Ramana is a great magnet. His pull is irresistible. One does not have to see his beautiful form or be in his physical presence. Just to her or read about him is enough. Where is the limitation of time and space for such a one? In this book we savour the sweet companionship of some old devotees with Ramana. What is common to all of them? It is their yearning for him. It is this which really marks them out. Missing the connecting train Rangan travels by goods train and jumps off at Tiruvannamalai station unmindful of the injuries. He just had to be there with Ramana at the earliest. N.N. Rajan is bitted by the bug of love for Ramana. Torrential rains cut off direct connection by rail. Travelling by a circuitous route odes not help. Braving the swift currents of a river in spate he wades through neck deep water. Ultimately he somehow reaches the ashram the next day. If he had thought of the consequences he would never have dared to venture thus. The thought of danger never occurred to him. One finds that every one of these old devotees had to cross many hurdles initially to come to Ramana and subsequently to become inmates of the ashram. Further, Sri Ramanasramam was not affluent in those early years and conditions of life there were austere and difficult. They did not mind it in the least. Being with Ramana was all that mattered. It made their cup of happiness full to the brim. It is this happiness we share now.
No human mother can match the tender warmth which Ramana evinced for those who had put their faith and trust in him. Ramana would keep his munificence a secret. Yet it seeps through. Swami Pranavananda enters the ashram utterly exhausted. Ramana massage his tired and worn out legs and makes affectionate enquires about his welfare. Another incident comes to the mind. It was the last day of Ramana’s life in the body. He needs water but he does not ask his attendant Satyananda for it, last he should be inconvenienced by having to wash the bed-pan more often.
Ramana once told a devotee, Jnanis, Siddhas and Yogis can restore life. But it is the purpose for which they have come? To proclaim the Truth was Ramana’s purpose. So we find in these ‘Reminiscences’ Ramana’s advice on spiritual practices which no seekers of truth can afford to miss. One cannot live with Ramana and not get the necessary guidance for sadhana.
Particularly special are the ‘Leaves from the Diary’. For it is not a contemporary record of daily happening in Ramana’s presence but is also full of love for him. It is doubly valuable as it relates to a period which is hitherto uncovered. Ramana’s conversations with the devotees and visitors is set out in the ‘Talks’ for the period from 1935 to 1939. ‘Day by Day with Bhagavn’ begins in 1945. The ‘Leaves’ records the conversations in this gap. It is also supplements available material; up to 1948.
Some biographical data about each of the old devotees is imbedded in their recollections. Even so a brief introduction has been added as a sort of ‘Who is Who’. In one verse of the ‘Marital Garland of Letters’ Ramana says ‘Arunachala, let me be devoted to the devotee’s devotee’s devotee.’ Such is their importance. Their love for the Sadguru makes them the worshipful ones.
This book is in three parts. The first covers nineteen devotees whose trips down memory lane were first recorded by Chalam in appealing Telugu. These have been translated into English and suitably edited. In the second section we have translations from ‘Recollections’ which appeared from time to time in the Telugu fortnightly ‘Ramana Vani’. Here again the Telugu original makes fine reading. The third portion relates to ‘Leaves’ from the diary of N.N. Rajan maintained with utmost reverence, partly in Tamil and partly in English. As one reads these memoirs, one’s appetite for more is vetted. By reliving those wonderful days one is partake of that benediction.
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