The Conclusion of The book ‘Crumbs from His Table’ by Ramanananda Swarnagiri
Before finishing this account of the writer’s experiences and recollections of Sri Bhagavan’s teachings for his own benefit and that of other aspirants, the writer would like to add one or two cautions against shallow and superficial impressions which some visitors to the ashram carry with them and which act sometimes as great pitfalls in one’s spiritual practice.
A Tamil Pandit who was a visitor to the ashram about December, 1936 asked the writer why, with all his talk of Sri Bhagavan’s universal love, the writer should choose not to take his food in company with the Maharshi and his other devotees, irrespective of caste, creed or race. The writer reminded him of the story of Sri Shankaracharya and His disciples and added that all the vehicles he sees, whether bullock cart, motor, tram or train, require some form of roadway, but while the bullock cart could pass over any road, mud or sand, if only the scrub was cleared, the motor car would require an up-to-date macadam road, and the railway engine costing over a lakh of rupees and moving at sixty miles an hour, would require not only two well laid rails, but also their fish-bolts tightly screwed, yet an aeroplane does not require a road of any kind; it knows its path and goal and does not mind how it turns or twists in the air; so also, as long as one has to move in this world, one has to be bound by some law, some custom, whether that custom is agreeable or not to one at the particular period and as long as an equitable change cannot be introduced, it appeared to the writer that unless he were to be a party to the creation of chaotic conditions, he had to stick to some forms.
The writer was reminded also of an article that he had read ten years ago in connection with what Mohammed the Prophet is reported to have told his wife soon after he had his illumination (Vide page 13, The World Liberator, dated June, 1927, edited by George Chainey, 362 Ximeno Ave., Long Beach, California). Mohammed said: “That by the unspeakable special favour of Heaven he had now found it all out, was in doubt and darkness no longer, but saw it all. That all these idols and formulas were nothing, (but) miserable bits of wood; that there was one God in and over all, and we must leave all idols and look to Him. That God is great, and that there is nothing else great. He is the Reality.
Wooden idols are not real; He is real.”
The crown of all philosophies, the Upanishads, affirm over and over this one great ideal, the central ideal, and so does Sri Ramana. The writer’s only prayer is that the misfortune that befell the idols of this country may not be repeated again by unripe and immature aspirants copying Sri Bhagavan’s method of eating, and not his otherwise continuous tapas for years without any thought of food or drink. If such distinctions and differences distract our eye from the chief object of worship and adoration, we should only reflect on what has happened in the past.
This question had been openly mooted and with a certain amount of feeling of hatred of the so-called abortive custom the writer has had to quote this here. Sri Bhagavan is comparable to the aeroplane, but persons like the writer are no better than the best of the locomotives, which after all require and have to follow some path laid down for them.
There is also the danger of some aspirants paying no heed to the restraint of jnanendriyas and karmendriyas and to developing love for all beings, compassion, charity, humility and what not. Though Sri Bhagavan appears not to repeat these things ad nauseam, yet if one reads carefully all his short works (as brief as His spoken words are, but full of meaning), it will be apparent that instead of brushing them aside, He has enjoined a life of purity and charity. (Vide stanza 5 of the Arunachala Ashtakam, etc.) The need for this will also crop up again and again in the life and practice of aspirants, if one really sits down in earnest for the enquiry.
Sri Bhagavan, having become one with the Absolute, His one repeated insistence is to realize the Self. With Him “To love God is to realize Him“. Realization is parabhakti. Realization that God and Self are one would certainly lead to realization of the universality of the soul and remove all hatred, jealousy, war and what not. But before realizing this and conforming to His greatest teaching, it would be useless, nay injurious, to think and talk about minor details pertaining to the ordinary workaday world. If one misses the central theme of His teaching, which is the same as any great prophet’s teaching but made more plain, brief and straightforward, we miss the unique revelation of the Master, born anew and enriched by the Universe, Sri Ramana the Great.
It is obviously with a view to avoid jarring disputes and discussions that He disclaims any name, pronounces no dogmatic theories, calls on no one to worship any of the innumerable Gods of any religion: herein lies the affirmation of his enriched experience of the Self. A sannyasi came from somewhere near Madurai and asked Sri Bhagavan to put His name in a notebook intended to raise collections for a choultry or something. He asks: “What is my name?”
The Swami states: “Sri Ramana.”
Sri Bhagavan: “You say so: I have no name.”
Put whatever question you like — just as one friend asked what happens to life after death — and you get a reply, “‘What happens to whom?’ ‘Who are you?’ and ‘Who dies?’ ‘You never die.’”
The writer was late one day in getting up from bed and missed prostrating before Sri Bhagavan the first thing in the morning. He, however, met Him on his way to the bathing tank and prostrated before Him. Sri Bhagavan asked him, “Why? Why this prostration of one material body before another? Who prostrates? Before whom? There is no Guru, no disciple. Realize who you are.” His one attempt would appear to be to always bring home to His questioners, devotees and disciples the central theme of His realization, namely the identity of God and Self.
There are several more anecdotes, of an instructive character which have not been recorded herein for fear of enlarging this volume; and, as Sri Bhagavan is very sparing of his words, it would really be a hard task to collect voluminous material, however long one might attend the ashram and however eager one may be to collect all that falls from His lips; so if any aspirant has been stirred by the few episodes and conversations, which have been recorded here, the writer can only invite him in the words of the author of the Katha Upanishad (III: 14) to:
उत्तिष्ठत, जाग्रत, प्राप्यवरान्निबोधत
Awake! Arise! (and) Seek the Great One, Sri Ramana, the Great,
Taste the bread of life at His hands,
And obtain wisdom.
OM TAT SAT