Author Topic: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi  (Read 73307 times)

Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #90 on: August 02, 2017, 06:05:14 PM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
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Kunju Swami - XIV

I can never forget his solicitude to me. I had given Kunju Swami Chadwick's old room. He said, ―Ganesan, come and stay with me in the next room. Even though I was a grown-up and held a responsible position in the Ashram, he looked after me like I was a little child. He was so kind.

During Kunju Swami's last days, I appointed two assistants to look after him, as he experienced a lot of physical pains. These assistants did their duty very well, but sometimes they would make blunders. Kunju Swami never complained. One day I asked him, ―Kunju Swami, are they all looking after you properly? ―They are looking after me very well. In fact, today I wanted to call you and tell you that I wanted to break some good news to humanity. Puzzled at his words, I asked, ―Swami, what are you talking about? ―Do you know these muscular pains can be cured with a massage using honey? replied Kunju Swami. ―I still don't understand, Swami. ―I thought I was going to give some breakthrough news to the medical world. ―Still, Swami, I do not understand.

I learned later that there was a jar of honey kept next to the brown oil, which was to be massaged onto Kunju Swami's body to relieve his muscular pain. The assistant mistook the honey for the oil and had been massaging Kunju Swami's body with it. It obviously did not prove useful, but all Kunju Swami said was, ―I wanted to make a breakthrough, but it did not work. He used to get his point across indirectly, without complaining, despite being in so much pain.

In his last days, he was almost bedridden; he could not even sit up. Anuradha, a few others, and I would visit him and try to amuse him. We used to ask him to tell us something about Bhagavan's verses and he would come alive. Anuradha's son, Sankar, had finished school and was soon to leave for America to study medicine. He was very fond of Kunju Swami because he had almost been brought up by him. He knew that when he returned from America the next time, Kunju Swami would no longer be among us. This deeply saddened him. Kunju Swami wanted to cheer him up, while we tried to amuse him. I put a question to Kunju Swami, ―In Bhagavan's Tamil translation of Sankara's works, which song do you like? Kunju Swami steadied himself and looked at me, ―Swami, I like the song where it is said, I am the Self, I am awareness, and Anuradha likes the song where it is said, you are the Self, you are that. Whose side are you going to be on? Then he added, ―Let her sing first. The first song she sang was I am that (Hastamalaka Stottara). Then she sang Guru Stuti, which says ―You are that. I asked Kunju Swami, ―Swami, which parties do you belong to? Do you belong to I am that or you are that? Kunju Swami smiled at us, ―What is the difference between you and I? In you are that, the important word is are, not you or that. Both get merged in the are. In I am that, the important word is am not I or the that.

He passed away a few days after listening to those beautiful songs. That night he asked his attendants to remove the cushions from his wooden bed and help him sit in padmasana. ―I am going to meditate, he declared. He remained in deep meditation while his attendants slept. After two hours when they awoke and touched him, his body was cold. He had passed away, just doing Self-Enquiry. His Heart will always be in Arunachala, at the feet of the Satguru Ramana.

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Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #91 on: August 03, 2017, 08:01:10 AM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
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Sri Niranjanananda Swami (Chinna Swami) -I

The devotee who was instrumental in facilitating the ―struggle aspect of Self-realization was Bhagavan's own brother, Niranjanananda Swami, whom Bhagavan called ―Pichai. He came to Bhagavan in 1917 when he was up on the hill. Viswanatha Swami calls him ―one of the biggest Hearts that opened from Arunachala to reveal Bhagavan's message.

What struggle? The spiritual struggle is between the false idea that one is exclusively the body and doer, and the revelation that one is not incarnated in a mortal body. The body is simply an apparition in the boundless Heart sky. In all Hindu mythology, whenever God appeared on earth as an avatar like Rama or Krishna, on many occasions they came with brothers. In Rama and Krishna's case, it was Lakshmana and Balarama, respectively. Even saints like Jnaneshwar Maharaj and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa had brothers. Jesus had James as his brother. These brothers were important in the function of spreading virtue and goodness, and therefore played an important role in the divine drama. Likewise, Bhagavan's brother was accepted by him unconditionally. Bhagavan kept Niranjanananda Swami by his side until he realized Mahanirvana. It is important that when we look at the brothers of great saints, we see them with an unbiased mind. This is because they played a role in the broader divine plan.

Bhagavan had two brothers and one sister. The elder brother was called Nagaswami, his younger brother, Nagasundaram, and his younger sister was named Alamelu. When their father, Sundaram Iyer, passed away, the family was split up. Nagaswami and Venkataraman came to Madurai, whereas their mother, Alagammal, took Nagasundaram and Alamelu to her brother-in-law's house in another city. At the age of sixteen, Bhagavan had the ego-death experience and was called to Arunachala, Tiruvannamalai. In 1902, the family traced Bhagavan to Arunachala. Nagasundaram came to see his elder brother. As an ascetic young man at that time, Bhagavan was known as Brahmana Swami. He lived up on the hill in Sadguru Swami, a cave right below Virupaksha cave. When Nagasundaram witnessed his elder brother in ascetic attire and in total silence, he embraced him and wept. Bhagavan remained in silence, and Nagasundaram felt that he should stay with him and serve. But Bhagavan knew that Nagasundaram had many worldly commitments, and even though he offered to stay, Bhagavan did not reply. A disappointed Nagasundaram returned to his native home.

We do not have too many details about Nagasundaram's boyhood or later years. However, we do know that a series of ill-fated incidents started taking place in his life. He was married and got a job as a clerk. His eldest brother, Nagaswami, died suddenly when he was twenty years old. Within a short span, they lost everything, and their ancestral property was auctioned off. Nagasundaram lost his wife suddenly, leaving behind a little boy (my father, T. N. Venkataraman). Nagasundaram's only source of comfort was his mother, Alagammal, but she too had gone away to Arunachala to stay with Bhagavan. These incidents shocked him and drove him to a state of surrender, submission, and service. He gave up whatever he was left with, including his son, whom he left with his sister. At that time, his mother sent word to Nagasundaram to come and live with her and Bhagavan. Thus, he left for Arunachala and Bhagavan accepted him, perhaps due to his mother's influence. Mother Alagammal told her ascetic son, ―My third son Nagasundaram is not an intellectual. He is a little rough and tough and it is very hard for him to reside in the material world. You take care of him. Bhagavan obeyed her.

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Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #92 on: August 06, 2017, 01:07:09 AM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
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Sri Niranjanananda Swami (Chinna Swami) -II

Later, T. P. Ramachandra Iyer said to me that once there was an altercation in the management and Nagasundaram was involved in it. Bhagavan often muttered under his breath while going up the hill, ―What can I do? I have given her my word. Ramachandra Iyer could not understand and asked, ―Bhagavan, what are you saying? Bhagavan replied, ―When my brother came here, my mother took an assurance from me that I will not leave him and that I will protect him and keep him here with me. What can I do?

When Nagasundaram came to Skandashram, having been beaten by life's trials, he became an ascetic, too. He took to austere living and begged in the streets of Tiruvannamalai for food. By that time, Ramana Maharshi had written Who am I and Five Hymns to Arunachala. These were the prevalent books, on which many devotees meditated or sang from. Nagasundaram contemplated, studied, and lived a reclusive life. Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni had already named Brahmana Swami as Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.

When he met Nagasundaram, Bhagavan's brother, he could see that Bhagavan was paying attention to him. He, too, therefore wanted to assist in helping him. ―Why don't you take the traditional step of taking sanyasa and donning the ochre robe? He suggested. Nayana also assigned him the name Niranjanananda Swami. The name means ―an imperishable one. Given the complicated name, everybody started calling him Chinna Swami, Junior Swami, as Bhagavan, his elder brother, was the senior Swami.

When Mother Alagammal dropped the body, Chinna Swami was among those who carried the body down the hill and brought it to the thorny, bushy place, which is now Ramanashram. With help from the others, he buried her body in the samadhi. Kavyakantha insisted that he must perform pooja for it. As was customary, a lingam was placed over her body. But while this is usually taken off after some time, they let it remain there. Kavyakantha said, ―You must perform pooja with all rituals because this is not just a tomb. It is a temple of immortality since Bhagavan has liberated your mother and she is no more an ordinary bodily person. She is at one with God.  Kavyakantha named the temple ―Matrabhuteshwara, which means ―God in the form of Mother. In this way, Chinna Swami was influenced to take to worship and stayed there doing pooja every day, while Bhagavan stayed on at Skandashram.

One day, Chinna Swami sent word to Bhagavan that he was going to make dosas the next day. It was considered a delicacy and he said he would bring it to Skandashram. Early the next morning, Chinna Swami heard a sweet voice saying ―Is there any food for an athithi? Athithi means a wayfarer or a guest. It was none other than Bhagavan's voice, identifying himself as a guest. The Mother's shrine was the nucleus for the present Ramanashram, and Bhagavan stayed there, never as the owner, but as a guest until his last day.

It was always someone else who managed the Ashram. In 1929, after Seshadri Swami passed away, some lawyers told Bhagavan that there were a lot of litigations that had to be managed. Therefore, they advised that someone should be officially appointed as the sole manager of the Ashram. Everyone wanted Nayana to don this mantle but Bhagavan turned to Nayana and said, ―It seems Pichai wants to do this. Let him become the manager and take the burden on himself. Kavyakantha told all his devotees, ―It is Bhagavan's injunction and we should support it. From that day on Kavyakantha's disciples always supported Chinna Swami in his role as manager. In 1930, Bhagavan was asked to execute a will, which stated that the family of Niranjanananda Swami would manage the material aspects of the Ashram and that it would not have any spiritual successor to Bhagavan.

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Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #93 on: August 07, 2017, 06:08:40 AM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
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Sri Niranjanananda Swami (Chinna Swami) -III

Chinna Swami was austere, strict, efficient, and an unrelenting disciplinarian. By 1938, he needed assistance in the Ashram. He sent word to his son, my father, and the whole family to join him. I was two years old when my father brought me to Ramanashram. Chinna Swami was just as strict with his son, my father. He never favored him--so much so, that my father was disappointed with him. Similarly, Chinna Swami rubbed many people the wrong way with his blunt manner, but, as many devotees say, those stories must be looked at impartially and in context.

It is important that we see both sides of the character of this man. It is to be noticed that the records of all those who were offended by Chinna Swami's disciplinary action and complained, conveniently omitted their last sentences.

I actually interviewed these complainants, including Muruganar, Ramaswami Pillai, Chadwick, Viswanatha Swami, Annamalai Swami, Kunju Swami, Devaraja Mudaliar, Suri Nagamma, and Munagala Venkataramaia among the long list of Chinna Swami's victims. They unanimously agreed, ―Chinna Swami's harshness did affect us and at that moment our egos were deeply hurt. There is no doubt about it. But in later years we understood that it was divine providence and that unless he had treated us like that, we would have continued to be immersed in management activities and would not have pursued our spiritual aspiration.

Muruganar also told me, ―Chinna Swami repeatedly slighted me and even refused me food at the Ashram. I had to go out on the streets and beg for my food. The reason for Chinna Swami's refusal was that he wanted me to continue performing pooja in the Mother's shrine and also assist him with the correspondence in the office. I did not do that, so I had to leave. But Ganesan, I assure you that my going away granted me two spiritual boons. Now I tell you honestly, but for Chinna Swami, I might have still been doing pooja in Ramanashram even today and assisting in writing letters. ―What are those two boons? I asked him. ―I could get the proximity and presence of Bhagavan at any time, day and night. Had I been committed to management work, I could not have had that. The second boon was that I was so ecstatic, that I wanted to write poems. I wrote forty thousand verses on Bhagavan and Bhagavan's teaching. These were written in silence and seclusion. With external activity this might not have happened. Chinna Swami was a vital instrument in my gaining these two boons.

