A Selection of Teachings
Sri Gajapathi Aiyyer’s Unpublished 1936 Journal
Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
Gossip About a New York Visit Miricle
Major Chadwick in Dialogue
E.Z.: I have heard that Mr. Humphreys was the first Caucasian man to set eyes upon Sri Bhagawan; is that right?
E.Z.: Was Mrs. Piggot the first Caucasian woman to set eyes upon Sri Bhagavan?
Chad.: Then who came before her?
B.: A Caucasian woman came here many years back. She was from the United-states. She was a young woman, but had a deep scholarly interest in Vedanta.
Chad.: What was her name?
B.: I do not recall the name with perfect accuracy, although I remember her well. I think the name was a Mademoiselle Marie Barkös.
Chad.: I find this piece of information to be hugely fascinating. Exactly when did she arrive here?
B.: Around the time of the major Wall-street crash which took place in 1929.
Chad.: How had she come to know about Bhagawan? Paul Brunton’s Secret India was not published then.
B.: She had read about me in the International Psychic Gazette, but that article had not motivated her visit. Reading that article, she had become briefly fascinated with the ‘Hindoo-saint’ described therein; later on she forgot all about him. One day, she seems to have heard a knock on the door of her apartment, situated near Stonewall Inn in Manhattan. On opening it, who should be standing there but Sri Ramana Maharshi himself! [laughing]
Apparently, I told her to come visit me here. I fortunately remembered to ask her whether the Manhattan-based Ramana Maharshi also was clad only in a koupeenam [ piece of cloth worn over the private parts] or whether he was wearing anything more! Do you know what the response was? “Oh! no, sir. You were, I remember, wearing a cobalt-violet coloured double-breasted shawl-lapelled smoking-jacket, with three large brass buttons; also you had on you head a homburg-hat of the same colour…” Then I thought to myself, see, at least the Manhattan-based Ramana Maharshi has some amount of decent dressing-sense! (shaking with laughter)
Chad.: [smiling] After this vision, did she come to India straightaway?
B.: She told her guru, a Japanese buddhist monk named Sri Chokkaiyyan, about the matter; he suggested to her that she must go at once. The Manhattan based Ramana Maharshi had told her in detail how to reach this place! Upon arriving at this place, she was greatly surprised to find the same person who had met her there. The Manhattan based Ramana Maharshi had not introduced himself as being Ramana Maharshi, apparently.
He had merely told her to go to a certain ashram in Southern India, where she would find a great spiritual master who would guide her towards God; then he had told her how to reach Ramanasramam- i.e., where to change trains, etc.; thereafter he had abruptly turned around and left, leaving her baffled; after coming here the woman asked me why I had not introduced myself when I had visited her in Manhattan.
What to say? Then those in the Hall explained to her that what she had seen was a miracle, because ‘this’ was neither in the habit of leaving Tiruvannamalai nor in the habit of donning smoking-jackets and hats! She brought presents for the ashram: a big box filled with ‘hardtack biscuits’, and a few loaves of baguette-bread, baked thrice to endure the long journey from the United-states to this place by steamer. Actually, prior to her visit I had no idea that bread was baked in the world that was shaped in this manner. So, when she arrived, I initially wondered why she was wandering about carrying long sticks of firewood with her.
Then she told me that these stout tree branch-like contrivances were in fact edible bread-loaves. The people here would not eat bread if given to them directly. So I ensured that the same was sliced and put in the sambhar [stew] as nan [Indian bread]. For a week we had nothing to eat but rice and sambhar with bread-pieces in it as nan.
In those days the cooking arrangements at the ashram were not so elaborate. People happily ate the sambhar that was served; other than a few who watched whilst I was working in the kitchen, the rest thought it was pooshinikkai-thaan [pumpkin dish], and ate it happily.
If given to them to eat straightaway, they would not eat it; they would say that it was polluted food [paradesa-theetu], having been brought from another country [overseas]. I did not want to waste what this poor girl had brought with so much sincerity from such a long distance. As for the biscuits, ‘this’ and a few others finished it off in a few weeks. The breads were fragrant; they were flavoured with marjoram-spice on the outside; she must have taken a lot of effort to prepare them and bring them all the way here…
Apart from the bread and the biscuits, she also brought a personal gift for me: a large kaleidoscope. It was an interesting experience to look into it. It was there here for several years; later one day, Sahib brought his son here. The small boy started playing with the instrument, and became quite attached to it. So the device was gifted away to him…
Q.: A friend of mine has an apartment in Manhattan. I can take it on rent from him if I wish; he would oblige me anytime. Shall I move there? Will Bhagavan please come visit me there everyday? I can arrange for plant-based food to be served to Bhagavan. Please come to visit me also.
B.: [kindly] There was and can be no volition on my part that I must visit this person or the other. These things happen automatically. All events in one’s life are preordained by Ishwara; we have no say in them. Let us turn the mind inward and obtain for ourselves unlimited happiness; that is the only thing in our control. You say that you would like Bhagavan to visit you everyday. There is no need for Bhagavan to visit you. He is with you always. Can you be apart from Him? Impossible. Realise Him as the Self of yourself. Then there can be no question of parting from him.
Q.: But I am attached to Bhagavan’s mortal frame. Will such attachment obstruct or thwart my attempts to Realise the Self?
B.: Any attachment is an obstacle. However, mentally sticking with one attachment to the exclusion of every other attachment ripens the mind rapidly for Realisation. In the end, of course, even that one single attachment must be given up before Realisation can dawn.
Q.: I am attached to the mortal frame or physical image of Jesus. Is it a help for Realisation or an obstacle?
B.: It is a help.
Q.: Does such attachment count as abhyasa [practice]?
B.: In the preliminary stages of practise, yes. Finally the aspirant is expected to move irrevocably towards nirgunopasana [formless and nameless].
Edited by John David Oct 2021