This Chapter is taken From The Book ”Guru Ramana Memories and Notes” Part-I Retrospect by S.S.Cohen
“I thought of Thee and was caught in Thy Grace; And like a spider in Thy web didst Thou Keep me captive to swallow me in Thine own hour.” (Aksharamanamala of Sri Maharshi)
The builders had put the finishing touches to my small mud hut in Palakottu garden on April 4, 1936, and although its walls and lime plaster were still wet, I decided to enter it the very next day.
Palakottu is a large garden of about ten acres in area granted by the Government over eighty years ago to a Vira- Shaiva community for the purpose of growing flowers in it for the big Arunachaleswara temple in the township of Tiruvannamalai. It lies on the Western boundaries of Ramanashram, and has a clean and well-preserved deep tank seasonally fed by the rain water, which falls down the slopes of the sacred Arunachala hill, apart from two or three natural springs in its bottom. Around the huge, century-old trees of this garden, devotees of Sri Ramana Bhagavan since many years had built their small kutirs, where at different times lived Paul Brunton, Yogi Ramiah, Sri B.V. Narasimhaswami, the author of “Self-realisation,” Sri Muruganar Swami, the Tamil poet who filled a bulky tome of songs in praise of Sri Bhagavan, and many others, and where some sadhakas still live. In Palakottu, then the only inhabited place within a mile radius from the Ashram, I chose for my hut a lonely site to the north-west of the tank, edging the shady foot-path overwhich Sri Bhagavan used to take his midday walk, so that during its construction he could see the daily progress of the work and sometimes exchange a few words with the masons, till the 4th of April, when I informed him of my intention to start living immediately in it.
Sri Bhagavan had known of my chronic asthma, and probably thought it foolhardy on my part to live in a place which would take two to three months to dry up. I noticed his hesitation in uttering his usual “yes”; but, being hard- pressed for accommodation, and very reluctant to leave him even for a day, I completed my arrangements for the warming ceremony, known here as griha-pravesham, to take place the next day.
On the fifth of April the invited devotees gathered in my hut, and about noon the Master himself strolled in, on his way back from his usual walk, and, refusing the special chair I had made ready for him, he squatted like the others on the mat-covered floor. After the ceremony Bhagavan left. I followed him from a distance, waited till the devotees cleared away and approached him. “Bhagavan,” I started, “you have given a home for my body, I now need your Grace to grant the eternal home for my soul, for which I broke all my human ties and came.” He stopped in the shade of a tree, gazed silently on the calm water of the tank for a few seconds and replied: “Your firm conviction brought you here; where is the room for doubt?” Where is the room for doubt indeed! I reflected.
Three years rolled by, and the Master continued to pass daily by my hut. In the beginning he used to take shelter from the midday sun on my verandah for two or three minutes, during which I made myself scarce, in order not to inconvenience him, till one day I foolishly placed a chair for his use on the sly, which made him once for all boycott my verandah. Despite his full knowledge of our adoration of him, he was extremely sensitive to the slightest trouble which might ensue from him to us, or, for the matter of that, to anyone: thus placing a special chair for him, or expecting him every day at a fixed hour, he interpreted as interfering with my rest – hence the boycott.
Three years, I said, had passed since that griha-pravesham day, years of great soul-searching, of incessant attempts to penetrate the Master’s mind, of reflection, study, meditation, and what not; years of extreme efforts to adjust myself to the entirely new conditions of life, of physical and psychical strain. They were admittedly intense years, in fact so intense, that I then felt that I must quit immediately, and informed the Master accordingly.
“Bhagavan,” I said on a day then near my hut, “I feel a strong urge to go on a yatra (pilgrimage) to the South – Chidambaram, Srirangam, Rameshwaram …,” but lo! a look on Bhagavan’s face struck me forcibly with the thought “Yatra! what for? Are you still in doubt?” I instantly remembered his words of long ago: “Where is the room for doubt?” and, as if in reply to a verbal question from him, I continued: “No, Bhagavan, now I feel that I need a change for some months, which I intend spending in Hindu holy places.” He smiled approval and enquired about the date and time of my starting, and whether I had made arrangements for my stay in the various places I was to visit. Extremely touched by his solicitude, I answered that I was going as a sadhu, trusting to chance for accommodation.
For three months thereafter I lay on a mat in Cape Comorin, immensely relieved of the mental tension which the Master’s physical form had caused me. In solitude I plunged in reflections on his blissful silence and calm repose.
The stillness of his mind haunted me everywhere I went – in the beautiful, gem-like temple of the youthful Virgin Goddess, on the shores of the vast blue ocean around me and the sand dunes, in the fishing villages and the endless stretches of coconut groves, which ran along the seashore and the interior of the Cape. I felt his influence in the depths of my soul and cried: “O Bhagavan, how mighty you are and how sublime and all-pervasive is the immaculate purity of your mind! With what tender emotions do we, your disciples, think of your incomparable qualities, your gentleness; your serene, adorable countenance; your cool, refreshing smiles; the sweetness of the words that come out of your mouth; the radiance of your all-embracing love; your equal vision towards one and all, even towards diseased stray animals!”