Sakthi Vikatan 2011 January 25.   Sri Ramanamaharishi Soul Realization.   Edited April 20, 2018

Author: Balakumaran


Friends and devotees drawn by him and desiring to learn from him, stayed around his place where Bālaswāmy, later known as Sri Ramana Maharishi lived.

Sri Ramanasramam publication titled ‘Satguru Sri Ramana Mahaṛiṣi: His history and Tenets’ has entries on his devotees. This book has eight sections of which one section has 750 pages.  The book deserves to be a coffee table book, the sweetest and lofty publication with stories of devotees, of whom some get mention here.

Perumālśāmi and Kanthasāmi, the two devotees, every morning sound a long note on their conches, once from the mountain, once at the foot of the hill and once on the street before they go on their daily begging rounds.  Hearing the conch, the householders get ready to offer Pikkuṇi (= பிக்குணி = pikkuṇi, n. < Pkt. bhikkuṇi < bhikṣuṇī = ritual begging by a Seer.).  

The City of Tiruvannamalai has a public feeding Choultry (a pillared hall = Soup Kitchen, Resting Place for pilgrims), commonly called in the west ‘Soup Kitchen.’ It is ‘Ōyā Madam’ (= ஓயா மடம்) meaning 24/7 availability of food to the Sannyasins and the indigents. Perumālśāmi and Kanthasāmi go to that choultry and beg for food. They carry the food to Bālaswāmy, who shares the food with them.

Once two more Mutt people joined the begging duos. The manager of the choultry questioned why two more people are there in the choultry. All the four ashamed and shocked, withdrew.

Thinking not to depend on this manager for free food, they sounded the conch and go on the streets seeking the feeding hands of the women of the houses.

Every house gave different foods: sweet, spicy, sour… The begging team took the food to Balaswamy who mashed up the foods together and distributed the balls to his caretakers. That food had a peculiar taste. The food was enough for the assembled people.

Instead of going empty-handed and asking for free food, they chanted ‘Akara Maamālai’ composed by Bālaswāmy.  The choultry gave good food: rice, Kuzhambhu, vegetables and other varieties.  Since they abandoned the choultry for their food supply, they went to 25 houses and received many kinds of foods piled up one on top of another in the begging vessel. The foods were all mashed up together and shared.  This resulted in giving up eating food by items and taste.

The Sakthi, that created you, created the world too. The Great Sakthi,

that saves you, saves the world. Since God has created the world,

the succor is his responsibility. It is not your work. -Sri Ramana Maharishi


Bālaswāmy had the power of reading the mind of others because of his severe austerities, inner silence…  Kuzumai Nārāyaa Sāstry the disciple of Śeshādri Swāmigaḷ lived in Tiruvannamalai and published the biography of his Guru. One day he took a bunch of bananas to Bālaswāmy. On his way, he went to Aṇṇāmalaiyār Temple, took a single banana, and offered it to Sambandha Vinayakar with mental worship. The rest of the bananas were offered to Aṇṇāmalaiyār in mental worship. Later, he went up the hill to see Bālaswāmy. He gave the bananas to a volunteer-devotee for storage inside, Bālaswāmy suddenly stopped the devotee and said, ‘Hold it. The bananas offered to Vinayaka, we can take.’ Kuzumai Nārāyaa Sāstry was jolted. He came to know that Bālaswāmy had the preternatural power of ‘Citta Samhit’ – ability to know the mind of others.

In his mind he prayed, ‘With you having this kind of power, why don’t you order that for which I came here.’ He had thoughts in his mid to present to Bālaswāmy his prose rendition of Valmiki Ramayanam.

Suddenly, Bālaswāmy said, ‘It is time to read Ramayanam.’ Kuzumani’s shock increased further. That shock gave him the humility and devotion. He formally made a presentation of prose rendition to Bālaswāmy.

A grandmother from Gudiyattam near Vanthavāsi surrendered to Bālaswāmy. No information except her place of origin, was available. Everyone called her Kīraip-pātti (Greens-Grandma. Greens = leafy vegetables). Why she was called such is not known?

The elderly woman having received cereals, pulses and rice from donors, cooked them, offered the food to Bālaswāmy and then ate it herself. In the foothills of the mountain, she lived in a room in the cave Mandapam, Guhai Namasivaya. She stored the provisions in the Mandapam. She allowed no one inside the storage space.  She boiled water in a pot for bathing, used the same pot for boiling rice, prepared Kuzhambhu in the same pot, offered them ceremonially to the deities engraved on the pillars of the Mandapam, took them up the mountain and served Bālaswāmy.

A thief came along to steal from the poor matriarch. The door opened. He examined the provisions laid on the floor.  The matriarch woke up and yelled, “Thief, thief.” The shout fell on the ears of the mountain-dwelling Bālaswāmy, who said, “Here I am, coming down.” He came in the night knocking and tottering down the hill.

The assembled asked her what the matter was. The old woman’s sound of alarm was not heard in the nearby Namasivaya cave or other cave-Mandapams. But the voice reached the cave up the mountain. Others mocked her saying, she had a dream and blabbered. Bālaswāmy came at the opening in the door and saw the provisions were scattered around on the floor, confirming that a thief was there before.

The Greens-grandma reached the feet of God in 1972, having been devoted as a life mission to feed the Tapasvins, Sadhus… Her body was buried at the bottom of Tamarind tree opposite to the Dhakshinamurthy Temple near Ramanasramam. Tradition says that the cow maintained by the old woman was reborn as Lakshmi.

