Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Embodiment of Compassion

from Letters from Sri Ramanasramam

by Suri Nagamma

15th June, 1948

As the summer has set in, Bhagavan has started staying all the time in the Jubilee Hall only. At midday, when it is hot, the attendants shift the sofa to the north where there is a bower with crotons on either side and sprinkle water on khus-khus tatties that are tied around. This afternoon I happened to go there at about 2 o'clock. Bhagavan was seated with a matty cloth over his body and his head. There was no one there except Krishnaswami. He was standing behind Bhagavan with a sprinkler in his hand, which appeared to be full of rose-water. He opened the screw cap.

From that sprinkler the rose-water was sprayed on to Bhagavan like a light shower of rain and Bhagavan was rubbing his body with evident satisfaction. When he saw me coming, he said, 'Look! They are doing abhishekam to me (sprinkling holy water).'  So saying he covered his face with that matty cloth and said, 'They have covered me with this wet cloth. They have tied tatties all round and are sprinkling water thereon. This place is now cool like Ootacamund.' I went a little closer to the sofa and found it was cool.

'Coming from the hot atmosphere outside, this seems very cool,' I said, and came back to my usual place.

After thinking for a while, Bhagavan in a reminiscent mood began to talk: 'When I was in the Virupaksha Cave, we used to change over to the Mango Cave during summer as there was no water in the former. At the Mango Cave, at midday, some women of the lower castes used to come there for water with heavy loads of grass on their heads and very tired. Poor people, they start from their homes early in the morning after taking a little gruel (kanji), go up the hill and secure a head load of grass. As soon as they come to the cave they throw down their bundles, bend down and say, 'Swami, Swami, first pour a full vessel of water down our spines.' I used to stand on the verandah there and when I poured water on them as desired, they used to recover from their exhaustion, saying, 'Oh, how good this is!' Then, making a cup of both the hands they used to drink water until their stomachs were full, wash their faces, take some rest in the shade of the trees and then depart. They alone could experience the happiness of it all. It is only when one experiences the oppressiveness of the heat that one knows the relief of the coolness of water.'

'Was it Bhagavan himself who poured the water?' I asked.

'Yes,' said Bhagavan. 'I knew they would be coming at that hour and so would wait there with the water ready. What could they do? They should not touch the water in the Mulaipal Thirtham (holy tank) and there is no water anywhere else. The heat is unbearable. They cannot have food unless they sell the grass and get some money. They have children at home. They must reach home quick to look after them. What can they do, poor people! They used to come to the cave with the hope that the Swami would supply water. We were not cooking at that time. If any day we did cook, we poured a lot of water into the rice when cooking, took out the gruel, poured it into a pot, mixed water with it liberally, and added salt. If dry ginger was available I would mix it in also. By the time they came, the gruel water would be quite cool. When a tumblerful of it was poured into their hands, they used to drink it like nectar and go away. The taste of that gruel and the happiness of drinking that water they alone could know.'

Filled with emotion, he assumed silence.

I was also unable to speak for some time and so sat still looking at that embodiment of compassion. After a while I said, 'This incident is not mentioned in Bhagavan's biography. Why?'

'No, it is not there. I did not think it worth mentioning,' said Bhagavan.

'How many more incidents like this must have occurred and left unrecorded!' I said.

Bhagavan merely nodded his head.

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