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பகவான் ரமண மகரிஷியின் வாழ்வில் நிகழ்ந்தவை – பலரும் அறியாதவை

“ஓம் நமோ பகவதே ஸ்ரீ ரமணாய”

  • திருச்சுழியில் பிறந்த ரமணர் சிறு பிள்ளையாய் இருந்தபோது வீட்டில் செய்த ஒரு குறும்பினால், தந்தை அடிப்பார் என்று பயந்து கொண்டு திருச்சுழி சிவன் கோயிலில் அம்பாளின் சன்னதிக்குள் சென்று (துணைமாலை அம்மை) அம்பாளின் விக்கிரஹத்துக்குப் பின்னே ஒளிந்து கொண்டாராம்!
  • ரமணர் தம் நான்காம் வயது வரை தம் தாயிடம் தாய்ப்பால் குடித்தாராம்! அது மட்டுமல்ல; அவர் கிராமத்தில் தாய்ப்பால் கிட்டாது தவித்த வேறொரு பெண் சிசுவுக்கும், ரமணரின் தாய் (ரமணருக்குப் பால் கொடுக்கும் காலத்திலேயே) தாம் பாலூட்டிக் காப்பாற்றினாராம்.
  • ரமணருக்குப் பள்ளிப் படிப்பில் நாட்டம் இல்லை; கடனே என்று படித்தவர்தான்! வகுப்பில் பாடம் நடக்கையில் தூங்கி விழாது இருக்க, சுவரில் இருந்த ஒரு ஆணியில் நூலைக் கட்டி அதன் மறு முனையைத் தம் குடுமியோடு சேர்த்துக் கட்டிக் கொண்டதுண்டாம்!
  • பள்ளி நாட்களில் ரமணர் கபடி, குஸ்தி போன்ற விளையாட்டுகளில் சூரராயிருந்தார்.
  • இரவில் தூங்கினால் அடித்துப் போட்டாற்போல் வெளி நினைவே வராது தூங்குவாராம். இவரிடம் விளையாட்டில் தோற்ற பிள்ளைகள் இவர் இரவில் தூங்கும்போது தூக்கிக் கொண்டு போய், ஆசை தீர அவருக்கு அடிகள் கொடுத்து பழிவாங்கிவிட்டு பின் மீண்டும் படுக்கையில் கொண்டு போய்ப் போட்டதுண்டாம்! அவருக்கோ நடந்தவை ஒன்றுமே தெரியாது. நண்பர்கள் சொல்லித்தான் பிறகு தெரியுமாம்.
  • (ரமணர் தம் பதினாறரையாவது வயதில் மரண அனுபவத்தை சுயமாக வருவிக்கப் பார்த்தது, அதன் விளைவாய் ஞானம் பெற்றது, பின் வீட்டைவிட்டு ஓடி திருவண்ணாமலைக்கு வந்தது இவையெல்லாம் பலரும் அறிந்ததே).
  • ரமணர் திருவண்ணாமலைக்கு வர சரியான ரயில் மாறிப் பயணிக்க உதவியவர் ஒரு முஸ்லீம்.
  • ரமணருக்கு திருவண்ணாமலைக்கு வந்து சேர கடைசி ரயில் பயணத்துக்கு கையில் காசு இல்லாததால் தாம் அணிந்திருந்த காதுக் கடுக்கனை அடகு வைத்து பணம் பெற்றுக்கொண்டு, வந்து சேர்ந்ததும் பாக்கி இருந்த காசை வீசி எறிந்து விட்டார்.
  • அருணையில் கோவணதாரி ஆகி, பூணூலை அவிழ்த்தெரிந்துவிட்டு, தலை முடியை மழித்துக் கொண்டதும் ஆகாயம் மழை பெய்து அவரைக் குளிப்பாட்டியது!
  • அருணை வந்த புதிதில் அவர் கோவில் மண்டபத்தில் ஆங்காங்கே அமர்ந்து வெளி உலக நினைவற்று தியானத்தில் மூழ்கியிருந்த போது உள்ளூர் சிறார்கள் அவரைப் பயித்தியம் என்று நினைத்து அவர் மீது சிறுநீர் கழித்ததுண்டு.
  • உணவு உண்ணவும் வெளி நினைவு வராது இருந்த அவருக்கு கோயில் குருக்கள் ஒருவர், அம்பாளுக்கு அபிஷேகம் செய்து வெளியே ஓடி வரும் தண்ணீர் கலந்த பாலை ஒரு சொம்பில் பிடித்து வலுக்கட்டாயமாக வாயில் ஊற்றிக் குடிக்க வைத்த காலங்கள் உண்டு.
  • (ரமணர் கோவிலில் உள்ள பாதாள லிங்க குகையில் பல நாட்கள் யாரும் அறியாது தவம் இருந்ததும் அவரது தொடைகள் பூச்சிகளால் கடித்து அரிக்கப் பட்டதும், சேஷாத்ரி சுவாமிகள் மூலம் அவர் அங்கே இருப்பது தெரிந்து வெளியே தூக்கி வரப்பட்டதும் பலரும் அறிந்த செய்திகள்).
  • வெளி நினைவற்று, உண்ணல் குளியல் மறந்து அவர் வாழ்ந்த அந்த ஆரம்ப நாட்களில் கட்டியிருந்த ஒற்றைக் கோவணம் தொடையிருக்குகளில் புண் உண்டாக்கியதால் அவர் அதையும் அவிழ்த்தெரிந்துவிட்டுத் திகம்பரராய் இருக்க, கோவில் குருக்கள் ஒருவர் வலுக்கட்டாயமாய் அவருக்கு ஒரு புது கோவணம் அணிவித்தார். அதன் அவசியத்தையும் வலியுறுத்தினார்.
  • ஒரு பக்கம் அறியாச் சிறார்கள் அவரை சீண்டி உடல் ரீதியாகத் துன்புறுத்த, மறு புறமோ ஆன்மீக தாகம் கொண்ட சில அன்பர்களும் அவரது மேலான ஞான நிலையை உணர்ந்து அவர் தேவைகளை ஓரளவேனும் கவனித்துப் பார்த்துக்கொள்ள முன்வந்தனர். அவர் ஏதும் பேசாதவராய் இருந்ததால் ஊர் பேர் அறியவில்லை. அவர் தோற்றத்தை வைத்து அவரை ‘பிராமண சுவாமி’ என்றார்கள். இரண்டு ஆண்டுகளுக்குப் பின் அவர் ஒரு அன்பரின் வற்புறுத்தலுக்கு இணங்கி “வெங்கடராமன், திருச்சுழி” என்று எழுதிக் காண்பித்தபின் தான் அவர் பெயரும் ஊரும் பிறர் அறியவந்தது.

  • ரமணரை விட பல வயது மூத்த ஒரு துறவியான பழனிசுவாமி இளம் ரமணரைக் கண்டதும் அவரது அதிமேலான ஆன்ம நிலையைப் புரிந்து கொண்டு அவரை உடனிருந்து கவனித்துக்கொள்ள ஆரம்பித்தார். தாம் பிட்சை உணவு பெற்று ரமணருக்கு உணவளித்தார்.
    அடுத்த 21 ஆண்டுகள் அவர் ரமணரின் சீடராகவும் தொண்டராகவும் சேவை செய்தார்.
  • ரமணர் அருணை வந்து 2 ஆண்டுகளுக்குப் பிறகே அவர் சித்தப்பா நெல்லையப்ப ஐயர் எப்படியோ தகவல் கிடைத்து அருணைக்கு ரமணரைத் தேடி வந்தார். நீள் முடி, தாடி, அழுக்கு படிந்த உடல், கோவணம் என்று இருந்த ரமணரை அவரால் சட்டென்று அடையாளம் காண முடியவில்லை!
  • பேசா மௌனியாக இருந்த ரமணரைப் பேசவைக்க பழனிசுவாமி, நூலகத்திலிருந்து கொண்டுவந்த ஆன்மீக நூல்களை இரைந்து படித்து ரமணரிடம் விளக்கம் கேட்பார். அந்த வேதாந்தக் கருத்துகளை ரமணர் அப்போதுதான் முதல் முதலாகக் கேள்விப்படுகிறார்! “அட! இதில் சொல்லியுள்ளதெல்லாம் நம் அனுபவத்தோடு ஒத்துப்போகிறதே!” என்று வியந்தாராம் அவர்!
  • தப்பும் தவறுமாய்ப் படித்த பழனிசுவாமியைத் திருத்தும் முகமாகவும், தத்துவங்களை விளக்கும் முகமாகவும் சிறிது சிறிதாக ரமணர் பேச ஆரம்பித்தார்!
  • பிறருக்கு சிரமம் தரலாகாது என்று ரமணரே தாமே நேரில் பிட்சை உணவு பெற சென்றதுண்டு. முதன் முதலில் பிட்சை கேட்கையில் அவருக்குக் கூச்சமாய் இருந்ததாம்!
  • ஒரு வீட்டின் முன் நின்று கை தட்டி ஒலி உண்டாக்குவார். உணவுக்காக வெறும் கைகளை நீட்டுவார், அதில் சோறோ, கஞ்சியோ, கூழோ எது விழுந்தாலும் அப்படியே தெருவில் நின்று கொண்டு தின்றுவிட்டுக் கையைத் தலையில் துடைத்துக்கொண்டு நடையைக் கட்டுவாராம்!
  • பிற்காலத்தில் ரமணாசிரமத்தில் பக்தர்கள் “பிட்சை” ஏற்பாடு செய்வார்கள். வடை பாயசத்துடன் ஆசிரமத்தில் எல்லாருக்கும் சாப்பாடு போடுவது தான் அந்த ‘பிட்சை’! அதைக் கிண்டல் செய்து, குறை கூறி ரமணர், தாம் அந்தக் காலத்தில் பிட்சை எடுத்து உண்டதைப் பற்றி சொல்லி, “என்ன ஒரு ஆனந்தம் அது!” என்பாராம்.

  • முதலில் கோவில் மண்டபம், பின் குருமூர்த்தம், பின் மலை மீது விருபாட்ச குகையில 17 வருட வாசம், பின் இன்னும் சற்று மேலே கந்தசாமி எனும் பக்தர் உருவாக்கிய ஸ்கந்தாசிரமத்தில் 6 வருடம், பின் கடைசியாக அடிவாரத்தில் உருவான ரமணாசிரமத்தில் மீதி வாழ் நாட்கள் என்று மாறி மாறி அமைந்தது ரமணர் வாழ்க்கை.

 

  • அருணைக்கு வந்த பின் அதை விட்டு ரமணர் எங்குமே சென்றதில்லை! 54 ஆண்டுகள் தொடர்ந்து வாழ்ந்தது அருணையில் தான்.
  • ரமணரின் சாரமான உபதேசங்கள் (“நானார்?”) முதன் முதலில் சிலேட்டில் ரமணர் எழுதி எழுத்து வடிவில் பெற்றவர் சிவபிரகாசம் பிள்ளை. அப்போது ரமணரின் வயது 23. அது புத்தக வடிவில் வெளிவந்தது அடுத்த 21 வருடங்களுக்குப் பிறகுதான்!
  • ‘திருச்சுழி வெங்கடராமனுக்கு’ “பகவான் ரமண மகர்ஷி” எனப் பெயர் சூட்டியவர், ரமணரது சீடரும், தேவி உபாசகரும், சம்ஸ்க்ரிதப் புலவரும், ரமணரைவிட வயதில் மூத்தவருமான காவ்யாகண்ட கணபதி சாஸ்திரி.

  • தம் சீடரான கணபதி சாஸ்திரியை “நாயனா” (தெலுங்கில் அப்பா) என்றே விளிப்பார் ரமணர்!
  • “தன்னை அறிந்த ஞானி அனைத்தையும் அறிந்தவனாகிறான்” எனும் உண்மைக்கேற்ப, பள்ளிப்படிப்பையே ஆர்வமில்லாமல் படித்து, பள்ளி இறுதியையே தாண்டாத ரமணர் பிற்காலத்தில் பெரும் தமிழ்ப்புலவராயும், பன் மொழிப்புலவராயும் ஆனது உங்களில் எத்தனை பேருக்குத் தெரியும்?
  • ஞானமும் பக்தியும் கலந்த தீந்தமிழ்ப் பாக்களை யாப்பிலக்கணத்திற்குட்பட்டு வெண்பா, ஆசிரியப்பா போன்ற வடிவங்களில் ஏராளம் பாடல்கள் புனைந்தவர் ரமணர்!
  • தமிழில் அவர் எழுதிய பாடல் தொகுப்புகள்: அட்சர மணமாலை, அருணாசல அஷ்டகம், அருணாசலப் பதிகம், அருணாசல நவமணி மாலை, உபதேச உந்தியார், உள்ளது நாற்பது, உள்ளது நாற்பது-அனுபந்தம், தட்சிணா மூர்த்தித் தோத்திரம், அத்தாமலகம், பகவத் கீதா சாரம், ஆன்ம வித்தை, அப்பளப்பாட்டு.
  • காவ்யாகண்ட கணபதி சாஸ்திரி, கபாலி சாஸ்திரி போன்றவர்களின் தொடர்பின் மூலம் ரமணர் சம்ஸ்கிருதம் கற்றார். அதில் ஸ்லோகங்கள் எழுதினார். தமது உபதேச சாரம் போன்ற பல நூல்களை ரமணரே சம்ஸ்கிருதத்திலும் எழுதினார்.
  • தெலுங்கு பக்தர்களின் தொடர்பால் ரமணர் தெலுங்கும் கற்று அதிலும் தம் பாக்களை எழுதினார். தமிழின் ‘வெண்பா’ வடிவை அவர் தெலுங்கிலும் புகுத்தி ஓர் இலக்கியப் புதுமை செய்தார்!
  • மலையாள பக்தர்களின் தொடர்பால் ரமணர் மலையாளமும் கற்றார். அதில் கவிகள் புனைந்தார். தம் தமிழ் நூல்கள் பலவற்றை மலையாளத்திலும் புனைந்தார்!
  • ரமணரின் சீடரான முருகனார் ஒரு மாபெரும் தமிழ்ப்புலவர். அவரும் ஆயிரக் கணக்கில் பாடல்கள் எழுதியவர் (ரமண சன்னிதி முறை இன்ன பிற). அவ்வாறே கணபதி சாஸ்திரியும் ரமணரது பல உபதேசங்களை ‘ரமண கீதை’ எனும் பெயரில் வடமொழியில் தந்தார்.
  • காவ்யாகண்ட கணபதி சாஸ்திரி ஒரே நாள் இரவில் அம்பாளின் மீது “உமா சகஸ்ரம்” எனும் 1000 சம்ஸ்கிருத பாக்களை உருவாக்கி எழுத முனைந்த போது, ரமணரின் அருள் கடாட்சம் அவர் மீது விழுந்து அவருக்குள் உள்ளொளி தந்து பாக்களை உருவாக்கித் தந்தது ஓர் சரித்திர நிகழ்வு.
  • ரமணரது தாயார் அழகம்மா, தம் இறுதிக் காலத்தில் 6 ஆண்டுகள் உலக வாழ்வைத் துறந்து ரமணருடனேயே விருபாட்ச குகையிலும், பின் ஸ்கந்தாசிரமத்திலும் தங்கினார்.

