Mahapatra Dave, born in 1915 at Mahaboobnagar, Andhra Pradesh, was a teacher at the Gujarati School, Secunderabad.
G. V. Rajeswara Rao, one of the founding members of Sri Ramana Kendram, Hyderabad, who knew Dave closely, writes:
Having a religious bent of mind from the very beginning, when Dave read Who am I? in 1939, he concluded that Sri Ramana was his guru. He longed to have his darshan. The opportunity came only in 1943, when the father of one of Dave’s students requested him to take his son on some sort of a tour to broaden his horizon. The father agreed that the journey could be to Tiruvannamalai. Bhagavan thus provided him the badly needed money, which came in the way of his undertaking the journey earlier.
When Dave went to the hall and sat before Bhagavan, all questions he wanted to ask were answered in silence. Suddenly he felt as if someone was twisting the right side of his heart. There were no more questions, no more doubts; it was only bliss – he surrendered himself to Bhagavan. After about a month’s stay, Dave returned home happily having realized his cherished desire. After this Dave could manage to visit the Ashram every six months or so despite his slender purse. To allay the fear of his parents that Dave may become a sadhu by such frequent visits, he started taking his wife with him.
Dave started the Ramana Meditation Centre which came to be known as Ramana Bhakta Mandali. This was the first Ramana group in Hyderabad. Numerous devotees, including Dr. K. Subrahmanian [No. 33], Prof. Sista Subba Rao [No.133] and Prof. Shiva Mohan Lal [No.156] participated in the satsangs, which were held on Thursday evenings at Dave’s house. The Mandali also brought out a publication Ramanasthuthi in 1956.
Dave used to mention many incidents through which Bhagavan‘s grace manifested for him:
Dave’s mother was prone to arthritis. He asked her to apply with faith the ash which fell from the burning of incense sticks placed before Bhagavan’s portrait. She did so and got rid of her disease. Having developed faith in Bhagavan, she went to the Ashram with her son in 1945. After being introduced to Bhagavan by Dave, she sat in the hall. She very much wanted to ask Bhagavan to better their financial position and improve Dave’s health, which was always poor. But once before Bhagavan, she forgot everything and realised that things happened according to one’s prarabdha.
Being a great devotee of Lord Krishna, she prayed to Bhagavan to bless her with His darshan. Suddenly she found the people and Bhagavan disappearing before her eyes in the hall and Krishna appearing with his resplendent face. She was thrilled. Next day she prayed for darshan of Sri Rama and goddess Lakshmi both of whom appeared before her in all their splendour, and after a while merged into a round ball of light, which got set in her heart. She was overjoyed and became an ardent devotee of Bhagavan.
Dave and Prof. Shiva Mohan Lal wanted to go to the Ashram for the Golden Jubilee Celebrations in September 1946. They got held up at Vellore due to a bus strike. The function was scheduled for the next day, and fifty miles were to be covered. When Prof. Lal proposed to walk the distance, Dave asked, “What about the luggage?” A little later, a military truck came to the lodge where they were staying (from where, nobody knows) and took them to the outskirts of Tiruvannamalai. They could reach the Ashram on time for the Celebrations.
Dave’s father had no faith in Bhagavan. Dave’s prayers were heard when due to the Razakar oppression, the Hindus were fleeing Hyderabad. The family decided to shift to Tiruvannamalai. Two months’ stay at the Ashram made Dave’s father a devotee of Bhagavan.
In 1946, when the Gujarati School management, Secunderabad (where Dave taught), got sore on his being on leave too often, he resigned. Immediately thereafter he got an offer from a printing press in Secunderabad to work as manager; the new management agreeing to all his conditions. Here Gujarati translation of the Upadesa Saaram was printed.
Once, when Dave was having his meals at the Ashram’s dining hall, Bhagavan asked the server to give him some groundnut preparation saying that it was good for his health. But relying on his medical knowledge that groundnuts were not good for asthmatic patients like him, he took only a little of what was served to him and passed on the rest to his wife. He always regretted that had he eaten the preparation fully, he would have got cured of his asthma.
Dave remembered the day he gave a helping hand to Bhagavan when he was about to fall near the old guest house. Bhagavan said, “Leave it.” When he asked the attendants as to why they did not help him, they replied that they have been forbidden. Dave recalled that though Bhagavan’s body was constantly exposed to sun and weather, it was very soft and tender.
Dave got an accountant’s job with the Saurashtra government in 1947. In 1949, when he heard of Bhagavan’s illness he wanted to go to Tiruvannamalai. When the superior officer refused leave, he went on a fast and got 15 days leave. He went to the Ashram in September 1949. Later on he resigned his job and was there till Bhagavan’s mahanirvana. On the fateful April 14, 1950, he and his wife were reciting Akshara-manamalai and bhajans throughout the night.
Dave had bought a piece of land in Tiruvannamalai to stay near the Ashram. As he could not stay there after Bhagavan’s mahanirvana, the site was given by him to Natesan, who had served as Bhagavan’s barber for 22 years.
Dave used to say: “Bhagavan was not a person who knew Brahman. Where is the knower and where is the known? He was Brahman Himself.”