Sonntag, 14. September 2008

12.3. Sri Ramana's Personal Attendants

Attendants accompanying Sri Ramana on his walk on the Hill

Sri Ramana's personal attendants accompanying Sri Ramana on his walk on the HillSri Ramana’s personal attendants were chosen by Chinnaswami. Ramana himself never asked anyone to serve him, nor ever sent away an attendant who had been allotted to him. It became the tradition in the Ashram that the attendants were always young unmarried men. Annamalai Swami reports, “Once, when a woman who was a qualified nurse from North India volunteered to be an attendant, Bhagavan replied by saying, ‘Ask the people in the Hall’. Krishnaswami, the chief attendant, and some of the other people in the Hall objected. ‘No! No! We cannot have ladies doing service to Bhagavan. It is not proper.’ Bhagavan turned to the woman and said, ‘These people all think like this. What can I do?’”79

One of the attendants’ tasks was to receive the food offerings brought by devotees and give some of it back to them as prasadam. They had to be careful that the men sat on one side of the Hall and the women on the other. Whenever Maharshi left the Hall, one of them had to accompany him. The other one stayed back to clean the Hall. The cloths on the couch had to be kept clean. Washing the cloths and preparing warm water for the morning bath was also the duty of the attendants, as was accompanying Ramana on his nightly walks to the toilet. There was, therefore, someone there to be helpful to him round the clock.

Attendant fanning Bhagavan

Sri Ramana was strict with his attendants, insisting that they carry out their duties meticulously and punctually. He did not let them get away with anything.

At first, Krishnaswami often used to fail to chase away the monkeys during their raids into the Hall to steal fruit. He was rebuked for this by Sri Ramana. Thereafter Krishnaswami became a keen monkey chaser. He armed himself with a catapult and drove the monkeys away with it as soon as they appeared.

Something similar happened with the attendant Rangaswami, who also failed to chase away the monkeys and instead liked to meditate. Ramana scolded him, “If you want to meditate like this, go somewhere else. If you want to live here you must do service like everyone else. Meditation is contained in your service to the Guru.”80

One of Sri Ramana’s characteristics was that he never asked for anything. If the attendant had no idea of what he might need he did not ask for it. He did not want anyone to be troubled on his behalf, not even his attendants. So the attendants were trained to know what Sri Ramana might want, whether it be something to drink, to wash his hands or to read the newspaper – they knew without him having to say. They were helped by the fact that there was a fixed time for almost everything.

Attendants sitting in front of Ramana in his later years

Major Chadwick tells the story of the betel. In this case the attendant’s omission resulted in Ramana simply giving up chewing betel. “One morning Bhagavan was about to go out and was only waiting for the attendant to give him the betel, which was always placed by his side when it was time for his walk. For some reason the attendant did not do it, everybody in the Hall was waiting expectantly but could do nothing about it as the management did not allow anybody to attend on Bhagavan except those who had been specially detailed. Eventually Bhagavan got up and left the Hall without it. From that day on he never chewed again.”81

Although Sri Ramana could be very strict with his attendants, he was also very concerned for their welfare. In summer, when he used to walk to Palakothu between midday and 1.30 p.m., the sandy path was so hot that walking barefoot could be very painful. Ramana always walked at the same steady pace, whether it was raining cats and dogs or whether the sun was blazing down, but he used to say to the attendant walking behind him, “Run, run and take shelter under that tree. Put your upper cloth under your feet and stand on it for a while.”

Similarly Ramana’s concern was extended to Rangaswami, when he had to copy out several pages of a book. “One day Bhagavan asked me if I had completed the job. ‘I do not have the time for it’, I said. ‘What are you doing now?’ he queried. ‘I am going to Palakothu to wash your cod-piece’. Bhagavan said, ‘Okay, you do my job and I will do yours’, so saying, he copied the remaining pages.”82
79 Godman: Living by the Words, p. 96
80 dto., p. 97
81 Sadhu Arunachala: Reminiscences, p. 36
82 Unforgettable Years, p. 53

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