Author Topic: Part 1- The Recollections of Ramana Maharshi Devotee N. Balaram Reddy  (Read 2079 times)

prasanth_ramana_maharshi

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In 1931, after reading about Sri Aurobindo, and also hearing about him from others, I made my way to his ashrama in Pondicherry. Immediately upon my arrival I was struck by the spiritual atmosphere of the place. On August 15th of that year, I had my first darshan of Sri Aurobindo. This was one of three times in a year that he gave darshan. I found Sri Aurobindo and Mother to be powerful spiritual personalities, as they seemed to have the ability to work on the development of their disciples in a silent and invisible manner. All of Aurobindo's philosophical writings cannot convey his or the Mother's power as spiritual embodiments.

While I was in Aurobindo Ashrama I met Kapali Sastriar, the esteemed disciple of both Aurobindo and Ganapati Muni. As he was now and then visiting Sri Ramanasramam, he would describe to me the Maharshi and his ashrama. His intriguing descriptions, along with the reading of B. V. Narasimhaswami's biography of the Maharshi, is what prompted my first visit to Ramanasramam in 1933.

Before this second visit to Ramanasramam I once again read Bhagavan's biography. In it I found a passage relating to the possibility of changing one's guru. I had a doubt about this and addressed it to the Maharshi. He told me, "Yes. Certainly. One can change his guru. What of that?"

In Aurobindo Ashrama our daily life, to a large extent, was regulated and controlled. For instance, even to take a simple trip into town we had to obtain permission. In contrast, here in Ramanasramam it was totally different. I experienced a liberating feeling of freedom, informality and spontaneity. Everything was so natural and at the same time elevating.

Also, in Aurobindo Ashrama, disciples were generally permitted to visit all other saints and ashramas, with the exception of the Maharshi and Sri Ramanasramam. It was believed that the Maharshi had the power to undo years of spiritual preparation that the Mother and Aurobindo were effecting on the psyche of their followers. In other words, they considered the Maharshi too powerful an influence. Bhagavan was aware of this and once when I was alone with him he told me, "Yes, I know of that place. They are afraid of me."

Leaving Aurobindo Ashram

I had been with the Mother and Aurobindo for five years. During those years they showered me with kindness and love, while guiding me on the spiritual path. My gratitude and regard for them compelled me to obtain their permission and blessings before leaving. This turned out to be much more difficult than I imagined.

In Aurobindo Ashram, it was the practice of the disciples who had doubts or questions to write them in the form of a letter to Sri Aurobindo. All the letters were daily collected and taken to Aurobindo, who would sit with the Mother during the nights and promptly answer them in writing. Sometimes we would see the lights burning all night as they were engaged in this work.

Upon my return from Ramanasramam I wrote a letter stating my desire to receive their blessings and permission to live at Ramanasramam. In the letter to Aurobindo I wrote that since your yoga begins with Self-realization, kindly permit me to go to Ramana Maharshi who emphasizes only Self-realization, a state I have not attained, or may not even be worthy of attaining. Aurobindo's reply was affectionate, but negative in regards to my leaving his ashram. He wrote, "Both Self-realization and the supra-mental state can be simultaneously developed and achieved here. There is no need for you to go there."

I was extremely disappointed at his response and consequently became frustrated, restless and discouraged. I soon began to have sleepless nights and felt distraught. I then wrote a second letter to Aurobindo with the same request. Again I was denied permission. It took a long five months and a third letter before Aurobindo and the Mother finally agreed, giving me their permission and blessings. Perhaps they realized I was determined to go and they saw no other recourse but to grant my request.

In Aurobindo's final letter to me he wrote, "Since you are determined to follow a path in which you can achieve only partial realization, we give you our blessings, though we believe it would be better if you stayed on here and pursued your sadhana where both the Mother and I can help you."

It was the rule in Aurobindo Ashram that any letter written to or received from Aurobindo should not leave the ashram premises. So, to comply with this rule, I burnt all my letters, except the final letter I received from Aurobindo. This I kept with the view of showing it to Bhagavan.

