--By Brahmachari Sivarama Sharma
Not confined to a place
he is always on the move.
Unbound by tradition
he is above morals and
rules of conduct.
At times more demonic than
Kamsa, Hiranyakasipu and
at other times
a guileless youth
attracting young maidens,
he never lets go of his
He may be in the company of
celebrities and lunatics
debauchees and drunkards,
but he remains untarnished.
He is unmoved by blame and praise.
He is ferocious as Rudra
spewing the fire of dissolution.
He belongs to no fraternity
ashram or association.
Reaching over the globe
he is unique in the way
he spreads his tenets.
Subtle in his manner,
he never misses an occasion
to achieve his ends.
Not caught in a groove
He condemns sages and saints
and ridicules them all.
He scolds and scoffs
those that gather,
yet wins them back.
Mysterious is he
in helping true aspirants.
Unheard, unknown and unseen,
brilliant are his ways
into the hearts of men.
Majestic in adversity,
simple in opulence,
he is unaffected and unattached.
Sex or crime,
family or money --
he discusses freely anything
from disease to divinity.
He roams the world
He looks ordinary
but draws people to him.
He is the embodiment of immeasurable
HE IS U.G.
I took the pen
to condemn, demolish
and tear apart
his teachings and utterances,
piece by piece.
I wanted to destroy
the very basis
of his thought.
How come, then, this poem?
Stopped in Our Tracks
It was in the first years of my acquaintance with U.G. Prior to 1973, for four years, U.G. and Valentine had been coming every winter to Bangalore and staying there for three or four months at a time.
In 1973 U.G. wrote to me suggesting that I should look for a permanent residence for them, and thus avoid having to find a house each time they visited Bangalore. Henry, a friend of U.G.'s from England, had a house and a business office in Bombay, and U.G. and Valentine had been guests in their house ever since they started visiting India after the Calamity. However, Henry's business in Bombay had closed and U.G. needed another place to stay. Henry felt that U.G. should not be inconvenienced, so he offered three hundred pounds a year to U.G. for accommodations elsewhere. This was the same amount of money he had been giving to Sri Anandamayi Ma and Sri Ramana Maharshi's Ashram. U.G. suggested that we should use those funds to pay for the new house in Bangalore.
My friend Sivaram showed me a new three story-house called Sastri Sadana in Basavanagudi, facing the Anjaneya Temple. The construction of the house was nearing completion. After talking to the owner, Mr. Viswanatha Sastri, I wrote to U.G. describing the location and other details of the house. I offered to rent the house if he wanted me to.
A reply came at once asking me to go ahead.
Later, Valentine told me that U.G., on one of his morning walks the previous year, happened to notice the same house while it was under construction. Apparently, he already had the feeling that they two would be living in that house, long before he had any idea that I would rent it for him. After receiving my letter in Switzerland, he even described to Valentine the surroundings of the house in minute detail. I was surprised to hear this from her.
For a person like U. G. who says, "If a thought enters my head, it has to take effect," this coincidence is nothing extraordinary. But for someone like me, who does not observe events such as these often, they are indeed marvelous. U.G. makes fun of me for saying such things. He says, "Chandrasekhar is writing a book of all the miracles and marvels that I have never performed." One day, Julie heard this and said smiling, "Chandrasekhar himself is a miracle. What's wrong with writing about your miracles?" How true! When I look back and reflect on whatever happened to me after U.G. entered my life, my whole life looks like a marvel.
In those days, every word that U.G. uttered sounded wonderful. It was child's play for U.G. to upset ancient truths and demolish, in a second, beliefs which seemed sacred and precious.
U.G. made statements such as:
When we heard such pronouncements of U.G., the ground under our feet which we so trusted seemed to cave in. All our illusions were destroyed and we tried to run away from ourselves in fright without ever looking back.
Is there any way out? All this -- the incessant striving and search -- is all this a waste of time?
No. There is one solace. That is U.G. himself. If he weren't as he is,
there would be no need to write any of this.
In the early days of my association with U.G., I collected much information about U.G. with the intention of writing his biography. I kept a journal believing that it would be useful for this purpose some time later.
"Why do you want to tell my story?" asked U.G. one day.
"You are a unique product of human history. Everyone must know about you."
"How has this been of use to you? How did your acquaintance with me all these years help you?" I didn't expect such a straight question from U.G. I kept pondering for awhile. "If it didn't help you, it's an illusion to think that it would help someone else," U.G. said, brushing aside my good intention. It was hard to figure out what U.G. meant by 'being of use.' "What I am saying is that there is nothing to understand, and there is no need to understand. If you get the 'hang' of this, you will never want to see my face again. Not only that; you won't go to anyone else either, seeking the meaning of life. That will be the end of your search," said U.G. That is what U.G. meant by [his teaching] being "useful."
Was there no other usefulness, then? The same question haunted me even after I returned home that night.
That night was the holy night of Siva Ratri. It was truly the Siva Ratri (it is customary to keep a watch on that night). I still remember giving form to thoughts which arose in my mind that night. Thus twenty years ago I resolved that if I ever published U.G.'s biography, I should include these two poems:
You say there is no faith, no mind
You do not accept a single teacher
You reject Siva and his powers
You teach us to see ourselves as Siva
You stress that release is empty
You forbid practices vehemently
You smile at me in pity
when I ask you
how I will attain that State
I wrote your story in Telugu
who knows how defective it is
with this I give myself to you
Please accept this gift, U.G.
You loosened my worldly bonds
and formed my character
When everyone made fun of me
you stood by me as my shadow
When all those I trusted
let me down
You held me by my hand
and took me to the shore
When my life was dreary
you gave me a new one.
You patted me on my shoulder
gave me strength
and made me stand like a man
I salute you and your magnificence
October 15, 1964 was an unforgettable day in my life. That was the day when I first met Mr. Chalam(1) who was firmly implanted in Arunachala. It was the day when my friendship through correspondence, which began in my student days, took me in my nineteenth year into his presence. I said to him incidentally, "I sometimes feel like writing something."
Chalam looking steadily into my eyes asked, "For whose sake?" I was stunned. I had never asked myself that question. True, whom should I write for? For others or for myself? After a while Chalam spoke again, "'Is it just for ourselves that we write, because we can't live without writing?' -- That question must keep arising till we feel that way." Exactly 28 years later I feel that I have the right answer to that question.
Ever since I made friends with U.G., Chalam and Nartaki shared my enthusiasm, my joys and sorrows and vibrated with me. Chalam is no longer with us. Nartaki has settled down in Arunachala. When a draft of what I wrote about U.G. was read to him, Chalam nodded his head in satisfaction and said, "Good." I was amazed at myself. Chalam talked about U.G. in every letter he wrote to me in those days.
Chalam travelled to Bangalore to see U.G. year after year, disregarding
his own ill health. Because U.G. noticed something special about Chalam,
he travelled to Arunachala when Chalam was on his death bed. This pleased
Chalam and other inmates of Ramanasthan (the house where Chalam lived in
Tiruvannamalai). Here are some of Chalam's letters to me:
January 4, 1973
I was happy to read your letter. Although I never had any such experience, I can picture how great it would be when a saint's love alights on us and mingles with us intimately.
[People] living here with 'Shau" [Chalam's daughter Sowris who was a devotee of Sri Ramana Maharshi. Chalam had dedicated himself to Iswara (God) who revealed himself to Sowris in 1951 and began working through her.] lack the proper perspective [in understanding their relationship with her]. They suffer too much from their loving familiarity. I suppose that Sri Krishna deluded people without letting them know who he really was.
I wish you would make a recording of your days and nights with U.G. Perhaps it is difficult to write from such a perspective.
