How My Father Came to the Maharshi

MY father’s spiritual life started in his boyhood when he had darshan of Lord Siva in the guise of an old man. This continued to carry him further and further till it induced him to resign his job at Alleppey in Kerala and plunge into the ocean of spiritual quest. He then took to a wandering life, visiting shrines and holy places of South India, together with his wife. This was long before he came face to face with Bhagavan.

He was able to maintain himself on his wanderings, being a musician who gave harikirthanas. He and his wife had a number of thrilling experiences which proved that the Lord is indeed One and pervades everywhere.

In 1928, he settled at Coimbatore and in 1930 I had the good fortune of being born as his son. Often poverty stared him in the face, but he never actually lacked food.

When the last meal was finished and he was left wondering about the morrow the next would appear, but only the next. Many sadhus used to visit him, directed by Providence, either as a means to strengthen his faith or to test his strength.

It was in 1933 that he first went to Tiruvannamalai, with the hope of earning something. He felt a desire to see the person he had heard spoken of as ‘the Maharshi’.

Bhagavan was going through some papers when he first saw him. After a while he raised his head, shaking slightly as usual, and beckoned my father to approach. Hesitant at first, but then convinced that he was calling him, my father went up to Bhagavan and prostrated.

“So you have come from Coimbatore? And how is the family?” Bhagavan said, showing, as he sometimes did, knowledge of the circumstances.

“Wait a little,” Bhagavan said, and in that ‘little’ wait, Nilakanta (my father) was caught as in an eternity.

“Come let us go to the hall,” Bhagavan said, tapping him. Without a word, Nilakanta got up to follow him but then, with a sudden shock, he saw the Divine Father walking in front of him. Unable to control himself, he cried out “Appa!” (Father). By that time Bhagavan had turned into the doorway of the hall and Nilakanta, hurried after him, beholding the God Subrahmanyam ahead of him. Before he had time to think, Bhagavan was in the hall and motioned to him to sit on his right at the foot of the couch. There he sat, feeling like a child at the feet of his father. The minutes ticked by. People were coming in, asking questions, prostrating, but Nilakanta was oblivious of all this. Then the lunch gong sounded and people got up and went out as usual, taking it for granted that Bhagavan, who was always punctual, would go too. But he did not get up. Nor did Nilakanta.

Nilakanta heard a silent voice asking him: “What do you want?” And silently he answered, “Grace.” Still neither of them moved. Nilakanta did not even look up at Bhagavan. Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder and, looking up, he saw the Sarvadhikari who whispered, “Bhagavan won’t get up unless you do. People are waiting in the dining hall.”

Nilakanta looked up and saw Bhagavan’s usually shaking head as firm as a rock while, through half-closed eyes he was bestowing on him a penetrating look1 of boundless love and grace! Surrounding Bhagavan’s head was a golden halo the size of an umbrella inside which golden light-waves emanating from Bhagavan’s head were radiating. Nilakanta forgot everything. In one leap he was at Bhagavan’s side and had flung his arms round him. In a voice husky with love he said: “My Father, your devotees are waiting for you. Shall we go?” “Is that so?” Bhagavan immediately replied. “Yes, of course we will go.” And he left for the dining hall followed by Nilakanta.

My father told me that after that there was no further need for him to visit Bhagavan physically. Over the years, as I can testify, my father’s features began to change, taking on something of the appearance of Bhagavan. Devotees and even strangers would look at him and then at the wonderful picture of Bhagavan at his side and exclaim on the likeness.

To the last he used to refer to Bhagavan as his father, and indeed, when I voluntarily took over the massaging of his legs I used to feel that Bhagavan was giving me an opportunity to serve him in that form.

On the day prior to his leaving the body, oxygen had to be administered. Suddenly my brother and I began to chant the holy refrain “Arunachala-Siva”. We were supporting him in a sitting position. He opened his eyes and looked at the picture of Bhagavan in front of him. Tears began to trickle down his face. He indicated that we should lay him down. There was a beautiful smile on his lips. Soon after this he lost consciousness and throughout the night we chanted Bhagavan’s “Marital Garland of Letters to Sri Arunachala”. Incense was burning. A sweet and holy silence filled the entire house. Even the children, usually noisy, were very quiet. There was no movement in his body except breathing. At 5.30, on October 20th, 1961, the eastern horizon glowed red as though the Holy Arunachala were giving us darshan.

There was a slight movement and it was over. There was no weeping or outer show of grief. As it was puja season, the whole city through which we carried the body wore a festive appearance, with music, flowers, pandals and images of Mother Durga.

Thus ended the story of the body. The spark of Bhagavan Ramana’s eternal flame which had occupied Nilakanta’s body merged into its Source in Bhagavan Ramana.

— The Mountain Path, Vol. 1, 1968