Author Topic: How I came to Bhagavan and Stayed with Him -I.S. Mudugala  (Read 2799 times)

Subramanian.R

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How I came to Bhagavan and Stayed with Him -I.S. Mudugala
« on: November 28, 2013, 04:06:16 PM »
Isvaranugrahadevapumsamadivaitavasna
Mahadbhyaparitranadvi pranamu pajyate.

(Avadhuta Gita. Verse 1)

I consider myself lucky. It certainly couldn't have been an accident, the way I happened to hear about Bhagavan.

This is a two part essay, the first describing the events and circumstances that led me to Sri Ramana Maharshi, popularly
known as Bhagavan, and the second mulling over how his constant presence by my side has given me a taste of freedom.

Rewind to June 1950:

In the upstairs corridor of Andhra University College of Arts and Commence, Waltair, I was waiting to go to the next class
outside the faculty offices.  This was the first year of my three year B.a. Hons. programme and I was full of wide eyed wonder
about everything that I was seeing and learning. At 17, probably a lot of things impress one from a rural background about
a big university and a big town.   But what impressed me most, though, was a conversation between a professor of history,
Dr. Orunganti Ramachandriah and another individual.  The conversation was about Bhagavan, who had passed on a couple of
months before, and His unique nature in the world of spirituality.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Re: How I came to Bhagavan and Stayed with Him -I.S. Mudugala
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2013, 11:44:17 AM »
continues.....

I don't know how many others who were standing there with me paid attention to that conversation, but it surely struck a
chord inside me.  I should probably add that since childhood I had been interested in matters spiritual, both from family
discussions and some of the books on Saints' lives that I had read, including a text book on the life of Swami Vivekananda.
In the text, it was Sri Ramakrishna who had impressed me for many of the same qualities and personal conduct for which
Bhagavan had been known during his lifetime.  Inexplicably, I experienced a feeling of discomfort that I had not known about
Bhagavan or read about Him when He was alive.  I was always drawn to holy people who did not proclaim their holiness or show
it off.  To me a saint is humble, self effacing, inviting and compassionate, and forgiving.  From the brief remarks that I had overheard
from Professor Ramachandriah, I knew right then and there that Bhagavan was the saint I was looking for in my heart of hearts.
And He had just passed on, much to my disappointment.  I knew that such living gods were hard to come by.

These thoughts and musings subsided within for quite a while, as I went through the university system, graduated, and
started to teach.  But not for long.  Every summer vacation, I would go to my village to recharge my batteries, where small coterie
of friends regularly got together and discussed Ramana Philosophy.  Listening to those discussions, the distance between me
and Bhagavan gradually narrowed, distance because I was not sure, if I was a fit enough devotee, based on my worldly activities
and vulnerabilities. There were many, many others more qualified than I was.  It took me a long time to understand that Bhagavan
was never judgmental and His kindness extended to one and all, no matter how unready they were for spiritual instruction.

During one such summer visit, Sri Gunturi Lakshmikantam happened to be visiting a relative of his in the village.  He had just
published his comprehensive Telugu Biography of Nayana, who had been one of the earliest followers of Bhagavan and who
had remained closest to Him till the end of his life.  The impoverished author was selling the 500-odd-page bound volumes
for a paltry sum of ten rupees each from his shoulder bag and there weren't too many buyers in the village.  I reluctantly
bought a copy, not so much because I knew about Nayana that well but just to help out the writer turned street vendor.

That was one of the few great buys I ever made, considering all the rich detail the book provided me about Bhagavan and the
Asramam.  My desire to learn about Bhagavan was rekindled. 

But I needed yet another jolt, another re-awakening.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                           
 

Subramanian.R

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Re: How I came to Bhagavan and Stayed with Him -I.S. Mudugala
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2013, 12:46:15 PM »
continues.....