With the blessings of Iswara,
January 10, 1973
Your letter is exciting. Don't hesitate [in what you are doing]. Iswara is getting a great deed done through you. It's enough if you remain as an instrument.
Shau is conveying this suggestion to you. You should put him [U.G.] in a [talking] mood and put a tape recorder in front of him. It doesn't matter in what language he speaks. If you first record what he says, then we can think of the rest.
My idea is that you should record every day whatever is happening there, just as in the book Day by Day with Bhagawan and just as M. recorded the Daily Routine of Paramahamsa [in the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna]. I know it is difficult to do that.
I tried to do the same in Ramanasthan. But I was unable to. Unless orders come from above, these things are not possible for ordinary men like you and me. However it may be, a great relief in these matters is that there won't be any regret that 'we couldn't do them' , because these matters are not in our hands.
The title U.G. suggested is very good. What couldn't be done if he wishes it.
I feel that we are on the brink of exciting times. So be it. We too will follow you from here jumping and hopping ....
With Iswara's blessings,
* * *
It was December 1976. 3 O'clock in the afternoon at Secunderabad railway station. Sri Sripada Gopalakrishnamurti came running just as our train for Bangalore was scheduled to leave in half an hour. He had the draft of U.G.'s biography that I had written. Handing it to me he said, "It's great. But you must collect more details of U.G.'s life," and gave me a copy of the book he wrote on Sri Jillellamudi Amma. "Have you ever seen Amma?" I said I hadn't. What I had heard about her before was through Chalam. "You must meet her. I think U.G. and Amma are the two great teachers of today. I feel that their teachings are the same. Somehow we must arrange for these two masters to meet."
It was wonderful to see Mr. Sripada's face glow with enthusiasm and joy as he was saying this, regardless of his advanced age. However, he passed away without his wish being ever fulfilled. I heard that year, when U.G. was staying in the Oasis School in Hyderabad, Sri Sripada had several discussions with U.G. regarding death and the afterlife.
The picture of Mr. Sripada bringing the manuscript of U.G.'s biography to the train station was firmly imprinted in my mind.
In writing U.G.'s story, My friend Vazir Rahman helped me to steer away from the traditional style of writing, and polish the writing somewhat by urging me to render U.G.'s words into simple and clear Telugu. I still remember the days of our spending hours together in Kodambakam. Our common interests were Chalam and U.G. We also listened to music when we were bored. That was in 1976 when I was going through an orientation course in the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras. We two used to meet every weekend.
In March 1980, the article I wrote on U.G. was published in the Sunday Supplement of Andhra Prabha Daily. I sent a clipping of that article to Vazir. Here is part of what Vazir wrote about that article:
March 17, 1980
I have your kind letter and the press cutting. I read the article carefully twice. You know how I am -- I am never satisfied easily. I always find something lacking in what I read, if it doesn't come close to my own ideas. Your effort and the interest you have shown in your article are evident. It looks good to a degree. But if you ask me my final opinion, I would say that you should polish it some more.
Another thing. Philosophers like U.G. use language in an ingenious way. They wield unimaginable meanings through their words. If they use language in so many nuances, it means that their language is alive. Notice that neither U.G. nor J.K. use language artificially. They can express any complex idea in colloquial language and in a conversational style. I feel that the live quality of their language is the essence of their ideas.
Please review your essay keeping in mind what I said above. You have moved away from a conversational style to an artificial language loaded with heavy Sanskrit. As a result, instead of being lively, your writing has become heavy and acquired the style of a philosophical lecture.
I am writing all this just so you won't fall into this sort of pitfall when you write your larger originally contemplated book.
Vazir Rahman passed away in 1983, before he ever could see how many other big defects slipped into my larger work. He sent me a copy of his poetic work Sahasi as soon as it was published. In it are included poems -- "Sport," "At the End" -- inspired by U.G. When U.G. heard the paragraph Vazir wrote about him at the end of the book, he said, "He summed it up very well."
This is all -- nothing remains
It has to happen
One early dawn
a red-tailed bird
it must fly
That's all --
at the end, nothing remains.
You flew singing thus
Vazir! The Daring One!
You left me here
Where did you go tonight?
To the other shore?
What is there?
A big nothing (Lit. Donkey's Egg)!
* * *
How many changes this biography has gone through before it is finally ready for publication! How many colors and forms it has assumed! For some years I fell into lethargy along with my work. I walked with weak feet for some time, and then I ran as though the world was collapsing. Whatever I was going through, the unknown force called U.G. has been supporting me like a strong pillar.
It was the night of September 13, 1992, Yercaud. The world didn't know yet that U.G. is staying in an abandoned house in a remote area, in Yercaud, India. Can anyone imagine a better heaven on earth than Switzerland? What can one say about the fact that U.G. now fixed his residence in this country in Yercaud near Salem, abandoning in one moment his 28-year-long association with Switzerland and the garden-like valleys of the Alps in Gstaad-Saanen? It is not because he lacks the economic means to satisfy his needs in Switzerland. When he consents to stay, there are innumerable friends who can arrange for royal comforts in a moment's notice. Then why is he coming to Yercaud? What's there for him on this mountain? He could at least stay in Bangalore. No, apparently there is no place for him there either.
The day before arriving in Yercaud, the visage U.G. manifested in Purnakutee (our residence in Bangalore) reminded one of Siva at the scene of Daksha's sacrifice. All things which belonged to U.G. in Purnakutee were moved to Yercaud. Things collected over many years -- files, photos, video and audio tapes -- all of them were moved at U.G.'s insistence. He caused a bonfire in my heart: I used to cherish these objects every day, considering them to be U.G.'s archives. He trampled ruthlessly on my devotion. He sold the benches and almirahs in my own presence. He scattered everything without giving me a moment's time to realize what was going on.
It's all over. Nothing is left for me. All my dreams are shattered. Will Bangalore remain only a past nightmare? Why? Why is this happening?
It's useless to try to find the meaning behind U.G.'s actions. It is perhaps his intention not to leave for later generations even a trace of his coming into this world. Nothing must remain. U.G. is very clear that no one will benefit from collecting memorabilia and keepsakes pertaining to him.
In a Doordarshan interview with U.G., Deepak Vohra asks him: "U.G., I have one final question: How do you imagine the world should remember you after five hundred years?" U.G.'s reply is unique in world history: "I will feel blessed if the world burns away with my body all the memories and memorabilia pertaining to me."
U.G., you are your own equal. There has been and will be no one like you in this world. As I was sitting in the living room of the building in Yercaud, my mind became restless and chaotic. My mind was dreading that something untoward will surely happen. There was a heavy wind blowing outside the bungalow. It was penetrating through the closed door spaces and striking my spine. Murty, U.G.'s handyman, was kindling the fires in the fireplace. Murty had let go of his entire Bangalore life and had dedicated himself to U.G.'s service.
U.G. was sitting leaning against the wall. Whenever the fire glowed in the fireplace, U.G.'s face glowed red with it. Other friends in the room -- the Major, Prabhakar and Suguna, my wife -- all sat scattered on the floor with arms around their legs. Everyone looked pale. Mahesh sat on my right side leaning against the wall and looking pitifully at me. The scene looked like Yama's court ready for a trial. In the middle of it I sat with closed eyes like a sacrificial goat at the altar.
"Why can't Chandrasekhar understand? An ashram-like atmosphere can't grow around me," roared U. G. Mahesh sat up collecting himself. "Neither my tapes nor books nor letters must be in anyone's control. I am going to return all those photos to those who have taken them. Nothing must remain after me. I won't let even Chandrasekhar know where I am and what I am doing. It's all over. After Valentine's death, everything is disintegrating."
