T.V. Kapali Sastri (1886-1953), a born scholar, belonged to Chennai. His family was known for its Sanskrit scholarship. He mastered four languages – Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil and English. He received inspiration from Sri Aurobindo, Sri Ramana, and Ganapati Muni, who was his guru. At the instance of the Muni he first met Sri Ramana in 1911-2.
What a meeting it was! The very first day wrought a remarkable change in my being. No amount of tapas or japa would have given an indubitable knowledge of spiritual consciousness and a correct appreciation of the truth of spiritual life which the Maharshi gave me.
The personal attraction of the Maharshi was irresistible. But I found his teaching too direct, immediate, seemingly simple, having no step in between, i.e., the starting point and the goal; at any rate not practicable to people circumstanced like myself.
When the Maharshi was on the hill, he used to take a few of us with him for the giri-pradakshina. This used to last from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Once, while I was going with him he pointed his face towards the sky and said, ” Look, there perhaps are the siddhas. They (people) say they are nakshatras and pass them by.” As we walked on, he observed that the very stars were beneath his feet. During one such round in May 1922, we got news that supervisor Ramaswami Iyer [No. 94] was taken ill suddenly and was dying. The Maharshi went to the place on the Hill where Ramaswami was lying and was having violent palpitations of the heart. The Maharshi sat near him, placing his hand on his head. Within five minutes, Ramaswami got up and was quite normal.
In 1930, when I went to the Ashram with Sunder (S.P. Pandit), the Maharshi asked me to have a look at the Sanskrit rendering of a Tamil work by Lakshmana Sarma [No. 63]. It was very imperfect, and after hours of struggle I could finalize only a couple of verses. How to complete the remaining 38 verses or so within the limited time haunted me. In the evening, as soon as the Maharshi came to his seat, he asked me to take up the work. It was amazing that within two to three hours I finished almost all the verses. Later, Sunder told me what a magnificent and inspiring sight it was to see the Maharshi sitting with his blazing eyes transfixed on me all the while. He added that the Maharshi’s face and head looked inordinately big during the time.
When I came to the last portion, I looked up and the Maharshi asked me, with an exclamation of joy, “So, it is finished?” I answered, “Yes, but the last verse does not come off in this particular metre.” “Does not come in that metre?” queried the Sage and sank into silence. Within a moment a strong upward movement gushed up from beneath the navel, somewhere from the root of the spine, involuntarily a verse came out like a cry from my mouth. It was the verse in the required metre!
The Maharshi was very particular about the food requirement of the visitors to the Ashram. On the jayanti day, he did not take his meal till the last man had had his food. When I asked him about this, he said in effect, that when as a boy he set out from the house to Tiruvannamalai, he had to starve for days together. And so he has been very particular that nobody should suffer the pangs of hunger as he did.
When a visitor observed that devotees described him an avatar of Lord Skanda, the Maharshi replied, ” Who am I to object or assent to what people may say?”
Once a hunter was about to kill a peacock on the hill. When the Maharshi forbade him to do so, he brushed aside his words saying, “Go Swami, who is asking you?” The next day, it would appear, the man had an accident and his very arm had to be cut off. “I felt sorry for him,” said the Maharshi speaking of it, “but what is to be done? People have to go through these things before they would learn.”