This chapter is taken from The Silent Power – Selections from The Mountain Path and The Call Divine
I had seen Bhagavan’s pictures and heard about him, but was not particularly drawn to him until 1975. One afternoon in September of that year in a busy street in an American city, I saw a man walking ahead of me with a bag on his back on which the Sankskrit word AUM was embroidered. Prompted to talk to this man, I invited him to have a cup of tea in a nearby restaurant. I asked him how it happened that his bag bore the Sanskrit word AUM. He opened the bag and took out the book Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi and a few other books about the Maharshi. We talked for a while and this north American told me, “I was an ordinary person like the rest here in this country. I had a job and a good income, a car and friends and relatives. Everything was OK but I was worried about my possessions being stolen and I had to make sure that my apartment was properly locked. I was worried all the time about losing my possessions. Somehow I got some books about Bhagavan and read them and then things started changing. Now this bag is all I have. I do not have a place I call mine. I do not have a job. If I need money I work for a few hours or for a day and what I earn could get a meal with no questions asked. All the time I spend reading these books about Bhagavan. I keep reading them again and again, but each time I learn something new.”
It was this strange encounter with an unknown person in a city far away from Arunachala, who gave up all his possessions except the bag on his back, that prompted me to make a trip to Bhagavan’s Ashram. We reached the Ashram around 3p.m. on the 25th anniversary of his mahanirvana. Putting our bedding and luggage in a room and getting a copy of the Ashram schedule, we went up the Hill to Skandashram, drank the spring water, spent a few minutes in the room there and returned in time for the evening meal at the Ashram. During our I979 visit, my daughter, looking at Bhagavan’s picture in the old meditation hall and said to her mother, “Amma, I see light in those eyes”. In April of 1982, I was planning to visit India to bring my family back to the US to join me. In the same city where I met the strange person who gave up all his possessions except the bag on his back, circumstances brought me into contact with another American just a couple of days before I was to start my trip to India. My new friend, learning of my trip to India, wanted me to go to Tiruvannamalai and meet his friends (whom he named) in the Ashram!
This encounter with a total stranger was for me a blessing and a welcome to this home by Bhagavan Himself. Since the first trip in 1976, Sri Bhagavan made it possible for me to come to his feet no less than six times. Not only that, he made it possible for me to go to Madurai and spend some time in the spot where he had his realisation. What I was at the time of my first trip and what I am now, only I know and he knows. At present I am far, far away, physically, but again and again he makes his presence felt in innumerable ways. HE IS EVERYWHERE.