Sonntag, 14. September 2008

9.1. At Skandashram

A visitor asked, “I am a man with a family. Is it possible for those in a family to get release, and if so how?”
Maharshi, “Now what is family? Whose family is it? If the answers to these questions are found the other questions solve themselves. Tell me: Are you in the family, or is the family in you? Who are you?”

Sri Ramana spent the years 1916 to 1922 with his mother Alagammal and the small community at Skandashram. It was during this period that he was joined by a number of those disciples who were to remain with him permanently, these included Viswanatha Swami, Ramaswami Pillai and Kunju Swami. His younger brother Nagasundaram also joined the Ashram. When Alagammal died in 1922, she was buried at the foot of the hill. Shortly thereafter the time at Skandashram came to an end, as the Maharshi and his followers moved to settle down at her burial site, and Ramanashram, where Sri Ramana was to remain until his death, came into being.

It was not until 1913, fifteen years after her first visit, that Alagammal finally saw her son again. She came to see him on her way back from a pilgrimage to Benares, bringing with her Mangalam, the wife of her youngest son Nagasundaram. Both were allowed to stay at Virupaksha Cave for one night, which was the first time that any women had spent the night there. Alagammal prayed to her son for his blessings for Mangalam, in particular that her wish for a son would be fulfilled. Then both women returned to Manamadurai.

Shortly afterwards Mangalam became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who, in gratitude to Ramana, was named T.N. Venkataraman (also to be known as Venkatoo).47

In 1914 Alagammal made a second pilgrimage. On the way back she again went to see Ramana. During her visit she became seriously ill with a high fever that lasted several weeks. The symptoms pointed to typhus. When her state became critical, Ramana wrote a passionate prayer to Arunachala pleading for her recovery. This prayer is the only one in which he begged Arunachala to heal someone and to intervene in someone’s fate. The last strophe runs as follows,
“Arunachala, that chasest away illusion (maya)! Why delayest Thou to dispel my mother’s delirium! Besides Thee, is there anyone who with maternal solicitude can protect the suppliant soul and ward off the strokes of destiny?”48Alagammal subsequently recovered and later returned home.

As a result of several deaths in her family and the difficult circumstances of her life Alagammal finally felt that she should spend the remaining years of her life with her second son. Nagaswami, her eldest son, had died in 1900. Soon after her visit to Ramana her brother-in-law Nelliappa Iyer had died and then also her daughter-in-law Mangalam. The house in Tiruchuli had been sold to cover debts. Nelliappa Iyer had left the family in difficult circumstances.

In early 1916 Alagammal set off for Tiruvannamalai. As she did not know whether she would be allowed to stay with Ramana in the Virupaksha Cave she moved in with Echammal, who each day brought a meal up to the cave. But after some time she felt the urgent need to stay with her son. The community, however, did not want to see any change in the established Ashram routine. Without consulting Ramana they declared with one voice that under no circumstances should women be allowed to live in the cave. Although the other women argued that the mother should be permitted to do so as she was now too old to climb the hill each day, they remained unmoved. When Sri Ramana came to hear about the matter he at first kept silent. Alagammal stood there unhappy and despairing and wanted to go, when Ramana, deeply moved, took her hand and said, “Come let us go, if not here we can stay somewhere else, come.” Fearful that he may indeed go away they all immediately changed their view and Alagammal moved into the Ashram.

47 T.N. Venkataramam was now the only direct descendant of Sundaram Iyer’s family. After the death of his father Nagasundaram (Chinnaswami) he became the Ashram President in 1953.
48 For the Mother’s Recovery. In: Collected Works, p. 149

Keine Kommentare: