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].