This chapter ‘Reminiscences-I’ is written by Viswanatha Swami
Sri muruganar came to Bhagavan during September holidays in 1923. He was then a Tamil Pandit in a Christian girls high school in Madras. He had studied Tirukural with great devotion and was following its teachings in his own life. No wonder he was held in the highest esteem by his pupils as well as by his fellow teachers.
He came to know of Bhagavan Ramana through some devotees in Madras as well as Dandapani Swami, who was his father-in-law. Conditions in his family life also favoured renunciation: yet he continued working, coming to Bhagavan during holidays. He was so keenly devoted to Bhagavan that he used to come direct from his school to Sri Ramanasramam with his coat and turban on and return to Madras only when his school reopened. He was drawn to Mahatma Gandhi, whose saintly life in the midst of worldly activities commanded his respect and esteem. He composed several poems in praise of him as well as national songs in general, which were published by Sri Ramana Padananda in 1943 with the title Sutantara Gitam.
Being a scholar, poet and devotee, he brought to Bhagavan on his first visit, a decad of verses, in Tamil, each stanza ending “…desika Ramana ma deve” (Great Lord and Teacher Ramana!). During one of his later visits in December he composed a poem beginning, “Annamalai Ramanan…,” in praise of Bhagavan following the pattern of Tiruvembavai of Tiruvachakam. Seeing that, Bhagavan suggested to him that he could compose songs following the themes and plan of Tiruvachakam of Manikkavachakar. Muruganar felt shocked at the idea and exclaimed: “Where is Manikkavachakar and where am I?” But later, he thought it was a prompting from the Master, thoughgently expressed, and began following the suggestion relying on Bhagavan’s Grace. And the result is the magnificent collection of thrilling songs in Tamil, well-known as Sri Ramana Sannidhi Murai, the third edition of which was published by Sri Ramanasramam in 1974. Muruganar has also given us Bhagavan’s teachings in Tamil verse form. The work is known as Guru Vachaka Kovai ( English translation by Professor K. Swaminathan as Garland of Guru’s Sayings). There are, moreover, thousands of his verses being arranged and published in several volumes under the title Ramana Jnana Bodham.
A few years after his coming to Bhagavan his mother passed away and Muruganar came and settled down at the feet of his Master. It was after this that he composed the numerous songs in Sri Ramana Sannidhi Murai as his devotional offering to Bhagavan. Scholars who had worked with Muruganar on the Tamil Lexicon Committee say that Bhagavan Ramana chose a very worthy scholar to sing his glory. Poets worship the Divine through their poetry. That alone is sufficient sadhana for them. They are moulded unawares into the likeness of the object of their worship.
We have to be grateful to Muruganar for making Bhagavan write “Upadesa Undiyar” (The Essence of all Teaching) and “Ulladu Narpadu” (Forty Verses on Existence), which are the most important of Bhagavan’s philosophical works. The beautiful song on “Atma Vidya” was also composed by Bhagavan at Muruganar’s request.
Muruganar too chose like me to live independently. We have lived together on the Hill (Arunachala) near the Mango Tree Cave for some months. Ganapati Muni was then residing there. He felt an urge to see Bhagavan every evening and be with him for an hour or two. I used to accompany him. A few months later a room was found for him in the Palakothu flower garden adjoining the Ashram on the west. Bhagavan used to go alone to that side every day after lunch. Sometimes he would visit that room also.
Ganapati Muni once told Bhagavan that he had seen many other forests, but not the one at Arunachala. Bhagavan, who knew very well every inch of Arunachala, offered to take the Muni one day into the interior of the forest. Ganapati Muni could not bear even the slightest heat of the sun on account of a yogic experience he had, known as Kapalabheda (breaking of the skull), and so Bhagavan waited for a cloudy day. Such a day came soon and Bhagavan asked me if it would suit Nayana to go into the forest then. I replied that he would gladly jump at the opportunity and went ahead to his room to inform him of Bhagavan’s intention. In a few minutes Bhagavan came to our room in Palakothu and we three set out. Bhagavan took us through the third forest path. After going for more than a mile, Bhagavan chose a cool and shady spot adjoining a huge rock to rest a bit. As we were sitting there a rustling sound was heard indicating someone was approaching, and in a minute, Muruganar stood before us. Bhagavan put his finger on his nose and asked him with surprise: “How did you come here? Even a forest guard could not have found us here,”and Muruganar replied, “I knew that Bhagavan had promised Nayana to take him into the forest on some suitable day. I also wanted to join the party and was coming to the Ashram earlier than usual. But today, not finding Bhagavan at the Ashram, I proceeded to Palakothu where I found Nayana’s room locked. I learnt from the watchman Sabhapati that Bhagavan had gone towards the forest with Nayana and Viswanathan. I made my way straight to the forest. Going along the second forest path, I found a footpath going further into the interior. I took the path and straight I arrived here.” Bhagavan replied: “Is there a short cut like that? We shall return by it.” Nayana patted Muruganar and said: “It is an indication of how you are attuned to Bhagavan by his Grace.” And we returned to the Ashram before 4 p.m.
I am thrilled when I recollect my intimate contact with Bhagavan and these two great poet-disciples of his.