When the talk touches on the old woman, Ramana Maharishi will go silent.  Ramanamaharishi commented that the Greens-grandma came from Gudiyattam when someone said that the cow was brought in by Arunachalam Pillai from Gudiyattam.

Once Bālaswāmy and Pazhaṉisāmi sat inside the temple after making a trip around the mountain. Īsāṉya Mutt chief with his disciples entered the temple. After the Darśan, the Mutt chief and the disciples came out, surrounded Bālaswāmy and insisted he went with them.

Bālaswāmy signaled them with his hands he won’t do it.  The disciples of the Mutt lifted Bālaswāmy in one scoop, deposited him in the cart and took him to the Mutt. Bālaswāmy determined from before not to ride the bullock cart anymore, was forced to ride it.  They sat him down in the Īsāṉya Mutt and served him varieties of food on a banana leaf.  The Madāthipathi insisted that he stayed in their Mutt.  He ate a few of the served items and escaped from their love-hold.

When Bālaswāmy was on his way around the mountain, Isāṉya Mutt inmates paid homage to Bālaswāmy, invited him inside. Sometimes, he used to go on his own initiative. They served food on the banana leaf. He ate some. The leftovers were mixed and eaten by the disciples as Bālaswāmy’s Prasada.

Seeing the eating of his leftover food by them, Bālaswāmy stopped eating on the leaf. Bālaswāmy begged for food at the entrance to the Mutt. The disciples served him food used as Naivēdya (offerings) to Sivaperuman.  It had no added salt. Not caring, Bālaswāmy ate the food that fell on his cupped palms, wiped his hands and went on his way.

Let us get Darśan…

Sakti Vikatan 2011 January 25.   Part 2.   Kanchi Mahan, God of Mercy


The ancestors whose lives are based on Dharmasāstras say that the Sastras do not allow travel overseas. A devotee of Kanchi Periyava held Sāstraic injunctions as his life guidelines. He received an acceptance letter for a job abroad. He took the job offer for family welfare and his future. Though the work environment and nature of his job were satisfactory, the notion, “I transgressed the Sāstraic injunctions,” caused distress in him. He meditated on Mahāperiyava daily as remedy for his mental confusion and contradictions.

Akilā Karthikeyan described the incident regarding Kanchi Mahan’s grace with melting heart.

“During his holidays, he made arrangements for India visit with a great anticipation. He was excited to have Darśan of Periyava more than visiting with his family.

On arriving at Chennai airport, he took a taxi to Kanchipuram.

In the Kanchi Mutt, Mahāperiyava was talking with the workers on preparing meals that day. People assembled for Darśan wondered about the personal interest Periyava took in the details of the food items and preparations for that day. He has not taken similar interest so far: That surprised them.

The devotee arrived in the Mutt under such prevailing conditions. At the sight of Periyava, he fell flat in an eight-limb prostration before Periyava. Blessing Kārttikēyan, Periyava ordered the workers, “Get food ready for the visitor.”

The workers were not sure why Periyava was so insistent and bent on serving meals to the visitor who just arrived. But the devotee came from abroad and ran for Darśan. Does he not know his condition? He does.  (Later we find out, the plane traveler did not eat during his travel as a matter of observing injunctions.)

Having eaten food to the point of satiety, the devotee appeared before Periyava. He looked at him intently with ebullient parental affection and tender mercy and asked, “Did your Viratam (vow) come to fruition?”

The devotee stood there astonished. He was groping for words. He kept on saying with tears streaming down his face, ‘Periyava, Periyava…’.

With a soft smile, Periyava said, “I will tell it myself.” “You are coming from abroad. You did not take any meals during your travel until you saw me, according to the vow you took. Looking at Karthikeyan with sweetness, Periyava continued, “Did I say everything correctly.”

That is it… The standees for Darśan were taken back. Should we ask the devotee? Karthikeyan stood there with a melting heart. 

Another incident happened in-between. When Karthikeyan from abroad was dining, Periyava asked the Darśan-devotees, “The visitor from abroad: what should I ask him to give me?  Let me hear it.”

The devotees were amazed to hear it. Periyava asked no one, ‘Give me this, give me that.’ The devotees not knowing how to react, stood there frozen, speechless and astounded.

That time, Karthikeyan finished his meals and came for Periyava’s Darśan.  Periyava smiling at the assembled servitors said, “No one suggested what I need to get from the devotee from abroad.” He continued.

Alright, alright… Take him out to buy me Sesame Seed Oil-cake and stitched leaf plate for my benefit,” said Periyava.

That great devotee, in an ecstatic exuberance said with melting heart, “Divinely Kanchi Mahan asked for and received from me.”  But the regular workers at the Mutt were unhappy but hesitated to challenge Periyava.

Could Periyava not cognizant of the feelings of the Mutt volunteer workers?  Looking at them in the eye, Periyava smiled and observed, “This Baktha has been devoted and affectionate to me. Because of his love for me, he desired to give me something as a token of his love. Dharma stops me from accepting a gift from a person who returned from an overseas trip. Is not a devotee important for me? Could I hurt his heart and mind?” He stopped for a moment and continued talking.

“Now the sesame oil-cake will be fed to the Mutt cow. Give me milk from that cow for my use.  I will accept it happily. Since the Mutt cow ate the oil-cake, the milk from the cow is free of flaw or demerit. Any demerit that passes through a cow is expunged. Therefore, Karthikeyan’s wishes were fulfilled and it appears I accepted the gift.” That was Periyava’s explanation.

With no assault on Dharma and the mercy shown by Periyava for his love and devotion, the devotee was ecstatic. Who else could have such perspicacious judgment other than Periyava?

Darśan will continue