The Maharshi’s Death
As he had foreseen when he left Ramanasramam in August 1947, Papaji never managed to see Ramana Maharshi again. His family obligations kept him confined to Uttar Pradesh. He was aware that the Maharshi was not in good health because the story of his sickness had been widely reported in the newspapers, but his death in 1950 came as something of a surprise to him:
At 8.45, on the evening of April 14th, 1950,1 was walking down a street in Lucknow. I suddenly felt an enormous spasm in my chest that nearly knocked me to the ground. I thought it must be some sort of heart attack. A few seconds later I saw a few people pointing up to a large meteor which was trailing across the sky. This was the meteor that thousands of people all over India saw in the first few seconds after the Maharshi’s death. Many people have said that they knew instinctively that the appearance of the meteor signified that the Maharshi was dead. This never occurred to me at the time. I only found out about his death when I listened to the news on the radio the following day.
Papaji continued to work for Allis Chalmers until 1952. In his spare time he gave satsangs in Lucknow and visited some of his new devotees in various parts of Uttar Pradesh. He began to acquire a reputation as a teacher, so much so that articles began to appear in the local newspapers. When crowds of new visitors began to descend on him, he decided to quit his job and go back to South India:
So many people started running to me and articles in newspapers were published. When the number of people reached forty or fifty, I had no choice but to run away to the south where I had lived before.
Papaji thought that he would go back to Ramanasramam and live a solitary life there, but destiny had other plans for him. The account of his failed attempt to give up his worldly responsibilities will be narrated in the next chapter.
Before I conclude this chapter on Papaji’s physical association with his Master, I should like to add one brief story that demonstrates the reverence and the gratitude that he still feels towards Sri Ramana Maharshi.
I was sitting with him in 1992, having just finished interviewing him on the subject of the events that happened when he was at Ramanasramam in the 1940s.
‘You’ve told me all the facts,’ I said. ‘As a conclusion would you like to make a few remarks about how you feel towards the Maharshi today? It would make a nice ending if you could just say a few words of gratitude or appreciation, summarising what the Maharshi did for you.’
He opened his mouth to speak but no words came out. After two or three seconds tears started to flow down his cheeks.
He turned his head to hide his tears. ‘I can’t answer that question,’ he said. ‘I can’t speak about it. No words can ever express it.’
Though I found in subsequent years that Papaji rarely speaks about the gratitude he feels towards Sri Ramana Maharshi, I did find the following revealing comments in a letter Papaji wrote to one of his own devotees in 1982:
My Master spoke in silence.
My Master spoke through his eyes.
My Master spoke through words.
All the three languages I have heard.
Krishna sings through His flute:that I heard.
Rama with His arrow shoots at a target:that I learnt.
The Enlightened ONE does not accept what is written, seen, perceived or heard:
That Prajna [transcendental awareness] accepted ME.
Excerpt from Nothing Ever Happened Volume One, pages 180-182
By David Godman