This chapter is taken from The Silent Power – Selections from The Mountain Path and The Call Divine
An old and well-known devotee of Bhagavan describes some instances of Bhagavan’s solicitude for his devotees, especially for women and old people.
Bhagavan was always very considerate towards his devotees in all matters. When he was living at Skandashram on the eastern slopes of the hill, he used to wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning. He would not get up immediately but recline on the bed. We too would wake up at the same time and sit in meditation near him. Bhagavan’s mother used to sing some devotional songs from within. Bhagavan’s routine was to go out at half past four and return by five. We would then begin to recite the Aksharamana Malai (The Marital Garland of Letters). That was the only song which Bhagavan had composed at that time. I learned it by heart by merely listening to the chanting of the other devotees. The recitation was over by six o’clock which was the time for Bhagavan to go for his bath.
There was a large flat stone at the spot where now there is the low wall on the eastern side. Tooth powder and water were kept on it for Bhagavan’s use. In all weathers he used to sit on it facing the east and clean his teeth. His body was glowing in the rays of the rising sun. If there was heavy dew we tried to dissuade him from sitting there, but without any success. Nor did he tell us the reason for sitting there always. It was some time afterwards that we came to know of it.
An old woman named Saubhagyathammal, living in a house near the foot of the hill, and some of her friends had made it a daily practice not to take any food until they had had darshan of Bhagavan and Sri Seshadri Swami. They used to come up to Skandashram every day for this purpose. One day Saubhagyathammal did not come. If any of his regular devotees were absent on any particular day Bhagavan never failed to make enquiries and find out the reason. So when the old woman came the next day he asked her why she did not come on the previous day. She replied,”I had Sri Bhagavan’s darshan yesterday.” “But you did not come yesterday”, said Bhagavan. “Bhagavan knew that this humble devotee was too feeble to climb the hill and so he made it possible for her to see him from a place close to her house”, was the reply. She explained that she had seen Bhagavan while he was sitting on the stone and cleaning his teeth and said that she was henceforth going to have his darshan everyday in the same way. From that time onwards Bhagavan made it a practice to sit on that stone for nearly half an hour daily. Later on when Bhagavan took up his abode at the foot of the hill it was also chiefly out of consideration for his aged devotees who found it difficult to climb to Skandashram. After the passing away of his mother he occasionally came down to her samadhi. Aged devotees eagerly awaited these opportunities to see him. And so when they begged him to remain below he began to live there permanently.
It was the practice of Bhagavan’s devotees to take his permission before proceeding to circumambulate the hill and to prostrate before him on their return. Many came to the Ashram all the way from the town for this purpose even late in the evening and then proceeded immediately to their homes in the town. Bhagavan advised such devotees to break their circumambulation in town in the evening and to complete it on the following day when they came to the Ashram as usual.
When women devotees were ready to return to town at dusk he would always make certain that none of them went alone. If any of them found no company he would ask someone to go with her and leave her at her house.
There were some devotees employed in Madras who used to come every weekend to Tiruvannamalai and return to Madras in time to go to their offices on Monday morning. Sometimes some of them were so reluctant to part from Bhagavan that they continued to overstay their time. They would go as far as the railway station only to return to the Ashram on some pretext or other. Bhagavan, therefore, used in such cases to send someone with them to the railway station and see that they actually got into the train and left for Madras. He did not like that anyone should neglect his duties!
When a devotee came late in the evening after every one had taken his meal and gone to bed he was not allowed to go hungry on this account. Bhagavan always saw to it that some food was kept for such late-comers and that they had their meal. When such a visitor arrived Bhagavan simply looked at some of us. That was enough for us to take him to the dining hall and give him his meal!
Bhagavan never started to eat before all those who were present were served. The beggars waiting at the gate are even now given their food before inmates and visitors are served. No exception is made to this rule even on crowded occasions like the Jayanthi and the Aradhana. All these instances will show how considerate Bhagavan was to others!