Letters From Ramanashram – THE BIG SELF

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Letters From Ramanashram – THE BIG SELFBack


16th January, 1949

About ten days Backan American young man came here. Knowing that he takes photographs, some people from here arranged to get the elephant which lives in the Thousand-pillared Mandapam in Arunachaleswarar Temple and keep it in the open space by the side of the Jubilee Hall. Bhagavan on his return from the bath room stood by the side of the elephant and was giving it a feed, when that American took a photo. Yesterday morning, after 10 o’clock, some one brought the photo to Bhagavan, to show it to him. All people began to see it with some curiosity. They were talking amongst themselves about something that was written on the Backof that photo. As I did not understand what all they were talking about, I asked Bhagavan about it quietly in a low tone.

Bhagavan: “Nothing particular. On the Backof the photo it is written, ‘A big self which does not know the body and a big body which does not know the Self are at one place’.”

Devotee: “What exactly could be his idea in writing thus?”

Bhagavan: “That is easy. Though that elephant has such a big body it does not know the Self. For that reason, whatever food is given to it, it stands there dissatisfied trumpeting unceasingly. Perhaps because of that or for some other reason, it is stated to be a big body without knowing the Self. I stood there somehow with a shaky body; so again, perhaps because of that or for any other reason, it is stated that I am the Big Self not knowing the body. That might be his idea.”

Devotee: “That is true. Bhagavan always appears unconcerned about the body, does he not?”

Bhagavan (with a smile): “That’s it. That’s it. Chintha Dikshitulu has written saying that I am like a statue in the Madras Museum. Sowris has written saying that I am like a celluloid doll. People say something or other.”

Devotee: “I suppose Jada Bharata also used to appear as though he was not concerned about the body.”

Bhagavan: “What you say is true.”

Devotee: “Is it because he was a big Self who did not know his body that he got the name Jada Bharatha?”

Bhagavan: “What else could it have been? It cannot mean that he was lying down inertly like an inanimate being. It means that he was the personification of the Self who did not care for his body.”

As an illustration of this Bhagavan himself in his early days was sitting in the Arunachala temple compound either under a Madhuka (Ippa) tree or in a flower garden or in the vehicles’ mandap or here and there without caring for his body. People who were coming and going, used to say, “He is sitting like a Jada (dull-witted person); he must be a mad fellow”, and they never paid any attention to him. And Bhagavan has told us several times that he used to be amused at such talk and wish such madness would overtake all people. Not only that; when under the instructions of the Sarvadhikari, Kunjuswami was serving Bhagavan as an attendant, he found Bhagavan’s body and head were shaking and faltering and so, when there was no one else there but close disciples, he asked Bhagavan, “Bhagavan, although only in middle age, strangely enough, has a shaking of the head and of the body necessitating the aid of a stick for walking what could be the reason for it?” Bhagavan replied, it seems, with a smile, “What is there so strange in it? If a big elephant is tied down in a small hut, what else will happen to that hut except troubles of all sorts? This is the same.”

Do you see what profound meaning there is in those words? Without revealing this meaning to all people, he says humorously now and then, “Do you see? While all of you have two legs, I have three.”

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