Sri Ramana Leela is a Biography of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi by Sri Krishna Bhikshu Edited and Translated by Pingali Surya Sundaram
Chapter-XXXXIV, Quo Vadis?
Here did that light go? What happened to it? For some devotees Ramana was nothing less than the attributeless Brahman.
Once a devotee named Amritanatha wrote on a paper a Malayalam verse imploring Bhagavan to say whether he was Hari (Vishnu) or Satguru (Subrahmanya) or Yathiswara (Siva) or Vararuchi. Bhagavan wrote his reply in the same Malayalam metre thus:
In the recesses of the lotus-shaped hearts of all, beginning with Vishnu there shines as pure intellect (absolute consciousness) the Paramathman, who is the same as Arunachala Ramana. When the mind melts with love of Him and reaches the inmost recess of the Heart wherein He dwells as the beloved, the subtle eye of pure intellect opens and He reveals Himself as pure consciousness. – Translation: Collected Works
This was hardly a reply to Amritanatha’s question; it was merely a philosophic upadesa. The purpose was to teach the disciple who wished to know the nature of the Guru that the Guru himself was God who was Paramathma, a source of bliss. What Amritanatha wanted to know was who among those embodied celestials Ramana was. But Bhagavan’s reply amounted to saying: “Leave alone that question. Try to know my nature, Ramana’s nature, and be done with it.”
Likewise, for some devotees Ramana was just a jnani. A jnani is Brahman, nothing else. From a jnani’s body the jiva does not go out, it just merges in its source. These people also repeat Ramana’s words, “Where can I go? I am here.” But there is little scope for interpreting these words as referring to the state after physical death. Further, for one who has attained Brahman there is nothing like here or there. Therefore to interpret that Ramana continued to stay at the Ashram would be absurd.
Those who have seen a jnani’s last moments say that a jnani’s body remains as if in deep sleep with the sense organs being still, the eyes and mouth being closed. But in the case of Bhagavan the mouth was not closed. Could not the prana have gone out through the mouth?
Lastly, at the last moment of Bhagavan a brilliant light shot across the skies in the north-eastern direction which was seen by thousands. What was it other than Ramana jyoti?
The Bhagavata describes the end of Lord Krishna thus: The path which the Lord traversed across the skies as a lightning could not be understood even by Brahma and other celestials. Lord Krishna after some time disappeared into his natural abode. Because of this description of the movement of Krishna one cannot say that Krishna was not Easwara or that he did not have any natural abode. In Bhagavan’s case also there was a brilliant light which had its path.
Some say that as Bhagavan had no latent tendencies which alone caused birth on the earth he no longer would reappear on the earth. Actually, Bhagavan himself said a number of times that his relationship with his devotees was unbreakable and that he would always be of help to them. Unless Bhagavan was a celestial with a body how would this be feasible?
As Kavyakantha said, Bhagavan was an aspect of Skanda and he possibly returned to his natural abode. Skanda also left in the form of a light. In saying so, one is not in anyway minimizing the grandeur of Bhagavan’s experience of the Atma. Bhagavan himself said that though Siva and others were jnanis, they had to carry out some activities assuming a form.
There are several points in favour of the statement that Bhagavan was an aspect of Skanda. On 21 November 1945, the utsava vigraha of Arunachaleswara went round the hill and when it reached Ramanasramam gate, Bhagavan was sitting on a platform near the water tap close to the book-depot. The plate containing the Deity’s prasadam, vibhuti was brought to Bhagavan who took some vibhuti and said with great reverence, “The son is subservient to the Father.”
Much before this incident occurred Kavyakantha mentioned in the Ramana Gita that Bhagavan had earlier appeared as Kumarila Bhatta and as Jnana Sambandar. Kavyakantha also said that Ramana was the embodied form of the celestial Skanda and was a part of the line of acharyas like Narada and Sanatkumara who appeared on the earth to impart wisdom to people whenever dharma was on the decline.
In this context one may recall a conversation which a devotee had in 1934 with Bhagavan. During the course of the conversation Bhagavan pointed out that the devotee was mistaking him to be only the body and also revealed that he lived “simultaneously in twenty lokas in twenty bodies. The bodies keep coming and going. Who is to keep track of which body is coming or which is going? The important thing is to abide in the Self and not to observe the changes in the bodies.”
This entire discussion has been necessitated because some described Ramana as having had Brahma nirvana or Mahanirvana (the word ‘nirvana‘ seems to be owing to Buddhist influence). Some other devotees say that Ramana continues to be Skanda and that he listens to our prayers. This could be so.
Even if they are in their respective lokas, devatas possess all powers and depending on the intensity of a bhakta’s prayers can appear anytime. At Sivasakti kshetras, which are places of deliverance, it is easy to invoke them and feel their presence. This also explains why Siva’s offspring, Ramana, may have taken Sivakshetras like Tiruchuzhi, Madurai and Arunachala as the field of his sport. As an aspect of Skanda he exited in the form of a light and made Arunachala his abode. It is therefore, easy to invoke him at Arunachala – this is not to say that this cannot be done at other places but this depends almost entirely on the strength of the prayers of devotees. On the other hand, at Arunachala, owing to the favourableness of the kshetra it becomes easier. This is especially true of the spot of Ramanasramam where Ramana spent over two decades. Bhagavan Ramana’s sanctitiy was enveloped by the physical body composed of the five elements, that is now buried at Ramanasramam. Even now the vibrations which were experienced during Bhagavan’s lifetime can be felt there. A moment’s dhyana at Ramana samadhi or in the meditation hall can make one experience Bhagavan’s force even now. That current of peace still flows there. It is also the place where the dust of Bhagavan’s feet is available and is it not enough if that dust envelops us? So also this is the place where the dust of the feet of Ramana bhaktas is available which again is sacred. The Ramana teertha owes its origin to Ramana himself. This is the air Bhagavan breathed. This is the sky which reflected in his heart. Like Krishna at Mathura, Bhagavan Ramana is very close here.