Swami Ramdas

Ramana Maharshi
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 Swami Ramdas photo
Swami Ramdas



from The Mountain Path, January, 1965:


"Papa [Ramdas]," I [Dilip Kumar Roy] said, "would you mind telling us about your final Realization which they call 'Vishvarupa Darshan'?"

He readily acquiesced and gave a long description of his burning aspiration and yearning which had led him to Arunachala Hill, hallowed by the tapas of the peerless saint Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. I can give here only the gist of his long narration ....

One day the kind Sadhuram took Ramdas for the darshan of a famous saint of the place named Sri Ramana Maharshi. His Ashram was at the foot of Arunachala. It was a thatched shed. Both the visitors entered the ashram and, meeting the saint, fell prostrate at his holy feet. It was really a blessed place where that great man lived. He was young but there was on his face a calmness and in his large eyes a passionless look of tenderness which cast a spell of peace and joy on all those who came to him. Ramdas was informed that the saint knew English, so he addressed him thus: "Maharaj, here stands before thee a humble slave. Have pity on him. His only prayer to thee is to give him thy blessing."

The Maharshi turned his beautiful eyes towards Ramdas and looked intently for a few minutes into his eyes as though he was pouring into Ramdas his blessing through those orbs, then shook his head to say he had blessed. A thrill of inexpressible joy coursed through the frame of Ramdas, his whole body quivering, like a leaf in the breeze ....

Now at the prompting of Ram, Ramdas desired to remain in solitude for some time ... The sadhuram was ever ready to fulfil his wishes. Losing no time, he took Ramdas up the mountain behind the great temple. Climbing high up he showed him many caves. Of these, one small cave was selected for Ramdas, which he occupied next day. In this cave he lived for nearly a month in deep meditation of Ram. This was the first time he was taken by Ram into solitude for his bhajan. Now he felt most blissful sensations since he could hold undisturbed communion with Ram. He was actually rolling in a sea of indescribable happiness. To fix the mind on that fountain of bliss, Ram, means, to experience pure joy ... He went on taking the Name in an ecstasy of longing when, lo, suddenly his Lord Rama ... appeared before him and danced and danced ...

"Did you see him with closed eyes or open?" I interjected,

"With open eyes, as Ramdas is seeing you," Papa answered. "But it was not this momentary vision that Ramdas's heart craved. For he knew that a vision like this, was unlikely to last and so, when the Lord would vanish, Ramdas would revert to his darkness. Therefore he prayed for the great darshan, the Vision of visions, which comes to stay for ever so there is no more parting, namely the Vishvarupa Darshan, longing to see Rama always in everything; that is nothing less would satisfy Ramdas."

Papa paused and then resumed with a beatific smile: "And it came one morning apocalyptically - when, lo, the entire landscape changed: All was Rama, nothing but Rama - wherever Ramdas looked! Everything was ensouled by Rama - vivid, marvellous, rapturous - the trees, the shrubs, the ants, the cows, the cats, the dogs - even inanimate things pulsated with the marvellous presence of the one Rama. And Ramdas danced in joy, like a boy who, when given a lovely present, can't help breaking out into a dance. And so it was with Ramdas: he danced with joy and rushed at a tree in front, which he embraced because it was not a tree but Rama Himself! A man was passing by, Ramdas ran towards him and embraced him, calling out: 'Rama, O Rama!' The man got scared and bolted. But Ramdas gave him chase and dragged him back to his cave. The man noted that Ramdas had not a tooth in his head and so felt a little reassured: at least the loony would not be able to bite him!" He laughed out and we swelled the chorus.

"And then?" I asked, after the laughter had subsided.

"The bliss and joy came to be permanent, like a torrent rushing downhill till it finds a placid level of limpid purling stream. This experience is called sahaja samadhi, in which you can never be cut off from the consciousness of being at one with the One who has become all, in which you feel you are one with all because you have perceived that all is He, the One-without-a-second."

Finally we end with a comment made by Swami Ramdas - In 'Vision', the monthly journal published by Anandashram, about forty years later.

Ramdas went to Ramana Maharshi in a state of complete obliviousness of the world. He felt thrills of ecstasy in his presence. The Maharshi made the awakening permanent in Ramdas.

Some people told Ramdas: "You went to Maharshi and you got illumination. Give us illumination like that." Ramdas said, You must come to Ramdas in the same spirit and in the same state as he went to Maharshi. Then you will also get it. Where was his heart? How intense was his longing? What was the world to him at that time ? If you come in that state it is all right."
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A visit to Anandashram in the Lifetime of Swami Ramdas
By Unnamulai

from: The Mountain Path, Vol. 1, January 1964,  No. 1

Some friends were going to Anandashram by car and, having heard of Swami Ramdas for years past but never yet visited him, I accepted their invitation to accompany them. In fact, he was the only living saint whom I had an inclination to see. As it turned out, it was very fortunate that I took this opportunity because only a few months later he died suddenly, quite unexpectedly.

