A sadhu (a mendicant Hindu monk) appeared unexpectedly at the door of the house of Hariwansh Lal Poonja in Lyalpur, district of Punjab – Northern India.
Hariwansh sought ardently, in all the opportunities which it arose, know personally God. Then took the occasion, once again, to ask the question in the face of that man that kept a close relationship with the Divine:
“Can you show me God, and if not, do you know anyone who can?”Sadhu:
“Yes, I know a person who can show you God. If you go and see that man, everything will be all right for you. His name is Ramana Maharshi.”
And the sadhu also give to him the indication that the person lived in an Ashram (Ramanasramam) located on the foothills of sacred mountain of Arunachala-Shiva, in the vicinity of the city of Tiruvannamalai – Southern India.
But when finally reached that place, discovered, for his surprise and frustration, that Ramana Maharshi was the sadhu who appeared at his door in Lyalpur. Feeling deceived, was about to leave the place, when he was informed by a resident devotee that Maharshi Ramana never had left Tiruvannamalai. Intrigued, he decided to stay.
And in the first occasion that met Ramana Maharshi in the Ashram, placed to him the question:
“Are you the man who came to my house in the Punjab?”
Ramana remained silent.
“Have you seen God, and if you have, can you enable me to see Him?”
“I cannot show you God because God is not an object that can be seen. God is the subject. He is the seer. Don’t concern yourself with objects that can be seen. Find out who the seer is. You alone are God”.
But Hariwansh, although not disposed to follow such advice, even so received the grace of the illuminated, in a transforming experience in his presence that described it thus:
“His words did not impress me. They seemed to me to be yet one more excuse to add to the long list of those I had heard from swamis all over the country. He had promised to show me God (when he came to my house in the Punjab) yet now he was trying to tell me that not only could he not show me God, no one else could either.
I would have dismissed him and his words without a second thought had it not been for an experience I had immediately after he had told me to find out who this ‘I’ was who wanted to see God.
At the conclusion of his words he looked at me, and as he gazed into my eyes, my whole body began to tremble and shake. A thrill of nervous energy shot through my body. My nerve endings felt as if they were dancing, and my hair stood on end. Within me I became aware of the spiritual Heart. This is not the physical heart. It is, rather, the source and support of all that exists. Within the Heart I saw or felt something like a closed bud. It was very shiny and bluish. With the Maharshi looking at me and with myself in a state of inner silence, I felt this bud open and bloom. I use the word ‘bud’ but this is not an exact description. It would be more correct to say that something that felt bud-like opened and bloomed within me in the Heart. And when I say ‘heart’ I don’t mean that the flowering was located in a particular place in the body. This Heart, this Heart of my Heart, was neither inside the body nor out of it. I can’t give a more exact description of what happened. All I can say is that in the Maharshi’s presence, and under his gaze, the Heart opened and bloomed.
It was an extraordinary experience, one that I had never had before. I had not come looking for any kind of experience, so it totally surprised me when it happened.”
Hariwansh decided, despite such experience that the teachings of Ramana were not for him. Went then to the other side of the mountain of Arunachala and continued their meditation in Krishna who appeared to him several times.
Some time, once again, he decided to be at the presence of the Wise to put him a question of the significance of having constant visions of Krishna. But again, Ramana seemed to undervalue the importance of these visions, commenting:
In the meantime, Hariwansh went to live in Madras, a city very distant from the Ashram of Ramana.
Some time afterwards, intensifying his practice of repeating the name of Krishna, was surprised by the vision of Ram, Sita and Lakshman, throughout all one night.
From this experience, felt unable to continue his discipline. Perplexed with this new development, he return to the Ashram of Ramana to inquire on his predicate to the Maharshi. These has listened and compared his practice as the train that brought him there:
“The train (from Madras to Tiruvannamalai, said Sri Ramana), brought you to your destination. You got off it because you didn’t need it any more. It had brought you to the place you wanted to reach… This is what has happened with your chanting. Your japa [chanting of God’s name], your reading, your meditation, have brought you to your spiritual destination. You don’t need them any more. Yourself did not give up your practices: they left you of their own accord because they had served their purpose. You have arrived.”
“Then he looked at me intently. I could feel that my whole body and mind were being washed with waves of purity. They were being purified by his silent gaze. I could feel him looking intently into my Heart.
Under that spellbinding gaze. I felt every atom of my body being purified. It was if a new body was being created for me. A process of transformation was going on – the old body was dying, atom by atom, and a new body was being created in its place.
Then, suddenly, I understood. I knew that this man who had spoken to me was, in reality, what I already was, what I had always been. There was a sudden impact of recognition as I became aware of the Self.
I use the word ‘recognition’ deliberately because as soon as the experience was revealed to me, I knew, unerringly, that this was the same state of peace and happiness that I had been immersed in as a six-year-old boy in Lahore on the occasion when I had refused to accept the mango drink.
The silent gaze of the Maharshi re-established me in that primal state. The desire to search for an external God perished in the direct knowledge and experience of the Self which the Maharshi revealed to me. … I knew that my spiritual quest had ended….”
Extract from the text, arranged and prepared, from the introduction of the book ‘The Fire of Freedom – Satsang with Papaji I”, granted kindly by Avadhuta Foundation and it editor David Godman.