Dr. Lt. Col. P. V. Karamchandani was District Medical Officer of North Arcot District.Tiruvannamalai fell within his jurisdiction.
One night, in February 1949 at Vellore, I could not sleep and kept tossing in bed. That was something very unusual. At one a.m. a telephone call came from Tiruvannamalai, a place 55 miles away, asking me to reach there by 8 a.m. as Sri Ramana was very ill. Having received the call, I fell sound asleep. I reached Tiruvannamalai without any emotion.My only thought was that I was on a professional mission of attending on a patient. The sainthood of Sri Ramana had no significance for me.
I conducted my examination in a strictly professional manner. I carried no spiritual feelings for him. Nor did he speak a word with me. But he had directed a momentary gaze of grace at me, which kept stirring me deeply. Involuntarily I felt a new vista of spiritual consciousness open out before me.
That wondrous gaze of Sri Ramana seemed to envelop me with an aura of bliss. I felt the spiritual pull from him so irresistible that after a few days I myself arranged a visit to Tiruvannamalai just for the sake of having his darshan. I took my wife with me.
We visited Sri Ramana with a sense of curiosity and an indefinable sense of expectation. We made our obeisance and sat by his feet. We did not speak a word; nor did he. No speech seemed necessary. So surcharged with spirituality was he that his spirituality wafted out to us, completely enveloping us. Serenity seeped into us. Our minds attained a state of blissful, ecstatic meditation.
The tumour that Sri Ramana was bearing must have given him the most excruciating, nerve-wrecking pain. Such writhing pain would make the toughest man wince and moan. But his godly face did not bear the slightest sign of his agony. It reflected only joy and peace. He seemed to have switched off his mind from the body to the divine.
The next occasion when I was summoned, Sri Ramana had developed anuria. [Failure of the kidney to produce urine.] I went to his Ashram not with the all-important feeling of a District Medical Officer. I went in the spirit of a humble devotee to serve a saint of colossal spiritual magnitude. My job as a doctor was to be coupled with the devotion of a disciple. I was told that for the previous 24 hours he had not taken any food, not even a drop of water and all earnest requests and persuations had failed. I was requested to persuade him to eat something.
On examination I found that it was imperative that Bhagavan should take some fluid. Ordering him in my capacity as a doctor was out of question. I felt like asking him as a boon to accept my prayer. I prayed inwardly and held a glass of buttermilk before him. He gazed at me for a second, took the buttermilk in shaking hands and drank it. My joy knew no bounds. There was relief and jubilation all around. I was thanked profusely. But I felt infinitely grateful for Bhagavan’s overwhelming grace. He had heard my silent prayer and granted my boon. Wonderful was the spiritual exhilaration which I experienced in his holy presence.
I was called again at midnight. As I entered his room, four disciples were there. Bhagavan wanted them to leave the room. After they left, I was alone with Bhagavan. As usual, he did not speak with me. I was also silent. But the vibrations that emanated from him were celestial. His body must have been in terrific, mortal pain. But his heavenly spirituality was unaffected by it. A rapturous thrill electrified my entire being.
I had an intense desire to worship this illumined soul. I had learnt that Bhagavan did not allow devotees to touch his feet. But I felt a deep urge not only to touch his blessed feet but also to press them lovingly. I took courage in both my hands and pressed them. The wonder of wonders! He let me do so! His grace was abounding. I considered myself in the seventh heaven. I glorify those few minutes of my life.
Next time I was summoned was about three hours after midnight. Pain must have been torturing his body. Still, he was sound asleep. Holy silence filled the room. It was the ambrosial hour of the dawn. I did not wish to disturb him. I sat quietly by his feet. Suddenly he opened his eyes. His gracious gaze fell on me. He softly muttered ‘D.M.O.’The peculiar tone in which he mentioned me indicated that I had been in his sacred thoughts and that he was expecting me. I felt myself blessed. I silently worshipped him. My whole being seemed to vibrate with ecstasy.
At that time I had been feeling restless about promotion as Surgeon-General, being the senior-most I.M.S. officer in the Province of Madras. However I tried to banish the idea of that coveted promotion from my mind and said to myself, “Why am I fretting unnecessarily? The next time I visit Bhagavan, I shall request him to grant me promotion!“
On my next visit, I went before him with my mind resolutely set on requesting him for that boon. But a marvel happened. As soon as I saw him, my mind melted, the resolution evaporated, and I felt filled with strange contentment. A request did formulate itself within me, but it was an entirely different request. I inwardly prayed, ‘Bhagavan, free me from my craving for this promotion. I don’t want anything mundane. Instead, grant me my soul’s evolution.’ My prayer seemed to be instantly granted. Effulgent joy flooded the very depths of my being. I reverently bowed before him and he gazed at me benevolently.
My last visit was on the day Bhagavan attained nirvana. On visiting him I found that his body would not last beyond that day. I silently prayed that he might retain his body till I brought my wife from Vellore who wanted to witness how a great saint discards his body.
Now the finale – how my wife brought orange juice for the Maharshi, how he would not accept any drink at all to avoid going to the bathroom; how I devoutedly prayed that he may drink the juice to save my wife from deep disappointment; how he accepted my unspoken prayer and asked for the juice to the transcendental delight of my wife and myself; and how, shortly afterwards, in utter tranquility, he passed on.
During my two months’ contact with Bhagavan, I did not speak a single word with him. But, what wonderful grace he poured into me through his benign, benevolent gaze! A peerless spiritual experience indeed.