Meenakshi Muruganar

from The Mountain Path

I was born the sixth daughter of Sri Periyakulam Krishna Iyer and Kanakammal on the fourth day of Panguni month, Saleevagna Sahabdha, 1823 (17-3-1902). My parents and elders called me Meenakshi. I was happy with my parents.

When I was eleven years old, somebody told my father that there was a good boy named Subramanian in Ramanathapuram who was available for marriage. His parents were Sri Krishnamurthy Iyer and Srimathi Subbalakshmi Ammal. My father went there and talked with them about giving me in marriage to their son, and this was accepted. My marriage took place in the Melmangalam village near Periyakulam and was celebrated for five days on a grand scale. My husband was a tutor to the third Rani's mother in Ramanathapuram palace. After my marriage, he served as Tamil vidvan in Thiruvanamalai Nayakkar Mahal, Madurai. Then we left that place, came to Rayapuram and settled in Kollava Agraharam. My husband became Tamil pandit in Northwick School, Rayapuram.

In the meantime, my father took sannyasa and became one of the leading devotees of Sri Ramana Bhagavan. (The father's name was Dandapani Swami). Later, my father went to Palani with Bhagavan's permission, constructed an ashram in South Giri Street, and lived there for some time. While he was there he came to our house in Rayapuram. During his visit, he gave a copy of Aksharamanamalai (The Marital Garland of Letters) to my husband. My husband went through them and after four days informed me that he was going to Thiruk kazhi Kunram. However, instead, he went straight to Tiruvannamalai.

When he saw Bhagavan, he felt that his whole body was burning. He wept and cried out complaining of a burning sensation without knowing what it was. The attendants around Bhagavan thought that he was mad. One attendant, Sri Ramakrishna Swami rubbed lemon juice on his head and poured pots of water over him. He stayed there for several days doing tapas and having Bhagavan's darshan. Then he returned to Madras and his job, but he had little interest in his work.

Then he began to go to Tiruvannamalai on all Saturdays and Sundays for one year. After my mother-in-Iaw's first annual ceremony, and without informing me, he resigned his job and went to Ramanathapuram. My neighbours telegrammed to my brother about my problem and he came to see me. Both of us went to the school and met the headmistress who was an English lady She said that he had resigned his job and left. I began to weep and she consoled me by saying that God would help me.

Then I went to Ramanathapuram with my brother and Muruganar came to visit us the night we arrived. I held his feet and wept. I requested him to point out my faults if any that made him leave me alone. He gave me no reply. Then I went to Raghava Iyengar, a great Tamil scholar in the town and told him about my troubles. Raghava talked to my husband but his words had no effect.

Then Sri Muruganar left for Tiruvannamalai, and after ten days, I also went there. Santhammal also came to the Ashram. I told all my sufferings to Bhagavan and wept and Bhagavan consoled me. I stayed in the Ashram for six months. At that time the Ashram was very small; Chinnaswami, Bhagavan, Palani Swami, Ramakrishna Swami, and Dandapani Swami used to cook. I helped them in the kitchen and it was a very happy time for me.

Daily Bhagavan used to give me ten verses from Muruganar's works and instructed me to recite them to him the following day. I did it regularly. Sometimes I helped Bhagavan in grinding iddlies etc. Once a week Bhagavan used to go around the hill with Kunju Swami, Dandapani Swami, Ramakrishna Swami, Santhammal and others. I also used to accompany them. We used to recite "Aksharamanamalai" during our pradakshina.

Bhagavan never allowed anyone to be idle. All disciples used to sit in meditation with closed eyes in the hall. I did not know how to meditate, and when I mentioned this to Bhagavan, he taught me how to do it. One day I came to the hall with my hair full of flowers and bowed before Bhagavan. Santhammal saw my decorations and said "Your husband has become a sannyasi, why do you dress up like this? "1 After hearing this, I removed the flowers and I went up to Bhagavan weeping and bowed down before him. He noticed me and asked, "Why did you remove all your decorations?" I said I that it was on the advice of Santhammal. Immediately, Bhagavan called Santhammal and I asked, "Why, has she no husband? Why should she not decorate herself if she wants to? When anyone comes to the Ashram and takes a ladle in their hand, they immediately think that they are wonderful.2 While I was trying to pacify her, you have hurt her heart."

