`A LIFETIME WITH BHAGAVAN' IN 1908, when I was 12 years old, Bhagavan was still in Virupaksha Cave. Mycousin,Krishnamurthy,used to go to Bhagavan every day and sing songs of devotion and worship before him. One day I asked him where he went daily. He told me: "The Lord of the

"Well. Bhagavan turned to me and asked. Great men sing your praise. Oh Lord. that is what must be done." "Yes. with about ten devotees around him. won't you sing a song?" One of Sundaramurthy's songs came to my mind and I sang it. Why don't you come with me?" I too climbed the hill and found Bhagavan sitting on a stone slab. and I took it to be . I shall win your grace. By holding on to them. Grant that my tongue may repeat Thy Name even when my mind strays. It's meaning was: "No other support I have except Thy Holy Feet.Hill Himself is sitting there in human form." said Bhagavan. Each would sing a song.

got up and came forward to meet me. never missing a day. Going up the hill was meaningless toil. On the hundred and first day I could suffer no longer and ran to Skandasramam.his teaching for me. I clung to them and would not . When I fell at his feet. above Virupaksha Cave. Bhagavan saw me climbing. For one hundred days exactly I did not see Bhagavan. From that time on I went to him regularly for several years. What was the use? There seemed to be no inner advancement. One day I wondered why I was visiting him at all. I could not restrain myself and burst out in tears. I decided to end my visits on the hill.

I used to buy something to eat and take it with me as an offering." Bhagavan looked at me enquiringly and . Bhagavan pulled me up and asked: "It is over three months since I saw you." he said. I stood before Bhagavan in a dejected mood and said: "This poor man has brought nothing. did you not?" Then I understood that we did not go to him for profit. but because away from him there was no life for us.get up.Whenever I went up the hill to see Bhagavan. "All right. so what? You felt the loss. Where were you?" I told him how I thought that seeing him was of no use. One day I had no money. "maybe it is of no use.

I was married and led a wellordered family life as laid down in the scriptures. and feeding the five kinds of living beings. About 1920 Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni . worshipping ancestors and deities in the prescribed way." I wondered. All else is unimportant. not knowing what I brought. studying the Vedas.remarked: "Why you brought the main thing." laughed Bhagavan!Years passed. "Don't you understand? You brought yourself. I was associated with political and religious activities and used to go from village to villageteaching the Periya Puranam. but I would find time to visit Bhagavan quite often.

should use your spiritual powers for the uplift of the world and liberation of the . From my early days I was in Tilak's movement and did not see much future in Mahatma Gandhi's programme. He became the president of the Tiruvannamalai Town Congress Committee. He was already a dear disciple of Bhagavan. One day I said to Nayana: "I do not expect much from political activities. Everyone used to address him as Nayana' (father). without God's grace no action will prosper. People like you.came to reside at Tiruvannamalai. who are blessed with grace in abundance. To ask for grace is our main task.

Their object was to win freedom for our country by purely devotional means. Nayana used to .country and not waste your time on speeches. like rituals." He liked the idea and asked me to stay with him and pray to God for grace. We managed to register about ten thousand members. He made me study the Vedas and taught me verses from the Rig-Veda. with their meaning. Nayana mainly stayed in the Mango Tree Cave on Arunachala and used to visit Bhagavan off and on. and personal and collective penance. Mahendra Societies were started all over India and I was made the General Secretary. prayers.

saying: "When the Sun is shining in front of you. the intricacies of the scriptures are beyond one's power of understanding." When Nayana would see someone sitting in frontof Bhagavan. while Bhagavan was just literate.discuss shastras with him and get his doubts cleared. He was a mighty scholar. he would scold the devotee. why do you need to close your eyes? Are you serious or do you want only to show what a pious fellow you are?" Those were happy days indeed.yet he would say: "Without Bhagavan's grace. and I was . meditating with his eyes closed. One word from him makes everything clear.

blessed with many visions of deities and divinities.At Skandasramam a peacock would follow Bhagavan everywhere." The cobra immediately lowered its hood and slithered away. when Bhagavan came quite nearthe cobra and said: "Why did you come here? That peacock will kill you.In 1929 I got tired of the relative shapelessness of my inner life and asked Bhagavan to give me some clearinstructions as to what direction I . Better go away at once. The cobra spread its hood and the two natural enemies were poised for a fight to the death. One day a huge black cobra appeared in the Ashram and the peacock attacked it fiercely.

