Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Ramanananda Swarnagiri

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Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Ramanananda SwarnagiriBack


Ramanananda Swarnagiri authored Crumbs from His Table (1937). The preface of this book states: The taste of the few crumbs would alone be sufficient to induce the readers to seek the bread of life itself at His hands, and serve my ambition to create such an interest in Him and in His teachings.

In 1933 I visited Sri Avadhuta Swami at Sendamangalam, Salem. While going round the idol of Sri Dattatreya on the summit of the hill, where the Swami has his cave, I chanced to see a photo of a very young ascetic, who looked like a boy just out of school, not more than twenty years of age. The penetrating eyes and youthful appearance of the young yogi captivated me. I was told that the sage lived at Tiruvannamalai and was a perfect jnani.

I visited Sri Ramanasramam in March 1934 and prostrated before Sri Ramana in the hall. Bhagavan asked me, “Who are you?” I said, “I am Narayanaswami.” [His actual name.] He said, “Is it the body, the mouth or the hands that represent the ‘I’ you are talking about?” and added, “you are different from the body. You are the possessor, and the body is your possession.” When I said, “I am different from my body, but I cannot clearly see the line of demarcation between my body and my Self”, Bhagavan suggested, “Put the question to your Self and you will know who you are, tracing the source from which the ‘I’ springs.”

Sri Ramana had given me something to work on. I was satisfied with the lesson and having purchased a copy of his Life and Teachings (in Tamil) read it that very night at the Ashram itself. The more I read it, the more I was attracted to Bhagavan, and his example and teachings appealed to me immensely.

I was about to put a question to Bhagavan and just as I began to do so, he answered me by referring me to Paul Brunton’s The Secret Path and remarked that, as stated therein, speech only beclouded argument and disturbed the silent communication of thought.

Sri Bhagavan was correcting and aiding some youngsters in memorising his Upadesa Saaram. I was wondering at the futility of coaching such youngsters who could not understand the ABC of the philosophical verses. Though I had not uttered a single word, Sri Bhagavan turned to me and remarked, “These childeren might not understand the meaning of these verses, yet these would be of immense help to them, and would be recalled with great relief and pleasure, when they come of age and are in difficulties.

The next day, in the company of some of my friends, I visited a Sanskrit and Tamil scholar, who was for sometime a Sanskrit teacher in one of the Local Board High Schools and who was living close to most of the places where Bhagavan was reported to have spent his early life. [The reference is to Ganapati Muni (no. 91)]. When we came to a place where Bhagavan was said to have sat in the evenings, he took a small quantity of the earth and smeared it on his forehead. He also dropped a small bit of the earth into his mouth and said, “The very ground on which such a holy person sat was sacred. His footprints were worth all the spheres that rolled in the heaven.

During my third visit, I saw a well-educated youth in the hall in a meditative posture. He sat continuously for hours together and some devotees appeared almost envious of his rapid progress. Perhaps to take care of the doubt, Bhagavan said one day, “The boy was not meditating upon God or Self, but praying to him [Sri Ramana] for his grace to get a job.” He added, “Worldly people should obtain fulfilment of their desire where it is available. I am a sannyasi without any possessions or work.The unemployed youth, who had overheard the conversation, though he appeared outwardly oblivious to what was going on around him, discovered that the cat was out of the bag.

Regarding food requirements for sadhana, Bhagavan often remarked, “The aspirants should eat a very moderate quantity of whatever food comes their way and not stipulate, discriminate, or pick and choose in the matter of diet.” His insistence was on continuous one-pointed enquiry (Who am I?), like thailadhara – unbroken flow of oil while being poured from one vessel to another.

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