R. Nanjappa

Obedience to Authority

Bhagavan implicitly obeyed authority. Though it was in his name, the Asramam was a separate entity, run by different people, who had their own views and ways. Bhagavan had nothing to do with the administration. When they made a rule, Bhagavan would also obey it, however personally inconvenient.  It was the rule for instance that when anyone brought a book for Bhagavan, it must be submitted to the ‘office’. When someone brought something to him directly, he would have it sent to the office.

It is the practice in the Asramam for sadhus to be given food before serving food in the dining hall. Once they said that all sadhus should only receive their food outside. When they started serving food in the hall, they found Bhagavan missing. Then they saw him standing in the queue along with the other sadhus. He asked whether he was not a sadhu! He had his own subtle, but strong way to make his point!

Once, a foreign lady was found sitting with her leg stretched out in front, as they were not used to sitting cross legged on the floor.  The attendants asked her to bend her knees. The lady struggled to bend them!  Bhagavan noticed that and he too bent his knees and sat cross-legged. The attendants were shocked, as Bhagavan was suffering from rheumatism and bending the knee must have caused severe pain! They asked him to stretch his legs. He told them: ‘It is your rule here that no one should sit with legs stretched. If others stretching legs before me is disrespect to me, my stretching legs before them is disrespect to them! I would not break the rule’. It took lot of persuasion to make Bhagavan resume his normal position, along with the reversal of that rule! It was how things were done in the name of Bhagavan! Bhagavan would say that before anyone prostrated before him, he had already done his mental namaskar!  

Treat Everyone Alike

Bhagavan was very particular that every one should be treated alike. But this is something his attendants never learned willingly, or followed sincerely. In the early days, whatever eatable was brought into the hall, would be distributed then and there. Fruits like plantain would be distributed but by the end there would not be enough, and so only pieces would be given to some. Others like mango or guava would be cut into pieces but as the plate reached the end of the hall, the pieces would become smaller! In the dining hall, some items would be served in greater quantity on Bhagavan’s leaf, and smaller amount on others’! Or if it was buttermilk, it would be thick for Bhagavan, and get thinner as it went along! Bhagavan was an uncompromising enemy of such practices and totally detested such discrimination. He would repeatedly admonish them but people had their own ways! In the dining hall, the server was the king! Finally, Bhagavan decided that he would start eating only after everyone else had been served, ensuring equal treatment for everyone! When the monkey ‘king’ was served food, he was served on his own full leaf plate! 

Problem with Administration

When there is an Asramam, where people of all tastes and temperaments gather, some administrative arrangements become necessary, and their nature will depend upon the persons in charge – this is unavoidable. There would always be people to criticise whatever was done, and spread stories and carry tales. Ramanasramam was no exception. No one would dare to talk such things in the presence of Bhagavan, but if someone carried a grievance against the manager, Bhagavan would say: ‘who knows what kind of stories had been carried to the manager!’ Things would immediately fall into perspective! But it is also a fact that once something was mentioned to Bhagavan, correction or relief followed!


Bhagavan’s punctuality was phenomenal. His movements were regular, orderly. One could set the clock by his movements. His handwriting was like print. Some devotees would contrive something to have something written by him so that they could keep them. Some devotees like K.K.Nambiar were lucky to have entire notebooks written in the hand of Bhagavan!

People generally say that Bhagavan’s spiritual teaching is difficult to follow. If we look closely at the way he lived his external life, we would find that too is difficult for us to follow! His simplicity, frugality, avoidance of waste, equality in treatment for all, non-interference in others’ work or views, not being   judgemental,  love for all forms of life, obedience to authority, maintenance of order- what an array of civic or human virtues are there for us to learn and follow!  What high standards He has set! All taught by example!



Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: