By N. R. Krishnamurti Aiyer
Sthiti, what do you mean by the word sthiti!" he exclaimed.
I was not prepared for that question. "Oho, this man is very dangerous, very dangerously alive. I will have to answer with proper care," I thought.
So I said to myself, "If I ask him about the sthiti or ‘state’ of the body it is useless: the body will be burned or buried. What I should ask him was about the condition of something within the body. Of course, I can recognize a mind inside of me." Then I was about to answer "By sthiti, I mean mind," when it struck me what if he counter-questions with "What is mind?" This I am not prepared to answer.
As all this was passing through my mind he was sitting there staring at me with a fierce look.
I then questioned within me, "What is mind? Mind is made up of thoughts. Now, what are thoughts?" I landed in a void. No answer. I then realised that I could not present a question about a mind which did not exist!
Up to that point, the mind was the greatest thing that existed for me. Now I discovered it did not exist! I was bewildered. I simply sat like a statue.
Two pairs of eyes were then gripping each other: the eyes of the Maharshi and my eyes were locked together in a tight embrace. I lost all sense of body. Nothing existed except the eyes of the Maharshi.
I don’t know how long I remained like that, but when I returned to my senses, I was terribly afraid of the man. "This is a dangerous man," I thought. In spite of myself, I prostrated and got away from his company.
MY NEXT VISIT to the Maharshi was in 1934 on a Jayanti Day. He was sitting on a raised platform under a pondal (thatched roof), specially constructed in front of the Mother’s Shrine. As the celebration was going on, all the devotees were seated around him.
While sitting there, my eyes were intensely fixed upon the Maharshi and I saw his form assume different manifestations. It first changed to the Avatar of Vishnu (Vahar Avatar). Then his form changed into that of Ganesha, the elephant God. Next it suddenly changed and I saw Ramana and Arunachala as one. Then I had the vision of the whole Arunachala Hill — the top of the Hill was transparent and inside it I saw a Shiva Lingam, similar to what we see in temples.
Devotees were singing the Marital Garland of Letters. When they began singing the last couplet, "My Lord let us exchange garlands — the devotee (the bride) garlands the Lord Arunachala (the groom), and the Lord garlands the devotee," I suddenly saw garlands of flowers all over the pondal. The Maharshi had a string of flowers garlanded around his neck, and all the devotees (including myself) had a string of flowers around their necks. I saw a large garland around the Shiva Lingam on the hill top. All these garlands were shining with a dazzling brilliance. This experience convinced me of the existence of the deities mentioned in our ancient scriptures.
Later that evening in the Old Hall I sat at the feet of the Maharshi. He was reclining on the couch gazing westward and I sat on the floor facing him. Our eyes fixed, one upon the other, were pinned together for quite a long time. I then saw the form of the Maharshi take the shape of Ardhanareswara.
Ardhanareswara is one aspect of Shiva — one half is the Mother and the other half is the Father; one half of the form had a breast and the other had a trident. Around us the pundits were reciting Sanskrit verses.
As it went on, I began to witness certain changes in my body taking place. I saw a pair of serpents rising from the base of my spine in a crisscross, spiralling manner. They rose to the crown of my head and spread their hoods. One was red; the other blue. The whole cranium became suffused with a bright light. My attention was fixed upon the point between my eyebrows where the serpents’ heads were pointed.
All of a sudden there was a splitting of the skull from the top front to the back. This was followed by an upward gush of a reddish flame shooting out from the top of my head. While this was flowing out, a stream of nectar issued from the single breast of the Ardhanareswara form of the Maharshi and a second stream of nectar flowed out from the top of Arunachala. Both streams landed on my head and sealed the break in my skull.