The author of this article, Sri C. R. Rajamani, presented the following talk
the April 25, 1998 Aradhana program at Arunachala Ashrama, New York,NY.
I have been a devotee of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi for over 55 years. I was in my early twenties when I first had His darshan. The event is still fresh in my memory not because I was at that age so mature, which I was not, but because of a very remarkable incident I saw on that occasion.
I went to the Ramana ashrama in the early forties when the Second World War was at its peak and our own independence movement was also at its maximum intensity. I am not certain about the date or the month of my visit; it may have been December or January. I remember the season was quite cool. The summit of the holy mountain Arunachala was shrouded in dense mist and clouds. The morning air was crisp and pleasant.
It was in the original small hall, that is remembered by the early devotees with justifiable fondness, that I first saw Sri Bhagavan seated on a raised platform. A cast-iron charcoal brazier was radiating a comfortable warmth, and a pleasing aroma of the incense thrown into it at regular intervals was pervading the entire hall. About thirty people, comprised of men, women and a few young boys were seated on the floor facing Sri Bhagavan. None spoke or even whispered between themselves. What struck me was, no one showed even an inclination to talk. Some were meditating with closed eyes. The silence was definitely not an imposed one.
Sri Bhagavan, his body luminous like burnished gold, was sparsely clad in his usual kaupinam and a small towel across his chest. He appeared to be occasionally dozing off and had to steady his head often. He frequently stretched his palms over the fire and massaged his long fingers. In spite of his apparent dozing, his eyes did not look drowsy. On the contrary, they were extraordinarily bright and alert. He was not looking at anybody in particular, nor were his eyes roaming about the hall in idle curiosity. Although my first impression was not a very uplifting one, I felt I was in the presence of an extremely affable person with a lot of natural grace, at perfect ease and without any pretension whatsoever. I was, however, aware of an effortless peace in the hall.
I saw a white-skinned boy, a foreigner, of about ten years sitting a couple of feet to my left. Next to him was a white man, presumably his father. Further to my left, beyond the central aisle, was a white woman, whom I thought was the boy's mother. I then saw Sri Bhagavan's eyes alight on the boy for a brief minute. I thought it was just a casual look. The boy was all the time looking at Sri Bhagavan with a sort of fixation, as if on the verge of asking a question. But, no! He broke into tears. A cascade of tears came gushing out of his eyes. They were not tears of pain, for his face was radiant with joy. In temples, I have seen adults shedding tears in ecstasy, and had myself experienced that type of joyous outpouring on hearing a beautiful hymn or a moving melody, but I had never seen a ten-year-old boy from a far-off land exhibiting this type of beautiful expression in an extremely quiet and serene atmosphere. I could see that Sri Bhagavan's glance, though only resting on him for a brief moment, had opened in the boy's heart a veritable reservoir of pure joy.
I did not feel a remorse for my lack of receptivity that I ought to have felt. But I felt most fortunate to see a boy not even half my age showing such an alert sensitivity. The flat feeling I had experienced earlier was washed away by the joyous tears of another; I really felt blessed in an indirect way. Direct or indirect, blessing is blessing. Whenever I recall this incident, it creates a feeling of being very near to something truly Divine. Of course, I have had my own share of Sri Bhagavan's grace in my later years. I have also had some ever-fresh visions which I dare not devalue as creations of a fevered imagination for they have strengthened my faith in Sri Bhagavan. Some of them occurred decades after Sri Bhagavan's Mahanirvana. They have been firm confirmations of his continued Presence and reassurances of his immortal words, "They say I am going! Where can I go? I am always here!"
I learned that the boy had come along with his parents, who had come to attend the Theosophical Society's world convention which is usually held at Adyar, Madras. The boy's parents arranged a trip to Tiruvannamalai, but he stoutly refused to accompany them. However, he changed his mind at the last moment and did make the trip.(see) Within an hour of his face-to-face meeting with Sri Bhagavan, his mental barriers were reduced to nothingness. He shed tears for quite some time and later said to his mother, "I am so happy. I don't want to leave his presence. I want to be always with him!" His mother was most upset. She pleaded with Sri Bhagavan, "Swami, please release my son! He is our only child. We will be miserable without him." Sri Bhagavan smiled at her and said, "Release him? I am not keeping him tied up. He is a mature soul. A mere spark has ignited his spiritual fire." Turning to the boy, the Maharshi said, "Go with your parents. I will always be with you."
He spoke in Tamil throughout, but the boy understood him fully. He bowed to Sri Bhagavan and reluctantly left with his parents, immensely rich with the newly-found spiritual treasure.
