Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Prof. Shiva Mohan Lal

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Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Prof. Shiva Mohan LalBack

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Prof. Shiva Mohan Lal (1900-83), Head, Dept. of Philosophy, Osmania University, Hyderabad, an Urdu scholar, has translated Who am I? and other books on Sri Ramana into Urdu. Most of his family members are devotees of Sri Ramana.

I would often visit the Ashram, particularly during vacations. I was very dedicated and attached to Bhagavan. Once I sent a telegram to the Ashram: “My wife is suffering intensely due to labour pains. I seek Sri Bhagavan’s blessings.” After the telegram was read out to Bhagavan, he remarked, “Will it be done merely by reporting it to me?” Muruganar [No. 53] and others were present at that time.

Again, at 3 p.m. the same day another telegram was sent by me stating that my wife had given birth and that the delivery was smooth. Bhagavan simply acknowledged it with his usual ‘Um Um!’ Muruganar who was there asked: “Bhagavan, you said in the morning, will it be done by merely reporting it to me? But was it not because you were informed and your blessings were sought that there was an easy delivery for Mrs. Shiva Mohan Lal?” Bhagavan gave an understanding smile but did not reply. He resumed his usual serene gaze, and stern silence.1

Once, while returning from the Ashram via Katpadi, I ran out of British currency. My Nizam State’s coins were unacceptable at the station to buy the ticket. Sitting on a bench as I started remembering Bhagavan, a complete stranger came and asked whether I belonged to Hyderabad, perhaps because of my typical Hyderabadi dress. He was interested in having some silver coins of the Nizam State. This helped me to get my ticket to Hyderabad.

My sister was greatly worried about her son being issueless. At my behest she sought Bhagavan’s intervention in this regard. We went to the Ashram along with her daughter-in-law, who presented a handful of almonds to Bhagavan. He chose to pick up only two almonds out of the lot presented to him, without uttering a word. In course of time, she was blessed with two children.

Some reminiscences as recorded by G. V. Rajeswara Rao, a founder member of Sri Ramana Kendram, Hyderabad, are as follows:

Prof. Lal first heard about Bhagavan from one of his colleagues in Osmania University. However, having seen a number of fake sadhus, he was not interested in the Maharshi. Later, an article appeared in The Hindu on Bhagavan’s life and teachings along with his photograph. Again, the same colleague drew Prof. Lal’s attention to the article. But he remained unmoved. That day, in the evening, when he came home and was going to have his bath, he was amazed to see Bhagavan in the bath room in the same posture as he had seen in the photograph in The Hindu. He got thrilled and his joy knew no bounds. All his earlier doubts vanished and he was irrevocably drawn towards Bhagavan.

Prof. Lal told about his vision to famous Swami Chinmayananda [No.83], who advised him to go to Tiruvannamalai and have Bhagavan’s darshan. On his first visit to the Ashram in 1938, he bought two baskets of fruits at Madras for offering them to Bhagavan. In the train to Katpadi, the very thought of Bhagavan sent him into raptures and he became oblivious of his surroundings, which made someone knock off the fruit baskets. Prof. Lal approached Bhagavan with a throbbing heart and eyes brimming with tears. He prostrated before Bhagavan and stood tansfixed until someone asked him to sit.

Subsequently, every visit had its own marvels. Bhagavan showered his blessings on him and he was always in a blissful state in his presence. He used to sit as near as possible to Bhagavan and with eyes closed, while tears trickled down his cheeks. On one occasion when he sat before Bhagavan, he saw only the empty sofa and realized that the formless had taken a form out of compassion for the devotees.

On one of his visits, Prof. Lal gave some amount to the sarvadhikari for a photo of Bhagavan. When he went next, Bhagavan’s attendant Venkataratnam2 told him that the photo was ready. When Prof. Lal and his wife approached Bhagavan, the former stretched his hands eagerly for receiving the photo from Divine hands. “Why, Why”, said Bhagavan with a gracious smile and gave the photo to Mrs. Chandrani Lal. The photo which contains a sloka underneath written by Bhagavan himself is now at Sri Ramana Kendram, Hyderabad.

One winter morning, Prof. Lal took a nice shawl for Bhagavan and gave it to his attendant, as Bhagavan rarely accepted any expensive gifts. It was a pleasant surprise for the Prof, when he saw Bhagavan in his seat wrapped in that shawl, with his face beaming with a sweet smile. Prof. Lal was happy beyond words. T.P.Ramachandra Iyer [No.54] remarked with affection – “You are really lucky.”

One day when Prof. Lal got up early for giri pradakshina, it was raining. Still, he decided to stick to his schedule and went to Bhagavan to inform him about it. Bhagavan nodded saying, “Yes, Yes”, despite the rain. As Prof. Lal reached the Ashram gate, he was surprised to find a person standing there with an umbrella for him! All the way round the holy hill, he was thinking about Bhagavan’s consideration for his devotees.

Another case of Bhagavan’s uncanny ability to be aware of the needs of his devotees occurred when a lady devotee had to return alone to Kothagudem. Bhagavan asked Prof. Lal to accompany her on his way Backto Hyderabad and to assist her on the way. She reached home safely and happily.

When Bhagavan saw Prof. Lal’s translation of the book History of Indian Philosophy in Urdu,3 he told him to consider translating Who am I? into Urdu. The Prof, did so and took copies of the translated book to the Ashram on his next visit. He read them before Bhagavan with emotion and came to the guest house exhausted. After a short while, Bhagavan’s attendant came to him with a request to return to the hall, where Mrs. Taleyarkhan4 was waiting for him. As she knew Urdu well, Bhagavan told Prof. Lal to read the translation to her. She was all praise for the job so well done. Subsequently, Bhagavan asked the Prof, to translate The Maharshis Gospel 5 into Urdu which he did. Prof. Lal also wrote in Urdu The Maharshi and His Message, which was published by the Abul Kalam Azad Oriental Research Institute, Hyderabad.

Whenever Prof. Lal talked about Bhagavan, tears will trickle down his eyes. V. Krithivasan (a staunch devotee of Hyderabad Kendram) told the compiler-editor about his visit to Prof. Lal’s residence in Hyderabad. When the Prof, came to know that Krithivasan’s mother tongue was Tamil, he began to shed tears because he felt that he was lucky to read Bhagavan’s hand-written documents in their original form.

1. The delivery related to Prof. S. Dhareshwari in 1939, who is a devotee at Hyderabad Kendram. She retired as Head, Dept. of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Osmania University, Hyderabad.

2. He was entrusted to Bhagavan’s care by Prof. Lal when he was a boy.

3. Urdu was medium of instruction in Osmania University till 1949 for all subjects including medicine and engineering.

4. A great devotee of Bhagavan, who got the Pathala Lingam (where Bhagavan had done tapas totally unconscious of his body) renovated and had got it inaugurated by the then Governor General of India – C. Rajagopalachari in 1949. Refer no. 166, pp.364-6.

5. This publication of Sri Ramanasramam contains answers to some of the questions put to Sri Ramana from time to time.

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