those girls that are drawn to complete renunciation should be encouraged to lead a celibate life'."

(source - Teachings of Sri Sarada Devi)

While, the Mother does not explicitly say that women can take up sannyasa, she does seem to indicate it.

However, Sw. Vivekananda was as
un-ambigious in the matter as Sri Ramana.

Here are the Swami's views :

"With the Holy Mother as the centre of inspiration, a Math is to be established on the eastern bank of the Ganga. As Brahmacharins and Sadhus will be trained in this Math, so in the other Math also, Brahmacharinis and Sadhvis will be trained".

A disciple objects to this view .

The Swami thunders in reply : "In what scriptures, do you find statements that women are not competent for knowledge and devotion ? "

Futher just like Sri Ramana, the Swami says : "In the highest truth of the Parabrahman, there is no distinction of sex. Though outwardly, there may be difference between men and women, in their real nature, there is none. Therefore, if a man can be a knower of Brahman , why cannnot a woman attain to the same knowledge ?"

(souce for Swamiji's views - Talks with Sw. Vivekananda)

I also detail below the following incidents from the book - Eternal Mother.

1. Sri Ramakrishna gave the gerua cloth, the symbol of sannyasa to his women disciple - Gauri Ma.

2. Sri Sarada Devi gave the gerua cloth to Durgapuri Devi.

3. Sw. Vivekananda initiated Sister Nivedita into Brahmacharya.

4.Sw. Saradananda in the presence of Sw. Premananda (both direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna) initiated Yogin Ma (a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Sarada Devi) into sannyasa.

5. Both Sw. Shivananda and Sw. Abhedananda (direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna) had inititated several women devotees into Brahmacharya.

6. The Swami's dream of a Math for women was finally realised on 2nd December 1954 and the Sri Sarada Math was established as a branch of the Ramakrishna Math. In 1959, the brahmachirinis got initiated into sannyasa by Sw. Sankarananda the then President of the Ramakrishna Math.

Instead of Swami as a the title, a new title was coined - 'Pravrajika' - meaning one who renounces completely. Instead of the suffix 'Ananda', a new suffix was chosen - 'Prana'- meaning spirit. Thus Pravrajika Vivekaprana would mean one whose spirit is discrimination (viveka).

Finally from the same book - Eternal Mother - I end with a wonderful anecdote of the Holy Mother.

An attendant of the Mother Sw. Ishanananda was asked to buy clothes for the relatives of the Mother. The young Swami was a nationalist and so bought Khadi clothes. When the relatives objected and said they wanted mill-made cloth, a war of words ensued.

The Mother then smilingly told the young swami - 'My son, the British too are my children. I cannot exclude anyone.'

Later on, when a group of freedom fighters once requested Mother to say 'May the Britishers go to hell', Mother replied - "I am the Mother, the English are also my children. How can I say that my children should go to hell? I can only pray for everyone's welfare ".

Thank you,

Rosemary Osterhus said...

Dear David,

This post is most telling in terms of the defintion of the Ashrama from the perspective of Bhagavan's "will". (The fact that Bhagavan made a "will" is fascinating in itself). I have only read half of the blog post as my mind is slow to grasp the words. However, it makes me happy that Bhagavan's "heirs" stood up to the HRCEB. Although it took a lot of words to clear it up, it seems clear enough to me.
Very interesting and appreciated. Looking forward to finishing the cliffhanger.....

Ravi said...

we were wondering whether a temple can be built in a graveyard.The history of the Dakshineswar temple is interesting.Here is an excerpt from an article:
The famous Dakshineswar temple which houses the Goddess Kali was founded by Rani Rashmoni following a dream she saw when she was about to start on her pilgrimage to Benaras. A long term plan of the Rani materialized which she had longed to perform when her husband died with unfulfilled wish of constructing a Kali temple.
A dynamic woman, Rani Rashmoni took over the administration of the enormous estate her husband left her. The benevolent administrator, Rani Rashmoni was always in conflict with the stringent British laws and policies. People honored her and loved her for her daring and benevolent spirit. Dakshineswar temple, bathing ghats, a way from Subarnarekha River to Puri, Imperial Library (present National Library) and Hindu College (present Presidency College) are the testimonials to her benevolent nature.
The dream had moved the Rani intensely and she instructed her trusted people specially her youngest son-in law to look for plots to construct the Kali Temple. After a massive hunt for suitable plots, a 20-acred plot in the village of Dakshineswar was selected. The land resembled a hump of a tortoise. One part of this land belonged to a European Christian while the other part was a Muslim burial ground.The Rani began to construct this Hindu temple in 1847 on this very ground thus integrating different faiths. The Deed of endowment states “In order to fulfill his wish, on 6th September 1847 I purchased 54.4 bighas of land at the cost of Rs. 42 thousand and 500 from James Hasty. I made to build a puca Navaratna temple, twelve Shiva temples (twelve jyotirlingam), a Vishnu temple and a Natmandir on the land. On 31st May 1855 I placed luxminarayan Shila in the Navaratna temple as per the wish of my late husband and also for the welfare of his soul.” The deed was executed on 31st May 1855."

