Sakthi Vikatan 31 May, 2011  Revised June 22, 2018

Who is the true Jnani?

  Author Balakumaran

Bhagavan Ramaṇa Maharishi is Śivarūpam (Śiva in form). Around him, there must be peace and quiet with no unnecessary foot traffic, noise… Applying great care in activities, firm friendship should prevail.

  But Śeshādri Swāmigaḷ is of the form of Sakti (Mother Goddess worshipper). An ecstatic dance.  Loud laughter. ‘What love you have for me.’ crows Swāmigaḷ with his characteristic embrace for small favors shown to him. His darker side spews anger on the disciples seeking him: ‘I told you not to come near me. If you violate that dictum of mine, I will tear you apart, Baavā (Rascal, Scoundrel). ‘Why are you coming to me? Go, go… Go up (the mountain). There is someone up on the mountain. He will safeguard you, go!’ said Swāmigaḷ, pointing up his hand with exuberance to the Virūpākṣi cave (where Ramanar lives).

Ramanar and Swāmigaḷ entertain no discrimination based on Jāti and religion. Both are fluent in writing poetry, well-versed in Sanskrit. They create wonder and awe in their explication of Tattvas. But they are not showboats. One is Śivam; the other is Śakti. One sports an hour-glass drum on hand; the other sports roaring Ganges on the head. That is one path; this is another path.

Śeshādri Swāmigaḷ scattered Mutt food in all four directions. The server of the food complained to him, “Don’t waste the food. This is begged food. How could you scatter it?” Swāmigaḷ retorted, “Is that so? Hereafter, I will eat the food without scattering it. See, not even a morsel will fly (of my hand or mouth).” So saying, he ate the food in a proper manner. He could go this way or he could go the other way.

In 1914, Śeshādri Swāmigaḷ used to go for a month to Ramanar’s Virūpākṣi cave to eat his meals.  There also, he scattered the food all over, while eating. Bhagavan’s devotee Kandasamy scolded him, “Look here, if you scatter the food like this, I won’t serve the food anymore. From then on, Swāmigaḷ never went there for food. There was a discussion whether Kandasamy’s admonition of Swāmigaḷ was proper. The devotees in Virūpākṣi cave took sides with Kandasamy and said, “if he wastes food like this, what are we to do? That is why he was scolded.”

This criticism reached the ears of Swāmigaḷ. He was afraid whether Ramanar will take his act as disrespect and clarified the reason he scattered food around him: A person should not eat all the food on his banana leaf-plate. There are living things, visible and invisible all around us. There are subtle forces around us.  They wait in hunger. They too need food. This has been documented in many sacred books. They say in detail eating most of the food and scattering some are correct.

Subramani Sastri a devotee, to facilitate deep meditation, took Cannabis electuary. Cannabis instead of calming the mind, sometimes stirs up the mind. The users suffer a great deal with slurred and inarticulate speech. Knowing their altered speech, they feel unhappy. They feel distressed, unable to prevent their incoherent speech. Once Subramani Sastri, hobbled with incoherent speech, fell at the feet of Śeshādri Swāmigaḷ asking him to help him. Śeshādri Swāmigaḷ scolded him saying, “Previously, I warned you several times not to take the ‘drug.’ You kept taking it and feel distressed.”

In truth, Śeshādri Swāmigaḷ said nothing like this to Subramaniya Sastri.  Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi scolded him as above. He never knew that Ramanar chided him. By making this statement, Swāmigaḷ indirectly equates Srīramaṇar and Śeshādri Swāmigaḷ.

In 1921, during the winter months, Śeshādri Swāmigaḷ’s devotees with bounding joy gave him a ritual ablution. They understood due to avoiding baths and having braided locks, he suffered from severe itching. But he could not take the stress of this ablution due to his inanition, Tapas and hunger. He developed a high fever. He went to Annamalai Sannidhi, paid homage to the Lord with opposed palms, went out of the temple and slept on a raised platform in a random house. He never woke up and attained Mukti.

Śeshādri Swāmigaḷ merged with the Divine: The news reached everyone in Tiruvannamalai.

