A.S. Panchapagesa Ayyar belonged to the Indian Civil Service of pre-Independence era.
I was first attracted to the great Sage Ramana by reading his book Who Am I? I liked immensely his clear exposition of the matter which was only the typical Hindu exposition, viz., that the real ‘I’ is not the gunny-bag of the body, or the Decca muslin of the mind, or the spider’s web of the ego, but something above and beyond all this, viz., the atman. He said to one and all, “Look within. Don’t look around“
Just as a skilled financier is required to direct the nation’s finances, and create surpluses to pay off the debts and secure redemption, so too, individuals will require a man of God, like Ramana Maharshi, to guide them, to enable them to increase their merit and decrease their demerit, and secure redemption. No wonder then, that men of diverse temperaments have been flocking to Sri Ramanasramam to see the Sage and profit by his presence and his instruction.
The Maharshi’s life is ‘sacrifice of knowledge’, by disseminating it to all and sundry. Anyone can go and sit near him, invited or uninvited. Anyone can partake of the homely meal in the Ashram, whether native or foreigner, high caste or outcast. The Maharshi has not the least tinge in him of caste, creed, colour, race, class, sex or country. He has not only sacrificed all ideas of private possession in his supreme attempt of possessing the soul, he has sacrificed even the privacy of time. He sits, day in and day out, in that little hall ofhis, and even sleeps in the presence of all. He is a sublime example of what a sage ought to be. He has never known the hold of lust for woman or money – kamini or kanchanam, to use the expressive words of Sri Ramakrishna, and is a perfect brahmachari. He is an embodiment of the Hindu truth that karma, jnana and bhakti are all one, and that man can attain God even in this life. He does not believe in disciples, though many claim to be his disciples. He does not advise practice of yoga, or even silence, though he has practised both. Concentrating on silence as a muni, he has begun to teach as a rishi.
To a man who stated that he could not understand the world at all, Sri Ramana replied, “As you are, so is this world. Without understanding yourself, what is the use of trying to understand the world?” To another individual, who asked the Maharshi persistently, “Why is God so unjust?” The Maharshi’s cool retort was, “Why ask me? Go and ask Him?” On being told that he could not go to Him to ask Him, the swift retort was, “When you cannot reach Him, how can you question Him?”
We are indeed lucky in having the Maharshi in our midst. It will be a thousand pities if a spiritual dynamo like that of Sri Ramana is not utilised to its fullest extent. He requires no permission; he charges no fee; he does not require conformity to any dogma. He is like the rivers and mountains, the common property of mankind.