Ramana Maharshi & Perumal swami
The following is a collection of anecdotes about Perumalswami who was one of Sri Bhagavan’s attendants from the Virupaksha days.
In 1916, an attempt was made by some drunken pandarams (sadhus) to take away the Sri Bhagavan from Tiruvannamalai. They came to Virupaksha Cave and solemnly informed the Swami, “We are sadhus from Podigai Hill, the sacred Hill in which the ancient Agastya Rishi is still doing his tapas,as he has done for thousands of years. He has ordered us to take you first to the Siddhas’ conference at Srirangam and thence to Podigai, to give you regular diksha, (initiation) after extracting those salts from your body which prevent the attainment of higher powers.”
The situation was evidently serious. The Swami,with his rule of equanimity maintained silence and awaited developments. Meanwhile, a strong and resourceful disciple of his, Perumalswami, hit upon a remedy. Accosting the newcomers,Perumalswami said,We have received intimation of your visit and we have been commissioned to place your bodies in crucibles(melting pot) and place the crucibles over the fire. What do you say? and he also told a fellow disciple Mastan, Go and dig a deep pit for preparing the fire for those people. The visitors were dumbfounded and promptly retreated.
On another occasion, again when Pazhaniswami and Perumalswami had gone to town and when Sri Bhagavan was all alone, a few fierce-looking bairagis (wandering sadhus) came to Virupaksha Cave. Seeing Sri Bhagavan seated alone they told him, with vehemence, “We are coming straight from the Vindhya Hills. We had darshan of the great siddha there. He has commanded us to take you there. We are taking you along with us Backto Vindhyas, as ordered by the great siddha.
Bhagavan as usual remained silent and unmoved but the bairagis, as was their wont, made much noise. Some woodcutters who witnessed this drama went down and told Perumalswami about the wild-looking bairagis. Perumalswami came and having assessed the situation he went Backto the town, brought a big vessel and tins of oil, put them in front of the ruffians and started gathering firewood. The bairagis and Sri Bhagavan were astonished at the strange behaviour of Perumalswami. The former did not know who Perumalswami was. They enquired who he was and what he was up to. Perumalswami put the big vessel on the fire and said: Ibelong to the next village. I had a vision last night of the great siddha of the Vindyas. He commanded me “Go to Virupaksha Cave. You will find some bairagis there. They are siddhas too, having great powers. Pour boiling oil on them and they will be alive and untouched by the oil.’ To my great surprise when I came to this cave, as told by the siddha, you were all here. What a fool I was to doubt the holy words of the siddha. Immediately, I rushed to town and brought the vessel and the tins of oil. Would I not incur a curse if I disobey the siddha? When Perumalswami went inside the cave to put his clothes there, the bairagis took to their heels! Bhagavan had a big laugh, and Perumalswami joined him.
Once Sri Bhagavan reminisced, “When I came down the Hill to reside here, Perumalswami used to bring something to eat from the town early in the afternoons. One day, he wrote a verse on a piece of paper and brought it to me. When I asked him if he himself had written it he said, “Yes.! On reading it I found it really good. At that time Muruganar used to look after all the writing work and so I asked him to copy the verse in a note book. Four days later Perumalswami brought another verse. When everyone praised it he was overjoyed and so began bringing one fresh verse every four days. If he ever delayed I used to ask him,
“Have you not written again? He would answer “No , and then bring another verse after a few days. We received nine such verses. When he brought the tenth verse I felt that I had seen such verses somewhere else and so asked Muruganar to bring a copy of the book Tiruvarut Pa, I opened it and saw the verses in the “Rama Pathikam’ except that wherever the word “Rama’ occurred, the word “Ramana’ was substituted and a few changes were made here and there. I showed the whole thing to Muruganar. He thereupon stopped copying and mentioned it to all the people in the hall who laughed. Poor chap! Perumalswami sat in a corner humiliated. What else could he do? When people come here they feel like writing or singing something. Poets write something of their own;others just copy the writings of someone else and substitute Ramana for Rama. What is wrong in it?
The words Rama and Ramana are one and the same.