Author Topic: Part 2 - Bhagavan's Attendant Venkatarathnam Recollects His Experiences  (Read 1170 times)

ramana_maharshi

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Sri Venkatarathnam lived with Bhagavan from 1944 to 1950. During the last year he served as one of his personal attendants. Neal Rosner came to Sri Ramanasramam from the USA in 1968, attached himself to Venkatarathnam and diligently served him until his passing in 1976. Nealàs immersion into the spiritual heritage of India under the guidance of Venkatarathnam is elaborately described in his book On the Road to Freedom: A Pilgrimage in India. He now resides at Amritanandamayi Ma's Kerala Ashram and is known as Swami Paramatmananda. In the following article, details regarding the life of Venkatarathnam have been extracted from a 25-page essay written about Venkatarathnam by Neal Rosner. He presented this manuscript to us thirty years ago at Sri Ramanasramam.

Wanderings and Company of Saints

DURING the subsequent ten years after Bhagavan's Mahasamadhi, Venkatarathnam spent his time going on pilgrimage, meeting with devotees, mahatmas and saints, but always returning to Arunachalam and Bhagavan's s ashram. In 1956 Sri Venkatarathnam went to Kerala on foot and took a vow not to ask anyone for food or water and to only accept whatever was given unasked. He also chose not disclose his identity as a disciple of the Maharshi to anyone during his travels in Kerala, and he did not carry money with him. He spent about six months like this, depending entirely on God, in order to test how deep his surrender actually was.

Back in Sri Ramanasramam

In 1967 the Mahakumbabhishekam of Sri Ramana Maharshi's Samadhi was performed and Venkatarathnam was then requested to serve in the Ashram. He continued this service until September 1969.

Routine in the Ashram

At this time Sri Venkatarathnam was very busy with his daily routine which was roughly as follows: 3:30 a.m. got up, swept the room, went to the latrine, etc.; 4:30 a.m., finished bath, sandhya (puja), japa and cleaned his altar; 5:15, went to Bhagavan's Samadhi, cleaned and swept it, and then arranged for the 6:15 puja. From 7 to 8:15 he performed his own Panchyatana puja, 8:15 to 9:15 he did Samadhi puja and from 9:30 to 11:30 did japa and studied the Srimad Bagavatam. Then he partook of food. From 12 to 2 p.m. he rested or spent the time in visiting and meeting devotees. 2 to 4 p.m., he wrote letters, etc; 4 p.m. bath; 4:30 to 6:30, Samadhi Shrine work, Veda Parayana and puja; 6:30 to 7 p.m., sandhya and japa; 7:30 was mealtime; and 8 to 11 p.m., miscellaneous activities or satsang; 11 p.m. sleep.

Frequently he would go on Giripradakshina during the nights after 8:30, usually returning only the next morning, and then again start the daily routine without even resting.

In 1967, on May 14th he met with H. H. Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati Swamiji, Jagadguru Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, for the third time and received from him mantra diksha of Siva Panchakshari mantra. He also received a Hayagriva Salagram from His Holiness. After this he used to daily repeat 2,000 - 3,000 Gayatri mantras and 5,000 - 10,000 Panchakshari mantras. By the middle of 1969 he had done 14 lakhs [1.4 million] of the Panchakshari mantra. In August 1969, he decided to somehow complete the minimum number of japa as recommended by His Holiness and proceed to Hyderabad to perform the yearly sraddha of his parents. To do this he had to sit for japa eight hours a day and after finally finishing it he had a physical breakdown. After some days bedridden, he left for Hyderabad in October 1969.

Hospitalization

When I[Neal Rosner] came to Hyderabad to meet him, I[Neal Rosner] found him in Osmania General Hospital with a fractured right hip. Riding as a passenger on a scooter he was struck by a taxi. When I[Neal Rosner] asked him how he had such an accident he said, "What accident? Is birth an accident? Is there any such thing as an accident for a bhakta? It is the sweet will of the Lord, that is all."

The area around his hospital bed literally became an ashram, with photos of Sri Ramana and Arunachala, observance of occasional festivals like Ramana Jayanti and Karthik Deepotsavam. There seemed to be a continuous stream of devotees from 9:00 a.m. till midnight, or later. Usually in the nights I[Neal Rosner] expected that I could get some rest, but at that hour the attending physician, who was a bhakta, used to come and enjoy the satsang till midnight or 1.00 a.m.

After four months he was discharged from the hospital and stayed at Malakpet with Sri V. Srinivasan, who was the Inspector General of Prisons at that time. He and his wife treated Sri Venakatarathnam with the fullest hospitality and affection for more than two months. For the rest of his life he was grateful to them for the love and concern which they had showered on him at that time. This was May 1970.

Pilgrimage to the Himalayas

From Hyderabad we traveled north with Swami Avadhutendra Saraswati and eventually reached Nepal in August 1970. After Swamiji left us in Kathmandu, we flew to Pokhara and from there walked seventy miles into the Himalayas to Muktinath, the Abode of Muktinarayana. This place is sometimes called Salagrama Kshetra and is the 107th Dham on earth, Vaikuntha being the 108th. This walk was extremely difficult. We often got lost in the forests and were caught in darkness before we could reach the next village.

One night before reaching Muktinath, Sri Venkatarathnam suddenly got up and was loudly repeating Vishnu Sahasranam at about 1 a.m. In the morning he told me that he had a vision of people with water pots on their heads, going from a river to a temple which had a big Chakra in front of it. He had woke to the loud sound "Narayana, Narayana" ringing in his ears, as if someone were shouting it in the room. It was then that he started doing the Vishnu Sahasranam. He said that usually when he gets within a certain distance of the destination, he will have a dream about the deity of that place and the name Siva or Narayana will be ringing in his ears. When they finally reached Muktinath, sure enough there was a big chakra in front of the temple as he had seen in the vision.

Muruganar

In August 1973, Sri Muruganar, one of the intimate sishyas of the Maharshi, attained Siddhi in the Ashram. Venkatarathnam personally performed the 40-day puja at his samadhi and also the Mandalabhishekam. During all this time he suffered from chest pain and weakness but nevertheless finished his duty to a brother bhakta.


Source: http://www.arunachala.org/newsletters/2007/?pg=nov-dec