When I look at this YouTube of Ramana , I see only love. His eyes fueled by the universe speak of love, gentleness and a great compelling compassion. I’ve visited Ramana Maharshi’s ashram many times and always I’ve found there a sense of him in the peacefulness of the surroundings and in nature. I have not visited in 15 years now – maybe it has changed. I hope not.
IN 1948, I WAS in my thirty-ninth year. I lived in Madras in a good
place, with my wife and four charming children. I was the Madras Branch
Manager of a large British firm with its Indian Head Office in Calcutta.
Being in happy circumstances, I did not feel the need for any religious
practices or spiritual inquiries. I was contented and enjoyed the
good life, accounting that as the purpose of living.
On an official tour with Inspector Parthasarathi, I was on the platform
of Villupuram Junction on a hot April day, waiting for the train to
Katpadi Junction. We were to visit Tiruvannamalai. While Parthasarathi
and I were getting into a first class compartment, we saw a young
man of about 25 years, trying to enter the same compartment through
the next door.
The man was so fat that he found great difficulty getting aboard.
He heaved his huge body this way and that, while another man on the
platform, obviously his servant, pushed him forward. The man was perspiring
profusely and looking ashamed at the curious way people, including
Parthasarathi and myself, watched his sorry state. He got in somehow,
and occupied the cubicle next to ours.
When the train had run for some minutes the man join us. He introduced
himself as Ratilal Premchand Shah and started talking about himself.
Ratilal was a Saurashtra Gujarati Vaishya, born and brought up in
Gondal. The only son of his father who was one of the richest merchants
of that city. He had been married for six years. Corpulent from his
tenth year, he had been unable to do anything useful since that age.
Now at 25, he was just a huge mass of fat and misery.
Ratilal had left school at the age of 12 after passing standard four
with great difficulty. He never read books or periodicals. In the
last week of March, Ratilal had a vision while asleep. He saw an ascetic
dressed in only a loin-cloth, smiling and beckoning to him for quite
some time. He stood clearly before Ratilal’s mental eye when he awoke.
Ratilal did not speak to anyone about the vision. Two days later,
his wife was reading a Gujarati magazine, and Ratial looking over
her shoulders, saw the picture of the ascetic he had seen in his vision.
His wife told him that the ascetic was Bhagavaan Ramana Maharshi of
Tiruvannamalai, and that the Maharshi possessed rare spiritual gifts.
Ratilal at once went to his father and arranged a journey to Tiruvannamalai
with the trusted family servant. He knew nothing about Bhagavaan,
only what his wife had told him from the magazine article. He felt
sure though that all of his suffering was going to end as soon as
he reached the Guru’s Ashram.
Parthasarathi said that he had Darshan of Bhagavaan many times and
also read a great deal of books about him. He assured Ratilal that
the lad’s faith would prove to be worthwhile. The two young men talked
all the way to Tiruvannamalai, which took more than two hours. I was
reading a novel, but was really listening intently to their conversation.
At Tiruvannamalai Station, Ratilal was received by a local merchant
with whom his father had arranged his stay. Parthasarathi and I proceeded
to the Travellers’ Bungalow.
It was four o.clock when we took our rest and had tiffin. Parthasarathi
knew that I was a business-like Manager, and not likely to waste a
single moment. He said we could visit the market, if I wanted to now,
and was very surprised when I said: “No, Parthasarathi! We will go
and have Darshan of Bhagavaan first. Then if there is time, we will
go to the temple. Let the Company’s business wait!”
It was about five o.clock when Parthasarathi and I entered Ramana’s
Ashram. Where we walked around Bhagavaan’s Mother’s samadhi. (grave)
Then we walked towards the verandah. There were some fifty people
sitting there. Ratilal, his servant and his host merchant were also
there. Bhagavaan though, was not. The visitors talked in whispers,
trying to find out where he was.
After waiting for some ten minutes, and still no Bhagavaan, Parthasarathi
suggested that we view the Ashram compound.
After our inspection, we were on the way back to the verandah by another
side, when we heard a childish voice, “Chee! Asaththe! (Chut! You
naughty!).” We could not see any children around, and therefore cast
our eyes carefully to find out where the voice came from? Then we
observed some movement among the leaves of the Bringal, and other
plants in the kitchen garden, aside the verandah’s end. Looking at
the quarter more intently, we saw a small goat, a little monkey and
a squirrel, and Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi! He was sitting on his haunches
with his legs folded.
