Walk on Samudram Lake with Bhagavan

Regular readers of Arunachala Grace will have noticed how often I write about the Samudram Eri, which is located almost directly south of the reclining aspect of Arunachala. For me this is one of the most beautiful and inspirational places at Arunachala. Below is an evocative narrative of a Ramana devotee describing his visit to the flooded Samudram Eri with Sri Ramana and teachings that were given by the Sage at that time.

"The Samudram Lake at the foot of Arunachalam and near Sri Ramanasramam is a very extensive one, the summer rains nor the winter monsoon in Tiruvannamalai rarely fill up this tank except once in a way when it overflows.

Thus it overflowed once long ago. The sight of it was very grand and the overflow at the outlet was as wide as a river. The tank really seemed a sea (Samudram). Bhagavan told us that it was called “Samudram” because a certain local ruler had this tank constructed as a miniature sea to give an idea to his Queen of what a sea would look like; for she had never seen one and she a carrying queen now desired to.

The overflow of the Samudram Tank in Tiruvannamalai is such a rare event and people thronged to see the sight. Afterwards they came to Bhagavan and talked about it.

One morning after breakfast the devotees in the hall expressed to Bhagavan a desire to visit the Samudram. Bhagavan was human enough to accept the suggestion and all of us went for a stroll to see it. The tank bund is over two miles long and we walked from the Asramam to the tank about a mile and then the whole distance of the bund. The presence of Bhagavan and his words were more interesting to us than the brimming tank and the grand view of the lake at the foot of the holy Arunachalam. Bhagavan talked of many things, of which I remember, at this distance of time, only two topics of interest.

At one place, Bhagavan pointed out a palmyra tree which had decayed at the grip and embrace of a parasite banyan tree. Some bird had dropped the seed of the banyan into the palmyra and as the banyan began its growth the palmyra got stuck, and cloven and stunted in its growth. Drawing our attention to this phenomenon, Bhagavan remarked that is just the effect of the look of Grace of the Jnani. One look into a soul and the whole tree of vasanas gathered through cycles of births is burnt down and decays.

Then the reality of the Atman is experienced. In the analogy, the tree of vasanas is the palmyra and the look of the Guru, (the seed of Grace) is the banyan. Thus Bhagavan explained to us the effect of contact with a Mahapurusha. The Supreme Jnana that is obtained by the touch of the Satpurusha, can never be obtained by the study of any number of scriptures or by any store of punya karma (virtuous deeds) or by other sadhanas. Then when we were actually at the outlet of the overflow at the end of the lake, we all marvelled at the width of it which was as wide as a river. We stayed there for sometime and then returned.

On the return walk, we happened to pass the sluice, at the middle of the bund. Pointing to it Bhagavan remarked, “look at this small outlet as opposed to the big one at the end. But for this small hole through which trickle the stream of water, the huge contents of the lake would not be helpful to the vegetation. If the bund breaks it would be a regular deluge and the entire crops would be destroyed. Only if served, properly regulated through this sluice, are the plants helped to growth. So too, is the Brahmic Consciousness. Unless the Bliss of this consciousness is gifted through the grace of the Guru, in seasoned outlets, the soul cannot be helped to vasanakshaya (the destruction of the tendencies of the mental mode); for in this process, the Atman abiding as such in its oneness with the Brahman, is established in the Astipada (the state of being) of the Guru. Holding on to its aspect of sat-chit the work of vasanakshaya proceeds as and when the thought forms arise to propel the mind into action i.e. in its rajasic nature. This work of vasanakshaya becomes possible only in the proximity of the Guru.

Hence the Guru himself is like the sluice and irrigates the souls with the grace out of His kripasamudram needed for the abidance as the Atman and doing the vasanakshaya. Whereas, if the bund is broken the full force of the whole lake rushes through sweeping everything before it. This resembles a sadhaka receiving the full force of Brahmic Consciousness without the intervening and mitigating grace of the Guru’s sluice and so physically dies without the benefit of effecting the destruction of the vasanas."

[T.K. Sundaresa Iyer--Call Divine April 1, 1958]