When his eyes met mine, I did not turn away. I looked straight into him. In a short while, Ramsuratkumar suddenly got up, opened the door from inside, came out and sat down on the front steps at the entrance of the house. I was standing just in front of him. Though this knee-jerk reaction of the old man had unsettled me, I upped the ante by staring straight into his eyes again. And he was sitting in front of me at a more intimate, hugging distance! He was continuously looking into me. I also took note of the fact that he was smiling at me all the time. And probing me all the while. I think I would have looked like a funny boy with an affected sternness on my face that evening. Which might have induced him to smile more. Whatever. There was silence. Neither him nor I spoke. After a while, without removing his glance, he broke the silence and asked, "So my young friend, tell me...!"
There are always certain defining moments in your life. Many a times, you don't get to know of it instantaneously. Sometimes you realise it much later. And sometimes you die without knowing a wee bit of it. With the benefit of hindsight, I can now say it with humility and conviction that, it was one such defining moment of my petty life. But I didn't think so at that point of time. And the amusing part of it is that, I was damn serious and too sincere in what I truly believed in then. Without taking my eyes from him, I asked what I thought was the most profound question haunting my life, "What solution do you have for the problems facing humanity?". He laughed and said, "My dear friend, I am not a philosopher. I am just a beggar!" At that juncture, something in me told me that I should stop yapping and ask him what I actually felt deep inside. "So, what do you think that I should do then?", I asked him. Pat came the reply, "Say RAM, my friend, say RAM RAM!". I could not believe that one can dare to offer me such a simplistic solution for a complex problematique posed by me. It prompted me to almost yell at him, "What??". He laughed again and said, "Just chant what I told you!". That, I thought, was my turn to laugh. I smiled condescendingly at him and asked, "That's all you have to say?". He simply replied, "Yes, my friend. That's all!". By then, some passer-by fell at his feet. He patted his devotee's head muttering, "Ram, Ram!". I felt ridiculous at the gimmicks of the old man. I told him that I would take leave. But he raised his hands and blessed me, "Ram, Ram! My Father blesses you, my friend!". I was flabbergasted. He remained smiling without getting irked at my irreverential demeanour. My arrogance did not permit me to fold my hands and salute him. Touching his feet was beyond question. My dignity and self-respect would not allow me to deign to such levels. I slightly bowed my head, rather tilted it a little in the front. That would be more appropriate to describe the gesticulation I had made then. As if to offer my feeble recognition to an old man, more for his age than for his wisdom. I still remember that he was smiling when I left the place without turning back. I did not visit the Temple and departed from Thiruvannamalai with utmost disappointment. I was a 21 year old rebel then. A rebel without a cause and without a pause, as my mentor Palanivel Rajan had aptly remarked long ago.
Like Herman Hesse's Siddhartha, we have to discover our own inner truths. Not a single but multiple truths. Am a novice in this dazzling journey. Some of those questions which haunted me during the yester-years, appear to me as superficial and pedantic at this juncture of my life. They have almost vanished. New questions have arisen. And certain old questions have got more deeper. But questions continue. They have actually intensified. Now, I feel that you can chant Jehovah, Jesus, Allah, Krishna, Rama or the name of any God or Goddess from the Little Traditions or Tribal religions of your own volition, whenever you feel like. All those names are divine and beautiful. It does not prevent you from registering your protest in any form you deem fit, whenever you think and feel you should react to any injustice in the society. They are all mutually complementary. As long as one tries to avoid chanting one's own name incessantly, one can fairly retain right proportions of sanity and insanity! And reasonable good health too.
Life has taught me the wonder and the beauty of Raama Naama, in its own unique ways. I cannot explain how. I do not want to. You have to discover it yourself, if you want to. Else do whatever you feel like doing. The perceptions about Yogi Ramsuratkumar has changed within me over time. Even now, I do not like the ways and means in which he has been idolized, which his latter-day followers have made him out to be. I keep far away from that. Such tragedies have always been happening to mankind. During the past few years of my life, I keep having occasional conversations with Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Where I just thank him and he merely smiles. Nothing mystical about it. Simple imagination. Just for the heck of it. It was He who first told me about Raama Naama and blessed me at a time and age when I was adamantly recalcitrant. Had I been Yogi Ramsuratkumar and had anyone come to meet me with such an immature question, believing it to be the most profound one on top of all that, what would I have done? How would I have responded? Would I have given him one tight slap? Or hugged him to dissolve his inner pain? I do not know. With me, neither of it would have worked. That is my personal predicament. What I admire in Yogi Ramsuratkumar is the sense of a higher, more evolved intelligence to discern the Other seeker and bless him according to his or her station in life. Or, is it the other way round? We get the Gurus according to what we deserve and what we are, at the core of our being. That is yet another Zen mystery. In any case, I am eternally grateful to Yogi Ramsuratkumar for he smiled and blessed me!
A few days ago, when visiting Thiruvannamalai, I visited that small old house. Where Yogi Ramsuratkumar blessed me in 1992. All of a sudden, before going to the Temple, Sundar said that we would go to that house. And so we went. The house remains almost the same. There was an man in his 50s who seemed to be maintaining it. It has been preserved as a small museum now. There are cupboards containing many letters which came to the Yogi, a simple mattress, few scribblings on the walls, an old photo of Lord Venkateshwara of Thirupathi, his unused cigarettes, and such other things of daily usage. There was also a sign board pointing towards the toilet located at the backyard of the house which was used by the Yogi! On seeing it, I got elated to get a vague answer to my almost 2-decade old puzzle. Actually, I just smiled.
Before entering the front-gate of that tiled old house, I touched the front steps where the Yogi sat and blessed me some 18 years ago. My eyes welled up. I offered my salutations to one of my first Gurus who gave me a cue to the Ultimate Guru of my life. And I felt the overflowing love and warmth of Yogi Ramsuratkumar and the smile which he bestowed upon me as the Blessings of His Father..