A Selection of Teachings
Sri Gajapathi Aiyyer’s Unpublished 1936 Journal
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
A Former Classmate Visiting Bhagavan
Mr. Abdul Wahab, a former classmate of Sri Bhagavan’s at the American Mission High School, Madurai, has paid a visit to the Ashram. The master is beaming with delight to see him. Then both the master and his former classmate shared with the Hall their reminiscences appertaining to each other.
B.: In those days I would be exceedingly fond of playing football. Sahib [for that was how Sri Bhagavan addressed the Moslem gentleman] would take particular care that he always played on the same side as myself. Once whilst playing I happened to injure my right leg, which then became inflamed and swollen. Sahib took me to a nearby hospital and ensured that some medicine was applied over the affected area. Only after the swelling had subsided somewhat could I return home; otherwise I would be upbraided by my elders, who did not approve in the slightest of me participating in games of any sort.
A.W.: I feel disturbed to ponder over the fact that I used to call Bhagavan familiarly by name for so many years, not recognising or realising his greatness. Venkateswaram Aiyyer was the name given to Sri Bhagavan at birth, since the kuladheivam of their family was Thirupathi Venkatachalapathy; however, at the time of enrolling him in school it was, for some reason, changed to Venkatraman.
Sri Bhagavan used to take me to the Thirupparangundram Murugar Kovil often on Saturdays; he would insist that together with himself I also should visit the shrines of the various gods and come about in circumambulation around the temple. I would protest saying that I belonged to the Islamic faith, where idol-worship would be considered apostasy and heresy; but he would always overrule my objections, saying that these differences were not inherent in God but had merely been created by man.
Bhagavan would also occasionally take me to Thirucchuzhi; he went there periodically to see his family. Bhagavan’s mother was an orthodox brahmin, but still she would serve me food whenever she saw me. On occasions when I declined to accompany him, he would meet me the next day and hand over a tiffin-box, saying, “Mother has asked me to give you these comestibles…”. Such was the kindness of Bhagavan’s mother…!
Both the Moslem and Sri Bhagavan had moist eyes at this point, and the master suddenly looked away from the Hall and at the window, remaining so for sometime. At the time of taking leave, the Moslem presented the master with a small quantity of thangabhasmam, saying, “I have procured it especially for Sri Bhagavan since I know that he is an asthmatic.”.
B.: This cannot be accepted. There are so many asthmatics around the world. If all of them start clamouring for thangabhasmam, will the quantity of gold left on the earth suffice? Moreover, why all these fancy things for me? Can I afford such things? I am a daridranarayanan [in service to the poor] who must make do with whatever is available. Such exotic items are for those who have a taste for them and are able to afford them. What can I afford? Nothing. Even the koupeenam I am wearing is given by somebody else, and not earned by me. What right have I got to partake of these fanciful indulgences? Some பழையது [ ] with a small quantity of buttermilk to go along with it will do for me.
A.W.: [piteously] Still, for my sake will Bhagawan not change his mind and accept my presentation?
A voice near the Sofa said – It is given as a token of the gentleman’s love and affection for Bhagavan; Bhagavan must kindly accept it for our sake if not for his own. Yet the master would not be persuaded.
B.: Why all these fancy items? You yourself have family-members who are suffering from asthma: is that not so? Is this body more important than or in any way superior to those bodies? How is it that ignoring them you have brought this medicine over to me? If you give this to those who truly need it, they will feel happy. I have no use for such things. I cannot think “Oh! we are taking medicine for our good health.” and feel elated. [smiling, in demure fashion saying—] I hope you are not angry with me…!
The old school-friends both laughed heartily. Presently the Moslem gentleman prostrated in front of the master and departed from the Hall.
Edited by John David Oct 2021