Author Topic: My Reminiscences of Sri Bhagavan - Swami Ramanananda -  (Read 1705 times)

Subramanian.R

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My Reminiscences of Sri Bhagavan - Swami Ramanananda -
« on: February 25, 2016, 10:51:19 AM »
(The above article appeared in Mountain Path, Jan. - Mar. 2008)

(Sri Ramanananda is formerly known as T.N. Venkataraman, who was President of the Asramam.)

I was blessed with very first Upadesam (instruction) of Sri Bhagavan, when I was all of five years old.
That was in 1920, at Skandashram.  A plate of fruit and sweets had been put aside for the monkey,
'Nondi' but when nobody was looking I went to the plate, took a sweet and put it in my mouth. All
of a sudden a monkey appeared, limped towards me, slapped me and grabbed the plate.

My grandmother Alagammal pleaded with Nondy not to harm me.  Then Bhagavan Ramana came into the
room and said, 'This is a lesson for you;  now understand that we should not desire things which belong
to others.'  I fully understood the profound meaning of that Upadesam long afterwards when I was President
of Sri Ramanasramam.

My grandmother Alagammal also came to Bhagavan once and asked for His blessing on her daughter-in-
law Mangalam in order that she should have a son to continue the family line as none of her siblings
had borne any children.  Bhagavan smiled graciously and she took this as His blessing.  I was born a
year later and everyone was sure that it was due to Sri Bhagavan's grace.

My mother Mangalam passed away when I was not yet three and my father Nagasundaram, who later
became Swami Niranjananda and was called Chinnaswami by everybody in Sri Ramanasramam,
left me at the house of my aunt Alamelu and her husband Pichu Iyer at Kunrakudi and went away.
They brought me up with great love.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Re: My Reminiscences of Sri Bhagavan - Swami Ramanananda -
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2016, 11:53:51 AM »
In 1916, when Nellipappa Iyer, Bhagavan's uncle, in whose house Alagammal was living, passed away,
she decided to spend the rest of her life with Sri Bhagavan at Tiruvannamalai and joined Him at
Virupaksha cave that same year. Sri Bhagavan graciously accepted her as one of the inmates of the
Ashram.

My Aunt Alamelu and Uncle Pichu Iyer would go to Tiruvannamalai at least once a year, along with me,
stay in the town and visit Skandashram for Sri Bhagavan's darshan. I vividly remember some incidents
which I saw as a boy of four or five years.

With the exception of saffron robed grandma Alagammal, no other woman could stay at night at Skandashram.  So my aunt and uncle would return to the town taking me along with them in the
evening.  As they had to carry me in their arms, on some days, they would leave me at Skandashram.
On those days, Bhagavan would put me to bed by His side and see that I slept comfortably.  In the morning
He would brush my teeth and bathe me. He would sit outside on the stone couch and ask me to sit
beside Him. He would say,  'What are the pranks that you play back home?'  When my aunt and uncle
would come up the Hill from the town, He would point His finger and tell me, 'See there, your aunt is
coming,' and would get up, saying with a laugh, "Now you are her responsibility, it is between her and you.'
On days when aunt Alamelu was late in coming He would ask Perumal Swami to take care of me.  He was
a faithful devotee of Sri Bhagavan in those days.  Later, he became a source of great bother to the Ashram
but how infinitely patient and forgiving Bhagavan was with him.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

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Re: My Reminiscences of Sri Bhagavan - Swami Ramanananda -
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2016, 01:36:22 PM »
My aunt and uncle and I were staying at a devotee's house in Tiruvannamalai. At night, my
uncle and I would sleep outside on the veranda. One early morning, before dawn, Karuppan,
the Asramam dog, which would on some days accompany us to the town, barked softly by my
side waking me up alone. Then he ran a little distance, stopped and looked back.  I thought
he wanted me to follow him, which I did. We reached the Hill and then climbed on till we reached
Skandashram. Bhagavan, who was surprised to see us, called Kunju Swami and asked him to go
down to the town and inform my aunt and uncle that I was safe on the Hill at the Ashram.

These and other incidents are fresh in my memory.  I knew Bhagavan loved me dearly but I was
too young then  to realize His greatness.

