Weaning His Child
Annamalai Swami was born in 1905, November 14th and came to Sri Ramana in 1929 after leaving his family and home. Bhagavan was his god and guru who guided him day after day. Soon he was asked to supervise the constructions of all the main buildings that were started at that time. Besides being a strenuous task in itself – he was allowed to have an umbrella and sandals – Bhagavan used the constellation for a training ground for Annamalai and Bhagavan’s brother Chinnaswami, who was called the ‘sarvadhikari’ which means ‘Ruler over all’. The ashram needed a manager that could assert himself and many were afraid of his strict ways. Throughout his years of service, Bhagavan arranged it in such a way that Chinnaswami’s plans were changed by Annamalai Swami. After instructing him very detailed, Bhagavan always ended: ‘If Chinnaswami comes and argues with you about this plan, don’t tell him that I asked you to work like this. Pretend that you are doing it on your own authority.’ Of course, this led each time to a big clash.
After serving in this challenging way for more than a decade Bhagavan embraced Annamalai seemingly in jest. This triggered a deep experience of the Self and ended the working phase in the ashram for him. He moved to Palakottu, as sadhu-colony close by and began an intensive meditative life that finally culminated in the realization of the Self. The following touching narration tells how Bhagavan severed the outer relationship between them.
‘These nightly visits were a special time for me. Whenever I visited him Bhagavan would always talk to me with a lot of love and affection. Unfortunately, as I was soon to discover, this period of my life was drawing to a close.
A few days later, when I entered the hall, Bhagavan covered his head and face with a dhoti and refused to look at me. This was very unusual. He normally greeted me with a few friendly words whenever I entered the hall. He behaved in exactly the same way on the two nights that followed.
On the third day, I asked him, ‘Why is Bhagavan covering his face like a Muslim woman every time I come into the hall? Does this mean that I should not come anymore?’
Bhagavan replied, rather cynically, ‘I am just behaving like Siva. Why are you talking to me?’
The first sentence of Bhagavan’s answer is a literal translation of a phrase which has the more general meaning, ‘I am sitting here, just minding my own business.’
I took this to be an indication that Bhagavan didn’t want me to come to see him anymore. I walked out of the hall and stood under a tree. After some time Bhagavan called me back into the hall. I noticed that there was no one else there at the time.
‘Are you an atheist who has no belief in God?’ asked Bhagavan.
I was too puzzled to make a reply.
‘If one has no faith in God,’ Bhagavan eventually continued, ‘one will commit a lot of sins and be miserable. But you, you are a mature devotee. When the mind has attained maturity, in that mature state, if one thinks that one is separate from God, one will fall into the same state as an atheist who has no belief in God.
‘You are a mature sadhaka [spiritual seeker]. It is not necessary for you to come here anymore. Stay in Palakottu and do your meditation there. Try to efface the notion that you are different from God.’
I left the ashram and never went back again. Although my room is only about 200 yards from the ashram gate, I have not visited the ashram once since that fateful day in the 1940s.
About twenty days later, as Bhagavan was walking in Palakottu, he came up to me, smiled and said,
‘I have come for your darshan’. I was quite shocked to hear Bhagavan speak like this even though I knew he was joking.
When I asked him for an explanation he said, ‘You have obeyed my words. You are living simply and humbly as I have taught. Is this not great?’
Though Bhagavan had asked me not to come to the ashram any more, I still thought that I had the freedom to talk to him when he visited Palakottu. Bhagavan disabused me of this notion shortly afterwards when I went to see him while he was walking on the hill.
He turned to me and said, ‘You are happier than I. What you had to give you have given. What I had to give I have given. Why are you still coming to see me?’
These were his last words to me. I obeyed his instructions and never approached him again. I still had Bhagavan’s darshan when he came on his daily walk to Palakottu but we never spoke to each other again. If we met accidentally he would walk past me, without acknowledging my presence.
Bhagavan had once told me: ‘Do not cling to the form of the Guru, for this will perish; do not cling to his feet for his attendants will stop you. The true Bhagavan resides in your Heart as your own Self. This is who I truly am.’
By severing the personal link between us, Bhagavan was trying to make me aware of him as he really is. Bhagavan had frequently told me that I should not attach a name and form to the Self or regard it in any way as a personal being.
Bhagavan gave me his grace and then severed the personal relationship between us. The bond of love and devotion was not separated; it was just restricted to the mind and the heart.
When Bhagavan became very sick at the end of the 1940s I was sorely tempted to visit him. I never succumbed because I knew that Bhagavan had instructed to stay away from his outer presence. Some people who were not aware of what Bhagavan had had told me (criticized this):
‘Annamalai Swami served Bhagavan for a long time’, they said, ‘but he is not coming to see Bhagavan now that Bhagavan is seriously ill.’
Bhagavan remarked, ‘He is the one who is not causing any trouble.’
Then he added, ‘You people are here but your minds are elsewhere. He is elsewhere but his mind is here. ‘
In the years that followed I tried to remain in contact with the real Bhagavan, the Bhagavan who exists eternally in the heart.’
- Living by the words of Bhagavan