Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya

We have all read stories written by devotees who came to the Maharshi when he was physically living in his Ashram or on the slopes of the holy Arunachala Hill. Reading these we feel the tangible effect of his grace penetrating the hearts of seekers and guiding them to deeper faith and experience. In the following article we read how time and the dissolution of the Maharshi's body have failed to stem the profusion of grace extended to seekers. The guidance and the palpable presence once experienced by an earlier generation of disciples and devotees can be experienced now. Certain events often cross the borders of simple coincidence; inner experiences transform our whole perspective on life and turn our attention to the one, underlining Reality. The author, a devotee in the USA, wishes to remain anonymous.

First Contact

I first learned about Bhagavan around 1980-81, when I picked up a book on his teachings at Weiser's Bookstore in Greenwich Village in New York City. Although I was motivated to buy the book because of the pure Vedantic teachings it contained, I also remember being impressed by the photograph of Bhagavan in its frontispiece. At the time, however, I had already been involved in the teachings of J. Krishnamurti and remained so for some years thereafter.
Visit to Sri Ramanasrama
Around 1989-90, I began reading more about Bhagavan's life and teachings and was drawn to him. Bhagavan's pull increased to a point where I decided to visit Sri Ramanasramam. I thus made my first visit to Sri Ramanasramam on September 4, 1994. I remember the date well because it followed my daughter's third birthday, which we had celebrated at a hotel in Bombay. I had not known then how to contact the Ashram and made my travel and lodging arrangements through a relative in Bombay. After being informed that there were no rooms available at the Ashram, she made reservations for two nights at a good hotel in Tiruvannamalai. She also arranged to have a taxi available to me for the entire trip.

The taxi picked me up at Madras airport on the morning of September 4th for the three-hour journey to Tiruvannamalai. I still remember sitting in the taxi and wondering why I was making this trip since Bhagavan was no longer there, and further rationalizing that at least Arunachala, the holy hill that Bhagavan so adored and identified with, was still there. I arrived in Tiruvannamalai around noon and went directly to the hotel. It was not, as I had been given to believe, a three or four-star hotel. My room was small and bare with just some rudimentary furniture. This was bit of a surprise, and I certainly had not come prepared with the things I might need for such accommodations such as bed sheets, pillow cases, etc. In any event, I left my bags in the room and, feeling hungry, decided go and eat in a nearby restaurant. I sat down at an empty table in the restaurant and waited to be served. After a few minutes, a man came in a hurry from the rear of the restaurant and slid into the bench across from me. He proceeded to lean forward with his elbows on the table and subjected me to an unblinking, cockeyed stare. He did not say a word. I ignored him initially but after about five or ten minutes of such silent treatment and no service, I got a bit unnerved and decided to leave the restaurant without eating anything.

I then went to Sri Ramanasramam. There, I wandered around the Ashram, visiting the Matrubhuteshwar Temple and sitting for quite a while in the Samadhi Hall. I also spent some time on the lower slopes of the hill just behind the Ashram. While on the hill, I made a decision to return to Madras the same day. I was tired and hungry. I was not comfortable with the hotel accommodations and was not sure where I could have my meals. Before leaving, I visited the Ashram bookstore and purchased some books. It was there that I first learned of the existence of Arunachala Ashram, the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi Center in New York. I thought to myself then that I would like to visit this Center but did not think it would likely be possible in the foreseeable future. After spending about three hours at Sri Ramanasramam, I returned to the hotel, checked out, and drove back to Madras. I flew to Bombay the same night.

In retrospect, I don't know why, but I believe that this first visit to Sri Ramanasramam was destined to be brief.

Visit to Arunachala Ashram

I was scheduled to return home to South Florida a few days later in the company of my brother and his family. The day before our scheduled departure, we called the airline to confirm our reservations. We were shocked to find out that we had lost our seats because we were supposed to reconfirm our reservations seventy-two hours prior to departure and had neglected to do so. We rushed to the airline office and managed after some trouble to get a different flight itinerary. We were originally scheduled to fly Bombay-Frankfurt-Miami. Our revised itinerary had us flying Bombay-London-New York-Miami. Moreover, we had to overnight in New York and were booked on the next morning's flight to Miami. Upon our arrival at John F. Kennedy airport in New York, we looked for the least expensive hotel we could find. When we got to the hotel, I had a brain-wave-the next day anyway was a Sunday and I did not need to be back at work till Monday. I could then take an evening flight home, allowing me to visit Arunachala Ashram in the morning! I checked on the Ashram's address and found that it was relatively close to the hotel! I immediately changed my flight and the next morning went and visited Arunachala Ashram, meeting and having tea with Arunachala Bhakta Bhagawat.
Little did I know that the wish I had in the bookstore at Sri Ramanasramam of visiting the New York Center would come true in just a few days time! To me, this serendipitous turn of events was Bhagavan's way of drawing me into his fold.

