Tuesday, January 19, 2016

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)

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