Biography of Ramana Maharshi: Part 4

Venkataramana reached Tiruvannamalai the next day. He went straight to the great temple dedicated to Lord Arunachaleshwara. When he reached the temple he not only found the inner temple doors open but also there was no body around. With his heart full of joy he went and stood in front of Lord Arunachaleswar. Later he wandered into the town and someone called out and asked if he wanted to have his head shaved like a sanyasi. He agreed and had his head shaved. He threw away the money that he had. He also threw away the sweets the kind lady gave him the previous day. He removed all his clothes except for a small loincloth he made from the cast off clothes. He returned to the temple. He remembered that the scriptures enjoined a bath after having the head shaved. But he thought, “Why give this body the luxury of a bath?” Just then there was a brief shower so that before he entered the temple he had had his ceremonial bath.

 Venkataramana settled down in the temple. He now began his life of complete inner absorption in the great Universal Self. He sat to meditate in various places within the temple complex. Soon some naughty boys began to tease him. As he sat in meditation, they would throw stones at him. To escape from them Venkataramana changed the place of his meditation to the under-ground cellar. This cellar was called Pathalalinga. For days he was there without being troubled by the boys. But the naughty boys found out that place, too. In the temple there was an old sanyasin called Seshadri. He not only saw to it that Venkataramana was not teased by the boys, but also under took to find food for them. For days, and weeks on end Venkataramana was lost in deep meditation unconscious of the world and his body. He was so deeply absorbed within himself that insects and worms would crawl over his legs and chewed his flesh and he would not be aware of it. Later the Maharishi told his devotees,

I knew nothing, had learned nothing before I came here. Some mysterious power took possession of me and effected a through transformation. I knew nothing and planned nothing. When I left home in my 17th year, I was like a speak swept on by a tremendous flood. I knew not my body or the world, whether it was day or night. It was difficult even to open my eyes. The eyelids seemed to be glued down. My body became a mere skeleton. Visitors pitied my plight, as they were not aware how blissful I was. It was after years that I came across the term Brahman when I happened to look into some books on Vedanta brought to me. Amused, I said to myself, “is this known as Brahman

 His body began to loose weight. Seeing the condition of his body a group of devotees picked him up bodily and took him out of the dark temple recesses to the shrine of Subramaniam nearby. Seeing Venkataramana deep in meditation completely lost to the world, one devotee named Palaniswami decided to look after him. In order to shield him from the many visitors who were coming daily, Palaniswami moved him to a nearby mango orchard whose gates could be locked. It was here that Ramana Maharshi began to come back to a more normal waking consciousness.

<< Part 3: Journey to Arunachala                Part 5: Ramanashram