"(T)he Enlightened sage of Arunachala, the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, faced legal tribulations regarding the ownership and mangagement rights of the ashrama that had to be addressed in court proceedings, proceedings that the Maharshi himself had to appear before and testify in person --- and according to court transcripts, even be cross examined."
THE RAZOR'S EDGE: Page 2, Continued
A Sannyasi is not supposed to have any possessions of his own. This caused complications when an attendant of Ramana named Perumalsami started a lawsuit. He claimed ownership of the land on which the ashram was constructed. How then could Ramana defend the ashram against the lawsuit that was brought claiming possession of the land?
The following extracts are from the works of Sri Ramana adherent K.K. Nambiar as well as found in the transcripts so recorded in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Volumes 1-3, November 15, 1936, linked below:
The civil suit in the District Munsiffs court at Tiruvannamalai was filed by one of the erstwhile disgruntled attendants of Bhagavan named Perumalsami claiming right to the land which the Ashram was constructed and allied properties. He wanted Bhagavan to be summoned to attend the court to defend the case. But some of Bhagavan's devotees, particularly Grant Duff informed the Governor of Madras about the case and explained to him that it would be a sacrilege to drag Ramana Maharshi to court, whereupon a Gazette Extraordinary was issued granting exemption to Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi from appearance in court in civil suits. I was particularly delighted to see a copy of the Gazette Extraordinary.
It was therefore necessary to examine Ramana at the ashram. Ramana himself had to testify in deposition, although special arrangements were made for the deposition to be taken outside of the courtroom, and at the ashram. The commissioner, Sri V.Krishnaswami Reddi, came to the ashram and heard the case in November. Ramana's testimony was given in 1936, and a fascinating excerpt of the transcript is given recorded in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (Talks, 248ff, Nov. 15, 1936).
Ramana was asked to which of the four stages of life he belonged. This is a reference to the four life stages of student, householder, forest dweller and sannyasi. The point of asking this question was that if Ramana were a sannyasi, he would have renounced all property and therefore could not own the ashram. Ramana replied that he belonged to the atiasramam, which means "beyond the four stages." He was asked whether there were any others who belonged to that stage, and he referred to Suka, Rishabha, Jada Bharata. Suka is mentioned in the Yoga Vasistha. Rishabha and Jada Bharata are mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam. Rishabha was a saintly king who once ruled over the earth. Jada Bharata was his eldest son. Ramana clearly compared himself to these saintly figures. Ramana was asked why he didn't sign his name, and he said he did not know by which name he should be known. People had given him several names since he had arrived.
Ramana was asked how the ashram accumulated property. He said, "Property is thrust on me. I neither love nor hate it. And, Properties came and I accepted them. I agree that owning properties relates to worldly affairs, but I do not hate worldly affairs...I used to accept anything if given to me. Moneys were given only on my behalf."
He was then asked whether the property was given to himself. He said it was given to the Swami in the world, to his body. Donations were accepted by the ashram, and Ramana neither approved nor disapproved of these actions.
Ramana was asked how he had approved the building of the ashram. He said he was guided by the same Power which made me come here and reside on the Hill. As for people living near him, he said that he was not a guru and that he did not have any disciples. If people considered themselves his disciples and wanted to live near him, he could not help it. If he did not find it agreeable, he could always move away.
Following his testimony in the legal action, Ramana was asked whether the examination had caused him any strain, and he said, no, because he had not used his mind. Paul Brunton reports a similar comment, so Brunton may have been present at this examination, although it is unclear which side of the litigation he was supporting.
The legal action was apparently settled in 1938, although it is not clear on what terms. There was a discussion whether a Board of Trustees should control the ashram. But Ramana disagreed. He thought that trustees would take no real interest in running the ashram, and that they would only use it for a milch-cow for their own ends. Ramana thought that it would be better to give permanent management to those who were tied by blood and sentiment (meaning his brother).
In 1933, Ramana had already executed and registered a General Power of Attorney in favor of Niranjanananda Swami, his brother and manager of the ashram. But it was decided that a will would be also required, to ensure that there would be no problems after his death. The information about the will is also interesting. Chadwick says that there was again a lot of debate whether Ramana could even make a will, but one was drafted in 1938 by K. Sundaram Chetty, a retired high court judge from Salem. The will was read out to Ramana , clause by clause. Ramana approved the draft will, and marked an "X" on every page, and put a line on the last page in lieu of a signature. The line followed this declaration:
In token of my execution of this document I affix my mark and also authorize G. Sambasiva Rao to sign for me in my presence as I have not been in the habit of affixing my signature.
The 1500 word will contains a biographical section, which begins,BORN AT TIRUCHUZI, a village in the present Ramnad Dt., on the 30th of December, 1879, I left my native Home for good in my 17th year under Divine inspiration in quest of Arunachala and reached Tiruvannamalai in the year 1896.
Ramana's will goes on to provide that:
All the properties hereunder described and comprised in what is called "Sri Ramanasramama" (and the accretions thereto) are dedicated by me to the Idol already installed and consecrated therein, viz., Sri Mathrubhutheswara Swami and also to the Idol or Statue as my symbol to be installed and consecrated after my demise on my Samadhi at a suitable place in the Asramam itself. I appoint my brother, Niranjanananda Swamy, as the sole manager. After him his son, T.N. Venkatarama Iyer,will be the sole manager. This right of management or trusteeship will vest as a hereditary right in the latter's family so as to devolve successively on his lineal male descendants from generation to generation.
The final document was signed by witnesses and the Maharshi then officially filed the Will for registration by handing it over to the Sub-Register of Tiruvannamalai. Ramana told the Sub-Register that he had executed the Will, and he then requested him to register it.
Chadwick says that just before Ramana's death, his brother asked him to sign a new will because the old one might have some legal loopholes, but Ramana flatly refused to sign another will. At the time, Ramana was already ill with his final illness.
MAP OF THE RAMANA ASHRAM
KLONDIKE BIG INCH LAND COMPANY
SRI RAMANA: A CURIOUS COURT CASE
RAMANA MAHARSHI'S WESTERN DISCIPLES
THE MEETING: AN UNTOLD STORY OF SRI RAMANA
THE BHAGAVAN: AN ATIASRAMI IN THE COURT OF LAW
TALKS WITH SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI, VOL I - III
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER
OF SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA, GYANGANJ, BUDDHISM AND ZEN
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
30 MINUTES TO ENLIGHTENMENT
CODE OF ETHICS FOR SPIRITUAL GUIDES
SPIRITUAL GUIDES: PASS OR FAIL?
FALSE GURU TEST
ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
On my page Klondike Big Inch Land Company I describe how I came about having still in my possession a deed in my name to one whole square inch of land in Canada's Yukon Territory making me landed gentry while the rest of the underling landless indentured servants are trapped in a forever ongoing endless quagmire of squalor.
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