Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – M.S. Nagarajan

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M.S. Nagarajan, a staunch devotee, belonged to Polur Taluk in Tiruvannamalai district. Even as a young boy, he used to accompany his parents to the Ashram.

His friend, who was a nephew of the great devotee Echammal [no. 60] spoke to him about the greatness of Bhagavan. In 1930, when 15 years old, he came to the Ashram and was allotted the work of puja, help in the kitchen and bookstall, etc. But what he valued most was the privilege of cutting vegetables and grinding pulses in the kitchen along with Bhagavan.

At the end of six months, Nagarajan went home but soon returned and stayed for four years. He records: In 1932, I was in charge of the daily puja at the Mother’s shrine. A devotee called P.W.D. Ramaswami Iyer arranged a special food offering of sarkarai pongal (a kind of rice pudding) and vadai (a small round cake of black gram fried in oil). I had many things to do and there was no one to help. So I got up very early, took my bath, removed old flowers from the shrine, swept and cleaned the floor and lit two fires, one for pongal and the other for vadai. I then sat down to grind the black gram which I had soaked the previous night. I had not prepared vadai previously any time. I took some dough and tried to spread it out on a leaf to form a round vadai, but it would not come out properly. I tried again and again without success. I got annoyed and disgusted. The next moment I noticed Bhagavan standing behind me and watching my effort to make vadai. He said quietly, “It doesn’t matter. You have added too much water while grinding the gram. Now make round balls of the dough and fry them. They will be bondas.

When the bondas were served, Ramaswami Iyer said to me angrily, “Look here. Did I not ask you to prepare vadaz ?” I was afraid to say anything and so merely looked at Bhagavan. He immediately turned to Iyer and said, “What does it matter? If the cakes are flat they are vadais, if spherical, bondas. The stuff is the same and the taste is the same. Only name and forms are different. Eat prasadam and do not make a fuss.” Everyone was astonished at Bhagavan’s apt reply. Later in the day, when Ramaswami saw me he remarked how lucky I was to get support from Bhagavan himself.

One day, a letter came from Nagarajan’s mother informing him that a job had been found for him. This letter came to the hands of Bhagavan along with the Ashram post. After reading it Bhagavan said, “Look here, a job has been found for you. Go and accept it immediately.” Tears came from his eyes at the thought of parting from Bhagavan, who said again, “You can go on Wednesday and join duty on Thursday.” Most reluctantly he left the Ashram, and came later as often as he got leave.

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