For the complete article ,pl refer:

How the stage was set for the advent of The Great Master Sri Ramakrishna who exemplified-"As many Faiths,so many Paths" !


Rosemary Osterhus said...

I have often wondered why Sri Bhagavan built the Samadhi for his Mother. If I remember correctly, he was living on a different level of the Hill but eventually moved down in order to be closer to the Samadhi. Bhagavan is always so easy to read because his actions speak for him, he never seems to have made explanation, he just moved. Bhagavan never did anything without reason. This action (movement) by him I feel is a teaching, but the lesson, as yet, eludes me. It must be important.

gregbasker said...

Glad to have found this blog! I'm frantically searching for Ramana Maharishi's "Ulladhu Narpadhu" in the Tamil original, to read/download online. Could you please give me a link? This is important for the research on the Maharishi, that I am about to take up now. As I live in Europe, I dont have easy access to Tamil books. Thanks in anticipation. Looking forward to a fruitful time with you all!

David Godman said...


If you need help understanding the tamil, you might find this version useful:

You can download the Tamil texts with word-for-word meaning by Sadhu Om and Michael James at:

seema said...

Dear Devid
The fact that Bhagwan wrote a Will Baffles me. I would be happy if some one throws light on it. I want to be wrong but this particular act of Bhagwan seems to be show Prejudicial towards own biological family.

Ravi said...

What a doubt!Rest assured that you are wrong as you want to be!After all that Sri Bhagavan has lived,to give room for such a silly doubt!
Let us ask-How did the relatives reach Tiruvannamalai?Did Sri Bhagavan ask them to come there?It was their prarabda that they were born in the same family;again it was their prarabda that they were drawn to Tiruvannamalai.It was Prarabda that chinnasami took charge of the Asramam ,and it is also true that much of the asramam complex was built by annAmalai swami not as the sarvadhikari wished(but as per the will of Sri Bhagavan).
It is not difficult to understand that the 'Family members' were ordained by the divine providence to take charge of the asramam;and they have done a wonderful service by preserving the character and atmosphere of the asramam as it was in yester years when Sri Bhagavan Graced in his physical presence.
Wish you the very best.

Rosemary Osterhus said...

It is a confusing issue. I have had to work through the idea that Bhagavan "owned" property. It's a matter of trust really. Is this any different than Bhagavan shedding tears when he heard of the death of Mahatma Ghandi? There is always a danger of projecting our own issues, Bhagavan once said something about it, about the devotees projecting stuff on to him. It's hard to sort out, but to me, it's a matter of trust.

Ravi said...

I appreciate what you have said.Yet,I find there is still room for doubt in what you have said-"It's hard to sort out, but to me, it's a matter of trust."Why should it be 'Hard to sort out'?
Is it Trust or 'almost persuaded'?This is mental prop;If Trust is there ,it is impossible to doubt.
This ,to me,is absolutely simple,if we do not make distinctions as 'relatives' and 'otherwise'(you have mentioned this)and simply consider them as 'devotees' who 'happen' to be relatives and should not be deprived of their role in the upkeep of the asramam for this reason.
You asked about Sri Bhagavan 'building' a samadhi for his mother.I will post later when I find the inclination to do the same!All these are verily related to the 'preservation' of the Teachings(not to be found in the books alone!)for posterity.

David Godman said...


You are not alone in thinking it odd that Bhagavan made a will. Long ago I read that Prof. Radhakrishnan had said that he became convinced that Bhagavan was not a jnani when he read that had made a will.

Why shouldn't he make a will? He was not legally a sannyasi. The ashram that grew up around him had acquired property and possessions. Bhagavan needed to indicate in some way what should be done with them after he passed away. Any decision on these matters that did not come from Bhagavan himself would have been hotly contested by devotees after his mahasamadhi.

Incidentally, Bhagavan did not draft the will. That was done by a devotee who was a judge. The final draft was read to him, but I don't think he edited it in any way.

I spent time with both Nisargadatta Maharaj and Papaji in their final years. Both of them proactively took decisions that transferred property to their family members.

I spoke to Surendra (Papaji's son) about this after his father died.

He said, 'We could never initiate a discussion with my father on things like this. If we tried, he would just ignore us. But in the last few months of his life he would occasionally call me into his bedroom and tell me what decisions and provision he had made for family members. The younger members of the family, for example, were allocated money for their education. In my case, he bought the house in Narhi that we had all lived in for decades and gave it to me as a gift.'