Another incident which is very green in my memory is the laying of the Samadhi to grandmother
Alagammal in May 1922.  She was in her last moments and was asking to see me, her only my
grandchild.  I was 7 then,  A telegram was sent to my uncle at Kunrakudi. We arrived only the day
after Alagammal had left the body which, by then, had been carried down the Hill to be buried ner
the tank. Pali Tirtham.  We went there straight from the Tiruvannamalai Railway Station as arranged
by Bhagavan.  Bhagavan's devotees wished that I should perform the final obsequies and lay the
Samadhi. I fell to my lucky lot to lay to rest the blessed mother who gave birth to a great Jnani.       

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       
« Last Edit: February 27, 2016, 01:46:07 PM by Subramanian.R »

Subramanian.R

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Re: My Reminiscences of Sri Bhagavan - Swami Ramanananda -
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2016, 12:11:21 PM »
In those days I was at Kunrakudi, which was a small village, with my aunt and uncle, there was no school
there.  So I was sent to nearby Tirupattur where my uncle's brother was manager of the local temple.
There I went to the primary school for two years.  Then, as he passed away, I was sent to Manamadurai,
a neighboring town, where another brother of my uncle's, Srinivasa Iyer, lived.  I finished my third year
in the primary school there.  When he moved to Paslai village, I shifted to the house of Nagu Iyer, son of
Nellaiappa Iyer, Bhagavan's uncle.  That was the house in which I was born and there I completed my
sixth standard.  When Nagu Iyer too passed away, I moved to the house of Vakil Sundararama Iyer,
a relative of my father, and passed the fourth standard.  from O.V.C. High School.  That was the last
year of school education for me.

I was taken to Tiruvannamalai every year, since 1922, during Bhagavan's Jayanti and the Maha Puja
of Alagmmal.  I can be seen standing next to Bhagavan and behind Nayana Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni
in the group photo taken on 28th December 1928, during Bhagavan's Jayanti.  How lucky I was!

Another incident which is indelibly imprinted on my memory is the Mahasamadhi of Sri Seshadri Swamigal,
a great contemporary of Sri Bhagavan.  He left his body on January 14, 1929.  He was interred the same
day and a Samadhi was laid on the spot of interment.  That was a ground adjacent to the Ramanasramam
complex.  Sri Bhagavan attended the ceremony taking me along with Him.  I was 15 years old then and
felt thrilled to participate in the rites of passage of a very great soul. In the month of May of the same year
I tied the knot at Vetriyur. The bride was Nagalakshmi Ammal, affectionately called Nagu, who was 13,
two years younger than me.  This marriage was blessed by Sri Bhagavan in the following manner.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Re: My Reminiscences of Sri Bhagavan - Swami Ramanananda -
« Reply #4 on: February 29, 2016, 09:51:20 AM »
Nagu was the third daughter of a maternal uncle of Sri Bhagavan.  My own maternal uncle, Venkatarma
Iyer, wanted to marry off his daughter Lakshmi to me.  Learning that talks were going on for Nagu's
marriage to me, he rushed to Tiruvannamalai along with a relative of Sri Bhagavan seeking His blessings
for Lakshmi's marriage to me.  However, Sri Bhagavan told them, 'But they have decided that Venkitoo
should marry Nagu, is not it?'  Was this not His full blessing for my marriage with Nagu?

Ink this connection, I cannot help but refer to the first upadesa of Sri Bhagavan to newly married Nagu
which set the tone for her entire life. 

Soon after our marriage, Aunt Alamelu and Uncle Pitchu Iyer took Nagu to Sri Bhagavan for His
blessings.  When she came out of the Old Hall after Sri Bhagavan's darshan, she saw a young
woman, who had come from Madras with her parents. Nagu was impressed by the sari worn by
that young lady, Mangalam by name, and told her 'How beautiful is your sari!'  Mangalam had later
mentioned to this her father. On returning to Madras, he purchased two saris similar to the one
admired by Nagu and sent them by parcel to Sri Ramanasramam with a request that the packet
be given to Nagu.

All letters addressed to the Asramam were invariably placed before Sri Bhagavan and so was this
packet and the covering letter.

Next day, when  Bhagavan saw Nagu at the Asramam kitchen, He said, 'Nagu, when you see someone
wearing nice ornaments or a nice sari, you should think that you are wearing them.'  Nagu, with her
eyes moist and voice tremulous, said,  'Bhagavan, I did not ask for the sari, I only said that the sari
was beautiful.' 

But Sri Bhagavan repeated His upadesa and moved on.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

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Re: My Reminiscences of Sri Bhagavan - Swami Ramanananda -
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2016, 10:53:12 AM »
From that day onward, till her last moment 55 years later, Nagu never asked for anything from anybody.
She found contentment to be the best of riches, thanks to Bhagavan;s gracious upadesa.

It was Sri Bhagavan who named everyone of my three sons, and four daughters.  He would choose an
apt name and explain the reason for the choice. 

Sometime in 1944, Bhagavan broke His clavicle (collarbone) when He fell down when trying to save a
squirrel chased by a dog.  The doctor put a bondage round His arm. The next day, when I went to the
Asramam with my children, my third son Mani prostrated before Bhagavan.  He noticed the bandage
and started giving vent to his annoyance with Bhagavan's attendants:  'Devotees walk behind Bhagavan,
what were you doing?  Ought they not see that Bhagavan does not fall down?'  On hearing this,
Bhagavan put His right index finger on His nose and said, 'Mani manippayal thaan.  (Mani is real
smart), Mani maniyaa pesaraane!  (He talks so well!)'

contd.,

Arunachala Siva. 
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 09:28:37 AM by Subramanian.R »

Subramanian.R

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Re: My Reminiscences of Sri Bhagavan - Swami Ramanananda -
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2016, 09:43:54 AM »
The other incident which occurred a week before Sri Bhagavan's Maha Nirvana is deeply moving,  The
cancerous growth near Bhagavan's left elbow had swollen to a big size and there was a bandage around
it. A number of doctors were in attendance on Bhagavan and there were many important people in the large
gathering. Aunt Alamelu  took my last child Sarasvati, who was barely 11 months old, near Bhagavan and
the child started prattling 'Inga, inga' as usual but unusually loudly this time. Aunt took the child far from
Bhagavan but her prattle was audible to Sri Bhagavan.  Those were the days when the smallest movement
of any part of His body would entail excruciating pain for Him. But He turned His face in all directions and
said, " I hear the voice of 'Inga' baby.  Is she here?  Poor child if she raises her voice, she is carried far away!"

Some one ran to Aunt Alamelu and brought her and the child to Bhagavan who looked at her with compassion
saying, 'inga'.  The child shouted 'inga' and Bhagavan's face wreathed in smiles.

I have no words to describe Bhagavan's love for me.  He graced me in many, many ways.  Could I have
run His Asramam for nearly 40 years but for His Grace?  Even in the years before 1938, when I finally
moved to Tiruvannamalai with my family and started performing Asramam duties assigned by my father,
who was the Asramam Sarvadhikari, Bhagavan was sending me spiritual nourishment, directly and
indirectly.               

I worked with the Bank of Chettinad from 1932 to 1937. My flair for accountancy was acknowledged and
appreciated. It was to my Bank address that Sri Ramanasramam was regularly sending me clippings
from the Tamizh paper Swadesamitran.  What was special about those clippings?

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   

Subramanian.R

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Re: My Reminiscences of Sri Bhagavan - Swami Ramanananda -
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2016, 11:14:29 AM »
Ellam Onre (All are One) was a little book written by one Subramanyan from the Advaitic view-point.
Sri Bhagavan read this Tamizh book, gave chapter titles, and told one of His devotees, 'If you want
moksha read this book.'   The contents of this book were serialized in the Tamizh daily Swadesamithran.
Bhagavan would personally cut the article from the paper and ask the Asramam office to send it to me.

When I was the President of Sri Ramanasramam I had to tackle many administrativem problems.  There
were a series of court cases.  I had to brief the lawyers and be present in the courts, from the lower courts
up to the Madras High Court.  All this left me little time for the study of Sri Bhagavan's teachings and to
pursue self inquiry vigorously.  I heartily agreed with those who said that I did not know an akshram
(letter) of Bhagavan's Aksaramanamalai (Marital Garland of Letters).

