This Chapter taken from The book ‘Crumbs from His Table’ by Ramanananda Swarnagiri

The writer used to have always two conflicting desires, one to visit Sri Bhagavan as frequently as possible, the other to postpone it as long as he could till he felt he had some tangible evidence of progress. In the meanwhile, however, through some agency or other, he was pushed before Him, obviously through His grace. The first time it was through his immediate superior, the second was through the telepathic command, confirmed on the same day by a letter from one of His long-standing disciples, and this time it was again an officer in Government service who suggested that he would feel it a pleasure to visit the ashram in his company, or rather an indirect suggestion to him that he had better place himself before Sri Bhagavan at an early date.

This time he took leave for fifteen days and stayed with Sri Bhagavan. Conscious of his own retrogression and want of steadfastness in his yama and niyama (Moral discipline considered preliminary to spiritual practice. )he did not sit or stand before Sri Bhagavan this time, as continuously as he used to do on former occasions. Sri Bhagavan would however peep into his room in His usual rounds at about 10 a.m. and 3-30 p.m. and make various enquiries. During this time he was living on coffee and rice-cakes in the morning, one or two handfuls of plain cooked vegetables in the afternoon and a cup of milk at night. About ten days after his arrival, one fine morning, the writer was accosted by Sri Bhagavan with the following query: “Is coffee and iddly all you need in the morning?”, the obvious meaning of this remark being that there was no need for such austerity on the part of His disciples, i.e., for those who had taken to vichara (enquiry). For the further enlightenment of aspirants it might be stated here that Sri Bhagavan has often remarked that all that is required is that aspirants should take, in very moderate quantities, whatever food comes their way and not stipulate, discriminate or pick and choose in the matter of diet; that, in contrast to the claim of hatha yogis that yoga practice is necessary to ward off disease from the physical body and make it pure and healthy to help concentration etc. The enquiry method, if followed strictly as directed, with absolute one-pointedness of mind, is capable of devouring all the germs of disease wherever and whenever they arise. He would appear also to be of the view that for such an enquirer, yama and niyama will automatically come, as in His own case. He said that when He was staying in Gurumurtham for 18 months His diet was only one cup of milk-mixture for the whole day. His insistence is on continuous one-pointed enquiry and it is also apparent even to a beginner that such an enquiry, like thailadhara (unbroken flow of oil), would automatically ensure a steady asana, freedom from hunger and thirst and freedom from disease; only a beginner cannot easily obtain this state and has to contend with his vacillating tendencies.

During this visit the writer had another surprise from Sri Bhagavan. A well educated unemployed youth was regularly attending the ashram. He was so steady in his meditative posture and so continuous for hours together that some, if not all, appeared almost envious of his rapid progress. Perhaps to set our doubts at rest, Sri Bhagavan was heard to remark one day that the boy was not meditating upon God or Self, but praying to Him (Sri Ramana) for His grace to get a job and added that worldly people desirous of obtaining fulfilment of their desires should seek them where they were available and that He could not do anything for his employment. “Do I give jobs to people here? I am a sannyasi without any possession or work.” The youth who had heard most of the conversation, though he appeared outwardly oblivious to what was going on around him, acknowledged later that what Sri Bhagavan said was absolutely correct.

At the end of his stay, the writer took a trip to Tirupati, Kalahasti, etc. and Sri Bhagavan, who did not appear to look with favour on such tours by one who, for all purposes, appeared to be convinced of the efficacy of the ‘Who am I?’ enquiry method, and of the secondary value of worship of images, japas or mantras, etc., dismissed him with a simple “Yes, yes” when he took leave. This unspoken but well understood disapproval and the loftiness of His own teaching haunted the writer’s mind all through his tour of the Seven Hills, the Papavinasam Falls, Kalahasti, the Sri Vyasa Ashram, Yerpedu, the Kailasanatha Konai (Waterfalls), the Nagari Buggi Temple and waterfalls, the Tiruttani Temple and so on. Therefore, when on his way home he was again standing before Sri Bhagavan, he was quaking. But fortunately, a smiling countenance and a remark from Sri Bhagavan, that they were just then talking about him and found him in the precincts so soon after the close of the talk, consoled him not a little.