This part is written by Dilip Kumar Roy
Ramana was suddenly drawn to Arunachala Hill in 1896, at the age of sixteen. With just three rupees in his pocket, he left his home and parents and everything a man holds dear. He did not even know the way, but somehow arrived there with literally just what he wore, trusting entirely to the mercy of his heart’s Lord, Arunachala Siva. He arrived at the temple and went straight to the sanctum of the Lord and, with tears coursing down his cheeks, said: “I have come at your call, Lord. Accept me and do with me as you will .”
Thereafter he lived ever immersed in the bliss of samadhi. My dear friend Duraiswami, who knew him for years as one of his Ashram’s intimates, told me this: “Once he was expressing his admiration for the sage’s power of concentrating day and night on his sadhana, when the other cut in smiling. ‘Sadhana? Who did sadhana? What did I know of sadhana? I simply came and sat down in the temple or elsewhere in Arunachala and then lost all count of time.’” To me he said the same thing in a slightly different way with his characteristic irony: “People call him by different names, but he came to me with no name or introduction so I know not how to define him. What happened was that my desires and ego left me – how and why I cannot tell – and that I lived thenceforward in the vastness of timeless peace.” “Sometimes”, he added with a smile, “I stayed with closed eyes and then, when I opened them, people said that I had come out of my blessed meditation. But I never knew the difference between ‘non-meditation’ and meditation, blessed or otherwise. I simply lived a tranquil witness to whatever happened around me, but was never called upon to interfere. I could never feel any urge to do anything except to be, just be. I see that all is done by him and him alone, though we, poor puppets of maya, feel ourselves important as the doers, authors and reformers everything! It is the ineradicable ego, the ‘I-ness’ in each of us, which is responsible for the perpetuation of this maya with all its attendant sufferings and disenchantments.”
“What then is the remedy?” I asked.
“Just be,” he answered. “Delve down into That which only is, for when you achieve this you find ‘That am I’; there is and can be nothing else than That. When you see this, all the trappings of maya and make-believe fall off, even as the worn-out slough of the snake. So all that you have to do is to get to this I, the real I behind your seeming I, for then you are rid forever of the illusive ‘I-ness’ and all is attained, since you stay thenceforward at one with That which is you; that’s all.”
“We have to do nothing then?”
“Why? You have done the greatest thing, the only thing that is worth doing, and when you have done this, you may rest assured, all that has to be done will be done through you. The thing is,” he added, “not to worry about doing; just be, and you will have done all that is expected of you.”
“That is all very well,” I demurred, “but who is to show us how to do this – or rather be, as you put it? Is not a guide, Guru, necessary? Or are you against Guruvad (the Guru principle)?”
“Why should I be against Guruvad?” he smiled. “Some people evidently need a Guru; let them follow him. I am against nothing except the ego, the ‘I-ness’ which is the root of all evil. Rend this and you land pat in the lap of the one Reality, That, the one solvent of all questions.”
“But why then don’t you come out to preach this great message?” I asked, “for most people, you will agree, do not even know there is this ‘I-ness’ to be got rid of.”
He gave me again that quizzical smile tinctured with his characteristic irony. Then he turned grave and asked: “Have you heard of the saying of Vivekananda that if one but thinks a noble, selfless thought, even in a cave, it sets up vibrations throughout the world and does what has to be done, can be done?”
I nodded, “But forgive me if I presume to ask whether it is being done in a tangible way.”
He gave me a quizzical smile.
“Listen. A spiritual seeker used to attend religiously the lectures of a great pulpit orator and feel thrilled by all that he heard from day to day. But after some time he discovered, to his chagrin, that after all that he had heard, he was just where he had been at the start, not an impulse had changed. Then he happened to meet a silent man, a Yogi who said practically nothing; nevertheless, he felt attracted by something in him that he could not define and so went on being near him. After a time he discovered, to his great joy and surprise, that things which had worried him before affected him less and less, till he came to feel a deep peace and a sense of liberation he could not account for. And this grew with the passage of time until at last he became a different man altogether. Now tell me, which of the two would you name as the doer of something ‘tangible’?”
