K.R.K. Murthi, B.E. (Elec.) was Chief Electrical Engineer, Electricity Dept., Government of Andhra Pradesh. He authored Sri Ramana Bhagavan.
Once in 1937, I read in a newspaper that an eminent personage was going to Tiruvannamalai to have darshan of Sri Ramana Maharshi. I had great respect for that gentleman and was anxious to meet him. So I made up my mind to proceed to Tiruvannamalai.
I went straight to the hall and placed the packet of sugar candy, which was purchased as an offering to the Maharshi on a stool near him and sat down along with a number of people of both sexes. All people were sitting like silent statues and the only offender in the gathering was the clock on the wall. Physical activity in the hall was nil but for the scented sticks, which were briskly throwing up curls of smoke. I waited patiently for sometime but still the same silence continued. It looked very strange and odd as I had never seen such a silent gathering before. I wanted to know something about the Maharshi, but whom to ask?
Several people were coming, prostrating before the Maharshi and sitting quiet in the hall. This was also an unfamiliar sight which left a deep impression on my mind. After a while, the Maharshi rose up and then everyone in the hall got up and prostrated. When the Maharshi left for a walk towards Arunachala hill people began to appear in their true colours and I witnessed the usual work-a-day world.
A visitor to the Ashram once told me that Sri Ramana simply sits quiet without talking and without doing anything useful to anybody. My personal experiences, which are very real, have convinced me that Bhagavan was always lending his helping hand actively and silently in his own characteristic way. He used to help the devotees so secretly that no one knew anything about it except the recipient.
Once, as I was entering the hall I saw the Maharshi holding his left hand forefinger with his right hand. There were several people in the hall at that time. Some might not have noticed this and some might have dismissed this as insignificant. But to me it is unforgettable because the pain I was for long experiencing in my left forefinger was permanently cured.
I was also cured of the pain in my elbow, which was persisting in spite of all medical attention. One day I dreamt Bhagavan taking meals at our house. After the meals I handed over a mug of water to him to wash hands. He took the mug and poured some water on my elbow before washing his hands. Next day onwards there was no pain in the elbow. If it had been a mere dream, could it have such an effect on the physical body?
Once arrangements were made for feeding the poor in the Ashram. People were rushing into the place set apart for dining. Then someone in authority told loudly that sadhus should keep out. When food was to be served, it was found that Bhagavan was not present. People rushed in all directions and found Bhagavan sitting under a tree. When requested to join the devotees, Bhagavan said, “You never wanted sadhus to remain there. Being a sadhu I left the place.” Bhagavan identified himself with the lowest. He used to rectify the wrong not by showing anger but by self-denial or self-punishment.
The Ashram was developing a garden. Some inmates had put forth their best efforts to secure plants and nurse them. One day, some Ashram cows entered the garden and grazed off the inviting plants. The inmates were very unhappy. The event created much stir and reached Bhagavan’s ears, who smiled and said, “Why should cows be blamed? Did they know they were not to graze in certain places? If the garden is properly fenced, the cows will not get in.” Bhagavan saw the other side of things, which the normal people failed to see.
With a view to recording Bhagavan’s voice, some devotees referred to the sound recording machines. Seeing that Bhagavan was favourably disposed towards them, they wanted to pursue the matter further and fix a date for recording the voice. At that moment Bhagavan said, “My real voice is silence. How can you record the same?”
Once Bhagavan was asked whether it was true that by the grace of the guru the highest state is reached in a moment. Bhagavan replied, “Yes. If the disciple is in a ripe state, the ajnana (ignorance) will be removed only by the avalokana (look) of the guru.” He added, “The kripa (grace) flows towards one in proportion to one’s merit. If the vessel is small, the kripa received will be small; if the vessel is big, the kripa will be proportionately more.“
Once an attendant of Bhagavan was reading some scriptures to him at night. The attendant heard a snoring sound and stopped reading. Immediately Bhagavan questioned him as to why he stopped. Again the attendant continued and similar snoring sounds from Bhagavan made him stop again. But Bhagavan was quite alert and asked him to continue.
One day a prince entered the hall with a few friends for Bhagavan’s darshan. As there was no distinction between the prince and the peasant before Bhagavan, the prince took a seat beside us. One of his friends wanted to ask a question but was feeling shaky and hesitant. To his great surprise and amazement almost the same question was put to Bhagavan by someone else. Bhagavan’s reply gave great joy to the visitor. The prince sat quietly for a time, and who knows what happened, he began to pour forth streams of tears till he left the hall.
Once, going through an English daily as usual, Bhagavan read somewhat aloud a sensational report of a new invention and smiled. After a pause he gently remarked, “One may acquire any number of powers, but without realising the yathartha (truth) one cannot acquire mano shanti (peace of mind). When someone asked, “What is yathartha?” Bhagavan replied, “That which exists always,” and added after a pause, “Peace is our swabhava (nature). Just as a person who keeps a number of things in a room and complains that there is no space in the room, we say there is no peace. Is not the space obtained automatically when the things are removed?” In the early days, the Ashram was a lonely cottage in a jungle. One day thieves broke into the Ashram at the dead of night. They freely used their sticks on everyone including Bhagavan, who restrained the devotees who tried to pay them Backin the same coin. He said, “Sahanam (to tolerate) was sadhu dharma“ and added, “Do we knock down the teeth if they bite the tongue?”1
Bhagavan told us: “If one wants to commit suicide, even a small implement or knife is sufficient. For murdering others, bigger things are required. Similarly, for oneself, one or two words are sufficient but to convince others, books after books have to be written.“
When a Westerner invited Bhagavan’s attention to the poverty of the average Indian and his poorly furnished quarters, Bhagavan replied that although the Indians did not possess many material comforts, they are not less happy on that account; as they do not feel the want of the same, they are able to enjoy life with what they have.2
Bhagavan’s handwriting was just like print. I had a keen desire to preserve something written by Bhagavan. But I was feeling very hesitant to ask in front of so many persons.Then, someone in the hall remarked loudly that I had written in Telugu script the songs of Tamil saint Tayumanavar as selected by Bhagavan. Now Bhagavan wanted to see them. Asking me to handover the notebook, he patiently corrected some mistakes. In this way, he satisfied my burning desire, even before I expressed it, and without appearing to have done a special favour to me.
1. Dr. Paul Brunton in A Search in Secret India says: ” The Sage not only bore their attack patiently, but requested them to take meal before they departed. He actually offered them some food. He had no hatred towards them in his heart. He let them escape freely, but within a year they were caught while committing another crime elsewhere and received stiff sentences of penal servitude.”
2. Prof. Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador to India, has observed: “Indian villagers are rich in their poverty.”