Fast-Forward to the early 1970s:

I was at the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. I had moved there from
the United States to teach at the Institute and, a few months after I started, Dr. K. Subramanian, who had been a professor
there for sometime, returned from his studies in the U.S. After we had met for only a few minutes, we realized that we had
a lot in common, not the least of which was our interest in Bhagavan.  I started looking up to him when he told me that he
had seen Bhagavan at the age of three when his father took him to the Asramam.  He got my total attention with that one
statement.  When I found out about his continuing contact with the Asramam and his writings in Mountain Path, I suddenly
felt an urge to visit the Asramam.  He graciously gave me a letter of introduction to Sri Viswantha Swami, armed with which
I made my maiden trip to Bhagavan's home. It was a very pleasant trip, needless to say, and I was totally fascinated by the old
world tranquility that was everywhere.  Subsequently I took my family including the children, and I myself have been visiting it
during every trip of mine to India.  In fact, I can say that a visit to the Asramam has always been a major incentive for me to visit
India.  I returned to the Institute for a second time for three years, mostly at Dr. Subramanian's behest, and, during this second
stay of mine, he and I thought about and established the Hyderabad Ramana Kendra, whose first meeting was attended to by
about ten people in a room at the Hindu Arts College. It is very gratifying to see that the Kendra has been growing from strength
to strength ever since, thanks to the vision and leadership of my late friend Dr. K.S. (as he was affectionately called).

Pause at 2013:

How do I feel Bhagavan's constant Presence in my daily life?  In the many ways help came my way when I needed it, whether it
was when my car stalled, when I fell and was unable to get up, when I was in dire straits, or simply when I needed direction in my
life.  Somehow I never felt alone or abandoned.  Far from it: I could always count on His help whether my need was trivial or
critical. 

Some call such unexpected help coming their way a miracle. But we are taught that there is no such thing as a miracle, only an
occurrence that we cannot rationally explain. Besides, if you can virtually predict the outcome of an event based on sincere
conviction, then the outcome cannot be termed a miracle.

I mentioned about that I have been shown direction in my life on a regular basis. Undoubtedly owing to Bhagavan's Grace.
I am now able to see life from a different perspective than before.  My outlook on life, things, and people has changed, --
changed in such a way as to provide me with a new understanding of what they really are.  I tend to question the ultimate
significance of what I see around me.  Sure enough, there is a plenty of glamour and pizazz all around me, but I wonder how
any of that matters.  Beginnings and endings in mundane existence and the fervid pursuits in between seem so irrelevant
in an ultimate sense. I understand the necessity of activity on a practical level, but it is silly to personally affected by it.
The mind is the culprit and needs to be eliminated from any valid understanding of the ultimate human goal. Hence the segregation
of the mind, defined as a bunch of thoughts, from the inner Self, which is their Source.  We constantly remind ourselves that every-
thing is fleeting and that 'this too, shall pass,' whatever it is.  Whatever is transitory cannot be true or significant.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                                 

Subramanian.R

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Re: How I came to Bhagavan and Stayed with Him -I.S. Mudugala
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2013, 12:34:38 PM »

continues....

I now wonder how I missed out so long on such simple spiritual lessons.  How can anything be real pleasure, given that
every pleasure is accompanied by its own kind of pain in the world we live in?  Indulging one's desires has consequences,
no matter what the desire is.  A major driving force of humanity is carnal desire, which is justified on the basis of the need
to continue the race.  (Taitt. Up. 1.11.1).  But then one has to willingly suspend one's aversion to the body to obey his command.
Notice what Patanjali says regarding one's niyamas: the body is so foul that a yogi looks upon his own body with disgust and shuns
contact with another.  (Yoga Sutra II.40).  Even if all goes well with everything worldly, the very fact that our lives are subject
to the travails of constant change, uncertainties, and tensions makes a wise man shudder with fear.  (Yoga Sutra II.15). Then
if you develop an attachment to a person, place, or thing, you are guaranteed to suffer heartache when separation occurs.

Have you ever stopped to feel the surge your experience when you focus all your faculties and your full attention on the inner
'I'?  It is amazing how totally liberating it can be. Shouldn't we explore the 'I' instead?

