When I was in Tiruchendur in 1932 it came to my mind that I should regard all women as my mother or Valli if I was intent on leading a spiritual life. One evening, I went to the Shrine of Sri Subramanya and stood for half an hour before the Moolavar (main deity) and the following words flashed into my consciousness: “Here I am a God who does not talk. Go to Tiruvannamalai; Maharshi is a God who talks.” This was how Maharshi’s Grace manifested itself to me. I had not even seen Maharshi then.
In December 1932, I wrote to Ramanasramam and got the reply conveying Bhagavan’s upadesa that the body is the result of prarabdha (accumulated karma) and the joys and sorrows relating to it are inevitable and they can be borne easily if we put the burden on God.
In 1933, one day, Vakil Sri Vaikuntam Venkatarama Iyer suddenly spoke to me about Maharshi and gave me a copy of Ramana Vijayam in Tamil. I read it and when I came to the part when his mother was crying before him to urge him to return home I was choked with tears.
Then my mother made the following inspired utterance. “Malaiappan calls you; go to him. This path will result in the salvation of twenty-seven generations of your family. This is the upadesa (teaching) of Mother Truth. Go along this path. Any obstacle you meet, regard as maya (illusion). You will soon be liberated.” So saying, I was given upadesa of Mahavakyam and Karana-Panchaksharam (Vedic truth of Brahman).
In February 1933, I wrote to the Ashram again and got a prompt reply. Bhagavan’s upadesa given in it was as follows: “Sattvic food will keep the mind clear and help meditation. This is the experience of sadhakas. Eat to appease hunger and not to satisfy taste or craving; this will in due course lead to the control of the senses. Then continued and concentrated meditation will result in annihilation of desires.” It is the Atman that activates the mind and breath. Watching the breath will result in kevala kumbakam (stopping of breath). Control of breath will lead to temporary control of the mind and vice versa. Intense and constant japa (repetition of a sacred syllable) will lead to ajapa (non-repetition). Sound being subtler than form, japa is preferable to murti (image or form) or worship. Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman) is the best. To those who seek the source of the ‘I’ no other mantra or upasana (meditation) is needed.”
Within a month after the receipt of this, I proceeded to Ramanasramam to stay there permanently. One day I decided to spend the nights for one mandala (cycle of 48 days) in the presence of Bhagavan. On the 15th day I had a dream: The attendant Madhavan had an epileptic attack and suddenly grasped my hand. I cried for help to Bhagavan who pulled away Madhavan’s hand, and gave me milk to drink. When I woke up I still had the taste of the milk in my mouth; I felt I had drunk the milk of wisdom. From then onward my mind turned inwards.
One morning while cutting vegetables, I wanted to do giri pradakshinam (circumambulation of the Hill) and asked Bhagavan’s permission. Devotees nearby made signs pleading to Bhagavan not to let me go. Bhagavan said, “Is pradakshina a sankalpa (intention)? Let him go.” I said, “No. I decided last night to go with somebody. That is all.” Bhagavan, “Oh! You already made the sankalpa. Sankalpa leads to samsara. Fulfil the sankalpa. You need not cut vegetables.” I took it as an upadesa (teaching) not to make sankalpas thereafter.
Another morning when I was cutting vegetables with Bhagavan, he said: “Sundaram! Take this hurricane light and pick up the mangoes that have fallen from the tree.” I said “Yes”, but continued cutting up the vegetables. Bhagavan said, “Sundaram! Attend to what ‘I’ said first. It is from me that everything rises. Attend to it first.” I took this as an adesh and upadesa (advice and instruction) to make the enquiry “Who am I?” My friends also felt so.
One day the attendant Madhavan was binding a book. A devotee wanted a book from the library. Bhagavan asked Madhavan to get it saying, “You do my work; I will do your work.” And Bhagavan took the book and went on with the binding while Madhavan got the library book. A devotee interpreted this as follows: “My work means looking after the needs which arise in the minds of devotees for anything from Bhagavan. Your work is to get liberation which is not possible without Bhagavan’s Grace and help.” Bhagavan heard this comment and said “Hum Hum! That is what it is !”
Once when meditating in the presence of Bhagavan, the mind persisted in wandering. I couldn’t control it. So I gave up meditation and opened my eyes. Bhagavan at once sat up and said, “Oh! You abandon it thinking it is the swabhava (nature) of the mind to wander. Whatever we practise becomes the swabhava. If control is practised persistently that will become the swabhava.” Yet another upadesa for me.