A.Devaraja Mudaliar

Is Everything Ordained?

By Devaraja Mudaliar

A.Devaraja Mudaliar, a lawyer, used to address Sri Ramana as 'my father and mother' and sign as Ramana's Child - Ramana Sei. He authored the famous Day by Day with Bhagavan and My Recollections of Bhagavan Sri Ramana.

ONE summer afternoon I was sitting opposite Bhagavan in the Old Hall with a fan in my hand and said to him: "I can understand that the outstanding events in a man's life, such as his country, nationality, family, career or profession, marriage, death, etc. are all predestined by his karma, but can it be that all the details of his life, down to the minutest, have already been determined? Now, for instance, I put this fan that is in my hand down on the floor here. Can it be that it was already decided that on such and such a day, at such and a such an hour, I shall move the fan like this and put it down here?"

Bhagavan replied "Certainly." He continued: "Whatever this body is to do and whatever experiences it is to pass through was already decided when it came into existence."

Thereupon I naturally exclaimed: "What becomes then of man's freedom and responsibility for his actions?"

Bhagavan explained: "The only freedom man has is to strive for and acquire the jnana which will enable him not to identify himself with the body. The body will go through the actions rendered inevitable by prarabdha (destiny based on the balance sheet of past lives) and a man is free either to identify himself with the body and be attached to the fruits of its actions, or to be detached from it and be a mere witness of its activities."

This may not be acceptable to many learned people or philosophers, but I am sure I have made no error in transmitting as above the gist of the conversation that took place between Bhagavan and me. Though this answer of Bhagavan may upset the apple cart of our careful reasonings and conclusions, I am satisfied that what Bhagavan said must be the truth. I also recall in this connection the following lines that Bhagavan once quoted to me from Thayumanavar on another occasion: "This is not to be taught to all. Even if we tell them, it will only lead to endless discussion."

It may be well to remind readers that Bhagavan has given his classic answer to the age-old question "Can freewill conquer fate?" as follows in his Forty Verses. "Such questions worry only those who have not found the source of both freewill and fate. Those who have found this source have left all such discussions behind." The usual reaction of Bhagavan to any such question would be to retort: "Who is it that has this fate or freewill? Find that out and then this question will not arise."

- First appeared in the Call Divine, December 1, 1959

The mind is a bundle of thoughts. The thoughts arise because there is the thinker. The thinker is the ego. The ego, if sought, will automatically vanish. The ego and the mind are the same. The ego is the root-thought from which all other thoughts arise.

- Sri Ramana Maharshi

This is from THE MAHARSHI News Letter


Form about 1936, I used to go to Bhagavan regularly, once almost every month, and stay at the Ashram for three to five days each time. In 1937, I had a remarkable proof of Bhagavan's grace - my office (i.e., the Officer Receiver's Office, Chittor) was audited, and as a result of a stupid mistake of my clerk there was a deficit of Rs.70 in the cash balance. I paid the amount as soon as I was told it was missing. If the authorities had taken a strict level view they could have called the mistake temporary misappropriation. I was terribly upset because I always had a great name for integrity and was afraid it would be damaged. That night Bhagavan appeared in my dream as a young Brahmin, very handsome and valiant in appearance, and easily, without any effort, picked up a big snake that was approaching me and put it aside. The audit report did not cause me any harm and my explanation of its being the clerk's mistake was accepted without any further remark.

I gave up my legal practice in 1939 and decided to live in the Ashram, where I was allowed to build a one-room cottage. Such permission was rarely given, and had been given only to Major Chadwick and Yogi Ramaiah.

One day, a piece of grit got into my eye. Dr.G.S.Melkote, a devotee from Hyderabad, examined the eye and said that the grit had got fixed and he would have to take me to the hospital at Tiruvannamalai, and and if that failed, to Madras, or the eye would be permanently damaged.

