Sakthi Vikatan 18 Oct, 2011 Revised 2018 June 23

Guru’s Teachings


 Sri Ramana Maharshi: Narrated by David Godman



Kunju (the boy) had a dream of Siva initiating him in five syllable Mantra.

Inset: Balaraman, the author of this article in Tamil

Sri Kuñju’s book ‘My Memoirs/Memories’ is a must-read for people who want to know Maharishi. This publication introduces us to Bhagavan in a succinct manner and clearly demonstrates our thirst and need for a Guru.

In January 1897, Kuñju Swāmigaḷ was born in a small village in Kerala’s Palghat area. He was not like other children engaged in play activities, displaying adamancy, and crying; he was still staying in one place. Perceiving this behavior, his parents took him to his maternal uncle for his astrological prediction.

“This child has divine treasure with rare qualities. When it comes to food, it is good to feed him Sattvic foods,” said the maternal uncle.

Since they were good parents, he was raised in a Sattvic environment. When the boy went in the morning with his father for ritual bathing in the temple pond, he saw the orthodox Brahmins standing in the water and sitting on the steps chanting Mantra Japam. Srīkuñju Swāmigaḷ also wanted to do the same. But, he did not know whom to seek for knowledge. Paramesvara appeared that night in his dream with his matted russet hair, ash stripes… and initiated him with five-syllable Mantra.  At dawn, he remembered the dream and not the Mantra. He was unhappy that the Mantra just slipped out of his hand and memory. Sivaperuman appeared in his dream that night and again instructed him on the five syllable Mantra. He recalled the Mantra at dawn. Since them Srīkuñju Swāmigaḷ continued chanting the Sivapañchākara Mantra.

He wanted to have an ash-bag. He wanted to apply the ash on his body, whenever he had the desire to chant the Mantra. Sivaperuman came in his dream, directed him to a tree to pick up coins from the foot of the tree and buy a bag. The base of the tree had three quarter-Annas. He was quoted a price of three-Annas a bag, not a penny more and not a penny less. His desired was fulfilled by Sivaperuman.

When his father asked Kuñju about his bag, he narrated his story to the joy of his father.

A few days later, he wanted to wear a Rudrāka bead garland. When he went with his friend towards the bathing pond, his friend separated from him stating a reason.  Kunju continued his path towards the pond and found a lotus flower with a Rudrākṣa bead garland with gold string. The parents said, “What a wonder.” They celebrated Kuñju and regarding him as a boon, raised with loving tender care.

Kunju continued his path towards the pond and found a lotus flower with a Rudrākṣa bead garland with gold string.

Near his place, there was a talk on Tamil Tiruvilaiyāḍa poem with Malayalam translation. The father and son went to listen to it. Kuñju repeated what he heard to others. The village was happy to listen to his presentation in a story form. “What a wisdom!” the villagers wondered.

Loin-cloth Sadhus visited the village; the father insisted that Kunju go with him for Darśan. Kunju refused to go, because a higher Guru, Sākṣātkāra Paramaśiva himself initiated him with five syllable Mantra (Na-Ma-Si-Va-Ya).

The town celebrated Elappui Swāmigaḷ and Kuñju refused to see him. His father on the pretext of going somewhere took Kunju and presented him to the Sadhu.

“Can you become lofty because God came in your dream? Because you deliver eloquent speeches at 16 years of age, can you assume to be repository of omniscience? Don’t become arrogant because you got what you asked for. These are the beginner’s Siddhis. You cannot progress in the path of God, unless you know Vedāntams and have formal education in religious texts. Therefore, give up this hubris and go with me,” said Elappuḷi Swamy. Kuñju agreed.

Kuñju surrendered to Elappuḷi Swāmigaḷ. Kunju asked the Guru questions: All the readings and the Mantra Japams did not take me to the same lofty station that the ancient Munis attained. Are there no Munis nowadays who discovered God within? Are they old stories? Elappuḷi Swāmigaḷ answered, “Why not! There is a Mahan named SriRamana Maharishi in Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu.” Suddenly, a shock wave of electric current passed through Kuñju’s body. Thought of Ramanamaharishi was bouncing in his head.  Vedic learning and practice offered no progress to Kunju; that upset him.

Meanwhile, Elappuḷi Swāmigaḷ went on a pilgrimage to important temples in Tamil Nadu. A few rich people went with him.

