Darshan and Upadesha at Skandashram by Rohit Vaidya

Darshan and Upadesha at Skandashram
By Rohit Vaidya

On the morning of the final day of our visit to Sri Ramanasram, we climbed Arunachala to Skandasram and Virupaksha cave. Skandashram consists of a central building with some other rooms adjoining it. Within the central structure, there are three rooms — an outer hall, the inner Skandashram cave, and off to the side, there is a small room in which Bhagavan is said to have stayed. In this small room, lengthwise against one wall, there is a concrete bench with a sloping back where one can recline. While in that small room, facing the bench, I experienced an awe-evoking vision of Bhagavan. 

What I beheld was not a human figure as such, but rather a pure light and effulgence in a somewhat diffuse, oval-like form, seated on the concrete bench against the sloping back of the bench. It was a vibrant sentience or awareness and, associated with it, was a very clear and strong intuition that there was nothing that needed to be accomplished by this Being, that there were no karmas it had to perform. It was complete and whole, in and by itself. I prostrated at the foot of the bench and quietly left in awe and wonder. At the time, what came to my mind, which seemed to reflect the character of this vision, were the words of the Sanskrit mantra from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Om poornamadah poornamidam
poornat poornamudachyate
poornasya poornamaadaaya 

“That is perfect — this is perfect. What comes from perfection truly is perfect. 
What remains after perfection from perfection is also perfect.”

Later, after returning home from Sri Ramanasram to the USA, I found accurate descriptions of this vision of Bhagavan as pure light and effulgence in the following verses from Ganapati Muni’s “Sri Ramana chatvarimsat”

Gana gudha sahasra karena yatha tanu kanchuka gupta mahaa mahasaa

“Whose beatific effulgence is hidden by the
sheath of the gross body, like the blazing sun hidden
behind the clouds.”  —Verse 2

Pasyan visvamapidamullasati yo visvasya paare parah

“The One who, though seeing the world, shines
as the Supreme Truth, transcending the world creation.” —Verse 22

Tava tanurjjvala tyanagha vidyutaa 

“O Spotless Being! Thy form blazes with pure light.” —Verse 29
I also found in Bhagavan’s own words the explanation for my very strong feeling that there were no deeds required in this state of completeness and wholeness.

Nashta maanas-otkrsht yoginahah krtyam astikim swasthitim yataahaa

“His mind being thus extinguished, the great Yogi who is established in the Supreme Truth has no more Karma to do, for He has attained the Natural State.” —Upadesa Saaram, Verse 15

Ahankrtim yo lasati grasitvaa kim tasya kaaryam
parishishtamasti kinchidvijaanaati sa natman’onyata
tasya sthitim bhaavayitum kshamah kah

“What remains there for him to do who swallows the ego and shineth forth? Separate from the Self, there is nought to him. His condition to conceive, who is there so bold?”  —Sat Darshanam,
Verse 31

Although the last question in the preceding verse might be rhetorical, I must say that I have only sought here to relate my experience as faithfully and truthfully as I can convey in words. And in seeking to explain what I saw and felt, I have found far more lucid and apt descriptions in the words of Ganapati Muni and Bhagavan himself. 

Prior to this, I have generally felt the grace of Bhagavan’s presence at an essentially personal level. This darshan at Skandasram was a little surprising in that it was non-personal. There was no impression of an individual as such, only a completeness and wholeness in which there is no other. Only pure, effulgent light and awareness of and in itself yet somehow also aware of the world. Upon re-reading this narrative, a skeptical part of me has to ask, “Did this truly occur?” After all, in such matters, it is very easy for the mind to delude or deceive itself; and that might have been possible if it had been only an image that was perceived. But what really bestowed authenticity and meaning for me was its palpable feeling of vibrant sentience and the associated profound understanding of that state of Being. That still evokes awe, and silences the mind.

Ultimately, any vision is within the realm of duality and is not of the Supreme Truth. Paradoxically, perhaps, this too was implicit in this vision.