In the 1930s Bhagavan declared himself to be 'ativarnasrami' in a court case that revolved around the ownership and management of the ashram. In reply to a question from one of the lawyers Bhagavan stated that an ativarnasrami could own and dispose of property. Making a will is clearly the most sensible and practical way of doing this.

Rosemary Osterhus said...

I say it is hard to sort out, because it hit me as an unexpected fact. There is nothing wrong with this. Bhagavan had a will and there was nothing secret about it.
There was some reason. I just don't know it. Just like I don't know why he moved down the hill to be close to his Mother's Samadhi.
Why? I don't know, it's baffling to me. But, he did what he did, and I feel sure that there is a good reason for it. Maybe his reasons had something to do with his Mother's samadhi OR I could be projecting. That is what I mean by sorting things out....I really don't know why he did what he did.

Rosemary Osterhus said...

PS. On a similar note, there was a pinetree located on private property in the USA, where Swami Vivekananda liked to meditate. The tree was known as "Swamiji's Pine". When the real property fell into disinterested hands, the pine tree was chopped down and made into timber. The sacred tree is now a stump. Maybe Bhagavan felt that his own family would have the fiercest cause to keep the Mother's Samadhi ground sacred. These are just my thoughts
on what Bhagavan might have wanted by way of keeping his Mother's Samadhi in the family (???)

hey jude said...

Here is Swami Chinmayananda's first hand account of
what happened when he met Ramana Maharshi.

"It so happened that I had sat down at the foot of the
wooden couch. The Maharshi suddenly opened his eyes
and looked straight into mine; I looked into his. A
mere look, that was all. I felt that the Maharshi was,
in that split moment, looking deep into me ˜ and I was
sure that he saw all my shallowness, confusions,
faithlessness, imperfections, and fears.

I was ashamed. But I did not want to take my eyes away
from his embracing look. Yet I could not stand that
honest, kind, and pitying look of pure love and deep
wisdom. In fact, it was I who had to look away – and
the next moment, when I gazed at his face again, he
had again closed his eyes.

I cannot explain what happened in that one split
moment. I felt opened, cleaned, healed, and emptied! A
strange feeling – fear mixed with love, hate colored
by affection, love honeyed with shyness, joy drowned
in sorrow.

A whirl of confusions: my atheism dropping away, but
skepticism flooding in to question, wonder, and
search. My reason gave me strength: "It is all
mesmerism, my own foolishness." Thus assuring myself,
I got up and walked away.

But I knew. The boy who left the hall was *not* the
boy who had gone in some ten minutes before.

Rosemary Osterhus said..., that is what I think he was doing with the will.

Dust to dust, that is all the Mother's Samadhi was, OR WAS IT?

Bhagavan showed us something different. He was protecting a sacred trust.

It wasn't about "possesion" it was "protection".

That's the way I see it...

Anonymous said...

The only reason these saints can love all and forgive all is becuase they have much more knowledge than us including past, present and future.Bhagawan's life is a detailed open book.All the decisions or the apparent decisions that came from him are simply the best choice given the circumstances.It is not magic that they can come up with best decisions it is simply that they have vast knowledge of the past, present and the future.So Bhagawan also made the best decision to sign a will for OUR benefit.There is no other way we can prove this because we cannot go back in time and appoint someone else and see how it came out.But there is a solid proof from his life as a detailed open book.All his innumerable actions were completely out of enormous compassion and he was supremely intelligent,wise,patient,samatva,supremely knowledgeable in Sastras and what not.He lived the life of a kaupini just to set an example of Rishi Dharma.According to Nagamma's letter he also had fore knowledge about the court cases.

Then how could we attribute partiality to such a being? Seema, your question is very normal for a beginner reading about Bhagawan.When I was new I also asked a similar question: Was he not partial in granting Moksha to his biological Mother?The answer I now have is she is Ready/Ripe.
Dont worry it is a natural question but when you read more about Bhagawan many such questions will vanish.

I think it is wrong to take the 'Theoritical' meaning of a Jnani minus the practicality of dealing with the Real world.From the same 'Theoritical' standpoint came other questions like 1)If he is a Jnani then why did he encourage building the temple2)Why does he continue to teach after being a Jnani as who is there for him to teach3)Why did Sankara write stotras on Personal gods being an Advaiti4)If Sankara is a Jnani why did he go around the country establishing Ashrams5)Why do Jnanis continue to live in physical bodies after attaining Self Realization6)Why does Nisargadatta performs puja to his Guru or Bhagawan smear Vibhooti to his forehead.

7)My personal question still lingering is why did Lakshmana Swamy cry,appeal and even beg Sri Saradamma to stay alive after Realization in order to teach and benefit the world as mentioned in the book 'No Mind I am the Self'.I can understand if devotees begged her to stay alive but why one Jnani begging another Jnani to stay alive inorder to teach the world??


Ravi said...

