This chapter is taken from The Silent Power – Selections from The Mountain Path and The Call Divine

Major General V. N. Parameswaran Pillai, O.B.E., retired from service as G.O.C.,Travancore-Cochin State Forces in the year 1950. Even while in service he had a deeply religious bent of mind and he used to visit holy places and personages. After retirement he made a pilgrimage to all holy places in India and to Kailas-Manasarovar.He was initiated by Sri Sivanandaji Maharaj of Rishikesh when he visited Trivandrum in 1950. Sri Swami Purushottamanandaji Maharaj of Vasistha Guha gave him sannyasa diksha in 1958. Since then he is known as Swami Paresananda. He had his own Ashram at Kanyakumari, Neyyathinkaray and Trivandrum.

It was in the year 1936 that I had the good fortune of having darshan of Sri Bhagavan. I had heard about him before, and was longing to go to Tiruvannamalai but the opportunity never came till then. This is how it came about.

I was then a Captain in the Travancore State Forces and an A.D.C. to His Highness the Maharaja. His Highness and the Royal Mother had been to Madras from where they paid a visit to Sri Ramanasramam on the counsel of the Dewan, Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, who was a devotee of Sri Ramana Bhagavan. I came to know of this when Their Highnesses returned to Trivandrum and was wondering whether it was not my bad luck that I was not taken as A.D.C. on that tour. In the meantime, one morning, my friend Sri I. S. Narayana Pillai, the Controller of Stationery, who was a devotee of Maharshi, informed me over the phone that he was starting for Sri Ramanasramam the next day and asked whether I would like to join him. It was his general practice to inform me whenever he went to some place of pilgrimage and I had accompanied him to many places. But this time I was not confident of getting permission from His Highness at such short notice and I replied that I would not be able to go with him.

Mysterious indeed are the ways of Bhagavan! A few hours later, when I reported for duty at the Palace, His Highness said, of his own accord, that if I also wanted to visit Sri Ramanasramam I could go. Yes, His Highness knew very well that I was fond of visiting religious places and saints. This sudden and unexpected permission made me speechless for a few seconds. I felt it was all due to Bhagavan’s grace.

Sri I. S. and I reached the Ashram the second day. My companion was a frequent visitor, so everyone knew him. He introduced me to the Sarvadhikari, Sri Niranjanananda Swami who made arrangements for our stay. Then we proceeded to the hall for Sri Bhagavan’s darshan. Bhagavan was reclining on a couch, turning to one side. The hall was almost full with visitors from various parts of the country and from the west. As we entered the hall, the scene brought to my memory, slokas from Dakshinamurti Stotra. I felt Dakshinamurti Himself was reclining on the couch. I. S. took me to a vantage point, sitting where we could see the Maharshi without any obstruction. Bhagavan noticed us. After a while he sat up and beckoned me. We did not know whom he was summoning and, as I was a stranger, my companion thought he was being called and he got up. Bhagavan signalled ‘ No ‘. Others enquired whether this or that person was meant by pointing to some persons sitting nearby but the answer was in the negative.

At last I was pointed out and Maharshi nodded assent. Everybody was surprised and became curious about me. I was also surprised. I approached him immediately, placed the flowers and fruits I had brought, and prostrated before him. He beckoned me to come nearer and gazed at me for a while and smiled. Then he told his attendant “Bring that book.” It was brought and Maharshi presented it to me. It was a Malayalam translation of Maharshi’s Tamil work, Gitasaram. I was overwhelmed with joy and devotion. After a few seconds Maharshi took the book from me, made some corrections in his own hand and then handed it back to me touching my hand, I considered myself highly blessed to receive Maharshi’s Grace in this manner.

Then it was time for the midday meal. We were also invited; so we entered the dining hall. Maharshi asked me to sit in the opposite row, just facing him and I did so. While eating, he enquired tenderly,”How is the preparation?” and so on. I replied that everything was very nice. Again he said,”Take enough rice, curry, etc. Eat slowly”, and so on, and asked the servers to serve me more curry etc. Throughout he was talking to me only in the dining hall and this made others wonder who this favoured one might be. As for me, I had had various such experiences before and I felt that it was all due to some merit accumulated in past lives. “Omnipresent and Omniscient as he is, Maharshi understands the heart of every one”, this belief of mine was confirmed.

My friend I. S. was a regular visitor to the Ashram but Maharshi had never spoken to him. When I received such favours from him, it was natural for I. S. to feel that there was something lacking in him. Maharshi could easily understand this. The same day he presented a book to I. S. also and made him feel deeply gratified.

More than thirty-seven years have elapsed but the whole thing is still green in my memory. And the book that Maharshi gave me, corrected in his own hand, is still with meI keep it as a treasure.