  • ‘ரமணருக்குப் பிடிக்கும்’ என்று அன்னை அழகம்மா ஒரு முறை மலையில் அப்பளம் தயாரிக்க முனைய, ரமணர் தாயைக் கண்டித்து தத்துவார்த்தமாக அப்பளம் தயாரிப்பதைப் பற்றி எழுதிய ஓர் ஞானப் பாடல் தான் “அப்பளப் பாட்டு”!
  • (தாயாரது மரணத் தருவாயில் ரமணர் அவருக்கு மோட்சம் நல்கியது பலரும் அறிந்தவை. தாயின் பூத உடல் மலையடிவாரத்தில் சமாதி செய்யப்பட்டு, அங்கு எழுப்பப்பட்டதுதான் மாத்ருபூதேஸ்வரர் கோயில்; அங்குதான் ரமணாசிரமமும் உருவானது).
  • ரமணர் எளிமைக்கும் சிக்கனத்துக்கும் பெயர் போனவர். எதையும் வீணாக்குவது அவருக்குப் பிடிக்காது.
  • பக்தர்கள் வரத் தொடங்கிய ஆரம்ப காலங்களில் ரமணர் தமது அத்யாவசியத் தேவைகளைப் பற்றிக்கூட எவரிடமும் சொன்னதில்லை. அவர் கோவணம் கிழிந்தது என்றால், தம் கோவணத்திலிருந்தே ஒரு நூலை உருவி, காட்டு முள்ளை ஒடித்து ஊசி போல் செய்து அதில் நூலைக் கோர்த்துக் கிழிசலைத் தைத்துக் கொள்வார். அவர் குளிக்க உபயோகிக்கும் துண்டு “ஆயிரம் கண்ணுள்ளதாக” ஓட்டை விழுந்து இருக்கும். அதனை யார் கண்ணிலும் படாமல் துவைத்து மறைவில் காய வைத்துக்கொள்வார். உலர்ந்ததும் ஒரு மரப்பொந்தில் ஒளித்து வைத்துக் கொள்வார்.
  • ஒரு முறை ஒரு மாடு மேய்க்கும் சிறுவன் அவரது துண்டை எடுத்துக் வைத்துக்கொண்டு, கிண்டலாக, “இது கவர்னருக்கு வேணுமாம்!” என்று எடுத்துக் கொண்டு ஓடப்பார்த்தானாம். ரமணர் “ஊகூம்; நான் தரமாட்டேன்!” என்று அவனிடம் பிடிவாதம் பிடித்தாராம்!
  • மேற்சொன்ன விஷயத்தைப் பற்றிக் கேள்விப்பட்ட பக்தர் ஒருவர் மிக்க விசனத்துடன், “எங்களுக்கு இதெல்லாம் தெரியாமல் போய்விட்டதே பகவான்” என்று வருந்தி புதுத் துணி வாங்கி வந்து மிகவும் வற்புறுத்தி ரமணரிடம் கொடுத்தாராம்.
  • பக்தர்கள் கொடுக்கும் எந்த ஒரு ஆடம்பரப் பொருளையும் அவர் உபயோகித்ததில்லை. ரமணாசிரமத்திற்கு பக்தர்கள் ரமணருக்காகக் கொண்டுவரும் பழங்கள், தின்பண்டங்கள், போஷாக்கு லேகியங்கள் என்று எல்லாமே உடனுக்குடன் கூடியுள்ள பக்தர்களுக்கும் வினியோகிக்கப் பட்டுவிடும்.
  • ரமணர் சமையற்கலையில் நிபுணர். அம்மியில் அரைப்பது, கல்லுரலில் மாவு அரைப்பது முதல் சமையற்கட்டில் எல்லா வேலைகளையும் செய்வார். எதையும் வீணாக்காமல் சுவையாகச் சமைப்பார். கத்திரிக்காய் காம்புகளைக் கூட அவர் வேகவைத்து சமைத்ததுண்டு!
  • ஆனாலும் ரமணருக்கு சுவையான உணவெதிலும் ஈடுபாடு கிடையாது. ரமணாசிரமத்தில் பரிமாறப்பட்டும் எல்லா உணவு வகைகளையும் அவர் ஒன்றாகச் சேர்த்துப் பிசைந்து கொண்டுதான் சாப்பிடுவாராம். ஒரு பருக்கை கூட வீணாக்காமல் உண்பார். உண்ட இலை துடைத்துவிட்டது போல சுத்தமாக இருக்கும்.
  • மலையில் கிடைக்கும் பல்வேறு கீரை வகைகள், மூலிகைகள் பற்றிய மருத்துவ அறிவு அவருக்கு உண்டு.
  • ரமணர் நல்ல நகைச்சுவை உணர்வு கொண்டவர். பக்தர்களுக்கு புராணக் கதைகள் சொல்லும் போது தத்ரூபமாக உணர்ச்சியுடன் நடித்துக் காட்டுவாராம்!
  • பரம ஞானியான அவருள் ஒரு உணர்ச்சிமிகு பக்தனும் உண்டு. கண்ணப்பர் போன்ற நாயன்மார்களின் கதைகளை அவர் கூறும்போது குரல் தழுதழுக்குமாம்; கண்ணீர் பொழியுமாம்!
  • அவர் அண்ணாமலை கிரிவலம் வருவதற்கு மிகவும் முக்கியத்துவம் கொடுத்தார். அதன் பலன்களை மிகவும் சிலாகித்துச் சொல்லுவார். கணக்கற்ற முறை அவர் தம் பக்தர் குழாத்துடன் கிரிவலம் செய்திருக்கிறார்.
  • ரமணரின் “அட்சரமண மாலை” ஞானம் செறிந்த ஓர் பக்தி இலக்கியம். அதை அவர் நாயகி பாவத்தில் எழுதியிருக்கிறார். அவர் ஒரு முறை கிரிவலம் செய்கையில் அப்பாடல்கள் அவருள் முகிழ்த்தனவாம். அப்பாக்களை அவர் புனைகையில் பக்திப் பரவசத்தில் கண்ணீர் பெருகியதாம்!
  • உடலில் வலுவிருந்த நடுத்தர வயது வரை ரமணர் மலையெங்கும் மூலை முடுக்குகளெல்லாம் சுற்றித் திரிவாராம். மலையில் தம் கால் படாத இடமே கிடையாது என்று அவர் சொல்வதுண்டு.
  • அருணாசல மலைக்குள் ஒரு குகை உண்டு என்றும் அதில் பல அற்புதங்கள் உண்டு என்றும் அவர் சொன்னதுண்டு.
  • மலை மீது ரகசியமாய் ஓர் ஆல மரம் உண்டு என்றும், அதன் கீழ் அருண யோகி வடிவில் சிவபெருமான் தவத்தில் இருக்கிறார் என்றும் தல புராணக் கதைகள் உண்டு. ஒரு முறை மலையில் எங்கோ சுற்றுகையில் ரமணருக்கு அந்த ஆல மரம் தொலைவில் கண்ணில் பட்டதாம். அதன் அசாதாரணமான பெரிய இலை ஒன்றையும் அவர் கண்டாராம். ஆனால் அருகில் செல்ல முடியாமல் அவரை குளவிகள் தொடையில் கொட்டி, அவருக்கு மறதியை வர வழைத்து திசை திருப்பி அனுப்பிவிட்டனவாம்.
  • ரமணாசிரமத்தின் நிர்வாகத்தைப் பார்த்துக் கொண்டவர் சுவாமி நிரஞ்சனானந்தர். அவர் ரமணரின் சொந்த தம்பி. குடும்ப வாழ்வில் இறங்கி, ஒரு குழந்தை பெற்று, மனைவியை இழந்து பின் துறவரம் மேற்கொண்டவர் அவர்.
  • ரமணாசிரமத்தில் எந்த ஒரு தேவை ஏற்பட்டாலும் அதை யாரேனும் ஒரு பக்தர் கொண்டுவந்து தரும் சம்பவங்கள் ஏராளம் உண்டு. கனவின் மூலம் தாம் அதைக் கண்டு தேவையானதைக் கொண்டு வந்ததாக பக்தர்கள் சொல்வார்கள்.
  • ரமண பக்தர்கள் வாழ்வில் பல அற்புதங்கள் நிகழ்ந்ததுண்டு. ரமணர் அவற்றுக்கெல்லாம் பொறுப்பேற்க மாட்டார்! அப்படி நிகழ்ந்தது Divine Automatic action என்று சொல்லி பேச்சை மாற்றிவிடுவாராம்.
  • கணபதி சாஸ்திரி ஒருமுறை சென்னை திருவொற்றியூரில் நோய்வாய்ப் பட்டு படுக்கையில் இருந்தபோது அவர் ரமணரைப் பிரார்த்திக்க, ரமணரின் திவ்ய தரிசனம் அங்கே அவர் கண்ட நிகழ்வு உண்டு.
  • மனிதர்கள் மட்டுமின்றி குரங்குகள், நாய்கள், மயில்கள், பசுக்கள், காக்கை, குருவிகள், அணில்கள் என்றெல்லாம் அவரது அண்மைக்காகப் போட்டி போட்டன; அவர் அன்பைப் பெற்றன.
  • ரமணரது ஆசனத்திலேயே கூடுகட்ட விரும்பும் அணில்கள் இருந்தன. அவர் திருமேனியில் ஓடி விளையாடின. அவர் கரங்களிலிருந்து முந்திரிப்பருப்பைப் பெற போட்டி போட்டன. அவரது அன்புக்குப் பாத்திரமான ஒரு நொண்டிக் குரங்கு குட்டி, பிற்காலத்தில் வளர்ந்து குரகுக் கூட்டத்துக்கு ராஜா ஆகியது!
  • (ரமணாசிரமப் பசு லக்ஷ்மியின் கதை, பக்தர்கள் பரவலாக அறிந்த ஒன்று. அந்த பசு லக்ஷ்மிக்கு ரமணர் முக்தி அருளினார்).
  • (ரமணரின் இறுதிக் காலத்தில் அவருக்கு சர்கோமா எனும் புற்று நோய் தாக்கியதும் அதனை நீக்க பல அறுவை சிகிச்சைகள் செய்தும் பலனின்றிப் போனதும் பலரும் அறிந்ததே).
  • ஆயுர்வேதம், யுனானி, சித்தா என்று பல மருத்துவ நிபுணர்களும் அவருக்கு சிகிச்சை செய்து பார்த்தனர். அதனால் அவர் நோய் கூடிற்றே தவிரக் குறையவில்லை.
  • அவர் “ஏதொன்றும் செய்ய வேண்டாம்” என்று சொன்னாலும் பக்தர்கள் கேட்கவில்லை. எனவே அவர் யார் என்ன வைத்தியம் சொன்னாலும் செய்தாலும் அவர்கள் திருப்திக்காக ஏற்றுக்கொண்டு எல்லா வேதனைகளையும் மௌனமாக சகித்துக் கொண்டார். ஒரு முறை அவர் மயக்க மருந்து ஏதும் ஏற்க மறுத்து அறுவை சிகிச்சை செய்துகொண்டதும் உண்டு.

  • உயிர் பிரியும் கடைசி தருணம் வரை அவர் பக்தர்களுக்கு தரிசனம் கொடுப்பதில் கண்டிப்பாக இருந்தார்.
  • அவர் உயிர் பிரிந்த அதே கணத்தில் வானில் ஒரு பெரும் எரி நட்சத்திரம் ஆகாயத்தைக் கிழித்துக்கொண்டு திருவண்ணாமலையின் பின்புறம் மறைந்ததைக் கண்டவர்கள் ஏராளம் உண்டு.
  • அவர் உடலை உகுக்கப் போவதைத் தாங்க மனமில்லாமல் அழுத பக்தர்களிடம் “நான் எங்கே போவேன்? இங்குதான் இருப்பேன்” என்று சொன்னார். அவ்வாறே அவர் உடலை உகுத்த பின்னரும் ரமணாசிரமத்தில் அவர் சான்னித்தியம் குறைவர விளங்கிக்கொண்டே தான் இருக்கிறது என்பது ரமண பக்தர்களின் அனுபவம்.

இன்னும் சொல்லாமல் விட்ட சம்பவங்கள் பலவும் உண்டு.

மகாத்மாக்களின் வாழ்க்கை லீலைகளை நினைத்து நினைத்துப் பார்ப்பதே ஓர் ஆனந்தமான தியான அனுபவம் போலத்தான்.

“ஓம் நமோ பகவதே ஸ்ரீ ரமணாய”
-=0()0=-

 

பாரத சனாதன தர்மம் புத்துயிர் பெற்றதில் ஸ்ரீ ராமகிருஷ்ண பரமஹம்சரின் பெரும் பங்கு

ஸ்ரீ ராமகிருஷ்ண பரமஹம்சர் ஒரு மகாத்மா மாத்திரமல்ல, அவர் ஒரு அவதார புருஷரும் கூட. தனது நெருங்கிய பக்தர்களுக்கு, தாம் ஒரு அவதாரம் என்பதை அவர் வெளிப்படுத்தியிருந்தார். இந்து மதத்தில், அவரைப் பெரிதும் போற்றுவதற்கான பல காரணிகள் உள்ளன, அவற்றில் சிலவற்றை இங்கே சுருக்கமாகக் காண்போம்:

  • அவர் வாழ்ந்த காலத்தில் (1836–1886) நம்மை ஆண்டு கொண்டிருந்த இருந்த ஆங்கிலேயர்களின் ஆதிக்கத்தின் காரணமாய் மேற்கத்திய / கிறிஸ்தவ மதத்தின் தாக்கத்தால் பெரிதும் பாதிப்படைந்திருந்த நமது சனாதன தர்மத்துக்குப் புத்துயிர் தந்த மகான்களில் அவர் முக்கியமான ஒருவராக இருந்தார்.
  • இந்து மதத்தில் உள்ள பன்முகப்பட்ட மார்க்கங்களும் — அதாவது பக்தி மார்க்கம் (அதில் பல கடவுள் வடிவங்களை வணங்குவது உட்பட), ஞான மார்க்கம் (ஜீவாத்ம பரமாத்ம ஐக்கியத்தில் முடிவுறும் அத்வைத தத்துவம்), யோக மார்க்கம் (பதஞ்சலி முனிவர் காட்டும் அஷ்டாங்க யோகம்), குண்டலினி யோகம் (தாந்திர மார்க்கம்) — என்று எல்லாமே இறைவனை அடைவதற்கான வெவ்வேறு முறைமைகளே, அவையெல்லாமே உண்மையானவையே என்று உலகத்துக்கு நிரூபிக்கும் ஓர் முன்னுதாரண புருஷராக அவர் வாழ்ந்து காட்டினார். தீவிர நம்பிக்கையோடும் சிரத்தையொடும் ஏதேனும் ஒரு வழியைத் தேர்ந்தெடுத்து முழுமனதுடன் சாதனை செய்தால் அவ்வவ் வழிகளின் மூலம் பூரணத்துவத்தை அடையமுடியும் என்பதை அவர் பறைசாற்றினார்.
  • அவர் வாழ்ந்த காலகட்டத்தில், தாந்திர மார்க்கம் என்பது மிகவும் இரகசியமாக இருந்த ஓர் ஆன்மீகப் பாதையாக இருந்தது. பலரும் தவறான நோக்கங்களுக்காகத் அந்த மார்க்கத்தைத் தேர்ந்தெடுக்கும் ஓர் நிலைமை வங்காளத்தில் காணப்பட்டது. தன்னுள்ளேயே சிவ-சக்தி ஐக்கியத்தை அனுபவித்து அடைவதற்கான வழிமுறை என்கிற போர்வையில், நெருக்கமான ஆண்-பெண் உறவோடு தொடர்புடைய சடங்குகளைச் செய்யவும் ,மீன், மது, மாமிசம் இவற்றைக் கூடுதல் சுகிக்கவும் தந்திரம் வழி கோலியது.ஸ்ரீ ராமகிருஷ்ணர் இந்த பாதையிலும் துணிந்து இறங்கினார். வயதில் மூத்த பெண் குருவான பைரவி பிராமணயின் நேரடி வழிகாட்டுதலின்படி தாந்திரீகத்தின் கடுமையான நடைமுறைகளைப் பயின்று சாதனைகள் செய்து மிக உயர்ந்த ஆன்மீக அனுபவத்தைப் பெற்றார்.

  • இந்த சுய அனுபவத்தின் அடிப்படையில் அவர், ‘(பலராலும் கண்டிக்கப்பட்ட) தந்திரம் கூட கடவுளை அடைவதற்கான ஒரு பாதைதான்’ என்று அறிவித்தாலும், அதை தனது சீடர்களுக்கு ஒரு சாதனா மார்க்கமாகப் பரிந்துரைக்கவில்லை. பெரும்பாலான மக்களுக்கு அந்த பாதையில் சென்று உயர்நிலையை அடைவதைவிட விட வீழ்ச்சியடையவே வாய்ப்புகள் அதிகம் இருப்பதாக எச்சரித்தார்.
  • அவரது அடிப்படை மனப்பாங்கிலும், ஆன்மீக ருசியிலும் அவர் ஒரு தேவி/ காளி உபாசகராகவே இருந்தார். அவரது ஆன்மீக சாதனா காலங்களின் தொடக்கத்தில் தட்சிணேஸ்வர் பவதாரிணி காளி கோவிலில் பூசாரியாகப் பொறுப்பேற்று) தீவிரமான தபஸ் செய்து, பவதாரிணியின் தரிசனம் பெற்றார். தேவி அவருள் ஐக்கியமானாள். அது முடிந்த பின் அவர் வங்காள வைணவ மார்க்கத்தைக் கடைப்பிடித்து ராதா-கிருஷ்ண பக்தியில் தோய்ந்தார். ஸ்ரீ ராமர், தேவி சீதா, கிருஷ்ணர், ராதா, அனுமன் போன்ற பல தெய்வங்களின் தரிசனங்களைப் பெற்றார். இந்த கடவுள் வடிவங்கள் அனைத்தும் நிச்சயமாக தமக்குள்ளேயே இருப்பதை அவர் உணர்ந்தார்.
  • தோதாபுரி எனும் அத்வைத ஞானியின் சீடராக ஆகி, நாம ரூபங்களைக் கடந்த இறைவனைத் தியானிக்கும் முறைமை பயின்று, நான்-நீ எனும் இரட்டையைக் கடந்து சச்சிதானப் பிரம்மத்தில் ஒன்றாகிவிடும் நிர்விகல்ப சமாதி அனுபத்தைப் பெற்றார்.
  • இந்து மதத்தின் பல்வேறு பாதைகள் மூலமும் இறை அனுபவத்தை ருசித்த அவர், இஸ்லாம் (ஸூஃபி) மற்றும் கிறிஸ்தவ மத மார்க்கங்களிலும் சாதனைகள் செய்தார். அந்த பாதைகளும் கடவுளை அடைவதற்கு வழிவகுக்கும் என்பதை அவர் அனுபவபூர்ணமாக உணர்ந்தார்.
  • இத்தகைய பல்வேறு வகைப்பட்ட சாதனா முறைகளின் மூலம் அறுதி உண்மையை உணர்ந்த அவர் “எத்தனை மதங்களோ, அத்தனை வழிகள்” என்று அறிவித்தார்.அவர் விஷ்ணுவின் பக்தர்களிடையே ஒரு வைணவராக இருந்தார்; தேவியின் பக்தர்களுக்கு மத்தியில் ஒரு சாக்தராக இருந்தார்; அவர் இயேசுவின் வழிபாட்டாளர்கள் மத்தியில் ஒரு கிறிஸ்தவராக இருந்தார். அத்வைதிகளுக்கு மத்தியில் அவர் ஒரு ஞானியாக இருந்தார். யோகிகளின் பார்வையில் அவரும் ஒரு யோகி.வெவ்வேறு மாறுபட்ட மத நம்பிக்கை, இஷ்ட தெய்வ நம்பிக்கை, பல்வேறு பட்ட ஆன்மீக ருசிகள் இவற்றைச் சுமந்து கொண்டு ஆன்மீக வழிகாட்டலை நாடி அவரைச் சந்திக்கும் பேறு பெற்ற ஒவ்வொருவரும், ‘அவர் தங்களுடையவர்’ என்று நினைக்கும் விதத்தில் அவரவர் பக்குவம், மனப்பாங்குக்கு ஏற்ப, அவர்வர் நம்பிக்கையைக் குலைக்காமல் எளிமையான ஆன்மீக உபதேசங்கள் தந்து அவர் வழிகாட்டினார்..
  • “பெரும்பான்மை மக்களுக்கு ஏற்றது பக்தி மார்க்கமே’ என்றே அவர் உபதேசித்தார். அவரவர் தம் இஷ்ட தெய்வத்தை முழுமனதுடன் பக்தி செய்வதன் மூலமே பூரணத்துவம் அடையமுடியும் என்று அவர முன்மொழிந்தார்.
  • தீவிர ஆன்மீக நாட்டத்தோடு கடவுளை அடைய முனையும் சாதகர்களுக்கு ‘காமினி மற்றும் காஞ்சனப் பற்றுதான் (அதாவது பெண்ணாசையும், பணத்தாசையும் தான்) இரு பெரும் தடைகள் என்றார் அவர். இவ்விரண்டையும் கைவிடாமல், ஆன்மீக ரீதியில் வெற்றி பெறுவது ஒருபோதும் சாத்தியமில்லை என்று அவர் உறுதியாக, ஒளிவு மறைவின்றி, அலுக்காமல் உபதேசித்தார்.
  • அவர் திண்ணைப்ப் பள்ளிக்கூடத்தில் அடிப்படையாய் எழுதப் படிக்கக் கற்றதைத் தவிர வேறு ஒன்றும் படித்ததில்லை. பரம எளிமையான, கள்ளம் கபடமில்லாத ஓர் பிராமணர் அவர். அவர் பேசியதெல்லாம் சாமானிய கிராமத்து மக்கள் பேசும் எளிய வங்காள மொழி மட்டுமே. அவர் தம் கையால் பணம் காசை நிஜமாகவே தொடமுடியாத ஓர் நிலையில் இருந்தார். நாளைக்கு என்று எதையும் சேர்த்துவைக்கும் மனோ நிலை இல்லாதவராகவும் இருந்தார்.
  • தமது 24 ஆவது வயதில் ஐந்து வயது சாரதையை அவர் மணந்தார். சாரதை வயதுக்கு வந்து, தம் பதினெட்டாவது வயதில் கணவரோடு சேர்ந்து வாழ (ராமகிருஷ்ணர் தங்கி வாழ்ந்த) தட்சிணேசுவரக் கோவில் வளாகத்துக்கு வந்து சேர்ந்தார். அவளிடம் அவர், “இந்தக் கோவிலில் உறையும் பவதாரிணி காளியும், இங்கே ‘நகபத்’தில் (வாத்திய மண்டபத்தில்) வாழும் என் தாயும், நீயும் ஒன்றே” என்று சொல்லி, அவளும் நகபத்தில் தங்கி வாழ ஏற்பாடு செய்தார். காம உணர்வும் உறவும் ஏதுமின்றி ஒரு கணவனும் மனைவியும் சேர்ந்து ஓர் உயரிய ஆன்மீக வாழ்க்கை வாழ முடியும் என்கிற ஓர் அற்புதமான முன்னுதாரணத்தை உலகுக்குத் தரும் விதத்தில் அவர்களது வாழ்க்கை அமைந்தது.

  • 12 ஆண்டுகாலம் பல்வேறு ஆன்மீக மார்க்கங்களின் வழி சாதனைகள் செய்து இறையானுபவத்தை எல்லா மார்க்கங்களின் வழியேயும் அடைந்த ராமகிருஷ்ணர் உலகிற்கு உபதேசிக்கத் தயார் ஆனார். ஆனால் சீடர்கள் எங்கே? அவர் தமக்கான சீடர்களை அனுப்பி வைக்குமாறு அன்னை காளியிடம் அழுது பிரார்த்தித்தார். அப்போது ஒவ்வொருவராய் அவரது இளம் சீடர்கள் – உலகியற் கல்வி படித்து, அதே சமயம் ஆன்மீக சம்ஸ்காரங்களோடு இறைவனைத் தேடும் இளைஞர்கள் அவரை நாடி வர ஆரம்பித்தார்கள். அவ்வாறே இல்லற பக்தர்களும். பலரும் அவரை நாடி வந்தாலும் அவரது “உள் வட்டத்து’ பக்தர்களும் சீடர்களுமாய், அவரை அவதார புருஷராக உணர்ந்து அடிபணிந்தவர்கள் சுமார் 33 பேர்கள் தாம்.
  • அவர் எப்போதும் கடவுளைப் பற்றியும், இறையானந்தத்தைப் பற்றியும், பக்தி, ஞானம், யோகம், ஆன்மீக சாதனைகள் இவை பற்றியுமே தம்மை நாடி வந்தவர்களிடம் வாய் ஓயாமல் பேசினார். அவர் பேசியதெல்லாம் பரம எளிமையான மொழிகள். அன்றாட வாழ்க்கை உதாரணங்கள் மூலமும், குட்டிக் கதைகள் மூலமும் அவர் ஆன்மீகத்தை உபதேசித்தார். பகவத் கீதை, உபநிடதங்கள் எல்லாம் படித்தும் தத்துவம் புரியாத பண்டிதர்களும் கூட, சம்ஸ்கிருதம் ஏதும் அறியாத பாமரரான அவரது அடி பணிந்து அவர் தரும் எளிய அனுபவ விளக்கங்கள் மூலம் ஞான ஒளி பெற்றனர்.
  • ராமகிருஷ்ணரின் உபதேசங்கள் அவர் வாழ் நாள்கழிந்த பிறகே வெளியுலகம் பரவலாக அறியும் வகையில் தான் அவரது அவதார நாடகம் அரங்கேறியது. அவர் தமது 50 ஆவது வயதில், தொண்டையில் வந்த புற்றுநோயின் காரணமாய் உடலை உகுத்தார்.

(மேலே படத்தில்:ஊணுறக்கம் துறந்து கடுந்தவத்தில் ஈடுபட்ட ராமகிருஷ்ணரின் துறவிச்சீடர்கள்)

  • சுவாமி விவேகானந்தரின் தலைமையில் ராமகிருஷ்ணரின் 16 சீடர்கள் உலக வாழ்வைத் துறந்து சன்யாசம் மேற்கொண்டனர். அவர் காலமான பிறகு பரம எளிமை வாழ்க்கையை மேற்கொண்டு அவர் காட்டிய வழியில் கடும் தவம் செய்தனர். ராமகிருஷ்ணர் காலத்துக்குப் பிறகு சுமார் 34 ஆண்டுகள் சாரதா தேவியார் உயிர் வாழ்ந்தார். அவரது தெய்வீகமான அருளும், ஆதரவும் ராமகிருஷ்ணர் உருவாக்கிய துறவியர் சங்கத்தை வழி நடத்தின. ராமகிருஷ்ணர் காலமான பிறகு பல ஆண்டுகள் கழித்தே ஸ்ரீ ராமகிருஷ்ணா மடம் சுவாமி விவேகானந்தரால் உருவாக்கப்பட்டது.

  • ஸ்ரீ ராமகிருஷ்ணா மடத்தின் தொடக்கம் முதலே துறவும் தொண்டும் அம்மடத்தின் இரு கண்கள் ஆகின. பாரத துறவியர் மடங்கள் சமுதாயத் தொண்டு ஆற்றுவதை மடத்தின் செயல்பாடாகக் கொண்டுவந்த முன்னோடி சுவாமி விவேகானந்தர். அதற்கு அவருக்கு உத்வேகம் அளித்தது அவருக்கு ஸ்ரீ ராமகிருஷ்ணர் கூறிய ஓர் உபதேசம் : “உலகில் வாழும் ஒவ்வொரு ஜீவனும் இறைவனே என்று கண்டு இறைவனுக்கு செய்யும் சேவையாக மக்களுக்குத் தொண்டாற்ற வேண்டும்”.
  • சாத்திரங்களின் சாரத்தையெல்லாம் உள்ளடக்கிய ஸ்ரீ ராமகிருஷ்ணரின் உபதேச மொழிகள் பரம எளிமையானவை; அவையெல்லாம் அவரது காலத்துக்குப் பிறகே வெளியுலகம் அறிய வந்தது. அப்பணியைச் செய்ய ராமகிருஷ்ணர் தெரிந்தெடுத்து வைத்திருந்தவர் “ம-” எனும் புனைப்பெயரில் அறியப்படும் ஸ்ரீ மகேந்திரநாத் குப்தா எனும் ராமகிருஷ்ணரின் இல்லற சீடர் ஆவார். அவர் ராமகிருஷ்ணரின் உரையாடல்களை டயரிக் குறிப்புகளாக (ராமகிருஷ்ணரின் ஜீவ காலத்தின் கடைசி ஐந்து வருடங்களில்) எழுதி வைத்திருந்தார்.

ஸ்ரீ மகேந்திரநாத் குப்தா (ம-)

  • அவர், அவற்றை அவர் பிற்காலத்தில் விரிவாக்கி, “ஸ்ரீ ஸ்ரீ ராமகிருஷ்ண கதாம்ருதம்” எனும் தலைப்பில் 5 புத்தகங்களாக வங்காள மொழியில் வெளியிட்டார். இவ்வரிய பொக்கிஷமாகிய நூல், ஆங்கிலம் (“The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna”) உட்படப் பல்வேறு மொழிகளில் மொழிபெயர்க்கப் பட்டுள்ளது. தமிழில் இது “ஸ்ரீ ராமகிருஷ்ணரின் அமுத மொழிகள்” என்கிற பெயரில் 3 பாகங்களாகக் கிடைக்கிறது. இப்புத்தகம் ஸ்ரீ ராமகிருஷ்ணா மடங்களில் குறைந்த விலையில் கிடைக்கிறது.
  • உலகெங்கிலும் உள்ள தீவிர ஆன்மீக சாதகர்கள் மத வேறுபாடின்றி இன் நூலைப் படித்து மிக எளிமையாக இந்து மதத்தின் ஆன்மீகத் தத்துவங்களைப் புரிந்து கொள்கிறார்கள்.

Swami Chidbhavananda – a brief Biography in Tamil – சுவாமி சித்பவானந்தர் – பெரியாரின் நாத்திகவாதத்துக்கு மாற்றாய் ஆத்திகக் கல்வி பரப்பிய மாமுனிவர்

Brief Biography of Swami (Papa) Ramdas (1884-1963)

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What is Swami (Papa) Ramdas’ uniqueness amid Hindu spiritual masters?

Papa Ramadas was a saint, a God realized/ Self realized master, whose life stood as  a standing example of the efficacy of chanting Rama Mantra as a sure means of realization. He was a saint who saw his beloved Ram inside him as well as in every living being outside. He lived an exemplary life of total surrender to his Ram and demonstrated to the world that a life of cent percent renunciation is possible and when such a surrender comes, the Lord takes care of everything for the well being of his beloved devotee.

Papa Ramdas lived a life of a wandering monk carrying no money or possessions with him during his early spiritual life and traveled the length and breadth of India. Later he established his Math Anandashramam at Kanhankad, (Kasargod district) in north Kerala.

He had thousands of followers who came to him for spiritual guidance. He blessed them with Rama Mantra :” Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram“. He recommended a sadhana practice of Nama (Chanting of the name of Lord Rama), dhyana (meditation) and Seva (selfless service for the well being of others) to his followers as the effective means of attaining spiritual progress and God realization in life.

Birth and early years

Vittal Rao (later Swami Papa Ramadas) was born on the auspicious day of Hanumat Jayanti (the birthday of Lord Hanuman) on April 10th 1884 as the sixth son of the Saraswath Brahmin couple Sri Balakrishna Rao and Lalitha Bai, at Hosdurg in Kasargod district of Kerala. He had 9 brothers and three sisters. His parents led a simple life, full of devotion to God and dedication to austerities.

Vittal Rao had his primary education in Hosdurg and went to Mangalore and then to Udupi for higher education. Vittal Rao was a happy go lucky boy, enjoying games and swiftly climbing trees; though intelligent and quick to grasp things, he had no taste in formal education and he failed in his matriculation. As a boy, he was a free thinker, not conforming to mimicking the worldly; he loved simplicity and was pure in heart. He was quite humorous too. He learned English well. He also read bible during his high school days.

After failing in matriculation exams at Christian High School, Udupi, , he returned to Hosdurg and started showing interest in theatre and arts. He went to The School of Arts in Chennai to formally learn painting and screen printing. He then went to Mumbai to learn textile manufacturing at Victoria Jubilee Institute. He did not develop much of interest in it. He developed lots of interest in reading variety of books including English literature and was influenced by books on the life and teachings of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda and Swami Rama Tirtha. He read Bhagavad Gita and felt highly influenced by it. After finishing the diploma course of three years duration successfully in textile manufacturing, he started looking for jobs. After chequered start in making a career for life, he got a job Spinning Master in Gulbarga for a brief period.

At the age of twenty five, he was married to Rukma Bai. Because of high instability in his career, Vittal Rao was without job many times and it affected his family life too. Five years after marriage,  Rukma Bai gave birth to a female child named Ramabai.

Dispassion

Vittal Rao worked as a Spinning Master in several mills at places like Coimbatore, Ahmadabad, Cuttack etc. He was disturbed by seeing the exploitation of workmen by higher management and got disillusioned with his job. He started his own business of dying clothes in Mangalore. But because of his generosity, compassionate nature and lack of calculative shrewdness, he failed to be a successful businessman and soon accumulated quite a loss. He had accumulated debts to be cleared; he was stressed out and he lead a life of worries, sorrows and desperation. Almost an year passed in this way.

Vittal Rao, the family man under mental turmoil, longing for a journey in quest of God…

In this process, he  developed a deep longing for escape from the worldly life, which had no more attraction for him. He started praying to his beloved God Rama earnestly. He started chanting Lord Rama’s name and spent his time in prayer and meditation.

Thus Vittal Rao was turning inwards, developing discrimination and dispassion and longing for a spiritually dedicated life. Gradually he started gaining mental peace. He turned to simple living and started wearing khaddar; he lost interest in eating and simplified his intake to bananas and boiled potatoes, eating just one time only in a day. He relinquished cushioned bed and slept in mat. He reduced his sleep and spent the night in the contemplation of Lord Ram.

It was at this time that divine grace started working on him. A compassionate friend  volunteered to become his business partner and  paid back all of his the loans!

In the meanwhile, Vittal Rao’s father Balakrishna Rao, having lost his wife, opted to spend his older years dedicated to devotion to God; he went to stay with his eldest son at Kasargod. One day, as he was visiting the famous Udupi Krishna Temple, he got attracted by the radiating divinity of a sanyasi sitting in the shade of a tree in the marketplace. He went and surrendered at his feet. The sanyasi initiated Balakrishna Rao with the mantra “Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram“. Sri Rao was overjoyed by the unexpected divine grace and felt very blessed.

Getting Mantra Diksha

Since Balakrishna Rao knew of his son Vittal’s ardent yearning for a spiritually oriented life, he came to Mangalore to meet his son, with his heart full of compassion; he told Vittal Rao about the mantra he had received from the sanyasi and without delay, he imparted the mantra to his son and blessed him.

And that was the turning point in the life of Vittal Rao. It paved the way for Vittal Rao to blossom into Swami Ramdas sooner.

The moment Ramdas received the mantra, he felt enthralled. He felt he was now a bird released from the cage.  He fell at the feet of his father and from that day, he treated him as his beloved guru, who, out of utmost compassion, came to give him the key to his liberation.

From that day onward, Vittal Rao immersed himself in chanting the Rama Mantra day and night. He added “Om” to the Rama mantra that his father gave. Rather, the mantra virtually caught hold of Vittal! The more he chanted the mantra, the more Vittal got immersed in the bliss of contemplation of his beloved lord Rama. Food and sleep became matters of irrelevance to him.

He started seriously thinking of leaving behind the worldly life altogether and take up Sanyas. He fervently prayed to Lord Rama for His guidance. On that day, as he was reading books like The Light of Asia (Buddha’s life), New Testament and Bhagavad Gita, whatever pages he opened and read contained sentences glorifying a life of renunciation. Vittal Rao took this as the answer from Lord Ram for his prayers. He wrote a letter to his friend who helped him out of his financial difficulty informing of his decision. He also wrote another letter to his wife.

The following is the translation of the letter written by Vittal Rao to his wife before he left his home for good. Notice how he addresses his wife in this letter:

To Srimati Rukmabai, Mangalore

Beloved Sister,

From now onward, you will be my sister. I have surrendered myself totally at the feet of Sri Ram. He has redeemed me from my erstwhile life. Taking his holy name on my lips, I am going out into this vast world as a beggar.  You know that I have no other desire in this life except striving for receiving His grace and love. I am dedicating the rest of my life for this lofty ideal. I am ready to face any amount of hardship for this purpose.

We are not going to meet as husband and wife hereafter.  Lead your life dedicated to God and truth and also ensure that Rame (Ramabai) too follows it.

Never give up the spinning wheel. It will give you peace and bliss. Let Rame too do it.

Sriram’s blessings on you and Rame – He protects you both.

Yours affectionately

B.Vittal Rao

27/12/1922

Taking two dhotis dyed in saffron with him along with a cash of about 25 Rupees and a couple of books mentioned above, he left at 5 AM on the next day from Mangalore and took a train that went up to Erode. Thus began his life of renunciation from family bonds, in December 1922, at his age of 38.

