In the early 1980s an English magazine called Arunachala Ramana appeared for a few years. During its brief lifespan several interesting items appeared on its pages which, to my knowledge, have not appeared elsewhere in the Ramana literature. I will add a few of these pieces to the blog over the next few days. The first is an interview which its editor. M. N. Baboo, had with Sadhu Om. It appeared in the February 1982 issue.
Question: When did you first hear of Sri Bhagavan?
Question: When did you first see Bhagavan and what was your experience at that time?
On the next morning I sang before Sri Bhagavan the song Kuyilodu Koorai which I had composed while coming to him. He corrected one or two grammatical points in the song and asked me to show it to Muruganar. After coming to Bhagavan, there was a vast change and improvement in my poetic flow and style.
Question: How did Bhagavan look on Arunachala?
Question: What sadhana did you follow?
Question: What is the difference between the teachings of Sankara and Bhagavan?
Question: Among Bhagavan’s works, which do you consider the most important?
Question: Would you please tell us some incidents that reveal the humour of Bhagavan?
On another occasion a special puja was being conducted in the Mother’s
Seeing this commotion, the sarvadhikari [manager] ordered in a loud voice, ‘Paradesis will be fed only after the other people!’, and this was overheard by Bhagavan.
When finally the dinner bell rang, all the devotees gathered in the dining hall, but Bhagavan was nowhere to be seen. Everyone started searching for him and finally someone found him sitting under a tree in Palakottu [a garden to the West of the ashram where Bhagavan went for a walk almost every day].
When he was asked to come for dinner, Bhagavan replied, ‘No, not necessary. You may all take food without me.’
This was reported to the sarvadhikari who at once sent two doctor devotees to Bhagavan, thinking that he was perhaps not well. When Bhagavan told the doctors that nothing was wrong with his health, they asked him why he was not coming for food.
‘It has been ordered that paradesis will be fed afterwards. I am also a paradesi [an outsider]. So let the swadesis [the people who belong here] take their food first. Afterwards, I will take food along with the other paradesis.’
On hearing this the sarvadhikari at once ordered that the paradesis should be fed first. Only then did Bhagavan come to the dining room. From that day onwards, the paradesis were always served first.
[There is a play on words here that is not fully brought out in this recorded answer. Bhagavan definitely did belong to the ashram, and would not consider himself to be an outsider there. However, the word paradesi is also used to denote sannyasins and sadhus. To emphasise the point that people should not be discriminated against when food was being served, Bhagavan chose to identify himself on this occasion as a sadhu, not an outsider.]
Question: Can you tell me about any miracles performed by Bhagavan?
Question: So please tell us about at least two miracles that happened.
Bhagavan then touched the baby’s belly and remarked, ‘Who said so? Nothing is found here?’
After that, all signs of the tumour disappeared.
On another occasion a devotee whose ishta deva [chosen deity] was Lord Subrahmanya, came to Bhagavan and reported, ‘I was in hospital and suffering from a critical disease. The doctors had decided that there was no hope for me. One night, while I was wide awake, you came and sat by my bed and said some kind words to me. The next day I began to recover, and now I am back to normal. It is all due to your grace.’
Bhagavan smiled and said, ‘Because of your devotion to Lord Subrahmanya, he had to come to save your life. But see! Why did he appear in my form, instead of his own? Because of this, you now attribute the miracle to me.’
Question: Please tell us about Bhagavan’s forbearance of suffering during his cancer operations.
‘What! Is it over?’ asked Bhagavan.
Someone then asked, ‘Bhagavan, did you not feel any pain?’
Bhagavan replied, ‘Yes, there was pain, like a hundred chillies being ground in the wound, but even that pain is not apart from me.’
On another occasion, talking about the cancer, Bhagavan said, ‘The body itself is a disease. If another disease comes to this first disease, is it not good for us?’
Question: Did anyone predict the birth of Bhagavan?
Question: Did you see the jyoti [light] at the time of Bhagavan’s nirvana?