This chapter is taken from The Silent Power – Selections from The Mountain Path and The Call Divine

Sre Venkideswara Sarma, a native of Keelapasalai Village, Ramnad Dt., is an old devotee of Sri Bhagavan, who along with his wife, Smt. Sala, equally devoted to Sri Bhagavan, lived in Sri Ramana Nagar. Both are closely related to Sri Bhagavan.

For over a decade he studied the Kavya (poetical literature in Sanskrit) gaining mastery in the same and also became an adept in the science of astrology by training he had for years at Vidyalaya in Kerala. In his early days while staying at Kandanur, he had a remarkable experience. He saw the portrait of Sri Bhagavan in his majestic standing posture with a penetrating look which not merely seemed but was really felt as directed only to him and which thrilled his whole being. This experience provoked a great urge to have Sri Bhagavan’s darshan immediately.

He started the very next day and arrived at Tiruvannamalai, his luggage consisting of a panchangam (almanac) in one hand and an umbrella in the other. That was in 1920. He climbed up the hill to Skandashram, and recognising Sri Bhagavan who was seated then under a nelli tree he hastened to prostrate at his feet, spontaneously reciting in a state of ecstatic inspiration the first sloka of Sri Dakshinamurthi Ashtakam. “Look, look at the visitor who has come — Subbu’s son, is it not?” So exclaimed Sri Bhagavan, turning to his mother who was there. The mother gave him a hearty welcome and made him feel at home. Delighted by the stay with Sri Bhagavan that night, he was guided to perform giripradakshina (circumambulation of Holy Arunachala) next day. He expressed an ardent desire to stay with Sri Bhagavan for good and pleaded that he did not want to marry but wished to remain with him and serve him and do pujas. The mother would have none of it, he had duties to perform, she reminded him and an uncle’s daughter awaited marriage with him. He was then 22 years old. Sri Bhagavan consoled him, “What does it matter if you do puja or get married or whether you are here or elsewhere?” And so he left!

Since then Sri Sarma was coming to Sri Bhagavan from time to time, often staying for a month or two and benefitting by Sri Bhagavan’s utterances and his silent influence with devotion and piety.

Though a successful astrologer by profession, especially in the branch of prasna (astrological forecasting on the basis of the exact time of the client’s question), Sri Venkateswara Sarma felt the futility of leading a bread-earning life and hence came to Sri Ramanasramam in 1939, along with his wife, and lived with Sri Bhagavan’s sister’s family. In 1946 they took up abode at Adi Annamalai, four miles away from the Ashram on the circumambulation path, after duly informing Sri Bhagavan. They went round the hill daily and sometimes twice a day and thus had darshan of Sri Bhagavan on the way.

Sri Sarma compiled a short history of Sri Bhagavan’s life consisting of 120 slokas in Sanskrit, known as Ramana  Charitamrutasaram, which Sri Bhagavan graciously perused and corrected. He also composed songs in Tamil and presented them to Sri Bhagavan, who used to correct them only sparingly. Such corrections were not only grammatical in content but also vitally enriched them with spiritual depth. For instance, in the following verse: “Those who are caught in the mouth of a great tiger are certain to die in this world; but all those, caught in the glance (drishti) of the great tiger adorning the slopes of Arunachala, known as great Ramana, get merged with natural ease in the eternal happiness, discarding fear of even the Lord of Death,” Sri Bhagavan put in the word with natural ease ‘(iyal) in the place of daily’ (nidham) of Sri Sarma’s!

Since 1948, he settled with his wife and only son in Tiruvannamalai town. The son passed away four years later. Both parents feel they survived that shock only by Bhagavan’s Grace. They continued to render service at the Shrines of Sri Bhagavan and the Mother, assisting in the daily routine — perhaps as a fulfilment of his former sankalpa (desire) to do puja to Sri Bhagavan! He felt: “Sri Bhagavan is ever present in my mind and heart, in jagrat and swapna and his manifest Grace only is sustaining us in all circumstances and at all times!”