Even during the days Bhagavan lived on the Hill, His fame as a perfect Jnani had spread far and wide, and people of several religions were visiting him in large numbers. One of these visitors was a Sri Vaishnava hailing from either Srirangam or Kanchipuram — I do not remember which. Although this man was orthodox, he showed profound regard and admiration for Bhagavan as one who had attained the highest stage in Yoga. Much to our surprise, and contrary to usual Vaishnava custom, he used to prostrate morning and evening to Bhagavan. He stayed with Him for three days, during which he spoke about the state of a Jivanmukta. He was all praise for Bhagavan, but had the one doubt as to how a Jivanmukta could attain the Abode of Vishnu without formal initiation; his own teacher was much troubled also on this point and had sent him with the offer to come in person to confer initiation on Bhagavan with mantra and sealing of the Vaishnavite emblems on His shoulders — if He consented to receive it at his hands. He added that his teacher was greatly concerned about the welfare of such a rare soul as Sri Maharshi, and he had been commissioned by God in a dream to give Him this initiation.
All there were eager to know how Bhagavan would react to this extraordinary proposal. But Sri Maharshi kept his usual silence. Perhaps He hoped the emissary would go away quietly when found that his mission was a failure; if so, He was disappointed, for the Vaishnava remained. But when he spoke to Bhagavan about his teacher’s dream, Bhagavan had no difficulty in solving the problem and quietly remarked: “Let the same Lord appear in my dream also and order me to accept the initiation, and I shall accept it.”
On the third day after this pious soul arrived, an old Brahmin came to Skandashram with a bundle; after prostrating to Sri Bhagavan, he laid the bundle before Him and went out for his bath — but strangely did not return. After some time, curious to know the contents of the bundle, Bhagavan had it untied; in it was found a palm-leaf manuscript of the Arunachala Purana. Bhagavan untied the strings of the manuscript and began to read it.
Lo, He found there a verse on initiation: “To souls living within twenty-four miles of Arunachala, union with Me will be granted, even without any initiation to remove impurity (mala). Thus have I decreed, and this is My behest.” This Vaishnava devotee was amazed at this decree of the Lord; the very appearance at that time of the Arunachala Purana and the disappearance of the old Brahmin seemed to him to be equally mysterious. All felt that the Lord Arunachaleswara Himself had presented the verse as answer to the Vaishnava doubts. The pious devotee took leave of Bhagavan, saying he would report the whole history to his teacher.
How strange to fancy that a Jivanmukta, who is already full, has anything to receive at the hands of another!