A flame flared in the fireplace when some of the kindling caught fire. A loud crackling sound of a piece of firewood. U.G.'s white clothing. U.G.'s body shone like a flame covered with snow.
Mahesh said after a little while, "U.G. I couldn't have written your biography if Chandrasekhar had not collected all of the correspondence and kept it in one place. That was necessary."
"Who benefits from those biographies? I said this before. Autobiographies are pure lies. And biographies are double lies. O.K. you wrote something. But what is he doing? Why should he collect all these? To burn them with me when I die?" U.G.'s eyes were showering coals on me. The fire in the fireplace seemed cooler. There was a conflagration in myself. There was an oven in my heart. Mahesh looked like an executioner from Yama. My body trembled when I realized why this soldier holding a drawn sword and waiting for a wink of the eye from the master had come from Bombay.
U.G. said again: "Why do you write letters to everyone informing them
that I am here? Why do you hesitate to say 'I don't know where U.G. is,'
to anyone who asks for me? The other day Julie called me on the phone in
Bangalore. I told her, 'There is no place here for even Chandrasekhar and
Suguna. What makes you think that I will let you stay?'"
God, what is going to happen? You dragged me here to show me this terrible form [of U.G.]? It's all going -- all my hidden fears, endless deluded hopes, colorful dreams, the beautiful dreams I had made up about my future -- all of them were being shattered.
They were all burning away. It was not U.G. in front of me. It was an active volcano on fire. Near it were solid rocks melting like lumps of wax. The tears in my eyes were evaporating before they trickled down.
"Chandrasekhar is the cause of all these miseries," U.G.'s voice sounded like thunder in the sky.
Far away, the bells of the Convent of Carmel rang, as if they were warning me, "These are your last moments, get ready." The crime I had committed knowingly or unwittingly, the emotions that had been mingled with my blood, the flaw of considering U.G. as my own, that he was my life outside of me, my subliminal hope of becoming the high priest for the temple of U.G.'s teaching -- all passed through my mind clearly.
The 'criminal' in me drooped his head. "Whatever has been going on so far cannot continue any more. It must all end here and now. This moment." The swing of his hand gathered strength and his resounding voice shook the bungalow. The executioner's sword flashed in the light of the dying fire.
"Here, now, this moment. It has to end now, Chandrasekhar!" Mahesh's howl mingled with my death scream.
Slowly the fire in the fireplace died down. The flames that shone red settled down in the ashes. The sky for once breathed in relief. The assembly came to a close. All the witnesses exited as though they were innocent. U.G. went into his room leaving me to my fate. My mind had never known such a terrible onslaught. Although I lay on my bed, I could not sleep. A series of thoughts whirled around like snakes in my mental snake pit. I got up from my bed and walked outside. 'Blackie', the dog, saw me and crawled around me wagging her tail. What had happened that night? How come the world was still sleeping so peacefully? To whom should I tell of my turmoil and my internal struggle? Why was I bothered about all this? Who is this U.G.? Who am I? What is the connection between us? True, what is he to me? What am I to myself?
I was walking to the edge of an abyss in the dark. I could see, four thousand feet below, the city of Salem flickering with lights, as though the sky had with all its stars collapsed on the ground .
I asked U.G. on the night of my arrival in Yercaud: "Why doesn't the truth of your words apply in our lives? Our minds can see reason and consent to the logic [in what you say], but we lag behind in carrying it out in action. Why is that?" U.G.'s answer blasted my brains: "because you are afraid of losing me if those words work. Because of that fear you try to use those words securely, as gloves on your hands, to protect yourselves."
Those words of U.G.'s whirled around in my head, "You are afraid of losing me," and I felt as though they were mocking me.
It's true: U.G. is my life, my everything. Who is it that still lives after losing U.G.? I? Who am I? I have no alternative: I must solve this puzzle.
U.G. is no one to me. There is this connection, this blunt bond that entangles me, and unless this is broken, I am not free. U.G. and I -- the memories I have treasured so much, the memories which I thought were special to both of us, my countless experiences -- if U.G. himself is nothing to me, why should I bother with them? Why should I hoard them? For whom? Never. I should expel all of them. I should tear myself, break myself open, destroy myself, plunder all my memory treasures which I had so carefully hoarded, and scatter them to the dust and the wind. I must stand alone, helpless as a destitute without a past, while all these memories are shamelessly crushed under the feet of every village pig.
The sacrifice has started, the serpent sacrifice of Janamejaya. All the serpents, the thought-serpents that have been hiding inside my head, in my blood and in every nerve of mine, must all be dropped into this sacrificial fire. There is no protection for any of them. All of them must be consumed. All my memories must assume the form of letters and be offered in the sacrifice of this book.
I don't know how long I stood outside that night, by the side of the abyss, in the dark, under that tree. Utter silence around me. An abyss inside of me and an abyss outside. Utter darkness all around.
"Is this all there is to my life? " The question arose in me
all of a sudden. "If you let that question arise, then you have no
scope to live." No sooner I had heard this than all the darkness disappeared.
A cloud curtain crossed the abyss touching me softly.
"Why did this U.G. happen to me?"
It was September 20 of 1992. Just a while ago U.G. spoke to me on the telephone. I have been waiting for three days for his call. Just today they installed a new telephone in U.G.'s cottage in Yercaud.
"When are you coming here?" asks U.G.
"When would you like us to come?"
"You don't need to come. You are not needed," says U.G. in a joking voice. "The owner of this house is offering to build a special ashram for me. He says he will call it 'U.G. Ashram'. I vetoed it saying 'Never'."
I told him I was going to Hyderabad. "Don't invite my daughter Bharati here." U.G.'s admonition made me smile.
What sort of a person is this? Is he a Jivanmukta? Is he an Atmajnani?
I was reminded of what Marissa, an Italian friend of U.G., said many years
ago. Those were the early days of her acquaintance with U.G. After hearing
from her about U.G. and after meeting him, her father apparently said:
"Damned be the day you met that man called U.G. Your life will never
be the same again." I have no doubt that these words are literally
true, not just in Marissa's case, but with everyone who has met U.G.
"Why did this U.G. happen to me? It seems as though that I have voluntarily invited the devil into my house at my own expense." There is not a day on which Mr. Brahmachari Siva Rama Sarma, who had undergone tremendous upheavals after meeting U.G., does not wail: "By inviting him [U.G.] to Bangalore, I bought a total disaster for myself." "But isn't that a great blessing? Does that happen to everyone?" some inquire thoughtfully.
"On whomsoever I bestow my grace, him I shall rob of all that he has." It's amazing to notice in how many ways and in how many contexts U.G. demonstrates the truth of this statement of his. Be that as it may, the number of Brahmachari's friends such as myself, who regard the "disaster" that happened to him as a great blessing, is increasing day by day.
When was it that I met U.G. in Bangalore for the first time? It was long ago, in December of 1969. Even now I am deeply saddened when I think of my condition before I met U.G.
What sort of life did I live! I wasn't interested in worldly values. My goal in life was to strive for some undefined spiritual experiences. I was wandering around visiting different gurus and ashrams, listening to their various teachings, and running around ceaselessly with the belief that there was something to be found somewhere. Those were the days when, at last, there was a respite in Ramanasthan, (my elderly friend Mr. Chalam's residence) in Arunachala presided over by Sowris (Chalam's daughter). I tasted a new life in the compassionate company of the sage Chalam. Those were the days when I dedicated my entire life to the worship of the Lord of Arunachala. Ever since I found my refuge in Chalam in 1964, how many times did I run to Ramanasthan each year! Shau (Sowris) was my revered deity; she was for me the Lord of Arunachala in person. As the devout Prahlada said in the myth of Bhagavata, I longed to stay in the remembrance of the Lord even while drinking, eating, talking, sleeping or engaged in any other activity. Nothing concerned me except my worship of and meditation on the Lord of Arunachala.