Travelling Mendicant Ramdas – ‘In Quest of God’

Vittal Rao then travelled to Srirangam in Tamil Nadu. He took bath in Kaveri river and took up Sanyas by wearing the ochre clothes, leaving his old clothes to the flowing waters of the Kaveri. He prayed to Lord Ram to protect him from the threats of leading a life of a renunciate. He took three vows: 1) To dedicate the rest of his life to the contemplation of Rama and in service of Rama.  2) To consider every woman as his mother  and 3) To carry on with his physical needs by taking food only through begging or when someone offers it voluntarily.

Thus Vittal Rao, having opted to become a lifelong servant of his Lord Ram, took up the name Ramdas.

He donated some money to fellow mendicants. He decided to leave his future course of movement and actions totally to the prompting of Lord Ram or to whatever way the Lord lead him by circumstances, without much of a choice of his own.

And from then onwards, the wondrous ways of the Lord’s divine play started unfolding in his life. An enthralling life of a wandering monk began;  Ramdas was always assisted, taken care of and lead by some stray sadhu or other  who joined with him voluntarily (different persons at different journeys). Ramdas opted to call such a person as Sadhu Ram. According to him, it was verily Lord Ram who came with him to take care of him.

Ramdas travelled to Rameswaram, Madurai, Chidambaram, Thirupapuliyur, Puducherry and then to Thiruvannamalai. At times he travelled in train without tickets and had to face the wrath  from the Ticket Checkers and Police. But through his radiating divinity and utter humility, he won the hearts of even the toughest officers and underwent no punishment. Rather they turned around and extended help to him to proceed with his travels!

Meeting Ramana Maharshi and Having the Universal Vision of Lord Ram

Along with a sadhu Ram accompanying him, Ramdas went to the meet Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi, who was staying in a humble hut at the foothills of Arunachala (Thiruvannamalai). Ramadas surrendered at the holy feet of the saint and made this prayer: “Maharaj, here stands before Thee a humble slave. Have pity on him. His only prayer to Thee is to give him thy blessing.”

Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi — his mere look is enough

The Maharshi, turning his beautiful eyes towards Ramdas, and looking intently for a few minutes into his eyes as though he was pouring into Ramdas his blessing, then nodded his head to indicating that he had blessed. A thrill of inexpressible joy coursed through the frame of Ramdas, his whole body quivering like a leaf in the breeze.

After this darshan, Ramdas wanted to stay up in the in the Arunachala hill in a cave all alone, engaged in his japa and dhyana uninterrupted. Sadhu Ram made arrangements for it. He spent one month ther, deeply engaging in his sadhana and enjoying a divine bliss of Rama consciousness all the time. Every day, he went down to the town to beg some rice; he cooked it and ate it once a day and engaged rest of the day in his deep contemplation.

And one day, as Ramdas came out of the cave,  got the exhilarating divine experience of seeing everything around him verily the manifestations of Rama and nothing else. Ramdas described his experience thus:

Once, during the day, when he was lost in the madness of Ram’s meditation, he came out of the cave and found a man standing a little away from the mouth of the cave. Ramdas felt an irresistible attraction towards this friend because it was due to the perception of Ram in him. “O Ram, You have come, you have come!” Unconsciously, he ran up to him and locked him up in a fast embrace. This action of Ramdas thoroughly frightened the friend who thought that it was a mad man who was behaving in this manner and so was afraid of harm from him. It was true that he was mad of Ram, a harmless madness that the visitor realised later.  At times, he would feel driven to clasp in his arms the very trees and plants growing in the vicinity of the cave. Ram was attracting him from all directions. Oh, the mad and loving attraction of Ram! O Ram, Thou art Love, Light and Bliss!

Travelling to North India

After this experience, Ramdas continued his journey northwards. He went to Tirupati, Puri, Kolkata and Dakshineswar. He visited Dakshineswar Kali temple, the holy place where Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa had lived.

It is in this room that Ramdas rolled on the floors in an inexplicable divine bliss.

A stranger voluntarily took care of his needs and also led him to the room where Sri Ramakrishna lived;  Ramadas felt that the whole room was surcharged with divine vibrations. A divine bliss ran in his nerves wave by wave. Unconsciously, he started rolling over the floor of the room as if to charge him further with the dust of the room that had been purified with the holy feet of Sri Ramakrishna. The visitor was taken aback by the inexplicable divine madness and joy with which Ramadas was rolling on the floor for about half an hour.

Next he visited Tarakanath, Kashi and then reached Jhansi. There he met a businessman by name Mahadeva Prasad; the Moment Sri Prasad saw Ramdas, he was possessed by a great sense of devotion and surrender to the wandering saint. He forced Ramdas to stay with him and ensured that Ramdas’ physical being is taken care of and some health is restored, which had been battered by total discard due to cold, extreme physical strains, lack of nutrition etc.

Ramdas lived in Jhansi for more than a month. He started giving lectures on Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures to small group of devotees who gathered around him and revered him as their guru. Another devotee by name Ramkinkar became quite close to him.

Visiting Himalayas

Ramdas, the weather-beaten, travelling mendicant

Ramdas left Jhansi for travelling to holy places in Himalayas in the company of Ramkinkar. He visited Haridwar, Rishikesh, Kedarnath and Badrinath. All those places were covered by walk. The beauty of Himalayan mountains capped with snow, the holy rivers, the flora and fauna frequently brought Ramdas to rapture and he felt the presence of his Lord Ram everywhere. Ramdas, surcharged with energy like a Hanuman, climbed huge hills surrounding the holy places and took bath in ice cold waters.

After visiting Himalayas, he travelled to Mathura, Gokul and Vrindavan, Raipur, Ajmir, Junagadh, Dwaraka etc and came to Mumbai. He stayed with his erstwhile brother Ramakrishna Rao there. He continued his journey to Panchavati, Trimbakeshwar, Pandharpur, Bijapur and arrived at Hubli, to meet Sri Siddharoodha Swamy at the behest of his brother.

He stayed in the Mutt of Siddharoodha Swamy and enjoyed the company of the revered saint for a week.

Back home

Siddharudha Swamy, Hubli

By this time, the news of his arrival at Hubli reached his erstwhile family at Mangalore. His erstwhile wife along with the daughter came to meet him at Hubli. She prayed to Siddharudha Swami to impress Ramdas to return to Mangalore with her. As instructed by the saint, Ramdas accompanied her back to Mangalore. However he made clear to her that his return to grihasthashram (worldly life) was unthinkable as his life had been possessed by Rama irrevocably.

He stayed with his eartwhile brother Sitarama Rao and also met his father who was his guru too.

Thus the first phase of Ramdas’ spiritual life of intense period of Rama Consciousness in which Ramdas lived the life of a wandering monk for a period of about one year,  came to an end.

Ramdas explains his temperament and state of being during this one year period as below:

During this period, Ramdas’ mind was totally in peace and his life was one of total surrender. The world was dreamlike to him and was virtually non existent.  He travelled from one place to another like a machine. Lord Rama was obviously taking care of him with love and protection. In his exclusive world, only Ram and Ramdas were existent. There was unequivocal bliss in that state. Ramdas was free from dualities — pain and pleasure, heat and cold, good and bad. His mind was always at peace, rest and silence; it was sort of empty too.

 At times, he would suddenly slip to the external world  with all its associated dualities, but Ramdas would be attentive enough to notice it and withdraw his mind inward again. 

Ramdas disliked crowd. He always tried to escape to places of loneliness. Ramdas was totally free from any fear — fear of any danger or even death. He had the strongest conviction that he was in the protection of his Lord.

Rama’s name was constantly on his lips. He kept chanting it mechanically at all times. North Indian acquaintances that became close to him felt that he was totally free from any attachment. 

Ramdas was virtually like a child; he was extremely humble and obedient towards others. He was taken care of by others as if he was a child and they assisted him in taking bath, dressing up, eating and so on.   

He was never attracted or distracted by anything happening in the world. Both his mind and intellect had stopped working. There  was no more the false sense of “I” in him. It was Rama who occupied that space. Ramdas spoke very little in this period. 

He was simply like a dry leaf, swept this way and that way by the wind.”

Austere Life at Pandava Cave

Pandava Cave at Kadri Hill

From his brother’s house, Ramdas then shifted his residence to the Pancha Pandava Cave at Kadri Hills, two miles away from Mangalore. He stayed alone with bare minimum needs and totally immersed himself in meditation and contemplation of Ram there, for a period of about three months. He ate just fruits and drank milk twice a day. His day would start at 3 AM and after ablutions, he would sit chanting japa and soon lose himself in deep meditation for hours at stretch with little external consciousness. He undertook vow of silence for a week.

It was the second phase of his spiritual quest. During this period of sadhana, Ramadas had visions of inner light; he delved deeper into his Self, transcending name, form, thought and intellect. He could experience the purity, silence and the bliss of his Self inside. Gradually, this state became permanent that there was no longer any fall of the mind into the external world.

Next he could feel that the Self (Atman) that was an internal experience of bliss and light was gradually expanding to cover the external world too. His Self bloomed like a flower and in its light, the whole external world was embraced by pure love and light. This bliss that he experienced this way was much more powerful. Even though he had bouts of this experience earlier too, during his days of austerities in Pandava Caves, it became a permanent nature of him. Ramdas became one with Ram.  Ramdas realized that he had now got transformed into a state brimming with energy, love and bliss. The fruit was totally ripe now. He was now fully ready to share that sweet bliss to all those who came into contact with him.

Ramdas, the Tapasvi, radiating divine love — The fruit was totally ripe now.

 

People started coming in large numbers to have his darshan at the cave. Ramdas interacted freely with them and shared his wonderful experiences with them. He spoke on the glory of God and His infinite compassion. He attracted people from all religions. He could instantly communicate with Muslims and Christians too and spoke with them as though he was verily one among them. His radiating divinity broke all boundaries.

During his stay in the caves, Ramdas wrote all the thrilling experiences of his previous one year journey in the book “In Quest of God” which got published first in the year 1925.

During this period at Pancha Pandava Caves, Ramadas served with love a group of beggars suffering under acute leprosy for a brief period.

Spreading his message of Love and bliss – The second round of travelling

Ramdas’ spiritual life now entered into the third phase. Ramdas decided to take up the life of a travelling mendicant once again. But this time, he was on a different mould. He was bent upon sharing his divine bliss to all those seekers who,  attracted by his divine radiance, mobbed him wherever he went. Ramdas visited Kasargod and Kollur. Through the association with a Yogi, he learned and practiced Pranayama. He had mixed experiences — positive and negative through this practice.  After practicing it intensely for some during his stay at Kudlu (near Kasargod) and grasping its efficacy, he discontinued this practice.

At the feet of God

During his lonely stay at Kudlu, Ramdas got an inner urge to outpour his spiritual bliss through writing: He wrote poems, prayers and articles which later in 1928 got published in the form of a book ‘At the feet of God‘.

Ramdas returned to Kadri Hills and stayed there again for about two months. This time, a young man by name Madhav (later Ramas called him Ram Charan Das) started staying with Ramdas and serving him with love and devotion.

Continuing journey northward

Ramdas began his next round of journey towards north by walk and Ram Charan Das joined him, despite Ramdas’ advising him against it.

Ramdas visited Gokaran, Shetphal and Pandharpur. Ramdas now insisted Ram Charan Das to undertake his own journey independently in order to personally taste the bliss of Lord Ram and understand how His love always protected a hapless devotee. Thus they parted ways.

Ramdas travelled alone to Bijapur, Hubli, Bangalore and then went Mangalore and Ernakulam.  Ramdas was taken care of very well by so many people in all the places he visited. People vied with each other to feed him and take spiritual advice from him. Unlike the past, Ramdas was quite open to talk freely with people on matters of God and spirituality and was giving lectures and invited talks to amidst gathering of devout people.

He again travelled northward to Goa, Mumbai, Wadhwan, Surat and many other places in between.  In Wadhwan, Ram Charan Das joined him. Later, again leaving Das to chart his own course, Ramdas left for Jhansi. There his old acquaintances who had become his devotees — Mahadev Prasad and Ramkinkar were emotionally overwhelmed to see him again and happily took care of him. Ramdas conducted satsang amid his several Jhansi devotees.

He then went to Chitrakoot, Bhanda and Gokar Parvat. He travelled to Lalitpur, Rajkot, Sattarpur, Kanpur and then returned to south. He witnessed the marriage of his erstwhile daughter Ramabai at Kasargod and felt happy to feed about 400 poor people as part of the ceremony.

He travelled again to Jhansi and then to Haridwar and Rishikesh. Purely driven by divine will, he travelled up in Himalayas to Vashistha Ashram which was not easily accessible to travellers. Despite his sparse food-intake, Ramdas was at the brim of his energy; climbing trees, cliffs and mountains were like child play to him and he was in constant bliss as he undertook his lonely journey by foot to various places in Himalayas. Everywhere Sadhus and poor villagers took abundant care of him with reverence.

Ramdas next took his  journey to Pathankot, Jammu and Kashmir. He travelled to Amarnath Cave and had the thrill of seeing the ice linga there. He reached Srinagar and met many sadhus. He returned to south via Amritsar, Sattarpur, Mumbai, Sholapur and finally returned to Kasargod. Several miracles happened by the will of the divine around Ramdas and Ramdas took them matter-of-factly with the mood of a witness. Wherever Ramdas went, crowds swelled; Bhajans, Satsangs and feeding of the poor happened.

First Anandashram — at Kasargod

At Kasargod, Ramdas stayed with his eldest brother Ananda Rao. Ananda Rao was very eager to construct an Ashram for Ramadas and a nice place was located at Bilkunchi hill nearby. A devotee leased the land free of charge. Soon construction of a humble Ashram began there in that picturesque surrounding. The ashram was  inaugurated on 3rd June 1928  in the presence of lots of devotees and well wishers, including the aged father and guru of Ramdas.

Coming into the fold of Ramdas — Mother Krishnabai (1903-1989)

It was in the year 1928 that Ma Krishnabai first met Ramdas, at her 25th age. Soon she surrendered totally at the holy feet of Ramdas and became his foremost disciple and future caretaker of Anandashram.  She got spiritual enlightenment by the blessings and guidance of Ramdas through her dedicated practice and surrender; she was held in the highest regard by Ramdas himself for her life totally  spent in loving and serving all. He wrote about Krishnabai at a future occasion: “Krishnabai’s life presents a practical illustration of how an individual can live a life of spontaneous and intense activity while ever fixed in the Divine Consciousness born of complete self-surrender.” 

Krishnabai, a very pious and God-loving brahmin girl right from childhood,  had a very troubled and grief stricken past. She got married at the age of 12 and widowed at the age of 20, having two young boys to take care of. After a failed attempt of suicide, Krishnabai developed dispassion for worldly life and she longed for peace and spiritual guidance to remove her grief and progress in a life dedicated to God. She got her  Mantra initiation from Siddharudha Swami of Hubli. She also had a few other Mantra initiations from others.  She was very dedicated and systematic in practicing mantra japas, without any selfish motive. Yet not finding peace in her life, she stared searching for a Guru who should be a jivan mukta (as per advice given to her by an astrologer).

Her ardent prayers were answered and her life took her to Kasargod. A few days after the Ashram was inaugurated, the caretakers of Krishnabai, who were devoted to Ramdas brought her to the Ashram. Krishnabai felt instantly at peace at her meeting with Ramdas. Ramdas’ divine attraction brought her back to Ashram again and again and she enjoyed Ramdas’ satsang immensely.

Soon she received Mantra Diksha from Ramdas and started actively engaged in japa as per his guidelines; she continued to be a regular visitor to the ashram ; however, Ramdas did not permit her to stay in Ashram, despite her deep wish to do so. She got closely acquainted with the esrtwhile family members of Ramdas (wife Rukmabai and daughter Ramabai) who too were now earnest devotees of Ramdas.

During the early stages of Ashram, Ramdas stayed fully in the Ashram and several earnest devotees too stayed with him. After about a year,  Ramdas heeded to the repeated plea of his devotees from North India to visit them.

Mother Krishnabai, could not bear the idea of getting separated from her guru and she pleaded to Ramdas not to leave devotees like her to despair through the separation. She wanted to stay in the Ashram permanently. But Ramdas was firm that her duty to her children demanded her presence at home. One day, she left the ashram late in the evening with lot of reluctance. The next morning news came that she had spent the whole night alone at the adjacent hill and she was bitten by a snake in her leg and her leg was fully swollen.

Ramdas rushed to see her at the hills and brought her to the Ashram; he chided her for her obstination  and then arranged to send her back home. After treatment Krishnabai became alright.

Ramdas travels across North India again

Ramdas visited Bangalore, Sholapur, Pandharpur, Anchor and Osmanabad.  Old acquaintances and new devotees surrounded him wherever he went; bhajans and satsangs happened amid huge gatherings.  In Osmanabad, people belonging to cobbler class (considered untouchables those days) invited Ramdas to attend a devotional function at their place. Ramdas visited them along with several brahmin devotees. A massive crowd of cobbler community had gathered there to have a darshan of Ramdas. They conducted pada puja to him and offered prasad that even the brahmins took along with him.

From there, Ramdas proceeded to Mumbai, Wadhwan, Rajkot, Ahmadabad, Agra and Jhansi. He briefly returned to Kasargod to see his seriously ailing father and then started again to the disappointment his close devotees at home. Ramdas travelled to Chennai, Nagpur, Jhansi and Rawalpindi. Everywhere his old eager devotees were overwhelmed to meet him again and enjoy his divine company. Next Ramdas went to Srinagar and then returned to Rawalpindi. Then he visited Dhanbad, Katrasgarh, Chennai, Kumbakonam, Ernakulam and finally returned to Kasargod.