One of the kitchen assistants told me that Chinna Swami was used by Bhagavan as a washerman's stone only to clear the devotees' ―dirt, their vasanas, and cause them to devote all their attention to spiritual sadhana. To fulfill this role, Chinna Swami perpetually received a dreadful reputation.

Balarama Reddiar told me, ―Though there were seemingly shortcomings in Chinna Swami's management, it is a fact witnessed by me repeatedly, that Bhagavan supported him. When I once complained to Bhagavan about Chinna Swami, he instantly corrected me, and I steadily stood by that correction all my life at the Ashram. Bhagavan curtly asked me, ―Have you come all this way to sort out lapses in the Ashram management? Attend to the business, for which you came. Find out whom from inside raises these complaints. Leave the rest to the Higher Power. Be still.

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Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #94 on: August 09, 2017, 09:06:58 AM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
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Sri Niranjanananda Swami (Chinna Swami) -IV

Viswanatha Swami explained to me why all the senior devotees went to Palakothu. He was saying, ―We do that so that we may pursue our sadhana. Bhagavan approved of that. He would ask us, ―In which way you are going to build your hut? And also Bhagavan would suggest to us, ―Go to these streets to beg. That enabled us to be with Bhagavan all the rest of the time. What we are today was possible because of our coming away from the institution. Bhagavan approved of it. Viswanatha Swami was the worst affected. Once he was ill and without food for three days. Coming to know of it, Santamma took him to the dining hall, through the kitchen, and made him sit on the first row, from where Bhagavan was quite visible. Food was served, and when all were about to eat, Chinna Swami came, pulled Viswanatha Swami by the hand and sent him out.

Bhagavan was witnessing all this and did not say anything nor object to it. However, it was Viswanatha Swami who assisted Chinna Swami in his last days, when Chinna Swami was bedridden. Surprised, I asked him, ―How could you do that after being so deeply hurt and insulted? He replied, ―When I was in Dindigul, Bhagavan appeared to me in a dream and asked me to come to Ramanashram. I immediately left for the Ashram. It was 1952, and Bhagavan had already dropped his body. I had no idea why Bhagavan asked me to come. Chinna Swami was terminally ill, and there was nobody to attend him. I felt that this was the purpose for which Bhagavan had asked me to come. I waited on him day and night, nursing and bathing him. One day Chinna Swami held my hands and asked for forgiveness. Chinna Swami spent his last two days looking at Bhagavan's picture, all the time chanting ―Ramana, Ramana. At the time of his death, he stretched out his arms with his eyes closed, his face serene, happy, and luminous. Viswanatha Swami said, ―Bhagavan has absorbed him in the Heart Sky of Arunachala.

In 1966, I was given the sole responsibility of completing the construction of Sri Bhagavan's Samadhi Shrine. Suddenly, there erupted many problems obstructing its completion. Almost insoluble situations were encountered. I was deeply worried. One day, Mrs. Teleyarkhan patted me on my back and asked, ―Why are you worried, Ganesan? She also said that all these problems could be solved. Pleasantly surprised, I asked her, ―How? She replied, ―Last night, Sri Bhagavan appeared to me in a dream and commanded me: Go. Tell Ganesan to take up the construction of Chinna Swami's Samadhi also, simultaneously. Everything will be all right. I was thrilled!
The fact was that Chinna Swami's Samadhi construction was ignored and left uncared for. I arranged for taking up the proper construction of the Samadhi building of Chinna Swami, along with that of Sri Bhagavan. The completion of both Sri Bhagavan's and Chinna Swami's samadhis was successfully carried out. The consecration ceremony, Kumbhabhishekam, was performed in 1967, to all the three Shrines of the Mother, Sri Bhagavan, and Chinna Swami.

I will record here, in this connection, another absorbingly interesting incident. When completed, I felt Chinna Swami's Samadhi should have a tablet. The stone tablet could not be done locally and would have to be engraved in Bangalore. I wrote the inscription for the stone tablet in English: Sri Niranjanananda Swami, Date of Death: 29-01-1953. When I received the engraved tablet, I was surprised and thrilled! It read:

Sri Niranjanananda Swami Absorbed in Arunachala 29--01--1953

Let us pay our homage by quoting the holy words of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi adoring his Heart-guru Arunachala:
Oh! Arunachala, in you the picture of the universe is formed, has its stay and is dissolved. This is the sublime Truth. You are the inner Self who dances in the Heart as I-I. Oh! Lord, Heart is your name.
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Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #95 on: August 21, 2017, 04:05:39 AM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
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Narayana Guru

There is a profound beauty in the sequence of how things openly unfolded so gracefully in Bhagavan's presence. This was an obvious divine play that unraveled itself gracefully. By participating in it, we realize that it is not merely external. This pattern begins to enjoin us too. This is the beauty of being in satsang with a sage or learning about their life. It brings one's attention back to the here and now.
Bhagavan stayed at Skandashram, higher up on the hill, between 1916 and 1922, during which time serious spiritual aspirants slowly started streaming in. It was in this period that Bhagavan, with a single glance of grace (Darshan), was able to establish each one in Arunachala, the spiritual Heart. During this time there lived a saint in Kerala called Narayana Guru, who was so renowned that even Mahatma Gandhi thought it a privilege to spend a few moments with him. This sage rarely went anywhere. In fact, other saints came to him to pay respects. Yet he visited Bhagavan at Skandashram along with his disciples, where Bhagavan cordially received him and invited him to share lunch. Narayana Guru replied gladly, ―Oh yes! I will share the Maharshi's Prasad.

Bhagavan then bestowed his glance of grace on Narayana Guru, and for a long time they both sat and shared ecstatic silence. When it was time for him to leave, Narayana Guru, absorbed in Bhagavan's state of sahaja Samadhi, prayed to him, ―Let this state be bestowed on me also. Bhagavan graciously granted this wish. Right there, he wrote five verses in Sanskrit extolling the state of the Sahaja Nishta. When he went back to Kerala, he was so captivated with Bhagavan that he wrote another five verses?the first was called Nirvriti Panchakam, and the second, Municharya Panchakam.

