Letter 69

Photo shows Annamalai Swamy standing on left with arms crossed, and Major Chadwick (in white) sitting on steps.

Prev Next
24th August, 1946
Sometime ago a new arrival to the Ashram asked Bhagavan something in English, which I could not follow, being ignorant of the language. But Bhagavan replied in Tamil, and I give below his reply to the extent that I am able to grasp.

Bhagavan said, “It is said that Brahman is real, and world an illusion; again it is said that the whole universe is an image of Brahman. The question arises: how are these two statements to be reconciled? In the sadhak stage, you have got to say that the world is an illusion. There is no other way, because when a man forgets that he is the Brahman, who is real, permanent and omnipresent, and deludes himself into thinking that he is a body in the universe which is filled with bodies that are transitory, and labours under that delusion, you have got to remind him that the world is unreal and a delusion. Why? Because, his vision which has forgotten its own Self, is dwelling in the external material universe and will not turn inward to introspection unless you impress on him that all this external, material universe is unreal. When once he realises his own Self, and also that there is nothing other than his own Self, he will come to look upon the whole universe as Brahman. There is no universe without his Self. So long as a man does not see his own Self which is the origin of all, but looks only at the external world as real and permanent, you have to tell him that all this external universe is an illusion. You cannot help it. Take a paper. We see only the script, and nobody notices the paper on which the script is written. The paper is there, whether the script on it is there or not. To those who look upon the script as real, you have to say that it is unreal, an illusion, since it rests upon the paper. The wise man looks upon both the paper and script as one. So also with Brahman and the universe.

“It is the same in the case of the cinema. The screen is always there; the pictures come and go, but do not affect the screen. What does the screen care whether the pictures appear or disappear? The pictures depend upon the screen. But what use are they to it? The man who looks only at the pictures on the screen and not the screen itself, is troubled by the pains and pleasures that occur in the story. But the man who views the screen, realises that the images are all shadows and not something apart and distinct from the screen. So also with the world. It is all a shadow play,” said Bhagavan. The questioner took leave and went away, happy at the reply.

Letter 68

Prev Next
23rd August, 1946
The day before yesterday a learned man who came from Madras, began at 3 p.m. to question Bhagavan thus: “Was there a period at any time when Bhagavan did sadhana?”

Bhagavan said, “Sadhana? Sadhana for what? What is there to do sadhana for? Sitting like this is itself sadhana. I used to sit like this always. I used to close my eyes then; now I keep them open. That is the only difference. What is now, was then also. What was there then, is also here now. Sadhana is necessary only if there is a thing other than ‘I’, Self. Sadhana is required only for one who does not look towards the Self which is permanent, but is deluded by looking at the body, etc., which are transitory and delusive; but not for one who sees the Self and so does not see anything else different. And what else is sadhana for?”

Someone asked, “Then why is it that many books say that no one can attain jnana without a Guru?”

Bhagavan said, “Yes. For those who, because of the action of their minds, are deluded into believing that they are the bodies, a Guru and sadhana are necessary to get rid of that delusion.”

Another person asked, “People say that those who have received upasana can attain the physical manifestation of their favourite God and other blessings by sadhana. What is the meaning?”

Bhagavan said, “That which is present at all times is sakshath (manifest). The person ‘I’ is always present (sakshath). Then what is karam? That which is the cause is karam, so sakshatkaram (manifestation) means the knowledge of that which is true, that which is permanent and that which is the cause of everything is one’s own Self. And they say that God will descend from somewhere and manifest Himself if the Self which is ever existing, creates a shape according to its own desires, and meditates on it. You give up the Self which is existing at all times and at all places, and do sadhana with the hope that some God from somewhere will manifest Himself. They say that God just descends and again just disappears. You give up the Self which is always existent and strive for this transient vision, obtain boons and thus multiply the mental struggles and strivings. There will be no trouble at all if one simply remains as one is,” said Bhagavan.

Though Bhagavan was teaching us so clearly that sakshatkaram means only the good state and the good ideas beyond the owner’s thoughts, I felt it a great pity that we were not able to understand it. While I was thus thinking, someone asked, “That state of exalted thought and existence which is above the owner’s mental plane is natural and possible only for people like Bhagavan, but is it possible for ordinary people like us without sadhana?” Bhagavan said, “Certainly it is! Sadhana is necessary but for what purpose? His Self is there at all times and at all places. So there is no need to try and get it from somewhere else. Sadhana is only to get rid of the bodily and other illusions which are in the way of the self standing up as Self. This delusion arises only by thinking that this bodily world is real, instead of looking at the Self, which is real. Sadhana is only to get rid of this illusion. Otherwise, why should there be sadhana for the Self to attain its own Self? He who has realised his own Self does not recognize anything else.”

Letter 67

Prev Next
22nd August, 1946
A devotee who has been a regular visitor here for a long time came a week back with a copy of the Tamil book Thiruvaimozhi and began talking to Bhagavan about Vaishnava traditions. It seems he recently received Samasrayanam (initiation). When he said that, Bhagavan began relating his earlier experiences as follows: “When I was on the hill, some Vaishnavaites used to come there to see me. There are, as you know, two sections amongst Vaishnavaites, Vadakalai and Thenkalai. I used to speak to these visitors in accordance with their respective traditions, as I lose nothing by doing so. When, however, they thought that I was on their side and wanted me to have Samasrayanam, I declined. They believe that no one will be permitted into Vaikuntam (heaven) unless he is duly initiated.

I used to ask them, ‘Show me even one person who has gone to Vaikuntam with his body.’ According to their traditions, they do not accept Sayujyam (absorption into the deity). They say, ‘Sri Maha Vishnu is in heaven, Vaikuntam. Released souls sit around him and serve him.’ How will all find accommodation there? Perhaps they sit close together shoulder to shoulder? They alone should know. Not only that. It seems there is a mantra which declares that they surrender their all to their Guru at the time they receive Samasrayanam. It is enough if the mantra is recited and a dakshina (offering or donation) is given to the Guru. The surrender is over, and it does not matter whatever is done afterwards; a seat is reserved for them in Vaikuntam. What more is needed? That is the opinion of some of them. It is mere delusion to think of arpana (offering), so lightly. Arpana means that the mind gets merged in the self and becomes one with it. It means that it should become devoid of all vasanas. And that will not come about unless there is self- effort and God’s Grace. God’s force cannot get hold of you and drag you into itself unless you surrender completely.

But where is the question of our surrendering? The self itself is to be surrendered. Until one can accomplish that, one should go on struggling unceasingly. It is only after trying again and again that one may, finally, succeed in the effort.

Once you succeed, there is no going back. That is the proper course. What is the use of merely repeating the word arpana, arpana? Except that you give some money while repeating the word arpana, what is the effect on the mind? In this Thiruvaimozhi itself there are some songs in the Advaitic cult sung by some devotees after attaining Self-realisation.

Nammalwar is one such devotee. He sang that a mother praised her daughter who attained Self-realisation in a form that looked like condemnation. The gist of those songs is, ‘This child says, I am Siva, I am Vishnu, I am Brahma, I am Indra, I am the sun, I am the five elements and I am everything! It is that Vishnu who sits on her head and makes her talk thus; otherwise she would not have these aberrations. It is that Vishnu who has changed her thus.’ That is the purport of these songs.” Those songs were read out and Bhagavan explained the meaning.

After that, he explained to us about Visishtadvaita: “When some devotees sang in terms of Advaita, some commentators twisted the meaning, interpreting it in terms of Visishtadvaita. That is all; it is nothing else. That is also the opinion of all the ancients. After all, what exactly is meant by Visishtadvaita? That which is Visishta (distinguished) and best is Vishnu. That is Ishwara, Sadasiva, Brahma and all.

That which is, is only One. Some Vaishnavaites give it a name and a shape and do not admit that there could be any Sayujyam (absorption in the Supreme Being) except by way of living in the same world (Salokyam), in the same vicinity (Sameepyam), and the same form (Sarupyam) as the Supreme Being. They say, arpana, arpana (offering, offering). How can there be arpana unless there is a thing called ‘I’? Complete surrender cannot come about unless one knows who one is.

If you come to know that, you will realise that what remains is only one thing. The mind which is the ‘I’ submits of its own accord. And that is the real arpana (surrender),” said Bhagavan.

