Sonntag, 14. September 2008

8.2. The Simple Life in the Virupaksha Cave

View outside (2003)

In winter Virupaksha was a fine lodging, but not so in summer, when the adjoining river bed dried up and there was not the slightest breeze. In addition, as there were almost no trees, the cave was exposed to the sun, so that it became unbearably hot.

A little higher up the hill, at the foot of a mango tree there was a cave known as the Mango Tree Cave. The nearby Mulaipal Teertham always had a supply of clean water. The first time Ramana had seen it, it had been uninhabitable. But since then two brothers had removed the overhanging rock, had built a small wall with a door and had made the cave inhabitable. They asked the Swami to use it, so he used to spend the summer months here.

Life at the Virupaksha Cave and Mango Tree Cave was rich in privations but carefree, as Ramana himself stated, “Palaniswami asked me to copy out and give him some stanzas of Shankara, but where were notebooks or paper with us at the time? I collected every scrap of paper I could, stitched them together into a notebook, wrote out the stanzas and gave them to him. At that time we had nothing but a pot; we did not have even a towel. In the early days of our stay in the Virupaksha Cave, Palaniswami alone had a towel to wrap around him. The cave had no iron doors then; it had a wooden door with a wooden latch. We would fasten it from the outside with a small stick, go around the hill, wander hither and yon, return after a week or ten days, then open the door with the help of another stick. That was our key at the time; no need to keep it anywhere! This notebook was the only article we took with us. As Palaniswami wore a towel, he used to fold the book and tuck it into his waist. That was enough for us.”32

Years later this outer poverty had hardly changed at all. It is reported that Ramana had a single towel which was full of holes and which he used both to dry himself after his bath and for the kitchen work. He used to hide it carefully so that nobody would catch sight of it. One day, however, when, despite his efforts, it was discovered, his followers at once started to look for some new towels.

His loincloth was also in a poor state, “My koupina got torn. I do not usually ask anyone for anything. Bodily privacy has however to be maintained. Where could I get a needle and thread available to mend the koupina? At last, I got hold of a thorn, made a hole in it, took out a thread from the koupina itself, put it into the hole and thus mended the cloth, and, so as to hide the place where it was mended, I used to fold it suitably before putting it on. Time passed like that. What did we need? Such were those days!”33

Sri Ramana never wore shoes, not even during the hottest months. Rangan, a former classmate, reports, “When Bhagavan and I climbed up to the top of Arunachala, a thorn pricked my foot. Noting that I was lagging behind, Bhagavan removed it. A few yards later a big thorn pricked his foot. When I looked at his foot there were so many unremoved thorns in it. Then I examined the other foot, but the position was not different. ‘Which one will you remove, the new thorn or the old ones?’, he queried. He broke the thorn by pushing his foot to the ground and started walking again.”34

32 Bhagavan Sri Ramana, p. 47
33 Nagamma: Letters, pp. 50ff
34 Unforgettable Years, p. 43

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