Yogim Vande Jagadgurum (Part 9 of 9)

Yogi letter to nivedita

Yogim Vande Jagadgurum – My Salutations to Yogi Ramsuratkumar

Yogi Ramsuratkumar attracted us by his simple and unconditional love. He would not order us or force us in any way to do anything. Yet he got us to do what he wanted. Rather than making His messages sound like a lecture or advice, He made it seem like a casual conversation between friends.

Yes, we were His “friends”[i]. He once apologetically told Prof. C.V.R that he has been ignoring the professor and has been talking only to the kids. In another instance, I got to know from the famous music director, Sri Ilayaraja that Yogiji asked him to come later as he was “busy with this begger’s friends”[ii].

As I was very talkative, in course of time, I even raced Vivek in grabbing Yogiji’s full attention[iii]. But, no one can take Yogiji for granted. There were also instances when it would seem like Yogiji didn’t even recognize me when I enter his abode and he would ask his typical question “Your name?”

Gradually we learnt how to behave in his presence; when to be serious and disciplined; and when to be more casual. The typical example is to not shift the glasses when he gets us milk from the local tea stalls.

Usually, when we were not having conversations, Yogiji would make us repeat some songs, shlokas or namavali. Sometimes, he would get some book and make us read them aloud.

I have had opportunities to fan Him with his Palm hand fan. I had lit his cigarettes. He used to move his face backwards and tell smilingly that he is afraid as I bring the fire too close to his beard.

One of his indirect ways of teaching was to make us read the words of great men, like this one from Vivekananda – “… For what has the Hindu nation been doing for thousands of years except producing sages?”[iv]

During that period of our life, dilemmas were averted and personal decisions were quick, as we just had to ask Yogiji what He wanted us to do. He told me, Vivek and Prof. C.V.R’s son, Bhaskar that we should not be donating blood. He wanted our “blood, bones, flesh and everything for a higher cause.”[v]

One day, when I conveyed my interest to visit Anandashram, Yogiji felt very happy[vi]. Picking up on that, I visited Anandashram multiple times. He encouraged the members of Yogi Ramsuratkumar Youth Association to spread Ramnam and help in achieving Mataji Krishnabai’s target of 15,500 crores.

Yogiji had a style of coaching that was very personal. He would suggest things that he wants us to do, in a very friendly manner. He motivated us to set high ideals for ourselves by saying encouraging words like “you will make history”[vii].

The key messages were – to always have faith (he would say F_A_I_T_H with a lot of emphasis); to remember Him in difficult times; to speak the truth; to eat nellikkai (amla) regularly; to keep in mind that the highest goal of life is not earning wealth even though we need to carry out the job assigned to us. There were other ordinary things too that any grandparent would loving tell their grandchild, like – not to rest the chin on the palm; and to learn cooking, especially sweets, from the chef uncle in the neighbourhood.

Rather than fulfilling every wish of ours, He instructed us to accept the situation, like the case when He advised Vivek to take up Civil Engineering that was allotted to him, while Vivek wanted to go in for Computer Engineering that was available at a price.  Once, while answering my prayers at Sudhama, Yogiji assured that he would always be with me. He induced a feeling of courage and strength that His protective shield is ever present.

Even the highest truth about His divinity was a lengthy jovial dialogue between me and him, spanning across many visits wherein he would ask “Do you know that I am a beggar?”[viii]And I would end up giving reasons as to why He is a Great Yogi. He thoroughly enjoyed my praise that was filled with innocence. These interactions were meticulously captured in my father’s magazine, Tattva Darsana, which served as Yogiji’s mouth-piece during that period.

One of my prized possessions is a letter from Yogi Ramsuratkumar, where he wrote “ॐ रंगराजा को परमपिता आशीर्वाद देते हैं। निवेदिता को मेरा आशीर्वाद । योगी रामसुरतकुमार तिरुवणामलै ॐ”meaning “Om. My master blesses Rangaraja. My blessings to Nivedita! Yogi Ramsuratkumar Tiruvannamalai Om”.

Wasn’t Arjuna just a medium for Krishna to communicate His teachings, the Bhagavad Gita, to the entire humanity? The divine play of Yogi Ramsuratkumar with us was not meant from us alone to enjoy. It was for the benefit of His numerous ardent devotees who are eager to know more and more about this Divinity that lived in our midst, Yogi Ramsuratkumar.

May Sri Yogi Ramsuratkumar, the king of preceptors and the beloved of Lord Rama, protect us!
योगीरामसुरत्कुमारगुरुराट्रामप्रिय: पातुन: | [ix] yōgī rāmasuratkumāragururāṭ rāmapriyah pātu nah |

Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Jaya Guru Raya!

—————-

[i]Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-A, p. 18.
Bharatamata Mandir » Glimpses of a Great Yogi

[ii]Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-B, p. 43.

[iii]Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-A, p. 39.

[iv]Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-A, p. 19.

[v]Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-B, p. 11.

[vi]Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part I, p. 61.

[vii]Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-A, p. 23

[viii]Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-A, p. 24, 31, 33, and 36.

[ix]Yogi Ramsuratkumar Guru Raja Ashtakam, Shaaktasri Dr. K. Vaidyanaata Shaastri

Gnanaswaroopaa ! Karunaamoorthi ! Yogi Ramsuratkumaaraa !

When we used to visit Yogi Ramsuratkumar, our favorite hotel in Tiruvannamalai was Hotel Udupi Brindavan. Its proprietor, Sri Ramachandra Upadyaya is an ardent devotee of Yogi Ramsuratkumar. During those early visits, we were so happy to have our food viewing the picture of Yogiji in that hotel, as it was a time when Tiruvannamalai had not fully recognized the true worth of its treasure, Yogi Ramsuratkumar. This hotel was very special also because there were instances when Yogiji would come to the hotel room to speak to my father, Sadhu Rangarajan, saying that He would not be disturbed in that place.

Prior to shifting to the current location in the lane, the hotel used to be present right on the main road, close to the temple. Some time back, Sri Upadyaya had shared with me his experience about the circumstances under which the hotel had to be shifted and how Yogi Ramsuratkumar supported him during those tough times.

Before the residents of Tiruvannamalai started recognizing Yogi Ramsuratkumar, during the time when He used to roam around in the streets of Tiruvannamalai like a beggar, Sri Upadyaya’s brother-in-law (or some such relative) was one of the few people in Tiruvannamalai who realized the inherent greatness of Yogiji. He instructed Sri Upadyaya to provide food free of cost to Yogiji whenever He came to their hotel. Tiruvannamalai being a place filled with beggars, many hotels would shoo-away Yogiji considering Him to be an ordinary beggar. So Yogiji always felt immensely indebted to them for their kind gesture.

Many years ago, Sri Upaadyaya faced this situation of having to shift his hotel from the main road. The owner of the place demanded this hotel to be moved out. Not only that, he spoke some very harsh words at Sri Upaadyaya. When Yogiji came to know about this, He was extremely upset. “Oh! He told you like that. He could have said those words at this dirty beggar. How could he say that to you!” Yogi seemed to be much more hurt compared to the pain that He would have felt if someone had shouted at Him. Yogi had so much affection towards Sri Upaadyaya that he simply could not digest the insult faced by him.

Then, moving onto the next course of action, Sri Upaadyaya mentioned about this new place to which he intends to shift. He also conveyed his concern about the impact on business since he would be moving from the busy main road to the lane. Yogiji caringly enquired about the amount that he used to make when the hotel was in the main road and also the amount that he would require to make in the new place to run the business smoothly. Sri Upaadyaya shared all the financial details and mentioned a certain amount that he would need to make for the business to be successful. Yogiji carefully listened to the details.

A specific date and time was fixed for the opening of the hotel in the new premises. Yogiji was also informed of the same. On the appointed day, when Sri. Upadyaya went to the hotel premises, he was pleasantly surprised to find that Yogiji was already waiting there for them to arrive. Such was the importance that Yogiji had given for that event.  After that day, Yogiji started visiting the hotel everyday and He would check with Sri Upadyaya whether he was getting sufficient number of customers. This daily visit to bless Sri Upadyaya continued till the time Sri Upadyaya happily announced to Yogiji that he was getting the required business which was same or a little more than what he was getting prior to the shifting.

Why should Yogi Ramsuratkumar, who is beyond success or failure, be so much worried about a particular person’s success in business? The answer is straight-forward “சென்சொற்று கடன்” – it is the gratitude for the food provided to Him at a time when others had denied.

Here, I would like to share my personal opinion. When someone shares with us their suffering, it is probably not the time to quote Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s advice on “accepting things as they come, as nothing but God’s grace”.

In spite of being the personification of Jnana, Yogi Ramsuratkumar always demonstrated His Kaarunyaa or compassion, when a devotee was in trouble. I have personally seen this when Yogiji was anxiously waiting for the telegram about the successful completion of the operation that Sri Dwaraknath Reddy underwent; and also in another instance, when Yogiji requested my father to directly go to the hospital where Sri Balakumaran’s wife was undergoing an operation.

Wishing and praying for the good of our beloved ones or those who are suffering – is probably as important as – handling difficult situations by developing a sense of contentment, acceptance, and gratitude. Acceptance of the personal sufferings and wishing good for others when they are suffering is what Yogi Ramsuratkumar showed us in action by being the Jnana-swaroopam and also at the same time, a Karunaa-moorthy !

Yogim Vande Jagatgurum (Part 8)

Yogim Vande Jagadgurum – My Salutations to Yogi Ramsuratkumar

Yet another memorable event happened on 7, Jan 1990[i] where Yogiji led us to a hotel and took personal care of us. That day, Prof. C.V. Radhakrishnan, Dr. Mahendra from South Africa, my brother, Vivek, and me, went to Tiruvannamalai. We had Yogiji’s darshan in the morning. Yogiji asked us to come back again at 4 PM.

Since we had time, we climbed up the Arunachala mountain to meet Narikutti Swami, a friendly Swami residing in one of the caves. By the time we came down for Yogiji’s darshan, it started raining profusely. We got drenched in the rain. Still we did not stop on the way as we wanted to be present at Yogiji’s place at 4 PM, as He would be expecting us. When He tells us something, we just had to abide by it. He would not like it, if His instruction was not followed properly.

When we reached the gate of Sannadhi Street house, Vivek started shivering in chillness. Yogiji came to open the gate. He became very much disturbed at Vivek’s condition. Yogiji gave each of us a shawal to keep ourselves warm. In spite of using the shawal, Vivek continued to shiver. Yogiji hurriedly took us to Hotel Udupi Brindavan and asked Sri Ramachandra Upadyaya to get us new clothes. Sri Upadyaya told that his kids’ clothes would fit us and he immediately got them from his house. He also got his own dhotis for Prof. CVR and Dr. Mahendra.

Yogiji remained with us in the hotel room for some time. We had some hot milk. Only after ensuring that we were all doing fine, He left for His place. He expressed His concern that having come for His darshan, we got drenched in the rain. He sounded as though it was His fault that He allowed this to happen to us and He wanted to make sure that we were alright. Didn’t Krishna lift Mount Govardhan, with utmost concern for his beloved Gopa families, to protect them from the torrential rain?

[i]Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-B, p. 41.  Bharatamata Mandir » Glimpses of a Great Yogi

Yogim Vande Jagatgurum (Part 7)

Yogim Vande Jagadgurum – My Salutations to Yogi Ramsuratkumar

One of the happiest moments during my stay in Sudhama, in 1994[i], was a memorable dinner with Yogi Ramsuratkumar.  Smt. Prabha Sundararaman’s son, Balasubramanian (Vasu), and myself were sitting before him. Devaki amma served a chapatti to Yogiji and left the room to collect the next chapatti from the kitchen. The kitchen was just adjacent to the room in which we were sitting. So, only the three of us were there in that room.

