Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Her reverence was for Bhagavan Ramana alone

Two devotees of Bhagavan and Janaki Mata, have very kindly put together this account of Janaki Mata:

Janaki Mata – A Pen Sketch

By Shyamala Ramachandran,
Shanta Ramanchandran,

Birth and Early Years

Janaki was born in a village in Palghat on 27th July, 1906 to Sri Vaidyanatha Bhattar and Smt Chellammaal as the third child in a family of eight children. Her education up to 5th standard (around 10 years of age) was in Malayalam. Later she shifted to Chennai and studied Tamil. Even in her formative years, she was quite different from kids her age.

Marriage and Family

She was married at the young age of 13 to Dr C.S. Ganapti Iyer – a widower with two daughters, aged 6 years and 2 years. He was 19 years her senior. Being a Doctor working with the Government medical service, he was frequently transferred to various towns in the then composite state of Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Dr Ganapati Iyer and Janaki were blessed with two sons and three daughters.

She lived in Tanjavur from 1942 to 1969.

Visions and Spiritual Experiences

From a very early age, she was spiritually inclined and was initiated into a Mantra by an unknown mendicant. She then started having visions of various deities, like Ganesha, Kali etc. As she grew older – in spite of her family responsibilities – she allotted specific times for worship and meditation. Her life was replete with instances where unknown ascetics and strangers suddenly appeared and foretold important events, such as the birth of her children, or the wedding of her daughter, or her trip to Europe. Thus, amidst all her family commitments, she never relented in her aspiration for liberation or Mukti, and yearned to find a proper Sadguru to guide her. In one extraordinary event in 1934, a stranger came, said that he was ‘Subrahmanya’, and showed her a photo of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, who, he said, was her Guru. He also said that Subrahmanya would be born as her son.

Later in the same year, a Sanyasi visited her, and gave her a Salagrama of Vishnu, a Rudrakhsa to represent Siva, and a representation of Brahma, two coins with figures of Suryanarayana, and Rama-Sita, and asked her to offer worship to them.

In 1935, Janaki was bedridden for forty days, her body suffering from strong spiritual changes. She heard the ‘Om’ uttered by Vinayaka and then recovered.

Visit to Ramanashramam

Her first visit was on 20th April, 1935, when she went there along with her husband. Following that, she made several more visits, and related her experiences and aspirations to Bhagavan. It is believed that he gave her and her husband a copy of Malayalam ‘Upadesa Saram’ and asked them to read it. On another occasion, she fell at his feet when he was near the Goshala (cowshed) and poured out her anguish. He soothed her anguish and conveyed to her that he was her Guru.

Subsequently, she had the experience of Kundalini rising and was unable to bear its force. She came to Bhagavan and related her state, and by the grace of Bhagavan she was able to get relief.

Generous Disposition

She was spontaneously generous, and would gift gold chains to Goddesses in temples. She was moved by the plight of the poor, and had wells dug, and gifted food, oil etc.

She arranged for electrification at Ramanashramam, and also had a bathroom built for ladies. It was this room that was redone, and later became the Nirvana room of Bhagavan.

Janaki becomes Janaki Mata

Sometime in 1938, with the rise of Kundalini, she is believed to have got liberation.

Devotees started coming to her. They used to congregate for Puja, Parayana etc. She, however, remained in family life, but was calm and completely unattached.

Her reverence was for Bhagavan Ramana alone, and she took her devotees along with her to Ramanashramam.

She continued to have various visions, and felt that Lord Vinayaka wanted her to compose songs on all the deities, and thus she began to compose devotional songs.

In 1945, after the wedding of her daughter Sarada, she decided to leave family life and stay permanently at Ramanashramam. But her son, Swaminathan, then 10 years old, prayed to Bhagavan – “Please give me back my mother”, and thus it was that she had to return to Tanjavur.

In March 1949, Janaki Mata came to know that the tumor on Bhagavan’s arm was not responding to treatment. She made several visits to the Ashram during this period. On April 14th 1950 – the day of Bhagavan’s Mahanirvana, Janaki Mata started singing ‘Arunachala Siva’ and everybody joined in. While they sang, a bright meteor was seen blazing across the sky and merging in Arunachala. Bhagavan had shuffled the body.

Thereafter she visited several holy places, and also spread the glory of Bhagavan.

In 1955, her husband passed away.