Settling at Sri Ramanasramam

During the early years there were no houses anywhere near the ashram, as it was mostly jungle or forest. I eventually found an upstairs room in a brahmin's house near the Arunachala Temple in town. For my meals I would sometimes cook small items in my room, sometimes obtain food from somewhere outside, and somehow manage without feeling inconvenienced.

Daily I would rise at about 3 or 4 a.m., walk to the ashram, stay in the hall with Bhagavan until 10 a.m., return to my room, come back again to the ashram at 3 p.m. and stay there until 8 p.m. It went on like this during the first year. If possible, I would always sit close to Bhagavan so I could hear all of his precious utterances.

S. S. Cohen, after repeatedly hearing about Sri Aurobindo, decided that the Yogi from Pondicherry must have some greatness. Consequently, one day he travelled to Pondicherry and while there wrote a note to Aurobindo describing who he was, what he wanted from life (Self-realization) and where he was then residing (Sri Ramanasramam). Cohen later showed me the reply he got from Aurobindo. It said, in brief, that all his aspirations could be fulfilled at Sri Ramanasramam, where he was then living.

I remember during my second visit to Ramanasramam the Maharshi was one day reading a lengthy book review from a newspaper. The book being reviewed was Aurobindo's Lights on Yoga. The reviewer was Kapali Sastri and the editor of this newspaper was Bhagavan's devotee, S. M. Kamath. Bhagavan seemed to take great interest in the review and would occasionally stop reading and comment on what he had just read to those sitting around him. When he had concluded reading it, someone who was aware that I had that very book with me, said to Bhagavan, "This man has come from the Aurobindo Ashram and he has that book with him." Bhagavan turned to me and said, "Oh, is that so? Let me have a look at it."

I went back to my room, fetched the book and handed it over to Bhagavan. Immediately Bhagavan began reading it intently. He kept on reading it well into the night, with the help of a small oil lamp, until he finished it.

When I came into the hall the next day he began discussing the book with me, telling me that a certain term used in the book might look like something new, but it is actually the equivalent of this other term used in such and such ancient text, etc. Like this, he went on discussing and comparing Aurobindo's philosophy for some time. So Bhagavan thoroughly understood Aurobindo's philosophy both intellectually and also from the standpoint of experience.

One evening I said to Bhagavan that the major attraction of Aurobindo's teachings is that it professes that immortality of the body can be achieved. Bhagavan made no comment.

The next day, as soon as I walked into the hall and sat down, Bhagavan looked at me and began saying, "In Kumbhakonam there was one yogi, C. V. V. Rao, who was proclaiming to all, his doctrine of the immortality of the body. He was even so bold as to declare that Dr. Annie Besant (a distinguished public and spiritual personality in India) would have to come to him to learn how to make her body immortal. But, before he had a chance to meet Dr. Annie Besant, he died." This brief story clearly illustrated his point.

On another day, not too long after settling near Sri Ramanasramam, I approached Bhagavan when no one was in the hall and showed him that last letter I had received from Aurobindo. Bhagavan asked me to give it to him to read. I told him he would be unable to decipher Aurobindo's handwriting, as it was very illegible and only those who have studied it for sometime could read it. He said, "Give it to me. Let me try."

After looking into it and realizing he could only make out a few words, he returned it and asked me to read it out. I began reading it and when I came to the sentence, "Since you are determined to follow a path in which you can achieve only partial realization . . .", Bhagavan stopped me and said, "Partial realization? If it is partial, it is not realization, and if it is realization, it is not partial."


This was the final blow that silenced all my doubts. I then destroyed this letter, like all the rest. And because of all the discussions I had had with Bhagavan I soon felt perfectly established in his teachings, having a clear understanding of where the Maharshi's path and Aurobindo's path diverged and went different ways. When all the clouds of doubts and distractions dispersed, so did our discussions. Bhagavan then knew that I understood and the foundation work had been done. The purpose of all our discussions were served and so they stopped automatically.

I believe the most unique characteristic of Bhagavan was the power of his presence. Much of what he taught had already been transmitted to the masses down through the ages. In Bhagavan we found a being that was surcharged with the Reality to such an extent that coming into his presence would effect a dramatic change in us.