Krishnabai leaves her family and returns to Ramdas

During the period of his absence, Krishnabai lovingly took care of and nursed the aged and ailing father of Ramdas and also Rukmabai who was suffering from Asthma.

After his return, Krishnabai had to accompany her relatives to Dharwar, which she did extremely reluctantly due to her unwillingness to part with Ramdas. She went to Mumbai, entrusted her children to her close relatives and then took  a firm decision to leave worldly life and return to Ramdas. She arrived at Kasargod by train virtually empty handed and decided to walk straight to the ashram all alone in the night. By a divine miracle, she was guided to the ashram in total darkness through a mysterious light emanating from her feet; thus, she presented herself before Ramdas unawares at about 9 PM at the Ashram! Ramdas was undertaking a vow of silence and fasting those days and he burst out into laughter upon seeing Krishnabai there at those odd hours. Krishnabai too had a hearty laugh!

Ramdas wrote in a piece of paper “Mother, you have come to your own home now; the ashram shall, in future, be your permanent place of residence“. Krishnabai felt a great relief and joy on seeing the welcome note.

Krishnabai comes into the fold of Ramdas permanently and dedicates her life to serve him and the Ashram.

As expectable in a conservative society, a young widow leaving behind her family and staying permanently and interacting actively with Ramdas, created slanderous talks and gossips. Other residents in the ashram were threatened by their families and most of them left. Regular visitors to the ashram too started dwindling.

Krishnabai’s self-realization

Krishnabai immersed herself to active sadhana under the guidance of Ramdas at the Ashram. When Ramdas asked Krishnabai as to what sort of spiritual attainment she was keen to get, Krishnabai replied: “Papa, I want to be one with your eternal and infinite Being and know you and I are one. Besides, nobody should know that I have realized your immanent and transcendent Being.

Ramdas engaged Krishnabai to practice deep meditation for the first time. With total dedication and mental strength Krishnabai immersed herself deep into her inner being and soon realized her individual self merging with Universal self, which, according to her experience was nothing but the all pervading formless aspect of her beloved Papa Himself. This happened in the year 1930. After she got that experience, Krishnabai lost interest in all her service activities including serving Papa and she was content to remain immersed in divine bliss.

Kasargod Anadashram abandoned

During a brief period, when only Ramdas and Krishnabai stayed alone at the Ashram, thieves and thugs came to the Ashram at one night. One of them tried to misbehave with Krishnabai; fortunately, by chanting Rama nama loudly, both Ramdas and Krishnabai got protected by the power of Lord Rama and the thieves ran away, totally scared.

This incidence made Ramdas to take a decision that such a secluded place away from any residences nearby was not safe for women devotees. He decided to abandon the ashram and leave Kasargod immediately, leaving future things to unfold as per the will of Rama. But Krishnabai pleaded to him again and again not to forsake her and she begged him to take her along wherever he opted to go. After refusing for a while, Ramdas ultimately decided not to forsake his ardent disciple. He took her to Hosdurg and stayed with devotees.

New Anandashram comes up at Manjapathi (Ramnagar), Kanhangad

Based on the suggestion and requests by earnest devotees, Ramdas decided to start a new Ashram close to Manjapathi hill which was also close to Kanhangad town and yet a picturesque and extremely peaceful place, surrounded by natural greenery, fertile fields and the hills.

Anandashram (1933)

Ramdas wrote to all his acquaintances across India for their help in starting the new ashram. Money flowed in generously from eager devotees. Without any delay, construction of the new ashram premises started. The new Anandashram was inaugurated on May 15h, 1931. Ramdas dedicated the Ashram to the service of the people cutting across all barriers of caste, religion, age, sex or creed and the two guiding principles of the Ashram would be Universal Love and Service. Krishnabai gradually was able to a return to a state of active life (yet blissfully remaining in sahaja samadhi state)  and was in the forefront of the inaugural function and all the other activities of the new Ashram. She was a born administrator and showed her mettle in facing all hardships with smile and serving everyone with love and care like a mother.

Ramdas considered all religions equal and respected all the great spiritual masters of the past. The Ashram sported the pictures and portraits of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Saradadevi, BHagwan Ramana Maharshi, Saibaba, Jesus Christ, Sri Aurobindo, Lord Buddha, Jorastra, Swami Vivekananda, Gurunanak and Ramdas’ own guru — his father.

Soon Rukmabai and also Ramdas’s father and Guru left their worldly life.

Soon the Anandashram became the center of attraction to so many devotees; people and spiritual aspirants from all walks of life came to Anandashram to take part in japa, meditation and satsangs. Several distinguished Sadhus from other religious maths too regularly visited the Ashram to be in the divine company of Ramdas.

‘The Vision’ magazine

The Ashram’s monthly English Magazine ‘The Vision’ with Ramdas as its editor started its publication in the year 1933. The magazine continues to be published even today.

Ramdas’ second round of travelling experiences  were written by him in the form of a book ‘In the Vision of God’ which got published by Anandashram in the year 1934.

Ashram expands

Ramdas’ physical body had got considerably weakened on account of his incessant travels totally ignoring proper food and rest; he was affected by rheumatism and exhaustion. Krishnabai took extreme care and concern on his physical frame by providing him with essential minimum comforts and rest which he was all along negligent of. Ramdas, by this time was also free from his erstwhile tendency to wander with total freedom  except for two tours done during 1931 to 1938, done in the company of his caretakers. He stayed put in the Ashram between 1938 to 1949. Consequently, more and more of his devotees and new visitors started visiting the Ashram and the Ashram had to expand.

Ramdas made it a point to feed the poor in large numbers particularly at the times of religious festivals, cutting across all barriers of caste, religion or creed.

From the generous contribution from devotees, new buildings to house the printing activities, kitchen, guest house, residential quarters for the staff, Cowshed and so on.

An elementary school under the care of the Ashram (Sri Krishna Vidyalaya) was started in the year 1942. In the year 1946, Sri Krishna Udyogshala, an institute for vocational training was started. A small hospital was also run by the Ashram from 1952.  (All these institutions were handed over to Government in later years).

Coming into the fold of Ramdas — Swami Satchidananda (1919-2008)

It was in the year 1947 that  Ananta Sivan at his age of 28 met Ramdas at the Ashram for the first time. As a young brahmin boy of 5 to 6 years, Ananta Sivan had lost his mother and did not have a happy home at his childhood. After his education he joined defence services. He had deep spiritual inclination and was searching for meaning to his life. After having a few bouts of depression, he was guided to meet Ramdas by divine dispensation. He was instantly attracted by the divinity of Ramdas and the bountiful motherly love from Krishnabai. He felt that his real home was Anadashram and he became its permanent resident from 1949.

Swami Satchidananda with Mother Krishnabai 

He served Ramdas as a secretary and took care of his personal needs. He also assisted in the hectic activities of Krishnabai. Due to an inner urge, he felt the need to go to Himalayas and do intense spiritual practice so as to qualify himself better for a truly devoted selfless service at the Ashram. Despite Krishnabai’s objections, he went to Rishikesh and started practicing meditation in solitude.

Swami Satchidananda

However, after about 8 months, he was called back by Ramdas to accompany them on an Indian tour. Circumstances developed in such a way that he could not return to Rishikesh and he understood clearly that his life and spiritual progress was linked to serving Ramdas and being a right hand to Krishnabai in her administrative work. Parallely progressing in his spiritual quest, Ananta Sivan was given Sanyasa Diksha with a name Satchidananda. He too became a self-illumined disciple of Ramdas and the future head of the ashram after the departure of Ramdas and Krishnabai from the world.

Ramdas undertakes World Tour

Anandashram Trust was formed in the year 1954.  Ramdas accompanied by Krishnabai and Swami Satchidanda undertook a world tour from August 1954 until January 1955.

His world tour covered Switzerland, Germany, France and England at Europe.  At france (Gretz) he visited Ramakrishna ashram and met Swami Siddeshwarananda.  At Sussex in England, he met the famous Christian mystique Henry Thomas Hamblin. Papa also visited Shakespere’s birthplace. Ramdas conducted Satsangs and spread the message of Universal love and God consciousness in all the places he visited, which were attended by avid spiritual seekers cutting across religious barriers.

His tour continued to USA and Hawaii; He then proceeded to Japan and met the famous Buddhist scholar D.T. Suzuki there. The tour continued to Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, Cylon and back to India.

During world tour – Swami Satchidananda with Papa Ramdas

 

End of Papa

On the evening of July 25th 1963 at Papa’s 80th year, he had a severe heart attack.  He was collapsing and Mother Krishnabai and Swami Satchidananda managed to take him to his cot. While lying down there, he  suddenly sat up chanting “Hari, Hari, Hari Ram.” With the name of God on his lips Papa breathed his last.

At the feet of Ramdas…

While his divine presence without his physical body continued to be felt in the Ashram, Krishnabai carried on with the running of the Ashram with her motherly love and care and continued to guide avid seekers in the spiritual path of Nam-Dhyan-Seva for the next 26 years. After her passing away, Swami Satchidananda took care of the Ashram and continued to inspire avid seekers till he breathed his last in 2008.

Reverberating ever with the chanting of Ram nam and surcharged with the subtle presence of these three great spiritual masters, Anandashram continues to be the place of attraction for sincere seekers of Spirituality at Kanhangad, Kerala.

….Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram….

-=0O0=-

REFERENCES:

  1. Anandashram – official website
  2. In Quest of God – by Papa Ramdas — free pdf download from Anandashram website
  3.  “Introduction to The Essential Swami Ramdas” by Susunaga Weeraperuma – free pdf: World Wisdom, Inc.
  4. In the vision of God – by Papa Ramdas — free pdf download (from Anandashram website)
  5. My beloved Papa Ramdas by Swami Satchidananda — From Divine Life Society web page
  6. Guru’s Grace — Life of Mother Krishnabai – Free pdf download
  7. Video — Swami Ramdas’ World tour

 

 

Brief Life History of Shirdi Sai Baba

Who is Shirdi Sai Baba?

Shirdi Sai Baba (~1838/42-1918) was a very unique Avatar of God; he was a realized saint who knew his oneness with God. His Avatar perhaps was ordained to foster Hindu Muslim unity, though a vast majority of his devotees were essentially Hindus even during his times, as it is now; he lived in Shirdi (which was not his birthplace) for almost 60 years. Shirdi is in Marathwada region where Islamic population too is considerable.

He emphasised ‘Sabka Malik Ek‘ (God of all people is one). Saibaba was, in all probability, had no formal education, but he had extensive knowledge on Bhagavad Gita. His life and utterances reflected the highest truth of Vedanta. He was also very knowledgeable in Koran.

It is widely believed that his Guru was a Muslim fakir (a Sufi saint), who too was a knower of God. Sai Baba dressed up like a Fakir and lived in a dilapidated mosque. That lead some people to think that he was a Muslim Fakir.

Sai Baba did not put any of his teachings in writing; he never gave any discourses; however, his sayings have been recorded by his followers.

Sai Baba often hinted that he did not come to teach, but to awaken. He brought this awakening through his unconditional love towards his followers. Surrender to him unconditionally and he will never let you down –that was the level of confidence he imbibed into his devotees. Baba’s response to his devotee’s call for help is as eager, as ardent and as urgent as the devotee’s call itself. His sayings too stand testimony to this. It is true even today.

The way devotees throng at Shirdi in thousands on a daily basis and in lakhs on festive occasions despite the passage of more than a century after his departure from the world stand testimony to this assurance and faith.

Crowd of devotees waiting for Darshan at Shirdi Sai Samadhi. (Inset: Image of Sri Sai at his Samadhi mandir)

Birth and Early years

Little information was available from Sai Baba about his origins. Connecting historical happenings during his period, it is believed that he was born somewhere between 1838 to 1842.

There was no solid proof available about Sai Baba’s place of birth, religion or caste during his lifetime. Sai Baba never revealed anything about his origins to his devotees.

Two evidences from people who lived close with Sai Baba at Shirdi lead researchers to believe Sai Baba was a Hindu — one, he had his ears pierced and two, he was not found circumcised.  In later period, researcher (Shri V.B,Kher, a Sai devotee and a biographer of Sai) based on several hints collected from Sai Baba’s conversations with devotees in his authentic biographies, by visiting places mentioned there, meeting people etc,  was able to reasonably deduce where his birth place is.

It is believed to be villege Pathri, situated in Parbhani district of Maharashtra, some 150 km south east of Daulatabad. Connecting events of the distant past with family histories learned from aged residents of the village, the researchers also felt that a boy born in a Brahmin family of Bhausaris (Shukla Yajurvedi Brahmins of Koushika Gotra) who had reportedly left his home at an age of about five with a Muslim Fakir was Sai Baba in all probability. They also located the ruined house  of the Bhausaris at Pathri. The name of the Sufi Fakir who became the custodian and spiritual master of the young Brahmin boy was (deduced to be)  Roshan Sha Mia.

The family deity of Bhausari family was Hanuman. After picking up bits and pieces from Sai Baba’s utterances, Baba’s deep knowledge of Hinduism, his practice of celebrating Ram Navami regularly at Shirdi during his final years and the liking he had on Hanuman and a couple of other coincidences, Shri V.B. Kher satisfied himself on his findings. Shri Kher bought the piece of land in 1978 from a descendent of Bhusari Brahmin family at Pathri. Construction of a Sai temple there began in 1994 and On 19th October 1999, the Sai Janmasthan Temple was inaugurated.

Sai Janmasthan temple at Pathri, Maharashtra.

So, it is now more or less an agreed belief that Sai Baba was a Brahmin by birth. Even if he were to be a Muslim, Islam does not have any scope or provision to worship any person as God.

Saibaba reportedly traveled across several places of Marathwada along with his Fakir Guru. He (according to his own statements) was under the care of his guru for 12 long years and served him with love and humility and received love and blessings from his guru in abundance.  It is also believed that Sai Baba was indeed ‘born perfect’ and his innate divinity got just rekindled by association with such a formal Guru. Several statements of Saibaba reveals that he remained in a state of Advaita (a state of non-duality — being one with God) and uttered them with utmost authority and assurance.

It is learnt that Baba, after remaining a wandering monk upto his age of 25 to 30 and before coming and settling Shirdi, was staying in Aurangabad and he was the spiritual master of a fakir by name Bade Baba or Fakir Baba for 12 years. Incidentally,  many years later,  Bade Baba returned to stay with his erstwhile master at Shirdi in the year 1902.

Arrival at Shirdi

Sai Baba arrived for the first time at Shirdi some time the year 1868-1872, when he was around 25 to 30 years old. He was a serene looking young man, tempered by a disciplined life of tapas and austerity. He came to Shirdi along with a marriage party of Chand Patil of Dupkhed; Chand Patil (a muslim)  had brought Sai Baba along with him, to attend the marriage of his sister with one one Hamid of Shirdi.

How did Chand Patil get acquainted with Sai Baba?

The story goes that Chand Patil met Sai Baba on his way from his village towards to Aurangabad while going by walk after he unfortunately lost his mare. He met this young man (Baba) looking like a fakir under a tree, who told him that his lost mare was just in the nearby vicinity, close to a stream there. Patil went in search and was surprised to find his mare there. As he returned to the young Fakir to thank him, he found him preparing his hookah by getting a piece of burning charcoal and also some water by simply digging into earth! The fakir shared the smoke with the traveller too. Impressed by these miracles, Chand Patil took the Fakir reverentially with him to his home to be his guest. Subsequently, he also took him to the marriage ceremony at Shirdi to bless the couples.

No one knew the name of this Fakir. The story goes that when he arrived at Shirdi and got down from the cart, the local Khandoba temple owner and priest Bhagat Mhalsapati saw him first and welcomed him “Ya Sai!” (Welcome Sai) and this name Sai stuck. (The word Sai or Sain/ Sayi denotes Lord,God, saint, husband (beloved) or Fakir. Baba means father). Incidentally, after a couple of  years of arrival of  Sai Baba, Mhalsapati accepted Sai Baba as his Sadguru and became a lifelong devotee to serve Him.

After the marriage, the party with Chand Patil left Shirdi, but Sai Baba stayed back. Initially, Saibaba stayed at the outskirts of Shirdi in Babul forest for nearly 2.5 years, then under a neem tree for four to five years. During this period, he was deeply immersed in Self, ignoring rain and shine and living day and night in the open.

Living under Neem tree and Guru Sthan

According to another version of the story , it is said that he came to Shirdi much earlier, when he was about 16 or 17 years old and  lived with his Guru near the neem tree without much of public gaze across 12 years.

Sai Baba had mentioned about the existence of the tomb of his guru underground adjacent to the neem tree. When dug, four earthen lamps and a japa mala were found there. Baba prevented further digging as the tomb of the guru existed further below. Sai Baba mentioned the existence of a tunnel there where he did his tapas without getting disturbed from the outer world. His utterances on this matter were not so clear whether he was mentioning about his Guru and his life in the present Avatar or in his previous birth. This tunnel reportedly extended upto the Masjid to which Saibaba shifted to live later.

Later he shifted to the dilapidated Masjid where he lived permanently thereafter.

During these early years, Sai Baba had no proper food. He would go for alms and be content to eat whatever people gave him. However, a kind-hearted lady by name Bayajabai somehow seemed to understand the high spiritual status of Sai Baba and she took a vow to feed Baba before she ate her food. She would take the meals for Baba. go in search of him near the neem tree oand surrounding places in the jungle, locate him and feed him.

People by and large thought he was a mad Fakir, till a well known Vaishnava Saint by name Gangagir Bua, who often visited Shirdi, met Baba; he could grasp Baba’s true stature of divinity and he spread word.  Two other sadhus who lived in Shirdi at that time by name Devidas and Janakidas too started liking the company of the saintly Sai Baba. Soon, one by one people started going to him and were amply rewarded by his blessings.