Extraordinary experiences and visions occurred during my meditation. I felt as if my liberation was close at hand, that there wasn't much more to be striven for, that I had 'crossed the bridge', and almost arrived at the point of self-realization. What enthusiasm!
I had been working at a job in Bangalore. Some friends and I ran the Sankara's School of Culture and a hostel for college students. Not caring about the consequences for my family, which depended for their livelihood on the salary that I earned, I lived in Arunachala that year (1969). A series of letters from my friends and well-wishers trying to persuade me to return to Bangalore did not move me out of Arunachala.
When I look back after 27 years, that year of 1969 seems unthinkable even now: how I walked crazily into danger without looking back or ahead, and how many shocks had I experienced!
In just two months of my stay in Ramanasthan, I came to realize the extent of my spirituality. I saw how much were my spiritual experiences weaker compared to the strength of my sexual urges. My sexual and romantic passions gradually clouded the presence of the Lord of Arunachala in my heart, where I mistakenly believed I had permanently established Him. This struck a great blow to my ego, which believed that I had become very holy. In a word, my spirituality was quickly transformed into a sexcapade.
"The source for both God and sex is the same. As long as you think of God, there is always sex in its shadow," says U.G. I now understand the value of this saying. But in those days I was very confused. "Why am I so deluding myself? The mind which freed itself from so many attractions, why is it pining so much for such a trifle? Is this a test? O Lord, please give me strength. Please get me out of this mire." Just as I was praying thus, I felt that I was sinking deeper into the mire.
That evening, I spoke to 'Father' [Mr.Chalam] who was sitting alone: "Father, I want to talk to you about something." Chalam looked at me with attention. A poem from Chalam's work Sudha crossed my mind: "My life came to the point of saying, 'Lady, let me go,'" I quoted without much elaboration. From the little I said that sage of love immediately understood my condition much more clearly than I had myself.
He looked at me intently for a moment and said in a quivering voice, "But you don't have a lady here...."
"Yes, I do. That is why I have this torment," I said.
There were a few moments of silence. Then Chalam said emphasizing each word: "Present all this precisely to Iswara. He will take care of it. You don't worry."
Iswara (God) [is believed to] reside in Sowris, also called Shau. My unshakable faith in the idea that Iswara in person was conducting through Sowris all the affairs [of Ramanasthan] had already been shaken. Regardless of how much I wanted to keep my faith, there was only betrayal and rebellion in me.
I had doubts about all my beliefs and all the truths which I had adopted as the foundation of my life. But why should such doubts and aberrations occur in me when I had dedicated myself to spiritual practice, when I had resolved to myself that I had no other goal in life than self-realization? Was this the result of the impressions of my past lives? Must I suppress them? Must I go on battling these phantoms? What was the advantage of that?
"Watch Jagadish Bhai. See how carefree he is? He is carefree because he has submitted himself totally to Iswara," said Chalam. Jagadish renounced everything twenty five years ago when he was still only twenty, and like Bhagavan (Sri Ramana Maharshi), wore a loin-cloth and had firmly implanted himself in Arunachala. Only the day before he was complaining, "These kids are shouting saying, 'M.G.R., M.G.R.'(2) I can't meditate in the middle of all this noise. I am even dreaming of the shouting about M.G.R." I was shocked at the manner in which Jagadish complained about his problems. Was that all? Must all that renunciation and spiritual practice come to naught in the face of some noise about M.G.R.?
Soon after that I broke away from Ramanasthan and left Arunachala. After almost four months of absence, I returned to this world, to Bangalore, to my usual mechanical life, and to my job, which I managed to retain with friends' help.
All those who knew me expressed concern over my welfare, but ridiculed me behind my back. They considered me as sort of crazy and gave me counsel to try and save me. That was a hellish torture. I spent hours alone, sitting on a pile of boulders behind the Ramakrishna Ashram, pondering over the state of my life. My mind was filled with disgust at the very thought of spirituality or spiritual practice. Around that time, when I became tired of Vedanta, the teachings of J.Krishnamurti attracted my attention. His Commentaries on Living became my routine reading material.
* * *
One morning I was trying to call U.G. on the phone. I hadn't succeeded even after an hour. I was tired of trying, so I hung up the receiver and sat down. Just then the telephone rang. "Hello," said U.G. "Hello U.G., I have been trying your number for half an hour."
"We too have been trying on this end. The important thing I wanted to tell you was that our Major got an electric shock while he was ironing clothes a while ago. He yelled so loud that we all thought that he might have died. He is still trembling from the shock. He was ironing my clothes. He squeezed them, dried them and started ironing them. He ignored my request not to do it. He thinks that he will get some spiritual vibrations if he washes my clothes. When I assure him that the only shock he will get is an electric shock and that there are no spiritual vibrations or other vibrations, he still doesn't listen to me." So U.G. goes on. You can't extract spiritual undertones from his words, no matter how much you try.
"There are no moral values in what I say; nor is there any social utility. There is no spiritual or religious content either." No matter how vehemently he asserts this, it is hard for us to accept it.
How strange! There is no wise man who can listen when U.G. keeps repeating,
"I am not a jivanmukta; nor am I an evolved being." People
such as Mr. Vedantam Satyanarayana, a friend of U.G., try to
pull him into an argument saying, "You say you don't know what state
you are in. What you say indicates the Advaita state described in Vedanta
texts. If you could just come down to our level and ...." Then U.G.
complains pointing out, "Where do you think I live? I live right next
to you. You put me on a pedestal, on a height. What can I do?" They
do not pay attention.
I have been observing this sort of exchange for twenty years, ever since I had met U.G. for the first time.
* * *
U. G. inevitably comes to mind whenever I see the Vedanta Book House, a book shop in Chamarajapeta in Bangalore. It was in this shop that I first heard of U.G. I know well the owner of the book store, Mr. Ashwattha Narayana. One morning when I went there to see if there were any new books in the store, as if he had been waiting for me, he said "Come in. You came just at the right moment. The gentleman here says he needs books explaining the philosophy of Sri Ramana Maharshi." He introduced me to an American gentleman named David Barry who lived in Ojai, California. We learned a lot about each other in about ten minutes. The interest Barry showed not only in the Vedanta of Ramana Bhagawan, but also in other Vedanta texts impressed me.
"How long have you been in India?" I asked him.
"The last time, I came from Switzerland with a great man called U.G.Krishnamurti. But I stayed behind in this country," he replied.
When I heard the name Krishnamurti, I mistook it for J. Krishnamurti. "No, no. Not J.K. This man's name is U.G. I do know J.K. pretty well. U.G. is a brand new jivanmukta. If you compare the two, U.G. far surpasses J.K.," said Barry. Then he talked about his acquaintance with J.K. and U.G., and the manner in which U.G. criticized J.K. After listening to all that he said about U.G., I thought he was some disciple of U.G.
Some days later, when I had met U.G., our conversation turned to Barry. "He is the only man who is my first and last disciple." I couldn't stop laughing when U.G. spoke this way.
My acquaintance with Barry, which started in the Vedanta Book House, did not stop there. I took Barry to the Sankara School of Culture which we ran at that time, and introduced him to all my friends there. All the things which Barry described about U.G. that day interested us very much: U.G.'s Calamity, the strange way in which his senses functioned independently of each other as a result of the chemical changes that took place in his body, the colors that emerged in the places of the Yogic chakras, the visitations of personages such as the Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed and Siva, the manner in which he attained naturally the 'half-woman' state (attributed to Siva), nullifying the difference between the male and female sexes, (a state which occurred as a result of a hormonal imbalance in his body), -- when Barry was describing all these in a dramatic fashion, we listened to him with rapt attention.
We couldn't believe all the wonderful things that had happened to U.G. Can such things happen to any one in this day and age? Even if they did happen, can such a strange person be a true jivanmukta, if he regarded such unique experiences as natural occurrences and did not give any importance to them? Was the Calamity a real event in U.G.'s life? When did it happen?
"The Calamity occurred in the year 1967 on July 9, exactly on his 49th birthday. There is a beautiful place called Saanen in Switzerland. When U.G. sat under a chestnut tree on that day, it happened ," said Barry.
"What happened?" "Enlightenment," said Barry. He talked casually as though he was describing a natural event such as a sunrise.
How strange! Could enlightenment happen in someone's life as an event like a fruit falling from a tree? Then too, that it happened on that day, his 49th birthday? Apparently the Kaumara Nadi had already predicted that U.G. would attain self-realization on his 49th birthday. Barry was an eye witness to all that happened to U.G. after that.
"Barry's staying with us in the days of my Calamity was in some ways of great use to us," I heard U.G. state on a later occasion.
"I used to have strange visions. 'Vision' not in the sense of seeing something 'out there'. Rather, my whole consciousness, my existence suddenly assumed the form of the Buddha. I was not there. In my place it was either the Buddha or Siva -- sometimes it was some women's forms -- with disheveled hair and naked breasts -- even my sex organs were changed.
"Just for a moment. The moment I looked at that and asked what it was, the division disappeared.
"What is all this? Why is it happening like this? Who are all these forms? There was no fear, only curiosity. Because Barry was there, and because he knew Hindu, Greek, and Chinese myths, he was able to interpret and comment on all these phenomena. He would look for parallels for the things that happened to me in those myths," says U.G.
I can never forget the scene of three years later, one morning, when U.G. was prodding this best disciple of his with a stick with thorns on it, threatening him. Barry by nature is slow in doing things, and generally lazy. U.G. does not tolerate any dullness or laziness among the people around him. Indeed, efficiency and promptness are synonyms for U.G. "This machine does not know laziness," maintains U.G., referring to his body. "If your heart gets lazy and stops beating for a few minutes, what will happen to you?" he asks.
That day as U.G. was goading Barry for his laziness, Barry's imposing figure was grumbling pitifully, pleading, "Is this how you show your compassion?" while he gave U.G. a frightened look. The scene made us all laugh along with U.G.
After Barry left, all the friends in the hostel talked for a long time about the things they had heard from him about U.G.
That same night, about 9 p.m., suddenly Mr. Brahmachari, a spiritual teacher who later became a friend of U.G., appeared outside the hostel. "I don't have much time. I am just arriving from Mysore to tell you of an important event. Tomorrow morning a Brahmajnani is coming to our 'cave'. Take a leave of absence in your offices, come to the Cave and meet him," he summoned. Who is this Brahmajnani that was going to sanctify Mr. Brahmachari's Cave? Normally Brahmachariji did not invite anyone to the Cave.
"He is U.G.Krishnamurti. Everyone calls him U.G." These words of Mr. Brahmachari resounded in my ears. I couldn't believe myself hearing them. "Who? U.G.? The man who recently arrived from Switzerland?" I asked, containing my amazement and excitement with great difficulty. Mr. Brahmachari turned pale: "How do you know him? When did you meet him?" "I have heard about him. But I haven't met him yet. I am going to see him tomorrow morning," I briefly reported to him what had happened earlier with Barry."
"So, the publicity has started even before he has arrived in Bangalore. I met him in Mysore. When he told me he was coming to Bangalore, I invited him to the Cave."
"What sort of a man did he appear to be when you saw him?" I asked Mr. Brahmachari.
"I have no doubt that he is a true Brahmajnani. Wisdom dawned on him in a peculiar way. If you look at his eyes, it is absolutely certain that he is a jivanmukta. No matter how long I observed him, I could not find him blinking. His skin is soft and smooth like silk. Why try to know the taste of the curry when you are going to eat it? You will see him tomorrow." So saying, he left hurriedly.
That night I marveled: "What is this? Is this a dream or is it true? Or is this an illusion of Vishnu?" Such was the state of my mind. "I heard about him this morning. And tonight I have this news. Are these events coincidental? Or is this a grace from a mysterious force? Or is this merely my good fortune?" I pondered for a long time. "Tonight is a long night. When will it be dawn?" I laughed at my own craziness and dropped off into sleep..
It was October 19, 1992. The Major's Maruti car was racing from Yercaud toward Mysore. The Major and U.G. were in the front seats, and I and Suguna were in the back. U.G.'s innocent question, "Why are we going to Mysore?" caused the Major to laugh. Our friends in Mysore did not know that U.G. was coming there. U.G. had no need to see anyone there. Rather, just because we had wanted to see how this circuitous route to Bangalore actually went, we had started on it. It was 1:00 p.m. by the time we stopped at Chamarajanagar on the way to Mysore. We sat at a small table in a restaurant called Sringar. Although it was an inexpensive restaurant, it looked clean.
One of the persons who was sitting at a table next to us was staring rather intently at U.G. The gentleman looked as if he was struggling with the dilemma of whether or not to talk to U.G. At last he got up, walked to U.G. and asked politely, "Excuse me Sir, I don't know who you are. But I see a glow in your face. What are you?" Indeed, it is not easy to identify a Brahmajnani in crumpled clothes, untidy hair, and with the tired face of someone who has traveled for six hours. The gentleman didn't seem to be satisfied with the answer given to him by U.G. He said, "You are not an ordinary man. I see a great glow around your face. I am an employee in the L.I.C. (Life Insurance Corporation). I am also the President of the Brahma Kumari Sangha." He introduced himself thus and requested U.G.'s address which U.G. gave him.
The man's name was Nagaraj. The last look of his while walking away from U.G. told me how deeply he was attracted to U.G.
* * *
"U.G. took away my tiredness...."
The car started moving again toward Mysore. On the way, the Major asked U.G. quietly, "Why did that man Nagaraj feel that way when he saw you? He said he saw some glow."
"How should I know? I even went into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror to see if I would find anything. There was no glow or any such thing. I don't know why he felt that way," said U.G. smiling. We all broke into laughter.
"Changing the subject, you made me eat seven dosais (pancakes with potato stuffing) today. I am used to having a nap after my lunch. If I happen to doze off while I am driving, that would be the end of all of us. Whatever suits you...," warned the Major smiling through his thick mustache.
U.G. became drowsy after a little while. While the Major and I were talking, U.G. took a short nap and then sat up, awake. U.G. smiled and said, "Lulled by the car's bouncing I fell asleep. I slept on your behalf also."
I observed the Major's face when he replied , "Very good, I am happy," and there was not a trace of tiredness in him. I thought that he would want to sleep for a few hours after arriving in Mysore. But, instead, he drove us directly back to Bangalore by 7 p.m. having driven non-stop for 12 hours through heavy traffic.
I had never seen the Major drive so long without stopping and resting en route. I congratulated him saying, "How was that possible? You established a new record for yourself."
"U.G. took away my tiredness and drowsiness. He said it himself that he slept my share of the sleep too. It's strange. From that moment my tiredness was gone. Otherwise, it would have been impossible to drive 450 kilometers non-stop," said the Major.
