Robert Adams (1928-97), an American, had a vision of a small Indian figure, appearing at his bedside. He consulted Paramhansa Yogananda,1 who showed him the picture of Sri Ramana, which he recognized as the figure in the dream. He visited Ramanasramam and was with Sri Ramana for three years – 1947-50. His book Silence of the Heart contains a summary of satsangs he held in USA.
When 19, I arrived at Bombay on my way to Tiruvannamalai. It was about 8.30 a.m. when I entered the hall. Sri Ramana was on his couch reading the mail. I sat down in front of him. He looked at me and smiled, and I smiled back. There were about 30 persons in the hall. The Maharshi asked me if I had my breakfast. I said, ‘No’. He spoke to the attendant, who came Backwith two giant leaves; one with fruits and one with some porridge and pepper. After I consumed the food, I just lay down on the floor. I was very tired.
The Maharshi had arthritis in the legs and could hardly walk at that time . His attendants helped him to get up and he walked out of the room. When he came outside he said something to his attendant who motioned me to come. The Maharshi guided me to a little shack that I might use while I was staying there. He came inside with me. I bet you think we spoke about profound subjects. On the contrary, he was a natural man. He was the Self of the universe. He asked how my trip was, where I was from, and what made me come here. Then he said I should rest. I lay myself down on the cot and he left.
I was awakened at about five in the evening by Ramana himself, who had brought food for me. Can you imagine that? We spoke briefly. I ate and slept. The next morning I went to the hall. Everybody sat around just watching Ramana. He would go through the mail and at times may read it aloud, talk to some devotees, but his composure never changed. Never did I see elsewhere such compassion and love.
Then people started asking questions. His replies were very succinct. They weren’t like you read in a book. Apparently, what you read in a book is his reply to three or four people. They condense it all into one question and answer. People usually asked a question or made a statement. If he agreed, he would nod or say yes. That is it. If he didn’t, he would offer an explanation in, may be, one or two sentences.
There were Muslims, Catholic priests and people from many races and nationalities at the Ashram. When I was there for a week or so, two of his disciples were jokingly arguing about something at a meal. I asked the interpreter what they were talking about. He said, “Ramana’s couch is covered with lice, and he refuses to let us kill them. They climb over this body and legs and he doesn’t care. We want to have the couch fumigated, but he won’t let us.” Next day, when he went for his morning walk, they sprayed the couch with DDT. On coming Backhe smelled the couch, smiled and jokingly said, “Someone has tricked me.” He never got angry or mad; I don’t think he knew what the words meant.
A few days later, there was a German lady who had come to the Ashram, and had made a donation. She was not happy for some reason and was complaining to Ramana, who just kept silent. I asked the interpreter, “What does she want?” He told me, “She wants her donation Backand go Backto Germany.” When she started arguing with the manager of the Ashram, Ramana said in English, “Give Backher donation and add 50 rupees to it”, which was done, and she left. This was his nature. He never saw anything wrong; he never took anyone out of his love no matter what they did. He loved everyone just the same.
Ramana used to quote from the scriptures; Jesus and Ramana said basically the same things. Jesus said, ” the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” Ramana said, “The Self is within you. Search for and find it, and awaken.” Jesus said, “Son, I am with you always, and all that I have is yours.” Ramana said, “I can never leave you, I am always with you.” His compassion never left him.
In April 1950, I was in Bangalore to see Papa Ram Dass. When informed that Ramana has left his body, I went to Tiruvannamalai. The crowds had already started to come, thousands and thousands of people. So l climbed the hill and went into one of the caves, and stayed there for five days. When I came down the crowd had dispersed. He had already been interred. I enquired of his devotee who saw him last, “What were the last words he spoke?” He said, “While he was leaving the body, a peacock flew on top of a wall and started screeching. Ramana asked his attendant, ‘Has anyone fed the peacock yet?’ Those were his last words.” I have been to many teachers, many saints and many sages. I was with Nisargadatta, Anand Mayi Ma, Papa Ram Dass, Neem Karoli Baba and many others, but never did I meet anyone who exuded such compassion, such love, such bliss as Ramana Maharshi.
A sample from Adam’s poems:
Who am I?
Feel your reality, in the stillness, in the quietness, where there is no mind, no thought, no words, who are You then?
You just are.
I AM I AM.
I am not this I am not that.
I am that which has always been,
I am that which will always be,
I AM THAT I AM.
1. Yogananda had visited Sri Ramana in 1935. See picture no. 13 in the book.