Letter 66

Prev Next
21st August, 1946
Yesterday afternoon, I went to the hall a little later than usual. I believe it was 3 p.m. At the request of the devotees, Bhagavan was relating some incidents from his life on the hill. He was telling them how, when he was in Virupaksha Cave, they had at first a mud pot for bringing food, then an aluminium vessel, then a brass one, and then a tiffin carrier; how the vessels accumulated one by one like this and how the devotees quietly started cooking without heeding his protests. Bhagavan told us another incident also, with a smile on his face. “Once, when I was in Virupaksha Cave, Rangaswami Iyengar, Gambhiram Seshayya, a Vaisya and a Reddy happened to be there. One day they all felt like cooking food and started doing so enthusiastically. Every one of them had the yajnopaveetam (sacred thread), except the Reddy. ‘Why should he not have it?’ they thought, and put one on him. That was great fun for all of them and they enjoyed the feast,” said Bhagavan. Rajagopala Iyer asked, “Was it while you were there that grandmother came?” “Yes, she came while we were there, and said that she would cook food for herself. We told her that she could do so in the small cave nearby. She agreed and started cooking, and said to me, ‘Venkatarama, I am cooking today. You should not therefore take any other food.’ I said ‘Yes’ and after she left, I ate with the others as usual. It was some distance between this cave and the other one, and so how could she know? After she had cooked, I ate that food also. She really thought I had not eaten anything else except the food she cooked.” He continued, “We had a grandfather amongst our relatives.

He had the habit of abusing everyone. Even so, everyone used to invite him so as to enjoy the fun of his abusive language. That was because he was good-natured and did not mean ill to anybody. He came to see me while I was in Virupaksha Cave. Soon after he came, he said jocularly, ‘What, Venkataraman! It seems you have become a big Swami! Have you grown horns on your head?’ It was when mother was away in Kasi that all this happened.” It was really interesting to hear Bhagavan narrating these incidents with suitable modulations in his voice, and appropriate gestures.

Letter 65

Prev Next
20th August, 1946
Ramachandra Iyer came here from Madras recently.

One day he was seated in the hall going through an old notebook and correcting some dates and numbers in it.

Seeing that, Bhagavan asked what it was. He replied, “This is an old notebook written by Bhagavan. I am looking into the numbers and dates in it, and entering them in the printed book.” “Give it to me,” Bhagavan said, and taking it and turning over the pages, said to me, “There are some Dipavali padyams (verses) in it. Have you heard them?” When I said I had not, he read them out and gave the meaning thereof as follows: “He is Narakasura (a demon) who feels attached in the thought that he is the body. That attachment to the body itself is a Naraka (hell). The life of a person who has that attachment, even if he be a Maharajah, is hellish. Destroying the attachment to the body, and the self shining by itself as Self is Dipavali. That is the idea contained in those verses.” I asked, “Are all these verses in Nool Thirattu?”* Bhagavan said, “These were all composed extempore on the spur of the moment from time to time.

Why include all these in that book?” After the first publication of the book, when these verses were read out in Bhagavan’s presence, he asked, “Do you know why I wrote those verses?” When I said that I did not know, he said, “Is that so? One Dipavali day, Muruganar wanted me to write something about Dipavali. ‘Why don’t you write? Why should I?’ I asked. He said that he would also write if I did. I agreed, and wrote these verses. I did not write anything without reason. There is a story behind every verse that I wrote.” So saying he showed me the verses (in Tamil). I give them below with the meaning: Vrittam:

* Nool Thirattu is the title of the book in Tamil containing all the verses, songs and prose writings of Bhagavan. The Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi contains the English translations of these.

Both these books have been published by Sri Ramanasramam.

He is the king of hell who says that he is the body which is hell itself. He is Narayana who ascertains who Naraka is, and destroys him with His vision of wisdom, Jnana Drishti.

That is the auspicious day of Narakachathurdasi.


The false belief that this hell-like house called body is me, is Naraka himself. To destroy that false belief and let the self shine as Self, is Dipavali.

Letter 64

Prev Next
19th August, 1946
One morning last May, Sundaresa Iyer, who used to bring food for Bhagavan while in Virupaksha Cave by going about begging came and bowed before Him. Bhagavan asked him, “Did you go round the hill by way of pradakshina?” “No,” said the devotee. Looking at me, Bhagavan said, “Last night when people were going out for giripradakshina because of the moonlight, he also started to go. But he felt he could not complete the round. When they were starting out after telling me, he went round me quickly. When I asked him why he did so, he said, ‘I am afraid I cannot go round the hill. So I have gone round Bhagavan.’ ‘Go round yourself. That will be Atma pradakshina,’ I said.” So saying Bhagavan began laughing.

“It means that he has done what Vinayaka once did,” said one devotee. “What is that story?” asked another devotee. Then Bhagavan began telling it: “Once upon a time, Lord Parameswara wanted to teach a lesson to His son Lord Subrahmanya who fancied Himself to be a great sage; so Parameswara sat on the top of Mount Kailasa with Parvati, with a fruit in His hand. Seeing the fruit both Ganapati and Subrahmanya asked their father, Parameswara for it. Then Ishwara said that He would give the fruit to whoever of them got back first after going round the whole world. With self- confidence and pride that he would win the race, Subrahmanya started immediately riding on his favourite mount, the peacock, and began going at a fast pace, frequently looking behind to assure himself that his elder brother Ganapati was not following.

What could poor Ganapati do, with his huge belly? His vahanam (mount) was after all a mouse. So he thought it was no good competing with Subrahmanya in the race round the world, and went round Parvati and Parameswara, bowed before them and claimed the reward. When They asked him whether he had gone round the world, he said, “All the worlds are contained within you; so if I go round you, it is as good as going round the whole world.” Pleased with his reply, Parameswara gave him the fruit and Ganapati sat there eating it.

“In full confidence that he would be the winner, Subrahmanya finished going round the world and arrived at the starting point, but found Ganapati seated before Parvati and Parameswara eating the fruit. When he asked Parameswara to give him the fruit for winning the race, Ishwara said, ‘There it is, your elder brother is eating it.’ When he asked his father how that could be fair, Ishwara explained to him all that had happened. Subrahmanya then realised his vanity in thinking that he was a great sage, bowed before his parents, and asked to be pardoned. That is the story. The significance is that the ego which goes round like a whirlwind must get destroyed, and must get absorbed in Atma. That is Atma Pradakshina,” said Bhagavan.

Letter 63

Prev Next
19th August, 1946
Bhagavan told Rajagopala Iyer to bind into the form of books the four copies of proofs of the Tamil work Chatvarimsat which had been recently received from the printing press. By the time I went there in the afternoon at 2-30 p.m. the books were ready; only the outer cover had to be put on. Showing the copies to the people around, Bhagavan said laughingly to Vaikuntavas who was by his side, “See, if we make good use of these proofs, we will have four more copies of the book. How else could we get four copies? Who would give them to us? We should have to buy them at the bookstall. Where would we get the money?” We were all amused, and Vaikuntavas laughed.

“Why do you laugh? Am I doing a job and earning a salary of several hundred every month? Or am I doing business and earning lakhs? Where should I get money? What independence have I? If I am thirsty, I must ask you for water. If I went to the kitchen instead and asked, they would say, ‘Oh, this Swami has started exercising authority over us’. I have to keep my mouth shut. What independence have I,” said Bhagavan.

What other intention can he have than to administer a mild rebuke to all when he talks like this, though he is independent of everything in this world? Not only this. We always act freely according to our wishes. We ask for this and for that and become enslaved to desires. We achieve our desires by asking or ordering. Bhagavan depreciates not only the use of authority in such matters, but even obtaining such things by asking. There was another instance.

Two or three years ago, as I entered the hall one morning, Bhagavan was saying as follows in reply to several questions which Krishnaswami was asking: “When I was in Virupaksha Cave, Sundaresa Iyer used to go out into the town for bhiksha and bring us food. At times, there used to be no curry or chutney. People to eat were many while the food obtained was limited. What were we to do? I used to mix it into a paste and pour hot water over it to make it like gruel, and then give a glassful to each, and take one myself. Sometimes we all used to feel that it would be better if we had at least some salt to mix with it.

But where was the money to buy salt? We should have had to ask someone for it. If once we begin to ask for salt, we would feel like asking for dhal (lentils), and when we ask for dhal, we would feel like asking for payasam (sweet dish made of milk, like kheer) and so on. So we felt that we should not ask for anything, and swallowed the gruel as it was. We used to feel extremely happy over such diet. As the food was satvic, without spices of any kind, and there was not even salt in it, not only was it healthy for this body, but there was also great peace for the mind.” “Is salt also one of those things that stimulates rajas, (passion)?” I asked. “Yes. What doubt is there? Is it not said so in one of the granthas (books)? Wait, I will look it up and tell you,” said Bhagavan. “Isn’t it enough if Bhagavan says so? Why a grantha?” I said.

Not only do we not give up salt, but we always feel that chillies also are necessary for taste. That is how we have our rules and regulations about our eating habits. Great souls eat to live and serve the world, while we live to eat. That is the difference. If we eat to live, there is no need to think of taste. If we live to eat, the tastes are limitless. And for this purpose, we undergo ever so many trials and tribulations.

Letter 62

Prev Next
18th August, 1946
A few days ago some Gujaratis who had come from Bombay purchased some Ashram books and Bhagavan’s photos and showing them to Bhagavan, requested him to write his name on the books. “What name should I write?” asked Bhagavan. “Your name,” said they. “What name have I?” said Bhagavan. When they said, “Your name is Ramana Maharshi, is it not?” Bhagavan said smilingly, “Somebody said so. Really what is a name or a native place for me? I could write only if I had a name.” The Gujaratis went away quietly without saying anything further.

