- Devaki, you want this beggar to say something?
-Yes, Bhagavan, please.
-I have nothing to say.
This episode of The Palak Mehta show celebrates the life and teachings of a great saint, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, who left his body in 2001. He had spent most of his post-enlightenment period in Thiruvannamalai. Today we're blessed to have his closest disciple, Ma Devaki with us. She will share beautiful stories of his life.
He was wearing two or three very colorful shawls, and a very carelessly tied turban over his head. His eyes were shining. My God, he was extraordinary!
-What do you want from this beggar? What do you want?
-I want to see God.
-What? You want to see God?
I felt so terrible. I wanted the earth to open and swallow me. And then his face softened. And he said:
“Devaki, this beggar has not seen God. How can he help you? This beggar has not seen God. You want to see God.”
And then he said: “Oh, Devaki is a good soul…..she will see God.”
Yogi Ramsuratkumar was born on January 12, 1918 in a small village called Nardara near Kashi (Varanasi), in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. Like Ramana Maharishi who was born in Tiruchuli near Madurai, he was a very different boy even from childhood, very different from the other boys. One thing he loved was swimming in the beautiful Ganga - the village was right on her banks. And when other boys would go to assist their fathers in the fields and would be grazing the cattle, this fellow would come and sit there and gaze at Ganga for hours. He kept himself aloof from the other people and mostly he was given to contemplation.
There was one Khapadia Baba who was his earliest mentor. When Khapadia Baba appeared in the village, the children would be frightened and would run away from the place. But this little boy Ramsuratkumar would go in search of him, sit near him, prostrate before him, and then ask for upadesha (spiritual teachings). Khapadia Baba loved him so much that he began to shape this little boy
towards his future. Since Khapadia Baba was a realized soul, he knew the future of Ramsuratkumar.
It is hard to believe but as early as the age of four, this boy Ramasuratkumar would spend time with sadhus (itinerant monks), and what was more, he could not bear to see any sadhu hungry. And this boy would run home where his mother would have piled up lots of chapatis (unleavened flatbread). And then he would look here and there, and if his mother was not around, he would take the whole lot and run out to the sadhus and distribute among them. He had such great traits in him. He was also quiet, a boy of very few words.
An event at the age of 13 was a turning point in Ramsuratkumar’s life. He used to help his mother with household chores and one day, his mother asked him to fetch some water from the well. It was dusk. The boy took a bucket with the rope to the well. On the well dike was perched a bird and when he saw it from a distance, he shouted “Shoo”, and then threw the rope just to shoo it away. Though it was unintentional, the rope hit the bird somehow, and it fell dead immediately. This was a great, great shock to this boy. This boy did not realize however that the bird had passed away. In great desperation, he took the bird in his hands and cried. Then he went to the river, and taking some Ganga water, he poured it into the bird’s mouth and prayed and prayed and prayed, but in vain. Then realizing that the bird was completely dead, he left it in the Ganga.
That whole night, the boy was crying his heart out, thinking, “Why would this happen? I never meant for this to happen. In playful innocence, I threw the rope just to shoo it away. I never meant to kill it. But still this happened. Who made it happen? Because I did not intend it. It happened by itself. Then, who is directing our life? Who is running our life? What is life? What is death? What was in the bird before, that left the bird later?” The serious issues of life began to plague him. This playful boy of 13 years was whipped into a new type of consciousness. It must have been too sudden for him. That whole night he did not go home. He just spent it on the bank of the river, crying and thinking, and thinking, and thinking. After that, his spiritual search deepened.
He began to seek solitude. And then, of course, Khapadia Baba came, and instructed him to go to Kashi to have the darshan (sight of deity) of Vishwanath (Lord Shiva). So at the age of 16, this little boy went to Kashi alone, and when he entered the sanctum sanctorum of Kashi Vishwanath temple, he found the whole place suddenly filled with golden light. Yogiji, as a mere boy of 16, had this vision and he almost fainted because the energy was too much. And then of course, he came to the ghat (bank of the river), Manikarnika ghat, where dead bodies were being burned. He came there and sat for quite a few hours and again, went into a higher state. It was happening very naturally to him. He did not even know that he was meditating.
Being very fond of a Lord Buddha and knowing that Sarnath was only 13 kilometers away, the 16 year old boy walked all the way there. And he went to the stupa, the place where Lord Buddha had sat and given his first sermon, after his enlightenment. This was the first place he had come to with his five disciples in Sarnath, where the stupa is now. So when this boy approached this stupa, he again went into a higher state, into a trance. What does it mean? These highest states were already inherent in him - he simply had to go into serious meditation and touch those levels, and then they would develop to perfection. That was the pivotal event that triggered, and made him even more serious about spiritual life.
After that, he even got married. Because in the North, they insist: a 20-year old boy and he is not married?! People would start gossiping in those days. He tried to escape - he ran away from the place the first time the prospective bride was seen. And then she had to be married to his brother. By the second time (they knew now), they were very ready, very tricky, and they arranged something which he could not escape at all. He had to see the girl, Ramaranjini Devi, and as soon as he saw her, just like it happened with Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Sarada Devi, he said “Yes”. So they were married and he began leading a married life with children. He was also working in a school as a headmaster sometimes and as a teacher. While teaching also, he would go to a Shiva temple nearby and sit for meditation. And he was also following the instructions of Khapadia Baba. One day, the call became irresistible and something very interesting happened. He was returning from Khapadia Baba’s ashram. Suddenly he heard a voice, something like an oracle. It said, “What you are doing now is not your work. This is Vivekananda calling you! What you are doing now is not your work!” When he looked around wanting to know who spoke, there was nobody there. So he ignored it and walked away. And when he was returning from school, he again heard the same oracle. The voice said, “This is Vivekananda calling you! What you are now doing is not your work!” And this time, something happened to him after hearing this - there was a fire in his body and he could rest no more. He had to go in search of his guru, because Khapadia Baba had said to him, “I'm not your guru. Your Guru is in the South.” He told him there were spiritual giants like Ramana Maharshi and Sri Aurobindo there.
