THE POWER OF HIS SPEECH
One result of the originality of Sri Bhagavan’s Self-realization was that his approach to problems addressed to him was equally original. His replies to questions were never recondite or bookish, but always simple and direct. Like Christ he spoke as a man of authority because his words came not from book learning or hearsay, but from first-hand knowledge and experience. He said what he knew; he knew what he said. He went to the root of any question and simplified its terms. There were no confusing technicalities when he spoke, for he would give homely, concrete illustrations along with his answers that always made his meaning crystal clear.
Sri Bhagavan could appear learned if the occasion demanded it. In the course of a casual talk he might suddenly give long verbatim quotations from scriptural and scholarly works, and not just the standard works such as the Upanishads and the Gita. As a Telugu and Sanskrit scholar I considered myself to be a fairly well-read man. I was familiar with the Hindu classics and with large areas of secular literature as well, but Sri Bhagavan would occasionally astound me and everyone else in the hall by delivering appropriate quotations from sources and texts I had never even heard of. Sri Bhagavan once explained how he acquired all this learning.
‘I simply remained silent,’ he said. ‘People speaking different languages would come to me and make discourses exhibiting all their erudition. Whatever in them was worth remembering stuck to my mind.’
Sri Bhagavan’s manner of speaking was itself unique. His normal state was silence. He spoke so little, casual visitors who only saw him for a short while wondered whether he ever spoke. To put questions to him and to elicit his replies was an art in itself that required an unusual exercise in self-control. A sincere doubt, an earnest question submitted to him never went without an answer, though sometimes his silence itself was the best answer to particular questions. A questioner needed to be able to wait patiently. To have the maximum chance of receiving a good answer, you had to put your question simply and briefly. Then you had to remain quiet and attentive. Sri Bhagavan would take his time and then begin slowly and haltingly to speak. As his speech continued, it would gather momentum. It would be like a drizzle gradually strengthening into a shower. Sometimes it might go on for hours together, holding the audience spellbound. But throughout the talk you had to keep completely still and not butt in with counter remarks. Any interruption from you would break the thread of his discourse and he would at once resume silence. He would never enter into a discussion, nor would he argue with anyone. The fact was, what he spoke was not a view or opinion but the direct emanation of light from within that manifested as words in order to dispel the darkness of ignorance. The whole purpose of his reply was to make you turn inward, to make you see the light of truth within yourself.
- G. V. Subbaramaiah, The Power of the Presence