Elappuḷi Swāmigaḷ announced to the public, when, where, which month, which day and what time he would attain Samadhi (death). The day was imminent. The Samadhi structure was rising.  Kunju Swamy understood none of these.  Sorrow and depression afflicted him. He was unhappy to note that life is all drama. He could neither hold his thoughts nor confide them to others. He pleaded with his Guru he wanted Darśan of Ramana. Elappuḷi Swāmigaḷ yelled to him saying, “What, are you playing with me? I am about to attain Samadhi (= death by appointment). Where are you going this time?”  Kunju waited for the fateful day of death of his Guru.  In the said Mahānirvāṇa month, said day, said time…Elappuḷi Swāmigaḷ sat in the Samadhi Pit. He ordered the bystanders to move the big rock over the pit, once his head stopped moving. The townspeople chanted the God’s name. Swami’s titubation of the head did not stop. The time was on a merciless march. Unable to stay in the pit any longer, the death-inviting Swamy emerged out of the pit, ran through the crowd and disappeared. The expectant jubilant people turned sour and yelled, saying “All Swamys are charlatans.” The Swamy hiding in a grove with his attendant rich people ran out of town.

Kuñju Swamy’s desire to meet with Bhagavan was soaring high and he left home telling no one.  Since he heard his spiritual friend already joined with Ramanar, he was happy he had him there to help him.

After overcoming many hurdles, he reached Tiruvannamalai. He went up the mountain. He was excited to learn that he was about to meet a spiritual Persona. He thought through what all he would do and say reaching Bhagavan. Seeing Bhagavan he stood there horripilated. He paid homage by prostrating before him. His spiritual cohort SriRama Krishnar invited Kunju Swamy and introduced to Bhagavan, who nodded his head in assent.

On the day of arrival of Kunju Swamy, Bhagavan’s servitor-devotee Annamalai died of plague. Bhagavan’s mother cried at his death, while Bhagavan consoled her saying,” What is it, if Annamalai died? We gained another son (in Kunju). Kunju Swamy earned a place of spiritual proximity to Bhagavan: The import of this news was not apprehended then.

The inmates of Āśramam left for the funeral ceremony. Bhagavan prepared gruel, placed it on a plate and fanned it for cooling. He opened a basket. Out emerged four puppies.

‘Get hold of the foursome,’ yelled Bhagavan. That commandment, Kunju interpreted as learning of four Vedas. ‘Leave one after another,’ said Bhagavan. Kunju made a vow to give up desire and bonds.  (Leave one after another = Give up desire and bonds)

One puppy urinated on the floor. Bhagavan ordered saying, “Wipe.”  He took literally and figuratively. He wiped the urine off the floor. He scrubbed his mind of the impurities.

His luck to serve Bhagavan came to him fast. He also could be alone with him. He felt guilty eating free begged food with no payment with money.  He thought, “I stayed here for a few months. I can see inside me. Why should I not do the same thing staying home. Why should I be a burden to Bhagavan?” So saying to his friend, he came back home.

The peace in Bhagavan’ Sannidhi and deep reflection were impossible at home.  A private room did not advance his objectives. The thought to go back to Bhagavan blossomed in his mind. This time he took leave of his family with proper etiquette and returned to Tiruvannamalai.

He knew this was his place. Bhagavan was not angry for his departure and not effusive either with accolades for his return. When he was alone with Bhagavan one day, he divulged his life story and was unhappy he did not attain success in his search for God (God-realization).  Bhagavan answered, “If you know yourself, there is no loss. That is what Kaivalyam states.”

“How am I to know myself, Bhagavan.”

“You make an enquiry, ‘Who Am I?’”

“How do I make the enquiry, Bhagavan?”

“Look at the source of your thought.”

Turn the mind inside and look at the Heart (Self).”

([Spiritual]Heart and Self are synonyms)

Saying thus, Bhagavan fell silent. Likewise, Kunju Swāmygaḷ became silent. Bhagavan’s eye of grace cast its look on Kunju Swāmigaḷ. That moment, a change happened inside and there appeared peace and ecstasy in Kunju Swāmigaḷ.

As said here, Kunju Swāmigaḷ’s journey of spiritual life came to fruition in the right place. To face a right Guru, one must overcome many hurdles. Elappuḷi Swāmigaḷ, who became the butt of jokes, introduced Kunju Swāmigaḷ to Bhagavan.

Srīkuñju Swāmigaḷ continued to live with Bhagavan and attained spiritual enlightenment.

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