Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Jagadeeswara Sastri

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Jagadeeswara Sastri (1894-1983) was a distinguished Sanskrit scholar, associated with Sri Ramana for four decades. Devaraja Mudaliar (no.35) used to call him the Sanskrit poet of Bhagavan’s court. Sri Ramana called him Jagadeesa, indicating his affection and closeness.

A.R.Natarajan records that in 1945 Sastri got a terminal illness which did not respond to the best medical treatment. Sastri invoked Sri Ramana’s grace, who had in some mysterious way a soft corner for him. A natural poet, Sastri surrendered to Sri Ramana composing eight exquisite pieces of poetry called Prapatti Ashtakam through which he poured out his heart. Sri Ramana pulled him out of the jaws of death, and blessed him with a long life.

Sastri told the following to Chhaganlal V. Yogi (no.55):

I went to Sri Bhagavan in the Virupaksha Cave1 to listen to his spiritual talk. As the talk did not end till well after midnight, I decided to sleep in front of the cave instead of returning to the town. This was a brave act because in those days wild animals used to roam on the hill. I was snoring in deep sleep. Bhagavan who felt concerned about my safety put a pinch of snuff up my nose. I woke up startled and began to sneeze uncontrollably. Bhagavan laughed heartily, and affectionately told me to go and sleep inside the cave. I was so sleepy at the time that I stumbled inside the cave and immediately fell asleep again.

Chhaganlal Yogi says that once Sastri and he were walking together in Bombay. The tar roads of the city got very hot in summer and he found it hard to believe that anyone could walk on them without footwear. He asked Sastri whether his feet have not got burned walking on the road. Sastri answered in the negative and added, “I have already got ravi raksha (protection from the sun) from Bhagavan. I may walk in any amount of heat but nothing ever happens to me.” Then Sastri told him how he got ravi raksha:

One day, right in the middle of the afternoon, Bhagavan took his kamandalu and asked me to accompany him on a walk about the mountain. When I protested as to how we could move about in such weather, he said, “You can move just the same way as I do. Am I not a man with two feet, just like you?” Having realised that it would be useless to argue any more, I started walking with Bhagavan [Who never wore any footwear.] The exposed stones were terribly hot because of the severe heat of the sun, and walking on them made my feet burn. For some time I bore the suffering, but when it became unbearable I cried out, “Bhagavan, my feet are burning so much! I cannot walk one more step. Even standing here is difficult. On all sides it is raining fire! If I remain in this terrible heat any more, my head will crack open and I will die.”

Bhagavan smiled and said in very quiet and deep voice, “Jagadeesa, give up your fear and listen. You must have the bhavana (mental conviction and attitude) that you are the sun. Start doing japa of the mantra Suryosmi (I am the sun) with the conviction that it is really true. You will soon see the effect of it. You yourself will become surya swarupa, that is, you will have the characteristics of the sun. Can the sun feel the heat of the sun?”

I followed Bhagavan’s instructions and started doing japa of the sun mantra. In a short time, I began to feel the effect of the japa. The severity of the heat lessened and eventually I began to experience, instead of the severe heat, a pleasing coolness. As the burning sensation diminished, I found that I was able to walk quickly alongside Bhagavan. Later, I was astonished to discover that the effect of chanting this mantra was permanent. Though I no longer chant it, I have never again suffered from the heat of the sun. I can now walk in the summer on tar roads with bare feet without discomfort.

Sastri was responsible for eliciting Sri Ramana’s famous Sanskrit sloka.The story, recorded in 1948 by Suri Nagamma (no.39), as related to her by Sri Ramana himself is as follows:

“One day in 1915, Jagadeesa wrote down on a piece of paper ‘Hridaya kuhara madhye’ and held it in his hand. When I asked him what it was, he said that he wanted to write a sloka, but when he began it, he could write only that much. When I advised him to write the rest, he said that he was unable to do so however much he tried. After a time, he went somewhere, leaving the paper under my seat. Before his return, I completed the sloka, and wrote underneath the word ‘Jagadeesa’. I gave it to him on his return. When he enquired as to why I had given his name to it, I replied because Jagadeesa had begun it.”

[The sloka means: in the interior cavity of the Heart [on the right side of the chest] the one Supreme Being Brahman alone shines in the form of the atman with direct immediacy as ‘I’ ‘I’. Enter into the Heart with one-pointed mind, either through self-enquiry, that is, constantly enquiring within yourself as to who am I, or by diving deep within, or through control of breath, and abide ever in the atman.”]

1. Sri Ramana lived here from 1899 to 1916. (See photograph nos. 3 (i) & (ii) and 4 (i) in the book.)

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