Sab Jan (M. Abdul Wahab), was closely associated with Sri Ramana as his classmate in 4th , 5th and 6th forms at the school in Madurai. Sri Ramana was very fond of this Muslim boy and addressed him as Sab Jan.
Venkataraman was very learned in Tamil and stood first in the class. He was particularly well-versed in aphorisms of Tamil grammar. Our Tamil Pandit John Balakrishna was very fond of him. He was not very good in English. In other subjects he was above average. In general, he was not much interested in his school books. He was very fond of playing games, particularly football.
Even as a student he was very religious, and would go round the Subramania Swamy temple with fervent religious ecstasy. He used to take me with him several times and make me go round the temple saying, “God’s creation is alike. God is the same; the apparent differences in gods are created by men.”1 Because of such universal outlook implanted in me by him in those days, I could become an ardent devotee of Sri Varadaraja Perumal of Kancheepuram. For 12 year I partook actively in the Garuda seva by giving a shoulder to lift the deity of Perumal, while going in procession in the streets of Kancheepuram.
When Venkataraman disappeared it was a shock to me that he did not tell me about running away from his home. I was enlisted in the police department. In 1903, in one of the shops at Uttaramerur, I was surprised to see a portrait of Venkataraman, but completely different in appearance. I was anxious to know how the shop-man happened to possess the photo. I was told that this was ‘Brahmana Swami’ living in Tiruvannamalai and that the Swami was in maunam then. I was eager to meet my old friend and went to his abode. He was pleased to receive me although he did not speak. He simply nodded his head with a radiant face. I was thrilled to meet my classmate, who was all the more beautiful and resplendent with a mark of saintliness.
Again I went there when I was Inspector of Police at Tirupathur. At that time I was very sad, as my father had passed away. Sri Ramana showed me his mother’s tomb, which consoled me. I understood from his action that death was inevitable as far as the body was concerned. After that I went to see him many times and on all occasions he gave special attention to me and introduced me to whoever was present on the occasion. He used to make me sit by his side while taking food in the dining hall, which, later I came to know, was quite unusual with him.
I was transformed into being a devotee of Bhagavan from being his friend. This inward change brought about by him is the greatest boon he has showered on me. He manifested his greatness once through a dream in which he showed signs of my wife passing away and in a mysterious way consoled me and prepared me for the shocking incident. It did take place very soon, and my wife passed away as predicted. But by the grace of Sri Maharshi it did not affect me very much.
1. J. Jayaraman of Ramanasramam noted how Sri Ramana had the idea of sarva dharma samabhava (all religions are basically same) long before his ‘death experience’ and long before he sang verses 4 and 5 of Arunachala Ashtakam.