Soon after Sri Ramana Maharshi’s Mahasamadhi in 1950, a committee was formed to collect written reminiscences from the Master’s devotees. Committee members approached those devotees who were intimate with Bhagavan, had firsthand experience of his ways, and understood his teachings. Arthur Osborne and S. S. Cohen, who were members of the committee, met with N. Balarama Reddy and wasted no time in requesting him to write his reminiscences. Balarama Reddy declined. He told them he mostly sat silently meditating in Bhagavan’s presence and never took notes of what he heard or saw.
While visiting Sri Ramanasramam in 1993, my name was added to the list of devotees who entreated him to write. After all, he was then in his eighty-fifth year and how much longer could he delay? I reasoned with him. Where would be the Christ of the Christians if not for Mathew, Mark, Luke and John? I pleaded. It was only through his eyes that we, the second generation of devotees, could see and know about the personality that captivated his heart; the same personality that would undoubtedly captivate the hearts of countless future generations. ‘After you go, this wealth within you will be lost. You must write now, while you are still able,’ I beseeched him.
Balarama Reddy is a kind man, intelligent and wise. If he didn’t exactly agree with my argument, he sympathised with my sincerity, and in his goodness agreed – not to write, but to relate to me whatever incidents and experiences with the Maharshi he could remember. These stories went on to include meetings with Ananda Mayi Ma, Swami Ramdas and other personalities. He fixed a time, between 6:30 and 7:30 in the evening, to meet with me. So I began meeting with him in his room every day for the purpose of hearing his reminiscences. After we met I would put down a few brief notes on the topics of our conversations, and in the morning, following breakfast, I would sit in my room and use these notes to recall all I had heard the previous evening.
I found this daily exercise to be an exhilarating experience. I would be so caught up in the flow of incidents relating to Bhagavan, that I felt as if they were taking place before my own eyes. Balarama Reddy has the power to draw out from his memory, like a spider drawing out his web, the dynamic personality of the Maharshi’s presence. He easily caught me in this web, and I sincerely hope this little book catches many others.
Dennis J. Hartel