Sonntag, 14. September 2008

4.7. In the Vahana Mandapam

vehicle of the vahana mandapam today

Finally, Ramana moved to the hall where the vehicles for the temple processions were kept (vahana mantapam). Here he was again exposed to the pestering of the street urchins and therefore withdrew into the dark, inside the hall under the vehicles. Again he sometimes found himself under a different vehicle from the one he had sat down under. Somehow he had managed to clamber over all the obstacles without being hurt and without being roused from his samadhi.

After some time Ramana left the vahana mantapam and sat under the Illupai tree which was inside the outer wall of the southern temple tower. The path used for the temple processions passed nearby. At Kartikai, in particular, large numbers of pilgrims would pass by.

Here Ramana was fully exposed to the weather. Sometimes a cold wind blew and his body would be covered with dew. To protect himself against the cold he would cross his arms about the upper part of his naked body. Later he reflected that no woollen blanket could compare to the arms laid across the chest and that this was the first upper garment that he used.

He even reported that he had been naked at times. "It was not because I had a vairagya [renunciation] that I should have no clothing of any sort. The cod-piece I was wearing used to bring on sores where it touched the skin. When the sore became bad, I threw away the cod-piece. That is all. There used to be an old Gurukkal [temple priest] who for the first time arranged for some regular food for me either by supplying some from his house or by sending the abhisheka milk [sacrificed milk] from the temple to me. After I had been nude for about a month, this old Gurukkal told me one day, 'Boy, the Kartikai Deepam is approaching. People from all the 24 districts will be flocking here. Police from all the districts will also be here. They will arrest you and put you into jail if you are nude like this. So you must have a cod-piece.' So saying, he got a new piece of cloth, made four people lift me up and tied a cod-piece round me"19

At the following Kartikai festival Sri Ramana's first disciple, Uddandi Nayinar, arrived and became a permanent companion. He had a bullock cart which he used to transport people and goods from one town to another. Like so many other pilgrims he too had come to Tiruvannamalai for the Kartikai festival and saw the young Swami sitting under the Illupai tree absorbed in deep samadhi. In search of Self Realization and peace of mind he recognized in the young Swami the living embodiment of the Holy Scriptures and said to himself, 'Here indeed are Realization and peace, and here must I seek them.' From then on he did not leave his side. He took care of his bodily needs and prevented him from being disturbed or bothered. He settled down at a short distance from him, observed the crowds of visitors for hours at a time and drove away the urchins who found it amusing to cause trouble for the young ascetic. He also cooked simple meals, which he shared with him.
Uddandi was a learned man. In Sri Ramana's presence he recited sacred Yoga and Vedanta texts such as Yoga Vasistha and Kaivalya Navaneeta. He longed to hear some words of instruction from his new guru, which would help him on the way to Self Realization and help him find peace, but the Swami kept silent and he, in his turn, did not dare to speak to him.
Uddandi was unable to remain with Ramana constantly. During his lengthier absences Ramana was again pestered by street urchins or people who were curious to see him. Here there were no dark places where he could hide. Many thought him simply to be a lazy good-for-nothing and played tricks on him. One day, while he was sitting under the Illupai tree in samadhi, unaware of his body, when no-one was near, a boy poured some mud over his back to find out how deep the absorption of the young ascetic was. When Ramana later came back to body-consciousness he noticed that his loincloth was wet and stinking and that someone must have played a prank on him. He did not feel any anger, but the time was approaching when he would leave the temple area and move to a quieter place.

19 Mudaliar: Day by Day, p. 283

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