Am I leading a double life enjoying the show as it passes before my eyes, yet dwelling constantly on the 'I' that Bhagavan
taught us about?  Who said you have to renounce the world to become a sannyasin?  You can surely be in the world, while
remaining without, in your own Self. 

In my younger days in the family, I often heard it said that a happy person in this world is one who asks only that they be granted
a life that is not pitiful at the end that is not painful.  AnAyasa maranam, vinadaiyena jivanam. 

At this stage of my life, I am hoping that I will be granted the latter, and I have enlisted the help of my doctor to that end.
While nothing in life or death is guaranteed, all I can do is to train myself to be at peace with the world, getting rid of all
distractions of the mind, if I can.  The disappearance of the mind is the start of moksha, the final release, without making any
special effort in that direction.  If there is rebirth, so be it.  There is no need to worry, once you are liberated from thoughts,
the samskaras, 'the four ends of life', the attachments etc.,  I believe I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, because of
Bhagavan's distinct presence by my side.  I came to Him decades ago, and He has been with me ever since.  The 'Hound of Heaven'
never let go of me.  That vivid presence allows me to yell at the top of my lungs.  Look, I am free!

Hence the parenthetical title of this essay, 'and stayed with Him.'.

contd.,


Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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Re: How I came to Bhagavan and Stayed with Him -I.S. Mudugala
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2013, 01:34:55 PM »
Part II - Default Mode:

The first part of this essay entitled 'How I came to Bhagavan' ended with a reference to how, after I came to Bhagavan through
a fortuitous configuration of circumstances, neither I nor Bhagavan left the other.  I had enough wisdom not to tune out the great
good fortune that I had in the living presence of Bhagavan by my side every moment of my life.

Now in this concluding part I would like to elaborate on how I have attempted to see the most basic principle of my existence,
the very foundation of my being, by regressing all the way to the core, that 'I' that is.  I am calling that foundation as the 'default mode'.
The reference is of course to the operating system of a computer before it is modified to perform its myriad functions.  It is different
from the despondent stupor into which we often fall when things go wrong.  Far from it --- our default mode is blissful and self aware
while also being aware of everything superimposed on it. 

No detective work is needed to know that we do have such a default mode to which we all revert periodically, because we
experience i and taste its indescribable peace.  During those fleeting moments, we forget all our trials and tribulations, joys and
sorrows, and the entire phenomenal world, as we relax peacefully in the bosom of our own being.  We experience this incomparable
happiness while both happy and not so happy events befall us during the course of our lives.  We slip into the default state at the
end of our hard day's work. We take comfort in it as we forget a calamity that has occurred against which we are powerless.
We immerse ourselves in the tranquility of our inner self after we are done reveling in a happy event.  We learn about that inner
being from the timeless teachings of a great Sage like Bhagavan who lived in that state every second of His life as a Jnani and
proved the very real possibility of making that default mode permanent here and now.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                       

Subramanian.R

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Re: How I came to Bhagavan and Stayed with Him -I.S. Mudugala
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2013, 12:43:43 PM »
continues.....

The default mode is a state of consciousness where there is no mind as we know it.  It is rather the natural state of one's being.
It is Sahaja Samadhi.  It is our natural state of one's being.  It is our natural condition, our birth right.  The million dollar question
of course is how to attain that state consciously.  We need help.  Sri Ramakrishna describes this state:

'After a man has attained Samadhi all his actions drop away. All devotional activities .... as well as all worldly duties, cease to exist
for such a person.  At the beginning there is much ado about work.  As a man makes progress toward God the outer display of his
work diminishes, so much so that he cannot even sing God's name and glories. (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Nikhilananda).

Let us look at how Bhagavan calls our attention to the fact that this default mode is our real existence, contrary to how we live
our lives helplessly pushed from one extreme to another without realizing there is relief at hand.  He starts by distinguishing
two kinds of samadhi:

'When the senses are merged in darkness it is deep sleep.  When merged in light it is samadhi.  Just as a passenger in a carriage
is unaware of the motion, the halting or the harnessing of the horses, so also, a Jnani in Sahaja Samadhi is unaware of the
happenings, waking, dream and deep sleep......  (Talks # 82)

'In kevala samadhi, the activities (vital and mental) waking, dream and sleep, are only merged, ready to emerge after regaining
the state other than samadhi.  In Sahaja Samadhi the activities vital and mental, and the three states are destroyed, never to
re-appear....They pertain to his (the Jnani's) body and not his real Self., swarupa.  For himself he is like the sleeping passenger.
(Talks # 136).