Without waiting for the ritual 13 days of obsequies to be completed, she left for Kashi. On the 10th day, she removed her Mangalsutra and threw it in the Ganges. She wanted to stay on in Kashi itself. But once again, on the entreaty of her family, she returned to her home in Tanjavur.

In 1966, her 60th birthday was celebrated.

The southern part of her home had become an Ashram, and Janaki Mata stayed there. Regular reading of scriptures like Bhagavad Gita, Jnaneshwari, Bhakta Vijayam used to be held in the Ashram and Mata used to explain them to the devotees. Her teachings emphasized good conduct, devotion to God, meditation, worship, charity, and vegetarianism.

In the latter half of 1966, a cancer developed on her left breast, but none of her devotees was aware of this. She did not take any medical treatment. Her last visit to Ramanashramam was around Jan 1969. She attained Mahanirvana, in a sitting posture, on 27th April 1969.

As she was a householder, she was cremated, as was her desire. Her remains were interred in the Ashram and a Mathrubhutheshwara Linga was consecrated there in Dec 1969 by His Holiness Atmananda Bharati, affiliated to the Sringeri Mutt. A temple and meditation hall has been constructed there.

And so ends this pen sketch of an ordinary wife and mother, who attained great spiritual heights by the grace of her Sadguru Bhagavan Ramana.

(Adapted from the book ‘Biography of Guru Devi Janaky Mata’ by Dr G Swaminathan).

Please see this also.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Hence have I sought refuge at thy feet.

Though [Ganapati Muni] was already an intellectual and spiritual giant, with many achievements to his credit, and a host of followers as well, Ganapati felt distressed that his life purpose was not yet achieved. He suddenly remembered Brahmanaswami, climbed the hill to his abode and prayed to him for upadesa. The meeting was of profound consequence, not only for Kavyakantha, but also for the world at large.

The Muni approached the Virupaksha Cave where Brahmanaswami lived on the 18th of November 1907. Prostrating before the young Sage, he pleaded with a trembling voice: “All that has to be read I have read. Even Vedanta Sastra I have fully understood. I have performed japa to my heart’s content, yet I have not up to this time understood what tapas is. Hence, have I sought refuge at thy feet. Pray enlighten me about the nature of tapas.”

For fifteen minutes Sri Ramana Maharshi silently gazed at the Muni. He then spoke: “If one watches where the notion of ‘I’ springs, the mind will be absorbed into that. That is tapas. If a mantra is repeated and attention is directed to the source where the mantra sound is produced, the mind will be absorbed into that. That is tapas.” Upon hearing these words of the Sage, the scholar-poet was filled with joy and announced that this upadesa was entirely original and that Brahmanaswami was a Maharshi and should be so called thereafter. He then gave the name of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi to Brahmanaswami, whose original name had been Venkataraman.

~ By Shri. K. Natesan, A Disciple of Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni

please see this:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

the Reality, clothed in human form

Muruganar entered the Old Hall. Prostrating to Sri Bhagavan he noticed that worship had been offered to some books decoratively heaped, garlanded and placed in front of Sri Bhagavan, near the sofa. He realised it was Saraswathi Puja day. As he glanced at the garlanded books and then at the serenely seated Master, his face broke into an amused smile. Noticing this, Bhagavan gestured enquiringly. Muruganar's relationship with Bhagavan was unique. He knew he was in the presence of the Reality clothed in human form, available to all as the spiritual guide. Containing his amusement with great effort, he said: "Bhagavan! To have offered puja to the sacred books in your presence amuses me. Imagine that a bunch of the best variety of sugar cane was squeezed, crystal sugar of the purest quality made out of the juice and a human form was made with it. Now, picture the superb human form made of this best sugar on the one hand and the sugar-cane-waste on the other! Bhagavan, you are the essence of Truth. These books, however sacred they may be, are just like the sugar-cane-waste. They have offered puja to the juiceless canes while the most beautiful sugar-form, YOU, are seated just here!" Saying this, Muruganar laughed. Bhagavan too had a hearty laugh.

~ from Moments Remembered by V. Ganesan

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Echammal came to Sri Bhagavan in a distressed condition, having lost in quick succession her husband and her two children. Climbing the hill she stood in silence before him, not telling her grief. A whole hour she stood, no words spoken, and then she turned and went down the hillside to the town, her steps light, the burden of her sorrow lifted. Such was her deep devotion that for the rest of her life she never took her food without serving Sri Bhagavan first, and her house was a veritable haven for devotees.

