Author Topic: Arthur Osborne - Christopher Quilkey - Mountain Path, January - March 2007 issue  (Read 1061 times)

Subramanian.R

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Arthur Osborne's birth centenary was on 25th September 2006.  It was typical of this self effacing man that
we did not notice this significant date at the time and were only told by a devotee after the fact.

Arthur's life in this world was relatively short.  He died at the age of 64.  Probably the hardships and deprivations he suffered as a captive in Bangkok during the Second World War contributed.

He left us a legacy of writing about Sri Ramana which will live on as long as there are people who read about
Bhagavan.  He wrote in a simple, straightforward style.  There were neither literary effects nor for that matter
any superfluous wolds  He thought that the message was more important than the messenger.

As founder editor of The Mountain Path, he opened up a new world for many, particularly in the West 
who had trouble with Sanskrit terminology and Indian philosophical terms in general.  As in his life,
he went right to the heart of an argument and said what was absolutely necessary so readers could \
easily grasp the essentials.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

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When I write an editorial it is composed in part with the spirit of Arthur's style in mind.  His was the first
book I read on Bhagavan and though the language of his booklet Ramana Arunachala looked deceptively
plain and approachable, one instinctively felt that there were layers of deeper understanding which eluded
comprehension.  Sometimes I look at his editorials for inspiration but try not to read too much, otherwise
my editorial would not get written at all!  Arthur in his inimitable way has said that all that is necessary to
clarify the path of Sri Ramana.  The best one can do while doggedly following in his steps is to be true to
the teaching and try to leave no individual tracks.

He was one of the few people I actually wanted to meet and when, on first arriving at Arunachala in 1975,
it was with deep disappointment that I heard he was dead.  He had worked extremely hard creating
The Mountain Path with a bare minimum facilities along with V. Ganesan, the Managing Editor who was
a big help to him.  It is hard to us in this computer age to realize the amount of labor required to type
and proof read each draft which originally he did almost singlehandedly.  He created a highly respected
journal which became internationally known and one can easily imagine Bhagavan's Grace was solidly
behind the enterprise.  In 1968, with perhaps intimations that his time in the world was limited because
an operation was planned which had only a fair chance of success, he wrote ten editorials, one after the
other.  He had a tidy mind and so, in order to leave things properly arranged for whoever would follow
him, he planned and executed over two years of magazine material and then put down his pen.

The final period of his life was spent mainly in silence. His final editorial was in April 1970.  The next
month he died at Bangalore on the 7th May.  His body was brought back to Tiruvannamalai by his
adoring wife and courageous fellow traveler, Lucia.  His grave lies in a quiet spot under some trees
in the Osborne Compound and one can sense, if the trouble is taken to be still in that tranquil atmosphere,
a serene peace that is quite subtle.  It does not hit you in the eye with raw power but nonetheless there is a
delicate undertone of acceptance  and support.  His discreet presence permeates the resting place.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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When we read accounts of Arthur there is no doubt that he was a gentleman of the old school.  He was
emotionally undemonstrative but naturally polite and reserved, not out of arrogance but more out of respect
for whatever he was with.  He never uttered a word more than necessary and was content to remain
perfectly quiet for any length of time, much to the discomfort of those who came to seek his company and hoped for a string of wise statements from him.  He had no small talk.  This was apparently quite a contrast to his younger University days when he was gregarious;  a member of a debating team and various other societies which were part of the normal activities available at Oxford.  But he always retained his wit and an unexpectedly delightful dry sense of humor.

Unless one knew it from his writings or his acquaintance, his placid demeanour would disguise his powerful
and unrelenting dedication to the teachings of his guru.  Arthur did not believe in half measures and though
he was married and had three children, his heart and soul was dedicated to the quest for truth.  Like an
Arthurian Knight, once he had committed his life, there was no slackening nor turning back.   
         

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

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We could guess that from the fact that he and his wife came to the East seeking knowledge at a time when
such behavior was not only fashionable, but considered by family and friends in Europe as, at best, eccentric,
at worst mad.  Arthur had brilliant academic career, and was being groomed as a don for All Souls, the elite
college at Oxford, when he turned back on that scholastic tradition.  He saw early that the world of the mind
was inadequate for the task of understanding the meaning of life.  He searched for a position which would
aid him to find the time and leisure to pursue his own interests.  He had two offers.  The first, an  archaeological college in Palestine and the second, with British Council in Poland. He took up the latter. It was destiny as it was there he met and married Ludka Lipszyc, as she was then known.  She was a kindred spirit and was fortunately endowed with many qualities which he lacked.  Where he was an idealist and a scholar, she was practical and down to earth.  She came from a line of Jewish scholars and deeply respected Arthur's fine intellect. She was fluent in sis languages and he was in at least four, including Arabic.  Together they forged a bond that gave them the strength to face and accept all the vicissitudes to which they were subjected in the next thirty four years.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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Arthur released from prison in 1945 and came to Arunachala to be with his family and Bhagavan who
blessed him.  Arthur had known about Bhagavan's greatness for many years but due to his association
with Rene Guenon had thought that though Bhagavan was a jivan mukta, He did not teach and therefore
could not guide seekers.  It was only when he came to Tiruvannamalai he realized Bhagavan as a guide.   
Sometime after his arrival at Arunachala, he showed Bhagavan a letter he had composed to Guenon stating
that Bhagavan was a guru.  Bhagavan read it carefully and gave his consent for the letters to be sent.
Arthur cut his ties with the Sufi tradition which he had hitherto practiced and from then on exclusively
followed the teachings of Bhagavan.   The subsequent passing of Bhagavan from this world in no way
diminished his faith, for he knew with implicit trust and experience that Bhagavan was always available
to help and guide all who sincerely seek.

He was employed as an editor at the Indian Express newspaper in Madras and learnt to pare down
his writing to what was exact and indispensable.  He later became headmaster of the Hindi High School
in Calcutta and in 1958, he and Lucia finally settled down for good at Tiruvannamalai when barely
enough savings had been accumulated for them to live simply and even this was due almost entirely
to his wife's practical nature.  Arthur then devoted the rest of his life to writing about that which he loved
best: the life and teachings of Sri Ramana.  He wrote a biography Ramana Maharshi and the Path of
Self Knowledge, which is the best biography on Bhagavan; Ramana Arunachala; Buddhism and
Christianity in the Light of Hinduism.  Many of his articles from the Mountain Path  are collected in
For those with Little Dust and Be Still, It is the Wind that sings.  Both collections reveal his range of
knowledge as well as an unusual depth of insight.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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He was a loyal and humble man.   When he and his wife left Calcutta for the last time, his former students
and teachers crowded Howrah Railway Station to say good bye.  He was astonished at their enthusiastic
send off.  The railway carriage was filled with flowers and other gifts.  I think that today too, if he was aware
of it, he would be amazed that his memory is held in deep reverence;  but it is nonetheless true that he
inspires our respect, not with extravagant praise but quiet affection for someone who never expected adulation
but who gave himself sincerely to all that he thought best and lived his life with the utmost integrity at the
highest possible standard to which he could aspire.

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.