South of the Ramanasramam, there is a burial monument for Śeshādri Swāmigaḷ. SriRamana Maharishi participated in the ceremony. Swāmigaḷ helped Ramanar in his younger days and rescued him from many troubles.  When we read Ramana history, we cannot forget that the leonine Swāmigaḷ was the close friend during Ramanar’s vulnerable period.

Śeshādri Swāmigaḷ took care of Bālaswāmy in his younger days as a mother would remove her son from dangers, get him back to health, let him go his way and watch him blossom. He was astounded looking at Bālaswāmy, the personification of Wisdom.  He spread the word around. He never had the hubris of doership in helping Bālaswāmy.

A devout woman hearing about Śeshādri Swāmigaḷ wanted to pay homage to him. Whenever she went to receive Darśan of Ramanar, she searched for Swāmigaḷ. One day by happenstance, she saw Swāmigaḷ.  With humility and respect, she fell at his feet and said, “It took so long for me to receive Darśan of you.” Swāmigaḷ said, “What if it is here, what if it is there, it is all one and the same.”

It takes a Jñāni to know a Jñāni.

Vedanta book, ‘Kaivalya Navanītham’ raises a question, ‘Who is the true Jñāni? The book itself gives the answer to that eternal question. Whosoever stands in mid-position (neutrality), is a Jñāni. What does it mean to stand in a mid-position?  Like the lotus leaf (floating in the pond) and water, he lives in this world but is not of the world.  They go about as ordinary people. He, a great pundit, does not beat his own drum. They extend help to all.

These Jñānis may perform Tapas, may engage in commerce, may reign as kings, or beg for food. They do not think of their past. They do not contemplate on their future. They remain in the present. Antithetical to epicureanism, they eat any food given to them.  If the sky falls, if the sun becomes moon, or if the corpse walks, they do not regard it as something new or wondrous. They remain a witness standing between the good and the evil.

Bhagavan SriRamana Maharishi lived the life of a Jñāni and Jīvanmukta (Liberated while alive in body). These are illustrated by many events.  One’s bad behavior exploits the other’s life for self-benefit. Without considering one’s usefulness to the other, the selfish thinks of exploiting the other. By thoughts like these, one’s own honesty and integrity collapse and perish. The mind is always plotting, resulting in lack of peace.  With no or little peace, there is an attempt to hide one’s guilt feelings with pompous talk. Others easily discern this pompous talk and the resulting appearance of vulgarity.  Not realizing one’s own vulgarity, they continue to be pompous.

Pomposity: Pretending to his friends, he bought the motorcycle (at his own expense), while it was bought for him by his Father-in-law (FIL) and he was crowing about it to his friends. As the friends praised the motorcycle, he entertained the thought of asking the FIL for a car. He may get one or may not. He may be subject to inauspicious words: “Why are you so shameless.”

In 1908, Ramanar lived in the Virūpākṣi cave. Bālāṉanda, a sadhu and a polyglot lived nearby. He was a learned man and an able person. He, a charlatan by trade, claimed to have many supernatural powers. His powers of persuasion and chicanery came to him as a second nature.  He told his seekers he knew the past, the present and the future but his intention was to separate them from their money.

Devotees of Ramanar knew he was a Brahmana Sāmy. They go to Tiruvannamalai first for Darśan of the deities and later to the cave on the mountain to see Periyava. They offer homage to the Sadhus on the way, give food and money and leave. Many Sadhus wait eagerly for the devotees and the offerings. They usually accost, buttonhole and make the mountain-climbing devotees sit before them against their wishes.

Once Ramana Maharishi (known as Brahmana Sāmy) came to the cave on the mountain, the phony Sadhus drew less crowd. The money-grubbing Sadhus were jealous and unhappy to see a greater cashflow to Ramanar.

Bhagavan SriRamaṇa Maharishi had no thought about money flow or food donation.  Bālāṉanda, knowing the detachment and the deep silence of Periyava, took advantage of him. “The child inside is my disciple; give him whatever his needs are. ‘O child, don’t reject what they offer! Take them,’ blustered Bālāṉanda with an air of Papal order (lordly injunction).

Bhagavan handled the cash and food in liberal ways. He knew the weakness of charlatan-Sadhu. Periyava remained silent with no criticism, confrontation or any direct involvement.  Bālāṉanda used the spiritual silence of Maharishi to his advantage.

Let us do Darśan.

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