Our concern is with Sahaja Samadhi, for it alone qualifies as the default state, the deepest condition there is where we taste
lasting bliss.  Bhagavan stresses the fact that Sahaja Samadhi is one's default state of existence:

'Samadhi is one's natural state.  It is the undercurrent in all the three states.  This - that is, 'I' -- is not in those states, but the
states are in It.  If we get samadhi in our waking state that will persist in deep sleep also.  The distinction between consciousness
and unconsciousness belongs to the realm of mind, which is transcended by the state of the Real Self.  (Talks # 597).


contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                         

Subramanian.R

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Re: How I came to Bhagavan and Stayed with Him -I.S. Mudugala
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2013, 11:49:01 AM »
continues.....

To further drill the notion of samadhi as being our true nature, to which we habitually revert effortlessly, and unconsciously,
He reiterates:  "When the real, effortless, permanent, happy nature is realized, it will be found to be not inconsistent with the
ordinary activities of life.  The 'Samadhi reached after efforts looks like abstraction from the external activities.  A person might
be so abstracted or live freely among people without detriment to his Peace and Happiness because that is his true nature or
the Self."  (Talks # 597).

The greatest gift that I believe I have received from Bhagavan is this understanding, this sense of direction, and the assurance
that this goal is within reach.  Where at one time, I wouldn't have known about my own default mode even then I touched it
off and on, I am now convinced that it is what I should aim for to the exclusion of every other mundane goal/  As they say, 'I have
been there and done that', and have no further interest in doing any more of that.  I truly feel at peace with the world and free
from every worldly shackle.  Again, I can only say that I have been lucky, in that I never lost my direction or felt helpless as I
arrived at many crossroads over the decades.  I was not looking for miracles but what I considered miracles did happen,
and I was lovingly put on track whenever I tended to derail.

At the risk of sounding self important, let me mention a couple of instances of such derailment and near-derailment.


contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Re: How I came to Bhagavan and Stayed with Him -I.S. Mudugala
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2013, 12:24:40 PM »

continues.....

The very first event dates back to the 50s when I was desperately trying to do post graduate work at an American University,
partly as an ego trip and partly for professional reasons.  Secretly, I always admired the automobile as a symbol of civilization
(wrongly, needless to add) and of course the U.S. was the country at the time for automobile aficionados.  The whole country
seemed to have grown around the automobile, at least in my thinking.  I was more obsessed with the automobile than even
the higher studies, though I wanted a 'foreign' degree for my job.  My personal astrologer told me to forget it, because my stars
even remotely did not indicate the possibility. 

The obsession (and the resultant depression) took hold of me stronger than ever, and for about a year or so, I thought of
nothing and prayed for nothing except enrolling in an American University. Lo and behold, my prayers were answered and, after
dozens of applications and tons of correspondence, a major university accepted me as a candidate for the Ph.D.  So much so
for m non cooperative stars and the omniscient astrologers.

After I came to the U.S. and achieved my 'ambition', my Indian roots began tugging at my heart strings as did the waiting job
offers over the years through the '70s intermittently.  Each time I decided to return to India and teach at the University, I
surrendered my coveted green card and figured I was going to settle down without further wandering, but after a year or two,
the wanderlust got the better of me again or the family's decision over ruled my own.  After doing this, three times, it was a near
impossibility to regain the green card for a fourth time,  but I remember the U.S. Consul telling me, upon my pleading, 'we will work
something out.'  He surely did and I finally landed back in the U.S. this time for good, in 1982.  One night during this stressful
period, I had a dream, probably the trick of my over wrought mind, in which I was walking down a trail on the Arunachala when
I saw Bhagavan coming in the opposite direction. I stepped aside as I made bold to ask Him if I would be able to return to the
U.S.  He replied in Telugu, that I would be 'coming and going'. (vastu untavu, potu untavu.)  Forgetting the immediate occasion, I
assumed that His answer applied to the larger context of rebirth.  If I have His helping hand available to me in each birth, what is
the big deal about it?  Again it could all be my imagination.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva. 
                             