Living at Dwaraka Mai (Masjid)

An old photo of entrance of Masjid (Dwarakamai). Sai Baba seen at the right extreme.

Mhalsapati, Kashiram Shimpi and Appa Jagle of Shirdi were the earliest disciples of Sai Baba, who surrendered to him and served him with devotion.  It is by their efforts that Sai Baba shifted from the neem tree to the dilapidated Masjid in Shirdi; This masjid became his permanent abode till the end of his life, spanning about 60 years. He named the place Dwaraka MaiMhalsapati became the closest of all and he served his Master till Baba left his mortal body.

An artist view of Sai Baba sitting inside the Masjid (Dwarakamai).

 In fact, it was Sai Baba who attracted devotees and ardent seekers living in distant places by creating circumstances in their lives or by sending word to them to come and meet Him. He said that his relation as  Guru with some of his disciples started a couple of births ago and he was duty-bound to take care of them and lead them to enlightenment across births.

After his permanent occupation at Dwaraka mai, more spiritually inclined seekers like Appa Kulkarni, Nana Saheb Dengle, Chidambar Keshav, Madhav Rao Deshpande, Nanasaheb Nimonkar, Nanasaheb Chandorkar, Das Ganu and others frequently visited Sai Baba and accepted Him as their Sadguru and surrendered to him.

By the grace and blessings of Sai Baba, Das Ganu  (real name Shri Ganapat Dattatreya Saharabuddhe) a former policeman left his job, surrendered to Sai and later blossomed into a great poet, singing the glory of his guru through his kirtans. He was hailed as a santkavi.

It was through Nanasaheb Chandorkar (a well educated person in Sanskrit and Hindu scriptures) that the outer world came to know of Sai Baba’s extensive knowledge on Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures of Hinduism.

Abdul, the Muslim disciple of Sai Baba too came to Sai Baba through his calling. Abdul was earlier a servitor of Amiruddin fakir of Nanded. It was through Abdul that the world came to know of the extensive knowledge Sai Baba had on Islam, the Koran, Sira— the life of Mohammad, Sunna (code of conduct) , hadith (traditions), sharia (laws) and so on.

Common people started coming to Sai Baba in large numbers for curing them of their ailments and seeking solutions to their worldly worries. During his early days, Sai Baba prepared some indigenous medicines and gave to them. People got cured miraculously and they spread words; more and more people came to him for the purpose.

The Dhuni and Udi as prasad

At Dwaraka mai, Sai Baba started a Dhuni — a fire place where he arranged to keep a sacred fire burning perpetually. Baba stopped preparing and giving medicines;  instead, he started giving the ash (Udi) from the Dhuni as his prasad.  Sai Baba’s udi prasad soon became a ‘cure all’ medicine for many people, including people having mental problems. Through the udi, what they really received was the unconditional love and divine blessings from Sai Baba.

As Baba’s popularity grew, people started bringing food for him to the Masjid and gradually, the need for him to go around the village for seeking alms came down.

Sai Baba as a Saint and Sadguru

Baba radiated divine love; his compassion flowed unconditionally towards all those who came to him with faith and trust hoping their problems to get solved. Spiritually inclined seekers who came to him, grasped his divine nature and surrendered to his feet considering him to be their Sadguru.

Baba remained a unique blend of all religious faiths and he did not discriminate people based on religion, sect, caste, race, sex or language. He strengthened the faiths of devotees to their respective religions and guided them individually on spiritual practices suited to each one’s capacity, calibre and taste.

He taught his devotees self-restraint, detachment, faith in God and faith in guru.Without being preachy, he taught philosophy, devotion, spiritual discipline, morality, right conduct for daily life and fellow-feeling towards all living beings.

He encouraged sadaks whose worldly duties were over, to live with him and concentrate on sadhana for spiritual enlightenment.  He discouraged youngsters from relinquishing worldly life out of over-enthusiasm without the necessary mental strength for renunciation.

Many devotees of Lord Dattatreya who came to him considered him to be an avatar of Dattatreya. Akkalkot Swami (Shri Swami Samarth)  was a highly revered and a contemporary saint of Sai Baba who was considered  an Avatar of Dattatreya. Many of his devotees held Sai Baba in very high regard. It is said that Akkalkot Swami directed some of his disciples to go to Sai Baba for guidance after his departure.

Likewise devotees of other God forms (Lord Ganesha, Hanuman and so on) too considered Saibaba as the divine Avatar of their personal Gods.  Some such devotees, who had taken vows to make certain money offerings to their deities in times hardships faced in their lives,  conveniently forgot to make the offerings to their deities once they came out of the difficulties. When they came to Saibaba, there were several instances where Baba asked for and collected such money from them!

Sai Baba strongly condemned religious conversions. Once a person who had  converted to Islam from being a Hindu came to Sai Baba for his darshan, Sai Baba slapped him on his face saying, “Are you not ashamed of changing your father?”

Baba’s daily Life – Simplicity personified

Saibaba always donned a Kafni (long full sleeved kurta), wore a langot (waist band) and covered His head with a piece of cloth. He sat on a piece of sackcloth, and his bed too was a sackcloth. He wore his dress till they were torn and turn to become rags. He always said “Poverty is better than Kingship, far better than Lordship. The Lord is always brother of the poor.”

During his early years, Saibaba went out for begging his food; whatever solid and liquid food items he was given, he collected them separately, brought them to the Masjid, kept them in open pots and ate from them. Those who came to him and those who did service to him (like cleaning the masjid premises) could also partake the food from the pots. Dogs too came to him and had their share from the collection.

In later periods, as the number of close devotees increased, devotees brought food for him from their homes to the masjid and the need for going out for daily alms stopped. Using the provisions that people brought, Saibaba sometimes cooked the food and offered it as prasad to the devotees. The prasad he made at times contained meat too that non-vegetarians devotees partook from him.

Baba’s close devotees always worshiped him and revered him as God. As part of the daily routine in Dwarakamai, an aarati (formal worship with lighted lamp) in the noon and one aarati at night was performed to Sai Baba by close devotees (like Mhalsapati) amidst chanting of hymns. Of course, this practice was not to the liking of some people of the Muslim community in and around Shirdi.

Baba had no personal wants or needs. For so many years, Baba never had any need for money. During his later years in life, Sai Baba accepted dakshina (offering of money) from his devotees. Whatever Sababa received — be food, provisions or cash, he distributed amidst the visiting needy devotees and also to his close associates who served him and had families to take care of. Many devotees observed that the money Sai Baba distributed daily to others appeared to be more than what he used to receive as dakshina!

When Sai Baba attained Samadhi, a Policeman present on duty at Dwarakamai at that time officially took charge of Sai Baba’s possessions and according to the report, Sai Baba had just 16 rupees with him in his possession!

Baba and miracles

Baba in numerous miraculous ways played the role of God, a mentor, a Guru, a guide and a savior in the lives of devotees who surrendered to him with unflinching faith. Practically all devotees of Baba had some miraculous experience or other in their lives  to come out of worldly worries and calamities. Such experiences redoubled their faith on His divinity and helped them to tread the path of dharma and spirituality.

Baba’s devotees experienced that He knew every detail of their lives without the need of telling him; Baba read their good and bad thoughts and constantly warned them from going astray.  When caught up in deep troubles, Baba heard their prayers and came to their rescue in some way or other, in some human form or other wherever they were. Sai Baba willingly took up the bad prarabdhas (effects of bad karmas of the past) of some of his devotees on himself in order to reduce their suffering and burden.

There were many instances when Sai Baba blessed progeny to childless couples, saved devotees from accidents and life threatening diseases, protected them from financial disasters, helped them in getting the right match in marriages and so on.  Reviving the dead to life was also performed by Sai on one or two rare occasions.

Very occasionally, Baba also openly displayed a few miracles. Here are a few of them:

  • Baba in deep Samadhi bordering on death for 3 days. This happened in the year 1885. Sai Baba had a severe bout of asthma; he called Mhalsapati and said, “I am going into samadhi; please take care of my body for 3 days”. Mhalsapati stayed day and night with the motionless body of Sai that looked almost dead. Some people in Shirdi believed that Sai Baba was dead and wanted to cremate his body. But Mhalsapati stood very firm. Baba regained outer consciousness after three days.
  • Stirring boiling food with bare hands. Devotees had witnessed  Sai Baba sometimes cooking Prasad for feeding the gathering in a large pot. He would simply use his hands instead of a ladle to stir the boiling contents in the pot.
  • Arresting spread of Cholera. During 1910, Shirdi was affected by Cholera. A few people died. One day Sai Baba was seen single handedly grinding a sack of wheat in a hand grinding stone. Local ladies came to assist him and when the work was over, they attempted to take the flour with them to their houses. Sai Baba scolded them severely and asked them to collect the flour and spread it along the borders of the village. Wondering why, they obeyed his words. Sai Baba clarified later that by this weird gesture, he had prevented spreading of Cholera in Shirdi.  After this incidence,  no death occurred on account of Cholera in Shirdi.
  • Preventing Plague deaths. In 1911, plague epidemic broke out and it started affecting Shirdi too. At that time, seven or eight buboes appeared in Baba’s body and he got fever. His devotees got scared. Baba used his own medicine (ghee) for applying over buboes which he recommended to others too. Baba assured them that neither He nor anyone in Shirdi would die on account of plague and he had taken up the calamity on himself to ward off the epidemic. It was proved true.
  • Bringing holy waters. Once, Das Ganu thought that he should go to Prayag for a bath, and came to Baba to get His permission for doing so. Baba replied to him – “It is not necessary to go so long. Our Prayag is here, believe me.” When Das Ganu placed his head on Baba’s Feet, out came or flowed streams of water — of Ganga and Yamuna, from both the toes of Baba.

Baba’s two Biographers who were direct devotees

Shri Govind R Dabholkar was a Brahmin by birth and he was a 1st class Resident Magistrate in Borsad before he retired. Nana Saheb Chandorkar was his friend and due to the later’s insistence, he came and met Sai Baba initially with some reluctance in the year 1910. He was bowled by Sai Baba’s radiating divinity and his thirst to have a guru came to an end. He started visiting Baba regularly. in 1916, a year before Sai Baba’s departure, Shama, a friend of Dabholkar and an ardent devotee of Baba convinced Baba for the need of having an authentic biography of Him written and Baba gave his blessings to Dabholkar for writing it.

With the help of all close Sai devotees, Dabholkar collected information about Sai Baba’s sayings, leelas and miracles from the real life experiences of many devotees for 13 years from 1917 to 1929. He wrote Shri Sai Satcharitra in Marathi in the form of verses and they first got serialized in Sri Sai Leela magazine from 1923 (6 years after Sai Baba’s Maha Samadhi). Shri Sai Satcharitra complete in book form came out 1929. Sri Dabholkar passed away in the same year.

After his retirement, Dabholkar served Sai Baba very sincerely till Baba’s Mahasamadhi and afterwards managed very skillfully and efficiently Sai Baba’s Shirdi Sansthan till his death in 1929.

Shri Sai Satcharitra was the first authentic source book on the Avatar and leela of Shirdi Sai, and it was written not as a biography in chronological order, but in the form of a Pothi, a religious book. It contained 53 chapters and 9308 verses. This book, in later years, got translated into English and  other Indian languages.

Sri Vaman Prangovind Patel (Later Swami Sai Sharan Anand) was one of the most faithful and true disciples of Sai Baba. He was  a Gujarati Brahmin by birth, studied B.A., L.L.B and worked as a solicitor at Mumbai. When Vaman was five, Sai Baba (identified by his mother as an unknown person who appeared before her as a Fakir) saved his live from acute diarrhoea by giving sacred udi. Vaman as a youth longed for getting a Guru who can assure him of getting direct perception of God; he first met Sai Baba at Shirdi when he was 22 years old, in the year 1911.

He visited Sai Baba again in 1913 and was was retained by Baba to be with him for 11 months. Baba engaged Vaman in reading scriptures like Jnaneshwari under his guidance, made him do Gayathri Purascharan and seek alms from the local households.

Again in 1916, Vaman stayed with Baba for 3 weeks when he was blessed with valuable spiritual experiences. In 1946 (some 28 years after Sai Baba’s maha samadhi) Vaman wrote two books in Gujarati on the life of Baba — Sai Leelakhyan and Shri Sai Baba. After his wife and daughter passed away, Vaman  took up Sanyas (with the monaistic name Swami Sai Sharan Anand) at the age of 64. He lived to ripe old age (93 years) and passed away in 1982.  3 more books of him  Sainathne Sharane, Brahma Parimal and Siddhamrit got published posthumously.

His books exemplify his great devotion to Sai Baba and they remain one of the best sources of information on Shirdi Sai.

Sathe Wada – The first dormitory for visiting devotees

Over years, as Sai Baba’s residence in the Dwaraka Mai Masjid became permanent and devotees from outstation started coming in large numbers, Baba’s devotee Hari Vinayak Sathe bought the land covering the sacred neem tree, Gurusthan and adjacent areas. In 1908, he constructed a wada (traditional mansion) there which was called Sathe Wada. The wada served as the sole resting place for visiting devotees, till the time Dixit Wada too came up.

Dixit Wada – the second dormitory for visiting devotees

Kaka Saheb Dixit, a rich solicitor from Mumbai first met Sai Baba in the year 1909. He became an ardent devotee of Sai Baba and decided to settle in Shirdi to live the rest of his life in the holy company of Baba. He bought land adjacent to Gurusthan and constructed Dixit Wada,   to be his residence as well as a resting place for people visiting Sai Baba from distant places. The Wada was constructed and inaugurated on the day of Ram Navami in the year 1911.

Sai Baba and Muslims

Devoted Muslims

As we saw already, Sai Baba had two earnest devotees who stayed with him were Muslims – Abdul and Bade Baba (Fakir Baba).

Sai Baba had many other Muslim devotees who considered him as a Pir (A Sufi Saint) or Awliya (An Islamic guardian/ protector).

From 1911, when Ram Navami celebrations (with a procession ending at  Dwaraka mai masjid) became an annual festival celebrated with fanfare at Shirdi as per suggestion of Sai Baba, some Muslim devotees headed by one Amir Shakkar too pitched in with a Sandal Procession (Urus festival) on the same day; Hindus and Muslims participated in both processions, thereby building a good interfaith comradery.

Discordant Muslims

In 1894, some intolerant Muslims with the support of Kazi of Sangamner assembled with lathis in order to attack the devotees who worshiped Sai Baba as God inside the masjid. Mhalsapati, who used to do the  daily aarati was in a fix and he did not know what to do. However, Sai Baba summoned him inside and asked him to proceed with his daily worship. The militant assembly of armed Muslims stood there transfixed, unable to move their limbs! They got scared of Sai Baba’s divine power and retreated never to attempt any such move there after.

Some 20 years after this incidence, a fundamentalist Pathan was dead against Hindus worshiping Sai Baba and he sought Sai’s permission to massacre all the Hindus sleeping at the Chavdi. Sai Baba told him to cut His throat first before attempting to do any harm to Hindus. A few days later, with hatred brimming on Baba, the Pathan came to attack Sai Baba with a large stick. Sai Baba simply caught him by his wrist and the pathan fell to ground losing all his power.

Muslims also created trouble when Sai Baba attained Maha Samadhi. (This is covered later in the article).

Construction of Buti Wada – and the end of Sai Baba’s avatar

Gopalrao (Bapusaheb) Buti, The man who built Buti Wada where Sai Baba’s samadhi exists.

Gopalrao Buti was an extremely rich devotee of Sai Baba who hailed from Nagpur met Baba in 1907.  From 1910, he shifted to Shirdi permanently to live with Sai Baba and was contemplating to build a house for him there. One night, Baba appeared in Buti’s dream and asked him to construct a Wada (Mansion) with a temple in it.  Very surprisingly, in the same night, Baba appeared in Madhavrao Deshpande’s dream and said “Let there be a wada with temple so that I can satisfy the desires of all”. Both were sleeping in Dixit Wada when this happened.

When they shared the experience with each other, Buti decided to build a grand mansion with black stones. With Sai Baba’s blessing and also approval of the building plan, the construction started in 1915. Buti wanted to install, in the sanctum sanctorum, Lord Muralidhar (Krishna playing flute) there.

Madhavrao supervised the construction of the ground floor. Sai Baba visited the site while construction was in progress and offered some suggestions too. Sai Baba once said “When the temple is built, we shall inhabit it and ever live in joy there!”

While the construction was nearing the end, Sai Baba fell sick and his condition started deteriorating. Gopalrao Buti became restless. He wondered whether Baba would live to see the temple, let alone come and stay there as promised by him. “If Baba is not going to live there, what is the point in constructing this wada and temple?” he thought.

Baba’s close devotees nursed him with all love and care, but there was so sign of recovery. Baba’s last words were: “Take me to the wada. I would feel better there”.   But before his devotees could shift him, He breathed his last at 2:35PM on 15th October 1918 at the Masjid. News spread quickly and all close devotees of Sai Baba thronged at the Masjid.

Unfortunately, there were discordant opinions in conducting the last rites for Baba’ body  between Sai’s Hindu devotees (who were in majority) and the Muslims.  The Muslim devotees headed by Bade Baba did not want Hindus to touch Sai Baba’s body and they wanted to take the body to kabari-sthan as per Islamic rites. Against Muslims’ stiff resistance, Sai’s devotee Laxman Bhat performed puja to Sai’s body as per Hindu traditions and applied tilak at Sai’s forehead. Hindus planned to shift Sai’s body to Buti Wada and place it in a samadhi and started necessary digging work work there.