We thought of the scolding we would get if U.G. got wind of this conversation. So, instead I included a narrative of the incident in this book.
* * *
Brahmachariji and U.G.:
The next morning Mr. Brahmachari appeared in Poornakutee, our house in Bangalore. "How come you went to Mysore while I came here from Mysore to see you?" he frowned upon U.G. People call him also Swami Sarma. Usually we all call him Brahmachariji.
U.G. and Brahmachariji are both unique. You feel that perhaps Krishna and Arjuna were like this in ancient times.
It's commonly believed that the more adoring a devotee becomes the more his thinking powers deteriorate. This doesn't mean that Swamiji is a great devotee of U.G. Nor is he afraid of him. It is typical of Swamiji to fearlessly express himself. It is common for U.G., on the other hand, to tease the Swamiji about the logic of what he says. When these two get together, it is great entertainment for those who gather around them. Nagaraj used to say, "You two are made for each other."
I asked Swamiji that morning: "Swamiji, where did you see U.G. the first time? How did you bring him to Bangalore? You must tell me precisely. I must record everything you say permanently in my book. "
Brahmachariji and I have known each other for about twenty five years, ever since he started residing in his Cave. Mr. Brahmachari's real name is Siva Rama Sarma. He was brought up in a wealthy family from Mysore. In midlife, he became increasingly detached, and dedicated himself to spiritual life for four decades. He founded the Jnanasram in Bannerughatta. There are facts about him which would amaze even those who knew him merely as the Bannerughatta Swamiji. Only people who know him intimately are aware that he graduated as an M.Sc. in Chemical Engineering and passed the I.A.S. (Indian Administrative Service) examination. As he disliked government jobs, he took a position in the Indian Institute of Technology (in those days Tata Institute) and worked as an assistant professor for some years. All his brothers are millionaires, and they have also been adept in political intrigue. They made their millions no matter what political party was in power, and they always capitalized whenever political power changed hands. U.G. teases Brahmachariji by saying, "Those same qualities your brothers have are active in your blood too." He also mocks at him at times saying, "You don't live like them. Instead, you adopted this sort of life and lost both the worldly and otherworldly goods." It is surprising to notice Brahmachariji, who would usually react violently to anyone saying derogatory things about him, smilingly accepting U.G.'s heckling, mocking and teasing. "He is finished. After he came to me, he has changed a lot. He has become like a cobra whose fangs have been removed," says U.G. laughing.
When he talks about U.G., Swamiji becomes animated, and his anger and emotion express themselves eloquently more in Kannada than in English. It is amusing to see that when U.G. tries to stop him by jokingly saying, "Kannada beda ('No Kannada')," Swamiji always asserted himself with his broken Tamil, "Sariyapocci, iduda venda ('All right, but we don't want this')."
* * *
"First, Dr. Ramakrishna Rao wrote a letter to me in 1969,"
recounted Swamiji, as though he was recalling that letter. "He not
only narrated the unique happenings that had happened to U.G. He also wrote:
'You haven't met a person like him before in your life. Ordinary terms
like Brahmajnani and jivanmukta have to be given new meanings
in order to describe this man.' He also sent me a copy of U.G.'s horoscope."
Dr. Ramakrishna Rao was a boyhood friend of Swamiji. He was a Professor of Philosophy in Mysore University. Swamiji has a great belief in astrology. He believes, on the basis of his own personal experience, that we can know a person's true character more clearly through an examination of his horoscope rather than from his friends' opinions and accounts of him. He showed the horoscope sent by Professor Ramakrishna Rao to a close friend and well-wisher, Mr. Devudu Narasimha Sastry. Few do not know the name of Mr. Narasimha Sastry in the Kannada region. He is a great scholar. He not only knew well both Kannada and Sanskrit, but was also an astrologer and a devout man. Mr. Sastry's residence was near the Sankara Math in Bangalore, and was also close to the Cave of Mr. Brahmachari.
After examining the horoscope of U.G., Mr. Sastry said candidly, "No doubt there is something great about this gentleman. However, company with this man is not beneficial to you. That is all I want to say. The rest is up to you." Brahmachariji was confused. He knew it was useless to ask "Why, or how?" Brahmachariji wailed laughing, "In spite of Mr. Sastri cautioning me so clearly, if I still went to Mysore to see this great man, what could all this be except my fate?"
Professor Ramakrishna Rao used to live in Saraswatipuram. Brahmachariji was visiting him there. There was a water tank near his house. Suddenly Brahmachariji saw in a small crowd a man in white pajamas and shirt and a full-statured foreigner of medium height. "From the description Ramakrishna Rao gave in his letter, I identified the former person as U.G. On the bank of the tank I noticed that U.G.'s chest was more elevated on the left side," he recalled. U.G. took Brahmachariji to Professor Ramakrishna Rao's house, and they talked for quite a while. If the acquaintance which started thus had ended with that meeting, then there would be no need for this story.
When U.G. told Brahmachariji that he was thinking of going to Bangalore, the latter invited him to his place. "Ever since I invited U.G. to my Cave, my life has become like that of the person who invited the passing goddess of pestilence to visit his house, " sighed Mr. Brahmachari.
U.G.'s first visit to Brahmachariji's `Cave':
In December 1969, that morning we all gathered in Brahmachariji's Cave, waiting for U.G.'s arrival. I was anxiously awaiting my first meeting with U.G.
There was a big peepul tree in the yard of the Math, and there used to be a two-story house near the tree. All those surroundings have changed now beyond recognition. There is a legend that the head of the Sringeri Pitha, Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Swami used to meditate in an ancient cave under that house. When Sri Vidyatirtha Swami permitted Brahmachariji to live in that Cave, Brahmachariji got a two-story house built on the same rocks and made it habitable.
Around 10:00 a.m. a car stopped in the vicinity of the Cave. As soon as I saw the figure clad in white alighting from the car, I had a strange feeling that I was looking at a very familiar person. "That's U.G.," said someone. "Hello," said U.G. touching both Brahmachariji's hands. I looked at him intently. Although he looked simple in his white dress, there was some powerful dignity emanating from U.G. His black hair covered his ears. He had a broad forehead indicating a richness of intellect. His large ears hidden behind his hands, which were trying to arrange his hair, reminded me of a sculpture of the Buddha.
His fair complexion seemed fairer in the cool sunshine of December. He appeared almost indistinguishable from the Europeans who were with him. However simple and natural he seemed, there was something strange about him. In his gestures and movements there was the innocence of a child. Most striking of all were his eyes! Although his lips were smiling, there was an uncanny depth to his eyes. I felt as though I was looking into an abyss, as though I was slipping into the depths of an ocean. I stared at him for a while, spell-bound.
As soon as U.G. sat on a stone seat in the Cave, some of the friends in our company were ready to shower him with their questions. "I am tired from traveling. We will talk more when we meet again in the evening," said U.G., avoiding the questions, and making some small talk. Valentine, a Swiss lady who had been U.G.'s friend for many years, however, did not sit still for even a moment. She was walking around the Cave, examining its surroundings as though she were familiar with them.
* * *
There is no moksha, no Jivanmukti, and no Atman:
Later, I heard U.G.'s voice ringing like a bell as I was climbing the
stairs of the Cave. In the library room upstairs about twenty pairs of
eyes were riveted on U.G. sitting in a corner. I found room for myself
and sat at the threshold of the room on a reed mat. Outside was the cool
sunshine of the winter afternoon, and the sound of the peepul tree leaves
moving with the wind.
