Swami Chinmayananda (Balakrishna Menon) was the founder of the Chinmaya Mission.
I was just emerging from high school, exams were over. On a package railway ticket I was roaming through South India. As the train steamed through the countryside at a halting speed, most ofthe passengers in my compartment suddenly peered through the windows in great excitement and bowed reverently to an elaborate temple beyond. Inquiring about it, I was told that it was the Tiruvannamalai Temple.1
Thereafter, the talk of my fellow travellers turned to Ramana Maharshi. The word ‘Maharshi’ conjured up in my mind ancient forest retreats and superhuman beings of divine glow. Though I was at that time a convinced atheist, I was deeply drawn to visit the Maharshi’s Ashram. I chose to take the next available train to Tiruvannamalai.
At the Ashram I was told that the Maharshi was in the hall and anybody was free to walk in and see him. As I entered, I saw on the couch an elderly man, wearing but a loincloth, reclining against a round bolster. I sat down at the very foot of the couch. The Maharshi suddenly opened his eyes and looked straight into mine: I looked into his. A mere look, that was all. I felt that the Maharshi was, in that split moment, looking deep into me – and I was sure that he saw all my shallowness, confusions, faithlessness, imperfections, and fears.
I cannot explain what happened in that one split moment. I felt opened, cleaned, healed, and emptied! A whirl of confusions: my atheism dropping away, but scepticism flooding into question, wonder, and search. My reason gave me strength and I said to myself, ‘It is all mesmerism, my own foolishness.’ Thus assuring myself, I got up and walked away.
But the boy who left the hall was not the boy who had gone in some ten minutes before. After my college days, my political work, and after my years of stay at Uttarkashi at the feet of my master, Tapovanam [No.82], I knew that what I gained on the Ganges banks was that which had been given to me years before by the saint of Tiruvannamalai on that hot summer day – by a mere look.
During the course of a talk in 1982 the Swami said:
Sri Ramana is not a theme for discussion; he is an experience; he is a state of consciousness. Sri Ramana was the highest reality and the cream of all scriptures in the world. He was there for all to see
how a Master can live in perfect detachment. Though in the mortal form, he lived as the beauty and purity of the Infinite.
1. Refer annexure – I, p. 410.