Sonntag, 14. September 2008

4.2: Arrival

Ramana had to pass the 3 temple-towers for entering the inmost shrine.

When, after his three-day journey, Ramana alighted from the train in Tiruvannamalai on 1st September 1896, the holy mountain and the temple lay before him in the morning light. It is worth noting that he identified Arunachala first with the temple and only later with the mountain. Overflowing with joy he hastened to the temple, whose doors stood open as if to welcome him. He went straight to the inner shrine (cella) and stayed there some time in the ecstasy of complete surrender. He then left the inner temple compound and threw the unopened packet of sweets, which he had received from the Bhagavatar’s wife, into the Ayyankulam temple tank.A man saw him do this and approached him and asked if he would like to have his tuft of hair removed.13 Ramana agreed. One of the barbers who practised his trade at the Ayyankulam tank, cut off his beautiful black locks and shaved his head. He gave the barber some money and threw the rest of the 3 ½ rupees away. Then he tore up the dhoti he was wearing and kept only one piece as a loincloth. A loincloth (koupina) would be his only clothing from now until the end of his life. Ramana remembered an incident in his youth in Madurai concerning the wearing of a koupina. He told how at a festival the wife of his uncle Subba Iyer once asked him to help prepare some sweets. He hesitated and then finally refused outright, as the work would have forced him to remove his clothes and wear only a loincloth, which made him feel embarrassed. The uncle and his wife rebuked him. Ramana remarked jokingly, “If I refused to wear koupina once, I am now made to pay the penalty by wearing it always.”From this day on he never touched money again and never had any possessions. Whatever he received as a gift he immediately distributed to those present. Finally, he removed his Brahmin thread, the sign of his high status. After he had laid everything aside, he went back to the temple, without, however, taking the ritual bath prescribed by the Hindu scriptures after the head has been shaved. He saw no need for it. For quite some time there had been no rain, but now the heavens opened, so that he arrived back in the temple area drenched from head to toe and had received his ‘bath’ in spite of himself.

13 Cutting off the tuft of hair, which orthodox Hindus have on the back of their heads as a sign of their caste, and shaving the head are signs of renunciation. Part of the formal act of starting life as a sannyasin is to lay down the old clothes and take a ceremonial bath.

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