 ORIGINAL SOURCE FOR C.R. RAJAMANI'S ARTICLE
AND NOW THIS:
In an update to the Rajamani article above, the most respected Professor Laxmi Narain, who compiled and edited the book entitled "Face to Face with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Enchanting and Uplifting Reminiscences of 160 persons" (Sri Ramana Kendram, 2005), has revised and updated his book by including an additional forty face-to-face meetings with Ramana.
So said, while in the process of doing so Narain forwarded the forty additional reminiscences to the noted Ramana adherent David Godman, possibly for review. In with the forty new reminiscences was the one above by C.R. Rajamani you just read with the source cited as being Googled from Ramana Maharshi Stories and Teachings, Collection 3. Godman then, in his Ramana-related blog, published the version of Rajamani that Narain sent and included in the new revised edition. Although Rajamani is cited as the author, no mention of the original title or original source is brought forth. So too, and most importantly for those of us here, it should be pointed out that the main point I cite and reference in my works as being inaccurate in Rajamani's original material --- i.e., the boy's nationality --- has been revised in Godman's and Narain's latest works. The paragraph this footnote is referenced to replicates the revised version.
You can see for yourself the aforemention revision or correction, as the case may be, in "real life" by going to the PDF online version of Laxmi Narain's book. Refer to Number 179, page 384, titled C.R. Rajamani
FACE TO FACE WITH SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI
Enchanting and Uplifting Reminiscences of 202 Persons
In relation to what is attributed to Rajamani as found in the older version prior to the Godman/Narain revision, the following paragraph is presented as found in SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: The Last American Dharsan:
"Rajamani cited the couple as being Australian and thus then by default, the boy with the couple, being Australian. Of course, such was not the case. It may be even that it was only the man of the couple that was Australian, with the woman actually being American. My suspicions are such because of the passport situation as told to me by my uncle. I never saw the passport in question, but he stated he had seen a passport with a picture of the woman and myself among the things he found at his mother's following his mother's death. Although the couple left me at my grandmother's, how or why the woman's passport itself would fall into the hands of my grandmother on my father's side in Pennsylvania for any reason at all is not clear. However, if the woman was American and stayed in America she might not need one. Also, if she did need a passport and she was pictured with a son and no son was evident, that could cause a problem. As well, if she was Australian or an American traveling with her Australian husband she may have had a second passport --- an Australian one without a picture of a boy."(source)
Observations in the above paragraph are not meant to detract from anything Rajamani has presented. The information is simply being brought forth for the reader's attention because there are some things Rajamani would not have been privy to, or, in the end, could not or would not have known from his vantage point. Additionally, besides the information provided in the paragraph above, for example, there were three letters written by the woman of the couple --- two postmarked from India and one from England I call the Liverpool Letter, the contents of which outlined various aspects of the trip --- all three found left unopened and unread until years later.(see) As it was, Rajamani was not an interview reporter. He was simply a true Ramana adherent visiting and meditating in the ashram. He presented what he saw through personal observations --- most probably garnered from a distance and written sometime after the fact.
There are two fairly viable reasons why it is suggested that what Rajamani wrote was "most probably garnered from a distant and written sometime after the fact," both reasons emanating from what is presented in his article by his own hand --- or no doubt that of a close surrogate --- and why, as found in the closing paragraph below, the suggestion carries any relevance.
First, in the preface paragraph to his article above, you find written that Rajamani "presented the following talk at the April 25, 1998 Aradhana program at Arunachala Ashrama in New York City." Even though for us on the internet we are privy to a written version of his talk in article form, it appears it was originally designed as a speech to be given, which it apparently was, before a group of people attending the 1998 Aradhana program at Arunachala Ashrama in New York. From there it is presumed it was thus then transcribed into article form. See "Original Source For Article" as found at the bottom of the purple section of the main text above.
Rajamani starts out right away saying he was at the ashram in his early twenties and that he had been a devotee of Sri Ramana for over 55 years. He also says, in relation to the event that transpired between the Maharshi and the young boy, that the event was "still fresh in (his) memory." The conclusion to be drawn from such comments is that the contents of his article were NOT written on the scene in the 1940s, but possibly recalled some fifty or sixty years later specifically for the year 1998 Aradhana program.
Secondly, Rajamani has provided us with a couple of statements such as "I am not certain about the date or the month of my visit; it may have been December or January," as well as "seeing a white-skinned boy, a foreigner, and next to him "a white man, presumably his father" and beyond the central aisle "a white woman, whom he thought was the boy's mother." The first quote is a little cloudy or ambiguous which inturn casts some suspicion on anything else he may or may not remember. The second quote sort of confirms what he knows or doesn't know (i.e., the white man was presumably his father; the white woman was thought to be his mother --- presumably and thought, not known). Tweaking any of Rajamani's potential observational skills toward his behalf however, in those days any paired male and female traveling together would be separated in the meditation hall as a matter of tradition anyway, as men always sat on one side of the hall, women at the other (i.e., "and beyond the central aisle a white woman"). Except possibly in the man and woman's case of being white, unless they were seen on the ashram grounds together for example, a couple as a couple could easily be missed. For a complete clarification, please see:
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: THE LAST AMERICAN DARSHAN
RECOUNTING A YOUNG BOY'S NEARLY INSTANT TRANSFORMATION INTO THE ABSOLUTE DURING HIS ONLY DARSHAN WITH THE MAHARSHI
DREW HEMPEL AND THE WANDERLING
It should be noted that Adam Osborne, who, as a young boy grew up at the Ramana Ashrama and the son of one of the foremost Ramana biographers Arthur Osborne, played a prominent role in the Last American Darshan as linked above.
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.
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
30 MINUTES TO ENLIGHTENMENT
THE AWAKENING EXPERIENCE IN THE MODERN ERA
CODE OF ETHICS FOR SPIRITUAL GUIDES
SPIRITUAL GUIDES: PASS OR FAIL?
FALSE GURU TEST
ON THE RAZOR'S
The three letters in question came into my hands well before Rajamani gave his talk at the 1998 Aradhana program. However, it was well after his talk and the publication of same under the title "The Grace That Brooks No Barriers" in the May/June 1998 (Vol 8 - No. 3) issue of The Maharshi (see) that what he said was brought to my attention. The following is part of what I have written about the three letters as found in the source at the end of the paragraph:
"The earliest dated letter was written on a letterhead from a steamship line. The second dated letter was on a letterhead from a hotel in India, and the third on a letterhead from an India-based American religious sect. The first two were postmarked several weeks apart from India with the third a month or so after the last of the two, from Liverpool, England. All were written with an apparent preordained assumption of understanding by my father, but seemed highly cryptic to me because at the time of my reading of the letters I had very little to no real background knowledge relating to any of the circumstances contained therein. The two with India postmarks went on-and-on mostly just rambling with excuses of why I had been taken to India in the first place and how good it was going to be for me in the longrun. The Liverpool letter, except for several long incoherent paragraphs about picking up a live survivor or two or none at all amongst several dead in a life raft sometime before arriving or after leaving Cape Town, South Africa, circulated mostly around the logistics of bringing me home along with a brief mention of the possibility of me somehow being sick, all the while avoiding any previous mention of how great it would be for me to be in India." (source)
SEE ALSO: THE LIVERPOOL LETTER
"It was in the original small hall, that is remembered by the early devotees with justifiable fondness, that I first saw Sri Bhagavan seated on a raised platform."
According to SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: Timeline, although there was some minor preliminary work on the eventual location of the big hall (i.e., the New Hall) such as clearing ground, moving rocks, etc. done earlier, actual construction such as laying of the foundation and that sort of thing did not occur until January 25, 1945, with the cornerstone not being laid until June 5, 1945. It wasn't until four years later, on March 14, 1949, that Ramana was taken to open the New Hall. So, for the most part, to set the timeframe during the time period we are talking about here, that is Rajamani's visit to the ashram, prior to the end of the year 1944 ONLY the small hall, or Old Hall as it came to be called, existed. See:
MAP OF THE RAMANA ASHRAM
That would be the 67th International Convention held December 26 to 31, 1943 at the International Headquarters, Adyar, India.(see)
C.R. Rajamani described in his article his visit to the Sri Ramana ashram and within it's contents, chronicled me being there as well. He was however, not specifically clear as to the exact dates, month or year he was at the ashram, thus then leaving, because of the mitigating circumstances presented in the Last American Darshan, my time being there in limbo as well.
Rajamani did include three general statements in his comments that narrowed down his stay fairly closely. First, he said he went to the Ramana ashram in the early forties (i.e., 1940s) when the Second World War was at its peak. Secondly, he said it may have been December or January because he remembered the season was quite cool. Third, that he learned the boy had come with his parents who were in India for the Theosophical Society's world convention which was usually held at Adyar, Madras.
All three of his his given observations fit perfectly with the timeframe I have been able to work out for myself, of which for me include the date of the Theosophical Society's world convention, the contents of a letter written by the woman of the couple to my father, and the comments of William Samuel to my childhood friend Adam Osborne that mentioned him seeing the two of us at the ashram during the time the full moon in April of 1944.(see)
Nothing could be more specific for setting a date for a given event than knowing it happened during an exact phase of the moon --- especially so if the phase is known to have been a full moon. For Samuel, the fact that a full moon was in the picture was easily recalled because that is the holiest time to participate in Giri Valam, circumabulation of Arunachala --- which, according to what Samuel told Osborne, he did.
In April of 1944 the moon was full on Saturday April 8th. Backtracking from April 1944 to the closest Theosophical Society's world convention would make it the 67th International Convention held December 26 to 31, 1943 at the International Headquarters, Adyar, India. That would put me at the ashram after the convention was over, most likely in the January of 1944 bracket. As for the letter to my father from the woman of the couple, because of events she wrote about that I chronicle in The British Motor Merchant Tulagi I narrowed down our trip home by ship via the Indian Ocean sometime toward the end of May, 1944 and back in the states sometime in June, 1944.
Being back in the states sometime in June 1944 is pretty much a foregone conclusion because sometime near the very last day of June or so 1944, I was put on a passenger train somewhere in Pennsylvania headed toward Chicago, traveling with who I do not know. If it was or was not the couple who took me to India has never been confirmed. In Chicago I boarded the Number 19 Santa Fe Chief westbound to Los Angeles. Toward midnight of July 3, 1944, between Flagstaff, Arizona and Williams, on a high speed downhill run and behind schedule, the Chief's locomotive, bearing the #3774, a powerful Baldwin built 4-8-4 Northern with 80 inch drive wheels and clocking out at over 90 miles per hour, hit a marked 55 mph speed limit curve, with the locomotive derailing and sliding in the dirt on it's side off the tracks for well over 500 feet before coming to a stop. The rest of the 14 car train ended up in various stages of derailment and wreckage on and off the track, some cars remaining upright with two actually staying on the tracks undamaged. The fireman and three passengers were killed. 113 passengers along with 13 train employees injured, among them the severely injured engineer.
SANTA FE LOCOMOTIVE #3774
As I look back, I have this innate feeling there was something that just touches on being semi-off about the woman of the couple, at least relative to me. I have no proof, but in the depth of my stomach I have this feeling the woman held it in her heart I was really her birth child --- to such a point she was nearly fanatical about it --- that I had actually been born of her womb. Then, for some reason out of nowhere she suddenly snapped out of it and couldn't get rid of me fast enough.
Eight years prior to the above incident, American birth control activist Margaret Sanger was invited to speak before an international woman's group in India. Accepting the offer, a few days before her departure she crossed paths with one of Sri Ramana Maharshi's major adherents, author Paul Brunton, who wrote A Search in Secret India (1934). Brunton maintained a small hut southwest of Madras and invited Sanger to visit him and in turn, he would introduce her to the Bhagavan. Sanger accepted the invitation, but before going to Tiruvannamalai and the Ramana ashram she went to the Theosophist headquarters in Adyar. It seems her hero, big time birth control activist Annie Besant, had set the scene for the organization's birth control policy and had done so mostly operating out of the Adyar headquarters. Sanger, in her autobiography, writes the following as to what she found out:
"Annie Besant, as soon as she had become a Theosophist, had withdrawn her books on population. I was interested to find out the attitude of present Theosophists towards birth control, and discovered that those at Adyar were persuaded of its importance. Among their beliefs was that great souls did not reincarnate unless the bodies of parents, their vehicles for birth, were perfect. If they were to perform their missions, they must wait for purity in their physical vestures."(source)
It is my belief the childless couple I was fostered to, being surrounded by or immersed in the above atmosphere, is what forged their attitude toward having or not having children and how I fit into the picture. While in America and during our early travels together, at least as the couple viewed it, everything must have worked out favorably, with nary a ripple. But, whatever happened to me under the auspices of the Maharshi in India I think scared or adversely impacted the woman of the couple profusely.
It apparently came to her that neither she nor her husband, both fully indoctrinated active participants in The Theosophical Society, were going to match or reach the level of Attainment advocated by the Society --- that is purity in their physical vestures --- and, IF following those dictates as set forth by the Society, rightly or wrongly, could never have children of their own. Rather than me helping the situation arriving at the level of Experience that came about by me sitting before the Bhagavan in Darshan, and with nothing remotely close for them, she was sick with the idea of no child of her own with me in reality being a non-birthed by her child originally passed off as hers --- a constant reminder or hindrance to her or their plight.
THE GREAT HALLS OF LEARNING AND WISDOM