A Selection of Teachings
Sri Gajapathi Aiyyer’s Unpublished 1936 Journal
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
Jaws of the Tiger
Q.: Has anyone succeeded in winning the admiration of Maharshi himself?
B.: Oh! yes.
Q.: [face superciliously lights up with pompous joy, but manages to modestly utter] How can that be? I am a spectacularly worthless creature. Even after years of repeatedly visiting the sacred soil of Tiruvannamalai, I remain an unenlightened person.
B.: That is it.
Q.: I do not understand. I am good for nothing. What is there for the great Maharshi to admire in me?
B.: The tenacity and perseverance of your ego. This weak creature came here and he was conquered and vanquished in a trice. You have managed to hold out for so long against the infinitely mighty power of Arunachala. Still you continue to fight. You seem indefatigable. How strong you are, especially compared to this poltroon who gave up without a fight as soon as he merely heard the name of this mountain! Entirely admirable. What immense strength and endurance characterise your person! Even the gods envy you for it… [laughs]
Q.: [crestfallen] Oh! I see; Maharshi is making fun of me…
B.: [laughing] Oh! no. It is no easy feat to persist in this arul-poerattum. To untiringly wage war against Lord Arunachala Himself is no joke. He is intent upon devouring your soul, but you have managed to hold out for so long against him and still vigorously continue to resist him.
I surrendered or fell conquered the moment I heard the name. My weakness is proverbial. But see your strength! From the heavens the devas are watching you wonder-struck for it, thinking, ‘Why, here is a man who seems a challenge unto the might of the Lord Himself!’…
Q.: Ultimately I shall lose of course?
B.: Yes, it is a mere question of time in your case. Once the jaws of the tiger have clamped down upon the goat’s head, there is no return to life for the goat. Some goats wisely see the futility of fighting such an incalculably massively powerful enemy and quickly stop struggling after one or two vain escapes to break free; then the tiger at once twists his jaws so that the other animal’s neck snaps and his agony meets an expedited end.
Other goats go on struggling until the point in time arrives wherein loss of blood finally results in unconsciousness. In these latter cases also it is within the tiger’s power to bring the goat’s suffering to a prompt end, but since the goat wants to play for sometime he also does not mind the good fun. After all, the goat does not seem to mind his own pain, and is perhaps enjoying it; why then should he, the tiger?
Maybe it is the goat’s cherished last wish to play-act at escaping; why deny it unto the poor doomed creature? Whichever kind of goat he might happen to be, once his head has entered the tiger’s mouth his fate is sealed. Some take longer to die than others; it is [obviously] immaterial since the end is the same for all trapped goats: annihilation. It must be admitted that this tiger is very choosy in selecting his prey; but once he has selected, that is the certain beginning of the inevitable end…
Q.: I find the parable fascinating. Dying in the jaws of the tiger means Realisation! Am I correct?!
Q.: The goat is the ego. Am I correct?
Q.: The tiger is the Guru’s glance of Grace, as mentioned in Bhagavan’s Nan Yar? Am I correct?
B.: What was now elucidated was the specific Redeeming-power of Arunachala.
Q.: I want to be marked out as prey.
B.: Come around this Hill as often as you possibly can. That is enough.
Edited by John David Oct 2021