Everything comes in its fullness of time. When an individual is ready for a spiritual uplift, the Guru, under whose care he is destined to be, draws him, as his devotee, to his lotus feet. The individual is often ‘tested’ by the Guru, or the Guru behaves with the devotee in such a way as to train him to stultify his ego or to efface it completely. It is a gradual development of or the drawing out the innate tendencies in the devotee towards perfection. The significance of Guru’s words or actions may not be understood by the devotee during the training, but a little thought or contemplation reveals the meaning to him. The words of the Guru may be soft or harsh, but they are for one’s good.
I write to say briefly how Bhagavan Sri Ramana drew me to him and helped me to be what I am today. It was in July 1929, while I was travelling in a train, a fellow traveller gave me a small copy of Sri Bhagavan’s photograph and told me where he resides. The photograph was given to me just as I was detraining at my destination and I failed to ask him who he was, and I have not met him since. Soon after that incident I had to go to England on study leave, and after my return I was busy with my official duties. Under the circumstances I clean forgot about the incident of the photograph. In May 1932, I had to go to Tiruvannamalai on official duty and suddenly the incident of the photograph of Sri Bhagavan came to my mind. My wife, Dr. and Mrs. K. Shiva Rao accompanied me to pay homage to Sri Bhagavan. We met Sri Bhagavan in the hall at about noon, and his smile and his sparkling eyes had an irresistible influence on me. It was then the idea of settling down near the Ashram came to my mind. I could do so only after my retirement or by taking long leave preparatory to retirement. The latter course came to be chosen. It happened that a plot of ground near the Ashram was found for me in 1939 by a friend. Early in June 1941, I met Sri Bhagavan and told him my intention of building a house. He looked, or rather ‘stared’ at me, for some minutes and then said that I can have a house there for me to stay. Did Sri Bhagavan see the future by looking at me so? Its significance was known some years later as shown below. The very day Sri Bhagavan gave his consent, the preliminaries for the construction began. A devotee of Sri Bhagavan who was a building contractor came forward to build the house and completed it in February 1942.
Along with it I grew a garden of fruit trees. In April 1942, the house was occupied and I obtained a long leave preparatory to retirement. All that happened without any trouble. In May 1943, the yield of the garden started with Singapore cherry. Some of these cherries were taken to Sri Bhagavan and given to him. He looked at them, ate them, and said they were sweet and delicious. Those words emboldened me to take more fruits the next morning. And as soon as I approached Sri Bhagavan, he said, “Why bring them here (meaning to him), distribute them to all present.” The hall was full of devotees and his words sounded rather harsh and I felt hurt. The fruits were distributed and a few that remained were given to Sri Bhagavan. I then sat in the hall as the words of Sri Bhagavan began to resound in my mind. Suddenly it dawned on me that giving fruits straight to Sri Bhagavan was due to the action of the subtle ego, prompting me to appear important. The more I cogitated the more I felt that I should be humble. So, the next day onwards any offering of fruits from the garden was kept on the footstool in front of the couch, though I knew that Sri Bhagavan would not take any from that. Later I was given to understand that the fruits were distributed at lunch. After about a year I felt an urge to take fruits to Sri Bhagavan at 2-30 p. m., it being tea time. Sri Bhagavan accepted some portion of every kind of fruit from the garden and the rest was distributed. Sri Bhagavan did not object this time. This went on for another year. Every time I distributed the fruits, nothing remained for me as prasad. During the mango season in 1945, I felt an urge to take a Banganapalli mango that had ripened on the tree and it was taken to the hall. A piece was cut and given to Sri Bhagavan and the rest was distributed to all. As usual nothing remained for me as prasad.
When I came back to the hall, Sri Bhagavan called and asked me, “Did you get a piece for yourself?” In reply I smiled and sat on the floor some distance away. He then said, “I know that you do not keep anything for yourself. So, I have kept a piece for you from my share. Come here and take it.” I went up to him, took the piece of fruit and ate it. That prasad was really sweet and valuable. To get this concession it took nearly three years! I often asked myself if that was one of the methods to round off our angularities. It was a test perhaps from his point of view, and a real schooling from my point of view.
Later my earnest desire to do personal service to him was also granted. To make the narrative short, I was allowed to do service by removing a thorn from his foot, dressing a small cut or a patch of eczema, etc. It was in 1948 that I could do the same duties as the other attendants did. Owing to chronic rheumatism, Sri Bhagavan’s limbs were massaged, and strange to say he distributed his limbs, as if they were not his, to each one of his attendants and the left hand of his came to my care. I did not understand the significance of it till a year later. None of us then suspected that the left arm would be the cause of trouble. It was during the time of massage that he graciously spoke to us freely, sometime cracking jokes. These jokes too had deep meaning. Often, in simple language, he answered our questions. That was real schooling indeed and we still cherish those words in our hearts.
In December 1948 while I was massaging I felt a small nodule, which was painful when pressed, above the point of the elbow. Sri Bhagavan told me that he had a fall in the lavatory and that part was hurt badly a month or so earlier. This nodule was the beginning of the end, as you all know. From May 1949 to the 14th April 1950, the privilege of making dressings, sterilizing them and helping the doctor while dressing fell to my lot. It was during this period it became clear to me why he drew me to him. Similarly, he drew many other devotees and kept them in the sunshine of his grace. There was a purpose in whatever he said or did, and that purpose is to put us on the path to perfection.
About July 1949, the lesion on the arm, which looked to be healing nicely flared up; it was then that I begged him to make a resolve to heal himself. He smiled and sat silent till I repeated my request. He then answered: “There is no mind here (meaning himself ), so question of a resolve does not arise.”
He further said that the body itself is a disease. His answer made all of us present feel very sad. His answer made me understand that his was a mindless or egoless state. To him the body with its ills did not exist, and we who have ‘The-body-am-I’ idea feel so much when it suffers. Giving some pain while dressing a large wound is inevitable, but Sri Bhagavan did not show any pain and even assisted with his right hand in adjusting the dressing or the bandage, as if it were an arm belonging to another. This he did even on the morning of the 14th April!
In the course of conversation, about June 1949, he had described to us that tears flow from the outer canthus of the eyes of a man when he is very happy and from the inner canthus when he is sad. It is a correct observation. On the evening of the 14th April (the Nirvana Day), I was in that room among others, fanning Sri Bhagavan from the head end of the cot. At his request he was assisted to sit up with his legs stretched in front. He had kept his eyes closed, and his breathing was gradually becoming shallow. At 8:20 p.m. the devotees outside began singing the ‘Arunachala Shiva’ hymn. He immediately opened his eyes, looked at the direction from where the voices came and then closed the eyes. Tears came gushing from the outer canthus of the eyes. I then remembered what Sri Bhagavan had said about tears, and felt that it was the visible sign of the Supreme Bliss of rejoining the ONE without a second, by discarding the body which had done its duty of leading or directing mankind towards the all pervading Self. The body was discarded very peacefully, and in so doing he left his imprint so indelibly in the hearts of his devotees.
Glory to Guru Bhagavan Sri Ramana who paid individual attention to every devotee in moulding him and making him what he is today.