~ from Bhagavan Sri Ramana, A Pictorial Biography by Joan Greenblatt and Matthew Greenblatt


When Sri Bhagavan was in Gurumurtham, Palaniswami was regularly doing puja to the Ganesa idol at Ayyankulum and was leading the life of a sadhu. He was born in Vadavanur near Palghat. When he heard of the greatness of the Brahmanaswami he went and saw him. Sri Bhagavan was known as Brahmanaswami at that time. The moment he saw Sri Bhagavan, he was filled with peace and joy. He decided to serve Brahmanaswami. He was older than Brahmanaswami by thirty years. When he saw the austere lad with a shining face, Palaniswami felt like a father towards his son and looked after him with great care and affection. When he had to go out, he would lock the door of Gurumurtham and return as quickly as possible. Nobody was allowed to see the Swami without his permission. As Brahmaswami was seemingly doing intense tapas, perhaps this kind of protection was arranged by Arunachaleswara himself. After spending 1 1/2 years in Gurumurtham, Sri Bhagavan moved to Virupaksha Cave on the hill. Palaniswami also accompanied him there.

Palaniswami used to wear only a towel reaching his knees. He had only two towels. All the vessels he used were earthen vessels. There was not even a tumbler made of either brass or aluminium. The number of visitors increased at Virupaksha. When visitors asked for water, it was served in an earthen mug. At least for the sake of those who were disinclined to drink from an earthen tumbler, Palaniswami was asked on occasions to keep a couple of aluminium or brass tumblers. Some even offered to buy them. But he refused to accept their suggestion. He never accepted anything from others, and without fear or favour, he acted in a straightforward way. He spurned everything in the world except service to Sri Bhagavan.

When Sri Bhagavan was at Virupaksha Cave, some sadhus who had already established their Ashram on the hill feared that fewer people would visit them as more and more went to see Sri Bhagavan. They tried to give trouble to Sri Bhagavan in several ways. Thinking that the sadhus should not suffer in any way because of his presence, Sri Bhagavan decided to go and live in the forest.

~ from Living with the Master, Reminiscences by Kunjuswami:

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

"I am only afraid of two devotees ..."

Ramanatha Brahmachari used to feed Bhagavan with such love and devotion, Bhagavan felt he had been captured by his love. That is why Bhagavan said on one occassion, 'I am only afraid of two devotees, Ramanatha Brahmachari and Mudaliar Patti'. It was not a physical fear, it was more a feeling of helplessness. If a devotee has a strong, burning love for his Guru, the Guru is compelled to do anything that the devotee asks. Bhagavan always felt apprehensive whenever Ramanatha Brahmachari appeared because he knew he would not be able to resist any of his requests. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa once expressed the same idea when he said: 'When you have attained ecstatic love, you have found the rope to tie God with.'

~ from Power of the Presence, Part Three, by David Godman

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Mother Alagammal's love for Sri Bhagavan

A kind devotee has directed our attention to Letter 102 in Letters From Sri Ramanasramam, written by Suri Nagamma to her brother.

Here is a portion of that letter:

“Though I {Bhagavan} was remonstrating with my mother, she slowly started cooking, first a vegetable, then soup, and so on. We went to Skandasramam afterwards. She used to wander all over the hill, gather something or other, and say, ‘He likes this vegetable and that fruit’. She took no notice of my remonstrations. Once, while she was coming to the jungle at this side, her saree got in a thorny bush. It was only then that this path was cleared of all bushes and the like. She said she would not leave me and go anywhere else. If she went anywhere, she was afraid that she might die there. She was particular that she should die in my arms. When Alamelu (Bhagavan’s younger sister) built a new house in their village near Manamadurai, she begged mother just to go over there and see the house. She said it was enough if she (mother) just set her foot in it. But she never went. She declined because she was afraid that in case she fell ill there, there might not be trains running properly at that time to bring her back here and in that case, she might not die in her son’s arms.

She used to say, ‘Even if you were to throw away my dead body in these thorny bushes I do not mind but I must end this life in your arms.’” As he was saying that, his voice began to falter through emotion. My eyes got moist. I said, “Renunciation should be as firm as that with everybody.” “Yes, yes!” he said and was silent.

Because she said, “Even if you were to throw away my body in these thorny bushes,” we now see that the place of her burial is adorned by a temple fit to be worshipped by kings and emperors.

to read the whole letter (a must!) please see: