A Selection of Teachings
Sri Gajapathi Aiyyer’s Unpublished 1936 Journal
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
Vishwanatha Aiyyer and the Monkey
15th August, 1936
Q.: How did Bhagavan finally persuade that boy, Vishwanatha Aiyyer, to return home?
B.: I did not. On that night when he was sleeping outside the ashram, I wassitting some distance away from the boy when I noticed that Shabarigirisan was sitting blissfully alone on the roof of the ashram, staring at the full moon in great contentment. When I looked at him, the languor [monkey] leaped down, pressed some ginger shoots into my hands and took them back; then he climbed back and was for sometime ingesting them. Then he did something nobody will believe. He came near us, poised himself on the floor in the Bakāsanam, and softly began whistling [or screeching], perfectly, the tune corresponding to ‘Endaro Mahanubhavulu…’.
The boy sat bolt upright. When he saw what was happening, he burst into tears and caught hold of my feet. ‘Oh! Rama, you have saved me from the great sin of unfairly deserting my delicate mother. If I had done so hell would surely have been my miserable lot. But Oh! compassionate Rama, by showing me this miracle through Lord Hanuman, you have saved me from such a perverse fate! Rama! I will ever remain a bond-slave to your blessed feet! Please bless me! I shall never think of running away again! Oh! Rama, I surrender myself at your holy feet! Please bless me!’ Shabarigirisan went away with a satisfied grimace. The nextmorning the boy returned to town as soon as the sun peeped into the sky, without even tarrying to take any food.
G.: How did Bhagavan get the simian [monkey] to sing?
B.: I have got nothing to do with it. There is some Mysterious Power in this place which defies all possibility of understanding. Each one gets what he deserves here. The mature ones obtain Emancipation.
G.: But then how did he suddenly render the tune? Did he possess any yogic- siddhis?
B.: He was really an extraordinary fellow in countless ways. Other monkeys would eat the lice on their bodies, but Shabarigirisan would gingerly pick them up and set them on a tree-branch. He was certainly spiritually inclined; there cannot be any doubt about it…
G.: When did Bhagavan see the singer-boy again?
B.: Never. They say he has become a regular singer now. But yesterday- where is that Anandha Vigadan?
The master rose from his perch and began to rummage at the contents of the book-case. At length he said, ‘Well, somebody seems to have taken it away.’ and returned to his couch.
G.: Why, did it contain anything on Bhagavan? Shall I go to down and buy a copy for the ashram?
B.: Oh! no. This was an old issue. I was casually skimming through it last night. In one article the humorist Kalki has made fun of a cinematographic- picture released last year called ‘Bhakta Nandanar’…
G.: Nandanar is the saint Tirunalaippovar, is that not so?
B.: Yes. But this picture is not based on the traditional account in thePeriyapuranam. Evidently, they have alerted themselves to the likelihood of facing a social backlash if one belonging to the panchamabandham were to be depicted as entering a fire and emerging therefrom as a brahmin.
So, they have ignored the account in the Periyapuranam and wisely opted to base the script on the கதாகாலடே்சபம் Nandanar Saritthiram written by Bharati, which presents an egalitarian version of the story… Otherwise it would be classed as incendiary material and someone might try to stall the exhibition ofthe film, by means of approaching the judiciary or by ‘direct confrontational’means… [laughs]
G.: Yes, I have heard that Subrahmanya Bharati was a crusader against untouchability…
B.: [laughs] If you go outside and tell someone that Nandanar Saritthiram waswritten by Subrahmanya Bharati, you will be laughed at! Thank goodness you are showing your all gimmicks only to me, and are reserved with others…!
G.: Oh! Bhagavan must pardon me…
B.: The கதாகாலடே்சபம் seems to introduce an additional character toNandanar’s story, that of a brahmin in whose fields Nandanar was supposedlyemployed. ேசக்
character was played by Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Aiyyer. It appears to be the same person whom Shabarigirisan rescued from sannyasa. Kalki pokes fun at his performance in the article…
G.: He has found the time to perform for cinematographic-pictures. Why not come to the ashram to pay a Bhagavana visit?
B.: [sternly] Keep quiet. இ ெராம்ப எல்லாம் ெதரிto judge [by external appearances]. This is how men lose their peace of mind.
G.: Oh! Sorry, very sorry…
B.: Parava illai. In future do not formulate judgements upon others. We have no right to judge anyone. There is a Supreme Judge for all. Leave the judging to him.
G.: Yes… I comply, certainly. Are there any more interesting incidents concerning Shabarigirisan?
B.: Oh! yes, many. We could go on talking throughout the year…
G.: Bhagavan has mentioned other monkeys like nondi-payyan that were petted by him whilst he was staying on the Hill-ashram. Did Shabari condescend to mingle with them?
B.: I told you, he was aloof. Other monkeys, whether common ones or langoors, used to avoid him. They seemed to hold him in awe or reverence. Nayana used to say that in many places in the scriptures, it has been mentioned that an advanced tapasvin can be identified by the brilliant tejas on his face. The Bible also mentions it:
‘…Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.’ ‘…behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.’
G.: Yes, everyone sees it in Bhagavan…
B.: [laughs] Is Bhagavan a tapasvin? For whose Deliverance shall Bhagavan do tapas, since he sees only the bliss of Liberation everywhere?
G.: So, according to Bhagavan, there are no ajnanis [persons] anywhere?
B.: The Jnani sees no one as ajnani. All are only Jnanis in his sight. Why? Because the Self is pure Jnana and nothing else. The Jnani cannot know anything apart from the Self.
G.: But the langoor has a black face. Can it shine?
B.: [laughing] Charcoal is black. Does it not glow red when incandescent?
Tejas is not physical. It is the feeling of peace; it is freedom from thought-waves, that the man on the Clapham omnibus finds himself continually harangued by.
G.: It must be on account of Bhagavan‘s positive influence that the langoor developedsuch an exalted spiritual status… Did Bhagavan, teach him Aathma-vidya?
B.: He was no stranger to it himself. Once he came there whilst
as “I” be allowed to flourish within the mind or does that also occludeRealisation?’. I said, ‘If the discovery that there is no such thing as “I” is to bemade, the mind must be made nude. So, all vrittis [mind structures], including the belief you have mentioned, must be relinquished.’
Apparently on hearing this Shabarigirisan made his spine erect, closed his eyes and lapsed into kevala kumbhaka [breath retention] for some time. Perumal remarked, ‘See, he has gone into samadhi! This monkey is the Ramana Maharshi amongst monkeys!’ and we all laughed. Those days we would have good fun everyday. There was no ashram, sofa, etc.. Now all this property has come in and I am trapped…! [laughs]
Edited by John David Oct 2021