N. Ponniah who lived in Malaysia happened to hear about Sri Ramana in 1938 when Sri Ramana’s devoted disciple Ramana-padananda (no. 102) had visited Malaysia to disseminate Sri Ramana’s Gospel. He visited the Ashram a decade later.
Only in 1948 the opportunity came for me to visit the Ashram. I was accommodated in the guesthouse. Devoid of all signs of so-called civilised standards, this thatched cottage entertained me with inexpressible homeliness in the company of resident sadhus and devoted visitors. Away from the din and bustle of city life, the Ashram is ideally situated in the midst of natural surroundings. There was no regimentation based on caste, creed or colour or of any other type. As a background to this model of ancient hermitages stood, in all its grandeur, the holy hill of Arunachala.
With a heightened reverential emotion, I entered the hall. Bhagavan was reclining on the sofa, absorbed in the Self, silent and serene. I took my place amongst the gathering. Pin-drop silence prevailed. Nothing seemed more enjoyable in this blessed world than to sit in silence in that place in the holy presence of the Maharshi. Darshan was not the monopoly of human beings alone. At certain hours the squirrels from a large tree by the side came down to claim their fair share. The beautiful peacocks followed. Bhagavan looked at them most graciously. “Oh, you are hungry!” he would say, and some grain was given to them. They would then move away happily like a child after the mother’s feeding!
One day a barrister from Bombay broke the silence by raising some puzzling questions, not capable of satisfactory answers. A discussion followed at a high intellectual level. When an impasse was reached, the Maharshi told the barrister about the futility of the theoretical enquiry. He suggested that he could sit in silence and introspect and he will find the answer. In the afternoon, the visitor said that he was clear on one point, but could not reconcile on some others. Bhagavan replied, “That is good, continue the analysis; answers to all questions would be found.” Half an hour after the barrister had left, Bhagavan smiled and said, “He thought this is the Bombay court.” Everybody enjoyed the observation. Vedic chantings concluded the day’s programme.
Darshan of the Sage Ramana is a singular experience, which words can hardly describe. I can only say that I felt an unusual vibrating sensation, a sort of electric charge, which had transported me for a moment. What is even more unforgettable are Bhagavan’s melodious and inspiring expressions in Tamil, which often attuned to his Holy Hermitage, reverberate in my ears.