Until my thirty-second year I did not have any special inclination for spiritual pursuits. I was living with my wife in Tanjavur where I was a teacher. But suddenly my outlook on life changed. I distinctly remember even now the exact date on which it happened. It started with a vivid sense of the impermanence of all the things which I had valued in life. I realised that God is the only unchanging Reality. I therefore began to adore him and to pray to him in the usual manner by reciting hymns of praise like “Dakshinamurthi Stotra” and “Subrahmanya Bhujanga Stotra” of Sankaracharya, the “Dhyana Sopana” of Vedanta Desika and “Mukundamala” of Kulasekhara. Sometimes tears flowed from my eyes while reciting them.
Shortly after this my wife died. Although I was only thirty-three at that time I did not remarry. The worldly life had lost its charm for me. I continued my daily prayers. To the hymns of praise I added nama japa or the repetition of the name of Rama, into which I was initiated by one Guha Das of Sengalipuram. I maintained a diary in which I used to note down the time spent by me daily in prayer, meditation, etc. I devoted on an average six hours a day for these practices. Although my hymns and prayers were addressed to several gods, Rama was the god for whom I had a natural liking and love. I used to sit before his picture and gaze at it intently. On such occasions I would see a halo of stars and bright lights around his face. Sometimes I saw him smile at me. About this time I came across a book of Swami Ram Tirtha in which there was an article on the True Self. This appealed to me very strongly and I read it repeatedly.
After about two years of this kind of sadhana, one day before going to bed I prayed to Rama to vouchsafe His grace to me and to uplift me spiritually. I prostrated before his picture with extreme devotion. That night I had a dream in which I saw some thatched sheds, trees and a hall in which a holy person was sitting in the middle of devotees. I heard a voice telling me to wake up and go immediately to see Sri Ramana Maharshi who was bestowing his grace on all. This dream made such a deep impression on me that I caught the next train to Tiruvannamalai and arrived there the following day.
I had previously visited Tiruvannamalai on my way to Tirupati, but I had not then heard of the Maharshi or his Ashram and had therefore gone away after seeing the Arunachaleswara Temple and Pavalakkunru. When, therefore, I reached the Ashram I was surprised to see the same thatched sheds and trees which I had seen in my dream. After taking my bath I went to the hall and sat before Bhagavan. As I looked at him I saw around him a halo which was exactly like the one I used to see around Rama. During the two days of my stay I spent almost all my time sitting before him experiencing a strange peace and tranquillity. When I took leave of Bhagavan I implored him to bestow his grace upon me. He nodded his head in assent.
Gradually it began to dawn upon me that it was Rama who had directed me to Bhagavan and that Rama and Ramana were one and the same. But when the person who had initiated me into nama japa came to know of my visit to Sri Ramanasramam he was displeased and warned me that I would meet with some disaster. I, however, began to study books about Bhagavan and went to the Ashram regularly every year during the Jayanti and the Mahapuja, staying for two or three days. Once I came at the time of the Deepam Festival and stayed for seven days. On one of these days, when I was alone with Bhagavan, I narrated my story to him and had the supreme blessing of hearing from his lips that I had his grace and need not fear any disaster or obstacle to my sadhana.
I retired from service in 1956 when I attained the age of sixty, but continued to live at Tanjavur until 1960 when I received a call from the Ashram President to come and help him with the Ashram accounts in the absence of Chelliah, who had suddenly fallen seriously ill and was not likely to resume his duties for a long time. I looked upon this as a call from Bhagavan and accordingly came and took charge of the Ashram accounts. I have since then been attending to this work more or less continuously and at the same time devoting as much time as possible to prayer, meditation and Self-enquiry as taught by Bhagavan. I also teach the Vedapatasala boys English, Tamil, etc. I wish and hope to spend my remaining days doing such service to Sri Bhagavan!