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The Sense Of Humour In The Arunachala Saint-Ramana Maharshi

Is spirituality a grave subject for the grim? Humour was never a forgotten aspect in the court of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. It can be surprising that the one who advocated the profound way of inquiring into one's self through the direct method of self enquiry (Who Am I?) can be humourous. In fact Bhagavan Himself indulged in humour every now and then.

Devaraja Mudhaliar in his Day By Day With Bhagavan, p7" records a funny incident that only exposed the naturalness in Ramana. One night after supper, Bhagavan took His seat on the couch in the verandah. Chadwick, a devotee of Bhagavan, who sat behind the couch started fanning Him stealthily. Bhagavan on His body encountering the breeze, turned behind to see. Chadwick immediately stopped fanning and sat still. Bhagavan then turned away. Chandwick resumed fanning and when Bhagavan turned to look, he withdrew from fanning. Probably he hid the fan. When Bhagavan wondered from where the breeze had come from, Chadwick burst out laughing followed by Bhagavan Himself.

In “Surpassing Love and Grace," P 136, Evelyn Kaselow's narration of Bhagavan's humour as related to her by Kunju Swami, a devotee of Bhagavan is recorded. Its a real treat to a devotee's heart to sip the nectar from the life of the master.

Kapali Sastri a devotee of Ramana who was with the Master from his early youth was averse to marriage. He refused to budge even on account of the persistent pressure of his parents. His parents approached Bhagavan to convince him. One day Kapali Sastri approached Bhagavan and said, “Bhagavan tomorrow I am to take up asrama" (“Surpassing Love and Grace," P 137). The four asramas or stages in life according to Hinduism includes Brahmacharya, Grihasta, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa.

Bhagavan who was surprised by his devotee's revelation asked, “Kapali what are you saying? Have you taken the permission of your parents?"

The devotee said meekly, “Yes Bhagavan, I am going to enter into the second asrama (Grihasta, meaning marriage). (“Surpassing Love and Grace," P 137)

Bhagavan who thought that Kapali Sastri was talking about adorning the ochre robes according to Sannyas (renunciation), laughed out heartily and enjoyed the joke.

Mudhaliar Patti, an old lady served Bhagavan devoutly by bringing food for Him. Out of her deep love for Bhagavan she stealthily tried to feed Him more. It is a known fact that Bhagavan would never partake of anything more than the quantity equally divided between His devotees and Him. The old lady served Bhagavan more by pressing the cooked rice fine with her hands there by making it look little and by making a ball of it. Bhagavan when came to know of the lady's trick commented,

“She is clever, she feels she can serve me more food by making it appear less. I know her trick!" (“Surpassing Love and Grace," p 138)

Saying so Bhagavan made gestures using His hands imitating the lady's way of mashing the rice.

A true devotee can only reflect the Master. There was a quick response from Mudhaliar Patti. She replied with a philosophical touch, “Bhagavan what is more and what is less? There is nothing that is big or small. Everything is only your Bhavana (thinking)!"

Saying so, she in turn imitated Bhagavan's gestures with her hands. Bhagavan enjoyed it and said, “See , see! How well she is giving back to me my own teaching" (“Surpassing Love and Grace," P 138)

To be continued

Story first published: Thursday, March 25, 2010, 17:24 [IST]
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