Mamledar (Revenue administrative officer) of Kopargaon mediated between Hindus and Muslims and a compromise was arrived. Muslims finally yielded and allowed the Hindu devotees to proceed with their Samadhi plan at Buti Wada on the condition that Muslims would be given continued access to Masjid and also to Sai Baba’s samadhi, to which Hindus gladly agreed.

On 16th October evening, Sai Baba’s body was taken ceremoniously in procession to Buti Wada and placed in the sanctum sanctorum where originally an idol of Lord Muralidhar had been planned to be installed. Saibaba’s body was laid and a samadhi was built there.

Sai Baba had said earlier:

  • “I never forsake anyone who relies on me.    If you cast your burden on me, I will bear it.   My eye is ever on those who love me.”
  • “Remember my words even when I am no more. My bones will assure you from my samadhi. It will communicate with you, it will respond to him who surrenders to it.”
  • Here, in Shirdi, my men will come like ants“.

It is indeed true — even after passage of a century!

Related reading:

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Amma – Mata Amritanandamayi – Biography – Life Timeline with Photos

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  • She is called Amma (Mother).
  • She hails from a little fishermen hamlet in Kerala, India. She is hardly educated up to primary school. She is now a world renowned Hindu saint and a globally recognized philanthropist. She travels across the length and breadth of India and also across the globe every year to meet people. She is known as the Hugging Saint. She is a ceaseless fountainhead of divine love.
  • She embraces each and every individual who comes to her for her darshan. She spends 10-14 hours a day, at least 4 days a week in meeting and hugging people who come to see her in thousands. She has been doing it ceaselessly since her age of 22/23. (She is now 65 as in 2018). She has hugged more than 33 million people across the world.
  • She is an unconditional giver. All the people in this world are her sons and daughters. She gives pure love to the world suffering in scorching selfishness; she heals people both physically and mentally; she spreads spirituality to earnest seekers as a Sadguru. She serves the poor and the downtrodden. She runs hospitals, orphanages, schools, colleges and research institutions. She is always there with a helping hand extended, whenever and wherever there is a natural calamity.
  • Here is an attempt to showcase, for the sake of historical records, what she has been doing year after year in her action packed life  ever since her birth. No wonder she is hailed as an Avatar of divine mother Parashakti; the power she radiates is immeasurable; what she has accomplished and what she has been doing is simply beyond the grasp and capacity of not only ordinary human beings, but also scientists, rationalists and agnostics.

1953  – 27th September  

  • Sunday, after 9 AM (in star Karthika) The Holy Avatar of Amma happens – The  girl child, later named Sudhamani (Later Mata Amritanandamayi) was born to Dhamayanthi Amma and Sri Sugunanandan as their 3rd child at Parayakadavu, a fishermen’s hamlet in Alappad, Kerala. Her birth place in future acquires the name Amtitapuri.

1957 (Age 4)

  •  ‘Kunju’ (Little) Sudhamani frequently turns inwards, forgetting outer world and goes to meditative state.

1958 (Age 5)

  • Sudhamani starts going to elementary school. She is soaked in Krishna bhakti most of the times even in such a tender age.

1960 (Age 7)

  • Sudhamani starts composing devotional songs on Lord Krishna. Most of the times her dress is wet with tears she sheds crying for her beloved Krishna.

1962 (Age 9)

  • Sudhamani discontinues school (in a couple of months after joining 5th standard) and takes charge of doing all domestic chores, since her mother falls sick. At all her free times, she is immersed in the devotion of Sri Krishna.

1966 (Age 13)

  • Sudhamani starts going to her Mother’s elder sisters’ house for doing their domestic chores. Sudhamani gives the families’ rice to the poor and gets the wrath of the relatives.

1968 (Age 15)

  • Sudhamani sent to her uncle’s house in Karunagapally for doing their domestic chores. Here too she starts giving food and provisions from the house to the poor and needy and gets punished for her charity.

1969 (Age 16)

  • Sudhamani returns to her parents house and gets fully engaged in doing all domestic chores from 3 AM in the morning till 11 PM and also immerses herself in intense sadhana and krishna Bhakthi. She also serves the poor people in the village and distributes food and provisions stealthily from her house. Gets punished frequently for this charity.

1970 (Age 17)

  • Sudhamani learns tailoring at a Christian Institution attached to a Church (for about 3 years) in her spare time. She goes into meditation at the grave yard next to the church. Old priest in the Church gets highly impressed by her character and devotion to God.  He predicts she will come up as a great lady in future.

  • Sudhamani loses sleep crying and singing for her beloved Krishna. Her family members get highly disturbed by her behavior. They think she is mentally deranged.

1975 (Age 22)

  • Sudhamani’s intense prema bhakti on Krishna ends up in a divine experience of Lord Krishna merging in her.

== Oil painting == Lord Krishna appears before Amma and merges in her. Amma realizes her oneness with Krishna.

  • 5th March  1975 – Sudhamani first Krishna Bhava (involuntary) at the courtyard of her neighbor  Sri Ratnam’s house where Srimad Bhagavada parayanam was going on.

== Oil painting == Amma reveals her Krishna Bhava to people gathered to listen to Srimad Bhagavatam.

  • On the next Bhagavata Parayanam day, based on demands from people to prove her divine power, Sudhamani does a miracle by converting water to milk and also to panchamritam when she shows Krishna bhava again.
  • Soon regular Krishna Bhava darshan to devotees begins at the cowshed area next to her house.

  • Later a simple temple (Kalari) comes up in the cowshed area where her bhava darshan took place.

  • Soon after, Sudhamani gets Devi Parashakthi in divine vision for a brief while. She immerses in deep Prema Bhakti to seek Devi’s vision again. Sudhamani’s behavior turns very weird bordering on madness.
  • Her family members could not understand her divine madness and get very disturbed. Her elder brother Subhakan, who could not accept Sudhamani’s bhava darshans and her divine moods, orders her to get out of the house. In order not to trouble the family members, sSudhamani opts to stay outdoors all the time, be rain or shine. She was out of body consciousness most of the times; animals and birds start giving her company with love and they bring food to her too.

== Oil painting == Sudhamani ordered out of the house; Animals and birds give her company in the open.

  • September 1975 – After 6 months of intense longing, she gets the vision of Devi once again and Devi immerses inside her. Amma sang her experience and the divine commandment she received from Devi thus in her song ‘Ananda Veedhi’

. . . . . .
Smiling, She became a Divine Effulgence

And meged in me. My mind blossomed,
Bathed in the many hued light of divinity
And the events of millions of years gone by
Rose up within me. Thenceforth,
Seeing nothing as seperate from my own Self
A Sing Unity, and merging in the Divine mother
I renounced all sense of enjoyment

Mother told me to ask people
To fulfil their human birth.
Therefore I proclaim to the whole world
The sublime truth that She uttered
‘oh man, merge in your Self!”
. . . . . . . . . 

Sudhamani resolves to dedicate her life totally to mitigate the suffering of the people and serve one and all as embodiments of God.

  • Amma (Sudhamani) begins giving Devi Bhava Darshan too in addition to Krishna Bhava Darshan. She hugs each and everyone who comes to her for darshan, hears their woes and offers solace.

  • Amma starts facing lots of opposition from and harassment from The Rationalists  Movement (‘Committee to remove blind beliefs’) who consider her bhava darshans as fake with an intent to fool people and make money.
  • By 1975 year end – During one Krishna bhava, Amma predicts that she will be having lots of devotees coming to her from far and wide, including from abroad. She also predicts that she would travel all over the world many times.
  • Prabhakara Siddha Yogi, a famous avadhuta with extremely weird behaviour, who was believed to be living across a couple of centuries, comes and visits Amma. He recognizes her as Kali Mata.

Amma with Prabhakara Siddha Yogi

1976  (Age 23)

  • Harassment, public ridicule, attempts of physical attack and attempt of murder happens to Amma from locals and members of Rationalist movement. Amma’s family members feel highly disturbed about such happenings. Amma faces such oppositions for the next couple of years with evenness of mind.
  • Based on Sugunananda’s prayer during Devi bhava to relieve her daughter from Devi’s possession, Amma falls into deep samadhi next day and could not be revived to life despite all efforts. Conceding to intense prayers and inconsolable crying of her devotees and family, she comes back to life after 3 hours.
  • Unnikrishnan (Amma’s first resident brahmachari of the ashram, later Swami Turiyamritananda Puri) meets Amma and starts staying in the temple.

Swami Turiyamritananda Puri (Br. Unnikrishnan) was the earliest permanent resident of the ashram who came in 1976.

1977 (Age 24)

  • Amma visits Madurai Meenakshi temple with devotees. She goes into deep samadhi for about 1.5 hrs in front of Meenakshi sannadhi.

1978   (Age 25)

  • Dattan the leper starts visiting Amma during Bhava Darshan and his acute and deep wounds of leprasy gets cured over a period of time by Amma’s licking of his wounds.

> Click this picture to see the video clipping showing Amma licking the wounds in Dattan’s body and face

  • June 1978 – Amma’s elder brother Subhakan, who could not understand or accept Amma’s spiritual moods, and seemingly lunatic behavior, was strongly against his sisters’ divine bhavas and was extremely mentally disturbed. He commits suicide. Amma had to face negative propaganda and criticism from the rationalists and the public on account of this happening too.

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Brief Biography of Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950)

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What is Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi’s uniqueness amid Hindu spiritual masters?

Ramana Maharshi was a true gyani – the knower of self. He was a jivan mukta – one who attained liberation even when he was alive. For his bhaktas who adored him as God, he was an Avatara Purusha – God descended in human form, though for Ramana, as a true Gnyani, the idea of avatar was of least significance. For him everything existing is verily the Self (atman).

Ramana’s philosophy reaches out to all segments of spiritual seekers irrespective of their religious moorings. Ramana attained his liberation purely by a simple self-inquiry “Who am I?” It is this simple self-inquiry technique that he preached to all spiritual seekers too. Am I the body? Am I the mind? Am I the intellect? This body perishes. This mind always seems to be wandering aimlessly. The intellect gets confused by contradictions. But behind all this, “I” exist. That “I” exists when I am awake, when I sleep with dreams and when I sleep deep without dreams. Even when I sleep like a log without any bodily conscience, this “I”, though not ascertaining its presence at that time, is very much there, it understood its natural blissful state, to declare when awake saying “I slept so blissfully”.

It is this “I” that Ramana wants everyone to identify. One who has grasped the true nature of that “I” knows Self (Atman). It is none other than the all pervasive Brahaman, that Upanishads talk of. You are that – “Tat twam asi” One who truly experienced it, states by virtue of his personal attainment, “Aham Brahmasmi” (I am Brahman). In Ramana’s scheme of things, there is really no need of any personal God for worship. No need of names and forms. No chanting of mantras. No need of worship. No need of accepting Jesus Christ and the holy trinity. No need to worship in the direction of Mecca and Madina. But Ramana acknowledges the fact that such religious and spiritual practices, widely practiced by many, have their utility in purifying the mind and aiding progress in the spiritual path, “the path of self-inquiry is straight” in his opinion and experience.

No wonder Ramana’s philosophy, which was none other than the ancient Hindu philosophy of Advaita, was lapped up by spiritually earnest seekers, who had their disinclination towards formal and institutionalized form of religions and worships.

Birth and early years

Venkataraman (later Sri Ramana Maharshi) was born on December 30, 1879 at Tiruchuzhi, a small village in Tamil Nadu, some thirty miles off Madurai to  Sundaram Ayyar and Alagamma. He was the second child. He had one elder brother and one younger brother and a younger sister.

When Venkataraman was twelve, Sundaram Ayyar died.  He and his elder brother were sent to live with their paternal uncle, Subbier, at Madurai. Here, Venkataraman studied upto ninth standard. He was an average student, but had a good memory. He was much interested in sports.

In his boyhood years Venkataraman was prone to abnormally deep sleep. He could not be easily awakened from his sleep.

His Spiritual Awakening

An elderly relative who visited their house mentioned to Venkataraman about his visit to Arunachala, the sacred hill in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. The word ‘Arunachala’ somehow had evoked in him since childhood an inexplicable awe and love. He enquired more from the relative the whereabouts of Arunachala and his inexpicable curiosity and awe over the place increased.

A little later, young Venkataraman came across a copy of the Periapuranam, which  contains stories of sixty-three Tamil saints who received Lord Siva’s grace and vision by their exemplary devotion. As Venkataraman read the book, he was overwhelmed with ecstatic wonder that such deep faith, and bhakti was ever possible in him too.

Sometime in the middle of July 1896, when he was just sixteen and a half years old, Venkataraman realized the Self in a totally unexpected and miraculous manner. Years later, he explained to his devotees what happened that day in the following words:

About six weeks before I left Madurai for good, a great change took place in my life. It was quite sudden. I was sitting alone in a room in my uncle’s house, when a sudden fear of death overtook me. There was nothing in my state of health to account for it. I just felt, ‘I am going to die’ and began thinking about it. The fear of death drove my mind inwards and I said to myself mentally, ‘Now that death has come; what does it mean? What is it that is dying? Only this body dies.’ And at once I dramatized the occurrence of death. I held my breath and kept my lips tightly closed and said to myself, ‘This body is dead. It will be carried to the cremation ground and reduced to ashes. But with the death of this body am I dead? Is this body ‘I’? I am the spirit transcending the body. and I am perceiving it now without any doubt. That means I am the deathless Atman.’

Venkataraman seemed to fall into a profound conscious trance wherein he became merged into the very source of his Self, the very essence of Being.

Venkataraman emerged from this amazing experience an utterly changed person. He lost interest in studies, sports, friends and so on. His chief interest now centered in the sublime consciousness of the true Self, which he had found so unexpectedly. He enjoyed an inward serenity and a spiritual strength, which never left him.  In his words: “Another change that came over me was that I no longer had any likes or dislikes with regard to food. Whatever was given to me, tasty or insipid, I would swallow with total indifference.”

Leaving for Arunachala – once for all

Venkataraman’s uncle and elder brother noticed the nonchalant behavior of Venkataraman and were critical about it. Then came the tangible turning point on August 29, 1896. Venkataraman was then studying in tenth standard, preparing for his public examination. His teacher had given him an exercise in English grammar to be written three times. He copied it out twice and was about to do so for the third time when the futility and meaningless of such an exercise stuck him; he pushed the notebooks aside and sitting cross-legged, abandoned himself to meditation.

His elder brother Nagaswamy who was watching this, scolded him for behaving like a yogi while still staying in the family and pretending to study. “Yes”, thought Venkataraman, “What business do I have here?” And immediately came the thought of Arunachala that had caused such a thrill in him a few months ago. He decided then and there to discover the fabulous and mystic hill Arunachala himself.

Venkataraman knew that without a little lie, he would not be allowed to escape from home.  So, he told his brother that he had to attend a special class at the school. Unintentionally providing him with funds for the journey, his brother said, “Take five rupees from the box and pay my college fees.” Venkataraman took only three rupees, no more than what he thought was necessary for reaching Tiruvannamalai. In the note he left (which fortunately is still preserved), he wrote in Tamil:

Ramana’s handwritten note when he left home for good to move to Thiruvannamalai

“ நான் என் தகப்பனாரைத் தேடிக் கொண்டு, அவருடைய உத்தரவின்படி இவ்விடத்தை விட்டுக் கிளம்பி விட்டேன். இது நல்ல காரியத்தில் தான் பிரவேசித்திருக்கிறது. ஆகையால் இதற்காக யாரொருவரும் விசனப்பட வேண்டாம். இதைப் பார்ப்பதற்காக பணமும் செலவு செய்ய வேண்டாம். உன் சம்பளத்தை இன்னும் செலுத்தவில்லை. ரூ. 2 இதோடு கூட இருக்கிறது.

இப்படிக்கு

—————”

I have set out in quest of my Father in accordance with His command. It is on a virtuous enterprise that ‘this’ has embarked, therefore let none grieve over this act and let no money be spent in search of ‘this’. Your college fees have not been paid. Two rupees are enclosed.” The note ended with the word ‘Thus’, and a dash — in place of his signature.

The way this letter had been written has its own significance –  opening sentence in the note began with ‘I’, but later Venkataraman used ‘this’ in reference to himself. Thus, what left Madurai for Tiruvannamalai was not the spirit, which had already got absorbed in the Lord, but the body, now viewed as distinct from the spirit. The personality which began with ‘I’, got merged into ‘this’, and at the end there was no person left to sign.

Venkataraman reached  Tiruvannamalai in a journey involving two trains, a long walk and a couple of trials and tribulations en route on the early morning of September 1, 1896. He went straight to the great Arunachaleswara temple and stood before his Father. His cup of bliss was now full to the brim with inexplicable surge of bliss. The journey’s end, and his homecoming at last.

Immersed in the trance of divine bliss

Coming out of the temple, the youth got his head shaven and threw away all his belongings and clothes except for a strip he tore off his dhoti to serve as a loincloth. Thus renouncing everything, he went back to the temple complex and got immersed in the Bliss of Being, sitting motionless, day after day, night after night without any concern about his body, the need for food or drinking.

Local urchins thought he was a madman and started throwing stones at him wherever he was in the temple complex. To escape from their teasing, the young ascetic took shelter in the Patala Lingam, an underground small Siva shrine within the enormous temple complex, where ants and vermin fed on his flesh during the weeks he spent there. But the young Swami, absorbed in bliss, remained unmoved.

Seshadri Swamigal who was a well known saint and a resident of Thiruvannamalai recognized the young ascetic’s spiritual status and soon words spread about the missing young brahmin Swamy. Some devotees discovered the Swami in the vault, oblivious of the dreadful condition he was in, with worm-infested wounds and oozing pus. they removed him to a nearby shrine within the temple complex. From then on, he continued to move within the complex to various other shrines and groves away from curious onlookers. In all these places, he was looked after by mendicants, devotees from the town, temple functionaries and others. He continued to remain absorbed in the Self and was forcefully fed with a glass of milk obtained after doing abhishekam to the divine Mother’s  deity or a few morsels of cooked rice.