When descending the hill along with his disciples, Narayana Guru was in ecstasy. He turned to his disciples and declared joyfully, ―Maharshi is a raja sarpam, a king cobra. In the Hindu religious and spiritual parlance, saints are often referred to as sarpam or cobras. Narayana Guru, a saint himself, did not categorize Bhagavan as yet another cobra; instead he gave Bhagavan the exalted status of ―king cobra. This Truth emanated from his Heart. He summoned two of his disciples, one a wealthy man and the other an erudite scholar, and said these beautiful words:

―Maharshi's spiritual state is such that even a single glance from him is enough to liberate anyone. Now he remains unknown to the world, like a lamp hidden in a pot. He should be recognized, so that this spiritual treasure is plundered by many aspirants. You both should stay here for six months and make necessary arrangements for food and accommodation for visiting pilgrims, thus letting many visit the Maharshi every day and benefit spiritually. Allow Maharshi's awakening to be known in the circles of scholars and earnest aspirants by going to them and speaking about the awakening.

On his return, Narayana Guru fell ill, and coming to know of that, Bhagavan sent Kunju Swami with a lemon, saying, ―Go and give this to him. Narayana Guru received it gratefully, put it on his eyes, head, and chest, and was in tears that Bhagavan had sent this Prasad for him. Whenever he had a visitor from Tamil Nadu, he would ask, ―Have you had Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi's Darshan? If the answer was no, he would raise his voice and say, ―Why did you come here? You must go back and have Darshan there. He is the raja sarpam, king cobra. We are all ordinary snakes. Why did you come, leaving the raja sarpam? Bhagavan offered Kunju Swami not only the lemon, but knowing that Narayana Guru was to attain mahasamadhi, he also gave instructions about how Narayana Guru's body should be preserved. Narayana Guru was a jnani, a realized saint, and Bhagavan wanted his tomb to be built accordingly. Kunju Swami was to give Bhagavan a report on whether the Samadhi was built satisfactorily. When the news of Narayana Guru's death reached Bhagavan, he said, ―Narayana Guru is a purna, a fully blossomed one.

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Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #96 on: August 26, 2017, 11:42:34 PM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
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B. V. Narasimha Swami - I

B. V. Narasimha Swami wrote Self-realization and The Life and Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. This was the first book on Bhagavan's life, and B. V. Narasimha Swami was unique because he was the first person to dedicate himself to write Bhagavan's biography in English. He gathered information that ran into two thousand pages and skillfully cut it down to a concise and readable form, spanning two hundred and fifty pages. It was published in 1930. It was after reading Self-realization, The Life and Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi that Paul Brunton, Bhikshu Prabhavananda, Swami Madhava Thirtha, Suddhananda Bharati, Swami Shivananda, Swami Ramdas, and an array of spiritual giants of their time recognized Ramana Maharshi and came to him. Many give the credit of Bhagavan's widespread recognition to Paul Brunton, but they do not know that it was this book that drew Brunton to Bhagavan.
B. V. Narasimha Swami was a brilliant lawyer in Salem, ninety miles from Arunachala. He was a very famous politician, a great orator, and writer with a razor-sharp intellect that drove straight into the heart of a subject and extracted its Truth. It is thanks to his questioning mind that we now have this brilliant book, which attracted an audience of communicators. This select group of communicators was and is a modern gateway for Advaita Vedanta in the west.

God's divine play (leela), however, is unpredictable and a Mystery. When he was at the zenith of prosperity, name and fame, a massive family tragedy furnished a rude shock. His two grown-up children drowned in the well in his very own yard, right before his eyes. All he could do was watch helplessly, without being able to save them. Unable to bear his grief, he resigned from the War Council and gave up his political career. He disappointed many leaders in India, because the presence of talented individuals like him was needed for India's freedom struggle. He came to know of Ramana Maharshi and headed straight to Ramanashram. On seeing Bhagavan, he fell at his feet. With a single glance, Bhagavan accepted him, directed him to a cave, and asked him to meditate.

As a good disciple, he unquestioningly abided by his Master's instruction. He spent three years in seclusion, in complete contemplation and meditation. However, he realized that there was something which was drastically needed: a book on Bhagavan's life, which nobody knew of. ―I must bring out the biography of Bhagavan, a living sage. Nobody knows about his life except through rare accounts, which may even be factually incorrect. His incisive intellect was to deliver the Truth correctly to the world. This was a demanding responsibility, because even though he had not vowed silence, Bhagavan did not talk much, and even more rarely about himself.

B. V. Narasimha Swami sought Bhagavan's permission and Bhagavan graciously consented. He started the process of asking Bhagavan questions. Bhagavan did not always respond because sometimes he did not feel like talking. However, B. V. Narasimha Swami was persistent. He doggedly followed Bhagavan wherever he went; even slept next to Bhagavan at night. Whenever he asked a question, his whole attention would be focused on receiving an answer. He has recorded, that sometimes it would take days, a week, or even more, to get one simple answer from Bhagavan. But he remained relentless. His persistent determination is what made him unique, and that is why even the mention of his name draws so much reverence from every old devotee of Bhagavan.

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Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #97 on: September 03, 2017, 01:46:41 AM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
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B. V. Narasimha Swami - II

He not only questioned Bhagavan?it was his nature to elicit details straight from the source. Therefore he traveled to Tiruchuzhi, Madurai, and Dindigul to speak to Bhagavan's associates and kin. Whenever he received any information about Bhagavan's relative or friend in some village, he would go there immediately. He would pry them with questions too; however, perfectionist that he was, he would verify every fact with Bhagavan. Therefore, everything written in the book is accurate and the Truth.

One of the most important things that old devotees told me was that we owe the vivid account of Bhagavan's ego-death experience at Madurai to B. V. Narasimha Swami. His incessant questioning drew from Bhagavan every minute detail of the experience, when he was a sixteen-year-old boy. Bhagavan said there was no time and space in his transformation, which made him a sage of steady wisdom. B. V. Narasimha Swami condensed these details and presented the final draft to Bhagavan, who approved it and titled the book, Self-realization.

Once this was done, Narasimha Swami put up a hut next to his cave for cooking. He wanted other sadhakas to build similar huts, and helped them. He also trained them in a simple way of cooking to save them time and money, which allowed each sadhu to spend the maximum time in Bhagavan's presence. Through his meticulous sadhana, he set an example of how the Master's teaching was followed. It was he who formed the nearby Palakothu community.

When this was over, he developed a natural tendency, a vasana, toward singing bhajans and dancing emotionally for God. He kept pleading with Bhagavan, ―Bhagavan, this is my nature. Will you please guide me? I would like to sing bhajans and follow the devotional path. Bhagavan kept postponing his reply, but he did not give in. Finally, Bhagavan advised him, ―Go toward the north-west of India to pursue your path of devotion. B. V. Narasimha Swami left Arunachala and went toward Bombay, in the west. During his travels he met many saints on the devotional path but was totally disappointed with all of them. Even a great sage like Upasani Baba tried to help him, but he was not satisfied. However, it was Upasani Baba who finally told him to go to Shirdi.

He obeyed and went to the tomb of Shirdi Sai Baba who had passed away ten years earlier. At night (and this is done to this day), devotees gather to sing bhajans with devotion. When he stood in front of Sai Baba's Samadhi, the saint's inspiration came to him from within, ―Child, I am your guru. Stay here and write my biography. Therefore, he started meeting those people who lived with Sai Baba and compiled a six-volume biography of the celebrated sage. On its completion, Baba told him, ―Spread my name and spread this teaching. He then came to Madras and started a Sai Baba center. He built a temple there and Shirdi Sai Baba's name was spread by B. V. Narasimha Swami all over India.

When I came to Ramanashram in 1960, I was pained to hear that such a remarkable man had left Bhagavan and gone somewhere else. One day I asked T. P. Ramachandra Iyer, another old devotee, ―Why did Narasimha Swami leave Bhagavan and go elsewhere? T. P. Ramachandra Iyer replied, ―I am happy you put this question to me because I was hesitating to share with others a fact I know. In late 1955 or early 1956, T. P. Ramachandra Iyer boarded the train in Tiruvannamalai to go to Vellore in the first class compartment on Ashram work. He was surprised to find B. V. Narasimha Swami, too, seated in the first class compartment, with a broken leg in a huge bandage. Like every old devotee who held B. V. Narasimha Swami in the highest esteem, he was thrilled to see him.

―I raised the same question before B. V. Narasimha Swami that you put to me, Ganesan. I asked him, Why did you leave Bhagavan and go? T. P. Ramachandra Iyer revealed what B. V. Narasimha Swami told him, Bhagavan specifically directed me to do so. When we both were alone, I was pestering him as usual that my intention is to sing bhajans. Taking pity on me, he said, Go to Shirdi. He told me in unmistakable terms that I should bring out the biography of Shirdi Sai Baba. He added that I should make Sai Baba known all over India. It was Bhagavan who said this, so I agreed. It was Bhagavan's graciousness and compassion that he wanted such aspirations of mine to be shuttled through another saint, instead of getting involved in mere display of emotional dancing and singing.

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Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #98 on: September 17, 2017, 02:56:13 AM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
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B. V. Narasimha Swami - III

I did not go straight to Shirdi, though Bhagavan asked me to go, he added. ―I admit my folly in not truly obeying Bhagavan's commandment. I went to other living saints, strongly questioning how Sai Baba could guide me, now that he was dead. This is the mind coming into play. All my efforts to be with the living saints in due course deeply disappointed me. Finally, it was at Shirdi that Sai Baba revealed himself as my guru, took me into his fold, blessed me with grace, and guided me to the Truth. For directing me to Sai Baba, I am eternally grateful to Bhagavan. I did not reveal this Truth of being guided by Bhagavan to go to Sai Baba, as I felt people would not understand the spiritual content of the entire episode. This is the Truth. T. P. Ramachandra Iyer recounted that there were tears in his eyes.

Even when I was in college, I would visit the Sai Baba shrine, because behind it was B. V. Narasimha Swami's shrine. Pooja is offered there, and even now, above it hangs a big picture of Bhagavan. Since it was Bhagavan who directed B. V. Narasimha Swami to go to Sai Baba, I would prostrate before Sai Baba's shrine, receive his blessings, and then prostrate before B. V. Narasimha Swami, who was so instrumental in initiating Bhagavan's message to the world.
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Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #99 on: August 29, 2019, 02:47:33 AM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
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Kunju Swami - IX

Bhagavan's compassion with animals and birds cannot even be called extraordinary, because he treated everything alike. It is because we perceive the difference between the animal kingdom and mankind that we glorify Bhagavan's love for animals. Bhagavan was not paying any special attention to them?he was paying the same attention to them.
Bhagavan rarely asked for anything. Once, a stranger approached him. Bhagavan looked at him and asked, ―Next time, will you please bring me some cashew nuts? Everybody was flabbergasted. Bhagavan was a shy person and usually did not talk to strangers. Here, most extraordinarily, he was not only volunteering to talk to a stranger, but also almost begging him to bring something for him. And how did he know there was going to be a ―next time?

Soon, everyone knew the reason. It was that the squirrels, fifty or sixty of them, would not eat peanuts or anything else; they would eat only cashew nuts. The Ashram management would say, ―They are only squirrels. If they are hungry, they will eat everything. We can feed them peanuts. But they never touched the peanuts. Six or seven squirrels stood in front of Bhagavan and there they were cajoling him. That is what Bhagavan said, ―They were cajoling me and asking me where their food was.

World War II was going on at the time and cashew nut production had been nationalized, making cashews unavailable in the market. There were no cashews in the Ashram kitchen and the store had only a little, which the cooks wanted to save for their cooking. Bhagavan sent for cashews four times but they said, ―No, these cashew nuts are for making sweets, we won't give them. Finally, Bhagavan's extraordinary influence procured cashews through the visitor. Bhagavan could often be seen breaking the cashew nuts into small pieces and keeping them in a small box. The only thing he asked for was cashews for the squirrels.