Sources:

a) http://www.arunachala.org/newsletters/1995/?pg=may-jun
b) http://www.arunachala.org/newsletters/1995/?pg=mar-apr
c) http://www.arunachala.org/newsletters/1995/?pg=jul-aug
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Subramanian.R

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Dear prasanth,

I read recently the following:

When Bhagavan Ramana left His body and shot out as a shooting
star, Mother (Aurobindo) saw the shooting star from Pondicherry
and she folded her hands and prostrated towards that direction of
the shooting star!

Arunachala Siva.

prasanth_ramana_maharshi

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Thanks Subramanian Garu.

This is news for me.
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Subramanian.R

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Dear prasanth,

Yes. I read it quite recently.  This is a fact.  Again, if you ask
the source, I should rake my brain and search the books that I
had recently read.  Anyway I shall try this too.  Bhagavan's
remark about Kavyakanta is also due from me.

Arunachala Siva.

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HaHaHa...

No no  :) reason i asked earlier book source Subramanian Garu was i was suprised that ramana maharshi told those words regarding ganapati muni and hence want to see for myself.

Anyhow i found that atleast two ramana maharshi devotees in their books commented regarding failure of ganapati muni not attained self-realisation.

Source 1:

Dr Raju in his The Book on Self Enquiry wrote as below

Quote
A person of the caliber of Sri Ganapathi Sastri who has mantra siddhi could not control the thought traffic and missed self-realization even in the close association of Bhagawan.He has strong sastra vasana (The tendency to gather information rather than experiencing the thing) and loka vasana (Tendency to indulge in worldly affairs)and for many years he is district congress president and he wanted whole India to have cement roads because he strongly felt that world is real and we should work for it's welfare, though Bhagawan told him that waking state is also a dream.

Because he gave attention to such thoughts he missed the quintessence of Bhagawan's teaching and missed the self. To fulfill basic needs we require only few thoughts for action. But we are indulging in unnecessary thinking and action, which i feel should be curtailed in sadhana(Spiritual discipline) stage. This is very vital. Thought traffic is reduced when one is in uninterrupted awareness,(Sada Apramada) as told by Sanat kumara.

Source: The Book on Self Enquiry By Dr. P. V. S. Suryanarayana Raju


Source 2:

In SRI RAMANA LEELA Telugu original Sri Krishna Bhikshu Edited and Translated by Pingali Surya Sundaram book it was mentioned as below

Quote
Bhagavan addressed Ganapati as “Nayana” as did the
latter’s disciples. Ganapati was a great man with
extraordinary foresight, and power of speech.

One may go to the extent of saying that he was a
Vidyadhara in human form. His glory can be fully
appreciated by going through Kapali Sastry’s Vasishta
Vaibhavam. But for his ideals and love of the country
which bound him, Ganapati would have attained Self
reatisation.


He wrote a lot of poetry in praise of Bhagavan, one of
these poems, Sri Ramana Chatvarimsat was recited in Bhagavan’s
presence every morning. It is still recited at Bhagavan’s shrine.

In order to realise his ambitions Ganapati participated
in politics and social reform activities till 1930. Thereafter
he gave them up and devoted himself to tapas. He left his
mortal body on 25 July 1936 at Nimpura near Kharagpur
in his ashram.

More than the service he did for Bhagavan, Ganapati’s
service to the nation in propagating Bhagavan’s message is
greater. The answers Bhagavan gave to the questions of the
disciples were incorporated as slokas in Sri Ramana Gita
composed by Ganapati Sastry. This book is an invaluable
guide to all. Simirarly, he translated into Sanskrit Bhagavan’s
Ulladu Narpadu under the title Sat-darsanam. As early as
1903 Ganapati Muni, through his foresight, recognised the
greatness of Bhagavan and spread the word. Under his
guidance, his disciples Pranavananda and Kapali Sastry wrote
commentaries on Bhagavan’s Upadesasaram and Sat-darsanam
respectively. Kapali Sastry also wrote an excellent commentary
on Bhagavan’s Arunachala Pancharatna. Ganapati’s disciples
were all Bhagavan’s disciples too. They were spread all over
the country and they carried forward Bhagavan’s message.