Subramanian.R

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Re: How I came to Bhagavan and Stayed with Him -I.S. Mudugala
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2013, 12:24:01 PM »
continues....

Our family had its share of tragedies, the most heart wrenching being the loss of our six year old daughter, who was hit by a truck,
driven by a drunk driver in  Hyderabad as she and her friends were crossing the road to catch a bus to go to school.  Her friends
were just slightly faster, but our little girl was hit by the bumper and was instantly killed.  Girls were very prized in our family
because we have had a very few of them, and she was my only daughter.  My wife was permanently affected by the incident,
but I consoled myself and the rest of the family saying that, if we deserved that girl, she would come back to us.  And come back
did she within the year -- I was sure of that -- and I now have a happily married 33-year old daughter.  My wife never fully
recovered from the loss of her daughter, despite her second coming, through her own end  a few years back.

Once when I was driving home in Hyderabad with the family after watching a movie, the car stalled on a side street, around
10.30 p.m. and it was beyond my mechanical prowess to get it re-started.  The kids were again getting cranky and we were a good
ten miles away from home.  Not a soul in sight, to help mechanically or otherwise.   I got out of the car and tried to fiddle with
the engine, but really hoping that a  miracle would happen.  Pretty soon, before I got too desperate, someone came out of nowhere
and got the recalcitrant vehicle going again.  A mechanic in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere?  Well, why not?

In the 'nothing is impossible' department, a very special and incredible thing happened as I was hopelessly in a bind.  For a
variety of reasons including medical, but mostly due to my own fiscal irresponsibility, I had racked up tens of thousands of dollars
in the credit card debt, and there was no way I was going to be able to pay it off just before I retired.  I explored all avenues,
excepting the filing for bankruptcy, because I had my dignity left.  If I owed something to somebody, I must repay it, but how?
I then happened to participate in a nationwide game of chance, whose odds of winning were 3,904,701 to one.  But no odds
were too low when you are in good hands.  I it it big and won the exact amount I needed to discharge all my obligations.  I was
dumbstruck.  Coincidence?  May be, but just in the nick of time?  I think not.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                   

Subramanian.R

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Re: How I came to Bhagavan and Stayed with Him -I.S. Mudugala
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2013, 11:51:38 AM »

continues.....


Just before my retirement a few years ago from the City of Palm Springs, my mother fell very ill in a different city and the
prognosis was dire.  She was in a nursing home.  I could not go to see her at the time, and I prayed that she be alive for
two more months until I retired and stayed with her.  Though the doctors gave her only weeks, she had lived until I was able
to see her and spend two full weeks, with her.  Though she was supposed not to recognize anyone, I am certain she knew me
as she shed tears upon seeing me, though she could not verbalize her happiness.  She passed away peacefully.

Let me mention just one more instance of Sri Bhagavan watching out for me, and this was particularly important to me.  In 2001,
when I was getting the second edition of my book on Sankara for the press, we had a major fire which completely gutted the
apartment and everything in it including my computer with all the files in it.  The revised Sankara book was one of them.  I had
no other copy.  The augmented edition would not have seen the light of day, but for the fact that just a couple of days prior to the
fire, I had mailed the computer file to the publisher  with great foresight, which I normally don't exhibit.  And the book came out
on schedule intact.  Another case of the subtle workings of the Grace.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       

Subramanian.R

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Re: How I came to Bhagavan and Stayed with Him -I.S. Mudugala
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2013, 12:34:36 PM »

continues....

