[Ramana] occasionally got irritated if devotees prostated
to him excessively or absent-mindedly, without devotion.
I can give several examples of this. I was once making
garlands for the Mother's puja when Bhagavan
came into the temple and sat in the padmasana
[full lotus posture].
I was prostrating to him he criticised me by saying,
'If you do like this, all the others will feel obliged
to follow suit. Why should you all do namaskaram
[prostrations] to me like this? I do not think that
I am someone greater than you. We are all one.'
others ignored these hints and went ahead with their
there were any devotees sitting on the ground when Bhagavan
came out of the hall, they would immediately stand up
as a mark of respect. This mechanical gesture of deference
occasionally annoyed him.
one such occasion he told the standing devotees, 'Why
are you standing like this? Why don't you stay seated
on the floor? Am I a tiger or a snake that you should
jump up every time I appear?'
another occasion, when Bhagavan was going for a walk
along the foot of the hill, an ashram worker saw him,
stopped his work, and prostrated full length on the
told him, 'If you do your duty properly, that itself
is a great namaskaram. If everyone did his own
appointed duty [swadharma], without swerving
from it, it would be easy to reach the Self.'
once expounded the theory behind namaskaram and
explained why he disliked people continually prostrating
the practice of namaskaram was introduced by
great people as an aid to dedicating their mind and
body to God. This original purpose has now been entirely
lost. Nowadays people think, "If we do one namaskaram
to Swami we can charm him into doing whatever we want."
This is a big error because Swami can never be deceived.
Only those selfish people who perform namaskaram
with false motives will be cheated. I don't like seeing
people come and do namaskaram to me. What namaskaram
is needed? To keep one's mind on the correct spiritual
path is alone the greatest namaskaram.'1
David Godman, Living By the Words of Bhagavan
(1995, 2nd ed.; Tiruvannamalai: Sri Annamalai Swami
Ashram Trust, 1994) pp. 115-16.