Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Maharshi's Boyhood Days


Childhood Pranks : When Bhagavan was five years old he was admitted as a pupil in the Infant Standard of the Setupati Elementary School in Tiruchuzhi. Outside school hours and the hours he spent at home, little Ramana[called Venkataraman then] would always be active playing with his friends in the spacious corridors and open spaces about the Bhuminatheshwara Temple. The temple tank was a favoiurite haunt of Ramana and his friends. They would have any number of dips in the temple tank daily. The water being sulphurous, Ramana had no end of trouble in rubbing off the tell tale stains on his silver bangles so as to avoid parental castigation.

One fine morning Ramana and his friends were exceptionally mirthful. Father Sundaram Iyer was away from home. In a loft in the house were stacked bundles of old paper relating to law suits settled long ago. Little Ramana and his friends managed to climb on to the loft and managed to take out one bundle. They soon made a large number of paper boats. Presently, a fleet of paper boats were floating in the village tank to the great glee of the little urchins.

When Sundaram Iyer returned home and came to know what had happened, he got very angry and burst out: “Strip this fellow of his clothes and drive him out of the house!” On hearing this, little Ramana became panicky and disappeared,

During midday meal, he was found missing. He was nowhere in the house, not even in the house of any of his friends nor in the temple. Nobody had seen the boy anywhere. It was doubted if the child drowned himself in the temple tank unable to parental reproof. All search was fruitless. Meanwhile, the temple priest was preparing for the midday worship of the Deity, Mother Sahayavalli. He entered the dimly lit Garbhagudi [Sanctum sanctorum] and removed the drapery on the image for performing Abhishekham to the Goddess. He was surprised to see behind the image another figure in a sitting posture! Stock-still, it is a little human being! Here then was the missing child. The news reached the anxious father who rushed to the temple and carried the boy on his shoulders. Unable to bear the parental rebuke, Ramana had sought and found solace from the ever-helpful Mother, Sahayamba.

Ramana’s Senior Schoolmate Mani Iyer: Velacheri Mani Iyer, a senior schoolmate of Bhagavan, was noted for his physical strength and for his rough dealing with anybody he disliked. He was therefore popular as ‘Pokhri Mani’ [Rogue Mani]. He never went to any temple nor bowed down before any god or man. However, he once took his mother to Tirupathi a few years after Bhagavan had settled down at Tiruvannamalai. His mother wanted to alight at Tiruvannamalai which was en route, to see Venkataraman [Ramana’s former name] whom she had known as a small boy at Tiruchazi. But Mani did not agree, saying that it was not worth the trouble. So they direct went to Tirupathi.

On their way back again, the mother pressed her son again to visit Tiruvannamalai. Mani had to yield to her request. He agreed on only one condition that he was allowed to take Venkataraman back home. He said “It is not for the Darshan of this rogue Sadhu that I am alighting at Tiruvannamalai but to drag him by his ear and bring him back to
Madurai. I am not a weakling and he knows my strength. I shall succeed where his uncle, mother and brother have failed”. “All right, do as you please” said the mother. Both alighted at Tiruvannamalai and went up the hill and went to Virupaksha Cave where Bhagavan was then staying. The mother bowed to Bhagavan and sat down quietly. But the son looked and looked at Bhagavan, getting more and more puzzled. There was no trace of the ordinary boy Venkataraman whom he had known. Something quite unexpected had happened. Instead of his old friend there was effulgence Divine Being seated in front of him. His heart melted for the first time in his life, tears rolled down his cheeks and his hair stood on end. He fell prostrate before Bhagavan and surrendered himself to him. Thereafter he became a frequent visitor and a staunch devotee of Bhagavan.

But yet, he thought that he was in need of a more tangible method than the ‘Atma Vichara [Who Am I] and approached Bhagavan fir it a few times. There was no response. Once when he went out for a walk on the Hill with the Bhagavan, he stood before him and said “I won’t allow you to return unless you give me some Upadesham [teaching] suited to me. Bhagavan replied “What is there to teach, Mani. Instead of saying Shiva, Shiva and keeping quiet, why do you ask for this and that?” Mani Iyer fell down at Bhagavan’s feet with great joy and exclaimed “I have got my Upadesham and my initiation”. From that moment he went on with the Japa ‘Shiva, Shiva’ day and night and in course of time it became one with his prana, life-current. He was totally transformed and his face shone with Divine Radiance.

When Mani Iyer felt that his end was near, he stayed with Bhagavan for a few days. Every morning he rolled with his body round Bhagavan’s Hall [Anga Pradakshina]. When Bhagavan tried to stop him, he said “I do not know how else I can express my gratitude for what Bhagavan did for me!”

A few days later he took leave of Bhagavan and soon got released from bodily bondage to dwell for ever at Bhagavan’s feet.

B.M.N. Murthy


ARTICLE NO. 445--Early Days of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi
Created: Friday, May 23, 2008 9:20 PM


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