SAINTS AND SAGES: THE JOY AND THE PAIN-2 (Post No.8238)     WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                          

Post No. 8238 Date uploaded in London – – – 25 June 2020   
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SAINTS AND SAGES: THE JOY AND THE PAIN-2                                        R. Nanjappa

  Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

On his arrival in Tiruvannamalai on 1 September 1896, Bhagavan Ramana
first moved around various spots within the Big temple. Then he moved on the Eastern slope of the hill, sitting in various temples. In 1899, he came to Virupakshi cave, where he remained for 17 years. But during those days, he used to roam about extensively on the hills, in those valleys and forests. He would say that there was not an inch that he had not seen there. He had many extraordinary experiences those days. But one of them stopped his roaming on the hills. One day, an elderly woman looking like a villager, ostensibly collecting firewood  or something saw him and boldly unleashed her typical village tongue: ‘May you be carried to the burning ghat! Why can you not sit quietly in one place, in the name of God?’ (Vunnai paadaiyilae vaikka! Sivanaennu orae idattulae okkaara koodadha?) Bhagavan thought that it could be no ordinary village woman who would have addressed “swami” like that! Thereafter Bhagavan reduced and stopped his roaming!

Next he moved to Skandasramam in 1917, after the permanent arrival of Mother. This continued till 1922, when they shifted to the site of the  present Asramam, after the Mahasamadhi of Mother.   Bhagavan continued here for 28 years. As we saw in a previous post, each place marked a distinct stage in his ministry, and in a sense could be considered improvement on each earlier stage. (This is from our point of view- for Bhagavan, change in external surroundings did not make any difference- except that as he came to be widely known, and crowds started coming, his schedules had to change!)  

Thus we see that unlike in the case of Sri Ramakrishna or Vallimalai Swami, Bhagavan Ramana did not have to leave a place under some compulsion, and for a worse situation. But he has said that he tried thrice to get away from all the crowd and live independently, but every time something prevented him from going away!  

However, Bhagavan Ramana too suffered in the last year due to sarcoma. Some people say that he was a Jnani, above all these things. But it is a fact that there was intense pain, and he suffered. He would never complain or talk of the pain, but in the night, he would moan. He himself did not deny the pain; he would say, “yes, there is pain” but he never said He had pain!  

Jnanis live in a different state of consciousness- we cannot even begin to understand. The two distinct stages could be seen in Sri Ramakrishna- when he was in samadhi, he had no consciousness of the external world at all; once he came down to normal consciousness, he was like us. He could traverse the two at will. But even in the normal state the awareness of Mother would not leave him: as he would speak, he would suddenly say that he could not reveal more as Mother was holding his tongue. To Michael Madhusudan Dutt, a Hindu convert to Christianity, he said he could not give any instruction as he felt Mother was pressing his tongue! So, the pain he felt due to his illness was real, and he spoke about it. Once, as he was walking, he entered into samadhi,  fell down and broke his arm. He felt the pain, and in the normal state, would innocently ask the followers around: why had Mother done this to him?  

With Bhagavan Ramana, we are in a different dimension. Bhagavan was always in a state of samadhi- he didn’t have to “enter” it! But he was also aware of things around him- but we do not know how! Close devotees like Devaraja Mudaliar who were with him and observed him closely said that Bhagavan had no sense of time!  He would not know what time of day it was! Yet to us, it appeared that he was particular about the schedules that were followed, that he was punctual! Mudaliar records Bhagavan saying about some events: ‘It is as if it is happening in a dream’. When he made a translation of Atma Bodha of Sankara, he felt that he had seen or read the verses somewhere, and that no one else should claim them as theirs!  But the pain he experienced was real!   

Whenever there was some talk about the illness, he would try to dismiss it, saying “you attach too much importance to the body”. Once, he translated a verse from Bhagavatam about the state of the Jnani with regard to the body:

  Whether the impermanent body is at rest or moves about, or whether by reason of prarabdha it clings to him or falls away from him, the Self-realised siddha is not aware of it, even as the drunken man blinded by intoxication is unaware   whether his clothes are on his body or not. But we are devotees, and this causes us pain. We wonder why Jnanis should undergo suffering at all. One stock answer is that Jnana burns away sanchita and agami karmas, but that prarabdha will have to be experienced. Bhagavan would counter such people: when a man having three wives dies, how many of the wives will become widows? Will not all? Bhagavan would say that in reality the Jnani has no prarabdha too, but it appears so to the onlookers!  

The most probable answer is that the Jnanis suffer on account of the sins of their followers! Sri Ramakrishna used to say this openly. He said that so many impure people came and touched his feet that he had to assume their sins and suffer. It was seen that when someone with some body ailment or wound touched Ramakrishna, he would squirm in pain! We can now understand the orthodox rule that no one with a body injury or wound should perform puja   to the Murtis in temples! Holy Mother Sarada Devi used to say that Thakur came to the earth to absorb the sins of the people. She would ask: Do you think he came to eat sweets all the time? And she would do the Japa for all the people she had initiated, because they did not always do it! She was thus Guru and Mother rolled into one!

Holy Mother Sarada Devi

In the case of Ramana, no one was allowed to touch his feet. But the case of Jnani is different. One doesn’t have to touch him! Just as he need not touch any one to initiate, but can do it by drishti or even icha or sankalpa, people too need not touch him! By just being in his presence, his beneficial rays come to us. He has no sankalpa or icha. The mere presence of the Jnani / his very nature is such that such absorption takes place! It seems the Jnani has no choice. If this is the case with ordinary people, what about those who call themselves disciples? (See note below).  

A disciple without discipline is not disciple, but devil. All of us who regard someone as our Guru should realise what a great responsibility it is to be a disciple, and what a great burden we impose on the Guru by our impurity! (I am talking of real spiritual guru, not vidya guru or diksha guru) It is here that not only the spiritual instructions, even the worldly lessons become important.  

We often complain that we have not received the Grace. But do we examine whether we deserve it? What has been our preparation? Sri Ramana used to say ‘grace is always there’. Sri Ramakrishna would say that the wind (of grace) is blowing, but we have to open our sails! It is a pity that in spite of such clear instructions, we do not make the effort!

Sarada Devi with Sister Nivedita

  # NOTE: This is illustrated in the case of Bhagavan by a remarkable incident. One day while at Skandasramam, he had an upset stomach. He decided to fast that day and thought he could do it better if he went round the Hill. So he started on giripradakshina. He used to take the inner forest route. When he had gone some distance, he met a group of 5/6  women who looked like villagers gathering firewood- each had a bag. They asked for a source of water. It was some distance away and he led them there. As he was about to go his way, they said that he should not go without taking the food  they had brought. Bhagavan was always kind to such people and he agreed. Each one of them served him something from her bundle and insisted that he should take all! He ate all, as he would never waste food and resumed his walk, with a heavy stomach. After he had walked quite a bit for a few hours, he again met them all in a  new location! Again they insisted that he should take lunch with them and again each one served him her share! Somehow Bhagavan finished it all and resumed his walk.

Around 2 pm, he found another old devotee coming to him. He too carried some food, with some special item prepared for him! It seems with that he had gone to Skandasramam and learning that Bhagavan was on a pradakshina, he started circling the Hill in the opposite direction, so that he would not miss Bhagavan!  So, again Bhagavan could not refuse the food of a devotee! Bhagavan said how his resolution to skip food that day ended in this manner! The point is that the Jnani had no choice in the matter of extending his Grace. It was Automatic Divine Activity!               tags – Saints and Sages- Part 2

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