Author Topic: Ramana Maharshi Devotee Ranvir Khanna Shares His And His Father's Experiences  (Read 1492 times)


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Ranvir wrote the following memoirs about his father and his own early visits to Sri Ramanasramam before he was absorbed into the Feet of his Master on April 8, 1999.

MY grandfather was a very religious man known to sing bhajans the whole night long. He was also very well read and used to read the daily newspapers. In one of the newspapers of the early 1930's he read an article about Ramana Maharshi, who was said to be a Self-realized man living in Tiruvannamalai. He cut out the article with an intention to visit Sri Ramanasramam. He tried his best but could not make it. He kept that cutting for few years and then showed it to his son, Hari Chand Khanna, who was then living in Kanpur, working for the Oriental Insurance Company.

My father Hari Chand Khanna was born in the year 1905 in a small village called Satghara, which is now part of Pakistan. He was a hard working man. He first worked for the Indian railways and then joined an Insurance company.

One summer vacation, my uncle from Bibana, Madhya Pradesh, invited my father to come with his family for a visit. My uncle was then serving in the Railways in Bibana. My father agreed to the proposal and our family visited my uncle. After two days in Bibana my father made inquiries as to how to reach Tiruvannamalai and then set out on his own, leaving our family with my uncle. If my memory serves me right, this took place in 1939.

On reaching Kanpur my father smashed all the liquor bottles and liquor glasses in his possession. He had always been an outgoing man, but now he started spending much more time at home reading Ramana's books and in meditation.

We used to spend almost a month at the Ashram. I was six or seven when we first started visiting the Ashram. At that time Bhagavan's brother, Niranjanananda Swami, was the sarvadhikari looking after the Ashram.

During those early visits, I remember that every night we would find father missing from his bed. Then he would return in the morning, saying he was with Bhagavan through the night, and if Bhagavan didn't sleep, he also kept awake. He considered it the greatest good fortune to be able to spend his nights with his Guru in the Old Hall.

Often large bus loads of pilgrims would come to Tiruvannamalai during the night for Bhagavan's darshan. The pilgrims would wait until dawn for the doors of the Old Hall to be opened. When Bhagavan noticed that, he asked the sarvadhikari to keep the doors open all the time. After that the doors to his room were kept open all the time. Devotees would enter through one door, have darshan and exit from the other door.

Our annual visits went on for some years, but then were suspended for a few years for reasons unknown to me, though my father was in constant touch with the Ashram. When again we resumed the annual visits to the Ashram, my father would sometimes carry bottles of the Ayurvedic medicine (Mahanarayan oil) for Bhagavan. Bhagavan had rheumatism in his legs and could not walk properly. No sooner was Bhagavan given the bottles of medicine than he would announce then and there that Khanna has brought Mahanarayan Oil, which relieves pain in the legs, and anyone with pain in their legs could make free use of the same.

In those days the Ashram's financial condition was not good. My father would send money to the Ashram regularly when there was a need.

At the Ashram I remember feeling very happy when Bhagavan played with my younger sister Kusum, who was then maybe a year old. Bhagavan would hold one end of his staff, while Kusum played with the other. Bhagavan would laugh and pull the staff away as the child reached out for it. Bhagavan used to call her Jhansi Ki Rani, after the courageous queen of Jhansi, who died fighting the British in the first war of independence in 1857. Afterwards, I used to tease Kusum with that name.

Immediately after Ramana Maharshi's Mahanirvana, my father rushed to the town and bought a very large, beautiful garland for Bhagavan's body. When he reached the Ashram, a dispute between different groups was going on as to who would be the first to garland the Maharshi's body. On seeing my father, both the Brahmins and non Brahmins amicably settled that Khanna, one of the oldest and staunchest devotees, must be allowed to garland Bhagavan's body first. Thus my father was the first to garland the deceased body of Ramana.

My father always used to say that all his desires have been fulfilled by God and that his last one wish was to die at his Father's Feet, Arunachala. I used to question as to how that is possible because he is a karma yogi and always in Kanpur. My father would always reply: "We will see." In spite of this, I was stunned when my father passed away at the Ashram in good health.

Funeral rites were performed by me and others from the Ashram. The Ashram has honored him with a samadhi within the Ashram compound, and a yearly puja is done by the Ashram at his tomb.

During his life, my father's earnest desire was to explain Bhagavan's teachings to all who visited him at his house in Kanpur. He considered Bhagavan's teachings to be the simplest and the best. He also stressed that if one wanted to lead a happy and contented life, then the only way was to follow the teachings of Sri Bhagavan. Also, whenever he visited someone, he would explain the same. He used to tell everyone, and especially his children, not to be outgoing but to turn inward and enjoy one's true nature. He used to impress upon his children not to strive for material wealth, which one has to leave behind after death, but instead to aspire for the real, everlasting spiritual wealth, as taught by Sri Bhagavan Ramana.