Sonntag, 14. September 2008

14.5. The Cow Lakshmi

Sri Ramana with Lakshmi

Many animals used to live in the Ashram. There are several animal samadhis (graves) on the Ashram premises, which continue to be honoured even today. The stories about the white peathingy, Valli the deer and Jackie the dog are well-known. But the most famous Ashram animal was the cow Lakshmi.

In 1926 a certain Arunachala Pillai presented a cow and her calf to Sri Ramana as a gift. At first Ramana refused to accept them as the Ashram did not have the necessary facilities for the animals to be cared for properly. The donor was asked to take them back again. But the devotee insisted that the cow and calf be left with Ramana. Finally Ramanatha Diknutsar, who lived near the Ashram, promised to look after the animals. Three months later they were transferred to the care of Pasupathi Aiyar, who lived in town.

A year later Pasupathi Aiyar came to have Sri Ramana’s darshan and brought the cow and calf to show him. The calf, however, remembered the way to the Ashram and next morning it came to Ramana all by itself. Thereafter it would come each morning, spend the day at the Ashram and return to town in the evening by itself. Ramana was very friendly towards it and gave it all kinds of delicacies to eat. Many years passed in this way. The calf naturally grew into a cow and was named ‘Lakshmi’.

The Maharshi said about Lakshmi, that even though she could not speak, she understood everything and reacted as intelligently as a human being.

Punctually at mealtimes Lakshmi would enter the Hall and accompany Ramana to the dining hall. The natural manner with which she asserted her claims on him and the great friendliness with which he treated her, led devotees to speculate about Lakshmi’s connection to Maharshi in an earlier life, but Ramana never said anything on the matter.

In the course of her lifetime Lakshmi gave birth to nine calves. Three of them were born on Ramana’s birthday. Later she and her calves were allowed to stay at the Ashram itself.

Shantamma reports, “Once Lakshmi came into the Hall. She was pregnant at that time. It was after lunch time, when Bhagavan was reading the newspapers. Lakshmi came near and started licking the papers. Bhagavan looked up and said: ‘Wait a little, Lakshmi.’ But Lakshmi went on licking. Bhagavan laid his paper aside, put his hands behind Lakshmi’s horns and his head against hers. Like this they stayed for quite a long time. I stood nearby looking at the wonderful scene. After some ten minutes or so, Bhagavan turned to me and said: ‘Do you know what Lakshmi is doing? She is in samadhi.’ I looked at her and tears were flowing in streams down her broad cheeks. Her breathing had stopped and her eyes were fixed on Bhagavan. After some time Bhagavan changed his position and asked: ‘Lakshmi, how do you feel now?’ Lakshmi moved backwards, as if reluctant to turn her tail towards Bhagavan, walked round the Hall and went out.”112

As the Ashram grew, the number of cattle which were kept there also grew. A stone cowshed (goshala) had to be built. On the ceremonial opening day Lakshmi was supposed to enter the new cowshed first. She had been bathed and decorated, but she escaped, went to Ramana and stood in front of him. She would not move from there until he stood up and went over to the cowshed. So he was the first one to enter her new house, and she followed him.

Cattle of Ramanashram today

On 17th June 1948 Lakshmi fell ill. The following morning Ramana went to her and said, “Amma (mother), do you want me to be near you now?” He looked into her eyes, laid one of his hands on her head, the other one on her Heart and stroked her. He laid his cheek on her face. When he was sure that her Heart was pure, without any passion (vasanas) and fully concentrated on him, he left her and went back to the Hall. Shortly before her end she licked some sweet rice. Her eyes were calm and peaceful. She remained conscious until the last and died peacefully at half past eleven.

Ramana had given liberation to both his mother and Lakshmi. She was buried with all due ceremonies and a samadhi was created for her near the other animal graves. On her gravestone it reads, “On 18.6.1948 the cow Lakshmi attained liberation (mukti).”

Samadhi of Lakshmi

112 Shantamma: Eternal Bhagavan. In: Ramana Smrti, pp.[84ff]

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