V.Srinivasa Rao


Dr. V. Srinivasa Rao

AMONG THE FOREMOST DEVOTEES, Dr. V. Srinivasa Rao found in Sri Bhagavan the greatest solace and support in his life. He was born in the former native state of Pudukottai and is happily still with us at the age of eighty-seven(in1972). He was intimately associated with the growth of the Ashram for many decades. Childlike by nature and outspoken, his sincerity and frankness gained him easy access and familiarity with Sri Bhagavan who treated him like a pet child.

Born poor and orphaned when hardly four years old, he grew up to be self-reliant. He took his degree in medicine and surgery, and prompted by the good wishes of the doyen of his days, Dr. Singaravelu Mudaliar, he entered Government service. He was medical officer in several district headquarters hospitals and retired in 1940 as the superintendent of the Royapettah Hospital, Madras. After this he spent a good deal of his time in the Ashram in a life of devotion and service to Sri Bhagavan.

To begin with, Dr. Srinivasa Rao had no interest in a spiritual life and seemed more an agnostic, if not a downright atheist. Through the friendship of spiritually highly evolved people like Sri S. Doraiswami Iyer, one of the oldest devotees, he came to Sri Bhagavan. Before taking leave of Sri Bhagavan he asked him, “Will I come again for your darshan?” Sri Bhagavan with a tender and compassionate look patted him on the shoulder saying, “What will happen is sure to happen.” That was all! He felt somehow thrilled in the core of his being by his touch and the gracious reply which strengthened his faith and surrender. Since then remembrance of Sri Bhagavan was constant.

Sri Bhagavan directed his attention specifically to Upadesa Saram among his works and emphasised ekachintana (fixing the mind on one thought — of the One) as essential for the mind to get free of thoughts; and that constant remembrance of God is better than a recital of hymns or silent invocation. On one occasion he told Sri Bhagavan, “It is said that one should contemplate on God Vishnu from head to foot. Is that the correct thing to do?” Sri Bhagavan reminded him, “It is all One from head to foot.” Yet again he discussed the efficacy of Rama Japa and the like and asked Sri Bhagavan, “Why not do Ramana Japa instead of Rama Japa?” to which Sri Bhagavan gave his assent.

After 1940 Srinivasa Rao had the unique opportunity of staying in the proximity of Sri Bhagavan rendering some personal service or other. He treasures the privilege he had of massaging Sri Bhagavan’s limbs and of ministering to him during his bodily ailments as a doctor. His simple but total love and attachment to Sri Bhagavan’s person generated many happy incidents. Once Sri Bhagavan’s knee caps and legs did not function owing to stiffness and Srinivasa Rao with folded hands implored him to permit his massaging for a few days only. Sri Bhagavan would not agree saying, “If allowed to do so you will continue endlessly.” But he beseeched him like a child and Sri Bhagavan yielded but said it would be strictly for ten days. Sri Bhagavan was counting the days and on the last day when Srinivasa Rao was actually massaging his legs Sri T. P. R.’s father who arrived just then, entered the old hall and perceiving the doctor massaging the legs of Sri Bhagavan repeated a Sanskrit sloka and exclaimed, “Oh, Raoji, do not give up what you are doing. You need no other sadhana for your salvation.” Sri Bhagavan burst out laughing and said: “Well, well; I have been counting these days and waiting for this last day and you have come to recommend continuance!” Leaving his massaging, the doctor stepped before Sri Bhagavan and went on doing obeisance imploring Him to listen to the elderly gentleman if not to him. Sri Bhagavan yielded for another ten days!

During the two years preceding Sri Bhagavan’s Maha Nirvana the doctor gave whole-time attention and assistance to Sri Bhagavan’s health and comfort in collaboration with the team of medical men who devoutly rendered service during the last illness.

He happily spent his days remembering Sri Bhagavan and his memorable days with him, and deriving all the solace needed from his writings and utterances, which he revered.