However, I always felt that Sri Bhagavan was guiding me all the time. I felt His Presence around me
protecting me and the Asramam.  The kind of work that I had to do as Asramam President demanded
tremendous patience, tenacity and courage and Sri Bhagavan blessed me with these traits.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       

Subramanian.R

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Re: My Reminiscences of Sri Bhagavan - Swami Ramanananda -
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2016, 02:48:05 PM »
My wife Nagu never turned away a beggar empty handed for she had heard Sri Bhagavan once say
in the Asramam kitchen: 'When a beggar comes, give him whatever you can, be it even an Indian
gooseberry. Who knows who comes in the form of the beggar?'

I started working at Sri Ramanasramam from 1938.  Yogi Ramaiah and the advocate Sri Sambasiva Rao
wrote to me and requested that I resign from Bank of Chettinad and come to the Asramam and help
run the administration.  Upon arrival at the Asramam I was in a dilemma.  I was a householder, the family
consisting of myself, Nagu, two sons, Aunt Alamelu and Uncle Pitchu Iyer.  My father, the Asramam
Sarvadhikari was fiercely strict and would not permit a family to live within the Asramam.  Feeling it would
not be possible to accept any responsibility in the Asramam without Bhagavan's approval, I sent a
family friend to the Asramam to obtain Bhagavan's approval.

After discussing the matter with Yogi Ramaiah, my friend mentioned the subject to Bhagavan, when He was
alone near the Hill.  It seems that Sri Bhagavan said straightaway, 'Venkitoo is a family man. So what?
The needs of the family can be met by the Asramam.'  This solved the problem. I would go there in the
morning and return after dusk to our family home outside the Asramam.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Re: My Reminiscences of Sri Bhagavan - Swami Ramanananda -
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2016, 12:13:40 PM »
As I said earlier, my father was a stern administrator.  From the day I started serving at the Asramam
till his last days, he never said a kind word to me which would smack of paternal affection. Being a
renunciate, he kept his relationship with me at the most impersonal level. He would object to my leaving
my room even for a day or two.  If I left with my family to attend a marriage in a neighboring village,
he would complain to Bhagavan.  Bhagavan would pacify him saying that it was not proper to object
Venkitoo fulfilling his social obligations as a house holder.

My father would occasionally be absent and I would then attend to his work.  If Asramam people approached
Bhagavan for any approval, He would say, 'Why not ask Venkitto, the little Sarvadhikari?' In this way,
He upheld my authority whenever it is questioned.

Another incident which I remember with a thrill of pride is when I stood by the side of Sri Bhagavan
in 1949, received the Sri Chakra Meru blessed by Hi,m from His hands and fixed it over the Samadhi
of Mother Alagmmal.  I had also the good fortune of installing the Matrubhuteswara Lingam, in the
sanctum of the Temple.

I recall with great joy meeting Mahatma Gandhi at Madras in January 1946, and presenting him with a
photo of Sri Bhagavan and some Asramam publications. Gandhiji kept looking at the photo and saying
in Hindi, 'What a great Sage!'

During His last months the Sarvadhikari would not allow anyone to enter Bhagavan's room later called
the Mahanirvana Room.  I would however go in flouting his orders.  Arguments would ensue.  Once I said
in a firm tone, 'Bhagavan is bedridden and either of us two should always be by His side.  In your absence
I will be with Him.'  Bhagavan, who was lying down, turned His head towards us with effort and slightly
nodded His head in approval.

On 15th April, the day after Mahasamadhi, in the presence of Swami Niranjananda, and surrounded
by a huge gathering of devotees, I poured a large quantity of milk, curds, fruit juice, coconut water etc.,
on Bhagavan's divine head.  Then, rose water, scent, oil, etc., were poured.  Numerous garlands were
offered to His body. By 6.30 in the evening, His body was carried to the Samadhi pit. I offered a large
quantity of camphor, sacred ash, salt, etc., into the pit. His divine body was worshipped and then lowered
into the pit in the Padmasana posture.  The Samadhi bricks were laid and cemented.  The Mahasamadhi
was completed.

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.