In January 1945, you remember that you sent your book on Banking with a request that Bhagavan might be pleased to write in it the word ‘OM’ or ‘SRI’ and return it to you, and Bhagavan declined to do so. Instead, he gave me a piece of paper, on which he wrote a Telugu translation of a verse that he had written long back in Tamil when Somasundaraswami made a similar request. When I sent that slip of paper to you, you took it as an upadesa, a precept from Bhagavan, and were overjoyed. Subsequently, he made some slight alterations therein. Later on Bhagavan translated it into Sanskrit as a sloka at the request of Muruganar as follows:

एकमक्षरं हृदि निरंतरम् ।
भासते स्वयं लिख्यते कथम् ।।

It means: “The one imperishable which is in the Heart at all times is self-luminous. How to write it?” I was reminded of all this when the Gujaratis made a similar request today and got a refusal.

About ten months ago, Pantu Lakshminarayana Sastri, Telugu Pandit, Maharajah’s College, Vizianagaram, came here. After praising Bhagavan with verses composed extempore, he appealed to Bhagavan thus: “Please let me have something to commemorate this event and bless this poor soul.” “What shall I give?” asked Bhagavan.

“Anything you please; just an aksharam (letter) by way of upadesa,” he said.

Bhagavan said, “How can I give that which is ‘akshara’?” and so saying he looked at me. I said, “It will perhaps do if you tell him about the sloka Ekamaksharam.” Sastri asked, “What is that sloka?” I read out that sloka. “Where is that dwipada?” asked Bhagavan. I read out that too. Sastri was overjoyed as if he had got a great treasure, and copied both the sloka and the dwipada. When I told him about the circumstances under which those two were written, he felt very happy and went away after bowing before Bhagavan.

I remembered all this when Bhagavan was saying to the Gujaratis, “What is a name or a native place for me?” Not only this. I was reminded of a song which mother used to sing while engaged in her domestic work, the meaning of which is somewhat as follows:

“Ramanamam is the wide universe which has no name or body or work. It has a lustre surpassing the moon, the sun and the fire.”

Ramana’s name also is just like that!

Letter 61

Prev Next
16th August, 1946
Amongst the letters received by the Ashram today, there was one in English from an unknown devotee from Czechoslovakia. Seeing it Bhagavan affectionately told us all about it and had it read out in the hall. The gist of it is: “Though my body is actually at a great distance from Arunachala, it is at the feet of Bhagavan from a spiritual viewpoint. I believe that fifty years will be completed by this 1st of September from the time when young Ramana reached Tiruvannamalai. I seek your permission to celebrate the occasion in the belief that it is the real birthday of Bhagavan. I shall celebrate the festival with an endeavour to submerge my mind in the dust of the feet of Bhagavan with limitless devotion, faith and regard, and with my heart dwelling on Bhagavan’s voice.” While all of us were expressing our delight on hearing the contents of that letter, Bhagavan said with a face radiant with benevolence, “We do not know who he is, and what his name and his native place are. He never came here. How has he managed to know that it is full fifty years since I came here? He has written a letter full of devotion. From what he has written, it looks as if he has read about my life and understood it. Devotees have been looking forward to an article from Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, but it has not been received so far. If received, it is the intention of these people to print it as the very first article. When S. Doraiswamy was asked, he said, ‘Oh no. I cannot do it. I prefer to be silent.’ D.S. Sastri also said the same thing. This letter has come unexpectedly. That is how things happen. These people are awaiting articles from others, especially from Dr. S.

Radhakrishnan. See the peculiarity! Where is Czechoslovakia and where is Tiruvannamalai? What are we to say when a person who has never seen me has written thus?”

Letter 60

Prev Next
15th August, 1946
Niranjananandaswami who went to Madurai about a month ago, travelled to Madras from there. T. K. Doraiswamy Iyer, who came from Madras, placed in Bhagavan’s hands a programme for the Golden Jubilee celebrations on 1st September, drawn up in consultation with prominent people in Madras, and stood aside reverentially.

The details of the proposed programme, beginning at seven in the morning and lasting till seven in the evening were mentioned therein. High Court Judges and a number of eminent people were fixed up as speakers. Musiri Subramania Iyer’s and Budalur Krishnamurthy Sastry’s music performance and very many other items were in the programme. After reading it carefully, Bhagavan said with a smile, “Oh, what a crowded programme! Anyway, why should I worry? Let them do what they like. It is enough if I am given some time to go out. It is stated that all these big people will deliver lectures! What about? What is there to speak about? That which is, is mouna (silence).

How can mouna be explained in words? In English, in Sanskrit, in Tamil, in Telugu. Oh, what an array of languages! Eminent people will speak in so many languages! All right! Why should I bother! It is enough if I am not asked to speak.” That devotee respectfully and with folded hands submitted that if Bhagavan desired that any of the items should be omitted, it would be done. “Oh, I see! Have I asked for any of these items, so that I could now object to any one of them? Do what you like. It is all a series of lectures.

I will sit like this on the sofa. You may do whatever you like,” said Bhagavan with a smile. “Yes, Swami, it is true. Who will be able to speak boldly in the presence of Bhagavan? Even so, all this is merely to express our joy at this great fortune we are privileged to have.” So saying, the devotee bowed before Bhagavan and went away.

Letter 59

Prev Next
13th August, 1946
During the early days of my arrival at the Ashram, there was a Vaisya boy living here. His hair was matted without being attended to. He used to get food from charitable house holders, and sleep in the Arunachala Temple at night. His mother came to the Ashram and pressed him to return home, and so he ran away to Pandharpur. He was her only son.

They had plenty of property. The boy was a sort of wandering beggar, a bairagi, who would say that he did not want anything. When that mother related her woeful story to Bhagavan and sought his help, Bhagavan tried to prevail upon the boy, once or twice, to listen to the mother’s words.

He did not listen, but instead, he ran away.

He came again during last month. He was keeping away from others, sitting in a corner of the hall. You may call it sadhana or whatever you like. Except that his hair was no longer matted there was no other change in his routine or appearance. Bhagavan was observing him continuously. The boy did not speak. After fifteen days, Rajagopala Iyer, who had retired from his job and come back to his library work in the Ashram, happened to come to the hall and noticing the Vaisya boy, said to Bhagavan, “This boy appears to have returned from Pandharpur. His mother left her address, didn’t she, requesting us to write to her in case he came back?” Bhagavan said, “Yes, he has come back. That was about fifteen days ago. I have been observing him. He does not speak. So, how then could I ask him ‘What is Pandharpur like? Where is the prasadam, etc.?’ We have to conduct ourselves according to the workings of the minds of others.

We are in duty bound to adjust ourselves thus.” People of intelligence examine their own minds. There is no knowing about the minds of others. Bhagavan says that he has to adjust himself according to the desires and intentions of others! See what a great precept that is!

Letter 58

Prev Next
12th August, 1946
Last summer a Pandal was erected adjacent to the Hall so that it might be convenient for Bhagavan to sit outside in the evenings. Khus-khus thatties were tied west of the Pandal.

Bhagavan’s sofa used to be placed very near to them. The devotees used to sit there facing west, and Bhagavan used to sit facing south like Dakshinamurthy. We all used to sit opposite to his feet. When we look straight we get a darshan of the lotus feet of Bhagavan, while on one side, we see the fine flower- garden, and on the other, we get a darshan of the summit of Arunachala. How can one speak of our good fortune? One evening at 4-45, after Bhagavan had gone to the hill for a stroll, the personal attendants raised the khus-khus thatties and tied them up as it was cloudy. Within 10 minutes of Bhagavan’s return, there was bright sunshine. Though it was the evening sun, all were affected by the summer heat, and that caused a little discomfort. Unable to bear the sight of the sun’s rays falling on the bare body of Bhagavan, one of the attendants, by name Vaikuntavas, slowly lowered the thatties that were behind Bhagavan. He thought Bhagavan had not noticed it. As Veda Parayana (Vedic recitation) was going on at the time, Bhagavan appeared not to notice it and kept quiet.

After the recitation was over, Bhagavan said with some annoyance, “See the doings of these people! They lowered only those thatties that were on my side. Perhaps they think that the others are not human beings! The sun’s heat should not touch Swami alone. It does not matter if it touches others! Something special for Swami only! Anyway, they are keeping up the prestige of Swami’s position! Poor chaps! Perhaps according to them, one is not a Swami unless he is looked after like this! Swami should not be exposed to sun or wind or light; he should not move or talk; he should sit with folded arms and with hands on a sofa. This is Swamyhood.

Swamitvam is being upheld by singling me out amongst people for special treatment.” You see, Bhagavan does not tolerate any distinction. He insists on equality. The poor attendant got scared and tied up the thatties. The evening glare fell on Bhagavan and got mixed up with the lustre of his eyes. The smoke from the agarbathis (incense sticks) spread all round. It seemed as if even the smoke from the agarbathis having made friends with the cool breeze and as if blown by a fan bowed before Bhagavan’s feet and spread around evenly among the devotees.