And this was true. After just being near him for a little while my gloom of months melted away like mist before sunrise. Nor could I myself “account for” why and how it happened. I only knew – and vividly – that it had happened. I shall never forget that night when, after having meditated at his feet, I felt a sudden release from what had been stifling me for weeks. It was such a delectable experience that I did not feel like going to bed. I pulled out a deck-chair and merely reclined on it under the stars, utterly relaxed. Everything around me seemed to drip peace and harmony; the breeze, the murmuring leaves, the hooting of an owl, a dog barking, the insects screeching… everything deepened my vivid sense of carefree plenitude. And I wrote a poem in the fullness of my heart of which I will give here a few lines: You came in a pauper’s garb and stayed to teach That world what only a beggar could impart And offered a kingdom we could never reach By all our science, philosophy and art.
Some day a light shall dawn and then we’ll know What you came to give – a King, incognito!
He left his mortal body in April, 1950, (after having suffered excruciating physical pain for two long years). One of his arms had become cancerous. The medical men did their best but nothing availed. He died, but with the selfsame radiant smile on his lips. Once the painful wound had to be prodded thoroughly. Declining an anaesthetic he stretched out his arm. His face remained serene – not one groan issued from his lips. The doctor was amazed.
Such was he. No wonder they called him Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.
The modern man often enough denounces the mystic as a selfish seeker of personal salvation. There may, indeed, be some sadhus who belong to this category, but the major mystics have never been indifferent to the suffering of others. Sri Ramana Maharshi proved this once again by the great life he lived after his attainment. He was always available, always ready to help with his words – more with his silent spiritual presence. He was the soul of divine compassion, always giving, never asking anything for himself. No man who is selfish can attract such a band of devoted seekers around him. This is not the place to talk about his remarkable devotees but I will end this tribute with a letter from one of his disciples, an Englishman, Major A. W. Chadwick. I was fascinated by his personality and wrote him a letter which I need not quote as it will be readily inferred from his reply, which is dated October11, 1946.
It was kind of you to write … I feel diffident in answering your question as I fear I have made or may make myself appear of some spiritual attainment, a thing to which I have no pretension. I am just a humble seeker, with the same failings and the same difficulties as everybody else. That all paths are extremely difficult there can be no doubt, but how can it be otherwise? The ego which has taken such tremendous pains to establish itself as a seemingly independent and self sufficient entity will fight to the last ditch before it will admit defeat and relinquish its claims. But my motto has been persistence and I think that by that, victory is assured. The Guru of a friend of mine, who passed away some years ago and was undoubtedly a jnani, used to tell him that if he desired Self-realization sufficiently he could not even die till he had attained his goal. And in that is our hope.
You ask me how long I had to persevere in solitude before I attained peace¼ Surely peace is a thing which grows and is not for the majority attained in a flash once and for all. (I do not speak of Self-realization) The moment I came into the presence of my Guru, eleven years ago, I found peace. My staying here was never premeditated; it was just something which had to be in spite of myself. It was my true home. However the pendulum swings, in time the beats become shorter and shorter until it comes to rest in the Self. To expect anything else is to expect the impossible.
It seems to me that the great thing is to follow one Guru and one path unwaveringly and the goal is assured. For after all, the goal and the path are the same; the Chinese call both the Way – Tao. But we become disheartened and impatient. These seem to be the greatest obstacles to attainment. If we can only face up to these and go on in spite of everything and everybody then there is absolutely no doubt as to the result. But few of us can! May the Supreme Guru give us the necessary strength!
I seem to have been very prolix and to have preached.I ask your forgiveness.
Very cordially yours,
A. W. Chadwick
Glory to the Guru who can inspire such love and devotion in men of this calibre.