Author Topic: Role Of Echammal For Bhagavan Ramana's Constant Company For Alagammal  (Read 1312 times)


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Anyone who has ever read about the string of tragedies that befell Echammal before she came to the Maharshi can only remotely imagine her grief. Think of it: you are happily married and well placed at the age of twenty-four; blessed with two lovely children, one girl, one boy; your husband falls ill and within a short time dies; before you are able to recover your mental balance from this loss, your son falls ill and dies; and even while you are still in a state of shock, your dearly loved daughter, your sole remaining child, is also taken away in the same manner. If you have a family, think about it . . . . What would be your condition after such a series of tragedies within a lapse of less than one year?

Yes, that was Echammal's condition when she walked up to the Virupaksha Cave to meet the young sage, then called Brahmana Swami. She stood before him for one hour, and in that one hour her tormented heart and shocked mind were transformed. A wave of peace gently rolled into her heart and the dark cloud of anguish dispersed from her mind. K. V. Mama joyfully recalls this event as if it was his own birth. And, in a way, it was.

After this meeting with the Maharshi, Echammal settled down at Tiruvannamalai in 1907. Subsequently, her niece, who Echammal adopted, came to live with her. Chellamma was her name and, like Echammal, she looked upon the Maharshi as her Saviour and Lord. In K. V. Mama's words:

"Chellamma was a ripe soul, recognized by Echammal, and completely surrendered to Bhagavan." Chellamma was K. V. Mama's mother.

Added to the list of Echammal's tragedies was the death of Chellamma soon after she had given birth to her first child. The Mother's dying wish was that her boy should be raised by Echammal. That is why K. V. Mama doesn't remember calling anyone by the name of mother other than Echammal.

"Echammal used all her resources to serve Bhagavan and his devotees. When Bhagavan's mother came to spend her last years with her son on the hill, the devotees staying with Bhagavan didn't agree with the idea of having a woman living in the ashram, even if that woman was the Maharshi's mother. Bhagavan was then living in Virupaksha Cave.

"Echammal took Alagammal (Bhagavan's mother) to live with her in town. For one week Alagammal and Echammal walked up the hill every day to see Bhagavan. Although Alagammal would live seven more years, her health was not robust and the daily climb up to Virupaksha Cave was wearing her down. Seeing this, Echammal took up Alagammal's case before Bhagavan and his devotees. She told them that it wasn't right to make Mother suffer in this way, as she had left everything and had come to take refuge in her son;

"and yet you will not permit her to stay with him," she said.

"Bhagavan's disciples countered her arguments, saying that if they allowed the Mother to stay, next Echammal and other woman devotees would be demanding the right to stay also. 'Then what kind of ashram will this be?' they asked.

"Echammal then told them, 'Can I, or any other person on earth, be as blessed and fortunate as the Mother of Bhagavan? She cannot be looked upon as an ordinary woman. Right here, standing before Bhagavan, I make the pledge that I will never request to stay in the ashram, nor will I ever ask permission for any other woman to stay in the ashram.' Even after hearing all of this from Echammal, Bhagavan's disciples still refused to relent to her request.

"Throughout this whole discussion Bhagavan remained silent. His silence was interpreted by the men devotees to mean that he agreed with them and didn't support Echammal's view. But, after Bhagavan heard Echammal's appeal, he quietly rose and walked over to his mother, took her hand in his, and said, 'Let us go. We can find some other place to stay. They do not want us here.'

"Of course, all the men devotees immediately withdrew their objections and Mother was accepted into the ashram. Thus Echammal played an important role for securing the comfort of Bhagavan's constant company for Alagammal in the final years of her life."