Author Topic: And Another Thing...  (Read 893 times)

Subramanian.R

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And Another Thing...
« on: January 31, 2016, 02:56:20 PM »
(an article by Kitty Osborne in Mountain Path, Oct. -Dec. 2015)

Writing about the old days has jogged my memory tree and a lot of old pictures have come tumbling out.

Although there are endless stretches of running wild and free around the hill and over the fields, actually
our year was punctuated by dire days in school in Kodaikanal...  days which do not bring back such
vibrant, happy memories. But luckily the term had to end.

As soon as we arrived home from school we would rush over to say hello to Bhagavan. We never spoke
about school here and never spoke about home when we went there.... just as well really as we went
to a Catholic convent where our home life would definitely not have been appreciated. In  school we
had catechism class presided over by a nun.  First we got a little lecture about the poor heathens
who worshipped idols and how lucky we were to worship Jesus, and then from catechism question one..
Where is God?  Answer by a lot of little girls as we had been taught...God is everywhere.  Kitty Osborne
who is curious and likes a logical explanation, asks, 'Is God really everywhere?'  Nun with benign
expression, 'Yes dear, God is really everywhere?'  'Is God in the walls?'  Nun with slightly less benign
expression, 'Yes, dear, he is in the walls.'  Kitty, persistent, 'Is he in my pencil?'  Nun impatiently
'Yes, dear he is.' Kitty trying to visualize all this, 'Is he in my desk?'  Nun definitely running out of
patience, 'Yes., he is.'

Kitty, 'Is he in the idols that the poor heathens worship?'

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                     

Subramanian.R

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Re: And Another Thing...
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2016, 10:04:59 AM »
Kitty continues...

I was not being cute, I actually had no idea what a poor heathen was anyway... I truly wanted to know.
Anyway, after quite a long pause I was sent out of the class for being cheeky and possibly gained the
distinction of being the only six year old to be so honored.

I told my father about it when we came home and when he laughed I knew it was alright. Of course
we were delighted to be home and free again.  There were no railings around the couch in those days
so we could go right up to Bhagavan and talk to Him or show Him our toys and discuss with Him our latest
news.  The first time the railings were put up and my brother Adam came in and saw them, he looked
unbelieving and then walked round and up to Bhagavan to tell Him whatever it was he had come to say.
Bhagavan laughed and commented to authority in general, 'You see what use your railings are.'

Apart from those I mentioned before, the stalwarts sitting in the Hall included Major Chadwicik with
his broad cloth band to keep his knees up as he had not been trained from childhood to sit cross-legged;
my parents were nearly always there and Mrs. Talyerkhan in her white saris and white hair and white
skin was there regularly until she quarreled with everyone and would not honor the Asramam with
her presence any more.  Mr.Bose, an industrialist from Bangalore was often there. We three children
stopped him one day and I asked if he would help me with my matchbox label collection.  He agreed an d
he also agreed to help my sister Frania with her stamp collection.  Adam had not said anything and so Mr.
Bose asked him what he was collecting. Adam had not said anything so Mr.Bose asked him what he was
collecting.  Adam replied very earnestly 'Money'.  Mr.Bose thought this such a  brilliant reply that he gave
Adam Rs. 5.00. Can you imagine how much that was in the days of 16 annas to the rupee and 1/4 of an
anna was three thumbadis and had purchasing power.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Re: And Another Thing...
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2016, 11:43:48 AM »
We thought Car Street in town was called that becuse the only car our town owned was parked there.
Instead of it being named for the temple chariot.  The stalls in front of the Asramam were makeshift
as the word 'supermarket' had not been invented yet and neither had internet, or internet cafe.
The single provision shop our town owned was on the main road opposite the temple and when they
got anything we thought we needed like shampoo or corn flakes the word went round like wildfire
and in no time they were cleaned out.  Rs.5/- would have bought out the entire stock of the vadai
stand across the road from the Asramam gates and there would have been change.  We would happily
have bought Bhagavan a gift of vadais or murukkus but He would never accept anything unless there
was enough for everyone.  Ladies who bought him a jar of their particular pickles or anything made
specially found that out.  'Is there enough for everyone?' He would ask and if not would not take it.

Bhagavan was a good cook himself, and enjoyed it, I think.  He used to go and help in the kitchen
until He told the cooks to save some ends of vegetables or fruit for use later. They threw them out
and Bhagavan would never went back. How extraordinary that people could be  near Bhagavan and
treat His words as of no consequence. He was the embodiment of power and His every utterance was
significant.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva..   
   

