Reminiscences of Ramana Maharshi – Swami Ranganathananda

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Swami Ranganathananda, a well-known sannyasi of the Ramakrishna Order, was, till his recent demise, President of Sri Ramakrishna Math, Belur Math, Howrah (West Bengal).

I had been twice to Sri Ramanasramam. The first visit was in 1936. Bhagavan was an extraordinary personality who could draw the minds and hearts of the people from all over the world. A verse in the Srimad Bhagavatam describes the nature of the holy person, attachment to whom becomes a liberating force. It is meant for those who are extremely tranquil, whose mind is like the calm ocean without waves, who are filled with compassion – a friend of all embodied beings. Another feature is that an enemy is yet to be born for such a person. This fine description fits our Bhagavan most.

The Maharshi had condensed in himself the immortal, the eternal. Hence the tremendous stature of his life. He lived amongst us like a simple human being. You could not measure him, just as the column of light of Siva which had once appeared in Axunachala.[Refer para 1, p.356.] You could not see the height, you could not see the depth.

Those who had seen the human form of Bhagavan are blessed indeed. His touch was the touch of the immortal, a touch which elevates and makes you feel that you are also someone worthwhile. In this age of physical verification, we find in Bhagavan, the human form of that eternal truth.

Bhagavan was constantly in the divine awareness – whether he was sitting alone and radiating his silent presence, whether he was correcting proofs, whether he was reading the newspaper, whether he was cutting vegetables in the kitchen, he was brimming with joy. He was the very personification of the infinite, of the divine. Every word he spoke was charged with the wisdom of atma vidya. He exemplified the great teaching ‘I am that.’ Bhagavan says that this experience is easy to come by. It is easy. There are no gymnastics to go through. It is just changing the centre of our awareness.

We have seen Ramana Maharshi; we read about Suka of the Bhagavatam. There is so much similarity between the two. They found delight in and were revelling in the Self-experiencing infinite joy, free from the bondage and yet filled with motiveless love. It is the eternal message manifesting in a human dimension whom we call Ramana the Maharshi.

There is a beautiful verse in Sankaracharya’s Vivekachudamani, which is so apt for the Maharshi: ‘Absolutely poor but full of happiness, no army behind but infinitely strong, no experience of sense satisfaction but always happy, none equal to him but he feels all to be his equals.’ I would like to refer to just one instance.

When I arrived I had told him that I would be staying for three days and would leave by train on the evening of the third day. I had forgotten. He looked at me at the right time and said, “Your tonga is arranged, it is time for you to go.” How human – talking man-to-man, and yet how gigantic.

What is said of Sri Krishna in the Bhagavatam applies equally to Bhagavan.’The more we hear, the more the desire arises to hear more and more. ‘ May all of us be worthy of this tremendous spiritual dynamo who enters our heart even without our knowing it.

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