R. Narayana Iyer was a direct disciple of Sri Ramana Maharshi. He wrote numerous articles for The Mountain Path, a journal published by Ramana’s ashram, ofen using the pseudonym ‘Vishnu’.
Iyer worked as a sub-registrar, an Indian government official at the sub-district level who certifies documents that record sales of property. Since this website has many Americn readers we’ll note that a sub-registrar is something like a recorder of deeds in the United States.
The January 1968 issue of The Mountain Path contained the following short biography of R. Narayana Iyer:
Sri R. Narayana Iyer, an old devotee, a retired sub-registrar, is one of the seniormost devotees of Sri Bhagavan and one who enjoyed some special privileges. Soon after he came to Sri Bhagavan he began to move with him more like a resident of the Ashram, than a casual visitor. He was an out and out sceptic with ultra modern views and ways, but very soon he became a staunch follower and devotee of Sri Bhagavan. He describes this change fully in his narrative of how he came to the Maharshi which will be published in a later issue of The Mountain Path.
The familiarity and freedom with which he moved with Sri Bhagavan can be understood from the fact that he was chiefly responsible for eliciting a good deal of information about the family in Tiruchuzhi, their financial difficulties which necessitated borrowings and alienation of family properties. He also assisted the Ashram management to redeem these properties and to preserve them as sacred monuments at Bhagavan’s birthplace and the place of his education under the names of Sundara Mandiram and Ramana Mandiram. He likewise played a prominent part in the execution of the Will of Sri Bhagavan — a document about the propriety of which later on there was a good deal of controversy.
There were occasions on which Sri Bhagavan took special notice of him, for instance, when a cinema picture was about to be shown in the dining hall at 13 p.m., Bhagavan declined to go there till Sri Narayana Iyer, who was expected at 7 p.m., arrived; consequently a large number of people who had gathered in the hall had to wait for a long time. There were other instances also. Though deeply involved in the affairs of the Ashram and having different views he continues to visit the Ashram regularly and is well known to one and all.
His article, ‘Divine Glimpses’ under the pseudonym ‘Vishnu’ was published in our Jayanthi number of January, 1966. Some of his reminiscences will also be found in the Ramana Pictorial Souvenir, published in commemoration of the Kumbhabhishekam of Sri Bhagavan’s Shrine of Grace. It was he who asked for a clarification of the. state of a family man who follows the path of jnana, and to whom Sri Bhagavan said:
“Remaining as a family man you can certainly engage in spiritual practice. Even better than the man who thinks ‘I have renounced everything’ is one who does his duty but does not think ‘I do this’ or ‘I am the doer’. A sannyasi who thinks ‘I am a sannyasi’ cannot be a true sannyasi, whereas a householder who does not think ‘I am a householder’ is truly a sannyasi.”
Sri Narayana Iyer was the first person to construct a house in Ramana Nagar colony. He still lives here and narrates, to those who seek, the Grace, Love and Splendour of Sri Bhagavan.
“Whenever I was talking to Bhagavan or sitting in his presence, there was the feeling that here is God sitting and talking. It is our greatest fortune that the supreme consciousness, appearing in the garb of a human body, graciously undertook to come down to our level of understanding and interpret to us the truth of atma vidya — the wisdom of the Self. Such thoughts always made me understand Bhagavan and his teachings more clearly.”
—Quoted in Ramana Periya Purnanam, page 360
This page was published on January 17, 2019 and last revised on May 6, 2019.