And that is how he took a long leave of absence from school and started the journey in search of his Guru.
He started on a train journey and bought the train ticket. He had some money left over in his possession and he was wearing a kurta (tunic). When he was boarding the train, there was such a crowd and people were jostling each other to get inside. And as he joined the crowd, because he was right in the middle, and more people were coming in, he was getting pushed into the train. So, after boarding the train, the ticket collector came to ask for the ticket, and he put his hand into his pocket, only to see the hand coming out of the other way. It had been cut clean. Somebody had pickpocketed the money, ticket, everything. So he had nothing at all. When he started his spiritual journey, whatever possessions he had, he had now been deprived of. Then he collected some money from people around and bought a ticket up to some place near Pondicherry, and had to walk the rest of the way. But here you see a remarkable thing about him. See, had it happened to me or any ordinary person, what would we have thought? Oh, I'm starting my spiritual journey, and this has happened. We would have looked upon it as a bad omen. And we would have probably come back and not started again for some time. But Yogi Ramsuratkumar, the young man, thought, “Ohhh, I'm starting on a spiritual journey. And this money and everything has been taken away from me. This is God's will - which means God does not want me to depend upon money. Money is never a security.”
See the mindset - see the way he thought, and the way we think. It makes all the difference. He came to Sri Aurobindo, and spent some time there. And then he heard about Ramana Maharishi, he came to Tiruvannamalai and spent about two months there, sitting before Ramana Maharshi. In both places, he could go into higher reaches of consciousness, yet there was no final fulfillment. So he returned to the Himalayas and was just roaming there. He went to Swami Sivananda’s ashram, and served there for some time. And that is when he heard about the samadhis of Ramana Maharishi and Sri Aurobindo. He became very desperate. When Ramana Maharishi passed away, he had seen a comet passing across the sky, and known instantly that he had attained samadhi, because by then he had developed siddhis, by his own meditation. Even then, he was already an advanced soul, but he was awaiting the final fulfillment. When he had been in Ramana’s ashram, he had heard about Papa Ramdas of Kanhangad, Kerala, and had gone there, but was not very impressed by Papa Ramdas. The time had not come for him, so he returned.
Now, back in the Himalayas, after he heard the news of the mahasamadhis of two great spiritual giants, he felt terrible and desperate, and the only one that came to his mind was Papa Ramdas. So, he immediately rushed to Kanhangad. See, the previous time, when he had gone there, he had not been interested. But people had said to him that Papa Ramdas was a great soul. So that had kind of impressed upon the fabric of his soul. It stayed with him, but he never gave it a thought, because he was all the time bent on Ramana Maharishi and Sri Aurobindo. But now it was an eye-opener to him and suddenly he knew he had to go to Papa Ramdas. There is no reason for such things. Why had he not been impressed? Because Papa Ramdas had been seated on a beautiful chair, he was being served by Mataji Krishnabai and the life seemed very comfortable. He felt that Papa Ramdas was living like a king, not like Sri Aurobindo, or Ramana Maharishi. All I can say is that he was already an advanced soul, he could not have missed out the greatness of Papa Ramdas, but only that the time had not come. Maya plays a role in these places. You see, the time had now come.
Papa Ramdas had also ignored him at that time.
Now, when he rushed all the way to Anandashram, Papa Ramdas’ place, Papa Ramdas was waiting for him. He knew about Yogi Ramsuratkumar. He knew his future mission too - he was waiting for him to turn up. And this time Papa Ramdas was very sweet to him. What was more, he not only welcomed him with such love, he narrated some of the incidents that took place in Ramsuratukmar’s life, which no one else knew about. So that convinced Ramsuratkumar, the youth, that Papa Ramdas was truly a great person and that his future lay at his feet.
Papa Ramdas also asked him to stay for two months in his ashram. But then what happened? Hardly 15 days later, Papa Ramdas was initiating a lady into Ramanama. And there was a crowd standing around watching this. Ramsuratkumar also joined the crowd and suddenly he felt an urge to be initiated into Ramanama by Papa Ramdas. Without any hesitation or fear, he went straight to Papa Ramdas and said, “Please initiate me too”. He was a very shy person by nature, he wouldn't do anything of this sort. But suddenly he was so taken, so overwhelmed by an emotion, something took over. And then he found himself approaching Papa Ramdas and speaking these words. And what was more - Papa Ramdas turned his face away for a second or two, and then he turned back to young Ramsuratkumar, smiled, and said, “Okay, you sit down”. And immediately spoke this mantra, OM SRI RAMA JAI RAMA JAI JAI RAMA, three times, making Ramsuratkumar repeat it. And then Papa gave one instruction, you chant this mantra all the 24 hours of the day. And the way he was instructing him was so powerful that Ramsuratkumar later said that Papa did not only give Ramanama, but also Ramabaana (baana means arrow). Because it came like the killer arrow of Rama, and triggered something inside him. He immediately walked up the hill where there was a cave. He sat there, and began to chant the mantra day and night, with no thought of food or sleep. And Yogiji told me much later, years later, that he did the chants for only six nights and six days. On the seventh day, Papa Ramdas killed him, murdered him. And then it became eternal living for Him. In the death of his ego was born Yogi Ramsuratkumar.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Secret India | The Palak Mehta Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQlYQMjfV4w
Proofreading: Geeta Iyer
Transcription: Lea Kosovac
Editing: Hein Adamas