On one occasion, while others were doing meditation, I was more interested in some coffee which was due to be served. Bhagavan noticed me, laughed and said: "Everyone is doing meditation on the Self, but Meenakshi is doing coffee meditation." At that moment Saranagathi Ramaswami Iyer who came in a bullock cart entered the hall with coffee and iddlies and Bhagavan asked him to serve me first.

Muruganar stayed near the temple in town with Eswaraswamigal and Gopal Rao. They used to go begging for their food at noon. Muruganar used to sit alone in Subramaniya Temple in the evening. One evening, acting on Santhammal's advice, I caught hold of his feet and asked, "What mistake have I done? Why did you leave? What will be my future? " In response he opened neither his mouth nor his eyes.

Soon after this incident; someone brought a piece of verse to the hall and put it before Bhagavan. Bhagavan wanted Muruganar to read it and said: "Muruganar has been absent for the last two days. What is the reason? " In response to this I went to Bhagavan and told him what I did at the temple on Santhammal's advice. Bhagavan got angry with me and said, "Why did you act like that on that woman's advice. You see, while he was here, you could see your husband. But now he has disappeared, what will you do? Hereafter, don't take other's advice and don't give trouble to Muruganar."

Then he asked Viswanatha Swami, and Ramakrishna Swami to search for Muruganar and bring him back. They found him in Skandashram and brought him back to the Ashram telling him that Meenakshi had gone to her village. He came and sat by the side of Bhagavan and I went before Bhagavan and did namaskaram. Then Bhagavan asked Muruganar why he had run away instead of advising her to do some meditation. Muruganar remained silent.

Then Bhagavan picked up a book. I was sitting in a corner and he called to me to come near him. "Meenakshi, come here, there is a story in this book, I shall read it to you. Listen. Once a husband and wife lived happily for some time. One day her husband disappeared with out telling anybody. Many years passed but she could not find him. Eventually she joined a hospital as a nurse. In the same hospital, her husband was also working as head compounder, but they did not recognise each other. After some time they became close friends and the nurse became pregnant. When her mother came to help her, he saw her and realised that his present wife was the same one whom he had earlier deserted. " After finishing the story Bhagavan asked, "Why don't you act like her? " and everyone in the hall laughed, including me.

One day, all the devotees were sitting in the hall. I was in tears again. Bhagavan asked me. "Why are you crying again? Did some body tease you?" I said, "No one talked against me but I thought of my miserable life and the tears just came." Bhagavan said, "Why don't you take my advice? What is there in the family life. See, your father has ten children, but they are not helping him. What is the use? I am always here with you. Nothing will happen, don't worry." Thus Bhagavan consoled me. He said, "Go only to the house who calls you affectionately, Meenakshi '. The Ashram will take care of you."

Another day he called me 'Meenakshi' and gave me ten verses by Muruganar to memorise. In these verses he describes Bhagavan as his bridegroom with Muruganar being his bride. He complains that Ramana has left the bride in the streets after marriage without proper care. The verses are Nayaki Nayakabava. The verse says, "You were once with me my wedded Lord, but now for a long time you have abandoned me. And if I complain, you call our old friendship a dream that I had dreamt." In the version given to me, Bhagavan changed the last line, changing Ramana moyavane to Muruga maya vane. He then asked me to recite these verses in the hall in the evening while Muruganar was there.

I sang these ten verses in the hall while Muruganar was sitting by the side of Bhagavan. Bhagavan then told Muruganar that he has not left him in the streets, but Muruganar has left Meenakshi in the streets. Muruganar got up laughing, but Bhagavan asked him to give a reply before getting up, but he went away without saying anything.

Then Bhagavan said, "I tried in so, many ways. It is of no use. God alone will look after you. "

Bhagavan was very kind to me.

His grace must be with me forever .....