Sri Ramana Leela is a Biography of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi by Sri Krishna Bhikshu Edited and Translated by Pingali Surya Sundaram
If to the inhabitants of Arunachala the Maharshi was the sun, Seshadri was the moon. Both were unique, each in his own way. Seshadri was born an Ashtasahasram Brahmin in1870 at Vazhur of Vandavasi taluq. As he lost his father quite early his mother’s uncle Kamakoti Sastriar, a musician, pouranic and scholar brought him up. Seshadri had a retentive memory and, was proficient in vocal music, and puranic lore. At a very early age he mastered the principal Sanskrit classics and was able to compose poetry in Sanskrit.
Seshadri’s favourite Deity was Goddess Kamakshi of Kanchipuram. Reciting the five hundred slokas in her praise, Mukapanchasati, he went round her shrine day and night. In his fifteenth year he got initiated in the sakti (Bala) mantra and carried on spiritual practices at the dead of night alone in a burial ground adjoining a river near the Periandavar shrine. He obtained a vision of the Goddess Sakti.
Thereafter, Seshadri went round several places for acquiring knowledge in mantras and finally reached Arunachala in 1890 where he stayed till his end. He had acquired occult powers such as reading other peoples’ thoughts, clairvoyance and vaksiddhi.
Seshadri avoided the company of people and to ward them off acted like a lunatic throwing stones at people. On seeing Ramana he noticed that he was a realised soul who abided in the Self. He developed great affection for Ramana.
Seshadri who declined invitations from anyone, on his own used to visit Ramana’s place at Pavalakundru occasionally and sit along with Ramana’s devotees for a meal. While having his meal Seshadri would sprinkle rice all round, at which Ramana’s devotees would object. Seshadri would agree with them and take care to ensure that the rice did not fall on the ground. He also used to visit Echammal’s house even without being asked by her. Seshadri loved Maharshi’s disciples too and used to advise them to surrender themselves to the Maharshi.
One, Venkatarama Ayyar stood before Seshadri, though with a desire to have the darshan of the Maharshi. Seshadri who read his thoughts said, “The Maharshi’s darshan will purify the mind” and encouraged him to go. Another devotee of the Maharshi, Somasundara Swami, left the Maharshi’s ashram for certain reasons and was looking for another guru and in that connection sought Seshadri’s advice. Seshadri Swami grasped what Somasundara Swami was about to ask and said, “Go back to Ramana.” But Somasundara Swami was hesitant to do so. Seshadri shouted at him saying “Go, go to Ramana Swami” Somasundaram thereupon returned tothe ashram immediately, It was midnight by then.
Seshadri always said that one should follow only one path and one guru. So if any one with devotion to Ramana came to him he would urge him to go to Ramana. On one occasion he asked T.V. Subrahmanya Ayyar, who had great devotion towards the Maharshi, “There are three lingas here, do you know?”
Ayyar: The hill is the only one. It is the jyotirlingam.
Seshadri: Not at all and you know that there are three lingas.
Ayyar: I do not know, but what are the other two lingas, Swami?
Seshadri: You know them too. Ayyar: Sorry, I do not know.
Seshadri: People say it is Ramana Swami.
Ayyar: Alright, what is the third? Seshadri: You know that too.
Ayyar: I do not know, Swami.
Seshadri: The third lingam is known as ‘Seshadri’.
Ayyar: Is it you?
Seshadri: You know it, isn’t it?
Aryyar: I don’t know.
Seshadri: Yes it is me.
There were occasions when Seshadri said he was not different from Ramana.
Lakshmi Ammal came to Arunachala in order to serve the Maharshi and stayed with Echammal. One day on her way to the Maharshi’s ashram, she ran into Seshadri Swami and regretted that she was not able to serve him. Seshadri grasped her unspoken thought and to lessen her grief said to her, “What if the service is there (i.e to Ramana) or here (i.e. to Seshadri)?”
In order to facilitate dhyana, a Sastry of Chidambaram used to resort to opium though the Maharshi advised him against it. On one occasion as the opinum was not pure, the mind of the Sastry became perverse and all sorts of thoughts sprang up. Not knowing what to do, he ran to the Kambathu Ilayanar shrine and waited for Seshadri. As soon as he came the Sastry prostrated at his feet and even before he could say anything the Sastry was admonished thus: “I had already advised you against using the drug but you persisted.” These were not the words of Seshadri, but of the Maharshi. The Sastry realised that Seshadri said those words to demonstrate that there was no difference between him and the Maharshi.
Tiruvallur Subrahmanya Mudaliar was a businessman who got entangled in litigations in his thrist for acquiring more wealth. Seshadri rebuked him several times on this score. In 1910 Seshadri went to the Mango tree cave where Mudali was in the presence of the Maharshi and said to Mudaliar, “Look, the income of the younger brother is ten thousand per month; for me it is one thousand, Why don’t you try to earn at least a hundred?” Mudaliar understood that the ‘income’ mentioned by Seshadri meant spiritual wealth and that ‘Younger brother’ meant the Maharshi, yet he replied, “Where is the time Swami, I am immersed in various transactions”. Persisting, Seshadri told him several times that ‘atma vidya’ was easy but to no avail. On one occasion Seshadri sudddenly said to him “You will be branded a sinner for having killed a Brahman.” Mudaliar’s heart skipped a beat at that. He ran to the Maharshi for whom he had great reverence and told him what Seshadri said. The Maharshi consoled him saying “Yes it is true. Because you do not desire to know that you are the Brahman, it amounts to killing Brahman, nothing wrong with that description.”
Whether Seshadri worshipped God with attributes or without attributes is dealt with in the chapter on “Giripradakshina“. It is shown therein that he appeared to have had devotion to the Lord with attributes. He also demonstrated nirvikalpa samadhi. Hence it may be appropriate to conclude that he worshipped the Formless One also.
One day, Seshadri stood watching a buffalo in the agraharam. V.C. Narayana Ayyar came there and asked him what he was looking at. Seshadri said “This.” Ayyar asked him if he was referring to the buffalo. Seshadri turned towards him and asked him to tell him what it was. Ayyar replied, “It is a buffalo”. Seshadri said, “Is it a buffalo? You beast, you had better refer to it as Brahman” and walked away. Recollect the upadesa of Seshadri to Natanananda also in this context.
Seshadri Swami attained Siddhi on January 14, 1929.