Author Topic: The Power of Silence - Berjis Desai - Mountain Path, Deepam 2012.  (Read 1788 times)

Subramanian.R

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As I step out of the car, he peacock unfurls its feathers and dances on the porch of the temple, It shudders occasionally in its
attempts to desperately impress the silent female, A good omen, I think, as  I enter Sri Ramanasramam for the first time,  I feel
instantly refreshed by the peacock welcome, after our three hour journey from Chennai Airport. The driver, who has driven rather
slowly on the clear and straight National Highway, is instantly electrified as soon as the car on to the road to Triuvannamalai.

Strange hillocks, as if man made, line the road, --- Suddenly our travel companion, who is a long time devotee of Sri Ramana
Maharshi, exclaims --- that it is Arunachala!  At first sight, the holy mountain does not impress and looks rather small. Just
like the congested little township, in which, the Asramam is situated. Little does one know what grandeur is held by the
deceptive modesty of these humble surroundings.

As a child, I had a dim memory of my aunts speaking reverentially about Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. Many years later, as a
junior lawyer, I await a Senior Counsel in his office and my attention is transfixed by a picture of  Sri Ramana.  I have never seen
kinder eyes.  The ocean of compassion which  flows from those lovely eyes brings tears of joy.

Contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                   

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Power of Silence - Berjis Desai - Mountain Path, Deepam 2012.
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2013, 02:03:22 PM »

continues.....

I get up and read the name on the picture --- Sri  Ramana Maharshi. It was, of course, the most famous picture of the saint,
known as Welling Bust. I am at His  Asramam, at last.

I am a firm believer in the dictum that you can visit a holy shrine only when are beckoned. During those intervening three
decades,  through peaks and troughs of life, I have hungrily devoured many books on spirituality and the occult and visited many
shrines.  The journey has been long and interesting. Shirdi Sai Baba, our family Paramaguru, and his disciple, Sri Kamubaba, our
Guru, resulted in annual pilgrimages to Shirdi, Vaishno Devi on foot; the resplendence of Lord Balaji, amidst cries of 'Govinda, 'Govinda';
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother at Pondicherry;  the indestructible spirit of Somanath unbroken by a million Mahmud Ghanvais; Dakshineswara of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and the serene Golden Temple at Amritsar. Who will not savor the joy of these places
when the Lord permits you to visit Him there? The command to visit Sri Ramana Asramam took rather long to materialize and perhaps
that it why the experience was so moving.  I was able to learn the Power of Silence.

I set the alarm for three in the morning, empty a few buckets of cold water to beat the sweltering early June heat and head for the
Silence Room, the Old Hall.  Apart from a mildly curious dog and a few lizards, not a soul stirs. A gentle breeze wafts through the air.
I place my chappals alongside another pair, very slowly open the door which is thoughtfully designed to make absolutely no noise,
and  step into the room, where a solitary devotee sits cross legged in a corner. This is the room where Sri Bhagavan gave darshan
to all --- however mighty or low, creatures large and small, human or animal --- at all times of the day and night.  This is the place where
unconditional love poured out for decades and much grace was bestowed on those fortunate enough to receive it.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                       

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Power of Silence - Berjis Desai - Mountain Path, Deepam 2012.
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2013, 03:25:44 PM »

continues.....

I sit across from the large couch, on which the Saint used to recline, and which now holds His portrait. A ceiling fan meekly
whirls. Within minutes, and without any effort, the thoughts start receding,  one by one.  Mind, the chattering monkey, is
momentarily stilled. No worries, no fears, no wants, no wishes.  There are no likes and dislikes, no bias and prejudice, no
superiors and inferiors.  The mind just floats softly in a pond of peace --- empty and vacant.  Inner prolonged silence banishes
thoughts and permits something else to take over one's consciousness.  I am not this body.  I am not this mind. i am not this
personality and this name. I am the same material as the gently whirring ceiling fan and that mildly curious dog outside and those
lizards stuck on the window sill.  A miniscule, infinitesimal, nameless drop in the vast ocean of Cosmic Consciousness. I require no
conviction to believe this,  it just comes from somewhere within.

Is it the collective consciousness, the seed atom which stores memory, across millions of incarnations in different bodies and in
different minds, in different places, and in different times?  Or is it simply my thought process?  I do not know.   

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Power of Silence - Berjis Desai - Mountain Path, Deepam 2012.
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2013, 01:26:24 PM »

continues.....

As it so often happens, the answer comes within minutes. In the room next to the large Samadhi Hall, hangs a large, white
plaque narrating the death experience of Sri Bhagavan, when He was just 16. I have read it before in Arthur Osborne's
unputdownable book on Sri Ramana, but I had read it again. In His own words, Sri Ramana says that this realization about
who am I came to me --- 'without any thought process' -- the precise words I had mulled over in the Silent Room. Can one say
with confidence that my innermost belief has come without any thought process?  I do not think so. The path, as we well know,
is long and hard and fraught with many a pitfall.

It is 5 O clock now. The security staff devotedly does parikrama around Sri Bhagavan's Samadhi and hen unlocks the door to
the temple which was constructed under Sri Bhagavan's direct supervision.  The black stones of this temple are not forboding
but soothing. I do the parikrama and joy fills my heart.  I sit on a bench just outside the temple and softly say, OM. It resonates
throughout my being.  Last night, my traveling companion's husband had suggested that I do this. I bless him as I sit for a while
in the temple, as dawn breaks. In unison, the peacocks give out plaintive cries. I associate these cries with the catharsis which
comes after the death of of a loved one.  This may sound strange but let me tell now.

Being a Parsi Zoroastrian, we offer our dead bodies to be disposed of by the rays of the Sun, the vultures (which no longer exist)
and other birds of prey in a final act of charity, as dust is mingled unto dust. At the sprawling green acres of the Parsi Towers of
Silence, when dawn breaks, and you perform the final after death prayes for the soul, the peacocks give out the same plaintive
cries. Mingled with joy and pathos, hey emphasize the transience of our body which we so dearly love, in the illusion that the body is
us.  Bhagavan's central inquiry - Who am I? -- shatters this illusion and liberates instantly. Even if we realize this, through the process                 
of thought, we have made some progress. A tiny step towards Self Realization.

contd.,

Arunachala 'Siva.

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Power of Silence - Berjis Desai - Mountain Path, Deepam 2012.
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2013, 10:04:53 AM »

continues.....

The breakfast gong sounds at seven sharp.  Hundreds quietly troop into the dining hall, without any distinction of caste or creed
or rank, the ruler and the tramp -- all equal, as they eat hot idlis  and sambhar served on plantain leaves, washed down with
buttermilk or rather milky sweet coffee in sparkling stainless steel glasses. Complete equality is the outstanding feature of this
Asramam. There are no VIPs and no special darshans and no exclusive dining halls. The sweeper of the Asramam has lunch with
you, sitting side by side, just as Bhagavan Himself did, strongly refusing any special treatment that might be meted out to Him.
Someone served Him extra coffee one day and He refused to drink any, from then on. Little acts which help in the annihilation
of the ego.

This is in stark contrast to other places. Some have an impressive driveway, sprawling acres, a reception where they give you
computerized keys, a spanking spa with an extensive massage menu, air conditioned rooms with a tea maker thrown in, grand
prayer halls which can hold thousands (Bhagavan, I am told, was not too appreciative of His 'large' prayer hall, where, I did not feel the sublime vibes which pervade the Silent Room and the Siva temple). shops selling artefacts and trinkets and clothes and jewellery.
Smart and sleek and sophisticated.

Arunachala Siva.                     

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Power of Silence - Berjis Desai - Mountain Path, Deepam 2012.
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2013, 09:39:53 AM »

continues...

Sri Ramanasramam is just quietly functional, without any fanfare.  Just as in the time of Sri Bhagavan, there are no lectures or
courses or packaged breathing exercises.  The process of self inquiry is to be conducted on your own. There is no instruction
software available.  There is a tiny Veda Patasala which trains young boys in the Vedas which they recite every evening in the
Prayer Hall.  Even their chanting was playful, spontaneous and unrehearsed. Better than a hundred trained priests chanting in
unison, in an amazing display of firepower. Pyrotechnics impress only while they last.  In the evening, the adults chants the
hymn of 108 verses composed by the Maharshi in praise of Arunachala, for the bhiksha seekers. At dusk, when the peacocks fall
silent, you can mindlessly enjoy this lilting recitation, even though you may not understand all its meaning.

The next morning, I haul my unfit body, over the holy Arunachala Hill to visit the two caves --- Virupaksha and Skandasramam ---
where Sri Ramana dwelled from 1899 to 1922.  If in the Silence Room, thoughts reduce by 90%, in Skandasramam they disappear
almost totally.  The Maha Sadhana of Sri Bhagavan having visibly sanctified the interiors of these caves, for eternity.   The simple
looking Hill suddenly looks transformed as the manifestation of Siva, the legend coming alive.  When Sri Bhagavan attained transition
on 14th April 1950, many beheld a blue meteor blazing over the holy Hill  of His enlightenment and glowing read lights were seen
in its uninhabited portions, emanating from the Siddhas who are said to reside there in their subtle bodies.  Sri Bhagavan did say that
they visited Him at night in human form or say, the animal form of a dog, leopard or iguana, for some divine confabulations, beyond our
mortal understanding.

Serenity pervades this entire journey.  Not a trace of commercialization is visible. We descend just in time for the sumptuous lunch at
11.30 am -  spartan but substantial, dollops of hot rice, tasty dal, boiled vegetable and channa. Foreign devotees sit comfortably
cross legged, eat with their fingers, fold the empty plantain leaf and look wonderfully at ease.

continued.....

Arunachala Siva.                   

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Power of Silence - Berjis Desai - Mountain Path, Deepam 2012.
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2013, 01:29:22 PM »


continues.....

Post lunch, we visit the cottage housing the archives, the only air conditioned structure in the Asramam, containing priceless
manuscripts and photos of the saint. A tall Englishman, with peace written all over his kind face, in charge of the photographs
for the last eight years, lovingly displays the albums.  A few rooms of climate controlled to prevent humidity.  The approach of
this Asramam is soft, non obtrusive, matter of fact, and self effacing.  One detects neither any sign of superiority nor any lofty
claim to spirituality.  Simplicity is a recurring theme.

This Asramam grew spontaneously around Sri Ramana and that is precisely the reason why it is thriving 63 years after the saint
leaving the mortal coil. No controversy has ever touched it.  The Asramams, which make a cult figure of its founder and are
consciously built and organized like a business enterprise, fall apart within months, of its founder's death.

Sri Bhagavan never preached and seldom propagated or expounded any complex philosophy. His love and grace for all beings
was unconditional. In the last century, India had the fortune of having six outstanding saints - Shiridi Baba, Swami Vivekananda,
Sri Aurobindo, Sri Ramana Maharshi, Paramahamsa Yogananda and Ma Anandamayi -- all of whom continue to capture national
and international imagination, several decades after leaving their mortal coil.  Pretenders of course, are many, who hold center-stage
for a brief while and are soon confined by the Cosmic to the dustbin of history.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Power of Silence - Berjis Desai - Mountain Path, Deepam 2012.
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2013, 10:27:15 AM »

continues......

Near the Skandasramam, one enjoys the panoramic view of the town of Tiruvannamalai below and the conspicuous quadrangle
of one of India's largest, oldest, and most powerful Siva temples, --- Arunachaleswara.  Early next morning, we are at the temple
complex.  We are told that on purnima, full moon, millions throng the complex.  Today, however, is amavasya (new moon day),
the dark of the moon, and quiet. In the sanctum sanctorum is a mahalingam based on the Fire Principle.  It exudes such heat and
radiates such power that you instantly feel your spiritual battery recharged. We prostrate before the temple of Parvati, the Lord's
consort, here called, Unnamulai, the Eternal Mother. A rotund priest removes large garlands from the deity and places it on my neck.
Suddenly someone exclaims  --- that is the temple of Kala Bhairava. I stop with amazement.  In my daily morning prayers, I salute
Kala Bhairava and have asked everyone I know in Mumbai where I can find a Kala Bhairava temple.  I am satiated with His sudden
darsan and make my way to Patala Lingam where the young Ramana once sought refuge to meditate, a safe haven from those harassing  the youthful saint and pelting stones at Him. As Bernard Shaw, in his play Saint Joan, exclaims, 'O God, that madest this
beautiful earth, when will it be ready to accept thy Saints?  How long, O Lord, how long?'

Arunachaleswara has stolen my heart.  Begging the Lord for a re-invitation soon, I return to the Asramam.  As dawn breaks,
the breeze is cooler and it drizzles. We have to get back to Mumbai and to the wold of thoughts and matter. The Power of Silence
has cleansed and I experience a strange lightness of being. I shall miss the Silence Room the most, with its magic of stilling the most
active mind.  What better prasadam than carrying tiny bits of that silence and His Grace with us? 

As I am about to sit in the car, the peacock tiptoes to the same perch on the temple as his welcome dance. Will he dance again?
I wonder, as light rain begins to fall. He shudders suggestively and seems to be telling us  - Come back soon to this abode of Silence
and I promise to dance again for you.

*****

Arunachala Siva.