In February 1897, the young Swami was removed to the Gurumurtam – a math, some distance away from the town, where he lived for about nineteen months. He continued to remain Self-absorbed and was looked after mainly by a sadhu named Uddandi Nayanar and his friend Annamalai Thambiran.

About this time, a Malayalee sadhu named Palaniswami, living in great austerity, was devoting his life to the worship of Lord Vinayaka. He came to know of the Brahmin ascetic and as he saw the Swami for the first time, he was stirred to his depths and had discovered his saviour. He devoted the remaining twenty-one years of his life serving the  Maharshi as his attendant.

Very slowly and unwillingly, Venkataraman started responding to the prodding of his devotees and aftair their persistent efforts, he wrote his name  ‘Venkataraman, Tiruchuzhi’ in English. His knowledge of English came as a surprise. He became well known as Brahmana Swamy in Thiruvannamalai town.

In search of the missing Boy

In the meantime, Venkataraman’s relatives were making anxious enquiries and searches at various places, but he could not be traced in the next couple of years. Finally, hearing about a famous young brahmin Swamy at Thiruvannamalai, his paternal Uncle Nelliappa Iyer came to Thiruvannamalai. At first he could not identify him, as the young Swami was with long matted hair, beard and totally unkempt remaining with just a loin cloth.  But later, confirming with his birth marks, he pleaded in vain for the Swami’s return and then left for Madurai empty-handed.

After sometime, the young Swami began to reside at the Pavalakunru shrine on the Arunachala hill, his mother Alagamma came and met her son.  With a mother’s love and concern, she lamented over his condition and pressed him to go back with her, but he sat unmoved despite her repeated entreaties. Based on repeated appeals by devotees to communicate something to his mother, Brahmana swami  wrote in Tamil:

“அவரவர் பிராரப்தப் பிரகாரம் அதற்கானவன் ஆங்காங்கிருந்து ஆட்டுவிப்பன். என்றும் நடவாதது என் முயற்சிக்கினும் நடவாது; நடப்பது என் தடை செய்யினும் நில்லாது. இதுவே திண்ணம். ஆதலின் மெளனமாயிருக்கை நன்று.”

The Ordainer controls the fate of souls in accordance with their prarabdha-karma.Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen, try hard as you may. Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to prevent it.This is certain. The best course, therefore, is to remain silent.

His mother too had to return dejected, but she was later quite determined to live with her saintly son. Future events unfolded towards her will.

Shifting to Virupaksha cave

Early in 1899, the young ascetic, accompanied by his attendant Palaniswami took up his residence in the Virupaksha Cave, a cave situated behind a solid rock en route to the top of Arunachala hill.  He stayed in this cave for the next seventeen years.

Here also the young Swami maintained silence for the first few years. His radiance had already drawn a group of devotees around him and an ashram of hardly any facilities had come into being at the cave.  The young swamy gradually started speaking a few words to his devotees. Curious and sincere seekers like Palaniswamy brought spiritual books from the local library and started reading them in front of the swamy and demanding his explanations for their doubts.

It was then that the young swamy really came across formal scriptures like Upanishads and other Vedantic scripts in Tamil. It was rather surprising to them that whatever spiritual experiences he personally had  were being mentioned in the scriptures!

Some time during the year 1912, Brahmana Swamy had a second experience of confronting death. This time, it was not an imagined one, but a real death experience when his heart beat stopped totally and his skin turned blue. He remained in that state for  about 15 minutes, totally conscious of his unchangeable status as Atman.  In a way, it can be said that this second death experience confirmed his unshakable status of Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi. After this experience, The Brahmana Swamy’s life became more normal and his interaction communication with his devotees became much freer and easier.

Some Early Devotees

Sivaprakasam Pillai , an officer in the Revenue Department and an intellectual, heard of the young Swami residing on the hill. At his very first visit in 1902, he was captivated by the Swami’s aura and became his life-long devotee. As the Swami was maintaining silence he answered fourteen questions of Pillai by writing in Tamil on a slate. These were later expanded and arranged in a book form “நானார்?” Who am I? This is perhaps the most concise and most widely appreciated prose exposition of the Maharshi’s philosophy, given by the Maharshi at his age of 23, which got widely published much later, in the year 1923.  Ramana’s another devotee Sri Gambhiram Seshayya too jotted down Sri Ramana’s answers to his queries sometime during 1900-02 and got it published much later as  booklet titled “விசார சங்கிரகம்” (Self inquiry) in the year 1930.

The teachings contained in these 2 small small books remained authentic, needing no future revisions by Bhagvan. In his long life spanning 71 years, Sri Ramana wrote so many other poetic works in Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Sanskrit, but this Tamil prose version still remained the basic teaching that found more exposition in those future works.

Guru (Bhargwan Ramana) at the left with Sishya (Kavyakanda Ganapathi Sastri at the right). The Sishya was elder to the Guru and the Guru called him Nayana! (Father).

Kavyakanda Ganapati Muni , a renowned Sanskrit scholar and poet, was another devotee (much elder in age to Sri Ramana) who visited the Swami from 1903 onwards and accepted him as his guru in 1907. It was who who christened the name Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi to his Guru. He sang of him as an incarnation of  Lord Subrahmanya (Muruga). The Maharishi’s answers to the questions put by the Muni and his disciples, largely constitute the well-known work Ramana Gita in Sanskrit.

The earliest Western seeker to come under the Swami’s influence (in 1911) was F.H. Humphreys.

Several householder devotees started taking care of Sri Ramana by offering food. Echammal and Alakaraththammal (Mudaliar patti) were two ardent lady devotees of Ramana who started sending food to him to Virupaksha cave and their dedicated service of offering food to Bhagwan continued uninterrupted for almost 50 years!

Evolution of Ramana, the poet

‘The knower of Self becomes the knower of all’ — so goes the saying.

It was during the years in Virupakshi cave that the hitherto unknown face of Sri Ramana — as a mystic poet, came to the fore. Some of the devotees who came to Ramana were Tamil scholars. By way of association with him and by the exposure he got into the poetic devotional works like Thevaram and Thiruvasagam and also Vedanta  Tamil texts like Kaivalya Navaneetam etc through the books brought by his devotees, Bhagwan Ramana got an irresistible inner urge to pour out his supreme knowledge in the form of poems.

Sri Ramana wrote the Tamil poetic works Arunachala Pathikam and Arunachala Ashtakam, praising the glory of the Arunachala Hill. (Related reading —>  Bhagwan Ramana’s attraction towards Arunachala Hill)

Several earnest devotees started staying with him and they used to go begging for food at the town once a day. They requested for an exclusive song to be sung by them as a sign of identification with Sri Ramana when they go around begging at the streets. During one of the Girivalam (circumambulation of Arunachala), Bhagwan composed Akshara mana Maalai song. It was a wonderful piece of poetry, written in devotional Nayaki Bhava (as if a woman expressing her love towards her sweet heart) containing the yearning of Jivatma towards Paramatma (represented by Arunachala Hill) for union. Despite being a Jyani par excellence, Sri Ramana’s tender heart brimmed with emotional bhakti too when he composed Aksharamana Malai as he revealed to his devotees in later years how he was overwhelmed with tears of divine love flowing from his eyes and his throat choking with uncontrollable emotions when he composed those songs.

Ramana’s later poetic works in Tamil covered உபதேச உந்தியார், உள்ளது நாற்பது, உள்ளது நாற்பது அனுபந்தம், தக்ஷிணாமூர்த்தி ஸ்தோத்ரம், பகவத் கீதா சாரம், அத்தாமலகம், அருணாசல நவமணி மாலை, ஆன்ம வித்தை, அப்பளப்பாட்டு (Upadesa Undhiyaar, Ullathu Narpathu, Ullathu narpathu anubhandam, Dhakshinamoorthy sthothram, Bhagavad Gita saaram, Hasthamalakam, Arunachala nava mani malai, Anma vidyai, Appala paattu etc) etc. Ramana’s ardent devotee and a great Tamil Scholar Muruganar was in a way instrumental in goading Bhagwan Ramana to write many of the later poetic works in Tamil.

Through the association with Ganapathi Sasthri, Ramana picked up sanskrit. Likewise by the association with Telugu and Malayalam devotees, Ramana quickly mastered the nuances of these languages and became adept in even writing poetry in these languages.  Yielding to appeal of these devotees, Bhabwan Ramana translated many of his Tamil works to corresponding poetic works in Telugu and Malayalam too.

His mother’s arrival and stay

During 1914, Alagammal, Ramana’s mother came again to see her son, on her way back from a pilgrimage to Tirupathi. Alagammal fell seriously ill at that time and Ramana took care of her; he fervently prayed to Arunachala for mother’s recovery and composed 4 songs of prayer. His mother soon recovered and went back to live with her other sons.

Two years later, in 1916, Alagammal, battered by the woes of worldly life, decided to come and settle with her saintly saint son permanently. Being an orthodox Brahmin lady, Alagammal had to go through lots of adjustments and sacrifice  even bare minimum comforts  in order be with her son who lived an exemplary life of total renunciation. Ramana was constantly chastising her and teasing her for her brahminical tendencies of following excessive austerities and physical purity demands, her likes and dislikes on “eatable” foodstuff and so on.

Sri Ramana with his mother (at middle) and brother Nagasundaram (Swami Niranjanananda) at left.

A little later after his mother’s arrival, Ramana’s younger brother Nagasundaram, who lost his wife at early age took up renunciation (with a monostic name Niranjanananda) and he too arrived at Thiruvannamalai to live with his saint brother. With a few sadhus already staying with Ramana permanently and with the arrival of the mother and brother, Virupaksha cave which was very small in size became rather over-crowded and there came a need for a bigger ashram.

Shifting to Skandashram

Further up in the hill from Virupaksha cave, there was a natural spring that gave water perennially right throughout the year. Ramana’s ardent devotee Kandasamy took up a great task of levelling a small plot of land in the hilly slopes adjacent to the spring, planted several trees and then with herculean efforts built a small tiled brick building to serve as the new ashram. To acknowledge Kandaswamy’s efforts, Ramana named the ashram “Skandashram” and shifted to that place along with all his companions in the year 1916.

Skandasramam

 

Sri Ramana during his Skandashram days.

Niranjanananda gradually took up the responsibility of coordinating the activities of the ashram and over the following years when the Ashram permanently shifted to the foothills and took shape as Ramanashramam, he became the “Sarvadhikari” (Administrative head) of the Ashram.

Sri Ramama with his mother Alagammal (Skandasram days)

During 1922 after leading a life of strict austerity under her son for 6 years in Skandashram, mother Alagammal became seriously ill with no signs of recovery in the year 1922. Ramana nursed her with utmost care but he was resigned to the fact that her life was nearing end. During her final hours when she was breathing heavily, Ramana sat next to her, put one hand on her chest and another hand on her head. Ramana was determined to grant her moksha and  he subdued all her vasanas that ebbed from her heart as her prana was attempting to get released from her body. Finally Ramana ensured that her soul dissolved in her heart without the scope of escaping through any of the openings of her body and granted her samadhi.

He stood up and declared the fact that there was no need to follow the customary acharas (like not eating food when there is a dead body) as his mother had attained liberation from birth/ death cycle and asked everyone to take their food.

Alagammal’s body was taken down hills and was buried at the foot hills and a Shiva Linga (Matrubhuteswar) was established at the place of burial (adjacent to a water tank called pali thirtham) as per norms followed for those who attained samadhi. Minimal ritualistic worship of the Matrubhuteswar lingam was getting carried out by Niranjananantha for a while by visiting from Skandasram daily.

A few months later, one early morning Sri Ramana visited mother’s samadhi down hills and he opted to remain there without returning to Skandasram. It happened by the end of December 1922.

Ramanashramam

The establishment of Ramanashramam adjacent to the mother’s samadhi began in the form of a thatched hut. (See picture).

This hut is indeed the early beginning of Ramanashramam. Sri Ramana (with a book in hand) is standing in front of the Iluppai tree which is still alive in Ramanashramam today.

Ramanashramam was growing slowly and steadily as more and more spiritually earnest people started coming to meet Sri Ramana and many of them started staying in and around the ashram. One of Ramana’s prime disciples Sri Muruganar, a great Tamil Scholar came and met Bhagwan in the year 1923. He was overwhelmed by Bhagwan’s divinity and within the next few years he came and stayed permanently at Thiruvannamalai.

Sri Muruganar, seated at the feet of his Guru.

By the divine influence of Bhagwan, pristine Tamil poetry flowed ceaselessly from the heart of Muruganar.   He wrote “Guru Vachaka Kovai” (குரு வாசகக் கோவை) containing the teachings of his guru in poetry form. Inspired by Thiruvachagam, he wrote “Ramana Sannidhi Murai” (ரமண சன்னதி முறை). He had written more than 30,000 Tamil verses in his life.

The disciple in turn, considerably influenced the guru to write more works in Tamil. Bhagwan Ramana wrote Upadesa Saram (உபதேச சாரம்/ உபதேச உந்தியார்) that contained in a nutshell all his teachings, as an extension to a poetic work on a story based on Lord Shiva’s divine play wrote half way by Muruganar,  in the year 1927. Later  Bhagwan himself translated this work into Malayalam and Telugu. Kavyakanta Ganapathi Shashtri wrote the translation of Upadesa saram in Sanskrit.

Arrival of Paul Brunton & Other western devotees

Paul Brunton (Raphael Hurst) was a curious seeker of Indian mysticism who met Bhagwan Ramana in 1930. He stayed in Ramanashramam for a few days and practiced Self-Inquiry based on Ramana’s teachings and he could get a glimpse of his Self by the grace of Bhagwan. He wrote about Bhagwn in his famous book A Search in Secret India. In a way, this book paved the way for many western and earnest seekers of spirituality to visit Bhagwan.

Major Chadwick (Sadhu Arunachala with Ramana

Arthur Osborne

In later years Major Chadwick (Sadhu Arunachala), Arthur Osborne, SS Cohen, Maurice Frydman, Robert Adams and such westerners became devotees of Ramana and practiced Ramana’s Self-inquiry as a spiritual method for self-realization.

Golden Jubilee

Like a beacon in the sea shore, Bhagwan Ramana stayed put in Thiruvannamalai al through his life (since his arrival to the holy town in the year 1896). Bhagwan’s ardent devotees decided to celebrate the 50th year (Golden Jubilee) of Bhagwan’s arrival to Arunachala on 1st September 1946).  Ramana’s devotees from across the country including several dignitaries participated in the grand function.

Bhagwan’s unconditional love was not limited to human beings. Monkeys, squirrels, dogs, peacocks and so on received Bhagwan’s love and enjoyed his company freely.

The cow Lakshmi expressed her devotion and love to Bhagwan like human beings and received his attention and care abundantly for more than 20 years in Ramanashramam.

Matrubhuteswar temple

The ashram grew gradually into brick and mortar buildings. In the year 1939, Bhagwan laid the foundation stone for constructing Matrubuteshwar Temple at the samadhi of his mother. It took 10 years of yeomen efforts by Swami Niranjanananda to bring the temple to a compact and yet beautiful shape. The consecration ceremony (Maha Kumbhabishekam) of the temple took place in a grand scale in the year 1949. A granite Shree Chakra Meru was established behind the Lingam in the temple as per Sri Vidya Tantra shatras and Sri Bhagwan sanctified it by touching it by his hand before consecration.

Shri Bhagwan’s blessings sought on the occasion of Mahakubhabishekam.

The cancerous Tumor and the End — “Where can I go? I will be here”

By the end of year 1948, a small tumor appeared at the left elbow of Bhagwan Ramana. The Ashram doctor decided to cut and remove it. After a few days, the tumor appeared again. Surgeons from Madras were called and it was removed by operation again. But as the tumor resurfaced, every one got alarmed. It was causing considerable pain but Bhagwan did not seem to mind it. Soon it was diagnosed as Sarcoma. A couple of operations were followed and Bhagwan remained just a witness to all the suffering allowing the doctors to do their duty in their own limited judgement. The malignant tumor at one stage grew and looked like a small cauliflower and oozed lot of blood. Bhagwan’s body was going weaker by the day. Bhagwan allowed other types of treatment like Ayurveda, Unani, Homeopathy and so on done onto him by experts from the respective fields but to no avail.

Devotees shed tears to see Ramana’s physical body suffering but they were at a loss  what to do further. Bhagwan stoutly refused a suggestion to amputate his left arm. He said, ” “They take this body for Bhagavan and attribute suffering to him. What a pity! They are despondent the Bhagavan is going to leave them and go away — where can he go, and how?”

Despite all the physical suffering and the efforts of his associates to give him seclusion from the disturbances of visiting devotees , Bhagwan insisted that all those  who are thronging to see him  be allowed to have his darshan. Bhagwan’s eyes were glowing like powerful lamps while his body was undergoing pain and suffering beyond measure. He continued to glance and bless his devotees as they queued up and passed one by one by having a last glimpse outside the entrance of his room.

Finally, Bhagvan breathed his last at 8:47 PM on 14th of April 1950. At that very moment, a comet moved slowly across the sky, reached the summit, of the holy hill, Arunachala, and disappeared behind it.

 

Bhagwan Ramana – 1950 – his end approaching. His left arm bandaged after a series of operations to remove sarcoma.

Ramana attains Mahasamadhi.

A   Documentary film on Bhagwan Ramanamahasrhi from the Archives of Ramanashramam