Pascaline Mallet, a French writer and seeker, whose book Turn Eastwards was appreciated by Sri Ramana, details her nine-months’ pilgrimage in India in 1937.
In the Ashram we saw at one end of the hall a silent, motionless figure reclining on a low couch, lost in deep meditation, oblivious, it would seem, of everybody and everything. We slipped in quietly and seated ourselves on the ground amongst the crowd. I took in slowly the strange, unforgettable scene, my whole attention fixed on that central figure whose calm majesty, serene strength and perfect poise seemed to fill the whole place with unutterable peace. To look into his eyes, shining like stars, was perhaps for the first time to know the meaning of Eternity and to be caught up into bliss that passeth understanding.
Who was this Great one? On what rung of the ladder of human or superhuman evolution did he stand? Such questions have but little value. When the sun shines does one need to know why and how it shines? I opened my heart to the Spiritual Life which radiated so intensely in the
Silence. I had the impression of being as it were, surrounded by a sea of fiery Power, welding all present into a great Flame rising Heavenwards. Not once did the silent figure turn or move or show any sign of interest in the proceedings, that is, the recitation of the Vedas conducted as evening prayers in the Ashram. It was as if he had been living in a sphere beyond the limitations of time and space.
Later when we entered the pandal put up for the annual festival of the Maharshi’s birthday, he was busy writing and reading. [See photograph no.18.] But somehow I had the feeling that all the while he lived in a state where time and space did not exist; in the region of the absolute, at the very heart of the universe. This can hardly be described, much less proved and only dimly sensed, but even so constituted a never-to-be-forgotten experience. His utter impersonality and supreme detachment did not in the least exclude all-embracing compassion, sympathy, and understanding
of the many problems and difficulties which were continually being submitted to him by the weary, sorrow-striken people who come to him in the hope of finding comfort and help.
Undoubtedly, merely to live in his presence is the greatest help that one could possibly receive. It is a fact that no one who comes to the Ashram goes away empty-handed. Each receives to his utmost capacity, be that capacity great or small, and many people got inner experiences which have changed their lives.
The following is from the letter which Mallet wrote to Sri Ramana in 1939 from Versailles (France):
“Two years have come and gone since I crossed the threshold of Thy Ashram and yet in spirit I have ever remained there.
Though illusion still often veils the vision of Reality revealed in the blessed Silence of Thy Presence, though the Silver Thread of Self-awareness be often lost amidst changing light and shadows, still the inner urge to realize the Self remains and grows stronger and becomes more insistent as Grace and search go hand in hand.
At times, yet rare, with no apparent cause, spontaneous awareness of ‘I’ springs up and bliss fills the heart with glowing warmth.
I pray to Thee for light and guidance that I know are ever there, and at Thy feet lay offerings of unchanging love.“