Sri Ramana Reminiscences
By Prof. G. V. Subbaramayya
Introducing Prof. G. V. Subbaramayya
G. V. Subbaramayya an educationalist, professor and poet was one of the older devotees whose approach to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi was exceptionally spontaneous.
The turning point and the greatest influence was of course the coming into his life of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Let's quote what he himself has to say about it; "The pole star of my life is of course my gurudev Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. At a time of distress in 1933 I was drawn to Him and the very first darshan plunged me into the ocean of peace and bliss. Ever since He has been the light of my life. He is my mother, father, guru and goal. He is my all-in-all; and in Him my little self and all its moorings were consummated and sublimated. In a word He is the embodiment of grace. At every step in the least incidents of my life I have come to feel with a growing consciousness the guiding hand of that Divine Grace that is Sri Ramana.''
My Reminiscences of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
For over two years I had been reading the works of Sri Bhagavan and other Ashram literature. My main interest had been literary rather than philosophical. I had been struck with wonder at the style of the Telugu Upadesa Saram which, in its simplicity, felicity and classic finish, could equal that of the greatest Telugu poet Tikkana. I had felt convinced that a Tamilian who could compose such Telugu verse must be divinely inspired, and I had wanted to see him.
But my immediate quest at the time was for peace and solace. In the morning I had darshan of Sri Bhagavan in the old Hall. As our eyes met, there was a miraculous effect upon my mind. I felt as if I had plunged into a pool of peace, and with eyes shut, sat in a state of ecstasy for nearly an hour. When I came to normal consciousness, I found some one spraying the Hall to keep off insects, and Sri Bhagavan mildly objecting with a silent shake of his head.
On October 31st, 1937, my two year old daughter Indira suffered two fits, the second more severe than the first. Suddenly she became unconscious, all vital organs stopped functioning and she seemed practically dead. The Allopathic doctor declared his helplessness and advised Ayurvedic treatment. Branding between the eye-brows by an old man with his lighted tobacco-pipe made the child moan feebly and slightly revived the vital functions. Still she did not rally but lay moribund. Two Ayurvedic physicians sent for, one after another, could not be found. At this crisis my eye lighted upon the picture of Sri Bhagavan, and I prostrated saying within, "O Bhagavan, all human aid having failed, you alone must save her.'' Getting up, I mechanically opened the drawer, took out a telegraph form, and sent an express message praying for Sri Bhagavan's Grace upon the child. The telegraph authorities sent word that the message would reach the Ashram at 7 p.m. Precisely at 7 p.m. both the Ayurvedic physicians arrived simultaneously and Sri V. V. Narayanappa alone came, put into my hands an envelope addressed to me, and said, "Here is Sri Bhagavan's Prasad for the child.'' It struck me as a miraculous response of Sri Bhagavan to my prayer. Sri Narayanappa explained that it was the Prasad which I had got for him the previous year when he had been ill, and which he had preserved in the same envelope. He felt he should make use of it for the ailing child. The two doctors consulting together treated the child and assured me that she was out of danger. That night, sleeping beside the child, I had a marvellous dream. I was in Sri Bhagavan's Hall. Sri Bhagavan was reclining on His couch as usual. In front of Him stood a dark, fierce-looking person of gigantic stature. Sri Bhagavan with His forefinger motioned to him three times to leave the Hall. Accordingly the stranger left by the first entrance. Then Sri Bhagavan turned to me, called me near and enquired, "How is your child?'' I replied, "Bhagavan, by Your Grace, she is better.'' Then Sri Bhagavan said, "She will be all right, don't fear,'' and put His hand on my back. At His touch I thrilled and the dream melted.
A Vaishnava devotee, who was a high official at Simla, brought all the idols that he worshipped daily, and handed them to Sri Bhagavan, probably desiring the sanctity of Sri Bhagavan's touch. Sri Bhagavan seemed much interested in examining them. The devotee said, "Bhagavan, people scoff at me, calling me a 'superstitious idolater.' '' Sri Bhagavan told him, "Why don't you retort by calling them worse idolaters? For do they not wash, dress, embellish, feed and thus 'worship' their body so many times every day. Is not the body the biggest idol? Then who is not an idol worshiper?''
In the evening Sri Bhagavan recalled a marvellous occurrence. He said, "Some time ago, a paralytic was brought in a conveyance and brought into the Hall in the arms of some persons and placed before me. I was looking at him as usual. After about half an hour, the man with some effort got up by himself, prostrated, and rising came forward and handed to me a notebook. I found it to be his horoscope wherein it was stated that he would have darshan of a Mahatma by whose Grace he would be cured miraculously. Then man after expressing his fervent gratitude walked by himself to his conveyance outside the Hall. All people present were struck with wonder which I also shared because I had not consciously done anything for him. Now Sri Bhagavan again repeated that a Jnani could not have any sankalpa (will) of his own.
In the afternoon Sri Bhagavan related another story. A Brahmin and his cook went on a pilgrimage. The cook dipped a bitter-gourd in all tirthams (holy waters). When he cooked it afterwards, it tasted bitter as before. "So,'' said Sri Bhagavan, "how can the bitter taste in the pilgrim go by mere bathing in holy waters, unless the mind becomes edified and sweetened.'' Sri Bhagavan also narrated two more stories from the same book.
