THE LOTUS FEET OF THE MASTER
4th November, 1948
I do not know if you have noticed that there is a big light-red mole on the sole of Bhagavan’s right foot. I too did not notice it for a long time. Only the other day I saw it. As you are aware, during the winter months, a charcoal stove is lighted and kept near Bhagavan to warm his hands and feet. I feared therefore that the stove had been kept too near, resulting in the sole of the foot getting burnt, and so asked Bhagavan anxiously. Bhagavan replied: “Oh! It is nothing. It has been there since my childhood.” I did not attach much importance to it at the time. Yesterday, however, during some conversation, I broached the subject with Aunt Alamelu (Bhagavan’s sister). She said, “I was also once perturbed on seeing it and asked Bhagavan. He laughed and told me that it had been there even at birth. He also stated that it was by that mark of identification that his uncle had recognised him after he had run away from home.”
You know, we used to read in fairy tales (Kasi Majli Stories) that great personages have a pearl in their navel and a lotus flower on their instep. I went to sleep thinking of that mole. The foot of Bhagavan appeared in my dream. With that thought in mind I went to the Asramam early this morning, by half-past seven. By that time Bhagavan had returned from the bath room by the side of the cow-shed and had sat down on the couch. After all the others had prostrated before him, I too prostrated and got up, and standing, continued to stare at his foot. Noticing this, Bhagavan looked at me enquiringly. “Nothing,” I said, “I am looking at that foot which has all the characteristics of a great personage (Mahapurusha).” “Is that all?” said Bhagavan with a smile and was about to open the newspaper to read it when I said, “It seems that when Auntie enquired about that mole, you stated that it was by that sign you were recognised by your uncle when you ran away from home.”
“Putting the paper down and sitting cross-legged in Padmasana pose, Bhagavan replied, “Yes. It is stated in the ‘Ramana Leela’, as you know, when my younger uncle, Subba Iyer, passed away, my other uncle Nelliappa Iyer, while he was in Madurai, came to know through Annamalai Thampuran that I was here. However much Thampuran told him, Nelliappa Iyer was not sure about my identity. So when he came here he could recognise me only by that mole.” “How anxious he must have felt!” I said.
Bhagavan then remarked, “How could he not be anxious? He used to look after us with great care after we had lost our father. I came away like this and so he was always fearful for my safety. In the meantime Subba Iyer also passed away and so the burden of looking after Subba Iyer’s family also fell on him. It was then that he heard that I was here. He came here running, with great concern. Subba Iyer had great courage and pride, but this man was very meek and mild. If it had been Subba Iyer, he would never have gone Backhome leaving me here. He would have bundled me up and carried me away. As I am destined to stay here, my whereabouts were not known so long as he was alive. It was known only a month after he passed away. Nelliappa Iyer, being spiritually minded and mild in his ways, left me here saying, ‘Why trouble him?'” So saying, Bhagavan became silent.
“It seems that the watchman of the garden, Rama Naicker, did not allow him even to enter the garden?” I enquired.
Bhagavan: “No. He did not allow my uncle. That is why he wrote a chit and sent it inside. For writing the chit, however, he had neither pen nor pencil. What could he do, poor man! He took out a neem twig, sharpened the end to a point, plucked a ripe prickly-pear from its stalk, cut it open, dipped the twig into the red juice of the pear, and with it wrote the chit and sent it on to me. He finally came in and realised that there was no chance of my accompanying him. Subsequently, he saw in a neighbour’s garden a learned man giving a discourse on some book to a small gathering and so went to enquire about me. In the view of that learned man I was an ignorant person knowing nothing, so he said, ‘That boy is sitting there without any education and with a crude philosophy’. My uncle was naturally worried because I was young; had not learnt anything from anyone and might turn out to be a good-for-nothing fellow. So he told that gentleman, ‘Please keep an eye on my nephew and teach him something, if possible’, and went away. For a long time, he (that learned man) held the view that I knew nothing, and tried once or twice to teach me something, but I never cared. Later on, when I was giving a discourse on the ‘Gita Saram’ in the Eesanya Mutt, he came there. He then discussed with me various matters and when he heard my explanations and expositions of the Gita, he said, ‘Oho! You are such a great man! I thought you were illiterate.’ So saying, he suddenly prostrated before me and went away. Nelliappa Iyer, however, continued to feel sad for a long time for my lack of education.”
On my enquiring whether he ever came back, Bhagavan said, “Yes. He came Backtwice when I was in the Virupaksha cave. On the first occasion, I never spoke anything. Though I was speaking to someone before he came, when I learnt he was coming I kept silent as I did not like to say anything before an elder such as he. But you know what happened when he came another time? I did not know beforehand about his coming. Some people wanted me to explain to them the meaning of Dakshinamurthy Stotra, while I was in the Virupaksha cave, and so I began explaining. Daily I used to sit facing the door; that day I sat with my Backto it. Hence I did not know of his arrival. He came in quietly and sat outside listening to me. We came up to the Sloka “Nana Chidra’. After I gave out its meaning and began my commentary thereon, he suddenly came inside and sat down. What could I do? I felt unconcerned and gave my commentary without any hesitation. After hearing it all, he felt that his nephew was not an ordinary person, that he knew the subject very well and hence there was no need to worry any further. He went away fully satisfied. Till then he was always anxious about me. That was his last visit. He never came again. He passed away a few days later.” Bhagavan’s voice quivered, as he said that.
“This incident has not been mentioned in the Biography. Why is it?” I asked. Bhagavan replied saying, “It ought to be there. But they never asked me and I never told them.”