Sonntag, 14. September 2008

8.6. Children, Devotees and Visitors

Frank Humphreys

Though Sri Ramana did not speak in the first years of his stay in the Virupaksha Cave, many children climbed up the hill to visit him. They came on their own initiative and sat silently near him for long periods. They often used to bring something to eat with them and he also received his share. Sometimes they brought their dolls and played at weddings. For the yearly light festival (Dipavali) they brought crackers and Ramana set them off together with them. He also played marbles with the boys.

In the meantime many new followers had joined Sri Ramana. Amongst them was Echammal, a simple woman, who had lost her husband and both her children, which had made her life unbearable. Someone told her that a young saint was living in Tiruvannamalai. She immediately undertook the journey to see him. She stayed in his presence for about one hour, without a word being spoken. She felt the mental anguish vanishing until the pain disappeared, to be replaced by inner peace. She settled down in Tiruvannamalai and took a vow that she would only eat after she had served her master. From 1907 onwards until her death in 1945 she brought him a meal every day.

In 1908, as a boy of twelve, T.K. Sundaresa Iyer had come to Ramana and remained faithful to him till the end. He writes in his reminiscences, “Had you seen him in those days, you would hardly have taken him for a mere human being. His figure was a statue of burnished gold. He simply sat and sat, and rarely spoke. The words he spoke on any day could easily be counted. He was an enchant-ing personality, who shed a captivating lustre on all, and a life-giving current flowed from him, charging all those nearby, while his sparkling eyes irrigated those around him with the nectar of his Being.” And yet one day the young man was finally overcome by doubts. “One day I wondered why I was visiting him at all. What was the use? There seemed to be no inner advancement. Going up the hill was meaningless toil. I decided to end my visits on the hill. For one hundred days exactly I did not see Bhagavan. On the hundred and first day I could suffer no longer and I ran to Skandashram, above Virupaksha Cave. Bhagavan saw me climbing, got up and came forward to meet me. When I fell at his feet, I could not restrain myself and burst out in tears. I clung to them and would not get up. Bhagavan pulled me up and asked, ‘It is over three months since I saw you. Where were you?’ I told him how I thought that seeing him was of no use. ‘All right,’ he said, ‘maybe it is of no use, so what? You felt the loss, did you not?’ Then I understood that we did not go to him for profit, but because away from him there was no life for us.”43

Frank HumphreysThe Englishman Frank H. Humphreys was the first western disciple who came to Ramana, in January 1911. He reports about his visit, “For half an hour I looked Him in the eyes which never changed their expression of deep contemplation. I began to realize somewhat that the body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost – I could only feel His body was not the man, it was the instrument of God, merely a sitting motionless corpse from which God was radiating terrifically. My own sensations were indescribable.”44

The story of how Sri Ramana kept his identity hidden from a visitor is well-known. One day when Palaniswami was not there, Sri Ramana started to build a stone platform in front of Virupaksha Cave, so that visitors could sit there more comfortably. He collected some stones and bricks and mixed some wet mud. He had a bricklayer’s trowel in his dirty hand, was wearing only a loincloth and was sweating when a visitor came. He asked him where the Swami was. But Ramana answered, “Swami has just gone out somewhere.” The visitor waited, but as no Swami returned he went away without having achieved what he had come for. On the way back he met Echammal, who was on her way up to the cave to bring the meal. She told him, that he had come across none other than Ramana himself. Later Echammal asked Ramana if it was right for him to give the visitor such wrong information, but Maharshi replied, “Do you want me to go about with a bell round my neck announcing ‘I am the Swami’ or to have a label on my forehead that I am the Swami?”
There are other similar incidents, in which Ramana denied himself.


43 Iyer: At the Feet, pp. 17 and 3ff
The episode happened when Sri Ramana was already living in Skandashram.
44 Humphreys: Glimpses, p. 15

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