Memories from Tiruvannamalai 2018

By Padmini Ravikumar, Dubai

We had planned a surprise visit to see our mother for her 80th birthday. Her birthday was on Oct 16th, but my other siblings wanted to celebrate it on Oct 3rd, according to the Hindu calendar, in Mumbai.  Here I was wondering how to take time to be in Mumbai and then at Tiruvannamalai for Mohanji’s retreat, which was from Oct 7th to 10th, 2018. I had enough responsibilities at home, so to take this time to be in Mumbai and Tiruvannamalai would be next to impossible.

The idea of going for the retreat came up one day in my puja room, as I was setting my altar at home after our move from Singapore to Dubai.  I had just kept Mohanji’s big framed picture in the altar and picked up a small picture of Ramana Maharishi to be inserted into the corner of the framed picture. That’s when a flash came; maybe I should make a trip to Sri Ramana Ashram, or join the retreat so that I would meet the Master there.

The discussions of the birthday went back and forth and finally, the venue was fixed to be Chennai. I was ecstatic; I thought my retreat would happen.  I called the organisers for the dates and agenda of the Tiruvannamalai trip, as I wanted both amma (mother) and myself doing the retreat. I soon realised that an active retreat was not possible with amma; as the group had plans for outer Girivalam (circumambulation), inner Girivalam, etc. With a heavy heart, I decided not to sign up for the retreat but decided if we got accommodations at Sri Ramana Ashram, I would take amma and go stay for 3 days at the Ashram from Oct 7th to 9th.  I would probably have Mohanji’s darshan if he saw fit. At this point, the dates for the open satsang hadn’t come out, as all were in Badrinath with Mohanji. Accepting whatever comes as his grace, which included his darshan, plans for Sri Ramana Ashram stay was worked out with a prayer to him.

Within a day, our accommodations and transport from Chennai to the Ashram was finalised.  This was definitely grace at play. I was soon in Chennai, and on Oct 3rd, amma’s 80th birthday went off well. On Oct 5th, there was a weather forecast of a cyclone ripping through Chennai on Oct 6th night and 7th morning. There was a red alert given; schools and colleges were shut down, and people were asked to stock up with all essentials. The floods of Dec 2015 had unnerved us a lot, as we had lost our dad due to the floods. So, we got ready for the event by stocking up.

Deep in my heart was a fervent prayer, O Baba, will our trip to Sri Ramana Ashram come to naught? Intense prayer and talking to Mohanji mentally happened; also with the understanding that HE knows all, if it has to happen it will. Whatever happens, will happen according to his will. Holding on to his Gayatri, I surrendered.

Oct 6th came by, but nothing happened. No rain, nothing! So that day we went to see a Siddha (saint) at his ashram in Kelambakkam. It was a lovely day spent in satsang and in his presence and blessings. That night too, there was no sign of rain, the cyclone had moved on. So on Oct 7th at 7 am, in the car sent by Sri Ramana Ashram, amma and I left for Tiruvannamalai. Due to all the warnings of rains and floods, there was no traffic and we reached there in less than 3.5 hrs without any issues.

We arrived at the Ashram and went to the Samadhi of Maharishi; the serenity of the Ashram, the presence of Bhagwan, the sight of Arunachala and the joy of being there was the ultimate high. The Ashram provided us with lovely accommodations across the road and as the driver turned into the road, what do I see? A huge billboard advertising an open satsang by Mohanji at the Sparsa Resort. He was there before I had reached the accommodation! Like Sai who says in his Satcharitra to Shama, I will be there before you in Gaya. My joy knew no bounds.

Our plans for the 7th were to visit the Ashram, have lunch, rest, and visit the Ashtalingams (8 Shiva Lingams) from 3:30 pm onwards. Every Lingam visit was filled with high energy and strong vibrations.  I kept looking out of the auto-rickshaw, checking if Mohanji’s group was doing their outer Girivalam and I could have a darshan of the Master.  No such luck. The next morning, we visited the main Annamalai temple and wanted to visit Yogi Ram Surat Kumar’s ashram. After the temple visit, there was a sudden change in our plan, and we headed back to Sri Ramana Ashram.

Temple
Annamaliyar Temple at Thiruvannamalai

As I was helping amma up the Ashram steps, I saw Preeti sitting there. The minute she saw me, she pointed to the Ashram book shop, grinning away to glory. My heart was beating crazily, and without hurrying amma, I somehow reached the bookshop to see Mohanji talking to someone.  As my heart did a little jig, my eyes started tearing at the Master’s unexpected darshan at the Ashram. No sooner Mohanji turned to look at us, I literally flew, fell at his feet and into his arms sobbing away not knowing why. The tears just flowed. He spoke to amma and me lovingly. I was just lost in bliss. He held amma by her hands and spoke to her in Tamil saying we will meet tomorrow.  The group then left with Mohanji to Seshadri Swamigal’s ashram next door, but we couldn’t go as I wasn’t sure if amma would be able to keep pace.

This whole darshan was so unexpected that it sends raptures down my spine every time I think about it. The satsang that evening was so blissful and Mohanji spoke so powerfully about what to ask Ramana Maharishi at the Samadhi. I felt it was just for me. He said, “Ask Maharishi for his state of inner stillness.” That stayed with me. Even on certain days when the going is tough, his words suddenly reverberate in my head – Inner stillness.

mother
Satsang with Mohanji

Yes, I couldn’t join the retreat; yes, I couldn’t do the inner Girivalam or outer Girivalam, but the chance meeting and the satsang with Mohanji was nectar to this parched jiva (soul).

The whole trip to  Chennai and Tiruvannamalai, the cyclone which changed course, traffic-free roads, awesome darshan of 8 Lingams, no complaints from my 80-year-old mother about food, tiredness or knee pain, the blissful satsang, and his loving hugs, time at Maharishi’s Samadhi, what more could I ask for! A perfect retreat indeed, all possible due to his grace and blessings!

Master

|| JAI BRAHMARISHI MOHANJI||

Compiled, Edited & Published by – Testimonials Team, 31st January 2020

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