‘GRANDPA’ YOGI RAMSURATKUMAR
Smt. Nivedita R
[Smt. Nivedita R is the daughter of Sadhu Prof. V. Rangarajan, the direct disciple of H.H. Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Immediately after her post graduation and prior to her marriage, she had the opportunity to stay for some days in ‘Sudhama’, serving the great Yogi and Ma Devaki. In this brief article which she has written on a specific request from an American devotee who is writing a biography of the Master, she narrates her experiences during her stay at ‘Sudhama’.
The house, “Sudhama”, is opposite to Ramanashram, in the road parallel to the main road, facing the Arunachala Mountain.
The Verandah of the house was the Darshan Hall. Everyday Yogiji used to sit here and give darshan to public. (My father has a photo of Yogiji in this room, where Yogiji blesses me before my marriage, when we showed Him the jewels and the sarees.)
I was indeed very fortunate and blessed to stay at Sudhama. I do not remember the duration and the exact dates of my stay there. I stayed with the Sudhama sisters (Ma Devaki, Prof. Rajalakshmi and her elder sister) and Mrs. Prabhavathi Sundararaman. I remember a New Year day, when soon after getting up, we went and took the blessings of Yogiji and attended a special congregation arranged at a marriage hall by Yogi Ramsuratkumar Youth Association. (There is a video cassette of the two-day event with my father). Though the activity was mainly chanting of Ramnam, Yogiji had asked a few of us to address the public. My father, Ma Devaki, my brother Vivekanandan and I had spoken on that day.
I remember another day when a number of devotees had come from Kanyakumari. Yogiji met them in the choultry (lodge) where they were staying and spent the day with them. Apart from these two events, during my stay, Yogiji did not come out of Sudhama.
At Sudhama, Yogiji used to spend most of his time in His room. We would sit facing Him. As far as I remember, most of the time He used to be in a jovial mood. I could feel the difference between sitting in the verandah for public darshan and sitting with Him in His room. In the Darshan Hall, mostly He would seem to be serious and in deep thoughts. In His room, He was like a member of the family, laughing and talking to us.
There is a specific incident that I would cherish in my life. Smt. Prabha’s son, Vasu, had come. Vasu and myself were sitting with Yogiji. It was dinnertime and Chappatti’s were being prepared for Yogiji. There were plates in front of the three of us. As soon as the Chappattis were served, Yogiji started feeding us (i.e., gave us, piece by piece, alternatively) and again asked for more Chappattis. That too, he started making sounds with the plate, like a child, to ask for more. He kept laughing at us and was blessing us all along. Though he could see the kitchen from His place, He did not wait for the next Chappatti to be prepared and kept asking for more. Seeing this, Ma Devaki came to us and asked us to say that we were full, as Yogiji was not having anything and He was giving everything to us.
Another incident was where I, along with Ma Devaki, was playing with Him. We would clap our hands and then clap with our right hand and Yogiji’s left hand and then with our left hand and Yogiji’s right hand. It is a form of a dance. But we were simply sitting and playing this way with Yogiji.
Unless He was taking rest, we used to sit with Him in His room. Sometimes, he would be talking to us. Many a times, the Sudhama Sisters (Rajalakshmi, in particular) would sing for him. Among the songs that we used to sing often for Him, at that point of time, there were 2 specific ones. The first was a song sung by the sisters, Lakshmi and Saraswathi, when they came to have His darshan. It was a very simple Tamil song, set to a melodious tune (of one of the old movie songs). The meaning of the first stanza was “The person born in a place near Kashi; the person who will wipe out the sorrows and protect us; let’s chant His name, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, every day and attain happiness”. The other one that we used to repeat often was from a thin booklet, presented to Yogiji, by Bhavatharini Amma of Chennai. I think it was something like 108 names of Yogiji in Sanskrit written by a scholar from Chennai.
There will be visitors mainly during the Darshan time, which I think, was like the usual 2 hours in the morning and in the evening. At other times, there would not be usually any visitor. Sri Sundararaman used to come. Sri Jayaraman had come. That was the time when his wife had given birth to their third (if I am not wrong) child. She had written to Yogiji, from her mother’s place, where she had delivered, expressing her desire to come and stay with Him at Sudhama.
Once, Yogiji was not feeling well. I accompanied Ma Devaki to the Phone booth in the main road to call up Dr. T.I. Radhakrishnan of Kerala. He came that week and spent the day with Yogiji. Before taking leave of Yogiji, the doctor sought His blessings for those who had come with him. Then his friends came in and took Yogiji blessings.
Once, Yogiji was walking for exercising in the verandah. He held the right hand of Ma Devaki in His left hand and walked from one end to the other. Then he caught the left hand of Ma Devaki in His right hand and walked the way back. He kept on walking this way, as if he was practising for a march past. He was walking, like a child, enjoying and laughing all along.
There was a maid servant, a girl (I think, named Selvi) working at Sudhama. Every day, before leaving for the day, she would receive the blessings of Yogiji. There would be heaps of fruits, given by the devotees. Every day, a few of the fruits would be given to her. She used to say that with this daily quota of fruits, even they were not able to finish all the fruits in her house. All the fruits offered by the devotees would be distributed to all the devotees who came for His Darshan.
Sundararaman’s son –Vasu’s marriage had been finalized, at that time, with another devotee’s daughter. Vasu used to come to Sudhama, on holidays, since his mother was also there. He used to mimic Yogiji. He would speak like Yogiji and show us how He would walk. I had enjoyed that with the Sudhama Sisters. At Sudhama, we would either be with Yogiji or we would be talking about him or be doing something for him. There was nothing else to be discussed or thought. Ma Devaki used to collect even His hairs that fell down.
Yogiji used to have a very simple diet, primarily prepared by Smt. Prabha. Prabha Maami (meaning aunty, this is how we call her), used to bring food for Yogiji when He was at the Sannadhi Street house. She started staying in Sudhama, mainly to cook food for Yogiji, when He moved to Sudhama. When Ma Devaki spoke about Prabha Maami in the meeting, she mentioned how this lady used to maintain a list of the items prepared for Yogiji everyday. She was doing this so that she could offer a variety of dishes to Yogiji.
Yogiji used to drink the water in which dried gooseberries were soaked. Sometimes He used to smoke, (but not often), in His room. Ma Devaki would read out the letters to Him. The letters from Mr. Lee Lozowick would be given to me, after being read out to Yogiji, to be passed on to my father, for publication.
Yogiji would take short naps. Ma Devaki stayed in His room. She would be talking to him, or reading out something, in the night, when He was not sleeping. I used to sleep along with the Sudhama Sisters and Prabha Maami in the Hall adjacent to the verandah. We would receive his blessings before going to sleep. And after waking up the next day, we would go back to Him for his blessings.
As I was the youngest, I used to run around (not walk) inside the house. Whenever they need anything, I would go and get it. During Darshan Time, whenever I used to come back and take my seat in Yogiji’s presence, I used to prostrate before sitting. He would smile at me and bless me. Though there was so much of chanting of Yogiji’s name and Ramnam, that He would ask us to do in His presence, to me, it was more like spending the holidays at my grand father’s house.
[TATTVA DARSANA, April 2003, Vol.20, No.2]