Although I had spent a few scant hours in my first visit to Sri Ramanasramam, over the subsequent months my faith and devotion deepened and I began to experience the grace and sweetness of Bhagavan's presence.


Some months after my first visit to Sri Ramanasramam, while sleeping one night, I had a wonderful dream or vision. Bhagavan appeared before me, smiling and vigorously nodding his head up and down. Surprised in the dream itself, I thought to myself that this can't be real; it must be a dream. As if to refute that thought and vouch for the authenticity of the experience, a smiling Bhagavan again vigorously nodded his head up and down.

The scene immediately changed. I now found myself walking alone up the slope of an arid dirt path of a mountain when, ahead and to the left of this path, I beheld the Lord Shiva seated and looking downward with eyes semi-closed in what appeared to be deep meditation or contemplation. He was sitting in the pose that I now recognize as similar to that of the Dakshinamurti Shiva, with his left foot resting on his right knee; and in his lap, on his left thigh, sat the Bal Ganapati (Baby Ganesha). Radiating from the Lord Shiva was the sensation of immense power and energy, with absolute and perfect control. The closest image I can conceive of to describe it is that of a nuclear reactor with the tremendous power that it harnesses and controls. In the dream, however, I was not particularly moved by this sight and continued on to walk past the Lord, observing Him with a sort of neutral objectivity and mild curiosity. The next thing I knew, in an instant, I found myself involuntarily thrown flat on the ground with my body prostrated full-length at His feet. The Lord then brought his right arm around and down in a very slow, deliberate, controlled motion and touched me on the top of my head. At His touch, I felt a mild current pass through my head and on into my body. I then awoke.

A Photograph of Bhagavan

In early 1995 there arose in me a desire to have a life-size photograph of Bhagavan. I called Arunachala Ashram and was told that they did not have a photograph of that size and that the largest photograph they had was, as I recall it, around 8.5 by 11 inches. I anyway asked for and received this smaller photograph.

A few months later, I was travelling on business in Brazil. One day I was in the business district in downtown Rio de Janeiro, rushing to an important meeting for which I was a bit late. Walking rapidly past one of the many roadside vendors, I was completely amazed to see a life size photograph of Bhagavan! I promised myself that I would return there after my meeting, which I did. This roadside bookseller had a number of blown-up and framed photographs on display but every single one of them was of movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe or of famous scenes such as the New York City skyline. The sole exception was this life-size photograph of Bhagavan! I, of course, bought the photograph, considering it a further manifestation of Bhagavan's grace to me.

Who could have imagined that I would find the photograph I had sought in this way-on the road, in the middle of a bustling business district, in a foreign land, at the opposite end of the world from India! Today, it is the centerpiece of my personal meditation area at home.

Bhagavan's Nectarous Grace

In the summer of 1997, I made my second visit to Sri Ramanasramam. It was the first visit I stayed in the Ashram. I stayed for three days and was given the room where Sadhu Arunachala (Major Allan Chadwick) once resided.

One evening around 7 PM, I was meditating in the Old Hall. I was sitting next to the doorway, across from the foot of Bhagavan's couch. There must have been no more than four or five other devotees in the room. All of a sudden I was shocked and astonished to feel emanating from the direction of Bhagavan's couch what I can only describe as a nectarous grace. This nectarous grace was like the ocean-I sensed it rolling toward me in a continuous series of successive waves, drenching and saturating every pore and fiber of my being. It inundated my entire being with a concentrated and intense sensation of bliss. Wave after wave of this nectarous grace kept rolling toward me and engulfing me from some inexhaustible, unfathomable source. This must have continued for at least 10 or 15 minutes. Upon the ringing of the dinner bell at 7:30 PM, I wondered if I should go to dinner or continue to sit and let these nectarous waves of grace inundate me. I decided to go to dinner. I prostrated, stood up and left for the dining hall, my skin slightly numb and tingling, my nerves in a heightened state of sensitivity, a trifle unsteady on my feet, and with my entire being and body feeling like it was completely soaked and dripping with this bliss-laden, nectarous grace.

This experience was particularly memorable and noteworthy because it occurred when I was in the waking state, fully alert and aware; because of its extended duration and the saturating intensity of its blissfulness; and because of its origin from the direction of Bhagavan's couch in the Old Hall.