The goat nestled between Bhagavan’s knees; the monkey had its head
resting on his right knee; the squirrel sat perched on his left palm.
He picked ground nuts from a piece of paper with his right hand fingers,
and one by one fed the goat, the monkey and the squirrel, and himself
last, strictly in that order.
His remarks appeared to have been addressed to the monkey which had
tried to snatch the nut he was going to place between the squirrel’s
lips. As we watched, the foursome went on enjoying the nut meal. All
the four members seemed to be equally happy, and the way they looked
at one another and kept close together was very touching. The goat,
the monkey and the squirrel, and Bhagavan too, had obviously forgotten
their differences in species.
And we too, looking on, saw all the four only as four varied forms
of the same creation. I cannot find words to describe clearly the
thoughts and feeling which passed through my mind then. The vision
of the Supreme Cosmic Consciousness appeared as a flash of lightning,
and disappeared in the grossness that I was. The split second of the
duration of that vision contained the essence of all existence, knowledge
and bliss, Sat-Chid-Ananda!
The nut meal was over. Bhagavaan threw the paper away, and said, “Ponkoda!”
(go away, brats!) just like any common man speaking to his wee grand-children.
The goat the monkey and the squirrel left. Bhagavaan got up. Parthasarathi
and I slipped off hurriedly, feeling guilty of trespass into the Divine,
but not sorry.
Soon after we resumed our seats on the verandah, Bhagavaan came to
his cot. He stood still for a few minutes, facing us. But I cannot
say he looked at us. His eyes appeared permanently fixed on something
far above and beyond the confines of this earth. They did not seem
to be instruments for looking at all, but screens to shut out the
material world from him, so he might concentrate more on the Light
within. Sparks of flame shot out through the holes of the screen at
times, sparks which cooled the objects on which they fell, and penetrated
all the coverings of gross material around the objects and lighted
up the wicks of consciousness inside them.
All of us got up and fell at full length towards Bhagavaan. He held
up his right palm till we had resumed our seats. Then he sat on his
cot, reclining on the pile of cushions at its head, putting his left
palm to his temple. We sat and looked at his face. It wore the same
expression, or lack of expression, with which he had stood before
us. He continued to sit in the same position and with the same look;
we continued to look at him. No one spoke or made any attempt to speak.
But the confrontation was not a dead silence; it was a very live experience
in which the innermost being of each one of us communed with the Glory
of the Supreme Cosmic Consciousness which Bhgagavaan was.
I was numb with the appalling realisation that the Glory resting on
the cot was the same that had dwelt in the form of stillness, that
I had seen minutes ago, eating groundnuts in the intimate company
of small animals.
Bhagavaan got up from the cot. Then we all stood up. As we left, I
felt a strange and hitherto-unknown peace and joy inside me; the faces
of the others showed a similar condition of mind. There was a new
spring in Ratital’s gait as he walked to the Ashram gate; Bhagavaan’s
Grace had obviously started working inside his body.
Many things have happened to me since that memorable day in April
1948, causing domestic and financial troubles. But my inner life has
been always happy. Whenever I feel low, a vision of Bhagavaan in the
kitchen garden takes care of it.
In 1953, when I was in Rajkot, and employed as a Manager for an automobile
firm. One day, a man of about thirty came into my office and accosted
me with the question, “Don’t you recognise me, Sir?” “No, please,”
I replied, truthfully. The man continued: “I am Ratilal of Gondal,
Sir! Do you remember the Darshan of Bhagavaan Ramana Maharshi five
years ago?” I looked more attentively at the man. He was lean and
wiry, with his face aglow with health and happiness. I shook his hands
heartily and told him to be seated.
He complied and said: “Sir, Bhagavaan fulfilled his promise wonderfully
well. You see me. I am now managing our family business. I have a
son and another is on the way.” Ratilal closed his eyes in gratitude
to Bhagavaan. I too, closed my eyes, and relived that wonderful day.
Submitted by Mrs. M. Manwering, Cheshire.