Before Ma Devaki could bring the next chapatti, Yogiji took pieces of chapatti and fed us by placing the pieces alternatively on our hands. It was similar to the dinner under moonlight (நிலாச்சோறு nilaa choru) where an elderly person would make all the kids in the joint family sit in a circle in the open varanda under moonlight and feed them by placing the food on the palms. This way, with a lot of excitement and affection, Yogiji give the chapatti to Vasu and me.

In a very joyful mood, he started tapping the empty plate, making a sound, to hurry up Devaki amma to bring the next chapatti. Once the chapatti was served, and Ma Devaki left for the kitchen, he again distributed it to us by placing the pieces on our palms. He was very happy and was enjoying this little game of stealthily giving us the chapatti without eating it himself. Noticing that the chapattis were vanishing instantly in this way, Ma Devaki caught us all, as it were, in His Divine Play.

Wasn’t it for His own amusement and for the enjoyment of all that the lovable mischievous little Krishna stole the butter from the Gopis?

[i] Article “Grandpa Yogi Ramsuratkumar”, by Nivedita – Published in Tattva Darsana

Well cooked or ill, judge not

What chance may bring, well cooked or ill, judge not

Have thou no home. What home can hold thee, friend?
The sky thy roof, the grass thy bed; and food
What chance may bring, well cooked or ill, judge not.
No food or drink can taint that noble Self

Which knows Itself. Like rolling river free
Thou ever be, Sannyasin bold! Say— “Om Tat Sat, Om!”

— Thus sings Swami Vivekananda in his “Song Of The Sannyasin”.  This was exactly the life that Yogi Ramsuratkumar lived in his new station of work, Tiruvannamalai. Sometimes he used to stay in some cave in the Arunachala Hill, other times under a big tree, yet other times by the side of the big walls of the Arunachaleswara Temple. He would seek protection from rain and sun by sitting in the veranda of some wayside shop. He never bothered about his food and comforts. Whatever came as alms was gladly accepted. Sometimes, he would starve for days together, but he would never get exhausted and would roam about chanting “Aum Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram” and dancing in ecstatic bliss.

Glimpses of a Great Yogi Part 1.pdf page 45 http://sribharatamatamandir.org/word/?page_id=412  

Yes. Yogi Ramsuratkumar did not bother about his food or comforts. He gladly accepted the alms given to Him. Not just that – He did not want anyone to disrespect the food or the person serving the food.

On one of the visits, he asked me how my father will react if the food was not good. I told him that he would tell my mother that even after so many years of cooking, she has not learnt to cook well. All of us had a good laugh at this. Then Yogiji asked me how my mother would react to it. I said that she would not say anything in response.

(Here, I will digress a bit to mention about my Amma’s cooking. She does not cook tasty dishes that involve complex steps and a variety of special ingredients. But it would not be an exaggeration to say that she had served coffee / tea, or other simple dishes like chapattis, upma or khuzhambu rice, to hundreds of Yogi Ramsuratkumar devotees who used to visit our Triplicane residence).

Yogiji also asked others present there about the reaction of the family members with regards to food. The most entertaining response came from Sri. Mani when Yogiji asked him about his reaction when the food was not good, and the response that Smt. Rajlakshmi would give him. Sri. Mani used to have a very casual conversation with Yogi and hence, without any hesitation, he openly shared the candid response that Smt. Raji would give him — “Go, man! If you talk bad of the food that I cook, you will not even get this in your life. You will end up having to eat some horrible food only”. Everyone present there had a hearty laugher. Yogi enjoyed this so much that He kept on laughing for a long while and He made Sri Mani narrate it over and over again.

What was shared in a closed gathering of devotees, soon became a ritual in the public darshan. Yogi used to ask Sri. Mani to narrate it when the devotees had gathered at the ashram for His darshan. Everyone used to enjoy this narration and have a good laugh. If Mani happens to state it in a polished manner, Yogiji would insist that he should share the response in the exact candid manner in which Smt. Raji would react. This went on for many days.

While the devotees would have had a nice laugh over it, without their knowledge, somewhere in their hearts, they would have realized that they should not be rude towards their wife or mother who cooks food for them.

