20th December, 1946
Shantamma (head cook, standing behind Bhagavan), Ramanatha Brahmachari (standing, extreme left), Annamalai Swami (middle on bench, left)
A telegram was received at about 9 a.m. today informing us that Ramanatha Brahmachari, alias Andavane, expired in Madras last night. Someone informed me about it as I was entering the hall.
Ramanatha joined the group of Bhagavan’s disciples when quite young, when Bhagavan was still in Virupaksha Cave. After that he never left Bhagavan except for short intervals of about fifteen days in the year. This staunch devotee and lifelong brahmachari went to Madras for treatment and we heard the news of his demise within fifteen days. I entered the hall, feeling sad that it had happened the same way as with Madhavaswamy some time earlier, and simultaneously feeling gratified that he had left his skeleton-like body without much suffering. Bhagavan said to me, “It seems that our Ramanathan is gone.”
Once before, when Madhavaswamy died and Bhagavan told me, “Madhavaswamy has gone,” and I asked him, “Where to?” Bhagavan replied, “Where to? There, leaving his body here.” So I did not ask him again this time, “Where to?” but merely replied, “Yes I have heard so.” In the afternoon at 3 p.m., two ladies, Uma and Alamu, began to sing the Tamil verses “Ramana Anubhuti”.
Bhagavan told me with some feeling, “Look! These are verses written by Ramanatha himself; there is also another song with the pallavi (refrain) ‘Thiruchulinathanai Kandene’. That also was written by him.
There is an interesting story in this connection. During my stay in Virupaksha Cave, on one full- moon day we all started out on a giri pradakshina. Chidambaram Subramanya Iyer was here at that time. The moonlight was bright and all were in high spirits. They all decided to hold a meeting and each person was to deliver a lecture on a different subject. Subramanya Iyer was elected chairman of the meeting. The first lecture was by Ramanatha. The topic chosen by him was ‘The similarity between the Paramatma dwelling in the cave of the human heart, Lord Nataraja in Chidambaram and Sri Ramana in Virupaksha Cave’. The chairman allowed him half an hour. There was no end to the points of similarity elucidated by him. When the chairman declared that the time was up, Ramanatha said, ‘Just half an hour more please’. It was a meeting of people who were continuously walking. Saying, ‘A little more time, sir, a little more’, he went on with his speech for full three hours, when the chairman firmly put a stop to his further talking. You should have seen the enthusiasm with which he spoke that day. Subsequently, he summarised the points of the lecture into a song of four stanzas entitled, ‘Thiruchulinathanai Kandene’. Since the words ‘Andavane’ had occurred in the song several times, Ramanatha himself began to be called ‘Andavane’. Pranavanandaji attempted to translate the song into Telugu but the translation did not come out well.” “Oh! Is that the reason why he is called ‘Andavane’?” I said and read the song. Though it may not be much from a literary viewpoint, it was pleasant to hear it as it was composed with a fullness of heart. Its purport is as follows:
“I saw Thiruchulinathan* and, being unable to turn back, stood there transfixed. He is the Lord that dances in Chidambaram and that protects the helpless and is merciful to them. The same Thiruchulinathan manifested himself as God in Virupaksha Cave on the hill in the sacred Tiruvannamalai.
“Jiva was ruling unjustly in the town called Kayapuri, with the karanas as his subjects and ahankara as his minister.
“After some time, jiva took up the sword of God’s grace and cut off the head of his minister, ahankara.
“Having so cut off the minister’s head, jiva stood with God who was dancing all by himself in the cave called Daharalaya.
“He is this Thiruchulinathan; I saw him and stayed there, being unable to get away.”
* Thiruchuli is the village in South India where Bhagavan was born; it is also said to signify ‘Srikara’ and ‘Omkara’.