Author Topic: Living with the Master - Reminiscences - Kunju Swami. - Mountain Path - July -  (Read 4610 times)

Subramanian.R

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I asked them the way to Bhagavan's place of residence.  Seeing exhaustion writ
all over my face and hearing my Malayalam accented Tamizh, they said in a
sympathetic tone, 'Poor chap!  You are exhausted. Take a dip in this tank and proceed
up this path and you will reach Bhagavan's place (Skandasramam). Remain there.
We will be bringing food which we will share with you.'  Accordingly, I had my bath
and was cleansed of all the muck inside and gain purity and gain inner purity, so I sped up, even as a calf fondly rushes headlong towards  its mother cow.

Darshan of Sadguru:

While on my way up I began formulating mentally, the manner of saluting
and the  mode of my general behavior while in the presence of the Guru.
I resolved that the very first words that the Master addresses to me, I shall
take as His upadesa.  Reaching Skandasramam, I stood enthralled at the sight
of Bhagavan.  At that moment, my friend Ramakrishna Swami, Perumal Swami 
and Akandananda -- all three were prostrate before Bhagavan. Needless to
say, I joined them in salutation.

Ramakrishna Swami was surprised and happy to see me.  He at once introduced
me to Bhagavan, saying, 'This man comes from my place, where he has been
been following an ascetic discipline since childhood.' Bhagavan looked at me nodding
His head in approval.  Asking me to remain there, the other two left.  Later,
I learnt that they had gone down to bury one Annamalai Swam of Arani town,
who had been serving Bhagavan and had died of plague.

I could hear sounds of weeping from an inner room.  I turned to see a grief stricken
old lady saying amidst her cries, 'Alas! This gem of a boy Annamalai Swami
is now gone!  What cruel injustice!'  Some one was siting near her.  Bhagavan
turned towards them and said, by way of consolation, 'Why do you grieve?
Another young man has now come to fill his absence.'  At that time, I could not
understand the significance of those words, but could only much, much later.
I learnt that the lady inside was none other than Azhagamma, Bhagavan's mother
and the other one was His brother, Niranjananda Swami.

It was now 8 am., when Ramalingam Pillai, known popularly as Pinnalur Turiyanandan
called me near and handed me a bowl made of baked clay. Himself taking one,
he sat down to eat along with me, under a naaval tree (jambolna).  Bhagavan
sat on a raised platform nearby, with a bowl in front of Him. Venu Ammal, sister
of Echammal who had been offering cooked food to Bhagavan everyday, served
us rice and rasam (pepper soup). And we had our repast.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         
« Last Edit: November 01, 2016, 11:18:16 AM by Subramanian.R »

Subramanian.R

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The Guru's Behests Are His Upadesa:

Sometime passed.  Bhagavan and I were now together, alone, but He did not say
anything to me.  I just knew that this was an important moment in my spiritual
instruction.  He took a scoop of flour in a ladle from out of a small tin container near
Him, transferred into a cooking utensil, added water to it from His kamadalam,
then placed the utensil on the charcoal brazier next to Him, which was then doing duty as my room warmer.  Watching silently I waited, imagining it to be some concoction of a body tonic, and hopeful of being served a helping.

Bhagavan kept stirring the contents until it was cooked to a gruel-like consistency,
then too the vessel off the fire.  He poured some of its contents on to a plate,
and then rose and lifted a basket that was kept upside down.  From underneath,
four tiny puppies came springing out and rushed towards the plate, trying to lick
the gruel down.  Lest the hot gruel should burn their tongue, Bhagavan tried to restrain them but could not succeed.   

Bhagavan, who had until not uttered a word to me, said, 'Hold all the four on!'
I at once grabbed the four puppies.  As the meal cooled down, He said, 'Let go
one by one.'  As I had earlier determined to seek the deeper meaning of His words,
I took His first command to mean, 'Hold on to the four Mahavakyas!  That would be
my Master's very first spiritual instruction. I took His second bidding to mean that
I took His second bidding to mean that I should give up all attachments. I let go
of the puppies, one by one. They lapped up their meal, and with bellies  filled,
tottered when one of them urinated.  Getting up at once, Bhagavan poured some
water over the mess and wiped the spot clean with a rag of gunny sack.