I warmly recommend the Books 'Letters from Sri Ramanasramam' by suri nagamma and 'At the feet of Bhagavan' by T K sundaresa Iyer.These are among the best accounts that capture the wonderful Humanity of Sri Bhagavan.
Forget that Sri Bhagavan was Jnani,godman,Great soul,etc;
as a humanbeing,he was without parallel.
These books are available as downloads from this site:

Rosemary Osterhus said...

My configuration (again) is that this action on Bhagavan's part was meant to assure the protection of his Mother's Samadhi. If a line of succession had not been appointed then how would it have been accomplished? Would an organization have to be constructed? Would layers and layers of secreteries and presidents and Maths and Missions and Vaticans been structured to assure it? No. Bhagavan settled this with the most natural line of succesion. After all, we are not talking about 20 or so Mercedes Benz as Rajneesh acquired while in America. Possession is not the point..

Still, the thing I haven't figured out and which becomes the baffling point, is what this means to me!

Is Bhagavan saying to me that the world is "real" after all?

Or am I missing his point altogether?

What is sacred? If the Holy Hill Arunachala is sacred then why did Bhagavan not like for women to walk alone there?

What is real? What is sacred? What remains? Is all this mind?

So much confusion...

S. said...

salutations to all:

hope none of you will take my opinion 'personally'. my apologies in advance if someone, despite my intentions, does get inadvertently offended. here is an opinion - of course, but for bhagavAn, don't know what is not an opinion! :-) - to doubt is important, especially prior to a conviction, but after a firm conviction has flowered, after a steadfast confidence has emerged, there can be three broad classes of 'students': the 'best class' will direct & sharpen their focus on the most essential crux of the teacher's instruction, but for the most basic duties in life one has been entrusted or thrust with, engage in sAdhanA unswervingly until the self is realised (reading is not sAdhana; the only purpose of reading, be it a teacher's teachings or biography or scriptures, is to gain that conviction, after which reading is just a futile addiction). the 'mediocre class' will read, analyse, ponder over the master's writing & teachings, study scriptural texts, find comparisons between teachings here and elsewhere, relish reminiscences left by the 'best' referred earlier, visit holy places etc. (unless specifically instructed by the master to cater to one's particular disposition, not those we imagine, all these are by & large only a preparation for sAdhanA, not sAdhanA per se). The 'residual class' are likely to get attracted by the likes of 'why did the master do this or not do that when what would have been 'right' is to have not done that or done this', why did the master remain silent here but speak there, why did the teacher use his right hand when he typically only uses the left hand etc. etc., and this can be occupying enough to neither reflect on the teachings nor soak oneself in sAdhanA!

now, if not all, most of us have all the above within us, akin to the fluctuating dominance of the guNas in us at diferent points in time. to the best of our abilities, let us be riveted to the 'best class' & pivoted to sAdhanA, otherwise we may fall an easy prey to the warning given in the verse 4.40 of the gItA - samshyAtmA vinashyati, na sukham samshayAtmanaH :-)

Sankar Ganesh said...


Hope, the below excerpts (as links) from "Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi" will be of help to you to clear your doubts.


Reading "Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi" and "Letters from Sri Ramanasramam" will be of great help to you.


Anonymous said...


...realization is explosive. It takes place spontaneously, or at the slightest hint. The quick is not better than the slow. Slow ripening and rapid flowering alternate. Both are natural and right. Yet, all this is so in the mind only. As I see it, there is really nothing of the kind. In the great mirror of consciousness images arise and disappear and only memory gives them continuity. And memory is material -- destructible, perishable, transient. On such flimsy foundations we build a sense of personal existence -- vague, intermittent, dreamlike. This vague persuasion: 'I-am-so-and-so' obscures the changeless state of pure awareness and makes us believe that we are born to suffer and to die.


I was told that a realized person will never do anything unseemly. That they will behave in an exemplary way.


Who sets the example? Why should a liberated one necessarily follow conventions? The moment one becomes predictable, one cannot be free. Ones freedom lies in being free to fulfill the need of the moment, to obey the necessity of the situation. Freedom to do what one likes is really bondage, while being free to do what one must, what is right, is real freedom.


What about cause and effect?


Each moment contains the whole of the past and creates the whole of the future.


But past and future exist?


In the mind only. Time is in the mind, space is in the mind. The law of cause and effect is also a way of thinking. In reality all is here and now and all is one. Multiplicity and diversity are in the mind only.


A message in print may be paper and ink only. It is the text that matters. By analysing the world into elements and qualities we miss the most important -- its meaning. Your reduction of everything to dream disregards the difference between the dream of an insect and the dream of a poet. All is dream, granted. But not all are equal.


The dreams are not equal, but the dreamer is one. I am the insect. I am the poet -- in dream. But in reality I am neither. I am beyond all dreams. I am light in which all dreams appear and disappear. I am both inside and outside the dream. Just as a man having a headache knows the ache and also knows that he is not the ache, so do I know the dream, myself dreaming and myself not dreaming -- all at the same time. I am what I am before, during and after the dream. But what I see in dream, I am not."


