The middle of the day at Ramanasramam is usually a time with fewer visitors, where there is the ability to sit and just be quiet. I think many South Indian temples follow the ancient schedule where they are basically closed from noon to 4 PM. At Ramanasramam, after lunch at 11:30, there is nothing scheduled until 4 PM. At the ashram during these hours usually a serene hush falls over the grounds, and many of the people who remain sit in silent meditation.
The photos in this post were taken from 3 PM to 5 PM, in early August, 2009. This is the third part in a series of posts covering the day at Ramanasramam in some detail. The intent of this series is to give someone who is not familiar with Ramanasramam a good sense of what the place is like, and to give someone who is familiar with Ramanasramam a chance to remember and reflect on their experience at Ramanasramam, and to plunge back into it.
The first two posts were:
The grounds are almost empty at 3 PM. Just a few people sitting outside of the New Hall.
The bookstore opens at 2 PM. Just a few people are in it.
The peacock has room to strut.
You can see on the schedule that there is a big break in between Poor Feeding at 11 and the Reading from Sri Bhagavan works at 4.
The main walkway is empty. Arunachala is silent, behind it all.
Below is pictured the samadhi of the first manager of Ramanasramam, Chinnaswami, who became the sarvadhikari of the Ashram
in 1930. Chinnaswami was Sri Bhagavan’s younger brother, and joined Ramana in the Skandanasram days.
Chinnaswami’s son, Venkataraman, who became sarvadhikari in the 1950s, has his samadhi next to that of his father.
Below, the Mahanirvana room where Bhagavan left the body on 14th April 1950. A Western devotee is touching the flowers laid out in front of the room.
Here are the flowers this day. They are changed each day, with a new design.
The sign above the door.
Another devotee stops and pays his respects at the Mahanirvana room.
The entrance to Ramana’s Samadhi Hall.
Inside the New Hall. This was opened in 1948, at the time the Mother’s shrine (Sri Mathrubhuteshwara Temple) opened. At this time of day, the gates are locked and the Mother’s shrine cannot be entered.
Here is the New Hall with the stone couch built for Sri Bhagavan’s use. He seemed not to like the new hall and the stone couch. Devotees piled cushions on it to make Bhagavan more comfortable. I don’t think he liked all the cushions and attention either.
Here a murti of Ramana sits, motionless and silent.
The Ramana Samadhi Hall is also nearly empty.
In a corner sits a man, meditating.
A few people walk pradakshina around Sri Ramana’s samadhi.
Some sit by the wall. Again, most are meditating.
The Old Hall is also silent. More people are here than anywhere else, maybe ten are sitting at the moment.
At 4 PM the big event during this period happens, Tea Time!
People queue up inside the old dining hall. Take two of the metal cups if you want to cool your tea before drinking.
People sit and take tea. This is a regular daily event for many here, and many sit with the same groups each day.
Also at 4 PM starts the afternoon reading. This is done in the front of the Samadhi Hall.
About a dozen people listen to readings of works by or about Ramana.
V.S. Ramanan, Sundaram, the ashram president, usually does the reading. Sometimes he will talk about his own memories of the days with Sri Bhagavan.
Many know what book is being read from today and will read along.
Some people like this time of day at the ashram the best, since it is so peaceful, serene and quiet. This is also true of 5 AM, and after dinner at 8 PM.