I became restless wanting to do the cleaning myself but controlled the urge,
not daring to do something unbidden.  Bhagavan returned to His seat.
Now it was another one's turn to urinate. Seeing my quandary, Bhagavan
said, 'Wipe it clean!' I rose up and washed it  with clean water. I took up His third
'commandment' to mean, 'Cleanse your mind and keep it spotless.  These
'commandments' of Bhagavan gave me a pervading feeling of peace and joy.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       

Subramanian.R

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Part Two of Reminscences:

I pray for Grace and Receive Upadesa:

Bhagavan was resting seated.  An opportune moment for conversing with Him in
private,  I narrated to Him to everything  - my childhood, my stint of delivering
discourses in Japa, listening to Vedanta discourses as desired by my father, the period
of my mental turmoil trying to discover spiritual peace, and relief from the turmoil
trying to discover spiritual peace, and relief from turmoil and experiencing Shanti the
moment I heard about Bhagavan, my Vedanta Master's jiva samadhi misadventure --
I blurted out all in my native tongue, Malayalam.  Bhagavan listened smiling all through.  I then asked Him for a way of the muddle in my mind towards mental
quietude.

Bhagavan said, 'Well, you have read Kaivalyam, wherein it is said , If he (the aspirant
comes to see the individual self and its substratum, the Overself, then he becomes
the substratum, i.e, Brahman, and escapes rebirths. Should you know yourself,.
no harm will befall you.  Accordingly, once you know yourself, you will come to no harm.'

I then asked Him how to get this Self Knowledge, and He replied 'First find out
who you are.' 

'How?' I persisted.     

'See from where the thoughts arise.'

'How do I go about it?'

'Turn the mind inwards and merge in your heart', He concluded,
and fall back to His natural, silent peace.  I too sat, silent.  Bhagavan's
compassion filled gaze was fixed on me. That moment, the muddle cleared
and I experienced a mental calm and contentment that I had never before
felt.

contd.

Arunachala Siva.                     

Subramanian.R

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Reproached for Insensitivity:


A devotee by name Ramanatha Brahmachari, stricken with plague, lay bedridden
in the other wing of Skandasramam. He was in pain as the eruptions on his skin
had burst open.  I shall now recount what took place a week before my coming to
Bhagavan, when the infection started.

Asking Ramanatha to rest,  Bhagavan started from Skandasramam on giri pradakshina, accompanied by Perumal Swami, Rangaswamy Iyengar and others.  They rested a while at Pachai Amman temple en route when the the put forward a
proposal to Bhagavan. They said, 'Ramanatha's disease being contagious, we can all
remain stationed here, carrying food to him at meal time and tending to remain
during those visits.'  Bhagavan shot back, 'Ah!  What a splendid idea!  He came here
to me when he was a mere boy and is solely dependent on us.  Is it fair to stay here
leaving him all alone in his present condition?  If you are afraid of catching an infection you all remain here.  I will go and be with him.  Enough if you bring me food
while bringing his.'  Stung with remorse at this retort they hung their heads.

Celebrating My (re) Birth Day:

Annamalai Swami who was buried on the day of my arrival, had composed a hundred verses on Bhagavan.  Each year, on the anniversary of his demise, his brother and friends would arrive from Arni and perform Puja at his samadhi. They would then come to the Asramam and chant those hundred verses of his, and join the special
Bhiksha organized that day in his remembrance.  This practice continued for several
years.  It was a particularly special occasion to me because it was my first darshan
of Bhagavan, and indeed was the day I was born anew. I used to look upon those death anniversary meal offerings as my birthday feast.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva,                     

Subramanian.R

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The Glory of the Presence:


I remain inundated in the bliss of Bhagavan's presence.  Eighteen days went by 
in this bliss.  Bhagavan's potent presence kept me in abidance in the very core of
my heart.  An idea struck me"  'Well!  I am now stabilized in this state.  Here in
Tiruvannamalai, my mental composure is disrupted by the chores of daily routine.
Whereas if I return home, I could sit uninturrupted in meditative stillness for days
on end,'  I was nagged by a feeling of guilt at being a guru's guest, regularly eating
here without doing any work in return.  I discussed the matter with Ramakrishna
Swami and he agreed with me.  So both of us saluted Bhagavan by way of leave
taking and He gave me a silent nod.  We resolved to remain at home in isolation,
absorbed in samadhi, talk to no one when talked to, and never attempt to meet
each other. With these resolutions we reached our respective homes. 

My people, who had been worried of my whereabouts, were very happy to see me
back.  As decided earlier, my friend and I stayed in our homes, keeping silence.
My folks did not mind my silence, delighted as they were to have me back home.
Some days went by thus.  The meditative poise which I had experienced in Bhagavan's proximity steadily declined and then was totally gone.  I then realized
my foolhardiness.  I could neither come to terms with my disenchantment not give
vent to it by telling someone. During the period of dilemma Ramakrishna Swami
called on me one night.  What a coincidence!  He too was sailing in the same boat,
he said. We had counsel between ourselves.  We felt ashamed at our haughtiness of
assuming to have attained that exalted state, which, in days of yore, people could
attain only after dwelling in jungle hermitages for many years, living close to spiritual                 
masters and through intense efforts on their own part.  In retrospect, I regretted
my conceit in dragging out with me Ramakrishna Swami too who had found tranquility in Bhagavan's proximity.  We now understood the power of our Bhagavan's
physical presence.  We realized that to remain anymore at home would be of no avail,
and that the only thing to be done was to seek refuge again at Bhagavan's feet.
Fixing a date of departure thence, my friend returned home.  I conveyed my decision
to my parents.  Shocked and least prepared for it, they did all they could to persuade
me to remain home, but I was firm in my resolve. I tried to placate them saying that our of the the four or five children of theirs, it would be a matter of pride for them
if one of their offsprings takes to spirituality and that they in fact would lose nothing
by my going away.  This time I did not want to run away unannounced.  I would go
only with the blessings of my elders.  Besides, I assured them that I would ever be in
Tiruvannamalai with Bhagavan, and that they were welcome at any time to visit
me and likewise, I too shall visit them.  After such reasoning, I put their minds at rest
and took leave of them.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Serving the Guru:

We set out a couple of days as planned and reached Tiruvannamalai.  We felt delighted
when Bhagavan gave us a smile of welcome.  During my earlier visit, I felt uneasy
dining as a guest of my Guru without being of any service to Him, which I thought
was not proper.   This time, however, I felt at ease on this count because Bhagavan
gave me an opportunity rare to have.  Readying hot water for Bhagavan's  bath,
laundering His daily wear, massaging His feet with medicinal oil before bedtime
-- such daily chores were done by Perumal Swami, who had to leave station two days
after my arrival.  He, in some way, deemed me fit to take his place.  He must have
reckoned that trained in pious ways from childhood, I would not breach observances
of tradition and hence entrusted me with these jobs. Had I returned to Tiruvannamalai a couple of days later, I would have missed this opportunity.
I now recalled Bhagavan's words of consolation to His grieving mother when
Annamalai Swami, whose duty all these had that then been, passed away.  At that time Bhagavan had said, 'Here is this boy now come to serve in Annamalai's place.'
Within just a few days after He uttered them, Bhagavan had taken me slave.  Thrilled with this prophesy coming true, I remained holding the holy feet of Bhagavan firmly
at heart.  I could not cease wondering how Bhagavan, out of His grace, thus took me captive.  The sense of wonder it then evoked has lost its freshness even today in
1992, seventy two years after. Incidentally, Ramakrishna Swami was asked to look
after the outer affairs of the Asramam and to serve Bhagavan on the occasions of my
absence.

One day I ventured to ask Bhagavan why those exalted states which I had first
experienced in Bhagavan's proximity began to wane away and then were altogether
gone when I left Him and reached Kerala. By way of answer to my query,  Bhagavan asked me to read verses 83 to 93 in Tattuva Vilakka Padalam of Kaivalya Navaneetam, wherein lay the answer to my query:

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.
                             

Subramanian.R

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83.  On hearing this, the disciple, loyal to the instructions of the Master,
discarded the five sheaths and went beyond the blank, realized the Self as
'I am Brahman' and remained as the Perfect Being.

84. At the glance of the Master, who was Grace incarnate, the worthy disciple
sank into the Ocean of Bliss and merged as the undivided Whole, as Pure   
Consciousness free from body, organs and all else,  with mind made perfect, and he became the true Self, experiencing the deep sleep state in the waking state.

85. After the blessed disciple had remained in that state for a long time, his mind
gradually turned outward.  Then he saw his glorious Master before him.
His eyes were filled with tears of joy.  He was full of love and fell at the feet of the
Master.  He rose up, came round the Master, and with folded hands spoke to him:

86.  'Lord, you are Reality remaining as my inmost Self, ruling me during all my
countless incarnations!  I do not see how I can repay your grace for having
liberated me. Glory! Glory to your holy feet!'

87.  The Master beamed on him as he spoke, drew him near and said lovingly:
'To stay fixed in the Self, without the three kinds of obstacles obstructing your
experience, is the highest return you can render me.'

88.  'My Lord! Can such realization that has transcended the dual perception
of 'You' and 'I' and found the Self to be entire and all pervading, fail me at any
time?'  The Master replied: 'The truth that ' I am Brahman' is realized from the
scriptures or by grace of the Master, but it cannot be firm in the face of obstructions.'

89.  Ignorance, uncertainty and wrong knowledge are obstacles resulting from long
standing habits in the innumerable incarnations of the past which cause trouble,
and then the fruits of realization slip away.  Therefore, root them out by listening to                       
the Truth, reasoning and meditation, sravana, manana, and nididhyasana.

90.  Checked by incantations, - sthambana - fire will not scorch.  Likewise,
defective realization will not put an end to bondage.  Therefore, devote yourself
to hearing the Truth, reasoning and meditation, and root out ignorance, uncertainty
and wrong knowledge.

91.  Ignorance veils the Truth and the Self is Brahman and shows forth multiplicity
instead.  Uncertainty is the confusion resulting from lack of firm faith in the words
of the Master; the illusion that the evanescent world is a reality and the body
is the Self, is the wrong knowledge. So say the sages.

92.  Listening to the Truth is to revert the mind repeatedly to the teaching"
'That thou art'.  Reasoning is the rational investigation of the meaning of the
text, as already heard.  Meditation is onepointedness of the mind.   If every day
you do these, you will surely gain liberation.

93.  The practice must be kept so long as the sense of knower and knowledge
persists. No effort is necessary thereafter.  Remaining as the pure, eternal
Consciousness, untainted like ether, and thus liberated while alive, one will
live for ever as That --  after being disembodied also.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

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Doubts Dispelled:

As I was hardly ever away from Bhagavan's proximity, listening to His answers
to the questions raised by the devotees would clear my doubts as well.  In addition,
they taught me many new things.  Well, I would encounter difficulty in understanding
some statement or idea found in the Sastras. While waiting for the right moment to raise the query, it would happen that another devotee would raise the same doubt to
Bhagavan for explanation and, Bhagavan's reply to him would put both our minds
at rest.  This, indeed, is dvaiva gathi (divine dispensation).  A classic example is the
case of King Janaka mentioned in Yoga Vasishtam.  There it is said, that this king
acquired spiritual wisdom just by listening to the discussions between siddhas
(sages).  All his doubts thus cleared, Janaka is said to have attained experience
of the Self.

Vedantic texts such as Vedanta Chudamani speak of Viveka Gathi, Viraktha Gathi,
and Daiva Gathi.  Of these, the first one is the path (gathi) of attaining Jnana by
becoming a disciple of a Sadguru, and through studying and assimilating what is
said in the various texts.  Jnana that comes like a flash of lightning, without
any effort or favorable circumstances, is the second one.  Gautama Buddha,
the Tamizh saint Pattinathar, and our Bhagavan belong to the second kind.
A solemn declaration made in Yoga Vasishtam is 'True knowledge will come to
you as easily as a fruit dropping right into your palm from the sky above.'
The third type -- someone goes to visit a sage without any volition or
a specific desire to get enlightenment. At that moment, the guru happens to be
instructing his disciples through answers to their serious queries.  The visitor,
on hearing the guru's words, though not addressed to him, gets enlightened
and becomes a Jnani.  This happens only as a result of merits earned through
virtuous deeds in his earlier births.  It is like a bulb lighting up instantly
when a current of electricity flows into it when a switch is turned on.  This mode
of attaining Jnana is daiva gath. Any one of three dispensations will chance upon one
only by virtue of one's righteous deeds in several births.  This is affirmed in several
scriptural texts.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.       
               

Subramanian.R

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The following chapters deal with the early life of Bhagavan in Tiruvannamalai,
long before Kunju Swami's arrival.

Neighbor's Animosity:

During Bhagavan's initial days of moving into Virupaksha Cave, pilgrims to
Tiruvannamalai who used to customarily visit those sadhus already living on the
Hill, now began coming to Bhagavan instead.  So these sadhus began harassing
the new comer lest their popularity might be eroded.  To rid of them of their anxiety,
Bhagavan decided to move out of the Hill and take to the woods nearby.

Pranava Deham:

At times, Bhagavan used to experience a dissolution of His physical body.
Unexpectedly like a flash of lightning, His physical frame would disintegrate into
tiny atom-like particles and disappear, leaving only a smoke like, nebulous haze.
Then, like tiny particles of dew, they would reappear and again coalesce.  In this
way the physical body would re-concretize.  It seems that this used to occur
during the periods of prolonged sitting without movement or when His physical
frame was emaciated due to lack of food.  This phenomenon is known as 'Pranava
Deham', where the body disintegrates into disparate, minute particles and disappears,
becoming one with the elements in a body-less state.

Deciding to undertake a fast and dissolve as Pranava body, one morning Bhagavan
started walking towards Pachai Amman temple to reach the woods. 
At that time, Vasudeva Sastri, then a small boy attending to Veda Pata Sala ,
ran into Bhagavan. 'Why are you out here all alone?  Let us go back to Virupaksha',
he said. Bhagavan replied that He wanted to spend a couple of days in the woods
and asked him to return.  The little boy began weeping, afraid to leave Bhagavan
all alone.  Bhagavan consoled him saying He would be back soon, sent him on his way
and proceeded.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                   

Subramanian.R

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Loving Concern of the Chief of the Isanya Mutt:

While walking, a cart happened to pass by the road which
was a little afar.  Its occupant was Swami Sathappa, the Head of the Isanya Mutt
(and predecessor of Swami Mahadeva, the present Head.) He was returning from
a visit to his Mutt's farm property.  Seeing Bhagavan from afar and identifying Him
as 'Brahmana Swami' he asked the cart driver to stop, alighted from the cart and came rushing near.  Bubbling with delight, he said, 'Swami!  I never expected to see you here.  It is my good fortune that I could get your darshan.  It has been a long cherished wish of mine to welcome you to my Mutt. But I did not ask knowing you do not go visiting any where.  Now I got my chance. Pray do visit our Mutt now.'

Bhagavan who was wont to go nowhere, tried to turn down the request, but His
remonstrances were of no avail before the robust Mutt head.  Lifting the young
Brahamana Swami aloft, lean and emaciated by ascetic starvation, Sathappa Swami
simply deposited Him inside his cart.  Helpless against this overwhelming love,
Bhagavan could no longer resist. 

