Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Dr. K. Subrahmanian

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Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Dr. K. SubrahmanianBack

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Dr. K. Subrahmanian (Dr.K.S.) (1928-98), the founder of Sri Ramana Kendram, Hyderabad, was Professor of English at the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad. The following is extracted from what he wrote about himself in 1992.

My father who worked as a teacher in Municipal High School, Timvannamalai, met the Maharshi in 1927 and asked a question for which he was very sorry in the later years of his life: “There are so many sadhus wandering around, how am I to know who is a genuine one?” The Maharshi most graciously said, “He is a real sadhu in whose presence you get an indescribable peace without making any effort.”

From 1928 to 1961 my father taught at a convent school in Kodaikanal. During this period, for seven years he was tutor to the princess of Nabha (a princely state in the Punjab), whose Maharaja was brought to Kodaikanal as a punishment by the British. The Maharaja and Maharani were deeply impressed with the life and teachings of the Maharshi, about whom my father talked to them.

In 1944, when the Maharaja was not too well, he asked my father to go and seek the blessings of Bhagavan.When my father spoke to Bhagavan about the Maharaja’s condition, he listened with great attention but kept silent. The Ashram authorities gave prasad for the Maharaja. After opening the cover containing the prasad, the Maharaja told my father, “Krishnaswami, the Maharshi has intimated that I am not going to live long. You see in this envelope there is no kumkum. There is only vibhuti.” The Maharaja passed away four months later.

Hearing from my father and uncle that Bhagavan used to read letters written to him by devotees, I used to write to him occasionally from the hostel of the high school at Tirukattupally, where I studied from 1941 to 1945. Once I went to Bhagavan with my uncle and was looking at him. Bhagavan asked my uncle about me. On being told that I was his nephew, he said, “So you are the person writing letters to me.” This gave me a strange feeling of awe, coupled with great joy, and I said in a low voice, “Yes.” Bhagavan remarked, “Does your father send money to you so that you can write these letters?” and laughed. I wasn’t quite sure whether Bhagavan was being sarcastic or made the remark in a light vein. I sweated for a while, continuing to look at Bhagavan.

After completing my SSLC in 1945, I appplied for admission to American College, Madurai. On the day I was to leave for Madurai, I went to Bhagavan, prostrated to him and took leave of him. On enquiry, I told him that I was going to Madurai for admission to college. Bhagavan asked, “Which College?” I wanted to say American College but instead said Madura College. Bhagavan smiled and said, sari [All right]. I could not get admission to American College, but got admission in Madura College, Madurai.

In 1949, I attended the kumbhabhishekam of Mathrubhuteswara temple, which was an elaborate solemn affair. In the evening, after arati was offered to the deity in the temple, it was brought to Bhagavan. I was sitting very close to him in the hall attached to the temple. It was a moving sight when Bhagavan extended his hands and touched the arati with great reverence, closing his eyes.

Soon after every operation was performed on Bhagavan’s arm, I used to visit him. Sometimes I cried uncontrollably looking at Bhagavan from a distance. As far as Bhagavan was concerned, he was ever the same serene, blissful self. He behaved as if the disease belonged to somebody else.

Once in 1946, when I was an 18-year old student, I was walking towards the old meditation hall with my head down, thinking of something. When I looked up, I saw Bhagavan talking to a devotee near the well, adjacent to the hall. I did not expect Bhagavan to be there. When he looked at me sideways I stood still, as I did not want to disturb him. I felt a powerful light penetrate and engulf me. The bliss that I experienced was unique. I was in that state for about 20 days.

Sometime in 1949, I sat at the entrance of the new hall, outside the Mother’s temple, looking at Bhagavan. Then I thought to myself, “I have been coming to the Ashram so often, but have had no experience of real meditation. Bhagavan has not granted me this experience.” Thinking along these lines, I kept looking at Bhagavan for a considerable time and then closed my eyes. I do not know how long I was in that state.When I opened my eyes I found the meditation hall empty. Bhagavan and the devotees must have gone past me as I was sitting at the entrance. When I realised that I had been sitting when Bhagavan went past me, I was horrified. But suddenly I realized that Bhagavan, out of his unbounded grace had granted me an experience whereby I was completely oblivious of my surroundings.

