Great compassion of the Sage of Kanchi

B. Anantaswami


To a world that is caught in the vicious grip of tension and fear, wherein, lack of consideration for others, selfishness and aggrandisement are the order of beckoning mankind, to the path of right endeavour and right living, and thence, to the immortal, Supreme. He is a store house of spirituality and wisdom, who spends every moment in his life, for the up-liftment of mankind, by placing before them, through precept and practice, the ideal of the life divine, a teacher of teachers. He is so divine, yet so human, whose saving grace is universal in its sweep, whose concern s for all, particularly the lowliest and the last.

he is the very image of love, compassion and peace. His worship, penance and contemplation are for the whole of mankind. As Dr. B. Franklin, the former U.S. Consul -General said, He had a name, a dwelling place and an age. But in face he is every man, and he is as old as man's eternal ponderings. He is a symbol of that renunciation which is at the heart of all religions.

As a recent writer put it, His Holiness's frame, corporeally so fragile, but radiating an aura of spiritual glory looks as if, some sage like Yagnvalkya, has stepped out of the pages of the Upanishads, a Sage in whose presence, one feels that peace that passeth understanding. Her is one who has transcended metempsychosis, but yet, tarries in this mortal tenement for exercising his spiritual ministry among those benighted worldings, who resort to him, for solace, in their hour of dire distress.

In utter humility, in fact with a sense of trepidation, I record a few very interesting events, which are within my personal knowledge, which will illustrate the great compassion of the Sage.

In 1987, a fortnight before my heart attack, I visited the Sage. For a long time the Sage had stopped the practice of giving prasad, except touching marriage and upanayanam invitations. When I had almost finished seeing the Sage, he called my wife, and presented her with his own hands, a long piece of jasmine flowers strung on thread. When I recovered from my hear attack, I realised that Sage's gesture was an indication that my wife will continue to wear flowers, which means I will survive the heart attack.

When I promised Prof. Swaminathan that I will provide a place for Ramana Kendra in my premises, before starting the Kendra, I went to the Sage for his blessings. He blessed me with both hands, and since then the Kendra has been running from more than 16 years, with weekly Pooja's wherein Rudram, Chamakam, purushasooktham etc., are chanted one week, and the next week, all Prasnas of Taittiriya Upanishad are chanted. The annual Jayanthi and Aradhana (Birth and samadhi anniversaries) of Bhagawan Ramana, are celebrated every year, with all the religious heads in India, without exception, participating. These activities have been going on without a break.

The house was supposed to be a haunted house, and only because of Ganapathy Homam performed by a special priest, suggested by the Sage, Ramana Kendra came to be situated here, and dignitaries visited this place, as predicted by the Sage.

Whenever I used to meet the Sage, the first question he would ask me is, "You are running the Kendra for many years. How many people attend your weekly meetings?" And I would reply with trepidation, that only thirty or forty people attend, unless the speaker is well known. And the Sage would shot back, "Do you know that when speeches are made on Sastras and for Upanishad classes, only five or six people would attend even in the past?"

As is well known, it was His Holiness who sent Paul Brunton (who had come in India in search of mystics to Ramana Maharishi and it was because of Paul Brunton's book, the whole Western world came to know Ramana Maharishi.

At His Holiness instance, I had made a trust for one and half lakhs, the income from which was paid to students of Shastra. But as such students did not stick on, subsequently he asked me to give the income for poor marriages. And I have donated for nearly 40 marriages so far.

I was the contact between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the Sage. She had tremendous reverence for the Sage.

Once when I reached Kanchipuram to see His Holiness had retired. We slept on a raised mud platform adjoining the room which His Holiness was occupying. In the middle of the night, we heard some rumbling sounds inside. When we asked one of His Holiness' attendants, he said that His Holiness was rolling in his bed, because of a rat stirring up there. We asked the attendant why the rat could not be driven out. He said that he tried it bout could not succeed. He had engaged a mason to close the hold through which the rat was going inside. When His Holiness came to know about it, He wanted the mason to be sent away, with the remark. "This place belongs to the rats; we have usurped it. Send away the mason. I want you also to pay for the mason's wages today, because you have called him in the morning, and are sending him away, without work."

The Association for Hindu Dharma, used to present awards to three scholars every year, used to get the approval of His Holiness to the names of scholars. In a particular year, they selected three scholars, and went for His Holiness's approval. He approved two names. When the organisers pointed out that the third scholar was highly qualified, His Holiness said, "You can give to him or to the person suggested by me". strangely, before the day of the award function, the third scholar had passed away.

It is a practice to get clothes for presentation to Dampathis (husband and wife) and leave the clothes with His Holiness for being given to whomsoever He chose. One day a young boy and girl came and took away the clothes. When this was brought to his Holiness' attention, He said "Yes, I have presented the clothes to the right person".

A famous industrialist from Bombay came to see His Holiness along with a guide. As was the custom he had to stand in the queue. Just in front of him, there was a school teacher who seemed to have been denied promotion, because he was a Brahmin. His Holiness heard in detail and discussed the matter with him for a long time and then sent him away. When the industrialist's turn came, he represented that he had lost several crores of rupees, because of wrong interpretation of excise duty rules. His Holiness sent him away with just a blessing. The industrialist was upset he went a little distance away and told his guide, "My matter involves several crores, but the school teacher's was a matter of a few rupees. You Holiness talks to him for a long time but sends me away with just a blessing. I can't understand this". The guide told him that they would wait and see His Holiness again. In the meantime His Holiness saw them talking together and sent for the guide. "What was your master talking with You?", he queried. He hesitated to reply. His Holiness told him "Please tell your master that a few rupees increment in much more important for the school teacher than crores of excess duty for your master".

A friend of mine had fixed an operation to remove a growth in his stomach by a leading gastroenterologist. Before the date of operation, he approached His Holiness for blessing. His Holiness asked the operation to be postponed. Before the postponed operation day, the growth had dissolved.

His Holiness never used a quilt or fan or car. His walking was so fast. He would hold on to a car and walk so fast. Actually he used to run. The writer one day tried to follow him but could not keep pace and actually fell down.

He was one of those Sage who was universally respected by people of different religions.