Author Topic: Final Part - Ramana Maharshi Devotee Annamalai Swami Recollects His Experiences  (Read 1540 times)


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Major Chadwick

When Chadwick arrived in Tiruvannamalai he mistook me for Bhagavan and prostrated before me. I then took him to Bhagavan. Also, I was asked to vacate the room I had been occupying at that time, in favor of Chadwick. Chadwick did not like this and said that if I vacated he would not stay at the Ashram. It was then agreed that the two of us would share the room.

This is how I became very friendly with Chadwick. He appreciated my hard work and sincerity. I even used to learn a little bit of English from Chadwick.

Chadwick gave me an umbrella, shaded eyeglasses and sandals to use when I was supervising or working in the hot sun. Once, when Bhagavan came by, I tried to remove all three. Then Bhagavan came near me and chided me, saying, "If you behave like this on seeing me, I will never come near you." The irony is that some others in the Ashram used to scoff at me for wearing these in Bhagavan's presence. I was in a dilemma because it was Bhagavan who insisted that I behave normally, or He would not come near me.

If you got up from your seat when Bhagavan passed by, He wouldn't be happy and would say, "So you are showing off your bhakti. Why not behave normally even when I come."

Construction Work

I knew nothing about masonry work before coming here. Although my father was proficient in masonry, sculpture, astrology and other fine arts, I knew none of these when I came to Bhagavan. Bhagavan taught me everything.

One day, Thenamma Paati asked Bhagavan how I could apply my mind to supervise all the construction work that was going on and still be devoted to Bhagavan. Bhagavan laughed and remarked that I should have been an engineer in my previous birth.

It was in very subtle ways that Bhagavan extracted work from the devotees. During my early days with Bhagavan, he once told me, "Go and see what the mason is doing." So I went there, asked him what he was doing and conveyed the reply to Bhagavan. After sometime, Bhagavan again asked me to go and see what the mason was doing. I complied. The mason was a little annoyed, but made the same reply. When Bhagavan asked me to go and see what the mason was doing for the third time, the mason thought that Bhagavan was mad as he was just asking him the same question again and again. I now asked Bhagavan why he kept repeating the same question. That is when he came out with his intentions and said, .Someone can attend to the work here. You go and supervise that work." I reflected that Bhagavan could have told me this in the first instance itself, or just ordered me to go and do it. But that wasn't Bhagavan's way. He was very subtle, shy, and very gentle. Bhagavan would indicate with only a few words or signs.

When the storeroom was being built, Bhagavan wanted me to make an image of Arunachala in cement. I honestly felt that I was overworked, not getting enough rest. Also, I was feeling a little dejected. A little later, Bhagavan came back and said, "I thought I could make that request, but if that's difficult for you, don't bother with it." I felt badly about the thoughts I had entertained and resolved that in the future I would definitely undertake and fulfill any of Bhagavan's requests, even if that should mean sacrificing my body. It was a solemn pledge I made to myself.

Bhagavan was very particular about doing things meticulously and perfectly. On all cupboards and other furniture, the name "Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai" had to be written very neatly, just like printed letters.

Bhagavan insisted that I should draw the image of Arunachala on the wall of the Ashram Store. When it did not come out properly, Bhagavan came and instructed me. However, it did not come out the second time as well. Bhagavan once again gave me a few hints and I managed to get it right the third time, and it can be seen at the store entrance even today. The three dimensional aspect is also visible on account of the cement being plastered accordingly. The same thing happened with the arch of the Ashram entrance. Bhagavan would encourage me to take up such work, and whenever I had difficulty, Bhagavan would come, give hints, and encourage me to do it perfectly.

One day I was feeling tired and was reclining against a wall. Bhagavan came up to me and said, "I'm afraid to even look at you." I asked Him why that should be so. He said, "If I would just look in one direction, you would construct a structure there." This was of course in jest but it also meant that I could understand Bhagavan's subtle instructions and follow them meticulously. This was great appreciation showered upon me by Sri Bhagavan.

On another occasion, I was building some steps near the water tap. Bhagavan was standing there and giving me instructions. As I got up, I banged my head hard against the tap. Bhagavan asked Madhavaswami to bring zambak (medicinal ointment), and personally massaged my head for a long time. Though I had pain in my head, I kept reminding myself of Bhagavan's teaching, which was to give up the 'I am-the-body' idea. I also thanked the tap for giving me this opportunity to receive a massage from the golden this opportunity to receive a massage from the golden hands of Sri Bhagavan.

In the earlier days, Madhavaswami, Rangaswami and I used to massage the soles of Bhagavan's feet with oil, and put our heads against His feet to receive His grace after completing the massage. Bhagavan used to pretend to be asleep when we did this. However, when large crowds started coming to the Ashram regularly, we had to stop this practice of ours.