Shortly after my return home, I had a marvellous experience of Sri Bhagavan's Grace. It was early morning. I had been sitting for a long time in meditation. Gradually I felt lighter and easier. Finally when I felt as light as a feather floating in the wind, I lost the body-consciousness. Still I was fully aware. I flew at a great height in the sky. After a time I saw big 'Gopurams' (temple-towers) fully illumined against the background of a majestic Hill and knew that the place was Tiruvannamalai. In a few minutes I was hovering over the Ashram near the cow-shed on the south and came down to a few feet above the ground. I saw Sri Bhagavan casting a torch light into some bushes near by. I bowed to Sri Bhagavan even from the mid-air. Immediately I rose to a great height and flew back. On the return flight I saw down below, some blazing fires and heard gun-shots, at one place. I continued the flight till I recognised my home town. Then I stopped, descended and came back to my seat in the central hall of my residence. At once I regained the body-consciousness and opened my eyes. Except that the body disappeared and reappeared, my awareness was continuous, without a break. The next day I read in the Papers that at the town of Arcot, between Tiruvannamalai and Conjeevaram, there was a big riot and incendiarism that very night and the Police resorted to firing to disperse the mob. I never had a like experience before or after, and I can only regard it as a miracle of Sri Bhagavan's Grace for affording me His actual darshan.
That day a most extraordinary thing happened to me. It was Saturday, and I was to attend college on Monday, so I wanted to start that noon. After arranging everything, I went to Sri Bhagavan to prostrate and take leave. On all such occasions, Sri Bhagavan would either say, "yes, go'' or give a silent nod of approval. But this time Sri Bhagavan said, "Your college reopens on Monday. Why should you go now?'' I at once replied, "I won't go now. I shall stop,'' and I cancelled the arrangements. That whole afternoon, He was specially gracious to me and took great pains to teach me the Malayalam alphabet. That evening as He was starting to go up the Hill, I again asked Him whether I might go by the evening train. He enquired whether it was a through train. I replied "No it will stop at Katpadi.'' Sri Bhagavan said, "In that case, why should you spend the night at Katpadi station? Why not be here?'' I again postponed my journey. The next early morning train was the last for me. So at about 5 a.m. I went for Sri Bhagavan's darshan. As soon as He saw me, He enquired whether I had taken breakfast and got ready to start. I said, "Yes'' and prostrated; as I got up, His look at me had completely changed, His eyes were wide open, fixed and steady. He seemed to be seeing through me and beyond me into the Infinite. I had never had such a gaze from Sri Bhagavan before. I felt like Arjuna in Visvarupa Sandarshan. I was face to face with pure, Divine Majesty, and stood spell-bound. Five minutes, ten minutes passed. The cart-man was pressing. I mumbled the words, "I take leave,'' but there was no response, not the least change in the lustrous, long gaze. I came away overwhelmed with awe and fear. Everyone said that the way Sri Bhagavan now treated me was unprecedented and that it signified some momentous change for me. This forecast was confirmed by an event that occurred in my home within three months.
A few days later I had a peculiar dream. I dreamt that I was in the Ashram but could not see Sri Bhagavan anywhere. I searched and searched, and wept and wept at not finding him till fatigue overcame me and plunged me into slumber. Then I again had a dream (within the dream) that I sat face to face with Sri Bhagavan. In that position I recollected the previous disappearance of Sri Bhagavan and dismissed it as a dream. I felt that my being then in the presence of Sri Bhagavan was the only reality. This vision was so vivid and realistic that by comparison the waking-consciousness after I awoke seemed hazy. The hard core of reality seemed to melt and dissolve. The dreaming and waking states having submerged their boundaries seemed to flow into each other, to mingle and become one. As I related the above experience in a letter to the Ashram, I wondered whether I was really awake, whether the so-called waking activity including the writing of that letter was not part of an extended dream -. As I recall that incident now, I may be pardoned for confessing a doubt whether even this writing is not also a continuation of the dream from which the final waking will be into the one Reality that is Sri Bhagavan.
One night last year I had a marvellous dream. In a big choultry on a hill-top I saw Sri Bhagavan and Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Pitham seated before me. My heart overflowed with joy to see the two great Souls together. Sri Sankaracharya enquired how far I had advanced in my study of Sanskrit. Sri Bhagavan replied to him saying that my Sanskrit knowledge was up to the mark. Thereupon Sri Sankaracharya recited a 'Rik' from the Vedas and asked me to translate the rik. I did it to his satisfaction. Then Tirtham (Holy Water) was brought in a vessel. Sri Bhagavan first took a spoonful and passed it to Sri Sankaracharya who also tasted another spoonful and handed it to me to distribute among the vast crowd of devotees that filled the hall. I went round and as I served the last person, I found that the last drop of Tirtham was gone. Then I brought back the empty vessel. Sri Sankaracharya asked me whether I had taken the Tirtham myself, I replied "No.'' Then Sri Bhagavan observed "It does not matter. Distribution to others is Prasad (Grace) to yourself.'' Now leaves were spread before all for Bhiksha. As it was getting dark, I tried to switch on the electric lights. At my first trial the lights did not burn. But as I turned the switch a second time, all the lights flashed on and I woke up.
"Distribution to others is Prasad to yourself.''
Verily these Reminiscences are the Tirtham (Holy Water) that has been distributed to the readers, and that is the Prasad (Grace) of Sri Bhagavan to This humble servant.
OM TAT SAT
Just when I finished writing the last word my daughter Alagamma came running to me and served me coconut water saying 'Here is Tirtham from Mother after her worship of God.' SO THAT IS THAT!