Kunju Swami came to see Bhagavan around 1920 and stayed in Tiruvannamalai for the rest of his life. For twelve years he was Ramana Maharshi's attendant. He was also an unofficial ambassador of the ashram, visiting other ashrams and institutions to talk about Bhagavan. In his lengthy account he writes about how he discovered Bhagavan, and how Bhagavan almost immediately gave him a direct experience of the Self. In addition to narrating his own story, Kunju Swami tells many stories about life with Bhagavan in the Virupaksha Cave and Skandashram eras. His account of the death of Bhagavan's mother and the subsequent establishment of Ramanasramam is the definitive retelling of those momentous events.
Muruganar is rightly regarded as one of the foremost devotees of Ramana Maharshi. After he arrived at Ramanasramam in 1923, he began to compose devotional poetry that praised Bhagavan and thanked him for the grace that had enabled him to realise the Self shortly after his arrival at Arunachala. During the course of his life he composed over 20,000 verses on Bhagavan and his teachings.
An account of his early days with Bhagavan can be found here.
Muruganar was instrumental in getting Bhagavan to write two of his major philosophical works: Ulladu Narpadu and Upadesa Undiyar. He also recorded, in Tamil verse, many of the teachings that Bhagavan gave out. These were ultimately assembled as the anthology Guru Vachaka Kovai, the most authoritative collection of Bhagavan's spoken teachings.
T. P Ramachandra Iyer was brought up in Tiruvannamalai. His grandfather was one of the first people to recognise Bhagavan's greatness in the 1890s, and the only one who managed to get Bhagavan to eat inside a private house there.
Ramachandra Iyer eventaully became a lawyer and in the 1930s and 40s acted as Ramanasramam's legal representative on a number of occasions. He also served as Bhagavan's attendant during that era. His intimate association with Bhagavan over many years gave him a ringside seat to the many events that he lovingly records here.
Chhaganlal Yogi was originally an atheist with a virulent dislike of swamis and gurus. However, his exposure to Bhagavan in the 1940s transformed his life. At that stage of his life he was running a large printing press in Bombay. After he took Bhagavan as his Guru, he was encouraged by the Ramanasramam management to sell his press there and buy another one in Bangalore so that he could print ashram books. During his many visits to the ashram he had many interesting experiences. He also managed to collect stories and record experiences of other devotees that have not been published anywhere else.
Lakshmana Swamy was one of those rare beings who was almost ready for enlightenment when he first encountered Ramana Maharshi in March 1947. On the second day of his second visit to Bhagavan in October 1949 he realised the Self in Bhagavan's presence while spontaneously doing self-enquiry. A first-person account of his days with Bhagavan can be found here.
After Bhagavan passed away in 1950, he returned to his home town in Andhra Pradesh where he spent several years in a state of near perpetual samadhi. Around 1990 he returned to Tiruvannamalai where he now lives as a complete recluse.
Viswanatha Swami was a distant relative of Ramana Maharshi who ran away from home to join Bhagavan at Ramanasramam and eventually ended up spending most of his life there. He served both Ganapati Muni and Bhagavan during his early years in Tiruvannamalai. A good Sanskrit and Tamil scholar, he ended up translating many of Bhagavan's texts. His account focuses on his early years with Bhagavan, his association with Ganapati Muni, and the culminating experience he had of Bhagavan's grace that took place in he final few hours of Sri Ramana's life.
The Power of the Presence, Part Two
The series continues with accounts by the following six devotees:
An extract from Chhaganlal Yogi's account begins on the next page.