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Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #100 on: August 29, 2019, 08:54:05 PM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
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Kunju Swami - X

Ramakrishna Swami had a younger brother called Vasu, who was studying in college, four hundred miles from Tiruvannamalai. He got a letter from his family that Vasu was following a hatha yogi, who had taught him the practice of concentrating between the eyebrows and he was so steadfast in doing this that he had almost turned mad. He was not able to eat or sleep and was in a pitiable condition. He would not listen to his family. Ramakrishna Swami told Bhagavan, who knew all the family members, ―Bhagavan, if I go, he will not listen to me. Then Bhagavan said, ―Kunju, you go and tell him about 'the teaching.'" Ramakrishna Swami had five rupees to give Kunju Swami. It was enough to buy a train ticket, but not enough for food. They didn't know how to tell this to Bhagavan. Finally, Kunju Swami said, ―It doesn't matter. Bhagavan has asked me to go, so I will go. It is all right, even if I remain hungry. His train was at six-thirty in the evening. At three o' clock that day a visitor brought pooris, or fried bread, with him. Bhagavan used to eat one or two if they were small, or one, if they were of a bigger size.

Bhagavan practiced equal sharing: if there was only one poori and many people to share it with, he would just take small pinches of it and distribute them equally to everyone. But on this day when poori was served to him in the hall, he did not stop with one. The visitors gave Bhagavan two pooris and waited; then three and waited expectantly; then four, then five, then six; only then did Bhagavan say: ―Enough. Everybody was surprised that Bhagavan had accepted six pooris when he would eat only one. He then slowly and neatly packed five pooris and called Kunju Swami, who had not told him of his problem. The Master compassionately asked, ―You have got only money for travel but what will you eat? Take this to eat on the way. Kunju was so stirred that whenever he would narrate his relationship with Bhagavan; he would cry and bring us to tears, too. Bhagavan's tender and loving ways were so beautiful.

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Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #101 on: August 30, 2019, 05:05:16 AM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
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Kunju Swami - XI

Kunju Swami gave us a few other instances of Bhagavan's humor. When letters would arrive, they would be taken to Bhagavan in the hall and the devotees would observe Bhagavan's face as he read them. From his smile and his expressions they would know if there was something interesting in the letter. Once Bhagavan held a post card in his hand and then just kept it aside, but his smile gave him away. Kunju Swami ventured to ask, ―Bhagavan, I know that you have read something interesting in that post card. Will you please share it with us? There were six or seven people present.

Bhagavan said with a smile, ―All the so-called worldly people have attachment to the body as long as they live but these sannyasins, these monks, who are supposed to have renounced the world, are attached to their bodies even after they die. The listeners did not understand. Bhagavan continued, ―This post card is from a sanyasi who is eighty years old. He has appealed for funds saying, ―I may die any day and I will be placed in a samadhi, which has to be built well, hence please send donations.

In another instance, in the 1930s, when Bhagavan was about fifty years old, an old man of nearly ninety-five came to Bhagavan. He looked very pious and prostrated several times before Bhagavan, shedding tears all the while. He said, ―Bhagavan, I have only one prayer. Bhagavan rarely asked what it was. He only looked at him. The old man said, ―Bhagavan, you should live for a hundred years. I should see that you should live for a hundred years. Everybody was moved with his prayer, which was almost like a blessing that Bhagavan live for a hundred years. Bhagavan hid his smile, and after an hour, when this old man went away, Kunju Swami, being mischievous himself, knew that Bhagavan had something witty to respond to this. He went near Bhagavan and asked, ―Bhagavan, I noticed, you smiled. What was the reason? Bhagavan, amused, said, ―You are all moved, aren't you, that he asked that I should live for a hundred years? Do you know what that means? That he has to live a hundred and forty years, because he said ―I want to see you live for hundred years.

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Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #102 on: August 31, 2019, 03:11:06 AM »
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Kunju Swami - XII

In 1932, after serving Bhagavan personally, day and night, for twelve years, Kunju Swami had a big urge to practice Self-Enquiry by keeping himself aloof from the Ashram. He had trained a young boy on how to attend to Bhagavan. Kunju Swami waited for the day to tell Bhagavan that he was retiring from service and that he would be staying in Palakothu, in the next compound (where Annamalai Swami stayed afterward). He was hesitant, as he did not know how to break the news to his Master.
While still in this dilemma, one day he entered the hall when he heard Bhagavan explaining to others that real service to him did not mean attending to his physical needs but practicing his teachings. Once before he had said, It is no use in saying, I have been of personal service to the guru. One should abide by the teaching of the guru every day.

On another occasion also Bhagavan had said, The best service to the guru is engaging in Self-Enquiry, meditation, and other spiritual practices, with the purity of body, speech, and mind. He kept chancing upon Bhagavan saying this, morning and evening, for several days. He had been hesitating to tell Bhagavan of his plans, but Bhagavan himself had taken a clue and given him an answer. Another day when he entered Bhagavan's hall, Bhagavan was quoting from the Kaivalya Navanita, wherein the disciple asks the guru how he can repay him for the grace he has received from him. The guru replies, The highest return the disciple can render to the guru is to remain fixed in the Self without being disturbed by obstacles, obstructions, and outward distractions.

This finally emboldened Kunju Swami. He prostrated before Bhagavan and said, Bhagavan, I want to go and live in Palakothu and pursue Self-Enquiry, my sadhana. Bhagavan was delighted and exclaimed, ―Oh, good! With a smile he said, It is enough if the mind is kept one-pointed in vichara, dhyana, japa, and parayana. Vichara is Self-Enquiry, dhyana is meditation, japa is incantation, and parayana is repeatedly singing the works of the Master, without aspiring to anything else. Then again he prostrated before Bhagavan and pleaded, ―Bhagavan, please bless me. I am going to be alone, away from you. Guide me.

