At the shrine of Subrahmanya there lived a Mauni Yogi and a group of mendicant ascetics, who had settled down in the nearby garden. Sri Ramana was cared for occasionally but not regularly. At noon each day the Yogi used to bring him a glass of milk collected from a stone basin after the sacrifice to the statue of Goddess Uma. This was no pure milk, but a murky mixture of various food offerings - milk, water and sugar mixed with turmeric powder, raw and ripe pieces of plantains and other sacrificial remains, which the priest had poured over the devotional image. Indifferently Ramana swallowed it all. When the temple priest who performed the service at Uma’s shrine, noticed that one day, he was dismayed. He thereafter arranged that pure milk without any additions be brought to Ramana as soon as it had been offered to the Goddess.
During this time any food had still to be put into his mouth, as he would not eat what was merely placed in front of him. Without the care of others the Swami would probably not have survived for long.
After spending some weeks at this shrine Ramana moved to the adjoining flower garden. Tall oleander plants grew in this garden, some of them ten or twelve feet high and he would sit here in their shade, deep in samadhi. At times he would sit down under one tree only to find himself, when he later opened his eyes, sitting under another tree. He also often did not know whether it was day or night, “When I closed my eyes, deeply absorbed in meditation I hardly knew whether it was day or night. If at any time I opened my eyes I used to wonder whether it was night or day. I had no food and no sleep. … If there is no movement, you do not need sleep. Very little food is enough to sustain life. That used to be my experience. Somebody or other used to offer me a tumblerful of some liquid diet whenever I opened my eyes. That was all.”18
Some people, who saw the young ascetic sitting motionless like that thought, “He is sitting like a Jada (dull-witted person); he must be a mad fellow.” Ramana later said that he found such remarks amusing and wished that everybody could be overcome by such ‘madness’.
18 Nagamma: Letters, p. 185