Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Maharshi The Animal-Lover


There is a beautiful ideal set out in the Bhagavadgita by Lord Krishna when he says:

“Vidyavinaya Sampanne Brahmane Gavi Hastini
Shuni Chaiva Shvapake cha Panditah Samadarshinah” V-18

This means “The wise look with equal eyes on a learned but humble Brahmin, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a chandala living on dog’s flesh”. If anyone lived up to this ideal
completely both in letter and spirit in recent years, it was Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. In fact, in the Sri Ramanashram several learned pundits and the Ashram animals sat alike on the same floor before the Maharshi and were given equal treatment by the Ashram authorities. Neither was preferred to the other by the Maharshi in the matter of attention, food and treatment in general.

When one visited the Sri Ramanashram, it used to be common to hear Bhagavan saying “Lakshmi has come. Give her rice food at once”, looking through the window.
When a newcomer to the Ashram would expect a little girl to come in and take the food, a cow answering to the name Lakshmi, would step in slowly and take the food. When the Maharshi enquired “Have the boys been given their food?”, he would be referring to the Ashram dogs. When he said “Roja, come here my boy”, a sweet little cat would come and sit on the lap of the Bhagavan. Bhagavan would then say “Lie down a little and wait for a while for your cup of milk”. There was not even a single occasion when Bhagavan referred to any of the Ashram pets as ‘it’ or treating the pets as less than a human being. Ramana treated all living beings-- man, animal or beast-- with equal love and affection and regarded all of them as divine souls having different names, shapes and forms, depending on their previous karma. Bhagavan knew the languages of all animals and birds. Not only was he able to understand their language but he could communicate his thoughts to them in a language which they understood.

When the dog Kamala came as a little pup to the Skandashram, the inmates wished to drive her away lest she should litter the Ashram with pups year after year. In the initial stages, little Kamala could put up with the rudeness offered by some of the inmates but would not leave the Ashram. Kamala grew up in the Ashram and littered the Ashram with pups year after year and the family grew too large. On the occasion of the very first delivery of Kamala, she was given a ceremonial bath, painted with turmeric, decked with dots of kumkum on the forehead, given a clean place in the Ashram itself and kept there for 10 days. On the 10th day, Punyahavachanam [Purification ceremony] was conducted with a regular feast of payasam and sweetmeats to all the ashramites.

Many years back a spring was discovered within the premises of the Ashram. Devotees had placed a dried wooden stump on the ground at the centre to support themselves while drawing water. Once they saw a crow sitting on the top of the stump
continuously for three days without stirring. When they reported this matter to Bhagavan on the third day, he immediately rose from his couch and walked towards the stump. This was a surprise to the devotees, as Bhagavan normally did not go out of the Hall at that time. Going close to the crow, Bhagavan asked the crow “What is the matter?” The crow slowly opened its eyes. Bhagavan asked the attendant to bring him his Kamandulu. Holding the crow in one hand, he poured a few drops of water from the Kamandulu into its beak Immediately after this, verily in Bhagavan;s hands, the crow breathed his last.
Sri Bhagavan arranged and supervised the construction of a small Samadhi and when someone remarked that the crow must have been a great soul waiting for Bhagavan’s touch, he replied “Yes! It appears so”.

The Ashram cow Lakshmi came to the Ashram every day, had her meals, grazed on the Ashram land, entered the Hall and sat contentedly near Bhagavan. One afternoon, after lunch, when Lakshmi was pregnant for the third time, she came to the Ashram Hall when Bhagavan was reading the newspaper. She stood near him and started licking the newspaper. Bhagavan looked up and said “Wait a little, Lakshmi”, but Lakshmi continued licking. Finally when his mild protests went unheeded, Bhagavan laid the paper aside and put his hands behind her horns and rested his head against hers. Remaining like this for a while, Lakshmi became motionless. After about 10 minutes, Bhagavan looked up at a devotee nearby and in a soft voice asked him “Do you know what Lakshmi is doing?”. When the devotee replied in the negative, Bhagavan said
“She is in Nirvikalpa Samadhi”. Tears were flowing down her broad cheeks and her breathing had stopped and her eyes fixed on Bhagavan.

In the thatched roof ceiling of the old Hall, squirrels would build nests. Once some new born babies fell from the top and landed on Bhagavan’s sofa. They were quite young and their eyes were not yet even open .How to feed these young ones and attend to their other requirements drew the attention of Bhagavan. The baby squirrels were in Bhagavan’s palm. While looking at them, Bhagavan’s eyes glowed with love and affection. He asked for cotton and with it made a soft bed for them. Taking a bit of cotton, he squeezed it to the form of a tiny end. The end was so small that it looked like a pin. He dipped it in milk and squeezed drops of milk to those tiny mouths. Bhagavan repeated this careful procedure at regular intervals. He tended them with great care and love for quite sometime until one day they began to run around the Ashram like any normal squirrel. They did not run away from the Ashram but only ran around their ‘Mother”.

A few years back some visitor to the ashram brought two baby cheetahs, which were his pets, to the Ashram. Ever playful and at ease, they not only moved freely amongst the people. When Bhagavan welcomed them, they jumped on to his sofa and sat on it for nearly two hours, sleeping next to Bhagavan. While they were there, the squirrels came and ate as usual and the sparrows came and ate the broken rice, unmindful of the presence of cheetahs. When some one saw this rare camaraderie among animals, one would have been easily reminded about stories in our scriptures where birds and animals, mixed and moved together, without fear of each other, a sight which was common in the ashrams of Rishis. Such visitors would have realized the greatness of Ramana as a Rishi of ancient days.

B.M.N. Murthy

ARTICLE NO. 435----Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi and his Animal Companions
Created: Friday, March 7, 2008 8:36 PM


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home