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This time he accepted the advice. Neither of us knew why he finally agreed after rejecting the first appeal. He got up, went inside and, as requested, sat on his sofa. Both of us then placed our cases before him. He quietly listened to us and gave his verdict in the language of silence. Smiling with great charm he maintained complete silence both during and after the presentation of the arguments. The judgement was the best possible one for both of us. Sri Bhagavan’s silence had healed the breach. As we emerged from the hall both of us had a spontaneous impulse to embrace the other. In those few minutes our hearts had changed. We separated with the resolve to bury the past and to treat each other in future with love and friendship. The silken tie with which Sri Bhagavan bound us on that day has never snapped again.
Sometimes in life there is a clash between two competing obligations, especially if both seem to be equally important. At such times it is rather difficult to arrive at the right decision. It has been my experience that at such times our gracious Master leads us to the proper decision. I will give an example from my own life.
At one time I felt that my political duty as a Gandhian demanded that I should court arrest, but my domestic duties bade me otherwise. As I was eager to go to jail as part of the Independence struggle, it pained me that, out of regard for my family, I was not able to do so. I found myself in a dilemma and I could not of my own accord see the way out. The situation was so unbearable for me that I had to turn to the Master for help and relief. I therefore set out for Tiruvannamalai.
After reaching there I went and sat in the holy presence of the Master. While I was sitting there, I began to wonder how I should place my difficulty before him because I did not feel like broaching the subject verbally. I finally decided to pour forth my prayer from my heart in silence in the form of a plea for Sri Bhagavan to extend his benign help to me. I began to pray and while I concentrated on my mental plea I watched his radiant face and his sparkling eyes that were full of love and kindness. And then, astonishingly, something like a miracle began to happen. Sri Bhagavan’s face transformed itself into that of Mahatma Gandhi, while his body remained the same. As I stared at it with awe and wonder, the two faces, those of Sri Bhagavan and Gandhiji, began to appear to me alternately in quick succession. I felt my heart filling with joy and yet at the same time I was wondering whether what I saw was real or not. I turned my eyes away from Sri Bhagavan and looked around me to see if others were seeing what I saw. Seeing no sign of wonder on their faces, I concluded that what I saw was a picture from my own imagination. I closed my eyes and sat quietly for some time. Then, as I began again to look at Sri Bhagavan’s face, the vision immediately reappeared, but this time with a slight change. In addition to the two faces of Sri Bhagavan and Gandhiji, those of Krishna, Buddha, Kabir, Ramdas and a host of other saints began to show themselves in quick succession. Now all my doubts vanished and I began to enjoy this grand and divine show. The vision lasted about five minutes. My mind dropped all its worries and I found myself able to hand over my problem to the capable hands of the Master. Though he spoke no words to me, it came to pass that the problem was solved without infringing either of my two duties. In fact, both duties were fulfilled satisfactorily.
I had another vision of Sri Bhagavan in 1943. During my visit to Sri Ramanasramam that year, I visited the temple of Sri Arunachaleswara with my family and a friend who was a devotee from Madurai. This is the main temple in Tiruvannamalai, the same one that Sri Bhagavan stayed in when he first came to Arunachala.
While we were walking through the spacious courtyards I did not have any inkling of the wonderful experience I was to pass through when I finally saw the deity.
On reaching the innermost shrine we discovered that we were early, for the doors of the shrine had not been opened. We decided to wait there till someone came to unlock them. I leaned back against a pillar and began to think about Sri Bhagavan’s early life. Suddenly my thoughts began to materialise physically as scenes from his early life began to appear before my eyes as vividly as if I were watching a cinema film.
The film had the following scenes, all of which I saw very clearly: Venkataraman is writing the imposition in his uncle’s house in Madurai. Leaving it aside, he sits bolt upright, closes his eyes and becomes absorbed in the more congenial practice of meditation. His elder brother Nagaswami is watching him and rebukes him for neglecting his lessons. Venkataraman then decides to leave the house. He takes three rupees from his brother’s college fees and departs after leaving a short note. He reaches the railway station. He buys a ticket to Tindivanam, gets into the train and sits quietly in one corner. A moulvi [Muslim scholar] who is discoursing to other passengers notices him and asks him where he is going. On learning that Venkataraman has got a ticket to Tindivanam but wants to go on to Tiruvannamalai, the moulvi directs him to break his journey at Villupuram. I see Venkataraman getting down at Villupuram and walking through the town in search of food. He waits near a hotel whose meals are not yet ready. Meanwhile he loses himself in samadhi. When the meal is ready, he takes it, offers to pay for it, but the hotel owner refuses payment. He then goes to the railway station and buys a ticket to Mambalapattu. From there he walks for about ten miles and reaches the temple of Ariyanainallur. In the temple he sees a vision of dazzling light and goes into samadhi again. He then goes to Kilur, where he pledges his earrings and gets four rupees for them. With this money he goes to the railway station and buys a ticket to Tiruvannamalai.
David Godman Books
Books by David Godman on Ramana Maharshi, his devotees and his teachings
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