Sonntag, 14. September 2008

5.3 Palaniswami

The only photo which could be found of Palaniswami - a snippet from a group-photo.

Palaniswami was a Malayali from Kerala and at least 20 years older than Sri Ramana. He paid homage to the idol of God Ganesha in a temple in the town. His only food was food which had been offered to Ganesha, which consisted of a single meal a day, to which he added no spices, not even salt. Someone noticed his devotion to the Goddess and said, "What is the use of spending your lifetime with this stone Swami? There is a young Swami in flesh and blood at Gurumurtam. He is steeped in austerities (tapas) like the youthful Dhruva mentioned in the puranas. If you go and serve him, and adhere to him, your life would serve its purpose." Others also drew his attention to the fact that the Swami was without an attendant at the time and that it would be a blessing to serve such a great soul. Spurred on in this way Palaniswami went to Gurumurtam.

When he saw the young Swami, he recognized that he had found his master. He continued with his service at the Ganesha temple for a while, but after some time he gave it up. He became a devoted companion of Sri Ramana following him everywhere like a shadow. If he had to leave he used to lock the door at Gurumurtam, so that nobody could pester the Swami while he was away, and he would always return as quickly as he could. Nobody was allowed to see Ramana without his permission. He would accept the various food offerings from visitors, mix them up into a paste and at noon give Ramana a cupful of it to eat. The rest he gave back as prasad to the visitors. This single meagre meal was just enough to survive on. Ramana's body became as thin as a skeleton. In addition, as he was permanently seated and never made the slightest movement, he had barely enough strength to maintain his sitting posture and was severely constipated. If he needed to rise to relieve himself, which was sometimes after days only, he found it very difficult, repeatedly falling back in his seat. Incapable of keeping himself upright he would stagger to the door. When one day Palaniswami held him up by his arms, Sri Ramana reproachfully asked with signs, why he was holding him, and Palaniswami answered, "Swami was about to fall, and so I held him and prevented the fall." He himself had not even noticed the fact.

Some time in May 1898, after a little over one year spent at Gurumurtam, Ramana and Palaniswami moved to the adjoining mango grove. Here they spent several peaceful months undisturbed by the numerous visitors, as Venkataraman Naicker, the owner of the garden, let no-one enter who had not been asked in. There they lived in two narrow sheds under a mango tree. Ramana remembers, "Under a mango tree they erected something overhead to prevent rain from falling on me. There was, however, not enough space under it even to stretch my legs fully while sleeping. So I used to sit almost all the time like a bird in its nest. Opposite my shelter Palaniswami also had a small shed. In the huge garden, only two of us used to stay."22

Palaniswami, who had access to a library in town, brought back a number of books in Tamil on Vedanta, such as Kaivalya Navaneeta, Yoga Vasistha and Shankaras Vivekachudamani. But, as his knowledge of Tamil was not very good, he used to struggle through the scriptures word by word and often had difficulties in understanding. Ramana read each of the books, immediately grasped the meaning, remembered everything and imparted the essence of it to Palaniswami. In this way Ramana gradually learned about all the important Vedanta scriptures and discovered that his personal experience corresponded with them. The experience he had had on the upper floor of his uncle's house in Madurai was exactly the same as the experiences he found described in the scriptures.

22 Bhagavan Sri Ramana, p. 35

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