Monday, March 19, 2018

The Guru's compassion

At Skandashram there is a little platform facing Tiruvannamalai town - there was only a stone at that time. Bhagavan would sit on it and brush his teeth. It used to be very cold and Bhagavan wore only a loin cloth. Kunju Swami felt that he should not sit there in the early morning cold, yet Bhagavan continued to do so. He found the reason for this only later: There was a lady called Sowbhagyamma who used to come to Skandashram every day. She had become old but had taken a vow that she would not cook, eat or even bathe, without having Bhagavan‟s darshan first. She did not come one day and Bhagavan asked her, “Why did you not come yesterday?” She replied, “Bhagavan, I had the great fortune of having your darshan from my house. When you were seated outside on the stone slab, I could see you.” From that day onwards, whether it was raining or cold, Bhagavan sat on that rock so that Sowbhagyamma could have his daily darshan. 

- from Ramana Periya Puranam 

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa on Doership

“Suppose you are cooking rice in a pot, with potato, egg-plant, and other vegetables. After a while the potatoes, egg-plant, rice and the rest begin to jump about in the pot. They seem to say with pride: ‘We are moving! We are jumping!’ The children see it and think the potatoes, egg-plant, and rice are alive and so they jump that way. But the elders, who know, explain to the children that the vegetables and the rice are not alive; they jump not of themselves, but because of the fire under the pot; if you remove the burning wood from the hearth, then they will move no more. Likewise the pride of man, that he is the doer, springs from ignorance. Men are powerful because of the power of God. All becomes quite when the burning wood is taken away.”

– Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Had enough?

This is a gem from Anthony De Mello. And do remember he himself was a psychologist… :)

There’s the story of little Johnny who, they say, was mentally retarded. But evidently he wasn’t, as you’ll learn from this story.

Johnny goes to modelling class in his school for special children and he gets his piece of putty and he’s modelling it. He takes a little lump of putty and goes to a corner of the room and he’s playing with it. The teacher comes up to him and says, “Hi, Johnny.” And Johnny says, “Hi.” And the teacher says, “What’s that you’ve got in your hand?” And Johnny says, “This is a lump of cow dung.” The teacher asks, “What are you making out of it?” He says, “I’m making a teacher.”

The teacher thought, “Little Johnny has regressed.” So she calls out to the principal, who was passing by the door at that moment, and says, “Johnny has regressed.”

So the principal goes up to Johnny and says, “Hi, son.” And Johnny says, “Hi.” And the principal says, “What do you have in your hand?” And he says, “What are you making out of it?” And he says, “A principal.”

The principal thinks this is a case for the school psychologist. “Send for the psychologist!”

The psychologist is a clever guy. He goes up and says, “Hi.” And Johnny says, “Hi.” And the psychologist says, “I know what you’ve got in your hand.” “What?” “A lump of cow dung.” Johnny says, “Right.” “And I know what you’re making out of it.” “What?” “You’re making a psychologist.” “Wrong. Not enough cow dung.”  And they called him mentally retarded!

I’ll dance my dance

Waking up is unpleasant, you know. You are nice and comfortable in bed. It’s irritating to be woken up. That’s the reason the wise guru will not attempt to wake people up. I hope I’m going to be wise here and make no attempt whatsoever to wake you up if you are asleep. It is really none of my business, even though I say to you at times, “Wake up!” My business is to do my thing, to dance my dance. If you profit from it, fine; if you don’t, too bad! As the Arabs say, “The nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the gardens.”

– Anthony De Mello

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi and his “favourite daughter” Cow Lakshmi …Part 3 and last

Lakshmi with Bhagavan 
Bhagavan's devotee

20th July, 1948


In my letter to you under the caption “Worship of the Cow”, I described to you the grandeur of Lakshmi, the queen of the cows, and the amount of regard Sri Bhagavan had for her. To that queen, as for His own mother, Sri Bhagavan on Friday the 18th instant gave Videha Mukti (deliverance from the body). That morning when I went to the Asramam, I was told that Lakshmi was seriously ill and would not survive the day. So, I went straight to the cow shed, without seeing Sri Bhagavan even. The room built for the calves was vacated, cleaned and Lakshmi was given a bed of straw to lie down upon. As it was Friday, she was as usual decorated with turmeric paste, vermilion mark on the forehead and a garland of flowers round the neck and horns. Venkataratnam was sitting by the side fanning her. Lakshmi was lying down with her majestic look spreading lustre all round. She reminded me of Kamadhenu going to Kailas to do Abhishekam with milk over the great Lord Shiva.

When I went to Sri Bhagavan and prostrated before Him and got up, He looked at me with a Divine Look. Taking it as an order, I said I would go and stay with Lakshmi. He nodded His head in assent and I went immediately. Venkatratnam gave me the fan and left. Sitting in that place I began repeating Ramana Dwadasakshari (twelve letters of Ramana Mantram), Ashtotharam (108 Names of Sri Ramana) etc. and Lakshmi appeared to hear them carefully.

When Sri Bhagavan came to the cow-shed at 9-45 a.m. as usual, He came to see Lakshmi. Sri Bhagavan sat on the hay by her side, lifted her head with both His hands, and passing one of His hands lightly over her face and throat, and then placing His left hand on the head, began pressing with the right hand fingers her throat right down to the heart. After pressing like that for about a quarter of an hour He said, addressing Lakshmi, “What do you say, Mother? Do you want me to stay here alone? I could stay, but what to do? All people could be round you as in the case of my Mother. Even so, why? Shall I go?” Lakshmi remained calm, devoid of all the bonds of this world and of the pains of her body as though she were in Samadhi. Sri Bhagavan sat there unwilling to move and with a heart full of compassion. I was overwhelmed at the sight and exclaimed involuntarily, “Oh! Mother Alagamma had the greatest luck. So has Lakshmi now.” Bhagavan looked at me with a smile.

Subramaniam came and said, “It seems the doctor will not be coming till 10-30 as there is no immediate danger to Lakshmi.” “All right. So, Doctor will not be coming now. Have you brought the medicine for injection?” asked Bhagavan. Turning towards Lakshrni and gently stroking her head and neck, He said, “What do you say? May I go?” Subbulakshmi said, “She will feel happy if Sri Bhagavan is by her side.” “That is so, but what to do?” So saying and looking into the eyes of Lakshmi, Sri Bhagavan said, “What? May I go? Won’t you tell me?” Lakshmi looked at him proudly. What reply Sri Bhagavan got, we do not know but He got up and went away saying, “See that the flies do not get into the mouth.” I assured Him that we would take due care of Lakshmi and Sri Bhagavan left the place very reluctantly.

With the Divine Touch of Sri Bhagavan, the outer breath of Lakshmi began subsiding and the movement of the body began to decrease. When the Doctor came at 10-30 and gave an injection, Lakshmi remained unaffected as if the body was not hers. There was no death agony. Her sight was calm and clear. The Doctor turned her over into the posture of Nandi, put some medicine on the boils and went away instructing us to keep some support for the head. As it was 11-30 by then, Venkataratnam came back after having his meal. He asked me to hold up the head saying he would bring some more hay. The tongue touched me and it was icy cold; the life of Lakshmi reached the feet of Sri Ramana and was absorbed in Him.

Ten minutes later, Sri Bhagavan came into the shed saying, “Is it all over?” and squatted by her side, took her face in both His hands as though she were a little child, and lifted it and said, “Oh Lakshmi, Lakshmi,” and then, to us, controlling His tears, He said, “Because of her, our family (i.e. Asramam) has grown to this extent.” When all were praising Lakshmi, Sri Bhagavan asked, “I suppose the Doctor has not troubled her much, did he? How did her life cease?” We told him all that had happened. “That is all right. Did you notice this? The right ear is uppermost now. Till yesterday she was lying down on her other side. Because of the boil she was turned over to this side. So this ear had to come up. Look, in the case of people who die in Kasi, people say Lord Shiva will whisper into the right ear. Lakshmi too has her right ear up,” said Sri Bhagavan, and showed that ear to all people there. By that time, crowds gathered. 

After a quarter of an hour, Sri Bhagavan got up and said, “Ramakrishna has been saying for the last ten days that a good tomb (samadhi) must be built for Lakshmi.”  Sri Bhagavan then went away to the Hall.

– from  Suri Nagamma's ‘LETTERS FROM SRI RAMANASRAMAM’, pp. 328-330

(Reproduced here due to the compassionate ‘Spiritual Sharings’ of respected Shri V Ganesan)

Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi and his “favourite daughter” Cow Lakshmi …Part 2 of 3

Bhagavan and Lakshmi
Bhagavan with his 'favourite daughter' and other cows at the Asramam

24th July, 1948


At 4 O’clock yesterday afternoon, a Tamil youth came into the Hall. On seeing him, a devotee said that the youth was the grandson of the man who had presented Lakshmi the Cow to the Asramam. “I see,” said Sri Bhagavan. “Does he know that Lakshmi passed away?” That youth said, “I have just heard it, Swami. When I went to the cow-shed to see Lakshmi I was informed of it. I have come here after seeing the tomb.”

On enquiry, the youth said, “I belong to a village called Kannamangalam. It is about 40 miles from here. My grandfather Arunachalam Pillai wanted to present a good milch cow to Sri Bhagavan and so, in 1926, he brought Lakshmi here along with her mother. Lakshmi was then barely six months old. I also came along with them. I was quite young then. From that time onwards I always look up Lakshmi whenever I come to this place on business. I have now heard this sad news.” 

After he left, Sri Bhagavan told us the following story:

“You know what happened when they came here with the cow and the calf. ‘Why all this for us?’ I asked. Arunachalam Pillai replied saying, ‘I have for a long time been thinking of presenting Sri Bhagavan with a cow. I am now in a position to do so. I have brought it after a good deal of trouble on boat and rail. Please keep it, Swami.’ I said: ‘You have done your duty in presenting it to us. Who is there to look after it? Please keep it with you on our behalf.’ The owner of the cow replied, ‘I will not take it away even if you cut my throat.’

“Hearing this Ramanatha Brahmachari was piqued and said with great zest that he himself would look after the cow. ‘All right. Hang it round your neck!’ I said. As the calf came to us on a Friday, we named her Lakshmi. Ramanatha somehow tended the cow and the calf for two or three months. Lakshmi was very playful, jumping about as she pleased and, while so doing, she ruined all the vegetable plants we were growing. If anyone chided her, she used to come to me for protection. I used to tell the Asramites that if they so desired, they could put up a fence to protect their plants. Poor chap! Ramanatha could not put up with all these troubles from the other inmates of the Asramam and so handed over the cow and the calf to a keeper of cattle in the town with some stipulations. I do not remember his name.”

A devotee said, “His name is Pasupati. He is a Kannadaga. Lakshmi’s mother passed away after a short time. The arrangement was that if Lakshmi gave birth to a male calf, it should be given to the Asramam and if it were a female calf he should retain it.”

Sri Bhagavan said, “That might be so. About a year after that, he came here with Lakshmi and her calf for a bath on an eclipse day. He saw me first, had a bath in the Pali Tank along with the cow and its calf and then they went home together. At that time Lakshmi saw the whole of this Asramam. Remembering the route carefully she began coming here everyday. She used to come in the morning and go away in the evening. She used to lie down by the side of my couch. She insisted that I myself should give her fruit. She would not take any other than the hill plantain.”

Someone said, “Before leaving every evening she used to go round the Hall, it seems?”

Sri Bhagavan replied, “That is the thing. We had no bell in the dining hall then. We do not know how she did it but everyday exactly at the appointed time for meals she used to come and stand before me. We used to look at the clock and find that that was just the time for meals. Her coming was the signal for us. She used to return to town daily, but only most reluctantly.”

On further enquiry, I came to know that Lakshmi came away permanently to the Asramam in 1930, that she had three calves by then – all males –and that, as per agreement, all the calves had been given to the Asramam. When she was pregnant for the third time, one evening she was unwilling to leave Sri Bhagavan and go home – like Nandini of Vasishta – she was shedding tears and lay close to the couch. Sri Bhagavan was visibly affected and softly passing his hand on her face said: “What! You say you can’t go away, and want to stay here alone? What am I to do?” and, looking at the others, said, “Look, Lakshmi is weeping saying she cannot go away. She is pregnant and may have confinement any moment. She must go a long distance and again come here in the morning. She cannot refrain from coming here. What is she to do?” At last Sri Bhagavan somehow coaxed her and sent her away. That very night she delivered. About the same time Pasupati had some domestic difficulties. Unable to bear the burden of this Lakshmi with all her vagaries, he brought her and her three calves and presented them to Sri Bhagavan. Lakshmi lay at Sri Bhagavan’s feet and would not rise. Placing his right hand on her head and pressing it, he asked if she would like to stay here permanently; she closed her eyes and lay still as in a trance. Noticing that, Sri Bhagavan pointed out to the others that she appeared as though her responsibility for her calves were over for they had been placed in Sri Bhagavan’s charge.

When I narrated this story to Sri Bhagavan he agreed. “Yes,” he said. “That was so. After Mother came to stay with me, regular cooking and meals started, and after Lakshmi came, cattle and dairying became established. Subsequently for three or four years Lakshmi was presenting us with a calf every year on the Jayanthi day. Afterwards, that practice stopped. Altogether she had nine deliveries. After Lakshmi came here to stay, cows from different places were brought by devotees and left here. So the cattle shed grew in size. In the beginning they were tied up here and there under a thatched shed. When Salem Sundaram Chetty (Judge) came here, he decided to construct a Gosala (cowshed) and fixed an auspicious time for the laying of the foundation stone. Half-an-hour before appointed time, when everything was being got ready, Lakshmi broke loose from her tether and came to me running as though to tell me that a house was being constructed for her and that I should be there. When I got up, she led me on to the spot. She did the same for her house-warming ceremony also. Somehow she used to understand everything. Very smart indeed!"

– from  Suri Nagamma's ‘LETTERS FROM SRI RAMANASRAMAM’, pp. 332-335

(Reproduced here due to the compassionate ‘Spiritual Sharings’ of respected Shri V Ganesan)