If both dream and escape from dream are imaginings, what is the way out?


There is no need of a way out! Don't you see that a way out is also part of the dream? All you have to do is to see the dream as dream.


If I start the practice of dismissing everything as a dream, where will it lead me?


Wherever it leads you, it will be a dream. The very idea of going beyond the dream is illusory. Why go anywhere? Just realize that you are dreaming a dream you call the world, and stop looking for ways out. The dream is not your problem. Your problem is that you like one part of the dream and not another. When you have seen the dream as a dream, you have done all that needs be done

Kas said...

Why all this questions. Ramana would not have gone anywhere even if the court case was lost.

Arunachala cant be moved right. Kind souls would have gone on writing about him. So much words on someone so silent ;)

Zee said...

Life of the Buddha by Nanamoli
Why the establishment of the Ashram,Temple and the Will???
While the venerable Sariputta was alone in retreat this thought
arose in him: "Which Buddhas' holy life did not last long? Which
Buddhas' holy life lasted long?"
When it was evening, he rose from retreat, and he went to the
Blessed One and put this question to him.
"In the time of the Blessed Ones Vipassi, Sikhl and Vessabhu
the holy life did not last long, Sariputta. In the time of the Blessed
Ones Kakusandha, Konagamana and Kassapa the holy life lasted
"Lord, what was the reason why the holy life did not last long in
the time of the Blessed Ones Vipassi, Sikhl and Vessabhu?"
"Those Blessed Ones were not forward in teaching the Dhamma
to their disciples in detail, and they pronounced few Threads of
Argument (Suttas),3 Songs, Expositions, Stanzas, Exclamations, Sayings,
Birth Stories, Marvels, and Questions. No disciples' training
rule was made known. The Patimokkha, the Monastic Code, was
not laid down. Just as, when various flowers are put on a table without
being held together by threads, they easily get scattered, blown
away and lost—why is that? because they are not held together
with threads—so too, when those Buddhas, those Blessed Ones,
and the disciples enlightened by them personally, disappeared,
then the disciples most recently gone forth, variously named, of
various races and various clans, soon let the holy life lapse. Those
Blessed Ones habitually read their disciples' minds and advised
them accordingly. Once in a certain awe-inspiring jungle thicket
the Blessed One Vessabhu, accomplished and fully enlightened, read
the minds of the Sangha of bhikkhus a thousand strong, and this
was how he advised and instructed them: 'Think thus; do not think
thus. Give attention thus; do not give attention thus. Abandon this;
enter upon and abide in this.' Then by following his instructions their
hearts were freed from taints through not clinging. And that jungle
thicket was one so awe inspiring that normally it would make a man's
hair stand on end if he were not free from lust. That was the reason
why those Blessed Ones' holy life did not last long."


Zee said...

"But, Lord, what was the reason why the holy life lasted long in the
time of the Blessed Ones Kakusandha, Konagamana and Kassapa?"
"Those Blessed Ones were forward in teaching the Dhamma to
their disciples in detail, and they pronounced many Threads of Argument,
Songs, Expositions, Stanzas, Exclamations, Sayings, Birth Stories,
Marvels and Questions. The disciples' training rule was made
known. The Patimokkha, the Monastic Code, was laid down. Just as,
when various flowers are put on a table well tied together with threads,
they do not get scattered, blown away and lost—why is that? because
they are well tied together with threads—so too, when those Buddhas,
those Blessed Ones, and the disciples enlightened by them personally,
disappeared, then the disciples who had gone forth most recently,
variously named, of various races, of various clans, maintained the
holy life for a long time. That was the reason why those Blessed Ones'
holy life lasted long."
Then the venerable Sariputta rose from his seat, and arranging
his robe on one shoulder, he raised his hands palms together towards
the Blessed One and said: "This is the time, Blessed One, this is the
time, Sublime One, for the Blessed One to make known the training
rule, to lay down the Patimokkha, so that the holy life may last
"Wait, Sariputta, wait! The Perfect One will know the time for
that. The Master does not make known the disciples' training rule
or lay down the Patimokkha till certain taint-producing things manifest
themselves here in the Sangha. But as soon as they do, then
the Teacher will see to both of these, doing so for the purpose
of warding off those taint-producing things. Some taint-producing
things do not manifest themselves until the Sangha has become
great by long establishment and grown large: it is then that they manifest
themselves and then that the Teacher makes known the disciples'
training rule and lays down the Patimokkha for the purpose
of warding off those taint-producing things. Some taint-producing
things do not manifest themselves till the Sangha has become great
by completeness ... become great by excessive gain ... become great
by learning .... But as yet the Sangha is free from infection, free
from dangers, it is stainless, pure and consists of heartwood. For of
these five hundred bhikkhus the most backward is a stream-enterer
no more subject to perdition, certain of Tightness, and destined to

Karthik_srk said...