I was standing and looking on.should proceed in my spiritual practice. From that time on I gave myself completely to spiritual life. Bhagavan asked me to sit down for breakfast. I said that I had to perform my . He gave me Kaivalyam to read and explained to me the inner meaning of some sacred verses. it was all Bhagavan's Grace. just as something that had to be done.One Amavasya (new moon day) all the Ashram inmates were sitting down for breakfast in the dining room. It was wonderful how I could keep so detached for so many years. I did my duty at school and supported my family. but it was of no importance to me.

Bhagavan retorted that my father was already in heaven and there was nothing more to be done for him. My taking breakfast would not hurt him in any way. Bhagavan got up. accustomed as I was to ageold tradition. I could not eat my dinner and the next morning. made me sit down and eat some rice cakes. I still hesitated. Once Chinnaswami got very cross with me and I felt quite nervous about it. From that day I gave up performing ceremonies for ancestors. .late father's ceremony on that day and would eat nothing (Usually the ceremonies are done to enable the ancestors to go to heaven).

who was preparing rice cakes. started cutting jokes and telling funny stories to make me forget my woes. How great was Bhagavan's compassion!My wife used to prepare ." So saying. Take your seat. he brought a leaf." said Bhagavan.feeling unreconciled and yet hungry. I have prepared a special sambar for breakfast and I shall make you taste it. sitting by my side. "Today is Sunday and there is no teaching work for you. I told Bhagavan. spread it before me. "The cat is out of the bag. heaped it with iddilies and sambar and. that I was in a hurry to go to town as some pupils were waiting for me. Come.

" The same day Bhagavan was telling us how a certain dish should be prepared. Bhagavan remembered what he had told her. Bhagavan often asked her to break this habit. My second son was lazy and not at all good at school. Such was his gracious courtesy to his devotees. but she would not. but what could he do against her imploring look? He tasted her food and said that it had been prepared very well. One day he said:"This is the last time I am eating your food.some food every afternoon and bring it to the Ashram. Next time I shall not.The time for his final high . The next day my wife brought it all ready.

Bhagavan examinations was rapidly approaching and the boy's sole preparation was the purchase of a new fountain pen! He brought it to Bhagavan and asked him to bless the pen with his touch so that it would write the examination papers well.And the boy did pass. Bhagavan knew his lazy ways and said that having hardly studied. which was a miracle indeed!In those days I was attending to the foreigncorrespondence . My son replied that Bhagavan's blessings were more effective than studies. he could not expect to pass. wrote a few words with the new pen and gave it back to him.

I showed the wire to Bhagavan. Even before I left theSome of these have been included in Part Three.of the Ashram. These questions and the answers would have formed a very enlightening." he said. under the title:`Questions and Answers'.hall. I felt gloom settling over me and I started shivering and . give it the final shape and despatch it. I intimated my consent and received an appointment order by wire. I used to show Bhagavan the draft of every reply. get his approval.Once I got a job offer in another town which carried a good pay. We used to receive some very intelligent and intricate questions. "All right. go.

In the latter I wrote: "From whom grace is flowing over the sentient and . What shall I do away from Bhagavan?""How long have you been with Bhagavan?" Bhagavan asked."Then. the other of the Lord with numberless forms.complained in my grief: "Forty years I have been with Bhagavan and now I am going away. the job fell through. Bhagavan said. "Here is someone who has been listening to my teaching for forty years and now says he is going somewhere away from Bhagavan!" Nevertheless. one in praise ofthe Lord without attributes."Forty years. Once I wrote two verses in Tamil. turning to the devotees.

insentient. Our sense of `I' would burn up in wonder and adoration on seeing his unconditional love for all beings." The idea was that grace was not a mere influence but could be directed with a purpose where it was needed most. omniscience and omnipresence.Bhagavan gave us a tangible demonstration of God's omnipotence. Though outwardly we seemed to remain very much the same person. inwardly he was working on us and destroying the deep roots of ."Bhagavan asked me to change one letter and this altered the meaning to: "who directs his grace to the sentient and the insentient.

separateness and self-concern. severed from its roots. A day always comes when the tree of `I'. crashes suddenly and is no more. this is Guru's Grace! .

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