Letter 57

Prev Next
11th August, 1946
About ten months ago, Krishna Bhikshu wrote to me saying that he was thinking of gifting away his property to his brothers and then taking to sannyasa and going about the country, hoping thereby to get peace of mind, and that he was wondering what Bhagavan would say about it. I informed Bhagavan about this letter.

Bhagavan first said, “Is that so? Has he finally decided?” and after a while remarked, “Everything happens according to each individual’s karma.”

When I wrote to him about this, Krishna Bhikshu replied: “It is said that ‘Karthuragnaya Prapyathe Phalam, fruits of actions are ordained by the Creator.’ What has become of the Creator?” I was disinclined to tell Bhagavan about this, and was considering what to write in reply.

Meantime, one devotee asked Bhagavan, “In ‘Karthuragnaya Prapyathe Phalam’ who is the karta (doer)?” Bhagavan said, “karta is Ishwara. He is the one who distributes the fruits of actions to each person according to his karma. That means He is Saguna Brahman. The real Brahman is nirguna (attributeless) and without motion. It is only Saguna Brahman that is named as Ishwara. He gives the phala (fruits) to each person according to his karma (actions).

That means that Ishwara is only an Agent. He gives wages according to the labour done. That is all. Without that sakti (power) of Ishwara, this karma (action) will not take place.

That is why karma is said to be jadam (inert).” What else could be the reply to the question of Krishna Bhikshu? So I wrote accordingly to him.

With the supernatural powers of his sandals, Vikramarka went to Brahma Loka, the world of Brahma, whereupon Brahma, being pleased, told him to ask for a boon. Vikramarka said, “Lord, the Sastras loudly proclaim that when you create living beings you write on their foreheads their future life according to the results of their actions in past lives. Now you say that you will give me a boon. Will you rub out what has already been written on my forehead, and write afresh? Or will you correct it by overwriting? What exactly is done?”

Brahma was pleased at his intelligent question and said with a smile, “Nothing new is done now. That which was already preordained according to the karma of beings, comes out of my mouth. We merely say, ‘Yes, we have given you the boon.’ That is all. Nothing is given anew. Not knowing that, people do penances for boons at our hands. As you are an intelligent person, you have found out the secret. I am very happy.” So saying he presented Vikramarka with Brahmastram and sent him away. I remember having read this story in my younger days.

In the tenth canto of Bhagavata, the same idea was given in the exhortation of Lord Krishna to Nanda: to give up the performance of a sacrifice to God Indra.

Letter 56

Prev Next
10th August, 1946
There was a talk in Bhagavan’s presence today about siddhas. Some people said, amongst other things, that someone had tried to attain siddhi and had succeeded. After hearing them all patiently for a long time, Bhagavan said in a tone of annoyance, “You talk of siddhas. You say they attain something from somewhere. For that purpose they do sadhana and tapas. Is it not really a siddhi or attainment for us who are really formless to have got a body with eyes, legs, hands, nose, ears, mouth and to be doing something or other with that body? We are siddhas. We get food, if we want food; water, if we want water; milk, if we want milk.

Are not all these siddhis? While we experience ever so many siddhis at all times, why do you clamour for more siddhis? What else is required?” About two years back, Manu Subedar, a member of the Indian Legislative Assembly and translator of the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Jnaneswara, came to have darshan of Bhagavan, and asked Bhagavan during a conversation why it was that there were writings about siddha purushas in all books but none about sadhakas, and whether there were any books about sadhakas. Bhagavan said, “In Bhakta Vijayam, in Tamil, there is a conversation between Jnaneswara and Vithoba, his father. That is a discussion between a siddha and a sadhaka. The state of a sadhaka can be seen in that conversation.” So saying Bhagavan sent for a copy of Bhakta Vijayam from the Ashram library, read out that portion himself and explained it in detail. On reaching home, Manu Subedar asked for a copy of the conversation. Bhagavan sent a copy after getting it translated into English. Manu Subedar added it as a supplement to the third edition of his Jnaneswari. Recently I translated that conversation into Telugu.

You remember when you came here last full-moon day, during some conversation, Bhagavan said that Jnaneswara was a siddha while Vithoba was a sadhaka. Hence it was named “Siddha- Sadhaka Samvadam” (Conversation between a siddha and a sadhaka.) Bhagavan often says, “To know oneself and to be able to remain true to oneself, is siddhi, and nothing else. If one’s mind is absorbed in the enquiry of self, the truth will be realised some time or other. That is the best siddhi.” I give below an extract from the prose writings of Bhagavan regarding these siddhis in his “Unnathi Nalupadhi”* which bears this out: Siddhi is to know and realise that which is ever real. Other siddhis are mere dream siddhis. Would they be true when one wakes up from one’s sleep? Those who are wedded to truth and who had got freed from maya, will they get deluded by them? Please understand.

Reality in Forty Verses, verse 35 - - - -* “The Forty Verses” on Reality or Existence, originally composed by Bhagavan in Tamil under the title “Ulladu Narpadu”, is called differently in different language versions: “Unnathi Nalupadhi,” “Sad Vidya,” “Saddarshanam,” “Truth Revealed,” etc.

* Siddha - Semi-divine people supposed to be of great purity and holiness and said to be particularly characterised by eight supernatural faculties called siddhis.

Letter 55

Prev Next
8th August, 1946
Yesterday morning Yogi Ramiah questioned Bhagavan thus: “Swami, some disciples of Sai Baba worship a pictureof him and say that it is their Guru: How could that be? They can worship it as God, but what benefit could they get by worshipping it as their Guru?” Bhagavan replied, “They secure concentration by that.” The Yogi said, “That is all very well, I agree. It may be to some extent a sadhana in concentration. But isn’t a Guru required for that concentration?” “Certainly, but after all, Guru only means guri, concentration” said Bhagavan. The Yogi said, “How can a lifeless picture help in developing deep concentration? It requires a living Guru who could show it in practice. It is possible perhaps for Bhagavan to attain perfection without a living Guru but is it possible for people like myself?” “That is true. Even so, by worshipping a lifeless portrait the mind gets concentrated to a certain extent.

That concentration will not remain constant unless one knows one’s own Self by enquiring. For that enquiry, a Guru’s help is necessary. That is why the ancients say that the enquiry should not stop with mere initiation. However, even if it does, the initiation will not be without benefit. It will bear fruit some time or other. But there should be no ostentation in this initiation. If the mind is pure, all this will bear fruit; otherwise, it goes to waste like a seed sown in barren soil,” said Bhagavan.

“I don’t know, Swami. You may say that a hundred times or a thousand times. To be sure of one’s own progress, a living Guru like you is required. How can we give the status of a Guru to a lifeless portrait?” he said. With a smile on his face, Bhagavan said, “Yes, yes,” nodding his head and then kept silent. Brother, all I can say is that that smile and that silence were radiant with knowledge and wisdom. How can I describe it?

Letter 54

Prev Next
6th August, 1946
Today a devotee asked Bhagavan: “Swami, what is that story about myrobalams while you were on the hill?” Bhagavan told us the following: “While I was in Virupaksha Cave, I used to eat one myrobalam every night to move the bowels freely. Once it so happened that there were none in stock. As Palaniswamy was thinking of going to the bazaar, I asked him to tell Sesha Iyer to send some myrobalams. He said he would do so as Sesha Iyer was on his way to the bazaar. The very next moment a devotee came from his village. He used to visit our place now and then. After staying with us for a while, he went out. A little later, Palaniswamy started to go to the bazaar. In the meantime, the devotee who had gone out, returned and said, ‘Swami, do you want some myrobalams?’ ‘Give me one or two if you have them’ I said. He brought a big bag and placed it opposite to me.

When I asked him, ‘Where are all these from?’, he replied, ‘Swami, after having your darshan, I went out in a cart to a village nearby as I had some work there. Another cart had gone ahead of me laden with bags of myrobalams. One of the bags had a hole from which these myrobalams fell out. I picked them up and brought them here thinking that they might be of some use. Let them be here, Swami.’ I took about two or three viss and returned the rest to him. Such things used to happen often. How many could we recollect! When mother came and started cooking, she used to say that it would be good if there was an iron ladle. I would say, let us see. The next day or the day after that someone would bring five or six ladles. It was the same thing with cooking utensils. Mother would say that it would be good if we had this or that article, and I would reply, ‘Is that so?’ and the same day or the next, such articles, ten instead of one, used to be received. Enough, enough of this I felt! Who is to look after them? There were many such incidents,” said Bhagavan.

“What about the grapes?” asked the devotee.