Things happen to all of us on a daily basis which we often miss as coincidences but, if coincidence after coincidence happens
almost in a predictable way, it is logical and also common sense to conclude that there is ' Someone up there,' taking care of us.
The extraordinary and unexpected happenings not only serve as lifesavers at the time but also act as pointers to our innate
potential -- the default power house -- with the help of our faith in the Master's grace.  Alternatively,  we can continue to live
our lives in ignorance of the very bliss that powers us.

At this point I am sure of one thing:  if I had not come into Sri Bhagavan's fold when I did, I hate to imagine what would have
happened to me.  Simple truths appear too complicated to understand on one's own.  The spirit may be willing but the flesh tends
to be weak.  Temptation lurks in every corner waiting to shanghai one's resolve -- that is exactly where one needs a firm hand to
hold on to, to get out of the mess that our lives get us into.  I have found that firmest of hands.  I am, once again, a free person
thoroughly enjoying my efforts to go back to the very basis of this crazy existence. 

The default state of living and being is just amazing, with nothing that needs to be done and nothing that is worth hankering after.
No action, no consequence, no residual aftertaste.  Sri Bhagavan asks rheoterically, "For the noble yogi who has transcended his
mind and realized his true nature, what else is there to do?"  (Upadesa Saram Verse 15).  According to Sankara, this state of
consciousness is Samadhi in which the mind is first made steady and pure awareness (Brahman) then shines in its place. (Aparokshanubhuti Verse 124).  It is real self knowledge.

I am aware that it takes a great deal of practice for us to arrive at our default state, but a logical understanding of it and a
conviction that it is our true nature, and natural existence is a good beginning.  Again, Sri Bhagavan's assurances should leave
no doubt:

'What is Samadhi?  Samadhi is one's true essential nature.  How then can it come and go?'

'If you do not realize your essential nature, you sight remains obstructed.  What is the obstruction?  Find it and remove it., So one's
efforts are meant only for the removal of obstructions which hide the true vision.  The real nature remains the same.  When once
it is realized it is permanent.....'

'A practitioner (sic) gains peace of mind and is happy.  That peace is the result of his efforts. But the real state must be effortless.
The effortless Samadhi is the true one and the perfect state.  It is permanent.'  (Talks # 597.)

So where am I now?  In my admittedly limited understanding of my own default state. I must just keep as it delving deeper and
deeper by the hour, and by the day until the time when:

'....the one who asks the nature of Samadhi and the method of getting into it vanishes, and Samadhi will result.'  (Talks # 155).

A long way to go, but what a fun way!
Through the thick mists of the night
And the sharp rays of the day
Through the dark gloom of sorrow
And the clear sparkle of joy,
Through the timid discontent of winter
And the bold surfeit of summer,
Above and beyond and below
And hither and thither - it shines ,
The Great Effulgence - by default .
My noxious ego
Must needs find It. - to self destruct.

Yes, pesky ego must be destroyed, and there is the rub.*       
               
(*with apologies to the Bard.) 

I am not worried, though I live far away from Bhagavan's 'house' in Tiruvannamalai.  I have hope, based on His replies
to devotees:

... one lady asked: 'Do you ever  intend to go to America?'

Master: America is just where India is (i.e in the plane of thought).  (Talks # 480).

Doesn't this also mean, by the same token, that India is where America is on the plane of thought?

Again, when an American visitor was feeling bad about having to leave Sri Bhagavan and return to U.S. Bhagavan told him:

The Master is not outside you as you seem to imagine.  He is within, is in fact the Self.  Recognize this truth.  Seek within you
and find Him there.  Then you will have the constant communion with Him.  The message is always there.  It is never silent.
It can never forsake you; nor can you ever move away from the Master.  (Talks # 503). 

"Constant communion with Him" is exactly what happens in the default mode.


*****

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.   

Krishnan

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Re: How I came to Bhagavan and Stayed with Him -I.S. Mudugala
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2013, 03:30:33 PM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya

Dear Sri. Subramanian,

Thank you for sharing this account of the devotee. Bhagavan's Grace flows for all those seeking it earnestly, wherever and whenever.

Namaskarams,
Krishnan