One was often impressed by the tolerance and kindliness of Sri Bhagavan. It was not merely that he recognised the truth of all religions, for that any man of spiritual understanding would do, but if any school or group or ashram was striving to spread spirituality he would show appreciation of the good it was doing, however far its methods might be from his own or its teachings from strict orthodoxy.
Raghavachariar, a government official at Tiruvannamalai, used to visit Sri Bhagavan occasionally. He wanted to ask his opinion of the Theosophical Society but whenever he went he found a crowd of devotees there and he shrank from speaking before them. One day he went determined to submit three questions. This is how he tells of it:
“The questions were:
“1. Can you grant me a few minutes for private, personal talk, free from all others?
“2. I should like to have your opinion of the Theosophical Society, of which I am a member.
“3. Will you please enable me to see your real form if I am eligible to see it.
“When I went and prostrated and sat in his Presence there was a crowd of not less than thirty persons, but one and all they soon dispersed. So I was alone with him and my first query was thus answered without my stating it. That struck me as noteworthy.
“Then he asked me of his own accord if the book in my hand was the Gita, and if I was a member of the Theosophical Society and remarked, even before I answered his questions, ‘It is doing good work.’ I answered his questions in the affirmative.
“My second question also being thus anticipated, I waited with eager mind for the third. After half an hour I opened my mouth and said, ‘Just as Arjuna wished to see the form of Sri Krishna and asked for darshan (vision of him), I wish to have a darshan of your real form, if I am eligible.’ He was then seated on the pial (dais) with a picture of Dakshinamurti painted on the wall next to him. He silently gazed on, as usual, and I gazed into his eyes. Then his body and also the picture of Dakshinamurti disappeared from my view. There was only empty space, without even a wall, before my eyes. Then a whitish cloud in the outline of the Maharshi and of Dakshinamurti formed before my eyes. Gradually the outline (with silvery lines) of these figures appeared. Then eyes, nose, etc., other details were outlined in lightning-like lines. These gradually broadened till the whole figure of the Sage and Dakshinamurti became ablaze with very strong and unendurable light. I closed my eyes in consequence. I waited for a few minutes and then saw him and Dakshinamurti in the usual form. I prostrated and came away. For a month thereafter I did not dare to go near him, so great was the impression that the above experience made on me. After a month I went up and saw him standing in front of Skandashram. I told him: ‘I put a question to you a month back and I had this experience,’ narrating the above experience to him. I requested him to explain it. Then, after a pause, he said: ‘You wanted to see my form; you saw my disappearance; I am formless. So that experience might be the real truth. The further visions may be according to your own conceptions derived from the study of the Bhagavad Gita. But Ganapati Sastri had a similar experience; you may consult him.’ I did not in fact consult Sastri. After this Maharshi said, ‘Find out who the “I” is, the seer or thinker, and his abode’.”