Fifty Ninth Aradhana of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

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Ramana Aradhana Day is a celebration of Ramana Maharshi’s mahasamadhi. This momentous day was April 14, 1950. Tens of thousands of people were there that day, trying to get one last darshan (glance) of Sri Ramana. The crowd included photographers from Life and Saturday Evening Post magazines. At the time of Ramana’s passing out of the body, there was a white light (a meteor ?), seen by hundreds of thousands of people all over India. Because of two western photographers, one of whom was Henri Cartier Bresson, were there to report on this, the story was picked up in US publications. Ramana’s grand nephew, V. Ganesan, remembers seeing the light. He laughs as he recalls his experience: Since the only source of white light he had ever seen was the flashes of the cameras, he thought it must be some kind of photo flash. 

This year (2009) the event was celebrated on April 22. This post shows some of the activities at Sri Ramanasramam on this day.

We arrive mid morning. The biggest event of the day, the special puja, was nearing completion. Soon lunch would be served to all attending. 

Special awnings are placed around the grounds, so that the big crowd expected for the day will not have to stand in the hot summer sun.

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Outside the Ramana shrine, a large group waits, looking into the shrine.

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Inside the shrine, so many people are gathered that gates have been closed to prevent dangerous crowding.

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The final arati (flame) is offered to Ramana’s samadhi amidst the clanging of bells. Everyone offers pranams to Sri Ramana. Then musicians play, and the hall is opened up so that people can enter.

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There is such a crush of people in the hall!

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Most people head to the left, to do pradakshina of Sri Ramana’s samadhi. They probably know that a queue will form at the end of this route around Ramana’s samadhi, and they will be admitted to the dining halls first.

Below is a photo of the president of the Ashram, Sri V.S. Ramanan, “Sundaram,” Sri  Ramana’s grand nephew, one of three brothers, all deeply involved with Sri Ramana and Ramanasramam. He is standing in a sea of devotees. The highly decorated samadhi stands behind him.

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The crush of people walking around the samadhi is amazing. Part of this is due to the puja milk that is being distributed by the priests to those walking by with outstretched hands. After this the crowd is not so dense for a few feet, until we round the back of the shrine, and turn right again towards the door.

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Here is another picture of the samadhi.

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Ramana’s statue, at the backside of the samadhi.

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Again, the crush of people is amazing. Movement has stopped. I think they are starting to let people into the feeding areas. 

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Movement has started again, and I have one last moment for another snap of Ramana’s samadhi.

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The temporary dining hall is filled up just before we get there, so we are directed into the main dining hall. It, as well as the old dining hall, are all filled to capacity. And this is just the first feeding. Ramanasramam expects so many people today that they have added 150 people to the kitchen and serving staff for the day.

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When we sit, a smiling man passes by, filling our water cups.

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People sit in nicely formed lines behind banana leaf plates and their water cups and wait for the meal. Ramanasramam takes this feeding of visitors very importantly. This is something that Ramana always did, and it is of highest importance to them to keep this going.

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Giant pans of food are brought into the dining hall. The food is then put into stainless steel buckets for serving.

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There is a serving line of about five people walking down the rows of seated devotees. Each serves a different course.

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When eating such a meal, one should eat in Indian fashion, quickly without much conversation. You then walk out, and give the next group a chance to eat.

I walked into the temporary dining hall. The next group of devotees is filing into the temporary hall, 

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to take their places for the special dinner.

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More people file into the dining hall.

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Before we left, we went into the New Hall. On the floor were the most elaborate kolams (usually made of rice flower, but sometimes painted in) on the floor that I  have ever seen.

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We make one  last stop at Ramana’s samadhi to pay our respects before we leave. Again, what a beautiful job of decorating was done during the puja.

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Later, a dance performance was put on by Ramana Nitya Kalaranga, a dance group from Ramana Centre for Learning in Bangalore (RMCL).  This group is run by Dr Sarada. Dr Sarada has created a number of Ramana Maharshi ballets, and these is performed in locations throughout India. Today they brought them to Ramanasramam for this special holy day. No funds are provided for this by the ashram. All costs are donated by RMCL. Housing and meals are provided by Ramanasramam.

Dr. Sarada is the daughter of the founder of RMCL, A.R. Natarajan. Natarajan was an important supporter of Ramanasramam in the early days after Sri Ramana’s mahasamadhi. In these days almost all devotees and supporters had left, and there were just a few of the most ardent devotees remaining. By 1960, ten years later, there were only ten devotees left. Some say that the support given by Natarajan was crucial in the survival of Ramanasramam.

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2 Responses to “Fifty Ninth Aradhana of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi”

  1. prasanthjvrs Says:

    thanks a lot Richard.

    You are doing amazing work.

    Thanks
    A devotee of Ramana Maharshi
    http://prashantaboutindia.blogspot.com

  2. drpvssnraju Says:

    For those who were not there physically during the function your photographs are creating a feeling that we are also with Bhagawan.

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