Monday, June 16, 2008

Physical Supports of Grace

Whether explained in terms of radiation or not, Grace does emanate from a physical support. Is it imagination? If Bhagavan had been asked he might have agreed that it is but only in the sense that the whole world including one's own body, is imagination. It is as real as the mind that questions its reality.

Some, however, have wondered whether it is legitimate to use physical supports of Grace on such a direct and purely spiritual path as that enjoined by Bhagavan. It was with some such doubt that an English devotee who has never yet been able to come to Tiruvannamalai wrote to me asking for some object, such as a small stone, from near the tomb but felt that his request might be inappropriate. It. was quite appropriate. Although he taught the purely direct and spiritual path of vichara, Bhagavan never discouraged any from observing the rites of their religion or from using any physical supports so long as they were helpful. The path he taught was universal; it included devotion and disinterested activity as well as knowledge. Indeed his devotional hymns to Arunachala are a constant support to the devotees. His very coming there was a recognition of the physical manifestation of Grace, since Arunachala has been through the ages the supreme centre of silent initiation, of Siva manifested as Dakshinamurthy, teaching in silence. No one could be more insistent on its actual sanctity. He said: "Mount Kailas is the abode of Siva but Arunachala is Siva Himself." He saw the sacred hill as the form assumed by pure Spirit for the support and guidance of men. Now that the physical body of Bhagavan -- the most precious of all physical supports of Grace -- has been withdrawn from us, the Hill emits power and Grace for his devotees even more than before.

When I was asked for some token from the hill I was able, fortunately, to quote the approval of Bhagavan in a similar case. Once when he was walking on the hill he said to Dr. T. N. Krishnaswami who was with him: "Some devotee from a far-off land has asked for a stone to be taken from the most holy part of the hill and sent to him. He thinks that some part of the hill alone is holy. he does not know that the whole hill is Arunachala; he does not know that Arunachala Himself is the hill." And picking up a small stone, he added; "I sent him a stone like this."

Bhagavan would sometimes give a devotee some object as a vehicle of Grace, but very seldom, as he had normally nothing to give. In his youthful years he would sometimes cut a stick from the hill, fashion it into a staff for walking and give it to somebody. Sometimes also he would touch an object that was shown to him and give it back. When I left for Madras and showed him the lifesize portrait of him that I was taking with me he held it in his hands before giving it back and said: "He is taking Swami with him!"

It may not be inappropriate to end this article with the strange story of how I received a shoe-horn from him. We were sitting outside the hall. Bhagavan was reclining on his usual couch. There was a sudden clatter and we saw that a metal shoe-horn had fallen to the ground near the couch. How it came to fall there no one could say - there was no breeze and no monkeys or squirrels were playing about. The attendant gave it to Bhagavan who examined it and began demonstrating its use as a spoon. I was sitting in the front row and explained its use as a shoehorn. Bhagavan who did not like anything to be wasted asked me whether I would like it. And so I received a gift from him who had nothing to give; from the Divine Giver who had all to give!

~ Arthur Osborne, The Mountain Path

1 comment:

Shival said...

Very nice article. :).

May Arunachala Ramana shower his Grace on you.

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya.