T.P. Ramachandra Iyer was a native of Tiruvannamalai. His interest in religion and philosophy led him to Sri Ramana in the 1920s. As a lawyer in Madras, he handled much of the Ashram’s legal work. He also served as an interpreter and as an attendant in the Maharshi’s hall.
I entered Sri Bhagavan’s hall and looked at him. I fell flat on my face in prostration to him with an experience as totally consuming as it was convincing. A discovery that ‘He’, whom I was hankering for all these years, who could sway my entire being and guide my energies, was here. He was so great yet so simple. I rose up. Bhagavan smiled and bade me to be seated. All the emotions, thoughts and surging doubts were nowhere! I felt I had found my refuge, and the greatest fortune of my life.
A lot of people are under the impression that Bhagavan talked Advaitic philosophy all the time and prescribed self-enquiry to everyone who asked for his advice. This is simply not so: Bhagavan’s advice could differ according to the need of the situation.1
When the Ashram Post Office was opened, a high official of the postal department, whose only son had died, came with his wife to the Ashram. He said, “We loved the boy very much. After his death we have known neither peace nor happiness. We have only one desire left. Can we see our son in our next birth?” He wanted an assurance for this. After some persuasion that did not prove effective, Bhagavan leaned forward, raised his hand as if to assure them, and said, “Yes, in your next birth you will see your son as clearly as you saw him in this birth.” This made the man extremely happy. He touched Bhagavan’s feet many times and went away in a very contented mood.
After he left, I said, “Bhagavan, why did you speak like this? How is it possible?” Bhagavan replied, “What can I do? If I had not spoken in this way, his faith would have been shattered to its foundations.”As I was still sceptical, Bhagavan asked me to read a verse from the Gita which meant: Knowledge should be given according to one’s ability to grasp it. If we teach philosophy to those who are not ready to receive it, their faith will be destroyed.
In 1945, Bhagavan told Dilip Kumar Roy [No.8] that bhakti is the mother of jnana. When a follower of the bhakti marga declares that bhakti is the best, he really means by the word bhakti what the jnana marga man calls jnana. There is no difference in the state, or its description by attributes or transcendence of attributes. Only, different thinkers have used different words.
A few days later, Roy asked Bhagavan, “What is the best way of killing the ego?” Bhagavan replied, “To ask the mind to kill the mind is like making the thief the policeman. He will go with you and pretend to catch the thief but nothing would be gained. So you must turn inward and see from where does the mind arise and then it will cease to exist.”
When the mother’s temple was being built, there was an acute shortage of funds.The sarvadhikari wanted me and Chhaganlal Yogi [Next entry] to visit Jamana Lal Bajaj2 in Bombay for a donation of Rs.50,000. This needed Bhagavan’s clearance, for which he had no courage. I collected some devotees and went to Bhagavan to get his permission. We stood before him for some time, but he did not even bother to look at us. Each one of us wanted the others to speak. When we asked, he made no reply for a long time. At last, he turned to us and said, “I have already told you not to beg in my name. Now I am telling you again. Be satisfied with what you have. Did all these buildings in the Ashram come up as a result of my begging? It all happened in the way it had to happen. Nothing happens purely as a result of personal efforts.“
We were all worried about Bhagavan’s health, particularly in the last few years of his life, but Bhagavan himself was indifferent to the various pains and problems that his body had attracted. If he had any concern at all, it was that his assorted body problems might be an inconvenience to the devotees who came to see him.
In The Mountain Path of October 1966, T.P. Ramachandra Iyer records as follows:
My special subject in college was philosophy. Once, when I entered the hall a discussion was going on about the nature of Self. Book learning being fresh to my mind, I began to express what I had read about the various grades of consciousness in the Western system. I particularly mentioned the terms superconscious and subconscious. Bhagavan listened and reactedly sharply: It is only with reference to something that you can postulate a ‘super’ or ‘sub’ state to it. Consciousness being Truth, any postulations of it are the creation of ignorance, clouding the mind but appealing to the intellect. Truth is simple and direct, it knows no variations. What exists is Consciousness, call it by any name, Self, Atman, Brahman.
I not only heard the words of Bhagavan but experienced something else also. I felt and experienced my nature, dived deep into my consciousness and swam in the ocean of bliss. I fell prostrate before Bhagavan and cried aloud within myself: “O Bhagavan! My Master! Dispeller of my darkness! Obeisance to you! Accept me as your servant!“
1. Refer last two paras at p. 120.
2. The promoter of the Bajaj Group of companies in India. A rich businessman who devoted his life to the service of Mahatma Gandhi.