On a moonlit night some devotees were going round the holy Arunachala Hill, chanting the Vedas. Suddenly they saw a leopard standing right in the middle of the road and looking at them. The singers were paralysed with fear. They could neither sing nor walk ahead or run away. The leopard looked at them quietly for quite a long time and then slowly crossed the road and disappeared into the jungle.The devotees related their adventure to Bhagavan, who listened carefully and said, "There was no reason for fear. The leopard is a jnani [?] who came down from the hill to listen to your chanting the Vedas. He went away deeply disappointed because out of fright you broke off singing. Why were you afraid"?
Bhagavan and Nayana
A devotee wanted to take a photo of Bhagavan together with Ganapati Muni. Bhagavan consented, and a carpet was spread near the well, on which a sofa was put for Bhagavan to sit on. Ganapati Muni sat down at his feet, but Bhagavan asked him to sit by his side. Ganapati Muni was reluctant, but Bhagavan lifted him up and made him sit on the sofa. The photo was taken, and some prints were made and distributed among the devotees. The Ashram authorities came to know about it when it was all over and, quite naturally, were indignant, for sitting on the same level with one's Guru was a serious breach of custom, implying a claim for spiritual equality. The negative and the prints had to be given up. But the man who had taken the photo refused to surrender his copy. It did not bring him any luck; shortly after he committed suicide. The question why Bhagavan forced Ganapati Muni to sit on the sofa was never answered. Maybe it was his way of bringing the deeply hidden weaknesses of everybody to the surface.
The blind Muslim visitor
We were sitting one morning in the hall in deep meditation. Suddenly there was the sound of the tap-tap of a stick. A tall blind Muslim was trying to find the entry to the hall with his stick. I helped him to come inside. He asked me in Urdu where Bhagavan was sitting. I made him sit right in front of Bhagavan and told him, "You are now sitting just in front of Bhagavan. You can salute him". The Muslim told his story. He lived near Peshawar and he was a moulvi (teacher) of repute. Once he happened to hear somebody reading in Urdu about Bhagavan and at once he felt that Bhagavan was his spiritual father and that he must go to him. Blind as he was, he took the next train and travelled thousands of miles all alone, changing trains many times, till at last he reached Ramanasramam. When asked what he was going to do next, he said. "Whatever Bhagavan tells me, I shall do". His immense faith made me ashamed of myself. How little did the man hesitate to place his life in the hands of a South Indian swami. And what a mountain of doubts and hesitations I had to wade through before I came to Bhagavan's feet in earnest!
Echammal was one of Bhagavan's earliest devotees. She regularly brought food to him when he was living on the hill. Her property went to help his devotees. She practised yoga assiduously and died when in a yogic trance. When Bhagavan heard the news, he said, "Oh, is it so"? After Echammal's body was burnt, Shantamma came into the hall and told Bhagavan that the cremation was over. He said, "Yes, it is all right". And he added after a while, "I warned her not to practice yoga. She would not listen. Therefore she had to die unconscious and not in full awareness".
He never reacted twice in the same way. The unexpected with him was inevitable. He would deny every expectation, go against every probability. He seemed to be completely indifferent to whatever was going on in the Ashram and would give an immense amount of care to some apparently insignificant detail. He would be highly critical of the Ashram manager's passion for improvement and expansion and yet take personal interest in the work of the carpenters and masons.
He would scold his younger brother soundly, but would rebuke anybody who came to him with some complaint against him. He did not even want to hear about the money coming to the Ashram, but would read carefully the incoming and outgoing letters. He would refuse his consent to a certain work, but if it were done against his wishes, he would earnestly cooperate. When asked to agree to the building of the temple, he said, "Do as you please, but do not use my name for collecting money".
Yet he would closely watch the progress of the work and wander in the night among the scaffolding, with his torch in one hand and his stick in the other. When the Sri Chakra was placed in the sanctum of the temple, he went there at midnight and laid his hands on it. He would deny all responsibility for starting and developing the Ashram, would refuse to claim it as his property, but signed a will creating a hereditary managership for the Ashram.
He would refuse all treatment when asked, but would swallow any medicine that was given to him without asking. If each well-wisher offered his own remedy, he would take them all at the same time. He would relish some rustic dish and would turn away from costly delicacies. He would invite people for food, but when asked for a meal he would plead his helplessness in the matter.
Sometimes he would take a man to the kitchen and cook and serve him with his own hands. He insisted that beggars should be fed first, but would say that the Ashram was for visitors, not for beggars. He would be tender with a sick squirrel and would not outwardly show any feeling when an old and faithful devotee was dying. A serious loss or damage would leave him unconcerned, while he may shout warnings lest a glass pane in a cupboard should break.
Greatness, wealth, beauty, power, penance, fame, philanthropy -- all these would make no impression on him, but a lame monkey would absorb him for days on end. He would ignore a man for a long time and then suddenly turn to him with a broad smile and start an animated discussion. To a question about life after death he would retort, `Who is asking'? but to another man he would explain in great detail what death was and what the state of mind was after death. It was clear that all he did was rooted in some hidden centre to which none of us had any access. He was entirely self-directed, or rather, Self-directed.
No freedom for Bhagavan
Once Bhagavan fell down and was injured. The Ashram people wanted to call a doctor, but he would not allow it. A woman in the hall started weeping. "Why do you cry"? he asked. "I am sorry that you do not allow us to call for a doctor", she said. Bhagavan sighed, "Oh well, call in the doctor. In this place I have no freedom".
Once Suryanarayana's wife asked Bhagavan whether he had ever seen God. He replied, "You see your Self just as you see me". Suryanarayana complained bitterly, "I am spending every minute of my time in the repetition of your name and yet I am without peace". Bhagavan gently rebuked him and said, "Come on, you do not expect me to hide your peace under my pillow"!
Once a devotee asked Bhagavan, "Have you seen Shiva, Nandi and Kailas?" Bhagavan replied, "No, never. But the Self I see every moment".
Turning to stone
A lady devotee prayed to Bhagavan, "My only desire is that you may always be with us". Bhagavan exclaimed, "Look at her, she wants us all to turn into stones, so that we may sit here forever".
Mother and Onions
Bhagavan's mother was a very orthodox lady, full of prejudices, superstitions and possessive pride. Bhagavan would be ruthless in destroying all that stood in the way of her emancipation from ignorance and fear. He succeeded wonderfully and gave his mother videha mukti (liberation at the moment of death), which is by far the most common form of realization with the majority of earnest aspirants.
One of her pet aversions was onions, which are taboo to Brahmin widows. She would refuse to cook onions. Bhagavan would show her an onion and say, "How mighty is this little bulb, that it can stop my mother from going to heaven"! The mother would cry her heart out in some corner. But he would only say, "Cry, cry, the more you cry, the better". It was supreme love, eager to bestow the supreme good, and merciless with every obstacle, however sacred or rooted in tradition.
Source: RAMANA SMRTI Book