T.R.A. Narayana was manager in a large British firm in Madras. He heard of Sri Ramana during a train journey in 1948.
I was on a tour of small towns. As Parthasarathi, my assistant, and I were boarding the train at Villupuram to go to Tiruvannamalai, we noticed a young man trying to enter the compartment. He was so fat that he heaved his bulky body this way and that, while another man on the platform, obviously his servant, pushed him in through the door.
When the train had run for some minutes, the man came to us and introduced himself as Ratilal Premchand Shah of Gondal [Gujarat], the only son of a rich merchant of the place.
Cursed with so much fat in his body from his tenth year, now at twenty five, he was a huge mass of flesh and misery. He told us that while he was asleep at night, he saw an ascetic smiling and beckoning him. This persisted for a long time, and stood clearly before his mental eye after he woke up. Two days later his wife was reading a Gujarati magazine. Looking over her shoulders he saw the picture of the ascetic he had seen in his vision. He came to know that the ascetic was Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. He at once went to his father and arranged for his journey to Tiruvannamalai with the trusted family servant. He felt sure that his suffering would end as soon as he reached Bhagavan; the smile and the beckoning in his vision by Bhagavan had given him that firm faith.
Parthasarathi had seen Bhagavan many times before and had also read a good deal about him. He and Ratilal talked about Bhagavan during the whole two-hour journey. I was apparently reading an English novel but heard their conversation with interest and attention.
About 5 p.m. on that day, when Parthasarathi and I entered the Ashram, we came to the verandah where about fifty people including Ratilal and his servant were sitting. Bhagavan was not on his couch. After waiting for some ten minutes and finding that Bhagavan had not come to his seat, Parthasarathi suggested that we could in the meantime go around and see the goshala and other places in the Ashram.
While returning from our brief tour of the Ashram, we heard a child like voice say “Chee, asatthe!” (Fie, you creature!). We observed movement among the leaves of the brinjal, lady’s finger and other plants in the kitchen garden. Looking more intently, we saw a small goat, a little monkey and a squirrel and Bhagavan who was sitting on his haunches with his legs folded up to his breast. Bhagavan was holding a small paper packet in his left hand and was picking groundnuts from it with his right-hand fingers to feed the goat, the monkey and the squirrel and himself, by turns. His remarks appeared to have been addressed to the monkey, which had tried to snatch the nut he was going to place between the squirrel’s lips. As we watched, the four companions went on enjoying the eating. All the four seemed to be equally happy; the way they looked at one another and kept close together was touching. We saw all the four only as good friends despite the differences in their forms. No words could describe the feelings which passed through my being at the sight.
The nuts over, Bhagavan threw the paper away and said: “Pongoda!” (Go away, you fellows!), just as any old man speaking to his grandchildren. The goat, the monkey and the squirrel left and Bhagavan got up. We hurried away, feeling guilty of trespassing into the Divine, but not sorry.
Soon after, Bhagavan came to his couch. His eyes were fixed on something far above and beyond anything on earth. They were like screens which shut the material world off from the light which was burning behind them. Sparks of light shot out through the fibres of the screen at times, sparks which cooled the eyes on which they fell, pierced the gross coverages and lighted the wick inside them.
Bhagavan reclined on the pillow on the couch, supporting his head on his left palm. We all sat down to look at his face. We sat and sat, and looked and looked. No one spoke or made any noise. But the confrontation was not a dead silence; it was a very live experience in which the innermost being of each one of us communed with the Supreme Consciousness which was Bhagavan.
My mind kept recalling that scene: how the goat had snuggled to Bhagavan’s breast in perfect confidence in his love for it; how the monkey had grinned in joy and how Bhagavan had returned the grin as both bit the nut; how the squirrel had peered with its pinhead eyes into Bhagavan’s dreamladen ones and scratched his nose tenderly with its tiny paw. The vision of the Supreme Spirit underlying and overlaying the sense perception was spiced with the lovely sight of the groundnut party in the kitchen garden.
Bhagavan got up from the couch. We also got up. It seemed tacitly understood that we were to leave. We left. I felt a hitherto unknown peace and joy inside me; the faces of the others also showed a similar condition.
I saw Ratilal and his servant get into their bullock cart at the Ashram gate. There was a new spring in Ratilal’s movements. Bhagavan’s promise in the vision appeared to be moving in the right direction.
In 1953, I was in Rajkot staying in a lodge. One day, while in the dining hall, a man of about thirty accosted me, “Don’t you recognise me. I am Ratilal of Gondal. You remember the darshan of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, five years ago.” I looked at the man again. He was thin but strong.
His face glowed with health and happiness. I shook his hand heartily. He spoke again, “Sri Bhagavan fulfilled his promise wonderfully well. I am now managing our family business. I have a son two years old.“
My mind went Backto the kitchen garden and the four friends at the groundnut party.