Bhagavan then said the most beautiful thing; he looked at him graciously and spoke, Make Self-Enquiry your final aim, but also practice meditation, japa, and parayana. Relentlessly practice them alternately, and if you tire of meditation, take to japa; if you tire of japa, take to Self-Enquiry; if you tire of that, do parayana, i.e., the chanting of verses. Do not have a gap between them. Do not allow the mind to sway from your task. Practice this faithfully, and in the end you will be established in Self-Enquiry and will find culmination in Self-realization. This is an assurance, not just to Kunju Swami but to every listener of this profound statement by the Master. Be assured, Self-Enquiry will establish you in the nonphysical Truth you already are.

Kunju Swami lived in a small hut in Palakothu and did not earn, or beg for money. Whatever provisions he had, were exhausted and there was no food to eat. Bhagavan would visit Palakothu after lunch and go to a small pool, where he would take a walk. He would invariably meet Kunju Swami and ask, ―How are you? What are you doing? Are you doing your meditation? Are you doing your Self-Enquiry? Kunju Swami never told him of his plight, feeling that it was quite petty to tell his Master of his physical problems. Did he not already know?

On the third day when Bhagavan was in the hall, one Goundar, a wealthy devotee, came and prostrated before him. He was Kunju Swami's friend, so Bhagavan said, Oh, you have come to see your friend. He replied, ―Yes Bhagavan. I was exhausted yesterday after a whole day's work and was fast asleep. You visited me in my dream and said, You are sleeping peacefully while your friend is hungry for the last three days. Is it proper on your part to sleep like this? Therefore, I immediately got up and caught a train to come here. ―Go and see your friend, Bhagavan goaded him. When he met Kunju Swami he realized that his friend had, in fact, not eaten for three days and there was nothing in his humble abode. He shared some money with Kunju Swami, asked him to bring provisions, and then fed him. He then had to go back, but vowed in Bhagavan's presence, ―Bhagavan, I will not allow him to go without food. I will send him five rupees every month. In those days, five rupees was more than one needs. Kunju Swami said, I had nothing no utensils, nothing. Another friend saw this, and he immediately bought me a stove and provisions.

In later years, Goundar built a house for Kunju Swami opposite the Ashram. Kunju Swami used to tearfully say, When you have surrendered to the Master, i.e., to the Truth, do not try to exert yourself by even making a prayer. He recognizes everything. It will happen in its time.

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Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #103 on: September 01, 2019, 08:07:44 AM »
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Kunju Swami - XIII

During his stay in Palakothu, Ramanashram had grown rapidly and many visitors would gather at the Ashram. Kunju Swami needed to speak to Bhagavan every day, even if it was only one sentence. However, with Bhagavan becoming so busy, this was becoming increasingly difficult. Kunju Swami said mischievously, I am a very clever man. Every evening we had parayana, Tamil verses composed by Bhagavan from the Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi. I used to deliberately miss one line while singing and Bhagavan would say, Hey, Kunju, you have missed that line, or I would mispronounce a word and he would say, No, no, Kunju, it is not like that. Pronounce it properly. I would be so happy that he spoke to me. Every day, whenever I wanted Bhagavan to talk to me, I knew the trick.

The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi in Tamil was released in the form of a book. Unfortunately, many sadhus could not afford to buy it from the Ashram. Thus Bhagavan arranged with a devotee to write it all down in a notebook and hand it over to Kunju Swami. A small printed picture of Bhagavan was pasted there in it. Now, the Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi also had to have a picture of Arunachala, but Kunju Swami could not get hold of one. While he was still thinking about it, Bhagavan called out to him, Kunju, bring your notebook. He then drew a picture of Arunachala in it. Kunju Swami has left this notebook with Anuradha as a legacy; it contains a lot of Bhagavan's handwriting and the picture drawn by Bhagavan. She has now handed this precious treasure over to the Ashram archives.

Bhagavan used to correct all proofs of his books himself. He would demand for two sets of proofs. One he would correct and send to the press, and the other he kept with himself. There would often be so many errors that the same proof would be sent to the press four or five times. Bhagavan carefully kept a copy of every proof, and would finally bind four or five copies and distribute them. He kept for himself the proof with the maximum errors, while he distributed the better ones to Kunju Swami and others who could not afford to buy his books. This is how kind and solicitous Bhagavan was.

Once Kunju Swami felt he could not continuously meditate or pursue Self-Enquiry and stay in the Self. He confessed to Bhagavan, Bhagavan, I am not able to do this. The flow gets interrupted. Bhagavan said, Why? It is very easy. Before you go to sleep, meditate and go into the Self. When you fall asleep, your whole sleep is a meditation of staying in the Self. The moment you wake up in the morning, again go into meditation for a few minutes and remain as the Self. Throughout the waking state, the undercurrent of remaining in the Self will be there, even though you will be working, arguing, and quarreling. This substratum will always keep you in the Self. Kunju Swami said, This is the most beautiful and practical teaching I have received from him.

During Bhagavan's last days, there were troubles in the management of the Ashram. The devotees did not know how to continue with their activities, so along with Kunju Swami, they approached Bhagavan with their issue. Bhagavan only told him, How is the management being carried out now? Do you think it is you, or somebody else that is managing it? There is a Higher Power, which is managing all this. The same Higher Power will continue to manage.

In his last days, Kunju Swami was rather weak. Anuradha and I requested him to move to the Ashram. He started teaching Anuradha Sri Bhagavan's The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi in Tamil and also the way it's chanting Parayana was done in Bhagavan's presence. He had her sing some verses of Bhagavan a few times at the Shrine of Sri Bhagavan. Inspired by that, many others learned Bhagavan's Collected Works. Thus, Tamil Parayana was restarted at the Ashram. To inspire the next generation doing Parayana, he sat along with us, almost until his last days.

He would enthrall us with stories of the Master, and whatever I have shared with you, too, is Prasad from Kunju Swami. It is Kunju Swami who has given us a wealth of information, all the reminiscences about other devotees, about Bhagavan's relationship with them, his beautiful relationship with monkeys, animals, men, trees, plants, with the Hill, with the rocks, and with the sands! We are all deeply grateful to Kunju Swami.