This incident shows Yogiji’s unique way of teaching. Even if he had taken the mic and told everyone present there that they should respect the food and the person serving it, people might have forgotten within a short time. But this narration would have stayed longer in their memory along with its purport.  Yogi took this liberty with Sri Mani and used him as an instrument to convey this message.

Another important point to ponder regarding this incident is the reason for Yogiji to give so much importance for honoring the food and the person who provides it.

Yogi Ramsuratkumar, leading the life of a beggar, would have had many instances where he had to go without food for long durations. I used to wonder whether Yogi would have experienced suffering due to hunger. It is my personal opinion that He would have acknowledged, accepted and overcome the suffering very quickly. Great souls understand the impermanence of the physical body. So in their case, this acknowledgement of the suffering, its acceptance, and the victory over the suffering could happen so quickly that it would seem like they were never impacted by it.

Yogi Ramsuratkumar is our Bhagavan. He is our God. But I would still believe that He would have undergone physical discomfort when he had to remain hungry for longer durations, until someone gave him some food to eat. His faith in His Master would have made Him accept the situation without any grief. His personal experiences could be the reason for Yogiji to give so much importance for valuing the food and its provider. Taste would have been an irrelevant factor when pacifying one’s hunger itself was a challenge.

So He probably wanted us to realize that it is a privilege to have a person serving us simple healthy food from time to time. We need to be thankful to that person and never ought to hurt that person’s feelings just because the food did not turn out to be very tasty on a particular day.

[Thanks to Sri. Mani and Smt. Raji for asking me to write about this].

“Yes, Swami! I will do as you say”

One day, in the afternoon, I decided to go to Tiruvannamalai to seek Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s blessings and to ask him for some guidance regarding the course that I should take after graduation. At that time, Smt. Prema happened to visit our house. She readily agreed to accompany me. We were in a hurry as it was already late in the afternoon. When we arrived at Tiruvannamalai, it was late in the evening. We were not sure if we would be able to see Him that day. We were praying that we should be able to get a glimpse of Him and be able to just ask Him about the admission.

On arrival at Tiruvannamalai, we directly rushed to Yogi’s house and knocked at the gate. Yogiji opened the door and came out. Yogiji showed Himself in a different Alamkaaram (decoration) that day. He was wearing just his Panchakachcham without the turban and Jubba. The hair was let loose and it seemed as though it was flowing. He had covered Himself with a plain cloth like Angavastiram. He was in a blissful mood. He was shining like a Vigraha. Prema felt as though she was seeing Lord Rama in person.

Yogi enquired us about the purpose of our visit. He told me that I could take up M.Sc. in Mathematics. He blessed me. He asked Prema if she wanted to say anything. Prema replied that she did not have anything in particular to say. She said that she was very happy that she could have His darshan that day. Yogiji blessed both of us. He mentioned that He was busy doing some work inside His house. After checking with us that we do not have anything more to tell him, He blessed us and asked us to leave. We immediately left for Chennai, having fulfilled the purpose of the visit, and having a very good darshan of Yogi Ramsuratkumar, in an unusual appearance.

Though the darshan lasted only for 5 minutes, it was one of the most memorable visits for Smt. Prema as Yogiji was in such a joyful mood and He gave us this “ekaanta seva” – a special darshan – just for us.

(Thanks to Smt. Prema Jagannath for sharing the above incident).

There was a period when it was so easy to take decisions. All we had to do was to go to Him, place before him the choices available and ask Him on what needs to be done. He would tell us what we need to do and the decision was made. No choices. No dilemma. No confusion. Yogiji would take personal care and attention. When Vivek wrote his board exams, Yogiji blessed him and asked him to work more on Mathematics. That year, the Maths question paper happened to be very difficult and this was even reported in the newspapers. (See “Glimpses of a Great Yogi Part I.pdf” page 46)

When Vivek got admission into engineering, Yogiji was very happy and he mentioned that in that specific year, he had prayed to His Father for two students – One was Vivek and the other was Manikandan. Yogiji was happy that His Father answered His prayers and both of them got admissions in Engineering colleges. Yogiji added that sometimes His Father would reject His applications. He said that He was very happy because that time His Father obliged for both of them.

