Sunday, March 20, 2011

Maharshi & Mahatma

Exactly 57 years ago today, on the 14th of April 1950 at 8.47 PM to be very precise, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi attained Maha Samadhi.
At that moment a shining star, vividly luminous, arose from the South and moved slowly towards the North and disappeared behind the peak of Arunachala, a phenomenon observed by thousands of people. In the 'Saturday Evening Post' of America, a columnist under the caption " I saw A God Die" described the event as follows:
" I saw the hysterical bedlam of milling crowd and the fierce, unbearable crescendo of ' Arunachala Shiva! Arunachala Shiva!'. As the madness reached its peak and the fan stopped moving in the little room, a meteor cut a golden path across the sky and faded out over Sri Arunachala at the very moment when Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi breathed his last"
The attached article highlights the deep reverence and respest which Mahatma Gandhi had for the Maharshi.


MAHATMA GANDHI [1869-1948]

In the first half of the twentieth Century there lived two great personalities in India, each internationally recognized and respected as a ‘Mahatma’, each in his own field. All over the world people vied with each other to meet them. Both were born in India, lived in India and died in India and lived contemporaneously for nearly seventy years. But the irony was that they could not meet each other personally during their lifetime. Commenting on these two great personalities, Sarojini Naidu, the poetess, summed up the contrast between them, in a lighter vein, when she wrote “ We have two Mahatmas in India today—One is Ramana Maharshi who gives us peace: The other is Mahatma Gandhi who will not let us rest one moment in peace”

When Harindranatha Chattopadhyaya, brother of Sarojini Naidu and himself a fine poet, met Ramana Maharshi in 1948 at the Sri Ramanashram in Tiruvannamalai and asked the Bhagavan why the meeting with Gandhiji could not take place even once, the Bhagavan replied
“Sometime ago, he came to Tiruvannamalai. A meeting had been arranged for him to be held on the road around the hill, beyond the Ashram. People here thought that he would come to the Ashram on his way back, but owing to the pressure of the crowds it was impossible and he went away direct to the station. It seems he very much regretted this afterwards. Shankarlal Banker was very keen on bringing him here. In 1938 when Rajendra Prasad [Who later became the First President of India] and Jamnalal Bajaj [Treasurer of the Indian National Congress] came here and saw the Skandashram[where the Bhagavan was staying], they wanted to induce the Mahatma to stay there for sometime. But it did not happen. If at Sabarmati or at Wardha anyone said that he was mentally disturbed, the Mahatma used to say “Go to Ramanashram and come back after a month’s stay there”. When Omandur Ramaswami Reddiar went to see the Mahatma immediately after taking office as Chief Minister, Madras State, the Mahatma, it seems, asked him for how long he had been going to the Ramanashram. When he answered that he had been going there for over thirty years, the Mahatma said “Is that so? I have tried thrice, but so far have not been able to go there”. What could he do? How could he come here when he was not left alone for one moment?”

In August 1938, Babu Rajendra Prasad and Jamnalal Bajaj visited Ramanashram. While taking leave of the Bhagavan, the latter said “Mahatmaji has sent me here. Is there any message that I can take to him?”. Bhagavan replied “What message is needed when heart speaks to heart? The same Shakti [Superpower] that is working here is also working there”

Bhagavan often equated Gandhiji with Hanuman, the humble and heroic servant of Sri Rama. He once said “We say that Hanuman is Chiranjeevi [immortal]. It does not mean that a certain monkey goes on living for ever and ever. It only means that there will always be one on earth who serves Rama as your Gandhi does now”.
In one article the famous Swiss psychologist Carl Jung contrasted Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Sri Bhagavan and saw in this succession the progressive advance from Bhakti to Jnana. On hearing this, Bhagavan promptly sat erect and protested against the comparison, saying “When one has reached the mountain top, no matter from which side and by which path, one knows and understands all other paths. What is there that Sri Ramakrishna did not know”. In a like manner he deprecated comparison by some devotees between himself as a Jnani and Mahatma Gandhi as a Karma yogi. He said that both the paths are like organs of one and the same Eternal Goddess. Bhagavan saw only Adhyatma Shakti [the Supreme Power] working everywhere. He said that different persons perform different functions and arranging them in order of merit ‘is the mischief of the ego.’

When Gandhiji passed away on 30th January 1948, a newspaper reporter met Bhagavan and sought for his comments. Choked with emotion, the Bhagavan said “For the Mahatma’s death in this manner, every person’s heart is mourning. What is there in particular that I could say? Who is there who is not grieved.” So saying Bhagavan sent the reporter away and went for his walk. On his return when he heard “Vaishnava Janato” being broadcast, tears fell from Bhagavan’s eyes. Next day, after reading the details about the manner in which Gandhiji was killed, Bhagavan said “ The person who fired the shot, it seems, came up to the Mahatma and after bowing down , asked him ‘ Why have you come so late today, sir?’. The Mahatma replied that it was due to some work. The shot was fired immediately thereafter”. Bhagavan then drew a parallel from the Uttara Ramayana, saying “It seems that after Rama killed Ravana, he forgot that he, Rama, had to go to Vaikuntha. So the devathas took counsel among themselves and then sent Yama, the God of Death, to him. Yama came in the garb of an ascetic and respectfully said, ‘the work for which you have come is over: please come to heaven’. This is similar; “Swaraj has been obtained; your work is over; why are you still here? Shouldn’t you go back? It is already late”. Thus the Mahatma appears to have been sent away”


ARTICLE NO. 365--Ramana Maharshi and Mahatma Gandhi
Created: Friday, April 13, 2007


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