Author Topic: Part 1 - Shantamma A disciple of ramana maharshi experiences in Ramanashramam  (Read 2937 times)


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MY search for a Master who would lead me to salvation began when I was 40 years old. It was ten years later, in 1927, that I went to Tiruvannamalai in the company of three ladies. When I went to Ramanasramam, Bhagavan was seated on a cot in a grass-thatched shed. As soon as I saw him I knew that he was God in human form. Muruganar, who was a native of Ramnad like me, was by his side. I bowed to Bhagavan and said, "Today I am blessed. Please grant that my mind does not trouble me any more". Bhagavan turned to Muruganar and said, "Ask her to find out whether there is such a thing as mind. If there is, ask her to describe it". I stood still, not knowing what to say. Muruganar explained to me, "Don't you see? You have been initiated in the search for the Self.

We stayed for forty days. We would cook some food, and take it to the Ashram.Bhagavan would taste it and the rest was given to the devotees. In those days, Bhagavan's brother Chinnaswami was cooking in the Ashram. Often there were no curries or sambar, only plain rice and pickles. Though I wanted to stay on until Bhagavan's birthday, my companions had to leave. When I went to Bhagavan to take his leave, He asked me to wait a day longer for the newly printed Upadesa Saram . The next day he gave me a copy with his own hands. The thought of leaving him broke my heart and I wept bitterly. Bhagavan graciously said, "You are going to Ramnad, but you are not leaving Arunachala. Go and come soon".

Bhagavan used to be active working both in the kitchen and outside. He would clean grain, shell nuts, grind seeds, stick together the leaf plates we ate from and so on. We would join him in every task and listen to his stories, jokes, reminiscences and spiritual teachings. Occasionally he would scold us lovingly like a mother. Everything we did, every problem we faced, was made use of in teaching the art of total reliance on him.

The European

One morning a European came in a horse carriage to the Ashram and went straight to Bhagavan. He wrote something on a piece of paper and showed it to Bhagavan. Bhagavan did not answer, instead he gazed at the stranger steadily. The stranger stared back at him. Then Bhagavan closed his eyes and the stranger also closed his. Time passed and the whole atmosphere was silent and still. Lunch hour struck but Bhagavan would not open his eyes. Madhavaswami, the attendant, got Bhagavan's water pot and stood ready to lead him out of the hall. Bhagavan would not stir. We felt afraid to go near, such was the intensity around him. His face was glowing with a strange light. Chinnaswami was talking loudly to attract Bhagavan's attention. Even vessels were banged about, but all in vain. When the clock was striking twelve Bhagavan opened his eyes. They were glowing very brightly. Madhavaswami took up the water jug; the European got into the carriage and went away. It was the last we saw of him. Everybody was wonderstruck at the great good fortune of the man, to have received such immediate initiation from Bhagavan.

Maharaja of Mysore

Once the Maharaja of Mysore visited the Ashram. He asked for a private interview. Of course, Bhagavan never allowed such a thing. Finally it was decided that Maharaja be brought in when Bhagavan was having his bath. Trays and trays of sweets and other costly presents were laid at Bhagavan's feet. For ten minutes the Maharaja just stood looking and then prostrated before Bhagavan. Tears flowing from his eyes made Bhagavan's feet wet. He told Bhagavan, "They made me a Maharaja and bound me to a throne. For the sin of being born a king, I lost the chance of sitting at your feet and serving in your glorious presence. I do not hope to come again. Only these few minutes are mine. I pray for your grace".

The Harijan

In the early days of the Ashram, a harijan used to stand near the well and accompany Bhagavan whenever he went up the hill. One day Bhagavan called him near and said, "Go on repeating `Shiva, Shiva'". It was very unusual for an untouchable to receive this kind of initiation. He could never have secured it without Bhagavan's infinite grace. After that the man disappeared.

Kitchen and other stories

A visitor while taking leave of Bhagavan expressed a wish that Bhagavan should keep him in mind as he was going very far away and would probably not come back to the Ashram. Bhagavan replied:

A jnani has no mind. How can one without a mind remember or even think? This man goes somewhere and I have to go there and look after him? Can I keep on remembering all these prayers? Well, I shall transmit your prayer to the Lord of the Universe. He will look after you. It is his business.

After the devotee departed, Bhagavan turned towards us and said:

People imagine that the devotees crowding around a jnani get special favours from him. If a Guru shows partiality, how can he be a jnani? Is he so foolish as to be flattered by people's attendance on him and the service they do? Does distance matter? The Guru is pleased with him only who gives himself up entirely, who abandons his ego forever. Such a man is taken care of wherever he may be. He need not pray. God looks after him unasked. The frog lives by the side of the fragrant lotus, but it is the bee that gets the honey.

One day, when I was still new in the kitchen, I served Bhagavan with a few more pieces of potato than the rest. Bhagavan noticed it and got very angry with me. He turned his face away and did not look at those who were serving food. In the evening the women working in the kitchen would take leave of him. Usually he would exchange a few words with us. That evening he called me near and asked:

"What did you do today"?

"I don't know Bhagavan. Have I done something wrong"?

"You served me more curry than you served others".

"What does it matter. I did it with love and devotion".

"I felt ashamed to eat more than others. Have you come all this way to stuff me with food? You should always serve me less than the others. Do you hope to earn grace through a potato curry"?

"Out of my love for you I committed a blunder. Forgive me Bhagavan".

"The more you love my people, the more you love me", said Bhagavan.



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Shanamma was a little different from other kitchen workers,
in the sense that she had some knowledge of Tamizh Vedantic
texts.  She was given  a copy of Kaivalya Navaneetam, once
by one Nagaswami in Ramanathapuram. Nagaswami asked her
many questions like, "Why do you need Kaivalyam/" She said,
"To know the Path to liberation."  She also said that she had
no other desire than to know the Truth.

She again once sang a song from Sri Ramana Stuti Panchakam
of Venkataramana Iyer.  Bhagavan Ramana asked her how he
had come to know the song.  Muruganar then explained that he had
given her a copy of the book.

Similarly, when she wanted to go to Ramanathapuram for one year,
Bhagavan Ramana told her to wait for a day longer, so that the newly
printed Upadesa Saram will come.  He gave one copy of Upadesa
Saram with His own hands to Shantamma.  Further, she was sent by
post one copy of ULLadu Narpadu at the instance of Bhagavan.

After her return once again from Ramanathapuram, she was given
work in the kitchen.

In her old age, when she had pains and sorrows, to those who would
taunt her by saying, "You were for so long with Bhagavan and still
you are subject to pain and sorrow!".  Her answer would be:  "Each
time I was in trouble, I experienced His grace.  My greatest sorrows
led me to the highest bliss.  Bhagavan makes me and unmakes me;
who am I?; a simple old woman, to choose, when all comes from
Him only."

Arunachala Siva.