I can never forget his solicitude to me. I had given Kunju Swami Chadwick's old room. He said, Ganesan, come and stay with me in the next room. Even though I was a grown-up and held a responsible position in the Ashram, he looked after me like I was a little child. He was so kind. During Kunju Swami's last days, I appointed two assistants to look after him, as he experienced a lot of physical pains. These assistants did their duty very well, but sometimes they would make blunders. Kunju Swami never complained. One day I asked him, Kunju Swami, are they all looking after you properly? They are looking after me very well. In fact, today I wanted to call you and tell you that I wanted to break some good news to humanity. Puzzled at his words, I asked, Swami, what are you talking about? Do you know these muscular pains can be cured with a massage using honey? replied Kunju Swami. I still don't understand, Swami. I thought I was going to give some breakthrough news to the medical world. Still, Swami, I do not understand.

I learned later that there was a jar of honey kept next to the brown oil, which was to be massaged onto Kunju Swami's body to relieve his muscular pain. The assistant mistook the honey for the oil and had been massaging Kunju Swami's body with it. It obviously did not prove useful, but all Kunju Swami said was, I wanted to make a breakthrough, but it did not work. He used to get his point across indirectly, without complaining, despite being in so much pain.

In his last days, he was almost bedridden; he could not even sit up. Anuradha, a few others, and I would visit him and try to amuse him. We used to ask him to tell us something about Bhagavan's verses and he would come alive. Anuradha's son, Sankar, had finished school and was soon to leave for America to study medicine. He was very fond of Kunju Swami because he had almost been brought up by him. He knew that when he returned from America the next time, Kunju Swami would no longer be among us. This deeply saddened him. Kunju Swami wanted to cheer him up, while we tried to amuse him. I put a question to Kunju Swami, In Bhagavan's Tamil translation of Sankara's works, which song do you like? Kunju Swami steadied himself and looked at me, Swami, I like the song where it is said, I am the Self, I am awareness, and Anuradha likes the song where it is said, you are the Self, you are that. Whose side are you going to be on? Then he added, Let her sing first. The first song she sang was I am that (Hastamalaka Stottara). Then she sang Guru Stuti, which says You are that. I asked Kunju Swami, Swami, which parties do you belong to? Do you belong to I am that or you are that? Kunju Swami smiled at us, What is the difference between you and I? In you are that, the important word is are, not you or that. Both get merged in the are. In I am that, the important word is am not I or the that.

He passed away a few days after listening to those beautiful songs. That night he asked his attendants to remove the cushions from his wooden bed and help him sit in padmasana. I am going to meditate, he declared. He remained in deep meditation while his attendants slept. After two hours when they awoke and touched him, his body was cold. He had passed away, just doing Self-Enquiry. His Heart will always be in Arunachala, at the feet of the Satguru Ramana.
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Krishnan

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Re: The Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi
« Reply #104 on: September 05, 2019, 05:55:47 AM »
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya
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Sri Niranjananandaswami (Chinna Swami) I

The devotee who was instrumental in facilitating the ―struggle aspect of Self-realization was Bhagavan's own brother, Niranjanananda Swami, whom Bhagavan called ―Pichai. He came to Bhagavan in 1917 when he was up on the hill. Viswanatha Swami calls him ―one of the biggest Hearts that opened from Arunachala to reveal Bhagavan's message.

What struggle? The spiritual struggle is between the false idea that one is exclusively the body and doer, and the revelation that one is not incarnated in a mortal body. The body is simply an apparition in the boundless Heart sky.

In all Hindu mythology, whenever God appeared on earth as an avatar like Rama or Krishna, on many occasions they came with brothers. In Rama and Krishna's case, it was Lakshmana and Balarama, respectively. Even saints like Jnaneshwar Maharaj and Ramakrishna Paramahamsa had brothers. Jesus had James as his brother. These brothers were important in the function of spreading virtue and goodness, and therefore played an important role in the divine drama. Likewise, Bhagavan's brother was accepted by him unconditionally. Bhagavan kept Niranjanananda Swami by his side until he realized Mahanirvana. It is important that when we look at the brothers of great saints, we see them with an unbiased mind. This is because they played a role in the broader divine plan.

Bhagavan had two brothers and one sister. The elder brother was called Nagaswami, his younger brother, Nagasundaram, and his younger sister was named Alamelu. When their father, Sundaram Iyer, passed away, the family was split up. Nagaswami and Venkataraman came to Madurai, whereas their mother, Alagammal, took Nagasundaram and Alamelu to her brother-in-law's house in another city. At the age of sixteen, Bhagavan had the ego-death experience and was called to Arunachala, Tiruvannamalai. In 1902, the family traced Bhagavan to Arunachala. Nagasundaram came to see his elder brother. As an ascetic young man at that time, Bhagavan was known as Brahmana Swami. He lived up on the hill in Sadguru Swami, a cave right below Virupaksha cave. When Nagasundaram witnessed his elder brother in ascetic attire and in total silence, he embraced him and wept. Bhagavan remained in silence, and Nagasundaram felt that he should stay with him and serve. But Bhagavan knew that Nagasundaram had many worldly commitments, and even though he offered to stay, Bhagavan did not reply. A disappointed Nagasundaram returned to his native home.

We do not have too many details about Nagasundaram's boyhood or later years. However, we do know that a series of ill-fated incidents started taking place in his life. He was married and got a job as a clerk. His eldest brother, Nagaswami, died suddenly when he was twenty years old. Within a short span, they lost everything, and their ancestral property was auctioned off. Nagasundaram lost his wife suddenly, leaving behind a little boy (my father, T. N. Venkataraman). Nagasundaram's only source of comfort was his mother, Alagammal, but she too had gone away to Arunachala to stay with Bhagavan. These incidents shocked him and drove him to a state of surrender, submission, and service. He gave up whatever he was left with, including his son, whom he left with his sister. At that time, his mother sent word to Nagasundaram to come and live with her and Bhagavan. Thus, he left for Arunachala and Bhagavan accepted him, perhaps due to his mother's influence. Mother Alagammal told her ascetic son, ―My third son Nagasundaram is not an intellectual. He is a little rough and tough and it is very hard for him to reside in the material world. You take care of him. Bhagavan obeyed her.

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