While the car was approaching Anandashram after a long drive through undulating wooded country and was still about two miles away I suddenly had the extraordinary experience of hearing the invocation of Ram everywhere: the earth, the trees, the humming of the car, the sound of the wind, all were vibrating with the Name of Ram. This was all the more remarkable as I had never been drawn to this invocation and had never used it. Later I understood why it was so.

The first thing that struck me on beholding Swami Ramdas, affectionately called 'Papa' by everyone, was how much nicer he looked in real life than on photos. His face was beaming with joyfulness, goodness, liveliness; his smile was so childlike and spontaneous that one felt immediately drawn to him.

I found that the Ashram was being run by Mother Krishna Bai, known to everybody as 'Mataji'. When we went from the car straight to the Swami's room, tired and unwashed, she was there. I had met her once before briefly, years ago, when she was passing through Madras. She was young then and in good health, but somehow the meeting had left no impression, but now I saw before me a face ravished by sickness yet incredibly beautiful, with a beauty not of this world. She is worshipped as a realized soul.

We were received very kindly and shown to our rooms, which were comfortable and airy. After washing and changing into a white sari I went back to Papa's room. A number of people were there, sitting on the floor, ladies against the wall and men at the other side, with Papa in his armchair, his feet resting on a footstool. People kept coming and prostrating before him and touching his feet. He explained that a current of power flows through a saint and that there is especial benefit from touching his feet. That is why so many of the sacred poems and songs refer to the lotus feet of the Guru. In his presence one felt enveloped in an atmosphere of love and joyfulness.

At half past seven the bell rang for the evening meal and we all went to an adjoining building in which were the dining hall and kitchen. Food was served on stainless steel plates on the floor, in two rows, one for women and one for men. While we waited to be served the dining hall was resounding with the chanting of Ram Nam. Outstanding was the soprano of a Norwegian trained opera singer, and the powerful deep voice of a German. The food was purely vegetarian, excellent in quality and with due consideration for those who could not eat spiced food. One could feel the loving care of Mataji behind it.

After the meal we assembled in the main hall where Papa was already seated. People asked questions and he not only gave replies and upadesa but launched into reminiscences of his own sadhana during the years when he was a wandering sadhu.*
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* A sample of these talks is contained in his book, God-Experience, reviewed in this issue.

Although most of these can be found in his books, it was quite a different experience to hear him telling them, sometimes poignant, sometimes full of laughter.

At 10 o'clock all took leave of Papa and Mataji and went to their rooms, except a few who just spread their bedding and lay down to sleep in the hall.

At  5 in the morning some of the devotees went to Papa's room and sat in silent meditation for about an hour, until 6, when he got up. This morning hour seems to have been the only time for silent meditation. During the day it was more talking and asking questions. The chanting of the mantra went on almost uninterruptedly in the big hall, except when Papa sat there with the devotees, as he usually did after lunch and dinner. As I said, the atmosphere was very lively when he began his expositions mingled with reminiscences. Once I was deeply moved when he told about his experience as a sadhu at a railway station, how cold it was, and a policeman came and told him to get up and go somewhere else, but at first he couldn't because his legs were numb and swollen from sitting in the cold. With a voice choked with emotion, I asked"And then?". He immediately saw what I felt and said reassuringly. "It was all right afterwards. Ram took good care of Ramdas and some friends looked after him." He always did refer to himself in this way, in the third person, as 'Ramdas' (meaning 'slave of Ram').

There was the spontaneity of a child in him, a carefree, happy child. When the mail came in the afternoon he would read the letters out with childlike zest, even if they were private. It was bhakti at its purest, though at the same time he sometimes spoke pure Advaita. Of course, ultimately bhakti and jnana merge; there can not be love without wisdom or wisdom without love.

When Papa laughed (which was very often) it used to bring on prolonged bouts of coughing ending in breathlessness. I was very concerned about this and had a strong foreboding. This proved only too justified a few months later when he suddenly expired in a fit of suffocation, as we were told by an eye-witness. How the devotees must have missed him! However, Mataji is still there. While I was there she was running the Ashram firmly but unobtrusively and with loving care. What struck me was her great modesty and genuine spirit of loving service, which she managed to instil into those around her. Ill as she was, one would see her folding the laundry of the visitors and doing endless jobs, big and small.

Finally something about Ram Nam, which was the very essence of the teaching of Ramdas. People were singing it, repeating it silently, writing it out, for hours together. Its purpose is to hold the mind to one thought so as to prevent it wandering. Mantras are not my way, but Papa explained that, even following some other way, the mantra can be used as a fan to make the flame burn brighter.

A strange thing happened in this connection. It must have been about the time that Swami Ramdas expired (about which we heard only several days later). I was making the pilgrimage round Arunachala. My mind was unsteady, so I remembered the mantra and what Papa had said about it and used it as a fan. At that moment it came to life for me. It was Papa himself merged in the mantra. There was that indescribable feeling of tenderness, nearness, all his goodness; he was there, all-pervading. Papa lives on in the mantra.


Sri Bhagavan's Feet
Sri Ramanarpanamastu