In August 1949, I visited the Ashram from Madras, where I was studying. After his second operation, Bhagavan was sitting in the new hall. People were not allowed to sit inside the hall. They could enter, prostrate and leave the hall. On August 16, I planned to leave for Madras. I went to the hall, prostrated, and went close to Bhagavan to say, ‘I am leaving’. Normally he would say ‘sari,’ but that day he turned his face to the other side. I came out, sat outside for sometime and went in again. I prostrated and said that I was leaving. Again he turned his face to the other side. Once again I came out and sat for sometime. For the third time I entered, prostrated and said ‘I was leaving’, yet, again he turned his face. I was puzzled.

As I was getting late for the train, I decided to leave for the station. Hardly had I gone some distance, I felt it difficult to proceed. I came back and decided to leave only after Bhagavan’s consent. When the next day I went to the hall, prostrated and said that I was leaving, to my joy and surprise, Bhagavan said, sari ‘. Till today I do not know why Bhagavan did not give me permission to leave the previous day.

My final year examinations for B.A.(Hons.) were in March 1950. In February, T.V. Krishnaswami Iyer, my sister’s father-inlaw, a great devotee of Bhagavan, gave me a copy of Muruganar’s commentary on Aksharamanamalai, which ran over one hundred pages. Deeply impressed with the manuscript, I copied it in its entirety in a few days, without worrying for the examination. I felt this was more important than the examination. The first paper, Old English, contained passages for translation from old English to modern English. I had not prepared well. The day before the examination I opened the book at random and translated the passage that I found on that page and went to sleep. In the examination hall, I was astonished to find the same passage which I had translated the previous night.

Bhagavan treated animals and birds with great affection and concern. Sometimes a couple of monkeys would walk into the meditation hall. Some devotees used to get agitated. Bhagavan would gently call the monkeys and give them cashewnuts or groundnuts. They would go away screeching with delight. Sometimes a squirrel would scramble up the couch. Bhagavan would fondle it and give it whatever was available and it would leave without disturbing anybody. Similarly, a peacock would come and get some puffed rice from his hand.

Once an Ashram deer was attacked by some animals and the wounds turned from bad to worse. Bhagavan sat near the deer, held its face in his hand, looking at its tearful eyes. The sarvadhikari of the Ashram asked my uncle who was standing close, to look after the deer and relieve

Bhagavan. Bhagavan heard this but did not make any response, and sat there till the deer breathed its last. There is a samadhi for the deer near that of the cow Lakshmi.1

My uncle, when young, asked Bhagavan, “Is it true that Ravana had ten heads?” Bhagavan replied, “How does it help you to know whether he had ten heads or not?”

When the Mathrubhuteswara Temple was being constructed, Bhagavan used to lift the bricks and offer them to the mason. He told my uncle, “I am helping construction work.”

On one occasion a large number of people came to the Ashram unexpectedly and they had to be provided lunch. One of the cooks went to Bhagavan and said, “We are worried because there isn’t enough food.Bhagavan said, “Don’t worry. There will be enough.” My uncle was present in the dining hall along with others. Bhagavan looked at almost every one before he started eating. My uncle said that even before eating most of the people felt full. So each one ate very little and what had been prepared was more than enough.

Viswanatha Swami (no. 57), a scholar and author of the famous Ramana Ashtothra, told the following to Dr. K.S.:

Once someone enquired of Bhagavan as to what he would request if Lord Siva appeared before him on His bull prompting him to ask for a boon. Bhagavan is reported to have said, “Do not try to deceive me. He has no form. I don’t want to be tempted by your question. He is the formless Self in all.”

When Bhagavan had blisters on his hands due to grinding chutney everyday and did not heed to the request of Viswanatha Swami not to undertake the job, Swami went to the kitchen early and did all the work Bhagavan used to do. Bhagavan asked him why he had done his work in the morning. When Swami said that he could not bear to see Bhagavan grinding chutney with blisters on his hands, Bhagavan said, “In the early days I used to go for bhiksha. Now I am getting free food in the Ashram. That is why I do some work or the other in the kitchen. Today you have done my work. Please give me your dhoti. I will wash it for you.” When Swami heard this he was moved to tears.

1. Refer annexure-IV, p. 414.

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