This part is written by S.S.Cohen
Reading the charming reminiscences of my friend, Professor G. V. Subbaramayya, about the “miraculous” arrival at Sri Ramanasramam of two baskets of country oranges, just at the time when the Sarvadhikari’s letter asking for some from another source was going to be posted, (See Subbaramayya’s My Reminiscences) reminds me of a very similar incident which occurred in my presence some time in 1936.
It was about 8 p.m. Sri Bhagavan had returned from the short stroll which usually followed his night meal and had reclined on his couch, when the lady devotees who worked in the kitchen came in to prostrate before going to the town for the night. They first made a brief report of the day’s work and the morrow’s cooking programme, then turned to the subject of the fruit offerings and somehow mentioned the Tamil name of a certain citrus fruit. Major Chadwick and myself, the only two non-Tamil knowing persons then present, wondered what that fruit could be. Major C. suggested a name, and I another, but Sri Bhagavan suddenly came out with a third – ‘grapefruit’ – which puzzled me all the more, as in my mind I connected the word grape with grapes, the well-known fruit. Then Sri Bhagavan remarked that the season for the grapefruits would commence in two or three months time. The subject was closed when the other devotees started talking on spiritual matters.
It was then my custom to make the eight-mile circuit of the hill (giri pradakshina) every alternate day on foot, starting at about 8 a.m. and be back at about 11 o’clock, which was lunchtime. The day which followed the above conversation was a giri pradakshina day for me. While walking and thinking of Bhagavan and of the previous night’s talk, a thought suddenly struck me that I should not be surprised if some devotee would bring the particular fruit as offering one of those days. I finished the circuit, had my lunch and hardly settled down for rest, when from my room I saw Sri Bhagavan approaching for his usual after-lunch walk by my hut, which was in Palakothu garden, adjoining the Ashram, and looking enquiringly in my direction. I felt he had something to tell me, and so I hesitatingly came out on the veranda, when, to my great astonishment, the Master turned to the attendant behind him, took a large sweet lime from him and stretched it out towards me, saying: “This is grapefruit,” and added, “A visitor came in the morning with only three fruits – one for Chadwick, one for me (that is, for Bhagavan and for distribution among the devotees as prasadam) and this is for you.” I was deeply touched by his compassionate remembrance of me, but more than touched, I was very surprised at the number of coincidences which occurred so soon after the talk – coincidence of time, coincidence of number, just the three of us who had discussed the subject, and coincidence of the almost prophetic anticipation I had made in my mind of it during pradakshina, probably at the very moment when the offering was made, not to speak of the “miracle” of the off-season of that fruit.
Taking gratefully the fruit from Bhagavan’s hand, I related to him the premonition I had had of the offering in the morning. He was not at all surprised but answered in a matter-of-fact tone: “These things happen,” and strolled off in his characteristic leisurely slow strides.
Had I enquired of Sri Bhagavan whether that was a miracle or not, I might have probably got the same answer as did Prof.Subbaramayya, namely, that it was “the Chintamani of Prajna”, that is, the Pure Chit, the mind free from vasanas, which was responsible for it. But having never been a miracle-monger, I did not care to know. I was satisfied with his company and the upadesa, a veritable spiritual feast which constantly flowed from his mouth.
Yet these incidents bear the marks of the natural beneficence which spontaneously emanated from his spiritual greatness, without an iota of conscious effort or volition on his part, which at once distinguishes him from the little Ishwaras, those whose “high stage in evolution” earned for them clairvoyance, clairaudience and the power to perform all sorts of psychic manifestations at will. In those days “miraculous” incidents used to happen frequently at the Ashram, so frequently that no one used to take any notice of them. But now, as we retrospect and dwell on Sri Bhagavan’s hallowed memory for inspiration and worship, every incident, even the smallest, conveys to us the charm and fragrance of his personality.
It gave me a great pleasure, indeed, to read the remark of my other friend Sri K. A. Mahatani (cf. his article elsewhere), that to him Sri Bhagavan was more than all the other gods or prophets who had so far incarnated on earth, for that was the feeling of every devotee who profoundly contacted the Master. The tyaga (renunciation) which the Vedantic scriptures so much emphasise, and to which Yajnavalkya in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad referred as the sole gateway to Immortality was so complete in him that it made him shine (with due respect to all other teachers) as a giant among teachers and rishis, whose word and act, the ideal and actual in him, were literally identical. One day, I remember, there was a talk in the darshan hall about the potencies of the avatara-hood, the special incarnation of God, when Sri Bhagavan remarked, without a vestige of self-glorification, that an avatara was only a partial manifestation of Iswara, the Creator, whereas the jnani, the Self-realised man was Brahman Itself.