I AM NOW NINETY-TWO YEARS OLD and I first met the Maharshi in the summer of 1914, when I was just a boy of sixteen. We were then on a pilgrimage to Tirupati and had halted in Tiruvannamalai, from where my grandmother hailed. We were not strangers to this town.
In the pilgrim party there were half a dozen boys, all of whom were about my age. We all decided to go up to Virupaksha cave. The Maharshi was then residing there and was attentive to all the activities of us youngsters. I noticed his gaze particularly focused on me.
We were all playing with the conch shell. The sadhus used to blow this shell like a horn when they went into town to beg for alms.
One after the other, we attempted to blow the conch shell. No one prevented us from doing this, and I noticed an encouraging smile from the Maharshi. This was my first visit.
Some eight years later, I came to Tiruvannamalai to visit my sister, who was married there. One evening, two companions and I went to visit Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni up on the hill where he had his ashram. What can I say about that great seer of Mantra Sastra?
I was just then out of college after finishing my masters degree in physics. I presented to Kavyakanta the latest views of Einstein, Planck and others in regard to the constitution of matter and the universe. He gave a patient hearing, and then said, “Can you put it in a brief way?” Answering in the affirmative, I went on explaining that there is a continuum in which time and space are involved, wherein particles change into waves and waves change into particles and all can dissolve into a single unitary medium. That is the prospect of the future.
He listened patiently to all this and said, “The world picture is in that frame,” and after a pause he exclaimed, “chitram, chitram!” These words mean ‘picture’ — you may call it a movie-picture. Those words sent a thrill through my body, through my whole frame. I suddenly felt disembodied. I was myself the whole space in which the pictures were placed — this body being one of the pictures. This experience lasted for a brief eternity. When I came round to myself we took leave of Kavyakanta.
The next day we had a meeting with Bhagavan. This was about the time he arrived at the present site of Sri Ramanasramam (1922). There were no buildings at all, except for a small shed covering the samadhi of the Mother. Bhagavan was seated on a bench under the shade of a tree, and with him, lying on the same bench, was the dog named Rose. Bhagavan was simply stroking the dog.
I wondered, among us Brahmins the dog was such an animal that it would defile all purity. A good part of my respect for the Maharshi left me when I saw him touching that unclean animal — for all its apparent cleanliness and neatness it was unclean from the Brahmin point of view.
I had a question for the Maharshi. At that time I was an agnostic. I thought nature could take care of itself, so where is the need for a Creator? What is the use of writing all these religious books telling ‘cock and bull’ stories, which do not change the situation.
I wanted to put to him straight questions: is there a soul? Is there a God? Is there salvation? All these three questions were condensed into one: Well sir, you are sitting here like this — I can see your present condition — but what will be your future sthiti? The word sthiti in Sanskrit means ‘state’ or ‘condition’.
Maharshi did not answer the question. “Oho,” I thought, “you are taking shelter under the guise of indifferent silence for not answering an inconvenient question!” As soon as I thought this the Maharshi replied and I felt as if a bomb had exploded under my seat.
Text copyright 1991 Arunachala Ashrama. Used by permission. This text originally appeared in The Maharshi as a two-part series entitled ‘Interviews: N.R. Krishnamoorthy Aiyer’ in the issues of May/June 1991 and July/August 1991. The text was transcribed from a filmed interview part of which can be seen in The Sage of Arunachala.
N.R. Krishnamurti Aiyer was born in 1898. From 1922 until 1955 he taught physics at the American College in Madurai. At the time of his retirement he was professor and chairman of the physics department.
This talk is transcribed from a filmed interview, part of which is included in The Sage of Arunachala at 55:42.
Edited by David Godman
In our opinion this superb collection of extracts from Ramana Maharshi’s writings and dialogues is the best single-volume introduction to his teachings. This is the book we recommend to people who want to read about Sri Ramana for the first time. The editor, David Godman, is probably the foremost living expert on Sri Ramana’s teachings. David has gone through dozens of books by and about Sri Ramana and collected passages which most clearly state various points of his teaching. These extracts are organized thematically into chapters with higher teachings first and less important ones last. David has also provided informative introductions to each chapter and to the book as a whole as well as a glossary and notes.
By Gopi Krishna
This book is a greatly expanded (two-thirds more material) version of Gopi Krishna’s autobiography. It contains the most famous published account of a Kundalini explosion, a dramatic event that sometimes occurs to people who practice certain kinds of Yoga. Gopi Krishna was a government bureaucrat who, while meditating in 1937 at the age of 34, suddenly perceived a roaring stream of light rising into his head from his spine. For months afterward he suffered a variety of painful physical and mental symptoms including some that seem akin to psychosis. These symptoms gradually subsided into a condition which he regarded as higher consciousness. The work is particularly fascinating because Gopi Krishna was a modern, skeptical, secular man who described his experiences with the skill of a novelist and without mysticism. For a first-person account of a similar experience which was inspired by this book, see this article by one of our contributing editors; he explains how he made it happen.
This page was published on October 29, 2001 and last revised on May 16, 2017.