Author Topic: Ramana Maharshi Devotee V.S.V.Mani Recollects His Experiences  (Read 1519 times)


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I was born at Madurai in 1924. I had my first darshan of Bhagavan in 1937 when I was just thirteen.

Tiruchuzhi Lakshmiammal was there at that time. She had been a playmate of Bhagavan at Tiruchuzhi. She introduced me to Bhagavan as her relative. Bhagavan asked me, "O, from Madurai? Which school are you studying in?" I answered that I was studying in Sethupathi High School. Bhagavan commented, "Oh! That school is very old."

Lakshmiammal had four sons and Lalita was the daughter of her second son, Dr. Narayana Iyer. Her first three sons, Ramakrishna Iyer, Narayana Iyer and Mahadeva Iyer were all Licensed Medical Practitioner doctors, certified from the Tanjore Medical College. The fourth son, Guruswamy, was a teacher.

When Lalita was born in 1926 and brought to the presence of Bhagavan, he named her Lalita, telling her parents, "You worship Sri Chakra and Sri Vidya, so name her Lalita."

When we were young Lakshmiammal told my parents that her grand daughter Lalita and I were made for each other and that we should marry. In 1943 when I was 19 and she 17 our marriage took place.

My wife Lalita was the one who had been with Bhagavan right from her childhood. Bhagavan taught her cooking, grinding, mixing condiments, making garlands, etc. He would even play children's games with her. When they were young, my wife Lalita, Manavasi Ramaswami's daughter, Lalita Venkataraman and others would play in the Ashram. Bhagavan would sometimes call them, ask them to come near, and narrate stories to them.

We built a new house at Madurai and we went to Ramanasramam and invited Bhagavan to come and grace our grihapravesam (house warming ceremony). Bhagavan laughed and pointing to the Hill said, "You make this Annamalai to come and then I too shall come."

Once when my wife and mother-in-law were assisting Bhagavan in grinding rice and black gram for the next day iddli preparation, utilizing a mortar, Lalita said, "Bhagavan you push the flour and I shall grind," to which Bhagavan replied, " No Lalita, if I push the flour I may forget myself and crush my fingers. So you push the flour and follow my grinding." Casual utterances like these by Bhagavan were pregnant with meaning. This indicated his state.

When we were there, occasionally Chinnaswami would report to Bhagavan that the storeroom was almost empty and that he was at a loss for what to do for the morrow. Bhagavan would advise him not to worry. Then some devotees like us would bring rice, dhal, provisions, leaf-plates, etc.

Once somebody who saw Bhagavan sitting on the sofa in the old hall commented, "For a sadhu what need is there of a sofa?" Hearing this Bhagavan smiled and told Lalita, "Look Lalita, am I sitting for my sake on the sofa? It is for others that I am here. For me, actually, I do not require anything at all."

Bhagavan used to talk to me freely when we were alone. When I was with him every morning at 4 `o clock he would sometimes tell about his days in the Arunachala Temple, life on the Hill, etc. His boyhood classmate and playmate, Vilachery Ranga Iyer, would also tell me about his association with Bhagavan. He once told me that one day at Madurai while swimming in a tank he got trapped in the outlet. Bhagavan immediately went and rescued him. Later on, he would say, "Bhagavan you rescued me once from the tank now you should rescue me from samsara." It was usual for boys in those days to plait their long hair. Once when Venkatoo (son of Chinnaswami) was a child staying at Skandashram he refused to allow anyone to plait his hair. Then a snake slowly slithered into the Ashram. Bhagavan just told it to go away and it obeyed. Turning to the boy, Bhagavan said, "Even the snake obeys. Why don't you too obey."

Bhagavan used to sit on a raised platform at the entrance to Skandashram every morning. Around that time of the day visitors from out of town would usually arrive by rail. Whenever he saw any devotee or devotees climbing up towards the Ashram he would tell others to prepare extra food for the newcomers.

One of my wife's uncles set up a medical practice near Courtalam and donated a piece of land to one of the devotees of Bhagavan, named Sivaiya. Sivaiya established an Ashram there and came to be known as Mouna Swami of Courtalam. Later hearing that there were herbs on the Arunachala Hill that would turn base metal into gold he came to Bhagavan and asked about the herbs. Bhagavan told him, "You are a sannyasi. Why do you want to be an alchemist? Don't be interested in all these siddhis. They will lead you astray," and sent him away.

Bhagavan would tell me about the greatness of the Hill — how it is a hill of effulgence. Just because trees grow on it we should not take it to be an ordinary hill. He would extol the merits of going round the Hill.

In 1946 when we visited the Ashram, we were standing near the newly built hospital and Bhagavan was returning from the hill after his evening stroll. When he came near he told my wife Lalita, "You are a doctor's daughter. Your father and your uncles, Dr. Narayana Iyer, Dr. Mahadeva Iyer, Dr. Ramakrishna Iyer are all doctors. So go and help in arranging medicines in dispensary." Accordingly, my wife and I stayed there for three days and arranged the medicines.

Once when we were taking leave of Bhagavan, he told us to stay for two more days. We obeyed him and on the next day there was a heavy downpour and part of the railway track from Villupuram to Trichy was inundated. The trains were cancelled. Now we understood why Bhagavan wanted us to stay for two more days.

Once when my wife informed Bhagavan that she was going to Tiruchuzhi, he told her to visit his house, the temple, the primary school where he studied, the tank where he swam and other places where he used to play, etc.

People who come to Bhagavan think that he is just like any other sage and casually bow to him and go away, but he is Dakshinamurti himself. Whether at Virupaksha Cave, at Skandashram, in the Old Hall, outside the hall, in the Jubilee Hall or in the New Hall he always used to sit facing south like Dakshinamurti. Even while lying down in the Nirvana Room the door was facing south and he gave us his darshan facing south.

When Bhagavan had the tumour on his arm my wife saw the wound and started sobbing uncontrollably. Bhagavan looked at her and said, "After coming to me for so long she still doesn't know that it is the body that suffers and not I. Am I the body?"