Bhagavan replied, “Yes, they also were being used for the same purpose as the myrobalams. One day the stock of grapes was exhausted. Palaniswamy wanted to know if he could tell some one going to the shop to get them. I said that there was no hurry, and that he should not worry about it but should wait and see. That was all. Within a short time, the brother of Gambhiram Seshayya came there. There was a big packet in his hand. When asked what it contained, he said, ‘grapes.’ ‘What! Just a little while ago, we were saying that our stock had run out.

How did you come to know about it?’ I asked. He said, ‘How could I know about it, Swami? Before coming here, I felt that I should not come to you with empty hands, and so went to the bazaar. As it was Sunday, all the shops but one were closed. ‘I am going to Bhagavan. What have you got?’ I asked the shopkeeper. He said he had only grapes and that too they had just arrived. So he packed them and gave them to me. I brought them. It is only just a while ago, Swami, that this thought occurred to me.’ On comparing notes, it was found that the time coincided.

That was a very common experience for Ayyaswami also.

We used to think that it would be better if we had a certain article, and at the very same hour, he used to feel that that article should be taken to Bhagavan. If we asked him, ‘how did you know about it?’ Ayyaswami used to say, ‘Swami, how could I know? It merely occurred to me that I should take a particular article to Bhagavan. I brought it and that is all. You say that you were thinking of the very same article at the time. Swami alone should know about such strange happenings.’ Really, he used to keep his mind pure, and so whatever we thought about here used to mirror itself in his mind.” Are we to be told specifically that we should keep our minds pure and without blemish? The life of Ayyaswami itself is an example of this, is it not?

Letter 53

Prev Next
28th July, 1946
Sometime back a North Indian came here and stayed for some days. One afternoon at 3 o’clock, he came to Bhagavan and related his experiences through a Tamil devotee, thus: “Swami, I was sleeping in the guest house yesterday. You were there speaking to me in my sleep.
After some time I woke up and even after that, you were speaking to me. What is that?”

Bhagavan said, “You were sleeping, weren’t you? Then with whom could you be speaking?” “Only with myself” he said. Everyone laughed.

“You say you were sleeping. How could there be any conversation with someone who is asleep? ‘No, I was conversing,’ you say. That meant that, even though the body was asleep, you were awake. Then find out who that ‘you’ is.

After that we will consider the conversation during sleep,” said Bhagavan. There was no reply at all. Looking at all the people with a kind look, he said, “There are only two things: creation and sleep. There is nothing if you go to sleep. You wake up and there is everything. If you learn to sleep while awake, you can be just a witness. That is the real truth.”

In the same manner, some time back Subbaramayya asked Bhagavan, “What is meant by asparsa rupam?” “It means that a thing is visible but not tangible.” “What is meant by chhaya rupam?” he again asked. “That is the same thing. It appears as a shadow. If you examine it, you will find nothing.

Call it God, devil, dream, vision, inspiration or whatever you like. All this is existent if there is someone to see it. If you find out who it is that sees, all these will not be there. That which is nothing, that which is the source of everything, is the Self. Without seeing his own self, what is the use of a man’s seeing other things?” said Bhagavan.

Recently a person told Bhagavan that he had a friend who could see the limits of sukshma sakti (subtle powers), that he had seen the limits of the subtle power of Mahapurushas (great souls), that among them Sri Aurobindo’s subtle power-light extended to a distance of seven furlongs (eighth of a mile), that of Bhagavan’s, he could see upto three miles, but could not see to what further distance it extended and that the power-light of Buddha and others had not extended to that much distance.

Having heard him patiently till the very end, Bhagavan said with a smile, “Please tell him that he should first look into his own power-light before looking into the extent of the subtle powers of so many others. What is all this about the limits of subtle powers and examining them? If one looks into one’s own self, all these silly ideas do not come up. To him who realises himself, all these are mere trifles.”

Letter 52

Prev Next
22nd July, 1946
This morning at 10-30 Sonti Ramamurthi came with his wife, brother and some friends. At that time a devotee, reading some book, was saying to Bhagavan, “In this book, it is stated that we eat food and food eats us. How is that? That we eat food is correct. But what is meant by saying that food eats us?” Bhagavan was silent.

After waiting silently for about 10 minutes Ramamurthi told Bhagavan that he came there mainly because his brother was anxious to see Bhagavan, that he himself had Bhagavan’s darshan about ten years back and taking up the thread of the previous conversation of the devotee, remarked: “All living beings are born, maintained and absorbed ultimately by annam (food) and so food is known as Brahman. That Brahman is all-pervasive. All things are its images and as that is known as annam, it is stated that annam eats us. Isn’t that the meaning?” Bhagavan said “Yes”.

He told Bhagavan several things about science, and his brother also spoke about science, atom bombs and the like, all in English. I do not know English, so I could not follow their conversation. But Bhagavan replied in Telugu. After hearing all that they were saying about science, Bhagavan said at last, “Certainly. But not one of these things is divorced from one’s own self, is it? Everything comes after one’s self.

No one says he is not existent. Even an atheist would admit that he himself exists. So whatever comes must come from out of one’s self and must resolve into it ultimately. There is nothing separate from one’s self, in accordance with the principle in the sruti, ‘Anoraneeyam Mahatomaheeyam’, the self is smaller than the smallest and bigger than the biggest.” Ramamurthi asked, “Where does the difference come between the atom and the infinite?” “It comes from the body itself,” said Bhagavan. Ramamurthi asked, “How is it that we see so many forces in the world?” Bhagavan said: “The mind alone is the cause. It is the mind that makes you see so many different forces. When that is born, all else is also born.

The five elements, and the forces beyond the elements, whatever they are, and the forces beyond others also take shape, once the mind is born. If the mind is dissolved, all the others also get dissolved. The mind is the cause of everything.”

Letter 51

Prev Next
12th July, 1946
About four days ago, i.e., in the morning of the 8th or 9th, I went to Bhagavan’s presence at 7-30. As I got up after prostrating before him, Bhagavan said, “Madhava is gone.” “Where to?” I asked, as he was in the habit of going away from the Ashram on pilgrimage now and then.

Smilingly Bhagavan said, “Where to? To that place, leaving the body here.” I was shocked and asked, “When?” “The day before yesterday at 6 p.m.,” replied Bhagavan, and looking at Krishnaswami, said, “Acharyaswami who was there came here and died, and the one who was here went there and died. Everything happens according to fate. For a long time Madhava had a desire that he should be independent and without anyone in authority over him.

His desire has at last been fulfilled. Anyway he was a good man. Merely for fun, when Acharyaswami who was in Kumbakonam passed away, I asked Madhava whether he would go, as there was no one there in the Math. He took up the idea, went there and thus fulfilled his desire. See how things happen! When I wrote Telugu Dvipada and other verses in Malayalam script in a notebook, he used to read them well just like Telugu people. He had some Telugu samskara (knowledge). He took away that notebook saying that he would be looking into it now and then. If it is there, tell them to bring it here. It was the same with Ayyaswami.

He took away a note book, saying that he would bring it back after reading it. He himself never came back. The same thing has happened with this man also.” So saying he changed the topic. When they heard that a person who had followed Bhagavan almost like his shadow for 12 years, and was extremely meek and gentle by nature, had passed away suddenly somewhere, there was no one in the Ashram who did not shed a tear.

Kunjuswami who had gone from here to supervise Madhava’s burial ceremonies, came back this morning at 8 a.m., and after prostrating before Bhagavan said, “Madhavaswamy was wandering about in search of peace of mind but could not gain peace, and so he told people that he would not live any longer, and came to the Math at Kumbakonam. He had a sudden attack of diarrhoea for a day, and as he complained of difficult breathing while taking soda water, he was made to lie down. He never regained consciousness, according to what the people in the Math told me. They kept the corpse till I got there. It did not deteriorate in any way even though three days had elapsed.

I got it buried and have come back. I could not find the notebook anywhere.” After he left, Bhagavan said, looking at Krishnaswami, “Madhava was a good man. That is why we all feel sorry that he is dead. But instead of feeling sorry that he is dead, we should all be thinking as to when we will pass away. A Jnani always looks forward to the time when he will be free from the bondage of the body and be able to throw it away.

A person who carried a load for a wage always longs for the time when he could reach the destination. When the owner tells him on reaching the destination to put the load down, he feels greatly relieved and puts it down. In the same way, this body is a burden to a man of discrimination. He always feels that the other man is gone, and eagerly looks forward to his own exit from the body. If that little thing called life is gone, four people are required to bear the burden of the body. When that life is in the body, there is no burden, but when that is gone, there is nothing so burdensome as the body. For a body like this, kayakalpa vratas (rejuvenation processes) are undertaken with a desire to attain moksha (deliverance) with the body. With all that, such people too pass away sooner or later. There is no one who can remain in this body forever. Once a person knows the true state, who wants this temporary body? One should wish for the time when he will be able to throw away this burden and go free.” Madhavaswami was a Malayalee. His birth place is a village near Palghat. He was a brahmachari. He came here about 15 years back, when he was only 20 years of age and did personal service to Bhagavan. For some time past, he had had a desire to visit holy places, and so used to go away frequently and come back. When Acharyaswami, who was another devotee of Bhagavan in charge of the Math which was built for him in Kumbakonam, came here some time back and passed away, Madhava went there as head of the Math and passed away within a short time thereafter.

Letter 50

Prev Next
5th July, 1946
For the last three days, a young man who came recently has been worrying Bhagavan with a number of questions without rhyme or reason. Bhagavan was explaining patiently everything in great detail. This morning at 9 o’clock he started again. “You say everything is one’s own self? How is one to get that feeling that everything is one’s own self?” With a voice indicating displeasure, Bhagavan said, “What is meant by everything? Who are you? If you tell me who you are, then we can think of everything. You have been asking me many questions for the last few days but you have not yet replied to my questions as to who you are. First tell me who you are and then ask me what is everything (sarvam). Then I shall reply. If only you try to find out who you are, these questions will not arise. If you don’t try that and go on thinking of what next to ask, this will go on like an endless flow. There is no limit to it.

There will be shanti, peace of mind, only if one practises Self- enquiry and finds out the truth. If instead one enquires about this and that, what is the use? It is all wasted effort.” The young man said again, “To know one’s own self, should there not be a Guru and sadhana?” “Why do you want a Guru or sadhana? You say you know everything. Why then a Guru? You don’t care to do what you are asked to do.

What can a Guru do? A Guru’s help will be available only if you go the way he indicates. You talk of sadhana. For what purpose? What type of sadhana? How many questions? One must go by one path. What is the use of running about with limitless doubts? Will your appetite be satisfied by your eating food, or by others eating their food? What is the use of wasting your time asking about those people and these people, or about that and this? You forget yourself and go round the sky and the earth, searching and enquiring ‘What is happiness?’ You must first enquire ‘Who am I that am going round and enquiring?’ If one thus enquires about one’s own self, no other question will arise,” said Bhagavan.

Meanwhile, another took up the questioning and asked, “How did the jiva acquire karma?” Bhagavan said, “First find out who jiva is and then we shall find out how karma came. How did the jiva acquire karma? Is that karma allied with jiva or is at a distance? These are the thoughts. None of these doubts will occur if the mind that is so active outwardly, is made to look within.”

Letter 49

Prev Next
9th June, 1946
Bhagavan spent a lot of time this afternoon freely conversing with devotees about many matters, and in between teaching them Advaita. Seeing that the conversation was going on without end, a new arrival got up and asked, “Bhagavan, when do you go into samadhi?” All the devotees burst into laughter. Bhagavan also laughed. After a while, he said, “Oh, is that your doubt? I will clear it, but first tell me what exactly is the meaning of samadhi? Where should we go? To a hill or to a cave? Or to the sky? What should samadhi be like? Tell me,” asked Bhagavan.

Poor man, he could not say anything and sat down quietly. After a while, he said, “Unless the movement of the indriyas and limbs stops, there cannot be samadhi, they say.

When do you go into that samadhi?” “I see, that is what you want to know. You think, ‘What is this? This Swami is always speaking. What Jnani is he?’ That is your idea? It is not samadhi unless one sits cross-legged in padmasana, with folded hands and stops breathing. There must also be a cave near about. One must go in and out of it. Then people will say, ‘This is a great Swami’. As for me, they begin doubting and say, ‘What Swami is this who is always talking to his devotees and has his daily routine?’ What can I do? This happened once or twice even before. People who had originally seen me at Gurumurtham and then saw me at Skandasramam, talking to all people and partaking in normal activities, said to me with great anxiety, ‘Swami, Swami, please give us darshan in your previous state.’ Their impression was that I was getting spoiled. What can I do? At that time (while in Gurumurtham) I had to live like that. Now I am obliged to live like this. Things happen the way they have to. But in their view, it is enough if one does not eat or talk. Then saintliness, swamitvam, comes on automatically. That is the delusion people have,” said Bhagavan.

Letter 48

Prev Next
3rd June, 1946
Yesterday a gentleman came here -- a devout brahmin.

From his words and from the rosary of rudrakshas around his neck, it was clear that he was practising mantra japam. He said that he had darshan of Bhagavan once before in Virupaksha Cave. Today, going up to Bhagavan, he asked, “Swami, can a continuous japa of Panchakshari or Tarakam absolve one from sin such as drinking alcoholic liquor and the like?” “What exactly is your idea?” asked Bhagavan.

The brahmin again asked pointedly, “Even though people commit adultery and theft and take alcoholic drinks and so on, can their sins be wiped out by doing japam with the mantras mentioned above. Or will the sins stick to them?” “If the feeling ‘I am doing japa’ is not there, the sins committed by a man will not stick to him. If the feeling ‘I am doing the japa’ is there, why should not the sin arising from bad habits stick on?” said Bhagavan. “Will not this punya (result of virtuous acts) extinguish that papam (result of those sinful acts)?” asked the brahmin. “So long as the feeling, ‘I am doing’ is there, one must experience the result of one’s acts, whether they are good or bad. How is it possible to wipe out one act with another? When the feeling that ‘I am doing’ is lost, nothing affects a man. Unless one realises the Self, the feeling ‘I am doing’ will never vanish. For one who realises the Self where is the need for japam? Where is the need for tapas? Owing to the force of prarabdha life goes on, but he does not wish for anything. Prarabdha is of three categories, ichha, anichha, and parechha (personally desired, without desire and due to others’ desire).

For him who has realised his Self, there is no ichha-prarabdha. The two others, anichha and parechha remain. Whatever he does is for others only. If there are things to be done by him for others, he does them but the results do not affect him. Whatever be the actions that such people do, there is no punya and no papa attached to them. But they do only what is proper according to the accepted standard of the world -- nothing else,” said Bhagavan.

Though Bhagavan told the questioner that for him who realises his self there is no ichha-prarabdha but only anichha and parechha-prarabdha, his usual views about the prarabdhas may be found in his work “Unnathi Nalupadhi”: The Jnani does not have present, future and prarabdha karma; to say that prarabdha remains, is only a reply to a question. Just as one of the wives cannot remain unwidowed when the husband dies, so also the three karmas cannot remain when the karta is gone.

The Forty Verses, Supplement, verse 33

Letter 47

Prev Next
28th May, 1946
Our brother’s children, Swarna and Vidya, wanted to see Adi Annamalai Temple, Durgamba Temple and others and so we set out yesterday morning after obtaining Bhagavan’s permission. As the summer had already set in, I was afraid these young children of ten and twelve years might not be able to walk in the hot sun and so engaged a bullock cart. the cart, other children of the same age and even younger ones, also started out with us. We went round the hill by way of pradakshina, saw all the places of interest and returned by about 11-30. As we came into the hall at 3 p.m., Bhagavan enquired of me, “At what time did you come back?” When I said it was 11-30 a.m., Bhagavan asked, “Were these children able to walk the distance?” I told him we went round in a bullock cart. Bhagavan jocularly said, “Oh, I see. You went in a cart. Who gets the punya (religious merit), the cart or the bullock or these children?” I could not give a reply.

Bhagavan said: “This body itself is a cart. Another cart for this cart! A bullock to pull this cart! For a work done like this (going round the hill), people say, ‘We have done it.’ Everything is like that. People come by train from Madras and say, ‘We have come’. It is the same thing with the body.

For the self, the body is a cart. The legs do the work of walking and people say, ‘I walked, I came.’ Where does the Self go? The Self does not do anything but appropriates to itself all these acts.” So saying, he enquired, “Did they walk at least some distance?” I said that they walked up to Gautama Ashram, doing bhajan, but could not walk further because of the hot sun. “That is something. They walked at least some distance,” said Bhagavan.

You know, Vidya is a mischievous child. Ever since she came she has been asking a lot of questions about Bhagavan.

“Won’t Bhagavan Thatha (grandfather) come anywhere? Why not?” Not satisfied with my replies, on the 24th she herself asked Bhagavan why he did not go anywhere. As you are aware, Bhagavan is very pleased with the words of little children. Looking at her affectionately, he said, “You want to take me to your place? That is your idea, isn’t it? That is all very well but if I go anywhere, all these people will also come with me and on the way, ever so many people will invite me to their places. If I don’t go, will they agree to that? No. They will take me there bodily. From there, some more people will start. Can you take them all with you? Not only these people. If I move out, the whole of Arunachala itself may start. How can you take it away? See, I have been kept in this jail. Even if you take me away, someone will catch me on the way and again put me in some other jail.

What can I do? How can I come, tell me? Will all these people let me go? What do you say?” Vidya could not reply. From that time onwards, he used to tell people, “This child is inviting me to her place.” Yesterday, having heard that the two children were leaving for their native place that day, and seeing Vidya standing near the doorway, Bhagavan, while going out at 9-45 a.m., caught hold of her hand and said, “Child! Will you take me also with you? Tie me up firmly, put me in a cart and take me away.” Before leaving, Vidya took Bhagavan’s photos to him and showed them. As soon as he saw the photos, Bhagavan said, “So you are taking me away.

Tie me firmly and throw me in the cart.” Every one present felt happy, and Vidya in her great joy, frolicking, began saying, “Yes, I am taking away Bhagavan Thathayya.” Who? Where can one go? Which is the cart? Which is the jail? If the mountains themselves move, how can they be stopped? All these are problems!

Letter 46

Prev Next
11th May, 1946
Yesterday morning at 9-45, when Bhagavan went out and returned to the hall, a dog which was living in the Ashram was barking at another dog which had come there and which it was trying to drive away. While the people there were trying to pacify the Ashram dog, Bhagavan said in a lighter vein, “It is usual everywhere for those who come earlier to exercise authority over those who come later. This dog is trying likewise to exercise its authority.” So saying, he looked at the Ashram dog, and said, “Why do you bark? Go away.” It went away accordingly, as if it had understood his words.

This morning at 10 o’clock Dr. Anantanarayana Rao and his wife Ramabai brought some good mangoes from their garden and while giving them to Bhagavan, said, “The monkeys are taking away all the mangoes. So we hurriedly plucked these and have brought them here.” Bhagavan said smilingly, “Oh, is that so. So the monkeys are going there also?” Then looking at all the others there, he said, “Yes, monkeys take the fruits one by one while people take them all in one lot. If asked why, they say it is their right. If what the monkeys do is petty theft, what people do is regular looting. Without realising that, they drive away the monkeys,” said Bhagavan.

Letter 45

Prev Next
2nd May, 1946
This afternoon some Andhras came with their ladies, and went away after staying for some time in Bhagavan’s presence.

One of them asked Bhagavan with folded hands, “Swami, we have come here after going on pilgrimage to Rameswaram and other places and worshipping the gods there. We want to know from you what paratpara rupa is like. Please let us know.” With a smile Bhagavan said, “Is that so? It is the same.

You yourself are saying that you have come after worshipping all the gods. Though He is one in all, that which is above all is paratpara rupam. It means ‘The form of the Supreme Being’. As you have seen all those temples, it has occurred to you to wonder what that Supreme Being is which is the source of all these gods. Would this question arise if you had not seen them all?” On looking at Bhagavan’s face, it appeared as if the Supreme Being was dancing on his face. That glow on his face, beaming with happiness must be seen! Though those words were not understood by that young man, he was satisfied with the benevolent look of Bhagavan and so went away with his people after prostrating to Bhagavan.

After they went away, Bhagavan said enthusiastically to a devotee sitting nearby, “See, the real meaning is in their words themselves. Paratpara rupam means the form or figure of the Supreme Being which is highest of the high. The meaning of the question itself is not known. If the meaning is known, the reply is in the question itself.”

Letter 44

Prev Next
27th April, 1946
For the last three days the black cow in the Gosala was suffering from some ailment and so she was tied to a tree near the shed built for the calves. Though she was suffering for three days, Bhagavan did not go to that side to see her.

Yesterday she was in the last throes of death. Though she was suffering like that since morning, she did not breathe her last till 5 p.m. Bhagavan got up at 4-45 p.m. to go behind the Gosala as usual.

While returning, he turned towards the place where that cow was, stopped at the shed constructed for the calves and watched for a while her agony. As Bhagavan is the embodiment of kindness, it is natural that his heart should melt with pity. He favoured the cow with a look of deliverance from bondage, came back and sat as usual on the sofa.

After his benign look fell upon her, the jiva remained in the body for only five minutes. It was waiting and waiting for his benevolent look and as soon as that was obtained, it left the body. It is said that if a person can think of God at the time of death, that person gets freed from bondage. How fortunate should that cow be that she could get freed from bondage at the time of her death by Bhagavan’s holy and benevolent look! Bhagavan told us several times that though several animals suffered for days together, it never used to occur to him to look at them and that in some cases, it suddenly occurred to him to look at them in their agonies of death. He added that in such cases, the animals pass away peacefully immediately after. I have just seen an instance of this.

Letter 43

Prev Next
23rd April, 1946
This afternoon a Muslim youth came here with two or three friends. From the way he sat down, I felt that he wanted to ask some questions. After a while he began asking the questions in Tamil. “How can one know Allah? How can one see HIM?” That was the purport of his questions. As usual Bhagavan said, “If you first find out who it is that is questioning, you can then know Allah.” The young man said again, “If I meditate on this stick, thinking it is Allah, can I see Allah? How am I to see Allah?” “That real thing which is never destructible, is known as Allah. If you first find out the truth about yourself, the truth about Allah will present itself,” said Bhagavan. That was enough to dispose of him. He went away with his friends.

Soon after they left, Bhagavan remarked to those by his side, “See, he wants to see Allah! Is it possible to see with these eyes? How could these eyes perceive?” Yesterday a Hindu asked Bhagavan, “Is Omkara a name of Ishwara?” Bhagavan said, “Omkara is Ishwara, Ishwara is Omkara. That means Omkara itself is the swarupam (the real Self). Some say that the swarupam itself is Omkara. Some say that it is Sakti, some say it is Ishwara, some say it is Jesus, some say it is Allah. Whatever name is given, the thing that is there, is only one.” Four or five days back, recalling a reply given to somebody’s question, a devotee, residing in the Ashram, asked Bhagavan thus: “You said that ananda also gets dissolved; if so, what is the meaning of dhyanam, samadhi and samadhanam?” Bhagavan said, “What is meant by laya? It should not stop with ananda. There must be someone to experience that.

Should you not know that someone? If you do not know that someone, how could it be dhyanam? If the one that experiences is known, that one is the Self. When one becomes oneself that becomes dhyanam. Dhyanam means one’s own Self. That is samadhi. That is also samadhanam (perfect absorption of thought into the one object of meditation, i.e., the Supreme Spirit).”

Letter 42

Prev Next
20th April, 1946
At the time that Bhagavan was to go out in the morning today, the labourers who had been deputed to gather mangoes from the tree near the steps towards the mountain began beating the tree with sticks to knock down the mangoes instead of climbing the tree and plucking them one by one.

In the course of the beating, the mango leaves also were falling down in heaps. Hearing the sound of the beating even while seated on the sofa, Bhagavan sent word through his attendants not to do so and when he went out as usual, saw mango leaves lying in heaps. Unable to bear the cruel sight, he began saying in a harsh tone to the labourers, “Enough of this! Now go! When you are to gather the fruit, do you have to beat the tree so that the leaves fall off? In return for giving us fruit, is the tree to be beaten with sticks? Who gave you this work? Instead of beating the tree, you might as well cut it to the roots. You need not gather the fruit. Go away!” Bhagavan’s voice, which was like thunder, reverberated in the ears of all who were there and made them tremble with fear. The bamboos that were held aloft were brought down and placed on the ground. The labourers stood with folded hands like statues. They had no words to speak. When I saw the personification of kindness towards nature in an angry mood, my heart beat violently and my eyes were full of tears. Can one who is so much moved by the falling of the leaves of a tree, bear pain in the minds of human beings? Bhagavan Ramana is indeed karunapoorna sudhabdhi, the ocean filled with the nectar of compassion.

By the time he returned from the Gosala side, the devotees had gathered the leaves into a heap and begged him to forgive the fault. Bhagavan went into the hall, saying, “How cruel! See how many beatings were showered on the tree! How big is the heap of leaves! Oh!” When Bhagavan was in Virupaksha Cave, Echamma, who installed a picture of Bhagavan and a picture of Seshadri Swami in her house, decided to do puja with a lakh of tender leaves, and began it after informing Bhagavan about it. By the time she had finished the puja with fifty thousand leaves, summer had set in, and she could not gather any more leaves even though she wandered all over the mountain. She got tired, and went to Bhagavan to ventilate her grievances.

Bhagavan said, “If you cannot get the leaves, why not pinch yourself and do puja?” She said, “Oh, but that will be painful!” Bhagavan said, “If it pains you to pinch your body, is it not painful to the tree when you cut its leaves?” She turned pale and asked, “Why did you not tell me earlier, Swami?” He replied, “When you know that pinching the body is painful, why did you not know that the tree will be equally pained if you rob it of its leaves? Do I have to tell you that?” That tender leaves should not be cut from trees is also stated in the sloka in “Devikalottara Stotra” in Jnanachara Vicharapadalam, given below:

Roots should not be pulled out. Leaves should not be pinched. Living beings should not be harmed. Flowers should not be plucked.

Letter 41

Prev Next
15th April, 1946
You know what a good day it is today! Bhagavan has taught us something very great. From the time I came here, it has been my usual practice, mornings and evenings, to bow before Bhagavan after going round the hall thrice by way of pradakshina (A reverential salutation made by circumambulation from left to right so that the right side is always turned towards the person or object circumambulated).

