Author Topic: Ramana Maharshi Devotee Prof. V. B. Athavale Shares His Experiences  (Read 1065 times)


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Prof. V. B. Athavale, M.Sc., F.R.G.S., Kirloskarwadi

I had the good fortune of meeting Sri Ramana Maharshi in April 1944 and observed for one week his state of supreme consciousness in which worldly knowledge appears insignificant and produces no worries.

When Paul Brunton asked, ‘Will the world soon enter a new era of friendliness and mutual help, or will it go down into chaos and war ?’ Maharshi replied, ‘There is one who governs the world. He knows how to look after it. He bears the burden of the world and not you.’

Maharshi’s reactions to my unspoken intentions were, however, very tender and marvellous. I reached his Tiruvannamalai ashram with my wife on 16th April. To investigate the relation between Gita and the Vedic literature with regard to the Vedic quotations explicitly referred to by Maharshi Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa, (the author of the Gita) I had prepared a genealogical chart of some 350 persons mentioned in the Rigveda. I intended to show this chart to Sri Ramana Maharshi and talk to him about my Gita study. But when I found that no one talked in the hall, I dropped the idea and decided not to talk about it unless the Maharshi showed some interest himself.

Maharshi eventually saw my genealogical chart and asked me, via the pandit, what I had to say about ‘tenaiva rupena chaturbhujena’, the reference to the four hands of Krishna in the 11th chapter. I explained to him that Arjuna has addressed Krishna twice as ‘Vishno’ in the 11th chapter. In the 10th chapter we are told that Krishna was Vishnu out of Adityas. Though this expression is usually interpreted to mean the sun in the twelve signs of the zodiac, it cannot be correct. Because, the next words say ‘I am the sun among the stars’. The Rigvedic expression ‘Astau putraso Aditeh’ tells that Aditi had eight sons and Adhvaryu Brahmana tells that Vishnu was one of the eight sons of Aditi. Yajurveda states, ‘Narayanaya vidmahe Vasudevaya dhimahi tanno Vishnuh prachodayat’. It means that Vishnu was called Vasudeva patronymically. Thus Krishna and Vishnu had the identical name Vasudeva patronymically.

According to old traditions Vishnu holds in his four hands (1) Shankha, (2) Chakra, (3) Gada, (4) Padma. Krishna had in his normal two hands the famous Panchajanya conch and the reins of the four horses. Arjuna first saw the four-handed form of Vishnu. Hence the 17th verse mentions only ‘Gada’ and ‘Chakra’ to be the two weapons, which were not in the hands of Krishna. The Mahabharata states that Krishna had decided not to wield any weapon in the war. In verse 44 Arjuna says, ‘I am terrified by this thousand-fold form. Please show me your original form with four hands. Verse 45 again mentions the same two weapons ‘Gada’ and ‘Chakra’. Verse 51 refers to the normal human form of Krishna.

Maharshi was pleased when he heard the explanation. He gave me his blessings for the study and suggested that I should write a commentary on the Gita. On 23rd April I was sitting as usual in the hall. One gentleman, who was sitting near me, was reading some English passage from a book in a loud whisper. I heard the sentence, ‘A siddha is inferior to a conjuror’. I thought that the author of the sentence had committed a mistake, but didn’t intervene. On 24th April I went into the hall in the morning and informed Maharshi that I was leaving in the evening and requested him to give his autograph. The secretary told me that Maharshi never signed his name. I expressed regret for my ignorance of the rule and said that I merely wanted the handwriting of Maharshi and not his signature. The gentleman, whose sentence I had heard the previous day, was sitting near me. I was thinking of asking him the name of the author who had written that a siddha was inferior to a conjuror. I wanted to point out the mistake and demand its rectification.