I was throughly upset and was telling Bhagavan mentally, "I came here to have a quiet time and enjoy the peace and happiness of your company. Is it your will that all this should happen?" Then I told Dr.Melkote, "Let me put a drop of castor oil and see if the lubrication will discharge the grit." He agreed. We wend to Bhagavan's hall. I prostrated before him, without telling him anything. Then I took a little castor oil from Bhagavan's attendant and left for my room along with the doctor. By the name we reached the corner, I felt a distinct relief. When we got to the room he examined the eye and found nothing there. He then said, "I cannot explain how the grid disappeared. It is clearly the work of your Bhagavan."

After a stay of one or two days at the Ashram I found that the food there did not suit me. This apart, I generally took a very small quantity of rice. Once Bhagavan observing my leaf-plate, asked, "How do you manage wit so litte food?" I replied, "Even when I take so little my stomach gives trouble after one or two days. I cannot properly digest even this quantity." Bhagavan kept quiet, but thereafter I had no more trouble with my stomach even when I stayed continuously in the Ashram and took all the meals.

Because of the poor health of my daughter and of the interval of about ten years since her previous confinement, I was extremely anxious about her delivery. The medical assistance available at her husband's place was minimal. I communicated all this anxiety to Bhagavan through a letter. I got reply from the Ashram the I need not be anxious and that my dauther would have a safe delivery.* This was not the sort of reply that was usually sent from the Ashram. What was usual was something like the following: 'We hope that by Bhagavan's Grace the confinement will be safe.' I came back to the Ashram telling my son-in-law that I would be of no particular use there and to wire me if there was need. After I had been with Bhagavan for two or three days, I got a letter from my son-in-law stating that my dauther's delivery was safe and smooth.

About the end of 1946, I got a call from my brother to help him in a certain case between him and another close relation of ours in a court at Madras. I earnestly prayed to Bhagavan that the case should end without any trial. I wrote to Bhagavan that it was humiliating for me when close relation have proceedings in the court and our domestic concerns get exposed. I was mentally very anxious that the case should not come up for trial. But both parties were stubborn and cantankerous and a compromise was very improbable. Still Bhagavan's grace did not fail; the case ended without any trial, but on account of a circustmance which I could never have dreamt of: the party was had compalined against my brother and his advocate were both absent when the case was called, and so the compalint was dismissed.

A whole volume could be written describing how Bhagavan practised samatva (equality) and taught us constantly by his example. In his presence all were alike, high or low, rich or poor, man or wooman, child or adult, human or animal. Just as he himself treated all alike, he would never tolerate any special consideration or attention being shown to him more than to any other in the Ashram.

Many a time it happend that if he observed even a little excess in what was served to him of any dish or any delicacy above the quantity served to others, he would flare up with indignation and rebuke whoever was responsible. He used to say,"By doing such a thing you are disgracing me. There cannnot be a greater disgrace than this."

Once a visiting European lady was sitting opposite to Bhagavan in the hall. Being unaccustomed to squatting on the floor with legs crossed, she stretched out her legs in front. One of the attendants considered this disrespectful to Bhagavan and asked her to fold her legs. The poor lady felt that whereas she came to show respect she had done something disrespectful, and I had the impression that she almost wept with chagrin. Bhagavan who reads the hearts and not acts, felt unhappy for the distress caused to the lady. He told her there was no harm in sitting as was most comfortable to her, however she could not be persuaded again to do so.

Bhagavan himself was stretching out his legs on the couch, since the rheumatism in his knees had made it painful to sit cross-legged for more than a short time. However, he now sat up cross-legged and could not be persuaded to relax again the whole body. He said, "If it is a rule for her, it is a rule for all. I too should not stretch out my legs." However much we begged Bhagavan not to take notice of a foolish act on the part of an attendant, he could not be discussed at all. It was only the next day what we succeeded in getting him to stretch out his legs as usual whenever he felt like it.

* Sri Ramana never wrote any letter or signed any paper. The letters addressed to him were read out to him and the replies were sent by the Ashram office as desired by him.