My claim to writing about the Maharshi is that of one who saw him, not daring to say ‘I know him’. Twice had I and my wife the beatific privilege of the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi’s darshan at an interval of a decade between each. Of the deep and abiding impressions made upon me then, I am writing now again a decade after the last one.
The first occasion was in company with Maurice Frydman from Bangalore. Suddenly one morning early in 1934, he said that he was going to Tiruvannamalai that night and would we go with him? Many a time before he had gone there, but then he did not ask nor did it strike us, to go with him. This time this question and our wish beat in unison. However, too late for us to do anything about it, we discovered that we had not the money for travelling expenses. Just then the post brought a letter from relations in Mangalore asking us to meet that day a person with whom some of our articles had been sent. We called on her, received the parcel and on opening it found among other things a cover with a letter and some currency notes in it. The letter stated that while clearing the cupboard, that had been left in confusion in our hurry a few months before the notes were found. Counting them, the sum was found just sufficient for our journey to Tiruvannamalai and back.
So we went there. At the Ashram we were introduced to the Maharshi by Maurice. He welcomed us with a gracious smile and enquired about our place. When we answered Mangalore, the Maharshi said that M. S. Kamath (of the Sunday Times) was a frequent visitor to the Ashram and he then told the other people in the Hall a few interesting titbits about the languages, customs and so on of that part of the country. When he learnt that for some years we had lived and worked in the Theosophical Society, Adyar, He smiled again and said that we would then easily make ourselves at home in the Ashram when we came. And we did, very happily too. The Maharshi’s serene and busy life greatly impressed us. In the evening came a visitor, a big and prosperous looking Punjabi Sikh gentleman dressed completely in European clothes. Noting his discomfort to do the full pranam of Indian etiquette, the Maharshi immediately set him at rest saying it was unnecessary and got him a chair to sit. The gentleman said plaintively that he was pining for peace of mind. The Maharshi asked who it was that was pining. The visitor was puzzled; in humble and anxious tones he pleaded that he was too ignorant and busy for such deep introspection, but would be grateful for some japam or puja prescribed in the Maharshi’s own words and blessings, which he could manage to perform within the short time he could spare. He was told that devoting the same time for the enquiry as he could spare for the japam or puja would amply repay, and with practice it would operate during his usual busiest work. Failing in his repeated and varied entreaties, the visitor sadly asked whether, after having come all the way with high hopes, the Maharshi was sending him away empty handed. He was assured with compassion that he should not think so. The next morning the Maharshi cited verses from Yoga Vasishta got printed by Frydman for the benefit of the visitor. The visitor, then revived in spirits, rushed back to catch the train. That evening Frydman and we took permission of Bhagavan to return to Bangalore.