But still it was not mentioned in these 2 books that these words are uttered by ramana maharshi only.


« Last Edit: May 04, 2010, 01:35:08 PM by prasanth_ramana_maharshi »
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Subramanian.R

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Dear prasanth,

I shall check up Sri Ramana Leela (English) and also Sri Arunachala's
Ramana, Boundless Ocean of Grace, 8 volumes.  In the latter, there
are many passages concerned with Kavyakanta Ganapati Sastri.
I will have to see them.

Arunachala Siva.

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Dear Subramanian Garu,

You are right that bhagavan indeed passed his comments on ganapati muni.

I told David Godman regarding our conversation today and requested him to let me know his views and below is his reply.

Quote
Dear Prasanth,

Yes, Bhagavan did say that Ganapati Muni did not realise the Self because his sankalpas were too strong. The incident was first recorded in the manuscript that later became Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. However, when it was first published in the 1950s, some of Ganapati Muni's followers persuaded Ramanasramam not to print it. I thik the first time the story appeared in print was when Arthur Osborne put it in his biography.

I don't think it was the amount of activities that Ganapati Muni undertook that prevented him from realising the Self. Work or activity, says Bhagavan, is not a hindrance if one has the right attitude towards it.

I am not qualified to say why Bhagavan passed this judgment on Ganapati Muni. However, since it seems to be a genuine story, I accept Bhagavan's word on this matter.

Best Wishes    David Godman
« Last Edit: May 04, 2010, 11:48:03 PM by prasanth_ramana_maharshi »
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Subramanian.R

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Dear prasanth,

Thank you.  You asked me to find out but you have yourself found out.  We are not interested in Ganapati Sastri's sankalpas per se; we are only interested to know whether Bhagavan Ramana said that.

Normally Bhagavan Ramana does not make such comments.
I am surprised.  Bhagavan Ramana confirmed the realization of
Cow Lakshmi, His Mother, Echammal and Mudaliar Patti.  But He
would never say that so and so was not realized.  It is a very rare
anecdote.  However, He had great liking for Kavyakanta Ganapati
Sastri, for his immensity of learning, memory and servitude.  He
has been responsible for Sri Ramana Gita.  Bhagavan Ramana's
great teachings came through the media of M. Sivaparakasam Pillai, Kavyakanta Ganapati Sastri and Muruganar.

Arunachala Siva.     
   

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Dear Subramanian Garu,

Even i am very much suprised when i got confirmation that bhagavan indeed uttered those words regarding ganapati muni.

But as david godman said,bhagavan decision is final so there must be a genuine reason behind bhagavan's words.
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Subramanian.R

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Dear prasanth,

Another interesting anecdote about Kavyakanta Ganapati Sastri.
Once a photographer wanted to take photograph of Bhagavan
Ramana.  At that time, Kavyakanta Ganapati Sastri was also
in the Hall.  The photographer requested Kavyakanta Ganapati
Sastri to sit on the sofa, with Bhagavan Ramana.  Kavyakanta
was shocked at this suggestion.  But Bhagavan Ramana said:
Come and sit with me.  He literally raised Sastri from the floor
and made him to sit with Him.  The photograph was taken!

Unfortunately, this photograph had not come out.

Arunachala Siva.     

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yes, it is interesting incident.even i also heard this incident.

What can we say Subramanian garu about bhagavan?

We little babies with our small intellects cannot understand completely bhagavan ramana's hidden nature.

it reminds me one parable of sri ramakrishna.

Quote
As Bhishma lay dying on his bed of arrows, the Pandava brothers and Krishna stood around him.They saw tears flowing from the eyes of the great hero.

Arjuna said to Krishna: "Friend, how surprising it is! Even such a man as our grandsire Bhishma - truthful, self-restrained, supremely wise and one of the eight Vasus - weeps through Maya,at the hour of death." Sri Krishna asked Bhishma about it.

Bhishma replied: "O Krishna, You know very well that this is not the cause of my grief. I am thinking that there is no end to the Pandavas' sufferings, though God Himself is their charioteer,A thought like this makes me feel that i have understood nothing of the ways of God, and so I weep."

Source: Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna
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