Friday, May 4, 2007

Dilip Kumar Roy meets the Maharshi

It happened in 1945, I think. I was still living as an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, even though I had come to feel a growing sense of isolation and begun to surmise that I was a misfit there. My sadness and sense of dereliction only deepened with time till what little peace I had left me completely and I felt all but stranded. But I need not go into the why and wherefore of it all; I would plunge straight into what keeps me company as one of the most unforgettable experiences I have ever had. It does, as it was a landmark in my life.

After having been for weeks in the grip of a deep gloom, I wrote straight to Sri Aurobindo. He wrote back at once giving me the needed permission, which I deeply appreciated.

I took the train to Tiruvannamalai where Ramana Maharshi lived. But as the train rolled on I felt a deep and growing malaise ... How could I win the needed peace at the feet of one who was not my Guru when I could not attain it at the feet of my revered Guru, Sri Aurobindo, whose wisdom and greatness my heart had never once questioned.

Well, I alighted at the station in a mixed frame of mind...

But it was too late then, for I was already at the gates of Ramanashram. How could I return now, after having crossed the Rubicon? Besides, I was driven by an irresistible urge to meet in the flesh the great Yogi who — unlike my own preceptor, Sri Aurobindo — was available to all at all hours. And, to crown all, I wanted to test the Maharshi for myself and see whether he, with his magic compassion, could lift me out of the deep slough I had landed in.

But he did, and against my worst prognostications at that, so that I could not possibly explain it away as a figment of autosuggestion. I mean — if there were any auto-suggestion here it could only be against and not in favour of my receiving the goods. But, as the Lord's ways are not ours, I won an experience I could never even have dreamed of. So listen with bated breath.

I can still recapture the thrill of the apocalyptic experience that came to me to charm away as it were the obstinate gloom which had settled on my chest like an incubus. But, alas, words seem so utterly pale and banal the moment you want to describe an authentic spiritual experience which is vivid, throbbing and intense. Still I must try.

I entered a trifle diffidently a big, bare hall where the Maharshi reclined morning and evening among his devotees and the visitors who happened to call. Accessible to all, the great saint sat on a divan looking straight in front at nothing at all. I was told he lived thus all the time, in sahaja samadhi, that is a constant super-conscious state. I was indeed fascinated by what I saw, but I will not even attempt to portray with words how overwhelmed I was (and why) by what met my eyes. For what is it after all that I saw? Just a thin, half-naked man, sitting silently, gazing with glazed eyes at the window. Yet there was something in him that spoke to me — an indefinable beauty of poise and a plenitude that cannot be limmed with words. I wrote afterwards a poem1 on him that may give a better idea, but I must not get ahead of my story.

I touched his feet and then, without a word, sat down near him on the floor and meditated, my heart aheave with a strange exaltation which deepened by and by into an ineffable peace which beggars description. My monthold gloom and misgivings, doubts and questionings, melted away like mist before sunrise, till I felt I was being cradled on the crest of a flawless peace in a vast ocean of felicity and light. I have to use superlatives here as I am trying to describe as best I can my experience of an ineffable bliss and peace which lasted for hours and hours. I can well remember how deep was the gratefulness I felt towards the Maharshi on that sleepless and restful night as I reclined, bathed in peace, in an easy chair under the stars at which I gazed and gazed in an ecstasy of tears. And I recalled a pregnant saying of his:

"Just be. All is in you. Only a veil stands between. You have only to rend the veil and then, well, just be."

I had found this favourite remark of his rather cryptic heretofore. But in that moment I understood for the first time and wrote a poem in homage to the Maharshi.

~ from The Mountain Path, October, 1964

For a poem by Dilip Kumar Roy, please visit J's blog:

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