Friday, March 23, 2007

Brief Life Sketch of Bhagavan Ramana - 04

Hare Krishna Friends,

Thanks for your message Hariram. Hope by the Sadguru’s grace, each one of us will develop the firm conviction (Maneesha) as mentioned in your message soon. Let us continue further with Ramana’s divya charithram.

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There was a curse on Venkataraman's family. In truth, it was a blessing - one out of every generation should turn out to be a mendicant. This curse was administered by a wandering ascetic who, it is said, begged alms at the house of one of Venkataraman's forbears, and was refused. A paternal uncle of Sundaram Aiyar became a sanyasin; so did Sundaram Aiyar's elder brother. Now, it was the turn of Venkataraman, although no one could have foreseen that the curse would work out in this manner. Dispassion found lodgment in Venkataraman's heart, and he became a parivrajaka.

About noon, Venkataraman left his uncle’s house and walked to Madurai Railway Station. In those days, the three rupees which He had taken thinking it to be the approximate train fare was exactly the right amount to go from Madurai to Thiruvannamalai. But what was to happen? Not knowing that He could go all the way to Thiruvannamalai by train, He took a ticket for Tindivanam instead and got into the train. During the journey a Maulvi (Islamic priest) sat near Him and talked to Him of his own accord, informing Him that there was train-service to Thiruvannamalai and that one need not go to Tindivanam but could change trains at Viluppuram. This was a piece of useful information. By dusk, Venkataraman was hungry; he bought two country pears for half an anna; and strangely enough even with the first bite his hunger was appeased. About three o'clock in the morning the train arrived at Viluppuram. Venkataraman got off the train there with the intention of completing the rest, of the journey to Thiruvannamalai by walk.

At daybreak He went into the town, and was looking out for the sign-post to Thiruvannamalai. He saw a sign-board reading 'Mambalappattu' but did not know then that Mambalappattu was a place en route to Thiruvannamalai. Before making further efforts to find out which road he was to take, he wanted to refresh himself as he was tired and hungry. He went up to a hotel and asked for food. He had to wait till noon for the food to be ready. After eating his meal, He proffered two annas in payment. The hotel proprietor asked him how much money He had. When told by Venkataraman that He had only two and a half annas, he declined to accept payment. It was from him that Venkataraman came to know that Mambalappattu was a place on the way to Tiruvannamalai. Venkataraman went back to Viluppuram station and bought a ticket to Mambalappattu for which the money he had was just enough.

It was sometime in the afternoon when Venkataraman arrived at Mambalappattu by train. There He got down and walked 10 miles in the direction of Arunachalam. Late in the evening, He reached Araiyaninallur temple which is built on a rock. He waited for the temple doors to be opened, entered and sat down in the pillared hall. He had a vision there - a vision of brilliant light enveloping the entire place. It was no physical light. It shone for some time and then disappeared. Venkataraman continued sitting in a mood of deep meditation, till he was roused by the temple priest who wanted to lock the doors and go to Viratteshwara temple three quarters of a mile away at Kizhur for service. Venkataraman walked down with the priest to Viratteshwara temple. After the puja was over, Sri Ramana who was tired and hungry asked the priest for some prasadam (the food consecrated by being offered to God). The priest refused, but the temple piper (Nadaswaram vidwan) whose heart was moved on seeing this rude behavior of the priest pleaded with him “Sir, kindly give him at least my portion of the prasadam.” On account of the request of that virtuous man, a little food was placed on the hands of Sri Ramana. When Venkataraman asked for some drinking water, he was directed to a Sastri's house which was at some distance. While in that house he fainted and fell down. A few minutes later he rallied round and saw a small crowd looking at him curiously. He drank the water, ate some food, and lay down and slept.

Next morning He woke up. It was the 31st of August, 1896, the day of Sri Krishna Jayanthi. Venkataraman resumed his journey and walked for quite a while and He happened to come to the house of Muthukrishna Bhagavathar. He asked the Bhagavatar for food and was directed to the housewife. The good lady was pleased to receive the young Sadhu and feed him on the auspicious day of Sri Krisna's birth. After the meal, Venkataraman went to the Bhagavatar again and told him that he wanted to pledge his gold ear-rings for four rupees in order that he may complete his pilgrimage. The Bhagavatar examined the ear-rings, gave Venkataraman the money he had asked for, took down the youth's address, wrote out his own on a piece of paper for him, and told him that he could redeem the rings at any time. The pious lady gave him a packet of sweets that she had prepared for Janmashtami. Venkataraman took leave of the couple, tore up the address the Bhagavatar had given him - for he had no intention of redeeming the ear-rings and went to the railway station. As there was no train till the next morning, he spent the night there. On the morning of the 1st of September, 1896, he boarded the train to Thiruvannamalai. The travel took only a short time. Alighting from the train, He hastened to the great temple of Arunachaleshwara which had occupied His heart from childhood and which had now robbed off His mind and drawn Him near.

All the gates stood open - even the doors of the inner shrine (sanctum-sanctorum). The temple was then empty of all people - even the priests. He went directly to the inner shrine of temple and surrendered Himself completely. The intense heat that was in his body at once subsided. The journey of the Soul, the river, had ended once for all at its destination, the ocean of bliss. Sri Ramana came out of the inner shrine, perfectly contended with treasure-the fullness of Jnana. Since all freedom of mind, speech and body had been surrendered to Arunachaleshwara, Sri Ramana became effortlessly silent.

When someone approached him and asked, “Swami, will you have your head shaved?” Sri Ramana nodded affirmatively being convinced that it was the will of Sri Arunachaleshwara. He was conducted to the Ayyankulam tank where the barber shaved his head. His long, fine and wavy hair which was like a beautiful black creeper was in no time removed and a clean head remained. Then He stood on the steps of the tank and threw away his sacred thread, the sign of His caste. From his dhoti he tore off a piece for a loin cloth and discarded the rest together with the remaining money which was tied in a corner. The packet of sweets given by the loving lady in the Bhagavatar’s house was discarded to the tank as well. He did not even take bath after being shaved. But on his way back to the temple, there was an unexpected downpour. Perhaps this shower from the sky was a ceremonial bath (Avabritha-snanam) given by Sri Arunachaleshwara to His divine son on completion of the greatest tapas! Sri Ramana reached the temple and sat absorbed in Samadhi in the 1000 pillared mantapam.

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