Dear all,
David, Thank you for a wonderful post. Though i am not learned like anyone here, i would like to add a word or two with my humble pranams to Bhagawan and Acharya.
After reading through the Curious Court Case, and curious case of "HINDU" word, its my humble understanding that Hindu is a word that was used by the west to represent the other side of River Sindh- Bharaatavarshha and the people living in it. We did not have Namakaranam as "HINDU". So for that matter any Shankara Mutt or RamaKrishna Mutt or Ramanashram or any temple /institutions there of are not HINDU basically. They are for Sanatana Dharma. So Ramakrishna mutt or Ramanashram proclaiming as non Hindu is quite logical and correct. Since Sanathana Dharma is the representation for this part of world and pre-existed the word "HINDU".
Pranams to Acharyas and Bhagawan.


Shrini said...

It is interesting to read the responses to Seema and Rosemary's questions. We tend to be defensive about those we feel is sacred. Any reasoning person is immediately tried to persuaded not to follow their line of thought and asked to have faith. To me the self enquiry taught by Bhagavan requires a questioning mind, not mere repetition of words of wisdom of saints. The very act of Bhagavan writing a will means our understanding of a jnani needs to be corrected. Let us try to explore this which will make us so much richer in our understanding. So, let us not jump on anyone questioning, though we may not agree to it fully.

sakalapoojalu said...

,Vinayaka Chavithi Puja Vidhanam- poojalu, vratamulu, horoscope, panchangam, god prayers, suprabhatamulu, astotramulu, raasichakram, kundali, best works, vaastu, muhoortamulu, festivals, devotional, bhakti, aaradhana, saahityam, aalayam, telugu bhakti, sai strotramulu, vinayaka vratam, varalaxmi vratam, culture, Subhamuhurtamulu, lucky stones, dosha nivarana pooja, telugu nakshatrams, palmistry, daily panchangam, best timings, daily, muhoortams, sumoohartam, bhakti, aaradhana, satyanveshana, ananda siddi, saahityam, saampradayam, temple, dharma sandeshaalu, aadyatmika samaacharam

sakalapoojalu said...

,Vinayaka Chavithi Puja Vidhanam- poojalu, vratamulu, horoscope, panchangam, god prayers, suprabhatamulu, astotramulu, raasichakram, kundali, best works, vaastu, muhoortamulu, festivals, devotional, bhakti, aaradhana, saahityam, aalayam, telugu bhakti, sai strotramulu, vinayaka vratam, varalaxmi vratam, culture, Subhamuhurtamulu, lucky stones, dosha nivarana pooja, telugu nakshatrams, palmistry, daily panchangam, best timings, daily, muhoortams, sumoohartam, bhakti, aaradhana, satyanveshana, ananda siddi, saahityam, saampradayam, temple, dharma sandeshaalu, aadyatmika samaacharam

Anonymous said...






OM Yoga raajaaya vidmahe Mahaa yogaaya dheemahi
Thanno kriyaa yogaa prachodayat.

Heavenly Father, Divine Mother Gayathri, Param Guru Premavatar Mahavatar Babaji and Sadgurus of all religions we bow to you all. Babaji, bless me, love me, protect me, guide me forever and forever. Babaji, be with us, bless us, guide us and make us as perfect kriyabans by sowing the seeds of divine love, joy, peace, prosperity, friendship, kindness and success in our hearts forever and forever and wake up us from maha maya. Om Santhi, Santhi, Santhihi.

Wishing well and good to all with a smile on your face! That is living well. Living well is making the world a better place. It is gift for you and everyone! That is wisdom. .. Babaji

This method is called as WHITE LIGHT KRIYA YOGA, directly revealed by Sri Mahavatar Babaji to a Kriyaban on the eve of His Smriti Divas to make your homes as places of peace. Billions can practice, print and share on your own. No restrictions. No need of Sannyas. No need of conditioning the mind. Fix your timings on your own to practice NOW.

BASIS : Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi .. of Gayathri mantra .. We should meditate on God as LIGHT. i.e. in pure, bright white light form.

METHOD : (1) Sit in Padmasan or any comfortable posture, recite the prayers, close your eyes, gaze between eye brows, open your heart, invite Babaji into your heart by saying, Babaji come and stay in my heart, and imagine as your heart is filling with divine love. Maintain stillness. Then, reveal all of your problems. Pray for His guidance.

(2) Invite prana or pure, bright white light .. say, my prana is purifying all chakras and all parts of my body, mind and soul by removing all blocks and all past, present bad karmas within me. You can feel the flow of energy within .

Anonymous said...