"There is no moksha, no jivanmukti, and no Atman. And there is no such thing as self-realization. Those are all lies. There is only the 'natural state'. I don't like to use your terms such as enlightenment, jivanmukti, nirvana, or moksha to refer to this state. Those terms suggest some other meanings. They sound weird to me. When I talk about the 'natural state', it is not the state of someone who has attained self-realization or God-realization. It is not something created through self-effort. This natural state is always living and spontaneous. "This happens to one in a billion, accidentally. It does not result from your effort. It is acausal. And why this natural state happens to that one and not anyone else, I don't know."
Q: When did this happen to you?
U.G.: In my forty-ninth year.
Q:Then are you saying that none of the spiritual practices you did for so many years, that none of the means you adopted, were useful in attaining that natural state?
U.G.: Without a doubt. Not only that. I would say that they were obstacles. I am saying that it is a wonder that the state occurred in spite of my doing all those things.
First of all, what is all the search and seeking for? It is your search that takes you away from the natural state you always are in. All your seeking is in the wrong direction. Wouldn't you remain in your natural state forever if your search stopped?
It is foolish to try to purify your consciousness through some practices in order to attain the natural state. That consciousness is so pure that all the experiences you consider as sacred and holy are a contamination of it. They are an unbearable filth, intolerable contamination. Once the barriers within your consciousness are broken -- not because of any act of will or volition on your part -- once the flood gates are open, everything will be washed away, all experiences -- good and bad, sacred and profane, divine or demonic --, all divine visions, all ultimate states will be washed away from the consciousness. Krishna consciousness, Buddha consciousness, God consciousness, sages, saints and prophets, Jesus, Mohammed, Mahavira, enlightened men, yogis -- all of them must be washed away in that flood.
It is only then that consciousness becomes clear. There is a song called "The Saints Go Marching In" in Christian devotional literature. I change it to "The Saints Go Marching Out." Their very existence is filth. When all that is flushed out, when consciousness remains pure and clean, no contamination, no filth will ever touch it again. After that your past will never stick to you, or bother you, and that will be the end of you.
While I was listening to U.G.'s words, all the things which Barry told me about, such as the way in which Calamity happened to him, ran through my head. Suddenly, images of Shau (Sowris), and the manifestation of Iswara in her in August 1951,(3) flashed through my mind.
There was a commotion in the room -- the group of friends was smothering U.G. with questions. My own mind was filled with questions. What's going on here? What's the truth of the matter? Whom should I trust? Should I believe Shau who says, "There is God. Seek Iswara's refuge from moment to moment." Or, should I believe U.G. who was saying, "God consciousness, Buddha consciousness, extraordinary visions, are all equal to dirt. Until they are all flushed out, consciousness will not become clear." I continued to listen to U.G. while my mind struggled with these thoughts.
* * *
U.G.: Why do you ask me such useless questions? "Is there a God? What is the meaning of life? Is there rebirth? What will happen to us when we die?" Why do you torment yourself with such endless questions?
As for myself, I have no questions except questions about day-to-day affairs: "What is the way to the Cave of Mr. Brahmachari? When is such and such a plane flight?" Except for such questions, no other questions occur to me. Many great teachers have been answering your questions for centuries. Why are you not satisfied with them? You believe that I am a Brahmajnani and a jivanmukta and you want to know if what I have seen confirms your beliefs. As a matter of fact, all these questions are others' questions, not your own. If there is a question which you can call your own, it won't let you rest for one minute. There is no question apart from the questioner. The two are the same. If the question goes, the questioner goes with it. Because you don't want to come to an end, you hang on to your question forever. That's why you cannot stop the question even if you know there is no answer to it.
* * *
U.G.: Is there such a thing as enlightenment? As far as I am concerned, what is there are only bodily processes. That is the natural state. Your existence is a physiological state, not a psychological transformation. It [enlightenment] is not a mental state of being unconscious one day and conscious the next day. If this natural state ever happens, it will explode every cell, every nerve and every gland. This is a chemical change, a strange alchemy within the body. Unless such an irreversible change occurs, there is no release for the body from the stranglehold of thought. You cannot imagine how deeply, into every cell, thought penetrates throughout the body.
* * *
Q: Why am I not in this natural state you are describing now?
U.G.: Because you are trying to understand what I am saying. Through thought and thinking you cannot understand anything. But that [thought] is the only instrument. When that [instrument] cannot be used, and there is no other instrument, what is there to understand? There is nothing to understand. That's what you need to know -- that there is nothing at all to know. Here [in me] that is clear. Nobody knows how that became clear [to me], viz., that there is nothing to know. That's why I am unable to explain it to you. If the understanding that there is nothing to understand, nothing to know, arises in you, then you wouldn't be here with me for one moment. Then you wouldn't go to someone else either. Your search would stop, forever.
* * *
I listened to U.G. talk about many things to the same group of people in the same room for the next six evenings..
When U.G.talked about the Calamity that happened to him, and told us about the irreversible chemical changes that occurred in his body during the following six days, describing the colors that surfaced on his skin in the places where there are ductless glands [inside the body], Vidwan Seshachala Sarma asked if the marks were still present. U.G. answered: "Many of them have subsided. Look and see if you can see some of them on my back." As he spoke, U.G. removed his shirt and showed his back. We could see some traces of colored bulges in blue and green colors. "That's it. There is no spiritual or metaphysical content in this. This is purely biological and physical."
"If the endlessly continuing thought process is cut off even once, even for a thousandth of a second, then thoughts can never be linked again. That break will create tremors throughout the body like a terrible earthquake. Like an atomic explosion it will shake, move and burn every nerve and blood cell in the body. With that the thinker is gone. The senses start functioning independently of each other. From then on all bodily processes are carried on automatically, like a machine. Only the 'you' who you think runs the machine is not there."
* * *
When I heard U.G.'s words, on the one hand I was amazed and astounded, and on the other hand, I had an unknown fear, an uneasiness, an anxious feeling as if the ground under my feet was slipping away.
Was there nothing? Were all my hopes for a spiritual life in vain? Were all my endeavors a waste of time?
How true is the poem in Chalam's Sudha!
It is unwise to go round
in a circle leading nowhere
for some unknown,
which delude us into thinking
there is something which,
if we strive for it,
will be revealed.
It's a futile waste
of an invaluable lifetime.
One afternoon, I went to the Cave early before the crowd gathered there. I felt that I must talk to U.G. in person. I could not remain quiet with all the chaos created by the storm raging inside me. I saw U.G. standing on the upstairs balcony. It was 4 O'clock in the afternoon. I and Ranganatha Rao made our salutations as we climbed the stairs.
A smile flashed on U.G.'s face. All three of us sat on the balcony overlooking the big and tall peepul tree. There was a paved square bench around the tree. The peepul leaves were shining, reflecting the cool sunshine of the afternoon. U.G. was asking casually about the standard of living in Bangalore and the jobs in our factory. After a while, a question suddenly broke out of me: "U.G., you say there is no such thing as release or moksha. Then what is the meaning of self-realization?" He answered, "To realize that there is no such thing as Atman, self or the ego is self-realization," and paused.
"All right. Ramana Maharshi also answered this question in the same way," I thought to myself. "If there is nothing, then who is it that knows this? For whom is the self-realization?" I asked U.G..
"That is why I say that even that self-realization is a myth." U.G. smiled as he said this. I couldn't think of a response. How could I proceed further if my feet were tied down like this?
U.G. was looking at me intently. Was self-realization all false? Or was this reply an evasion? How true were his words? Why should I believe them? My mind continued to question. Didn't all those wise men, prophets and avatars announce that we should know ourselves? All that they ceaselessly emphasized -- that to know ourselves is our sole aim in life, and that to attain unity was the goal of our life -- was all that false? Were all the assurances given by them merely writing on water? Were all the teachings which great sages ranging from the ancient Buddha to the more recent Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi taught in a unanimous voice -- were all of them lies?
