Letters From Ramanashram – MUDALIAR GRANNY

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Letters From Ramanashram – MUDALIAR GRANNYBack

THE MUDALIAR GRANNY

24th September, 1949

The Mudaliar Granny who, like Echamma, was bringing food to Bhagavan daily, gave up her body last night and got merged in the lotus feet of Sri Ramana. She was buried in Gounder’s compound this afternoon. Her native place is a village called Thillayadi near Karaikal. She belonged to the Thondaimandala Mudaliar caste. Her name was Alankaratthammani. She had a son by name Subbiah Mudaliar and a daughter-in-law Kamakshi. The three used to spend their time in the service of an old Sanyasi. That Sanyasi passed away sometime in 1908 or 1909. During his last days, when all of them implored him to tell them about their future it seems he told them that their future was at Arunachala.

Subsequently, in 1910, it appears she came here along with her son and daughter-in-law. By then Echamma had been supplying Bhagavan food every day. In the same way Alankaratthammani also began supplying food. In due course, she began giving food now and then to the devotees also. The son and daughter-in-law used to help her in the work. After some time the son renounced everything, took to Sanyasa at the Tiruppananthal Mutt and began wandering about as a Tamburan (wandering minstrel). Kamakshi, the daughter-in-law, concentrated all her attention in the service of Bhagavan with single-minded devotion, without being in the least worried over her husband’s desertion. She passed away sometime in 1938-1939.

The Granny had no money and none to help her in the domestic work in the house. Seeing her desolate condition, and taking pity on her, Niranjananandaswami, Kunjuswami, Ranganatha Gounder and others advised her saying, “Now you are an old woman. You can no longer worry yourself about this service of offering food to Bhagavan. The Asramam is giving shelter to several people. So you eat here and sit in peace in Bhagavan’s presence with closed eyes; or if you so desire we will send you food to your place. Eat and stay at home.” She replied, “Whatever the difficulties, I will not give up this holy task. If I do not have money, I will go to ten houses, feeling my way with my stick, beg for food, offer it to Bhagavan and then only will I eat. I cannot keep quiet.” So saying, and with tears in her eyes, the woman went away. Kunjuswamy, Gounder, and other devotees took pity on her and gave her financial help so as to enable her to continue her offerings to Bhagavan. It was only after that, that Rangaswami Gounder built two houses in the place where Kunjuswami is now staying with a stipulation that Kunjuswami can occupy them during his life time, and after him these should be given away for the use of Sadhus. He endowed some property also for their maintenance and arranged for this old woman to stay there. In her last days, her son came to her and helped her in her offerings to Bhagavan, even though he had renounced the world by becoming a Sanyasi and a wandering minstrel. In this manner, the life of a devotee who had worshipped Bhagavan for about forty years without failing even for a single day in her self-imposed duty has come to a close.

Granny took great liberties with Bhagavan. During the early days of my stay here she used to bring food and serve it herself to Bhagavan. She used to place on his leaf a handful of curry and a handful of cooked rice. One day, Bhagavan reprimanded her saying, “If you serve so much, how can I eat it?” With great familiarity, she said, “How much is it, Swami? It is only very little.” “There are several other things also to eat. Should not my stomach contain them all?” said Bhagavan. “It is all a matter of the mind, Swami.” So saying, she served him as usual and left. Laughing at it, Bhagavan told people near about him, “Do you see? She is paying me Backin my own coin (My Upadesa).”

For the last two or three years, she had been sending food through somebody, and had given up serving it to Bhagavan personally as her eyesight was failing. It seems some one told her that Bhagavan’s body had become very much emaciated. She was therefore feeling that it was all due to her ceasing to serve food personally and one day she came to see Bhagavan. She approached him, and shading her eyes with her palm, said with great feeling of sorrow, “Oh! How reduced has the body become!” “Who told you, Granny? I am all right. What you have heard is all false,” said Bhagavan. The old woman came to the place in the hall where women sit and sat down in the front row. After a while, Bhagavan rose from his seat to go out. When Bhagavan gets up, as you know, all the rest of us also get up. She stood at the doorway leaning against the door. When Bhagavan came near, he said with a laugh, “Granny, have I become reduced? See how well I am! It is a pity, you are not able to see.” So saying, he went out.

Of late, she has not been able to see at all. Even so, when about four months ago she expressed a wish to see Bhagavan, a devotee led her to Bhagavan’s presence. When a person near Bhagavan said, “Granny, you have no eyesight to see Bhagavan. Why have you come?”

She replied, “Though I cannot see Bhagavan’s body, my body can be seen by Bhagavan and that is more than enough for me.” The agony she experienced when she heard that an operation was performed on Bhagavan’s arm for the tumour that had grown on it, is indescribable. When Echamma passed away, Bhagavan remarked that Mudaliar Granny was still alive. She too has now passed away. You see, Bhagavan felt relieved because a great responsibility was off his hands now. She is indeed lucky but somehow I could not help grieving over her death.

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