It was indeed a rare privilege and a great blessing to get Yogi Ramsuratkumar to tell us what we need to do. But at the same time, it has to be understood that it was not as easy as it might seem. After all, we are humans. We have feelings and personal preferences. My brother, Vivekanandan, went to Yogi with a request that he should be permitted to take Computer Science specialization in Engineering. Yogi enquired the details. He got to know that for Civil Engineering, because of Vivek’s good marks, he could get admission under Government quota without having to pay any donation. But for Computer Science specialization, there was a donation that had to be paid which we could not afford. Yogi asked Vivek to take only Civil Engineering. Vivek felt that it would be good to take Computers with the help of the financial assistance from some relatives. But Yogiji insisted that he should take only Civil Engineering. Yogiji even said that Vivek had to link River Ganga with River Kaveri. So he should take up only Civil. As per Yogiji’s order, Vivek studied Civil engineering and after that, he did ME in Structural engineering.  But it was not easy for him to give up his choice with regards to pursuing his studies in the field that he wished to work on.  (See “Glimpses of a Great Yogi Part II.pdf” page 5)

So what matters here is only our willingness to accept what Yogi wants us to do. Now that Yogiji is not present in His physical form to guide us, our intuition will guide us. We need to strengthen our faith and learn to accept any situation to be Yogi’s blessings being showered on us, even though, on the face of it, it might seem like a disaster.

Yogim Vande Jagatgurum (Part 6)

Yogim Vande Jagadgurum – My Salutations to Yogi Ramsuratkumar

It is a common practice to carry some fruits or some other offering, as a mark of respect, while visiting any revered person. But we (me and my brother, Vivek) did not have the habit of carrying any offering when we used to visit Yogi Ramsuratkumar. (Many years later, I had sent a few money orders which Yogiji had personally signed and received). When our trips started becoming more frequent, we would go empty handed and return with loads of prasad from Yogiji for distribution amongst the devotees in Chennai. He used to see us off with a lot of fruits, other prasad like sugar candy. At time, he would even hand over the money that was offered to Him by devotees, mentioning that it will be helpful for my father, Sadhu Rangarajan, in his work. When we return, we would feel like we were returning from our grandparent’s house with a lot of goodies. On the other hand, my father would receive us as though we are coming back after writing the board exams. Without bothering about the tiredness of our travel, he would make us narrate all that happened and make us capture it for posterity. We are also grateful to Sri Rajamanika Nadar who insisted that the cherished experiences should be documented. These are now readily available online in the various volumes of Sadhu Rangarajan’s book “Glimpses of a Great Yogi”. http://sribharatamatamandir.org/word/?page_id=412 On one specific visit, the Prasad that Yogiji gave us had a special significance. During that visit, Yogiji abruptly terminated our casual conversation. He gave us some Prasad along with a pack of flowers that had been offered by a devotee and asked us to leave immediately for Chennai. He gave us specific instruction to hand over the flowers immediately to my mother on reaching Chennai. Later we got to know that at that specific point of time, my father, Sadhu Rangarajan happen to get almost drowned in Ganges and that he was saved by a boat man. Usually Yogiji did not encourage any discussion about miracles attributed to him, though there were numerous instances that the devotees visiting our house at Triplicane[i] would happily share, thankfully recollecting the miraculous help received by them. Yogiji would usually not make it a big thing and say that it was all His Father’s grace. Yet this particular incident[ii]was acknowledged by Yogiji Himself and He even checked if this incident was going to get printed in my father’s magazine, Tattva Darsana. Yogiji said that His Father instantly sent help as Rangaraja was calling out the name, Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Didn’t Sri Krishna save Draupadi when she surrendered herself totally onto him?

[i]Glimpses of a Great Yogi, Part II-B, p. 21.

[ii] The Great Boat Man, by Sadhu Prof. V. Rangarajan