Professor and the Sage – Part 2
Interview with Prof. N. R. Krishnamurthy Aiyer
Concluding from Part 1. Summary:
MY NEXT VISIT to the Maharshi was in 1934 on a Jayanti Day. He was sitting on a raised platform under a pondal (thatched roof), specially constructed in front of the Mother’s Shrine. As the celebration was going on, all the devotees were seated around him.
While sitting there, my eyes were intensely fixed upon the Maharshi and I saw his form assume different manifestations. It first changed to the Avatar of Vishnu (Vahar Avatar). Then his form changed into that of Ganesha, the elephant God. Next it suddenly changed and I saw Ramana and Arunachala as one. Then I had the vision of the whole Arunachala Hill – the top of the Hill was transparent and inside it I saw a Shiva Lingam, similar to what we see in temples.
Devotees were singing the Marital Garland of Letters. When they began singing the last couplet, “My Lord let us exchange garlands – the devotee (the bride) garlands the Lord Arunachala (the groom), and the Lord garlands the devotee,” I suddenly saw garlands of flowers all over the pondal. The Maharshi had a string of flowers garlanded around his neck, and all the devotees (including myself) had a string of flowers around their necks. I saw a large garland around the Shiva Lingam on the hill top. All these garlands were shining with a dazzling brilliance. This experience convinced me of the existence of the deities mentioned in our ancient scriptures.
Later that evening in the Old Hall I sat at the feet of the Maharshi. He was reclining on the couch gazing westward and I sat on the floor facing him.
Our eyes fixed, one upon the other, were pinned together for quite a long time. I then saw the form of the Maharshi take the shape of Ardhanareswara.
Ardhanareswara is one aspect of Shiva – one half is the Mother and the other half is the Father; one half of the form had a breast and the other had a trident. Around us the pundits were reciting Sanskrit verses.
As it went on, I began to witness certain changes in my body taking place. I saw a pair of serpents rising from the base of my spine in a criss-cross, spiralling manner. They rose to the crown of my head and spread their hoods. One was red; the other blue. The whole cranium became suffused with a bright light. My attention was fixed upon the point between my eyebrows where the serpents’ heads were pointed.
All of a sudden there was a splitting of the skull from the top front to the back. This was followed by an upward gush of a reddish flame shooting out from the top of my head. While this was flowing out, a stream of nectar issued from the single breast of the Ardhanareswara form of the Maharshi and a second stream of nectar flowed out from the top of Arunachala. Both streams landed on my head and sealed the break in my skull.
When the skull was sealed I experienced a brilliant light, like that of an arc lamp, and an indescribable joy and coolness filled my being. This light and joy continued for several hours. During this time I didn’t move about and I was unconscious of what was going on around me. You may have seen a light focused on to a concave mirror. Its light is reflected with a single beam onto a point. Well, sometime about midnight all the light, like a concave mirror, was focused onto the Heart. Then all the light drained into the Heart. The Kundalini was completely sucked into the Heart and the Heart was opened – that is the seat of Arunachala Ramana.
The Heart is normally closed, but when it was opened – I never knew any of these things and never read any theory. These are all practical experiences – a flood of nectar gushed forth and drenched every pore of my skin, drenched my whole physical system. It poured out, out, went on coming out in a great flood. The whole Universe was filled with that Nectar.
The wonder of it was that my awareness was not in the body – my awareness was over the whole of the space filled with that Nectar. The whole Universe was Nectar. I call it Nectar; you could call it Ether, something very subtle, attached with awareness at every point. And everything living and non-living was like snow flakes floating in that ocean of Nectar.
If you ask me what my body was, my body was the whole universe of Nectar, attached to awareness at every point. No particular association from the one body from where it started – this body was like every other body.
By morning everything subsided, though the underlying experience remained. I was totally unconscious of my body. I was moving around like an automaton, unaware of my body. In that state I returned to Madurai where I was a physics professor.
This was during a Christmas vacation. For the next two weeks I remained in that state. With the opening of college I was scheduled to give lectures and my relatives became rather concerned, for my behavior had changed considerably.
I then returned to Ramanasramam with the intention of returning to my regular mundane condition – I do not know what urged me to do this.
I went and sat before the Maharshi in the Old Hall. He gave no acknowledgment of my plight and sat, seemingly, unconcerned.
After a long time I said to myself, “Well, the son (Maharshi) seems indifferent to me. Let me go and seek refuge in my mother, Alagammal.” I came and sat in the Mother’s samadhi room. It was then only a thatched room. I picked up the book Jnana Vashistha and began reading it from beginning to end with the hope of finding the solution to my dilemma. I continued reading without eating the whole day. In the evening the answer came : a stanza in Jnana Vashistha said, “Between two thoughts there is an interval of no thought. That interval is the Self, the Atman. It is pure Awareness only.
In those days I was repeating the mantra ‘Ram, Ram‘. So I said to myself : “Ram – that is one thought; and Ram again – that is another thought. But in the interval between these two thoughts there is silence. That Silence is the Self.” And so, I came to the conclusion that if I go on repeating ‘Ram, Ram‘ it will resolve itself into that Silence.
I was very happy. I rushed home and found I was my normal mundane self, teaching my classes in the usual way. But all the time, even while the lectures were going on, ‘Ram, Ram, Ram‘ went on repeating in my Heart. For nine years it went on like that and then stopped of its own accord. It ended in Silence.
For Part 1 see the url below.