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)