(3) Feel within as my prana or white light is healing all of my diseases within my physical, mental, subtle bodies and energizing all of my chakras forever and forever. Maintain stillness. Then feel as .. for 5 minutes ..

(4) Pure, bright white light flowing through me is purifying apus, pridhvi, vayu, tejas, akash, my home and all of my past, present, future bad karmas and around me upto 10000 Maintain stillness. Then say within as I am succeeding in all of my efforts, I am very happy, prosperous and peaceful now.

(5) Then imagine, my prana in the form of pure, bright white light is filling my body, mind and soul with divine love, joy, peace, prosperity, friendship, kindness and success forever and forever. Maintain stillness.

(6) Then, you feel within as …. NOW I am experiencing as the divine nature of God is childlike, always celebratory, always joyful and unconditionally loving the moment. These moments are unconditionally loving moments. I am in touch with God. My human will is transforming into divine will, my human love is transforming into divine love, my sexual energy is transforming into divine energy. I am recognizing the unity with God now and forever and forever, I am transforming day by day from human being into a divine light being. [Fill your heart with such divine feelings]

(7) Imagine as abundant cosmic energy is flowing through my body, mind and soul and storing below my navel forever and forever.

(8) Continue to meditate for 20 to 45 minutes. If you want to recite Babaji’s prayer as many times as you can, recite. Experience the inner joy in silence. Practice stillness daily. Learn to meditate for long time upto 3 to 5 hours.

(9) PRAY FOR OTHERS : At the end of the meditation pray for 5 minutes as …

“Heavenly Father, bless me and all of us, our family members, all friends, relatives, all soulmates, ATMAS, soldiers, our country and all children of Babaji provide us the most peaceful life with all comforts and enough resources and wipe out all negative forces and vulgar culture forever and forever” …

from the depth of your heart. At the end recite above prayers and say Sarveshaam Santhir Bhavatu, Sarveshaam Mangalam Bhavatu, Sarveshaam Poornam Bhavatu. Language is not a barrier. Purity of heart is required.. Understand the true nature of Divine Will, Free Will and acquire at Will and selection of soulmates by God. To follow the footsteps of God follow “Will of God” only.

Pregnants, children and any seeker without any discrimination of age, gender, religion, spiritual path can follow the above method. No need to deviate from your regular worshipping methods. This system is purely personal and so natural to maintain eternal contact with God directly. You can spread, print, and share this method with any seeker of God. No need of secrecy. Become a Deva Warriors and Light Workers. This pure knowledge is free. (To practice this method use white light or prana)

PRANA is the link between You and the God.

Be practical, live realistically and naturally in tune with modern times.

The real transformation has to be made within your Heart only but not outside.

Practice to awaken the “TRUE MASTER” resides within your heart.

Set a goal to meditate for a minimum of 10,000 hours in a decade or two.

Unmarried ( everybody ) has to maintain physical and mental brahmacharya for
purity within.

Understand reality, never become a blindlamb, never follow the teachings of any Master blindly, perfect conceptual clarity is required.


S. said...

david: there seems to be some problem with the 'Open Thread'. when one tries to post a comment, the number of comments shown on top is "200" though the actual is more than 3000!

Ravi said...

Just now got the news that rA Ganapathi,The great devotee who had compiled 8 Volumes of Deivathin Kural-Talks of Kanchi MahAswami passed away on the sivaratri day.
I will just copy the news that I received here:
This is to inform our friends that Sri. Ra. Ganapathi has departed our world. The moment of his passing came around 7:30 PM on this auspicious Maha ShivaRatri evening. The family has stated that he was very conscious and aware at the moment of his passing. He started a japam as he started on his way.

He had been well aware of the forthcoming end for the last few days and has shared it with a few people close to him. As many of us are aware, he has written a number of books (over 35) and articles on Spiritual subjects. His career as we knew it, started with Jaya Jaya Shankara in 1962, which was published as a serial in the weekly, Kalki and was then published as a book. Over 10 in years in Kalki, and over another 25 years as a freelancer, he has written a number of books and articles touching on the life and words of Sri Kanchi Maha Periyava, as also Sri Satya Sai Baba, Sri ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Sri Saradamani (our Holy Mother), Swami Vivekanada and Bhakta Meerabai.

He was gifted in the area of music as well and some of his kritis and bhajans have been rendered by reknowned karnatak musicians. Sri Ganapathi never coveted any fame nor material possessions. A number of us have known him to never touch money and have watched his needs and legal obligations being miraculously met over and over for a number of years, long before he had acquired any name recognition.
This Great devotee lives on in and through his wonderful books written in his inimitable style.


Ravi said...

"I appealed earlier for expert agamic help. I make the same appeal again for vedic knowledge. If the Paramacharya had accepted that Bhagavan’s mother was a jnani, would that have enabled him to change his opinion on the status of the Mother’s Temple in the years prior to its kumbhabhishekam? According to the Vedas, could a jnani’s body in a graveyard have a temple constructed over it that could be visited and used by orthodox Hindus?"

The story of sakkarai amma is interesting-amma was called sakkarai ,derived from chakra,as she worshipped Sri Chakra.Amma has met Sri Bhagavan ,Sri seshadri swami.Her temple is built on her samadhi by Sri Nanjunda Rao,who is her disciple.Incidentally Dr Nanjunda Rao was an ardent devotee of Swami Vivekananda and he helped procure the land for the Ramakrishna Mutt.Nanjunda Rao also gave the land to Sri Narasimhaswami to build the sai temple in Mylapore,Chennai.
The interesting thing about this temple is that Sri sakkarai amma is a Brahmin Widow and the temple is constructed on her samadhi with her statue installed.The Kanchi Mahaswami has spent 5 days in 1948 in tapas in this temple.
The temple is quite a neat and clean place with a wonderful spiritual ambiance.It is situated on Kalakshetra Road,Thiruvanmiyur,Chennai
Please visit :

Anonymous said...

What an amusing adventure! Thank you for the account.

There were two great takeaways for me:
'Who is a Hindu' quote and more valuable this following touchstone definition (and practice instruction) of a Jnani by Sri Paramacharya

".. to whom the existence and extinction of the body made no difference and who, fully one (with the Self) did not have an inkling of desire to see or hear anything. "

I am amazed at how fluently this flowed in a conversation and caught by Ra.Ganapathi and how you pulled it out and presented it. Thank you Sri.Godman. Deivajna.


As a little bit of thinking might reveal, running the Ashram is not a privilege for Ramana's brother's family but a great responsibility.
Generation after generation at least one of the descendents should commit to staying there and managing it, which is not very easy.

I do believe that the ashram by being an anchor that invites amd supports devotees and knowledge seekers such as you and providing them a glimpse of his life actual,
has inspired all of us.

If at all in future either because of practical circumstance or force of political events, the ashram falls off the hands of this devoted family, no worries, there is a Ramanasramam in every Ramana devotees mind. There will be several ashramams' all over the world and the Annamalai Ramanashramam will continue to remain the last pilgrimage spot for advaitins.

But Bhagavan's will is eternal and jnani does not have a sankalpam, what he utters as sankalpam is eswara sankalpam and the laws of politics and physics have to bend themselves to meet that.

The more I think of it, it seems like an event that helped test the managements commitment and bring the community together, than a real threat to its survival.

Thanks again.

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Sankarraman said...

There is a treatise called, 'Suddha Sadhaham,' meaning pure consciousness written by Kumaradevar subscribing to the view that the body of the yogi doesn't have a physical death, but is resolved into the undifferentiated matter, an idea cherished by most of the siddha schools. One Mudaliyar whose name I don't remember has translated this into very good English. But because very few takers were there, there was no further edition.

Sankarraman said...

The acharya of Sankara Matt, being believers in the philosophy of Mimamsa, dealing purely with Vedic rituals denying the role of god and stressing only the principle of, 'Apurva,' connoting the idea of the karmic effect of something done- according to them, it is only the karmas that naturally fructify and god has no role in that, and if one were to avoid bad karmas, and not give up the obligatory ones, one would attain moksa- don't have any authority to sit in judgement as to what constitutes a temple or samadhi. It is only the upholders of agama philosophy like Tirumular who have the authority in deciding these issues. That Sankarachryar should have dissuaded the priests from performing the pujas in the temple on account of impurity due to its being a burial place, shows his lack of understanding that a Jnani is free from these conventional constrictions. He lacks the qualification to decide either the status of Bhagavan or his mother. The averment of judges that a samadhi cannot evolve into a temple, is only a conventional logic. The Chidambarm temple is only the samadhi of Tirumualar as held by some saivaite Dikshithars of Chdiambaram. The conventional acharyas neither impart the wisdom of Advaita nor speak of the glory of god, but are only poor and pathetic, woebegone ritualists, and how in the name of heaven they could dare to speak demeaningly of a jnani, having their own pet traditional ideas.

Sankarraman said...

There is also a bizarre account of the Swamys of Ramakrishna Order, having claimed that they are not Hindus, but are for something Universal. On that score, they wanted to be classified under a minority status enabling them to have some special privileges, which is a case of hypocrisy.

Sankarraman said...

The gentleman who wrote a translation of the work of Kumaradeava known as, 'Suddha Sadakam,' is Murugesamudaliyar.

Sankarraman said...

Dr Radhakrishnan is only revelling in intellect as against his uncle Pranavananda being both a scholar and seeker. In his introduction to Arthur Osborne's work, there is only a lot of his own highfalutin ideas than any mention about Bhagavan.

Ravi said...

You may like to check out this pdf book-Advaita sadhana,excerpted from the talks of kAnchi mahAswami: