Author Topic: Sitting at the Feet pf Sri Ramana Maharshi - Mountain Path, Jan--Mar. 2010.  (Read 3738 times)


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The author of this article is Shivani Sharma, the daughter of H.W.L. Poonja.  The author returned to Sri Ramanasramam in
2009 for the first time since her childhood.  The article is also based on the video interview .


I came to Sri Bhagavan at an early age with my father in the early 1940s.  I was born in the part of Punjab which is now
in Pakistan, but the family came to Bombay when I was still quite young.  After two or three years, we moved to Madras,
where my father found employment.

Our religious training was guided by our father.  Ever since he was a young boy, he had done lots of pujas and he was a
devotee of Sri Ramakrishna Pramahamsa before coming to Sri Bhagvan Ramana Maharshi.  He used to say that unless we
read the Bhagavad Gita for one hour and did puja each day, we could not even have as much as a cup of tea!

Having set up home i Madras, we got the best spiritual training one could even dream of -- regular visits to Bhagavan at
Sri Ramanasramam.  Sri Bhagavan would talk with us in English and Tamizh.  We children, -- my brother, sister and I --
only wanted to be near Sri Bhagavan.  We would go to His room (Old Hall) even when He was resting.  The attendant
would ask us to go away but Sri Bhagavan would say, 'Let them come, let them come.'  We pleaded with Sri Bhagavan
to come with us to Madras. I still remember His response: I cannot come. If I do , what will the people do, who come to
see me?   His words are still ringing in my ears.  I can still hear  the sound of His voice.


Arunachala Siva.                 


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Sri Bhagavan used to go up the Hill every day at 4.00 pm and we would follow behind Him.  He would allow us to up to a
certain distance with Him and then say, 'You sit here on the rocks.  When I come back we will return together.'

It was during this time (1942) that the decisive event of my life occurred, something that has stayed with me ever since. As
I remember the external details, I leave it to my father who once told the story this way:

(In the years we were living in Madras.)  I often brought my family and business colleague to the Asramam on weekends.  Out
of all the people I brought, the Maharshi seemed to be particularly fond of my daughter.  She had learned Tamizh quite well
during her time in Madras, so she could converse with Him in His native language.  They used to laugh and play together whenever
we visited.  On one of my visits she sat in front of the Maharshi and went into what appeared to be a deep meditative trance. 
When the bell for lunch went, I was unable to rouse her.  The Maharshi advised me to leave her in peace, so we went off to eat
without her.  When we came back she was still in the same place in the same state.  She spent several more hours in this condition
before returning to her normal waking state.

Major Chadwick had been watching all this with great interest.  After her experience ended, he approached the Maharshi and
said, 'I have been here for ten years, but I have never had an experience like this.  This seven year old girl seems to have had
this experience without making effort at all.  How can this be?'

The Maharshi merely smiled, and said, 'How do you know that the she is not older than you?'

After this intense experience my daughter fell in love with the Maharshi and became very attached to His form.  Before we left
she told Him, 'You are my father.  I am not going back to Madras.  I will stay here with you.'  The Maharshi smiled and said,
'No, you cannot stay here.  You must go back with your real father.  Go to school, finish your education, and then you can come
back if you want to.  (This selection is from David Godman's Nothing Ever Happened: Volume I, Avadhuta Foundation, 1988,
pp. 141-42.  For other references to Shivani's life, see page 284-87.)

This experience had a great impact on me and after that I only wanted to be with Sri Bhagavan.  Not a day passed since then
without some recollection of those hours absorbed in Bhagavan.  When people ask me what happened that day, I find myself
speechless, unable to respond, and just start crying, 'O Bhagavan!'


Arunachala Siva.                     


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Bhagavan's Guiding Hand:

The last time I was in the Asramam was 1957.  My father had taken a job in the mining industry in the forests near
Bangalore, while the family remained  in Lucknow, no facilities being available for families in the forest.  One year our
father called us from Lucknow and we went to the Asramam where we stayed with our long time friend, Dr. Syed.  The
Asramam was different in the absence of Sri Bhagavan but we were grateful to have come nevertheless.  It was the Deepam
festival time and one day, while our father had returned briefly to Bangalore on business, my brother, sister and I decided to
climb the Hill to see the Deepam flame being lit.  We did not tell anyone of our plans and imagined somehow that the top
must be very near. We packed some chai, water and a torch and started walking in the late afternoon.  Not realizing how far
it was and not knowing the way, we got lost. We remembered that there were tigers on the Hill and decided that we would
not go down into the ravines as that was were they probably lived.  We were intent on staying close together so that we would
not be separated.  Soon we finished our chai and water, and not long after, a powerful thrust came upon us.  In general,
whenever we got into trouble, we prayed to Sri Bhagavan to help us. So we called out in the midst of our predicament, 'Bhagavan, Bhagavan, we are thirsty.  We don't have any water.  Please give us water.'  Soon enough we found a big rock with a crevice
below it which was filled with fresh spring water!  We rejoiced and drank our fill after which we topped our thermos.  O Bhagavan!

As it had become late and there seemed to no way to find our way back in the dark night, my brother suggested we spend the
night there where we were.  We found rocks surrounded by three walls where we could sleep comfortably.  But my sister
protested, saying that as we were not sleepy, we should keep moving.  We held on to each other, slipping and falling on the
uneven terrain in the shadow  of the night, our knees bloodied by the sharp stones.  Suddenly my sister heard the sound of
birds below and led us there.  As we crawled a little further, we found ourselves in Skandasramam.  From there we had no
trouble finding our way and ran down the Hill, reaching home at 2 a.m.


Arunachala Siva.                   


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Sri Bhagavan's Protection:

But the golden years of my life were a decade before this, when we were still living in Madras and could see Sri Bhagavan
regularly.  These were the most memorable years ever, as they were for my father, as well.

In 1947, my father was staying at the Asramam when Sri Bhagavan learned that most of our family, including our grandparents,
were still in or hometown west of Lahore.  This was well beyond the eventual line of demarcation that would separate what was
to become Pakistan and India, and thus being Hindus, put them at risk.  Sri Bhagavan suggested that my father go and collect
them, but by father was resistant, only wanting to remain in Sri Bhagavan's presence.  But Sri Bhagavan insisted, giving His
blessings for the journey.  He said that He would remain with my father for this journey and henceforth.  My father recognized
this as Sri Bhagavan's wish and decided that he would under no circumstances disobey his guru. When he parted he knew he would
never see Sri Bhagavan in the body again, but left content to have Sri Bhagavan's promise that He would remain with him wherever
he went from then on.

After taking leave of Bhagavan, my father set off for Lahore.  As he neared what eventually became the Pakistan border, there
were signs that things were indeed as serious as people had been staying.  When he boarded a final train that would take him
to Lahore, he heard Bhagavan's voice telling him not to sit in the Hindu compartment but to take a seat in the Muslim compartment.
Apprehensive, he did as the voice instructed. Sometime after the train got underway, it was held up and overtaken by a mob of
armed Muslims who ordered all those in the Hindu compartments down from the train.  Once on the tracks,  the gunmen shot
everyone.  Because my father was in the shelter of the Muslim compartment, and because no one there gave away his true
identity, his life was  spared. Such was the gravity  of the circumstances in this part of the country at that time.

When my father finally reached the family home, he found the family terror stricken but unharmed.  He collected them all, some
thirty four people, and obtained travel permits for each of them that very night.  The following day they made a hasty escape on
what turned up to be the last train out of Lahore, O Bhagavan!  (Nothing ever Happened, Volume I)/


Arunachala Siva.                     


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Dear Sri Subramanian sir,

I have read this story before in Papaji's biography,and i am amazed with it. How Bhagavan protected Papaji,how everything happened on that train. It is truly amazing and wonderful!!!

Thank You!

With love and prayers,


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All 34 made it safely to Lucknow where a family friend provided shelter until everyone get settled in their new homes.  In due
course my father sent us from Madras and we set up house in Lucknow as well.  It was during this time that my father began
to work intensively as he was in the difficult position of having to support the entire family from Lahore. 

For my immediate family and me, fate had intervened and put a great distance between us and Sri Ramanasramam.  Forced
to leave Madras for good, we permanently settled in the north and were thus unable to come and visit Sri Bhagavan after this.

Final Darsan.

A few years later, in 1950, however, I did speak to Sri Bhagavan once more.  This was in a dream.  I was about fifteen years
old at the time and we were still in Lucknow.  Sri Bhagavan appeared to me in my dream and said, 'I am going away.'  I cried
out to Him, 'You can't go away.  You have to stay here.'  I kept repeating these words but then I saw the image of an empty
picture frame where Sri Bhagavan's photo had once been.  My heart was heavy.  When I woke up in the morning, I told my
father about the dream.  He said, 'Haven't you seen the newspaper?'  When I looked, it said that Sri Bhagavan Ramana was \
no longer in the body.  I began to cry.  This was my last darsan.


Since that day in my youth, when I sat absorbed in Sri Bhagavan's presence, I have always dreamed of returning to
Sri Ramanasramam but because of family duties, work obligations and the great distance, I was never able to do so.
My husband passed away some years ago and my children are grown up now, having families of their own.  All the while
Sri Bhagavan has been present in my heart, and thus I have known that it was not necessary for me to come.  Nevertheless,
the yearning remained.  At long last, by Sri Bhagavan's grace, this longing is realized.  O Bhagavan!


Arunachala Siva.                   


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Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya

Thanks sir for sharing this !.

Some of the incidents, like below, I see a similar incidents/leelas/mircales have happened in the presence of SaiBaba

a) Major Chadwick feeling , I was here for long time, but the girl got experience in no time.I can relate this to how Hemadpanth feeling the same way when Sathe was blessed by Baba in dream.Those who have read SaiSatcharitra or SaiBaba The Master(written by Pujya Acharya Sri Ekkirala Bharadwaja), will be able to relate to what Iam saying here

b)Kids  finding water under the crevice of  a big rock, similar thing happens in life of NAna Chandorkar,one of the devotees of Baba(when he climbs Harischandra hill,at one point of time, he feels so thirsty and will not be able to move a step and collapses, just then a tribal going in the same way tells  him that water is available under crevice of a rock).

c) Bhagavan telling Poonja ji to get into Muslim compartment, on same lines Baba saves a devotee who is on his way to Shirdi, to get down from his current compartment and move to end of the train. Later train meets with accident and all the people in the compartment where he earlier stayed will get killed in the accident.

d)Bhagavan telling the girl that he is going away.

I see lot of similar miracles/leelas/incidents happening in the stories of Akkalkot Swami(Swami Samartha) and SaiBaba.
I see so much of similarities in the leelas of Bhagavan and Baba

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
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