Rudra Raj Pande, M.A., was Principal of Tri-Chandra College, Nepal.
When I read A Search in Secret India by Brunton [No. 1], a passion grew in me to see the Maharshi. On reaching Tiruvannamalai, when led to the presence of the Sage, I was surprised not to find at first sight anything particularly remarkable about him.
Before visiting the Ashram, I had carefully formulated many questions to be put to the Sage. However, when I listened to what the Maharshi said in reply to questions put to him by others, I could not help feeling that all my questions ceased to have any particular significance. I found out later that many a visitor had similar experience.There must be something in the personality of the Sage to explain all this. But I was still very skeptical. I even abstained from prostrating at his feet.
As I had to leave Tiruvannamalai the same day, I thought of visiting the great Siva Temple,1 and asked the Maharshi’s permission to go there. My guide took me to the interior of the temple, which was rather dark. As he shouted “Arunachala” all my attention was directed to the lingam in the sanctum sanctorum.
But, strange to say, instead of the lingam I saw the image of the Maharshi, his smiling countenance, his brilliant eyes looking at me. And what is more strange, it is not one Maharshi that I see, nor two, nor three – in hundreds I see the same smiling countenance, those lustrous eyes, I see them wherever I may look in the sanctum sanctorum. My eyes did not catch the full figure of the Maharshi, but only the smiling face above the chin. I am in raptures, and beside myself with inexpressible joy. That bliss and calmness of mind I then felt, how could words describe? Tears ofjoy flowed down my cheeks. I would never forget the deep intimate experience I had in the ancient temple.
I hurried Backto the Ashram. A swami presented me to the Sage and told him in Tamil that I was to leave to be in time at the station. The Maharshi looked at me and smiled. I felt as if he was enquiring whether I felt satisfied with what I saw in the temple. Satisfied! Sri Bhagavan’s Grace has captivated my heart. My gratitude to him knew no bounds. I lovingly cherish the sublime experience I had.
People may call the vision I had in the temple, a hallucination, but that bliss, that peace, that depth of feeling which melted my very being and made it over to the care of the Lord, the joy and deep sense of gratitude I now feel while I recollect the past – these certainly are no optical illusions. The Lord in my heart is my eternal witness, I meekly put myself under his care and I am his forever. Thus ended my first visit to Sri Ramanasramam.
Based on his study of Sri Ramana literature and second visit to the Ashram after sometime, he wrote:
We want to draw a circle without caring to decide or even to consider in the first instance as to where the center should be. And having drawn hardly a fraction of the circumference, we go on shifting the center. What wonder then that in the end we do not at all complete the figure of a circle? To be able to achieve anything commensurate with man’s intellectual capacity, he must seek in the first instance the center of his being and be firmly established therein. To achieve this end atma-vichara is the means par excellence.
Sri Ramana does not consider the question of reality or otherwise of the world as of first importance. According to him, it is both undesirable and foolish to dispute the reality or unreality of the world, when one has not the right knowledge of oneself. Sri Ramana shifts the emphasis from the “What is the nature of the world?” to the much more vital question, “Who am I?”This in my view is the most substantial contribution the Maharshi makes to the world thought.
My earnest conviction is that both believers and skeptics will benefit immensely by a little close association with the Sage. How skeptics become believers in the light-radiating presence of the “Light of Arunachala” – Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, is quite an ordinary occurrence of Sri Ramanasramam. My own experience may be adduced in proof of the point. To quote Grant Duff [No. 7]:”Should those who have it in their power to visit the Ashram delay, they will have only themselves to blame in future lives.”2
1. Refer annexure-I, p. 410.
2. The quote is from the preface of Sri Ramana Gita, Sri Ramanasramam. It was written in London in 1935.