Subramanian.R

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Re: And Another Thing...
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2016, 10:24:06 AM »
His brother, Chinnaswami whom we knew as the Sarvadhikari was so aware of this and in awe
of Bhagavan that he rarely got up the courage to speak to Him personally.  He would send someone
else in with the message.  We all knew about this little quirk of his but no one actually mentioned it
that I had heard of.  Sarvadhikari had a quick temper with a low flash point, but he loved children and
was always very kind to us. We ran free all over the Asramam and I only now appreciate how tolerant
of us they all were.  Bhagavan still kept an eye on the kitchen however. When my mother wanted the
recipe for idly batter a cook wrote it out and showed it to Bhagavan to check...  naturally, as I said
before, everyone showed Him everything.  He read through it carefully and said, 'You have forgotten
the salt.'  I still like that idly batter when they make it. Another time when a roof was being stripped
before being re-covered in grass, a workman found a metal object in the old thatch and..you have guessed
it,... he showed it to Bhagavan and asked what it was. Bhagavan examined it thoroughly and told them
it was something people used to help get their shoes on... a shoehorn and it should be given to Osborne
who would have use for it. What a shoehorn was doing in old roofing thatch is anyone's guess, but I
inherited that shoehorn from my father and it is one of my most treasured possessions.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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Re: And Another Thing...
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2016, 11:06:20 AM »
Some of the things we learned as children were only to use the right hand for giving or receiving
anything or for eating.  And never to point the soles of our feet at anyone as that was very bad
manners.  Bhagavan Himself sanctioned that practice on one well documented occasion. But I feel
He knew that the lady in question, who was a foreigner and did not know Indian customs, meant to
disrespect and would have been mortified to know that she had been discourteous and she probably
could not sit cross legged anyway.  This was before the days of widespread yoga practice and the way
before the days of universal appreciation of Indian sages.  The thin but steady trickle of foreigners     
tended to be sincere and reverent. Still it bothers me when i see Indians doing this as I assume they
know local customs.  Or perhaps not.  We were also taught not to eat or drink in front of elders or
those to whom we should show respect unless it was at mealtimes so I have to get used seeing people
unless it was at mealtimes so I have got used to seeing people with their water bottles sipping
away wherever they are.  Times do indeed change and I am sure one should learn to change with
them but it certainly is not easy!

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

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Re: And Another Thing...
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2016, 11:12:13 AM »
Another thing Bhagavan did not encourage was exotic behavior.  If anyone wanted to sit and pray in a
strange posture or doing contortion He ignored them.  Of course a person doing something odd that
they could not help another matter. But Bhagavan definitely had no time for anyone indulging in weird
conduct, nor did He condone self aggrandizing madness.  They too did not get sympathy.  I am pretty
sure He did not approve of gimmickry, either physical or spiritual.

Sitting in the dining hall with Bhagavan and seeing Him eat was an education.  He sat against the kitchen 
wall where we could all see Him on both sides of the partition. That was because there were a number of old
Brahmin ladies who had spent their entire lives not being allowed to eat in front of strangers and it was too
much of a wrench for them to change their ways so late in life, so they were allowed to do things in a way
that made them feel comfortable.  Bhagavan never wasted even a grain of rice; His leaf was always clean
when He finished.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Re: And Another Thing...
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2016, 10:42:00 AM »
We children loved to eat in the Asramam... much more fun than sitting on chairs at a table and anyway
our mother's cooking was a bit chancy.  Much better on the floor with a leaf in the Asramam.  Even then,
although He seemed to be concerned with nothing but His own meal, Bhagavan would notice if someone
was given something they just could not eat, either it was too spicy or something else and He would direct
a server to give the person something more suitable.  I think we all took Bhagavan's excellent memory and
His attention to detail for granted.  In fact I now realize that we took altogether too much for granted....
it never occurred to us children that Bhagavan would not always be sitting there on the couch wearing the
body we knew and able and willing to answer our questions and share in our world. We spent time playing
on the Hill and racing around the countryside when we could actually have spent more time with Him.
I do not think children are terribly good at thinking ahead.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       

Subramanian.R

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Re: And Another Thing...
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2016, 10:47:56 AM »
The afternoons when most people were resting was when the still air rang to the music of the stone masons
chip, chip, chipping at the enormous stones that were to become the Mother's Temple.  The front of the
Asramam which is now a sort of motorcycle park was, at that time full of all the huge stones.  All day the
work went on but it was quiet of the afternoons that one could really hear it the most and at that time,
the sound carried far in the hot silence. We three children offered to help with the effort, but for some
reason, the maestris (masons) were not keen, in fact they took to hiding their tools to discourage us from
helpful hammering efforts.  They attacked a pillar with blunt nosed chisels wit increasingly smaller
heads, and the stones became smoother and smoother. Actually the four black pillars at the corners of
Bhagavan's  Samadhi were done the same way until they were smooth as silk, and then they were oiled
and made to look like marble. But the stones for the temple were worked to a less fine finish.  Their
chipping was a lovely soporific sound but did not have quite that effect on the three lively children who
could escape parental watchfulness for a while.  We climbed up the scaffolding over the Mother's
Temple and in under the coconut matting protection where they were not actually working we helped
to build the dome. WE 'improved' a number of statues, as I remember. Yes, our finger points are
definitely there for all time.

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.