(74) THE GOLDEN JUBILEE FESTIVITIES
8th September, 1946
Some friends requested me to write about the festivities connected with the Golden Jubilee that was celebrated on 1st September and so I am writing this letter. In this connection, even the people actively connected with the celebrations do not remember exactly what all was done.
That being so, is it possible for a person of the weaker sex, who is only a mere observer, to know and understand all that was done? I am however venturing to write about it, bearing in mind what is stated by the author of Bhagavatham, when he wrote: “I shall expound to the extent I have seen or known or have heard from men of wisdom.” About twenty days before the date of the celebrations, the Saravadhikari returned from Madras. About a month had elapsed by then, since he had gone to Madurai also. It seems soon after he reached Madras several devotees met and made plans for the celebrations, but until he returned to Tiruvannamalai the preparations for the celebrations were not very much in evidence. I do not know if anyone was working hard elsewhere for the publication of the Souvenir in English but so far as the people in the hall were concerned no one appeared very keen about the celebrations. Only to satisfy the devotees’ request, Bhagavan pretended to rummage old records so as to collect all Sanskrit slokas for translation into English. As soon as the Sarvadhikari arrived, preparations began in right earnest. There is no knowing what deliberations were held in the office or on whose persuasion it was, but they began erecting a big thatched shed adjacent to the hall on the hill side. For the past one month, Krishnaswami had been feeling weak and run down.
However, as soon as the work on the shed was started, his weakness appears to have disappeared and he got enormous strength. He took an active part, climbing up the ladder, stitching the palm leaves together and doing all such work.
The pandal was erected. They said the floor must be cemented. For watering the place, ramming in poles and doing sundry work, he appeared to have got the strength of a giant. It is said that Hanuman was originally sitting quiet like a bird with his tail tucked under him, but when he heard that the ocean had to be crossed, he assumed viswarupa (body of enormous proportions) and did all the work required.
This is an illustration of the saying that God’s devotees get inspired and do all types of work for the good of others when occasion arises.
You remember, you came here about twenty days ago and took away with you the songs and essays of Sri Chinta Dikshitulu and my “Gobbi” song saying you would get them printed before the Golden Jubilee. After that, Muruganar and some other devotees wrote some songs and verses and sent them for printing. The commentary on Sri Ramana Gita written in Sanskrit by Kapali Sastri was received duly printed.
Invitation cards in English with fifty gold stars printed around them were sent out to devotees.
Fifty years ago, a day before Gokulashtami, it seems Bhagavan reached Araiyaninallur. That was a Sunday. On Monday, i.e., on Ashtami day, he had a hearty meal at the house of Muthukrishna Bhagavathar in Kilur and stepped into Arunachala Kshetram, on the morning of Navami, Tuesday. From that day till now, it is a well known fact that he has not moved out of this place. That was the 1st of September, 1896. To enable people in other continents as well to celebrate the event according to the Gregorian calendar, the 1st of September was fixed for the Golden Jubilee celebration.
According to Hindu traditions, the day after Gokulashtami should be deemed to be the day of the Golden Jubilee celebrations. We do not know the ways of Providence but this year too Gokulashtami happened to be on a Monday (19th August 1946). The next day was a Tuesday. According to Tamil traditions, Ramaswami Iyer and others said that that was the day for the celebrations, and so he along with some other devotees wrote some songs and verses in Tamil and recited them. Sri Sambasiva Rao said that according to Telugu traditions, Navami lasted till Wednesday and so the fifty years were completed only on the 21st and, so saying, he wrote an old sloka and a padyam from the Bhagavatham, beginning with, “Nee pada kamala sevayu” (in the service of your lotus feet) and placed it before Bhagavan. Another person composed padyams, songs and essays and began reading them. That Stotra Parayana (recitations of prayers in verse) was continued until two days ago.
The railway strike commenced on the 23rd. We were wondering how the devotees could come here. Some came to Katpadi already on the 29th and somehow managed to come by bus or lorry. On Chathurthi (fourth day of lunar month), puja for Vinayaka was performed in the temple. By the side of the shed, which was named as ‘Jubilee Hall’, a huge pandal was erected which looked very much like a marriage pandal. Some said it would be good if a garland of green leaves was tied around the sofa and decorated.
