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)

Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi and his "favourite daughter" Cow Lakshmi ...Part 1 of 3

Cow Lakshmi on Pongal Day
Bhagavan with Cow Lakshmi in the gaosala
Suri Nagamma

16th January, 1946(23) WORSHIP OF THE COW
You know yesterday was the animal Festival of Cows (Mattu Pongal). On that day, all over the country, domestic animals are decorated and fed with Pongal. In the Asramam also yesterday morning, several varieties of sweetmeats were prepared and, with garlands made of those sweetmeats, puja to Nandi was performed by drawing ornamental lines with lime powder before the cowshed, by tying plantain trees around the pillars, by hanging garlands of green leaves, by bathing all the cows, by placing tilakam (vermilion marks) on their foreheads and garlands around their necks, and by feeding them with Pongal. Finally puja was performed to the chanting of mantras and the breaking of coconuts.

Cow Lakshmi is the queen amongst the cows, is she not? You must see her grandeur! Her forehead was smeared with turmeric powder, and adorned with kumkum. Around her neck and horns were hung garlands made of roses and several other flowers, as also those made of edibles, and sweets. Besides these, garlands made out of bananas, sugarcane pieces and coconut kernels, were put around her neck. Not satisfied with these, the person in charge of the animals brought from his own house another garland made out of some savoury preparation like murukku and placed it on the neck of Lakshmi. When Niranjananandaswami asked him what it was for, he replied with justifiable pride that that was his mamool (yearly custom) to do so. When I saw Lakshmi thus decorated like Kamadhenu, I was overjoyed and felt extremely happy.

Sri Bhagavan, who went out at 9-45 a.m., came to the Gosala (cow-shed) at 10 a.m., to shower his blessings on his children there. While he sat on a chair by the side of Lakshmi, enjoying the sight of the beautiful decorations on her, the devotees gave arati with camphor, chanting Vedic hymns such as “Na Karmana” etc. Some devotees said that they would take a photo of Lakshmi. She was then led into the middle of the Gosala after asking the devotees who had gathered into a big group, to step aside. Lakshmi stood there, tossing her head in a graceful manner. Sri Bhagavan also got up, came, and stood by the side of Lakshmi, patting her head and body with his left hand, and when he said, “Steady, please, be steady”, Lakshmi slowly closed her eyes and remained absolutely quiet as if she were in a samadhi (trance). Sri Ramana then placed his right hand on her back, and with his walking stick in his left, stood in a dignified manner by the side of Lakshmi, when the photographer took two or three photos. One must see that sight to appreciate its grandeur fully. 

Another photo was taken when Sri Bhagavan was feeding her with his own hands fruits and sweetmeats. You can see the photos when you come here. I was reminded of Lord Krishna in Repalle when I saw the grand spectacle of Sri Bhagavan standing in the midst of the cows in the Gosala. Not only this, in Brahma Vaivartha Purana it is stated that Lord Krishna is the Paramatma, the Lord of the cow world, and that Radha is Prakriti. The theory in that Purana is that Radha and Krishna are Prakriti and Purusha –the inseparable pair. Standing with his body bent slightly to the left, and with his left hand on Lakshmi, and with the walking stick in his right hand, looking as if it was a flute, with a sparkling smile on the face like the foam on the waves of the ocean of ananda, with a compassionate look towards the group of devotees that had gathered along with the herd of cows, Sri Ramana, the embodiment of Grace, it is no surprise if one were reminded of Lord Krishna Himself standing with crossed legs, resting on his toes and playing exquisitely on the flute. If that Lord Krishna is Bhagavan Ramana, what are we to say of our Cow Lakshmi who appears to have been completely oblivious of this world with her ears hanging down, with her eyes closed and enjoying transcendental bliss caused by the touch of Sri Bhagavan’s hands on her body? Shall I say that she is the embodiment of Prakriti in the shape of Radha? Otherwise, how could she understand human language?

It is no exaggeration to say that we, with human eyes, saw in that congregation what is beyond human sight; a world of cows, and its overlords, Prakriti and Purusha. You would perhaps laugh at my foolish fantasies but take it from me, that sight was so lovely. Every year this worship of the cow is being performed, but this year Sri Bhagavan gave us this blissful darshan by standing by the side of Lakshmi, because the devotees said that they would take a photo of Cow Lakshmi. 

What a great day! I am writing to you, because I just could not contain my joy!

– from Suri Nagamma's ‘LETTERS FROM SRI RAMANASRAMAM’, pp. 31-33  
(Reproduced here thanks to the compassionate ‘Spiritual Sharings’ of respected Shri V Ganesan)