This chapter is taken from The Silent Power – Selections from The Mountain Path and The Call Divine – Ramana Reminiscences
An old woman bent double with age used to go round and round Sri Bhagavan’s hall and finally go near Bhagavan’s seat and loudly sing songs composed extempore by her. Her spontaneous compositions used to pour forth effortlessly from her extremely devoted heart. She was not a learned lady, there night be some grammatical mistakes and errors in rhyme, rhythm, etc. She used to thus sing her prayers daily for obtaining the grace of Bhagavan.
One day Sri Bhagavan smilingly remarked that her songs seemed to be much better than those of her son. Her son was a scholar and from an ordinary point of view, the scholar’s compositions ought to be superior but for Bhagavan those arising from the bottom of the heart with great devotion and emotion are more pleasing. Are not the standards of judgement different?
Whenever Bhagavan’s physical body appeared to suffer from some ailment, some devotees used to prescribe medicines for relief, forgetting that Sri Bhagavan himself was Vaidyanatha who can cure all ills if he so willed. Sri Bhagavan used to take or apply the medicines just for the satisfaction of the devotees who prescribed the same and not for curing himself. He never wanted to wound the feelings of even the humblest devotees and he used to accept the medicines, though there was no necessity for any of them as far as he was concerned. Though the act is the same, the object is different.
One lady devotee was one day expressing to Bhagavan that she had come that day from a long distance. Bhagavan suddenly remarked, “You did not come. The train brought you here.” The other side of the picture is more real to Bhagavan. She did not come there perhaps by her individual exertion but was brought by Bhagavan’s grace.
In the early stages, Sri Ramanashramam was a lonely cottage in the burial ground. As the number of devotees frequenting the Ashram was increasing, so also was the joy of the thieves in the neighbourhood at the prospect of getting easy money from the Ashram.
They waited for an opportunity and one day suddenly broke into the Ashram at the dead of night. They freely used their sticks on every one of the inmates including Bhagavan. They enraged the devotees who were preparing to pay them in the same coin. Sri Bhagavan who was unmoved pointed out that, “sahanam was sadhu dharma“, and that they should patiently bear with the thieves.
“We should not swerve from the path of our dharma irrespective of the acts or behaviour of evil doers, further it is not wise to knock down the teeth that bit the tongue”, he said.
These words disarmed the devotees, who kept quiet while the thieves were busy. The thieves expected to go back with a fortune but with all their efforts could not secure more than ten rupees worth of valuables from the whole premises.
While the thieves were thus disappointed and dejected, Sri Bhagavan was reported to have suggested to them mercifully that they should take the food available in the kitchen. This sensational incident could not upset the peace of Bhagavan even for a while or make an impression on his mind (although it became the talk of the neighbouring town). The importance attached to this occurrence by the sage was nil.
Once Bhagavan, while passing through the hilly tracts inadvertently damaged a nest of wasps. The wasps furiously attacked the leg that pulled down their beloved home. Sri Bhagavan bore the unbearable pain patiently without offering the least resistance as his guilty leg which caused pain to them in his opinion, deserved the just punishment meted out to the same by the angry wasps. How different is Sri Bhagavan’s reaction and his sense of justice which knows no fear or favour?
When a westerner invited the attention of Bhagavan to the poverty of the average Indian and his poorly furnished quarters, Sri Bhagavan replied that although the Indians did not possess many material comforts, they are not less happy on that account. As they do not feel the want of the same, they are able to enjoy life with what they have. How true and how correct! Happiness is not directly proportional to the material goods one possesses.
In Sri Ramanashram Sri Bhagavan used to occupy a sofa and many people used to think it was very comfortable and luxurious a seat for any person. Some used to remark why should a sage or sanyasi require such a seat, forgetting for the moment that Sri Bhagavan was accustomed to the roughest and hardest possible seats throughout his life and only towards the end he used the sofa to oblige certain devotees.
One day Sri Bhagavan was giving instructions to an attendant about binding the books for careful preservation. To supplement the instructions and show personally, he sat on the flat floor and remarked that it was very pleasant to sit on the ground. A high seat also was essential to enable a number of devotees to have darshan of Bhagavan simultaneously. Sri Bhagavan was accustomed to put up with anything which came his way and as he was not attached to any particular seat, he occupied the sofa for the convenience of the devotees. This was in spite of some physical discomfort in occupying that particular seat. Ordinary people think that the sofa is a nice seat. But Sri Bhagavan expressed at least once that the floor was much better. Are not the views different?
One day as usual Sri Bhagavan started for a walk towards Arunachala. On the way, there were some steps. While crossing over these Sri Bhagavan’s leg slipped and was injured. Some devotees who noticed this examined the steps and found them to be uneven. Immediately some masons were called for and by the time they started work Sri Bhagavan returned to the spot and observed that they were cutting off some portions of the steps. “Why?” He questioned. “Why do you cut off the steps? The steps did nothing. It is only this leg that is at fault. Cut off the leg.” How different is the saintly reaction!