Bhagavan Sri Ramana's Realisation is unique and unparalleled in the annals of history. He realized in his boyhood the Eternal Truth, the Self Supreme, without the aid of initiation by any external Guru, without the need for a theoretical knowledge or study of the Sastras and Scriptures, and without having resorted to any kind of ritualistic form of worship, nay without any kind of Sadhana other than his spontaneous realisation of the eternal nature of the "I", the Self Supreme. Half a Century has passed since first he sat in the State of Transcendental Silence at the Hill of the Holy Beacon.
Arunachalam What did it mean to the boy barely fifteen years old, when he heard it uttered casually by some relative coming from Tiruvannamalai Outwardly and for the time being, there was no change. But inwardly, in his heart of hearts, young Venkataramana was lit by the spark of devotion,-an inward awakening to the core of his being. Some five months later, he happened to read the book Periyapuranam. It contains the lives of well known Saivite Saints. One reading of the book was enough to make him sure that the life of a Saint is the noblest possible. But the direct urge to BE the Truth Eternal came to him not from any study of books-indeed, apart from Periyapuranam he did not study with attention any religious book at all till then-nor from any external discipline, but as a result of the unique experience of the eternal nature of the spirit as the "I" apart from and independent of the physical body. He saw death come and go, while the "I" in him remained as the Immutable Awareness.
Always indifferent to his studies, this experience made Venkataramana completely indifferent not only to his studies but also to every thing in external life. Meditation on the Deathless "I" came naturally to the young Saint who never felt the need to curb or control the mind, because it had already come under the sway of the Self Supreme. Still he continued to go to the school for a few weeks more,-to what purpose, he did not know. In fact, he felt the lonely interior of Minakshi-Sundareswara Temple more congenial to his spirit than the boisterous atmosphere of the school and the playground.
Thus passed six weeks. One day at his home in Madura, while apparently engaged in his class-work, he put aside the books and sat up in his accustomed attitude of meditation. Observing him doing such things ore and more often during the past few days, his elder brother took the opportunity to administer a sharp rebuke to the younger one supinely indifferent to his studies. He said "Why all this (show of studying in a school etc.) for one who behaves thus?" The rebuke went home. It acted like an electric shock with an instantaneous effect. The propriety of the remark gave a quick and firm conviction to the younger one that his place was no longer in the home.
"Arunachala" whispers, at the very next moment, his inner voice. "That is my Home" says Venkataramana to himself. "There I must go at once." How? He does not know. He bundles up the few books by his side, saying that he has to attend a special class at his school. "Take five rupees from my box and pay my college fees" says the elder brother. Arunachala thus provides the trainfare! After a hasty meal, he turns the pages of an old schools atlas to see which place on the railway line is the nearest one to Tiruvannamalai. "Tindivanam," he decides. Three rupees will suffice; so, out of the five, he leaves two rupees with a small bit of paper on which he scribbles a few words to say he is leaving the place for good. What for? "In search of his Father" How else is he to describe his mission, much more so, his destination, which he must not disclose if he is to succeed in his enterprise? As to the nature of this enterprise, he is sure it is a meritorious one. Therefore, why enterprise, he is sure it is a meritorious one. Therefore, why should anyone come in search of him, why waste one's money and energy in undoing a good act? These few thoughts he expresses in fewer words, and leaves the place at once. It is already late, will he catch the train? That is the lookout of Arunachala. And when he reaches the station, he finds that the train is yet to come. He purchases a ticket to Tindivanam, and as soon as the train halts at the platform, he find himself in a compartment. Young Venkataramana is on his way to Arunachala.
That was on the 29th of August 1896.
Who can describe the state if Venkataramana's mind while the train seemed out of the station? The past, even while it was the living present, had little harm for him; and, ever since he had the death-experience, it became as unreal as the shadow of a shade. During all his school-boy career he never cared for the future, and now he cared for it even less. He know his Father would take care of the future; because, was it not He that 'enticed him from his home?' That He did take such care of His son had been repeatedly confirmed by the events that followed his decision to leave his Madura home. Another instance was soon to rise. The ticket he had actually purchased would take him to a place (Tindivanam) more than twenty miles away from the direct route to Tiruvannamalai, and he did not know this, nor did he care to make enquiries of others. Undistracted by anything that took place around him and indifferent to the bustle and talk in the compartment, he sat in silent contemplation of Arunachala. It was in search of his father that he had started on his pilgrimage, and, from the moment he boarded the train, he began the search in right earnest within himself. Observing the silent unconcern of the young traveller, a loquacious Moulvi travelling in the same compartment was impelled by curiosity to know his destination. "Tiruvannamalai" said the lad. The Moulvi gave out that he too was going there, or rather to the station next to it. "Station next to Tiruvannamalai" wondered Venkataramana. Did the train go in that direction at all? The Moulvi then told him that he should get down at Villupuram and take the branch line, which his old school atlas did not show. Surely, Providence was guiding his foot-steps, while he himself remained indifferent to external life.
