Chapter Two: The Man who was Ramana
Bhagavan Sri Ramana was meticulously exact, closely observant, practical and humorous. His daily life was conducted with a punctiliousness that Indians today would have to call pure Western. In everything he was precise and orderly. The Ashram hall was swept out several times daily. The books were always in their places. The clothes covering the couch were scrupulously clean and beautifully folded. The loin-cloth, which was all he wore, was gleaming white. The two clocks in the hall were adjusted daily to radio time. The calendar was never allowed to fall behind the date. The routine of life flowed to a regular pattern.
Although he was an absolute King and all craved to obey him, Bhagavan’s life was, notwithstanding, a lesson in submission. Owing to his refusal to express any wish or desire, the Ashram authorities built up their own structure of regulations, and Bhagavan obeyed them without demur; so that if any devotee found them irksome he had before his eyes the example of Bhagavan’s own submission. If ever Bhagavan resisted it was likely to be in the interests of the devotees, and even so it was usually in silence and very often in a manner dictated by his shrewd sense of humour. An attendant once rebuked a European woman for sitting with her legs stretched out. Bhagavan at once sat up crosslegged and continued so despite the pain caused by the rheumatism in his knees. When the devotees protested, he replied that the attendant’s orders were for every one, and it was only when the lesson had been driven home that he consented to relax.
But it was not only submission to regulations; it was submission to all the conditions of life and to pain and sickness which taught us silently that pain cannot disturb the equanimity of one who abides in the Self. Throughout the long and painful sickness that finally killed his body he submitted loyally, one after another, to the doctors who were put in charge, never complaining, never asking for a change of treatment. If ever there was any inclination to try a different treatment it was only so that those who recommended it should not be disappointed: and even then it was made dependent on the consent of the Ashram authorities. If there is a tendency today to regard submission as spiritless it is only because egoism is regarded as natural.
We shall not again see the Divine Grace in human form or the love shining in his eyes, but in our hearts he is with us and will not leave us. His Grace continues to be poured out, not only on those who knew the miracle of his bodily form, but on all who turn to him in their hearts, now as before.
I have not given a clear picture of the man who was Ramana, but how can one portray the universal? What impressed one was his complete unselfconsciousness like that of a little child, his Divinity and intense humanity. The Divinity was recognized in the act of prostration and in addressing him in the third person as ‘Bhagavan’. To have said ‘you’ would have been a jarring assertion of otherness. In speaking of himself Bhagavan spoke very simply and said ‘I’ or ‘this’. Only occasionally, when the meaning clearly indicated it, did he used the third person: “If you remember Bhagavan, Bhagavan will remember you.” “Even if you let go of Bhagavan, Bhagavan will never let go of you.”