Author Topic: Ramana Maharshi Devotee "Viswanatha Swami" Recollects His Experiences  (Read 1541 times)


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IT WAS in the beginning of January 1921 that I first saw Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. He was then living in Skandashram, which looks like the very heart of the majestic hill, Arunachalam. It is a beautiful, quiet spot with a cluster of coconut and other trees and a perennial crystal-clear spring.

Ganapati Muni

When I entered Maharshi's hut early the next morning and bowed to him, there were many devotees seated before him. But my attention was particularly gripped by a radiant personality amidst that group. He was, I learned, Kavyakanta Ganapati Sastri. He had the face-cut of the great poet Rabindranath Tagore and from the light that shone on his face, I found how mistaken I had been in my hitherto impression that he was only one of the learned pandits. His broad forehead, gracefully bright eyes, aquiline nose, charming face and beard, and the melodious ring in his voice — all these proclaimed that he was a genius, a great poet, a rishi. Everything about him reminded me of the Vedic seers, especially Vasistha, and it is interesting to note that he was of the line of Vasishta. There was authority, dignity and sweetness in his talks and his eyes sparkled as he spoke.

He was then living in the Mango Tree Cave on the eastern slope of Arunachala. Adjoining it and a little above it is the perennial spring,Tiru-Mullaipal-Thertham. This cave has often served as the Maharshi's summer abode when he lived at Virupaksha Cave. It was here, in the Mango Tree Cave, that Ganapati Muni composed extempore the last quarter of a 'Thousand Verses in Praise of Uma' (Uma Sahasram) within a few hours one night, in the presence of the Maharshi.

One evening I went to that cave to see him. I waited for him a few minutes in the room next to the cave before Ganapati Muni emerged from the cave. There was the fragrance of tapas in the person of the Muni and about his residence. I sat down before him after paying my respects to him. He silently looked at me for a few minutes. Then I had a talk with him about spiritual sadhana and the details of discipline needed for it. After a few days I expressed to the Maharshi my desire to go through the principal Upanishads. Maharshi directed me to go to 'Nayana',saying that he was the man who could elucidate anything concerning sacred lore. So I went to Nayana and placed before him a passage from the Taitiriya Upanishad for explanation.

He dilated upon its profound significance with clarity and ease. After hearing him for an hour, I came to the conclusion that I need not make a study of the Upanishads under him, as whatever he uttered was Upanishadic. Though Nayana was himself a man of wisdom and tapas, he used to direct aspirants coming to him to the Maharshi. He knew that there was a special effect in hearing the truth of Atman from the Maharshi himself. And Maharshi would send to Nayana devotees who sought light upon upasana (methods of worship) or details pertaining to various sastras. Thus their mutual appreciative relationship was beautiful.

Guidance and Grace

Four months after I came to Arunachalam, my parents came there to have darsan of Maharshi and take me back home. Though they did not succeed in their latter intention, they were somehow consoled by the Maharshi before they returned. My father is a cousin of the Maharshi, older than him, and as such knew him very intimately as a boy before he left home for Tiruvannamalai. Though he had heard from others about the Maharshi and read carefully Sri Ramana Gita, he came there with an open mind to see for himself what the Maharshi was. But the moment he saw him he was so overpowered by a sense of veneration that he prostrated before him with emotion and observed, "There is nothing here of the Venkataraman I knew, nothing to identify him."

Maharshi gracefully smiled and remarked, "Oh! It is long since he disappeared," indicating the complete transformation he had undergone.
My father then told the Maharshi that he had not come to him so long, as he had not achieved dispassion for the world. "How could a man," he said, "who has no spirit of renunciation in him be benefited by the company of the sage?" The Maharshi, from his usual and normal high level, replied, "Oh! Then you seem to be obsessed by the delusion that you are going to achieve vairagya (nonattachment) in some distant future. If you just discern your real nature, the Self, with what is it attached? Dispassion is one's very nature."

One day someone told the Maharshi about a devotee who claimed to be Ramana himself and said that honoring him was honoring Ramana. Maharshi replied with a smile, "There is nothing wrong about it; it is all right. But if somebody else claims the same status for himself, this man should not deny it, because every one is Ramana, all is Ramana." We all enjoyed that straight and humorous remark of Maharshi.

As the reconstruction of the Ashram cottage was then going on, Maharshi often remained with his devotees and visitors in the big stone mantap, situated on the other side of the road. Maharshi used to dine with all in the shade of a huge mango tree in front of his mother's samadhi. There was cool water kept in big pots at the foot of the tree during these hot summer days. All of us enjoyed the cool shade, the cool water, and the grace of the Maharshi, which like a cool breeze removed the heat of man's torments.



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Viswantha Swami was learned in Sanskrit.  Once he had some
doubts on Taittiriya Upanishad.  Bhagavan Ramana said:  Do
not ask me such things.  Consult Kavyakanta Ganapati Sastri.
Thus Viswanatha Swami became an ardent disciple of Ganapati
Sastri.  In fact, he had spent many days with Sastri in Sirsi and
other places during Sastri's last days. 

Viswanatha Swami composed Sri Ramana Ashottaram.  This is
being chanted even today.  Sri Ramana Sahasranamam has been
composed by Sri Jagadeeswara Sastri.

Viswanatha Swami also composed Tiruchuzhi Sthala Puranam,
from Skandam and other scriptures.

Arunachala Siva.