Monday, December 3, 2007

My father was M.S. Venkataraman of Madurai, who was a few years younger to Bhagavan. He and Bhagavan lived in the same house which was situated close to the Vaigai River. He would join Venkataraman and his friends in their nocturnal escapades. After sneaking out in the dead of the night the boys would go to river bank and practice 'chilambam' (a martial art using long bamboo poles). Once when my father returned my grandfather caught him, tied him to a tree in front of the house and caned him. Venkataraman was watching. Later when my father heard about the young Brahmana Swami dwelling in Virupaksha Cave at Arunachala he paid a visit to him out of curiosity. But the moment he stepped into Bhagavan's presence he began to shed copious tears. To his amazement he found that there was nothing there of the former Venkataraman, his playmate. When he was about to leave, Brahmana Swami asked him in subdued tone, "Is that tree still there in front of your house?"

From then on my father who was then working in the District Board Office used to rush to Tiruvannamalai whenever he felt like visiting Bhagavan. At times, he would be accompanied by my mother. At Skandashram, Mother Alagammal, who was very fond of my mother, taught her many songs of Avudayakka, pregnant with deep spiritual meaning. Later when my mother sang the song in front of Bhagavan, Bhagavan would remark, "Oh! Did mother teach you all these songs?"

I remember visiting the Ashram when I was just five. I had a high fever and was sleeping near the door of Bhagavan'­s hall. I felt delirious. Bhagavan would now and then lift his head from his sofa and tell me to go to sleep. I thought Bhagavan never slept.

On one occasion while leaving Bhagavan a deep sorrow suddenly over took me and I began to cry. I refused to go with my mother, telling her that I wanted to stay with Bhagavan always. Bhagavan who was going that way stopped and told me gently, "Go with your mother now and come back when you are 21 years old."

My father died in 1939 when I was just 17. After few months my mother took us for Bhagavan's darshan. When she prostrated she began to shed tears. As it was the custom in those days, my mother was not wearing any jewelry, she had her head shaved and covered it with her sari. She was wondering whether Bhagavan would recognize her in this attire. She asked, "Bhagavan do you recognize me?" He smiled and said, "Why not? Only the makeup has changed (veshamdhan maari irukku)."

When I was twenty-one I got posted as a clerk with the Inspector of Schools at Polur. As Bhagavan predicted I could now go to Tiruvannamalai on Sundays and holidays and sit at his feet. Once I took his permission to go to the summit of the hill. When I reached the summit I scraped some Kartikai Deepam residue soot from a rock and put it in a leaf. I wanted to present it to Bhagavan. When I came down Chinnaswami called and shouted, "Where were you? Bhagavan is waiting for you! Go and join him for the lunch!"

After lunch, I approached him when the attendant Krishnaswami was not there, for he would never allow anyone to approach Bhagavan easily. I took out the Deepam ghee which I had collected from the summit and offered it him. He pulled my hand closer to him and took the offered prasad and with great reverence, applied it on his forehead and asked me, "Are you satisfied now?"

~ from a transcribed video interview of Ramanachalam, taped at Sri Ramanasramam. To read more of this in the Nov/December issue of The Maharshi, please click here and scroll down to the interview section.

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