Squirrels and sparrows liked to build their nests near Sri Ramana. He remembers, “There was once a regular war between the people here and the squirrels for a whole month. They used to build their nests over my head. Each day the people would destroy them and the next day the squirrels would have built them again. At last all the holes in the roof were stopped up and the squirrels could do nothing. At one time they used to run all over my couch and get into the sides and under the pillows and everywhere, and I had to look carefully before I sat down or leaned back. It has sometimes happened that I have accidentally leaned heavily on some small squirrel and given it samadhi [death] without knowing. The same thing sometimes happened on the hill too, at Skandashram. There too the squirrels used to nestle in my mattress and pillows. It began even before that. Even when I was at Gurumurtam birds and squirrels used to build their nests all round me.”110
One day when Ramana inadvertently bumped against a sparrow’s nest, an egg fell out and cracked. He was dismayed and cried out to his attendant Madhava, “Look, look what I have done today! Oh, the poor mother will be so sorrow-stricken, perhaps angry with me also, at my causing the destruction of her expected little one! Can the cracked eggshell be pieced together again? Let us try!”
So saying he took a piece of wet cloth, wrapped it around the broken egg and laid it back into its nest. Each third hour he took it out again, removed the cloth, took it in his hand and glanced at it for a few minutes. Seven days later, after taking the egg from its nest, he announced with the astonishment of a schoolboy, “Look what a wonder! The crack has closed.” Some days later he found the egg hatched out, the little bird had come out. With a face beaming with joy he took the nestling into his hand, stroked and caressed it and handed it to the others, that they could also admire it.
One day some new born squirrels had fallen out of their nest and landed on Ramana’s couch. Their eyes were still closed and they were very tiny. The mother, however, did not take them back. But how should one feed such tiny things? The squirrels laid in Ramana’s palm. His face was glowing with love and affection towards them. The devotees looked on helplessly, but he was happy and cheerful. He asked for some cotton and made a soft bed for them. Then he took a piece of the cotton, rolled it up so that the end looked like a sharp needle, dipped it into some milk and trickled it in their tiny mouths. This he did repeatedly. He looked after them with great care and love until they grew up and started running around. They did not run away, however, but always ran around their ‘mother’.
Something similar happened, when a cat ate the mother of some young squirrels. Again Ramana took on the task of caring for the young. As he liked to use daily events to teach his devotees he said to them, “These little ones do not know that wisdom lies in remaining in their nest. They keep attempting to come out. All trouble lies outside but they cannot remain within. Similarly if the mind is not externalised, but remains sunk in the Heart then there would only be happiness. But the mind keeps moving out.” When Rangaswami asked, “What is the path for keeping it inward?”, Bhagavan said, “It is exactly the same as what I am doing now. Each time a young squirrel comes out, I keep putting it back into its nest. When I go on doing it, it learns the happiness of staying in the nest.”111
110 dto., p. 234
111 Unforgettable Years, pp. 53ff
111 Unforgettable Years, pp. 53ff