Col. A.N.S. Murthi’s mother’s hometown was Tiruvannamalai. He met Sri Ramana as a young boy.
Whenever I stayed with my mother in her hometown Tiruvannamalai, I used to climb up the sacred hill and go to the Virupaksha Cave where Sri Ramana was staying. My mother used to say that this Brahmana Swami, as he was then called, was unique in that he had attained Selfrealisation when he was a teenaged boy. He had by then become quite famous in the town.
On one occasion, the Swami was speaking about monkeys sitting very near him as though they were human beings. He would refer to one as the ‘leader’ and eulogise his qualities ofhead and heart while the monkey would grin and make faces at us as though he was not pleased with our manner of receiving the Swami’s remarks. It was amazing to see the Swami offer food in his hand and the grimacing monkey come and take it from his hand as from a parent’s. How well behaved they were with him! Although the next moment they hopped off and went away bouncing over the rocks for their usual, wild, carefree life!
I saw the Swami again on the hill, while studying at college. One day, I took a train from Vellore and went to him.The Swami’s golden skin seemed to shine more than ever before, and I could feel his benign eyes cool and soothe my body which had become hot in the midday summer sun as I climbed up to his abode. After partaking of the fruit he gave and prostrating for his blessings, I went Backto my college, and soon forgot all about him perhaps in the flush of success and in the attractions of the metropolis, Madras, where I was studying.
It was many years before I saw him again.Though I had read some of his Tamil works and newspaper articles about him, I had also read works by Charles Bradlaugh and others on atheism, besides quite a few articles on sadhus being the curse of our country, etc. Therefore, when I went to him for his blessings I was not without a critical mind. And so when I saw him from a distance reclining on a sofa, I, with my ideas of asceticism, at once revolted. I did not prostrate before him, nor did I go to sit near him. I sat afar challenging him mentally to call me if he cared to remember me or if he could read my mind. He did not, except for looking at me for a second with the almost fearfully blank but piercing eyes of a stranger. I hurriedly left the Ashram.
The temple he was said to be constructing to perpetuate his mother’s memory, the cheques he was said to be signing,1 the beating he once received from dacoits and many other things I heard from the crowd and from the town mayor, with whom I stayed, added to my doubts and I gave him up.
One day when I went to draw some books from a library in Bangalore, a youngster working there, perhaps to express his admiration for my lectures which I gave occasionally on various subjects, quickly drew from one of the shelves The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi by Arthur Osborne [No.40] and requested me to read it. On seeing the title, I almost threw it back, but somehow within a split second I decided not to. I took it home, where it lay among many other books for quite some time. And then one evening, when I had the leisure, I opened it and, to my own amazement, thereafter I carried it about with me and read it with avidity and reverence like the Gita.
I found page after page a source of revelation and comfort. I found answers to all my queries and doubts, not only about life in general but also about the lives of saints I knew, and particularly about Brahmana Swami of my boyhood days, who later became known as Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, but to whom I had become blind till Arthur Osborne opened my eyes.
1. How misinformed the writer was at that time to believe that Sri Ramana was signing cheques.In fact, after leaving Madurai, Sri Ramana never put his signature anywhere as he felt that he had no individual identity of his own. Even on the will he executed in 1938, he drew a small line and made four cross marks as a token of his signature before the sub-registrar, who had come to the Ashram for registration of the will.