When I was doing pradakshina as usual this morning, some other-worldly voice came out of Bhagavan’s mouth and struck my ears as if from a flute. Wondering what it was, I looked up towards Bhagavan’s sofa through the window. The rays of the morning sun were falling on Bhagavan’s body and were giving out a peculiar lustre. Dr. Srinivasa Rao was massaging Bhagavan’s legs with ointment. A light smile was visible on Bhagavan’s face. “Oh, it is only Nagamma! I thought it was somebody else,” he was saying. I felt that he would tell me something, and so I prostrated before him as soon as I entered the hall. Bhagavan smilingly said, “So! You too have started doing pradakshina after seeing others, have you? How many times do you do pradakshina?” I was rather surprised and as I was asked about the number of times, I said, “Thrice.” “Is that so? Others also will do the same, following your example. That is the trouble. I told them not to do it. I tell you also. What do you say?” “What is there for me to say? I shall stop doing it, if you advise me to.” So saying, I sat down. Looking at me, Bhagavan said, “See, these people go on doing pradakshina round the hall without end. It was only yesterday I told them not to do it. They will say, ‘Nagamma also is doing pradakshina. Should she also not be told?’ If people see you going round the hall, newcomers will think that they should do the same, and will start doing it as they do round a temple. That is why I am telling you.” Bhagavan then told us all: “What is meant by pradakshina? Sankara has written:

Real pradakshina is the meditation that thousands of universes are revolving around the Great Lord, the unmoving centre of all forms.

“The same bhava (idea), was expressed in Tamil by the author of Ribhu Gita in greater detail.” So saying Bhagavan got that book, read it and told us the following: “‘Oh Lord! I went all round the world to do pradakshina to you but you are in fullness everywhere. How then could I complete a round? I shall worship you as ‘kutastha akhila rupa’ (immovable entire form of the world). That is the only pradakshina to you’. Namaskar also means the same thing.

The merging of the mind in the Self is namaskar and not the mere act of prostrating whenever you get up or sit down or whenever you go that side or come this side.” Doctor Srinivasa Rao said, “What you say about pradakshina, namaskar and the like may be for those who are in atheetha sthithi, i.e., in a highly developed state, but for people like us, is it not necessary to prostrate before the Guru? It is said that the Advaita attitude should not be shown towards the Guru, even if it is shown towards all the three worlds.” “Yes, it is so. The Advaita attitude does not mean that you should not do namaskar and the like. Only it should not be overdone. Advaita should be in bhava, in the disposition of the mind; it will not do for outside, worldly affairs. You are asked to look at everything with equality (sama drishti) but can we eat the same food that a dog eats? A handful of grain will do for a bird but will that do for us? We eat a certain quantity of food but will that be enough for an elephant? So you should have the attitude of Advaita only in bhava, in the mind, but you should follow the world in other matters. Though there are no pains and pleasures for a Jnani, for the sake of others, he does everything. He is like those who beat their chests, and weep loudly, if ordered to, for an agreed wage. That is all. He is not affected by it,” said Bhagavan.

Someone asked, “What is that about beating chests and weeping for wages?” Bhagavan replied, “In olden times, there used to be such a practice. Supposing some elderly person dies and no one in the house bothers to weep for him, what is to be done? Someone must weep for the person who is dead. That was required by custom. There used to be some professional people whose vocation was to weep for afee. If called, they used to weep better than the deceased’s kith and kin, methodically, like bhajan and with great variety, by beating their chests and shedding tears, which flowed either by long practice or by squeezing onion juice into their eyes, and they used to finish this programme to schedule. In the same manner, the Jnani conducts himself according to the wishes of others. He keeps time to whatever tune is sung.

As he is well-experienced, nothing is new to him. He goes to whoever calls him. He puts on whatever garb he is asked to wear. It is all for the sake of others, as he does not desire anything for himself. His action will be according to the desire of the person who asks. One must therefore find out for oneself sufficiently well what is really good and what is really bad,” said Bhagavan.

Previously whenever Bhagavan asked those devotees who were close to him, “Why is this done?” or “Why is that not done?” I used to regret that I had not the privilege of being questioned so familiarly. I have now been disillusioned.

Not only that, I have received an upadesa (communication of an initiatory mantra or formula). Sri Bhagavan’s voice seemed to say, “When I am everywhere in my fullness, how could you do pradakshina to me? Do you think that I am a stone image that you should go round and round me as in a temple?”

Letter 40

Prev Next
11th April, 1946
Yesterday, between 10 and 11 a.m., a Parsi doctor brought a letter and gave it to Bhagavan. Bhagavan got it read out by a devotee, and said, “He himself has written the question and the answer as well. What else is there for me to say?” As the letter was in English, I could not understand it.

The devotee who read it looked at Bhagavan and asked, “Asthi, bhathi, and priyam, are written there. What do they mean?” “Asthi means Truth, that which IS. Bhathi means lustre and priyam means anandam. That is sat-chit-ananda swarupa.

Sat-chit-ananda is spoken of as asthi, bhathi and priyam. Both sets of expression mean the same,” said Bhagavan.

The same devotee asked, “As Atma is devoid of name or form, should it be meditated upon with ‘jnana atheetha bhakti’, bhakti, which is superior to and above jnana?” Bhagavan replied, “If you say that you should meditate, doesn’t that imply dwaita (dualism)? It implies one who meditates, and that on which he meditates; Atma however is nameless and formless. How is it possible to meditate upon the nameless and formless? ‘Jnana atheetha bhakti’ means one’s own Self, nameless and formless, just a Witness. The ‘I’ is one’s own self. That ‘I’ is everywhere, Only one ‘I’. Then what is there to meditate upon? Who is it that meditates? It is the ‘I’ that is everywhere which is called asthi, bhathi and priyam, or sat- chit-anandam. The names are many, but the thing is only one,” said Bhagavan.

Letter 39

(39) UMA
Prev Next
26th February, 1946
Before I started writing these letters, a devotee while talking about the Puranas one morning asked of Bhagavan as to how Parvati got the name of Uma. Looking at me, Bhagavan said, “There is a copy of Arunachala Purana in Telugu in the library. Is it there?” “Yes, it is in the library; shall I bring it?” I asked. “Yes, yes!” he said. Immediately, I brought the book from the library and gave it to him.

Opening it, Bhagavan said, “Here is the story. Sati Devi, the wife of Siva and the daughter of Daksha, gave up her life as she was insulted by her father during the yajna performed by him. She was subsequently born to Himavantha and Menaka. She wanted only Lord Siva as her husband, and to achieve that purpose she set out for doing tapas. Menaka, while trying to prevent her from doing tapas, said, ‘U (no), Ma (give up)’. That is how she got the name of Uma.” After reading that out, he gave me the book. While I was turning over the pages, Bhagavan was laughing quietly. I could not make out the reason. After a while, Bhagavan himself told us the following: “Look! There is another story to it. Parvati started out for tapas, even though Menaka tried her best to dissuade her. Finding dissuasion of no use, Himavantha took her (Parvati) to the tapovana (hermitage) where Siva was staying in the form of Dakshinamurthy and said. ‘This little child of mine wants to do tapas. Please allow her to be under your care.’ Seeing Parvati, Siva said, ‘Why tapas at this tender age? Why does she not go home with her father?’ Parvati said, ‘No, I won’t go.’ Parameswara tried to dissuade her skilfully by saying, ‘I have conquered prakriti (nature) and so could concentrate on this tapas. If you are to be here, you will be exposed to the ravages of prakriti. So please go back.’ Parvati was equally skilful; so she said, ‘Oh Lord! You say you have conquered prakriti. Without some relationship with prakriti how could you do tapas? You have just spoken. How could you do that without prakriti? How could you walk? Without your knowing it prakriti is occupying your heart. If it is not for the sake of arguments, if you are really above the influence of prakriti, why are you afraid of my staying here?” Siva was pleased with this and said, “Ingithagna! (you who are skilled in thought-reading), Madhurvachani! (you who are sweet of speech). Stay on!’ and sent Himavantha home. This story is in this book in detail.” I said, “The story of Dakshayani is in the Bhagavatham also, but this conversation is not given there. The story itself is very interesting.” Bhagavan said laughing, “Yes, yes. I read another story somewhere in which it was stated that after Kama was burnt to ashes, Parameswara came in a Brahmin’s garb, made love to Parvati and married her. Himavantha was worried over the caste of his son-in-law. What could he do? Whomsoever he asked, pleaded ignorance of the matter, and there was no one who could enlighten him. So he kept quiet. Subsequently Parvati closed the eyes of Parameswara for fun, whereupon the whole world fell into turmoil.

Parameswara saved the world by opening his third eye. Then Parvati realised her fault and started doing tapas, and after staying here and there for that purpose she at last came here to Arunachala where she got the approbation of Arunagireeswara, and obtained Ardhanareeswara (half the body of Siva). When Himavantha came to know of it, he said, ‘Oh yes, the son-in-law is not of another caste but he is of our own caste’ and felt pleased and happy. This Arunachala is a mountain. Himavantha too was a mountain.”