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                         

Subramanian.R

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Visions of the Past Witnessed by Bhagavan:

It happened during Bhagavan's Virupaksha days.  In a state that can be described
neither as wakefulness nor dream, Bhagavan entered one of the caves on the Hill.
Sauntering inside,  He could see hermitages, lovely ponds, trees in full bloom,
plants and trailing climbers - an entire scenic landscape.  What was even more interesting, it had an oft-visited, familiar ambience, with no air of strangeness about
it.  At that time He reported to none about this 'vision'.  Years later, in 1915, when
renovation jobs were under way in the Adi Annamalai temple, the men at work discovered an underground tunnel, starting from the eastern side of the temple
and leading in the direction of the Hill. A member renovation committee reported
the finding to Bhagavan at Virupaksha. Next day, en route His giri paradakshina,
Bhagavan stopped by and had a look at the tunnel. It came as a surprise to Him
that the entry portion of the tunnel was similar to what He had seen in His 'vision'.
Even then He told no one about it.  Those in charge sought His advice on what was to be done.  Bhagavan cautioned them that it would be unwise to explore it further.  He advised them to cover it over as before, and not to tamper with something concerning the divine.  The tunnel mouth was then sealed.  On completion of the renovation job the temple Kumbhabhishekam was held on 27.1.1918.

Bhagavan later chanced to find in a verse of Arunchala Mahatmyam a description matching what He had 'seen years ago.  This was yet another surprise.  He copied this Sanskrit verse and also rendred a Tamizh translation of it. His translation was later included in the Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi:

Siva said:

'Though in fact fiery, my lacklustre appearance as a Hill on this spot is an act of
grace and loving solicitude for the maintenance of the world. Here I always
abide as the Great One (Siddha). Remember that in the interior of my Heart
is transcendental glory with all the enjoyments of the world also.'

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                                               
« Last Edit: November 10, 2016, 12:08:43 PM by Subramanian.R »

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Bhagavan Attempts a Disguise:

Once Navaratri festivities ('Nine Nights' of worship dedicated to the nine forms
of Goddess Durga) in the Tamizh month of Purattasi (mid September to mid
October) were under way inside the Arunachaleswara temple premises, in
its newly built 'wedding hall' (where celestial wedding of the presiding deity
and His consort is conducted every year). Palani Swami, returning after seeing
the function after seeing the splendorous festive decorations, particularly the ornamentations of Goddess Apeetha Kuchambal, wanted his beloved Sage to
enjoy the divine spectacle. Bhagavan agreed, if only to satisfy a devotee's wish.
At that time, Bhagavan and Palani Swami were only residents of Virupaksha.
Bhagavan thought if He is accompanied by Palani Swami or by some other devotee,
He would be identified by their presence.  He did not want the consequent fuss and
distraction. So He decided to go alone, under disguise!  Asking Palani Swami to remain in Virupaksha, He wrapped the washed and dried towel of Palani Swami
around His waist and painted the Vaishnavite symbol, vertical stripes of red
and white, on His forehead (in contradistinction to His loin cloth and the horizontal
Saivite white strips of sacred ash). He set out at ten in the night.  Though He had
started out with optimism,  He now had a nagging feeling that He would be
recognized and mobbed.  He kept looking around furtively every now and then.
He could not turn His attention towards the Goddess bedecked in fine raiment
nor revel in Her splendor.  It was a harmless, minor act of deception, but He was
about to return when one of the temple priests saw through His disguise and
called out excitedly, 'Hey, everyone! Come over here!  Come and see!
Our Brahmana Swami!  Giving darshan as Lord Vishnu Himself!'  He then removed
a garland adorning the Goddess and placed it around Bhagavan's shoulders.
Other priests gathered there, to the discomfiture of Bhagavan. He tried to dash
off but the priest now offered Bhagavan items of eatables, the Holy Prasad (offerings to the deity).  With all possible haste Bhagavan made it back to Virupaksha,
thinking enough was enough.  Bhagavan is indeed a rare example of a scrupulously
conscientious being who would not resort to least of peccadillos, even in
innocent sport.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             
                   

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Bhagavan's Reading of Books on Vedanta:

S.N. Sathappa Chettiar of Karaikudi and his wife established  in Tiruvannamalai,
a choultry in which they personally supervised the cooking and serving of food
to sadhus.  It was a labor of love for them.  They were devotees of Bhagavan and during one of their customary visits, Chettiar implored Bhagavan to accept some quantity of food from them everyday.  They would deem it to their singular good fortune, he said.  In response to his request, Palani Swami would go to the choultry and fetch a quantity of cooked rice daily.  Keeping it aside, he would begin reading out a chapter from the Malayalam Adhuyatma Ramayana, stumbling and faltering the text. Only after reading was over would he serve food to Bhagavan and thereafter
serve himself.  In addition, on certain days he would have to serve food to visitors
from outstation. Palani Swami's halting and reading would take an unduly long
while and Bhagavan used to feel sorry for the hungrily waiting visitors.  With a view
to avoiding delay Bhagavan told one day inquired him, 'What Palani Swami?
Are you particular that you should read yourself do the reading or will it do to listen while someone reads out aloud?'  Palani Swami replied that just listening while someone reads aloud?'  Palani Swami replied that just listening was enough.
Next day, Bhagavan took the book and browsed.  He found that Malayalam alphabets
consisted of a good number of Tamizh and grantha letters which he already knew.
He now learnt the remaining unknown Malayalam characters from Palani Swami
himself with the known knowledge of Malayalam script, Bhagavan began reading
aloud from Adhyatma Ramayana daily, Palani Swami would listen.  It was this practice
that made Bhagavan learn and master the Malayalam tongue. Also from the home of a local resident by name Nagalinga Swami, Palani Swami would fetch Kaivalyam,
Vedanta Chudamani, Yoga Vasishtam and other texts on Vedanta. Bhagavan would leisurely pore over them during those Virupaksha days when visitors were few.
It came as a surprise that He Himself had experienced the various spiritual states
expounded therein. Reading them was akin to recollecting His own past life!

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Six years went by in this manner, with Palani Swami attending to Bhagavan
in this unique bond of loyal affinity.  Now more people joined as resident
devotees at Virupaksha. The food that was fetched from the aforesaid alms-
house was not sufficient for all.  Therefore it was decided to go begging for food
in the town streets. But they would not do it in the usual manner of standing
in wait in front of houses after calling out food food. Instead they would saunter
at a slow pace chanting the devotional hymns of Adi Sankara.  Those who wished
to offer them food would fetch it and fill their bowls.  Soon, other mendicants
began to imitate this mode of begging, going early singing the same hymns and
receiving the food earmarked by donors for Bhagavan's devotees.  When the early
birds thus deprived them of their ration of food, Perumal Swami and Palani Swami
thought of a way out.  They requested Bhagavan to compose a  poem which would
be their signature song, and so Bhagavan composed Arunchala Akshara Mana
Malai.  Later, Mother Azhagammal too came and joined Bhagavan as 'resident
devotee', and devotees began joining in increasing numbers.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   
     

Subramanian.R

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An Attempt at Initiation:

Once a pundit, a scholar of the Sastras from Sankara Mutt at Sringeri came to
Bhagavan at Virupaksha, having known that Bhagavan did not have a guru,
and was not formally initiated into Sannyasa. Palani Swami had at that time
gone down to the choultry to fetch food. So, the visitor had the opportunity to speak
privately with Bhagavan.  The pandit launched an hour long harangue on the indispensability of a guru for every spiritual aspirant and the imperative of receiving
initiation from the guru and the need to comply with the norms of tradition.  He recounted the lives of avatars like Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, and Adi Sankara, who had all reached the pinnacle of spiritual heights and did have the gurus who formally
initiated them into spiritual discipline, adding that Bhagavan himself was the rarest
of rare among realized souls.  Then, with palms joined in salutation and with utmost
deference he petitioned, 'Swami!  You are a Brahmin, need to take Sannyasa as enjoined by tradition.  You know all and I need not remind you of it. I shall
enroll you into our guru parampara.  Permit me to make the necessary arrangements
for a formal initiation.  If you are dis inclined to wear ochre robes, do wear an ochre
kaupina at least.'  Bhagavan listened but kept silent.  The pundit left, saying that he
was going to the town and would return at three in the afternoon.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.