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My meditation proceeded very well. The constant repetition of my Guru’s name made my mind very quiet. On a few occasions it became absolutely still. When this happened the question ‘Who am I?’ would spontaneously arise inside me. Whenever this happened, as if in answer to the question, my mind would automatically sink into its source, the Heart, and experience the bliss of the Self. I never made any conscious attempt to practise self-enquiry. The question ‘Who am I?’ simply appeared inside me whenever my mind became completely free from thoughts.
My stay in Govindapalli lasted about five months. At the end of that period I contracted a severe case of malaria and had to be taken back to Gudur. The doctor who examined me there decided that I was likely to die. He informed my relatives, many of whom then came to see me to pay their last respects. I had no intention of dying. I had a strong determination that I would not die until I had seen my Guru again. I placed a picture of Ramana Maharshi by my bedside and willed myself to stay alive long enough to see him again. I meditated on this picture throughout the ordeal. Whenever I looked at it I felt as if Bhagavan himself was laughing or smiling at me. I am convinced that it was the power and the grace of Bhagavan that kept me alive and enabled me to make a full recovery.
I was in bed for nearly two months. Towards the end of that period I became a little despondent about my apparent lack of spiritual progress.
As soon as I was able to walk I told my family that I wanted to return to Tiruvannamalai to have Bhagavan’s darshan. Both my mother and my brother tried to convince me that I was too weak to travel, but I refused to listen to their advice. There were some heated arguments about the matter but when it became clear that my family would not give me permission to go, I walked out on them, vowing never to return to their house again. As I left I drew three long vertical lines on the doorframe of my family home. This is a traditional symbol that indicated to my family that I had no intention of ever entering their house again. When my brother finally realised that I could not be persuaded to stay, he very reluctantly gave me Rs 60 to take care of my immediate expenses.
I set off for Ramanasramam immediately and arrived during the Navaratri celebrations of 1949. The second day of my visit was Vijayadasami, the final day of the festival. In the afternoon I stood in front of the Mathrubhuteswara Temple, waiting for Bhagavan to appear. He came out of his small room, accompanied by Swami Satyananda, entered the new hall that was in front of the temple and took his seat on the stone sofa. There were only a few devotees present at the time. I went up to Bhagavan and made a full prostration in front of him. When I stood up, Bhagavan looked intently at me for a few moments. I withdrew and went to look for a place where I could do self-enquiry and not be disturbed by the other devotees. I selected a pillar that was outside the door that Bhagavan had entered through and sat down in front of it. Though I was outside the hall, Bhagavan could still see me from where he was sitting. Shortly afterwards I saw Muruganar taking a seat close to Bhagavan. I noticed that other devotees were entering the hall. After a few minutes Muruganar came and sat down next to me. A few other devotees came and sat near us. I closed my eyes and began to do ‘Who am I?’, the quest for the Self.
Within a few minutes I found that all thoughts had disappeared except for the primal ‘I’-thought. The question ‘Who am I?’ then spontaneously appeared within me. As it did so, the gracious smiling face of Ramana Maharshi appeared within me on the right side of the chest. There was something like a lightning flash that resulted in a flood of divine light shining both within and without. Bhagavan’s face was still smiling on the right side of my chest. It seemed to be lit up with a radiance that exceeded innumerable lightning flashes rolled into one. The bliss and joy these experiences gave me brought tears to my eyes. A torrential flow welled up within me and rolled down my face. I was unable to control them in any way. Finally, the ‘I’-thought went back to its source, the internal picture of Ramana Maharshi disappeared, and the Self absorbed my whole being. From that moment on the Self shone alone and the ‘I’-thought, the individual self, never arose or functioned in me again. It was permanently destroyed through the grace of my Guru in his holy presence.
David Godman Books
Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings
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