This part is taken from “Memorable Days With The Sage Of Arunachala” by Swami Desikananda
THE highest ideal for man is to realise God, his real Self. Three prerequisites for fulfilling this sublime purpose of life are: a human body as it is only in such a state that we can work out our destiny and practise sadhana, the desire to be free and the help of a Guru who has crossed the ocean of delusion. This objective unfolds itself commensurate with our spiritual effort and growth.
It was Grace and good fortune that brought me to the presence of Bhagavan Sri Ramana in 1927. On entering the Ashram I saw the Maharshi seated on a couch wearing nothing more than a loincloth and appearing to gaze at some distant void. He was surrounded by devotees sitting at his feet and the whole scene was reminiscent of sages of yore. I stood for a while in his presence. He looked at me casually and I made my namaskarams. He made kind enquiries as to where I came from and about my stay. Next morning I went to the Ashram and sat before the Maharshi in meditation. The mind was quiet and not wavering. Sri Maharshi was sitting on the couch as usual, apparently gazing at the Hill.
Next morning I again returned to the Ashram to sit at his feet as I found I could easily concentrate in his presence and have progressively longer spells of undisturbed meditation such as I have never been able to achieve before anywhere else. When I told the Maharshi about it and how enjoyable it was, he asked me whether I was sleeping at the time of meditation. On my replying in the negative he laughed and enquired about my method of meditating, which was to concentrate on a light in the heart and offer a flower to my Ishtam (chosen God) whenever the mind wavered as instructed by Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj, second president of Ramakrishna Math Mission. The Maharshi said it was all right for me and I could continue in this way.
The third day after a lengthy meditation in front of the Maharshi I told him about a picture of Jesus I had seen in a church, surrounded by all sorts of animals at peace with one another. He replied that this was due to the fact of animosity having been conquered by the sage. Even snakes would not harm anybody here in this Ashram and added that in the presence of sages evil natures would be conquered and friendliness prevail. That is how the rishis of old used to live in forests and caves unharmed by wild creatures.
A visitor asked the Maharshi in the evening if he saw any form of God in meditation. He replied smiling that the Self or Atman is our real nature and has no form. He quoted a verse of Sankaracharya: “You are not the body, you are not the mind, senses or buddhi. You are beyond all these. You are the Atman.” When one becomes perfected in meditation having discarded all desires and merges in the Self the mind loses itself without any objectivity. The mind then is no mind. The mind losing itself in Atman is what is called samadhi. This is the real nature of man and sublime happiness.
The highest goal of man is to enquire ‘Who am I?’ and realize the Self. If a human being does not try to realize this he lives in vain. This state in which he enjoys the highest peace and happiness is dearer than anything else in the world. It is in all beings in the innermost heart. Unless one realizes this state one will have to be born and die again and again. In this real state one goes beyond grief and sorrow. It makes a man immortal.
Young as I was, I found it difficult to follow this teaching and asked for clarification when I returned to the Ashram the next morning. This was the first time I addressed the Maharshi as ‘Bhagavan’. He replied that the path was indeed difficult, as difficult as walking on a razor’s edge, but sincere effort is sure to bring result. “You (meaning me) could meditate for two or three hours not because of this life’s practice but as a result of effort in past lives.”
The fifth day of my visit I saw a young woman with a small baby seated at Bhagavan’s feet sobbing bitterly. She had recently lost her husband and was grief-stricken. Bhagavan looked at her with compassion and told her: “Husband, wife and children are for the body. Go home and know who you are. Go home and do not weep.” The words of a jnani have power to transform. ‘Home’ can also mean spiritual home, the source. His command “Go home and know who you are” might have taken effect in a heart one-pointed and purified by sorrow. In the case of another young woman, Echammal, heartbroken at the loss of her entire family, Bhagavan’s very Silence was enough to effect the transformation and lift her grief (as recorded in Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self Knowledge).
The remaining days went off as usual. Bhagavan’s routine was to sit on the couch mostly in silence till noon and again after food and a little rest. He used to look through the mail twice a day and go for a short walk on the Hill. He said on one occasion that since there was no mind at all, there was also no concept of anything. All was one full expanse in peace and happiness. He quickly added that we cannot even say one expanse as there was no second. He was immersed in sat-chit-ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss). Now his nature was that always.
When I was ready to leave I told Bhagavan so on the ninth day of my stay. Kneeling before him I wept profusely. He remarked: “You can stay on. Nobody asked you to go.” However, I took leave of him the next day and he told me to continue my meditation as usual and that everything will be all right in the course of time.
By Bhagavan’s Grace not only was I drawn into the fold of a sage who had the highest realization but was helped in every way to experience periods of supreme peace and bliss. This indeed forms the sheet anchor of my life that was, that is and that will be. The silent ministration of Bhagavan will indeed remain an eternal spring of spiritual joy and peace.
It is but appropriate that I close this account with salutations to Bhagavan Ramana who keeps on inspiring ever increasing numbers of seekers as time goes on.
How gracious art Thou Lord Dakshinamurthy,
To have blessed mankind by Thy ministration in human form,
To Bhagavan who is but the form of Satyam, Sivam and Sundaram,
Do I offer my salutations again and again.