The first Western devotee of Sri Bhagavan was already grounded in occultism when he came to India in 1911. He was only twenty-one and had come to take up a post in the Police service at Vellore. He engaged a tutor, one Narasimhayya, to teach him Telugu and in the very first lesson asked him whether he could procure a book in English on Hindu astrology. It was a strange request from a white sahib, but Narasimhayya assented and got him one from a library. The next day Humphreys asked an even more astonishing question, “Do you know any Mahatma here?”
In 1917 Ganapati Sastri and other devotees put a number of questions to Sri Bhagavan and the questions and answers have been recorded in a book entitled Sri Ramana Gita, more erudite and doctrinal than most of the books. Characteristically, one of the questions that Ganapati Sastri asked was whether someone who attained Jnana (Self-realization), as it were, by the way while seeking some specific powers would find his original desires fulfilled. And nowhere is Sri Bhagavan’s swift and subtle humour better illustrated than in the reply he gave, “If the Yogi, though starting upon Yoga for the fulfilment of his desires, gained Knowledge in the meantime he would not be unduly elated even though his desires were likewise fulfilled.”
Mudaliar did not understand the silent upadesa (guidance); he was still confused as to what path he should follow. Shortly afterwards Sri Bhagavan appeared to him in a dream and said: “Let your vision be unified and withdrawn from objects, both external and internal. Thus, as differences disappear you will progress.” Mudaliar understood this to apply to his physical sight and replied: “This does not seem to me the right way. If such a superior person as you gives me advice like this who will give me true advice?” However, Sri Bhagavan assured him that it was the right way.
Sivaprakasam Pillai sat before Sri Bhagavan, he again had a vision. This time Bhagavan’s body shone like the morning sun and round him a halo as of full moons. Then again he saw the entire body covered with sacred ashes and the eyes glowing with compassion. Again two days later he had a vision, this time as though the body of Sri Bhagavan was of pure crystal. He was overwhelmed and feared to leave lest the joy surging in his heart should cease. Eventually he returned to his village, the unasked questions answered. He spent the rest of his life in celibacy and austerity. All these experiences he described in a Tamil poem. He also wrote other poems in praise of Sri Bhagavan, some of which are still sung by the devotees.
Although the doctrine Sri Bhagavan taught never varied, the way of teaching varies according to the character and understanding of the questioner. During the years on the hill, records were kept of the experiences of some of the devotees and of the expositions they received, and a few of these are given below. Indeed, it may be said that the experiences of his devotees constitute the biography of Sri Bhagavan, since he himself was established in the immutability beyond events and experiences.