The train reached Trichinopoly some time in the evening. But for the hasty meal he took before leaving his home, he had had no food since noon. Neither had he any relish for it, because at each succeeding moment he reached new heights of fervent devotion which consumed his very being. As to sleep at night, he was already asleep to the outer world during the day-time. He reached Villupuram at 3 a.m. At sunrise he walked into the town and had a meal in some hotel. When he offered to pay the few annas he had with him, the hotel-proprietor, who had been watching with some admiration the demeanour of the bright-looking youth, declaimed to take the charges for the meal. Young Venkataramana came back to the station, and investing all the cash he had (just two and half annas) he purchased a ticket to Mamblapattu from which Tiruvannamalai was still 32 miles away. On reaching Mambalapattu, the undaunted youth continued his journey on foot and reached Arayani-Nallur late in the evening on the 30th of August, thus covering a distance of about ten miles.
The nearby temple on a rock attracted his attention. It was the temple of Atulyanatheswara, sanctified by Sri Jnanasambandha who installed the Idol of Sri Arunachaleswara in one of the shrines there. It might have been on account of this and other ancient spiritual associations that when the youth, who had set out in search of his Father, Sri Arunachaleswara, sat in meditation in that temple, he had the vision of a dazzling light which filled the whole place. It is an interesting fact to note that the temple of Atulyanatheswara on the rock is the farthest shrine from Arunachala wherefrom one can see the peak of the Hill of the Holy Beacon. Hence it is also, perhaps, that Venkataramana had the vision of celestial light in that temple. Since none were permitted to stay there for the night, he had to come out along with the priest and his party, who after conducting the evening worship locked the temple doors. Only late at night near the temple at Kilur could Venkataramana get some food, and for drinking water he was led to the nearby house of a Sastri.
Next morning (the 31st of August) he was the guest of one Muttukrishna Bhagavatar and since it was the day of Nativity of Lord Krishna, the lad's arrival was considered auspicious. He had his first sumptuous meal since he had left Madura, devoutly served by the lady in the house, who also gave him a bundle of sweetmeats intended as offering to Lord Krishna. Venkataramana had still twenty miles to cover. He knew from the Moulvi that the train went up to and beyond Tiruvannamalai, but he had no money. He had little use for the ruby-set ear-ring he wore. "Why not get rid of them and get the trainfare?" he thought. Accordingly he pledged the ear-ring and with the money the Bhagavatar gave and the packet of sweets he went back to the station, where he had to wait till dawn next day to catch the train to Tiruvannamalai.
Early in the morning on the 1st of September, 1896, young Venkataramana came to this holy place of Sri Arunachala. From the station he went direct to the Temple. Strange to say, even at that early hour all the temple doors, including those of the Sanctum Sanctorum were wide open, as it were, for the Father to receive His Son immediately the latter reached Tiruvannamalai. Unhindered, unnoticed and unhesitating the youth ran in and reported himself to his Father thus:-
That very moment all physical and mental excitement disappeared, and he felt perfect peace and bliss unalloyed.
From that day to this, from the 1st of September, 1896 to the 1st September. 1946, all these fifty years, he has made Arunachala his abode. Having realized the Eternal Truth in his 'teens', the Truth that transcends time and space, he never considered it necessary for him to leave the place and go about spreading his message of inward peace and realisation. This is unprecedented in the history of humanity; and unprecedented also is the fact that within the life-time of the Sage his message has spread even to such remote parts of the world as the Fiji Islands in the East and California in the West.
In commemoration of that day, the 1st September. 1896, on which young Venkataramana reached Arunachala, and in devout and humble recognition of his fifty years of transcendental life, is publishe4d this GOLDEN JUBILEE SOUVENIR, being a chorus of tribute from some of his devotees, far and near.
From The Jacket
This fine collection of inspired writings on Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi was first published in 1946 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his arrival at Arunachala. Long out of print, it is now being reissued in a revised format to mark centenary of the same event.
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