U.G. responded, "I don't know what they taught. If you ask me, all I can say is that all those people are misleading you. What they said and taught might be true for them. But you know yourself that those teachings don't operate in your daily life and in your own experience. They all deceived themselves thinking that they had achieved something, and they deceived others and are still continuing to do so. This was evident to me even when I was young. Since then I have lost all my beliefs. To question the beliefs and teachings which you have taken as true is to question those who taught them. You are not ready to throw out as bogus all those whom you have revered. You are afraid that that will put an end to your very existence.
There was trembling inside of me when I heard U.G.'s words. What was the
use of my living if those whom I trusted as my teachers and whom I adored
-- Shau and Ramana Bhagawan -- were false? How would it [their
teaching] benefit anyone?
The birds were flying through the sky in flocks. From the peepul tree came noises of various kinds of birds. My mind was groaning with untold agony. Suddenly U.G. turned to me. He said, "Why are you so concerned about all these things? You are young and you must still marry. You must rise in your job. Why bother with all this nonsense?" For a moment I was stunned. My face blushed like the setting sun at his words.
"I don't have much interest in those [worldly things]. I feel all those pleasures are momentary," I said in a low tone.
U.G. said, "If you think they are momentary, then you must think that the pleasure of self-realization is permanent. Right?" There was a mischievous smile on his lips. I turned pale at these words.
"It's not permanent?" thought a big demon in myself.
Looking at me compassionately, U.G. said, "You must believe my words. There is nothing permanent. Permanent happiness and infinite wisdom are illusory notions created by the nostril-closing [indicating meditation] phonies who endlessly discuss 'This is real and that is unreal', and who have nothing better to do. You trust those people and lose your interest in things which are real, and then search for non-existent things. If that is not slipping into a lowly state, what is?"
All the ancient sages who had taken residence in my blood boiled in anger at U.G.'s words. All the scriptural testimonies they had quoted remained as mere prattling in my mind. There remained one last weapon in my endless arsenal: "You say that there is no God. You say that God is an illusion which man has created out of fear. Then you don't think there is a power beyond the reach of the mind that orders this universe?"
U.G. answered: "I will say with certainty that there is no superior power outside of man and different from him. If there is any such power, that power is not different from you. The lowly mosquito that is sucking your blood is the expression of that divine power. That is why I say it is irrelevant to discuss the question of God. But I am not advocating, like Ramaswami Naicker [a South Indian leader who advocated political rights of non-Brahmins], the destruction of temples or burning of scriptures. Nothing is gained by doing such things."
We could hear the sound of Vedic recitation (of Rudra Patha) from someone's house far away. Some ladies were under the peepul tree, perambulating around the tree with folded hands. I felt like parodying a Gurajada poem:
If men keep saying "Oh God"
How will the country prosper?
It was getting dark. U.G. said in a low voice, "These questions are not new. Many have asked them before. In reality, they are not your questions. Besides these, do you have any question that is your own, that is not anyone else's?"
I started to think. "Who am I?" Is that my own question? Isn't it Bhagawan's question? Yes. How can that question be mine? Just because I became identified with Shau's song which said `Who am I, Bhagawan, indeed, who am I, Bhagawan?', does the question then become mine? What is that question, the one question that will not let me rest, that will not let me get entangled, the question that will haunt me, torment me, that will burn me alive -- what is that question?" I leaned against the wall and remained staring into nothingness. The street lamp flashed on, dispelling the darkness. I woke up from my reverie and looked for U.G. by my side. U.G. had gone inside, and I heard him talking with the friends there.
"If there is any help I can give you, it is this: to help you formulate your own question by yourselves. Beyond that, I cannot help anyone. Beyond that, no one needs any help," U.G. was saying to someone. While I was listening to these words, I felt as if a thousand lights went on all at once.
* * *
It was January 1, 1970. I was traveling by bus from Bangalore to Arunachala. The events of the past week were rolling around in my mind like a series of movie pictures. I felt a sense of longing when I recalled the last day on which I had said goodbye to U.G.
U.G. was talking to some friends upstairs. "U.G., goodbye," I said, joining my hands together. Saying, "You are leaving?", U.G. came close to me in one big step.
"I am leaving tomorrow morning for Arunachala," I said. He already knew that I was friends with Chalam.
"Please say hello to Mr. Chalam and his family. When I was living in Gudivada, I knew Mr. Chalam. Mr. Chalam's wife, Mrs. Ranganayakamma used to write to me a lot of letters, some crazy letters," he said, quickly reaching for my hands, pressing them and letting them go. Then, again, he put both his hands on my shoulders, and squeezing, slid his hands down to my elbows and instantly let them go. He said, "O.K., you go now," and without another word moved toward other friends as though nothing had happened. I was speechless for some moments, as if I had a shock, and stood motionless.
From my shoulders to the tips of my fingers I felt a strange numbness from U.G.'s touch. "What happened? Why am I feeling like that?" I was thinking to myself as I was going down the stairs to leave. In all the years since this occurrence, I noticed U.G. doing similar interesting things like this to a few others. "I don't know anything. Whatever you feel is your own illusion. There is no energy transmission, nothing," says U.G. if you ask him about it.
It was evening by the time I arrived in Arunachala. When I arrived at Ramanasthan, Chalam, Shau and other friends were out on a walk. I went looking for them. I found them at the Drowpadi temple. I was eager to relate my U.G. story to 'Father' and Shau. Shau made me talk a lot. I showed her the photo of U.G. which Valentine gave me. She said, "We see his body, but for him his body was burnt long ago." These words impressed everyone. "What is his full name?" Shau asked.
"Uppaluri Gopala Krishnamurti," I said.
"What? Uppaluri? Father, he seems to be the grandson of Mr. Tenali Venkatappayya," she said, as she showed the photo to Mr. Chalam. In two minutes the question was settled. The unknown person, U.G., was found to be a close relative of Shau; they are cousins. "We saw him long ago in my childhood. At that time he was of the age of Ravi [Chalam's eldest son]. Ever since we were children we used to do Yoga and meditation. We used to address each other by our relationship. My mother tried her best to marry us in those days," said Shau with great mirth.
At that time 'Amma' (Mr. Chalam's wife, Mrs. Ranganayakamma) was in a life-and-death crisis in Arunachala. "Amma, apparently your Uppaluri Gopala Krishnamurti came to Bangalore. It seems he has become a great guru. Chandrasekhar brought us the news that he said hello to you," spoke Shau in Amma's ear. There was some change in her facial expression. She said, "Sadasiva," and closed her eyes.
On January 17, 1970 Amma closed her eyes for good.
* * *
1. Mr. Gudipati Venkatachalam (`Chalam' was his pen name] was a well-known writer in Telugu. His many essays, novels, short-stories, plays and poetry reflected his revolt against oppression of women, against the caste system and against various social injustices; they also expressed his lifelong spritual quest. Later in his life, he moved, along with his daughter, Sowris, and the rest of his family, from Andhra Pradesh to Tiruvannamalai, the abode of Sri Ramana Maharshi, where he spent the rest of his life practicing the teachings of the Maharshi.
2. M.G.R. is a movie star in Tamil movies. Children in Ramanasthan spend time constantly talking about his movies.
3. In Sri Ramanasthan they used to celebrate every August 15 as the day of God's incarnation. Shau stopped these celebrations in 1971. What was the reason? Shau said that U.G. appeared to her and commanded that such celebrations in Ramanasthan should no longer take place.
Go to Part II