When the Dining Hall was being built, Bhagavan used to dig the earth with a huge gaddapare (crowbar) and Santhamma used to mix mortar with water. I was entrusted with the mason's work. While we worked on the construction Thenamma and Subbu-lakshmiamma used to do the cooking nearby. As I was not a brahmin, the women used a large white cloth as a partition between them and us. Bhagavan told them, "Why are you doing this? It's only our Annamalai. Why should you segregate him like this?" Chinnaswami, on hearing this said, "Bhagavan says 'our Annamalai', so he has become an ichcha brahmin", i.e., a brahmin by the wish of Sri Bhagavan.

Disturbing Ants

One day after lunch we noticed lots of ants in the Old Hall disturbing the devotees. Bhagavan asked me to inspect the area and do the needful. When I went and lifted a stone, millions of ants rushed out. I was jumping all over in order to avoid crushing them. When Bhagavan asked me what I was doing, I explained that it would be jivahimsa to kill hundreds and thousands of ants by stepping upon them or by closing the opening through which they came out. He said, "You are not doing it for yourself, it is for the sake of others." He then quoted from Chapter thirteen of Bhagavad Gita where Krishna says that even killing is permitted if it is for the benefit of the world. Upon hearing this, I cleared the area of ants, sealed the entrance and cemented it.

In the days when I still used to live in the Ashram, I once told Bhagavan that I didn't even desire moksha, but just wanted to be saved from the attractions of women. I was wondering what reply Bhagavan would give. He said that it was freedom from this desire that all great people had sought and suffered for.

At the time of this incident outside atmosphere is very hot and Bhagawan asked Annamalai to stand in that heat for one hour and during that one hour Bhagawan focussed his attention on him.Later Bhagawan advised him to take Pallis only for 15 days.Annamalai told me that he is free from the problem later forever.


Bhagavan was extraordinarily kind towards birds, squirrels, cows, dogs and peacocks. In fact, He showed visible partiality towards animals over humans.

Bhagavan was particularly interested in rituals for the samadhis of the birds and animals and wanted special pujas to be done for such samadhis with offerings of milk, etc. Many people used to witness this with awe and wonder.

Once, as Bhagavan was descending the steps near the Valli deer's samadhi, he saw a dog chasing a squirrel. Bhagavan tried to prevent the dog from harming the squirrel by interposing his stick in between them. In the process, He stumbled and fell down the steps, suffering bruises all over his body. Tincture was applied all over, which causes a burning sensation. Plaster was applied on all the wounds, and there are even photographs of Bhagavan with plaster all over His body. Bhagavan underwent such suffering even for animals. We all have witnessed these phases in Bhagavan's life.

Shadow Bhagavan

Once, there were films being shown at the Ashram, including one on Bhagavan. I wanted to see the film. When I arrived and prostrated before Bhagavan, He said in a stern voice. "So you have come to see the shadow of Bhagavan. This means that you no longer have the real Bhagavan in you and have hence come to see this shadow-Bhagavan." This touched me very deeply.

One day, after this incident, I went up the hill wanting to meet Bhagavan when he returned from his walk. He again looked at me sternly and said, "Why have you come to see me? You have happiness, you have happiness." I couldn't understand his words then, but after a lot of reflection I realized that when one is away from society, one has peace, and that Bhagavan wanted me to avoid the entire society. This is how I interpreted His words.

Bhagavan also said, "Ananda is not what you get from somewhere else. If you follow somebody else's path, it will only lead you to destruction. You have to follow your own self. Go within. That alone will lead you to Ananda." So I interpreted it to mean that I should be alone.



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Bhagavan Ramana showed His grace in helping Annamalai Swami,
in a variety of incidents.

1. He and a few others (in the early years), were the only persons
who had been asked to massage Bhagavan's legs and also place
their feet for some time, on His feet.  Bhagavan never objected to
this. This Paada Diksha was a rare thing with Bhagavan and Annamalai
Swami was one of the few recipients.

2.  When Bhagavan Ramana wanted a build a big wall on the northern
side of the Asramam, i.e behind Cow Lakshmi's Samadhi, Annamalai
Swami did that work with huge boulders, mud and plaster.  He did
parallele walls of 2.  People wondered what had happened to
Annamalai Swami to take up such a massive work.  Bhagavan Ramana said:  "It is for Rakshana.  Protection."
Nothing else.  During a few months' later when the rains were
coming and they were quite bountiful for Tiruvannamalai normal
monsoon, the rain waters from the Hills started flowing down the
hill towards the Asramam.  This parallel walls helped the situation.
However there were waters full, in between the two walls!

3.  Bhagavan Ramana also helped Annamalai Swami by giving
good suggestions about timber, plaster, flooring etc.,  He
constructed his cottage in Palakottu accordingly and it was very
long lasting for his use.

Arunachala Siva.   


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I read the the biographie of annammalai swami from david godman, and completed the "story" part recently, I spare the teachings for a later time..

it was wonderfull and the deepest teaching I recieved from my reading was that all is right and all will work out if you have trust in bhagawan and the world...then the right things will manifest without problem...and this is true

much love