Sunday, March 20, 2011

Maharshi & The White Peacock


In the Sanyasa Yoga of the Bhagavadgita [Chapter 5 ], Lord Krishna says

“Vidyavinayasampanne Brahmane Gavi Hastni
Shuni Chaiva Shvapake cha Panditah Samadarshinah” 5—18

Which means ‘The Realized Souls look with the same eye on a Brahmin endowed with Vedic knowledge, a cow, an elephant, a dog [animal world in general] and including even an untouchable’. In other words, for a saint or a sage all outward distinctions disappear since they see only divinity in all creations of the world. The truth of this statement was demonstrated by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi during his earthly life more in observance than in precept.

In April 1947 the Maharani of Baroda presented a white peacock to the Ramanashram. Initially Ramana did not accept the gift because he felt that there might be quarrels between the coloured peacocks which were already in the Ashram and the new entrant which was white. As it usually happens, the donor did not want to take back the gift and hence the white peacock became an inmate of the Ashram. Very soon the white peacock got used to the environment and started moving freely in the presence of the Bhagavan, enjoying the food given by him who was fond of feeding the peacocks. Sometimes it would run away somewhere and it had to be brought back by the attendant. Then Ramana would place his hands on his neck and stroking it gently would say “You naughty chap! Where did you go? How can we manage to look after you if you go away astray? Please don’t do it since there will be cruel animals outside. Why not stay in the Ashram premises” Thus he used to cajole it.

For a long time thereafter the white peacock did not go out of the Ashram but learnt to go about the various cottages in the Ashram. Watching it, the Bhagavan used to say “It is now like the Sarvadhikari [in-charge of the Ashram]”. Once, in the afternoon. The radio was playing in the Ashram hall. The peacock sat by the side of the radio, with closed eyes as if it was immersed in meditation. When some devotee remarked ‘See how carefully he is listening to the radio’, Bhagavan said “Yes. The peacocks are fond of music, especially if it is emanating from a flute”

Once when the white peacock was roaming about freely in the Ashram precincts along with the other peacocks, some one observed “Though this peacock is white, it is the other peacocks that are really beautiful”. On hearing this, Bhagavan pointing to the white peacock. said “If it is so, the white peacock has a beauty of its own. Those peacocks have many beautiful colours. This peacock is pure white without the mixture of any other colours. That means it is ‘Shuddha Satwa’ [pure Self] without the mixture of other gunas [attributes] like Rajas and Tamas. See how the peacock serves as an example in the Vedantic language. Even the other peacocks do not have so many colours at birth. They have only one colour at birth. As they grow up, they get many more colours. When their tails grow, they have any number of eyes. See how many colours and how many eyes! Our mind is also like that. At birth, there are no perversities. Subsequently, there will be many activities and ideas like the colours of the peacock”

S.S.Cohen, an Iraqi Jew, was a qualified accountant who adopted Sri Ramanashram as his home in 1936. In his book ‘Residual Reminiscences of Ramana’ he writes
“ Bhagavan seems to have developed a fancy for the white peacock which devotees think to be the incarnation of the late Madhavaswami, his old attendant who died about two years ago. Today [18-7- 1948] the famous Ashram cow Lakshmi died. Some believe that she was a disciple of Bhagavan in her previous birth. They draw this conclusion from her birth, the events of her life, her great attachment to him etc. After finishing the history of Lakshmi, Bhagavan takes up that of the white peacock which had been brought from a far off distance as Baroda. It was born in October 1946, three months after the death of Madhavaswami in July 1946 and brought to Madras in April 1947 by the Maharani of Baroda and to Sri Ramanashram by Mr. David Mac Iver on the same day.
Bhagavan then watched the movements of the peacock. It used to go to the cupboard where books were kept and touched its glass door with its beak in a straight line from east to west, as if scanning the title of the books. Secondly it used to appear in the hall and quit the hall at the very hours when Madhava used to come and go. Thirdly, it used to sit in the very places Madhvaswami used to sit and like him, used to visit the bookshop, office, library etc.and also at the hours he used to visit these places. Its habits used to be a copy of Madhava’s. Hence the conclusion of several devotees that he was Madhava reincarnated. Bhagavan used to address him as Madhava”

Sometime in 1947, one devotee by name G.V. Subbaramayya composed eight Telugu verses on the white peacock in ‘Mayura Vritta [The ‘peacock meter’] and presented them to Bhagavan. Bhagavan was pleased with these verses and handed them over to another lady devotee by name Srimathi Lalitha Venkataraman and asked her to sing them with her veena. Within half an hour she brought her veena and got ready to sing the verses. At that moment, the white peacock was absent. Sri Bhagavan said
‘But the hero must be present to hear his praises sung! Where are you Madhava? Come”
Lo! At once the white peacock flew down from the roof of the pandal. When Lalitha began to sing, he spread his plumage and danced. Sri Bhagavan sat and watched with beaming eyes. When the singing concluded, the peacock walked over to the veena and pecked the strings with his beak. Thereupon Sri Bhagavan told the singer “Madhava wants you to repeat the song”. So she sang once more and the peacock danced again!

B.M.N. Murthy

ARTICLE No. 408--Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi and the White Peacock
Created: Friday, September 14, 2007 8:50 PM


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