All the speakers came by bus by 9 o’clock at night. The celebrations are to commence next morning. We discussed them till late into the night and then went to sleep. When we went to the Ashram in the early morning by 5 o’clock as usual, “Na karmana” was already being recited. It seems they started the routine an hour earlier than usual. The Ashram Vidyarthis (students) brought the articles for puja, placed them before Bhagavan and, after bowing before him, took them into the temple. Upbraiding ourselves for our carelessness, we went into the pandal and were surprised to find that it was already beautifully decorated. All around the whole of the shed, a red cloth with folds was tied, along with garlands of green mango leaves, flowers and many other decorative things. Recently the Rani of Baroda sent sarees full of jaree (silver lacing) to decorate the Goddess in the temple. All those sarees were spread over the stone sofa, which was on the northern side of that parnasala (thatched shed) named Jubilee Hall, so as to give it the shape of a mandir. The silver-laced sarees were shining brilliantly because of the lights. When I asked one of the devotees whether the sarees were not meant for decorating the goddess in the temple, he said that that decoration could be done only after decorating Bhagavan’s sofa. Another devotee said that the idea was excellent.
Nothing had been done at nine the previous night. So if by five the next morning all that decoration had been done, we must conclude that the devotees did not sleep at all the whole night. We do not know how other devotees arrived during the night but by morning they were all seated in groups in several places with all their belongings.
Bhagavan finished his bath and breakfast by 6-30 a.m. and went towards Arunachala. By the time he returned, Krishnaswami had already spread over the stone sofa pure khaddar clothes and covered the seat with a newly purchased cloth bearing the picture of the spinning wheel and the tricolour flag. It is no exaggeration to say that it was attractive because of its simplicity and also because the flag is a symbol of our national honour, in the midst of the splendour of the varied decorations. It is interesting to note that it was on a similar day of September that Jawaharlal Nehru became the Prime Minister of India.
By seven o’clock, Bhagavan was sitting on the sofa in his usual loincloth with his radiant smile, to bless his devotees.
His gracious and benevolent look made all the devotees happy. It was indeed a great privilege to see him on that day.
In olden days, Valmiki, Vyasa and other great authors told us how God Himself came down to this world in the shape of Avatars like Rama and Krishna to establish dharma from time to time --- “Dharma samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge” (for establishing Dharma, righteousness, on a firm footing, I am born from age to age; Gita IV-8). Today we are lucky in having a similar fortune. An Avatara Purusha, Jagadguru, Sri Ramana Paramatma has been staying in Arunachala Kshetra for the last fifty years and has been purifying the souls of people by his mere looks. To those who serve him with undivided bhakti he can with his silent teaching remove the worldly bonds and give moksha. Our duty is to serve him instead of wasting precious time on trifles.
This Golden Jubilee itself proclaims that for fifty years now he has been occupying the exalted position of a Guru. Many devotees say this is a golden age or a new age. All these days many fortunate people secured his grace, drank the nectar of peace and became blessed ones. Many more are likely to gain his blessings thus. Till now my eyes have not been opened to know in fullness his real greatness. There will be many like me, who do not know how this personification of kindness is giving us various occasions to serve him. Of all these occasions, it occurs to me, this Golden Jubilee is the greatest. Even now, I do not know how to serve this great Sage, how to pray to him and how to worship him. When he who is omnipresent, who is omniscient and who is incomprehensible comes here in human form what can we give him and how could we satisfy him? The real worship of him is to be in mouna (silence). As that type of worship is beyond my reach. I am always staying at a distance, hoping against hope that I may gain salvation by touching the dust of his feet and by satisfying myself with that only. What else is there to wish for except that he should live with us like this for long, giving the benefit of his grace to the true seekers of knowledge and saving their souls by his kindness and blessings.
I shall describe to you in another letter what all had happened from 7 o’clock in the morning to 7-15 at night.