This part is written by A.W.Chadwick (Sadhu Arunachala)
Someone came to see me the other day and in the course of conversation said: “X says that a Maharshi could never make a legal will.”
First, it would be well to explain that X is a very prominent Indian, a lawyer who has held most responsible positions and whose pronouncements are still snapped up by the papers and respected by all.
Friend: X says that a Maharshi could never make a will.
Self: Oh, is X a Maharshi?
F: No, of course not, but his opinion is to be respected.
S: But if he is not a Maharshi how can he possibly tell how a Maharshi would behave under the circumstances? I thought such were supposed to be perfectly free, but you would bind them in chains.
F: No, not that, but he just would not do it, X says.
S: Does he refute it from the legal aspect? I know he is a great lawyer, but in this case, I am afraid, he is deceiving himself.
F: No, not that I know of, from the moral aspect I should say.
S: Oh, then X sets himself up to judge the morals of Maharshi. Personally, from what I have heard of X, I should prefer not to follow him in this. Strange how he can presume to judge Maharshi!
F: Not exactly judge, but he is deeply read in the scriptures and so may be considered an authority.
S: Deeply read in the scriptures, is he? Then what about Janaka?
F: Janaka? I don’t understand. He did not make a will.
S: How do you know? In any case he ruled a kingdom. So Maharshis may rule kingdoms, may they?
F: (reluctantly) Yes.
S: Well, what about Lord Krishna?
F: Krishna? Anyway I am certain he never made a will.
S: Probably not, but he sported with the naked gopis.
You therefore allow that Maharshis may sport with gopis, do you?
F: Don’t laugh at me. These things are beyond our comprehension.
S: That is anyway an admission. You do allow that some things are beyond our comprehension, but I doubt if X would. But wait, what of Rama?
F: I don’t understand. (By now my friend was beginning to get a bit suspicious).
S: Well, Rama had a wife, went to war, shot someone in the back.
F: No, no, I will not allow you to speak of Lord Rama like that. He is sacred for me. Anything he did was perfect and must have some secret meaning.
S: Couldn’t you admit as much for Maharshi? F: (Mumbles).
S: Now I have so far only started and yet you have not
been able to explain the action of one of your heroes. Why do you presume to explain Sri Ramana Maharshi away so easily? Is making a will so terrible?
F: But he was a sannyasin and as such can own nothing. So how could he make a will?
S: He was never a sannyasin. He was never anything. He was just indifferent to possessions.
F: If he was indifferent, then why did he own anything?
S: Was Janaka attached?
F: Of course not!
S: Yet he owned a whole kingdom and Maharshi only a few acres of land.
F: But Janaka was so indifferent, he never made a will.
S: Again I ask, how do you know? He was undoubtedly
succeeded by his legal heirs. But you are so entirely prejudiced.
F: (indignantly) Prejudiced? I? Why do you say that?
S: Obviously. You allow without question all sorts of apparently doubtful actions, which would appear to show attachment and even irregularities on the part of your scriptural heroes, but the agreement of Maharshi to the terms of a will to save complications in the future you say is impossible.
F: But Maharshi never owned anything.
S: Yes, he did. He owned the Ashram. He admitted so before the Commission.
F: Tell me about it.
S: Some years ago there was a case against the Ashram, a former member claimed the whole place as his own property. Maharshi gave evidence on Commission, in the course of which he said that he belonged to atyasrama (transcending all prescribed asrama) and as such, according to the puranas he could own and transmit property.
F: Hey! Stop! According to the puranas?
S: Perhaps your learned X, who knows all that the scriptures say, has not mentioned the fact to you that according to the puranas Maharshi could own property. This ought to shake the arguments of most people, but they won’t listen when it is inconvenient. But to proceed, he admitted that properties had been given to him and he had accepted them; that he had given a power of attorney to his brother to control therein; that to speak of Sri Ramanasramam and himself was synonymous; that he had never taken any order of sannyasa and so there was absolutely no reason why he should not own property. For the convenience of those who wished to visit him it had been useful to have the Ashram. He added that he knew the property was associated with worldly life, but he did not hate worldly life.
F: But Maharshi was always so detached.
S: Yes, but he did not confuse ownership with attachment; there need be no connection. He did not claim things for himself, yet no one but a crank could pretend that various things had not been given to him. Were they not there in evidence? Who else do you suggest owned the Ashram?
F: The consensus of disciples.
S: Rubbish. Nothing was ever given to a consensus of the disciples. You know very well that all the things were gifts humbly placed by disciples at the feet of their guru.
F: But why the will? Surely he did not mind what happened to it at all. You yourself say that he did not claim things for himself.
S: The will was his grace, extraordinary as this may seem to you at first sight, and upsetting as it may appear to all those opponents of the Ashram who have made such a lot of propaganda about it.
F: His grace? Explain.
S: In his infinite consideration for us and others who should remain after him, he agreed to a document which should protect the Ashram and allow it to continue as a holy place. Evidence of the necessity for this has been ample since his passing, when all sorts of people have been making extravagant claims and trying to get the Ashram into their own hands and control it as they want it. Read the document carefully and you will see how provisions have been made for everything – we have been told how to carry on the Ashram.
F: They say he did not want it, but they made him agree.
S: That only shows the gross ignorance of these people, whoever they are. Nobody at any time could make Maharshi do anything. He was firmer than the Hill itself and absolutely immovable. Ask any of those who moved with him, they will just laugh at you. Make him do anything!
F: But is it legal?
S: Absolutely. I can’t go into that now. It would take too long. I am certain that its legality can never be shaken in spite of X and all his legal knowledge. In fact even the opponents of the Ashram in the recent case have not queried its legality.
F: In spite of all you have said, I do not feel sure.
S: Don’t worry, look at it from this point: He never did anything for himself or his own comfort, but he was always all consideration for others. The necessity for some document to help others after was explained to him and he saw this necessity and agreed. I repeat, it was an act of grace. Time itself is proving how wise he was.