Face to Face – Mrs. and Prof. Syed M. Hafiz
Face to Face with Ramana Maharshi
Prof. Syed M. Hafiz, M.A., Ph.D., D.Litt., was Head, Dept. of Philosophy, Allahabad University.
Unlike all the saints, sages and prophets, the Maharshi is the only sage who has realized the Truth Eternal that keeps the flame of spiritual wisdom alive. He is the perennial source of inspiration to the earnest aspirant on the path of spiritual development. Without him the world would not have had the light of the spirit to dispel the darkness of material existence. Sri Ramana embodies in him the Truth that is beyond time and space. He stands supreme in the realm of spiritual attainment and is the true benefactor of the whole of the human race. In him we see that glorious realisation which at once includes and transcends all religions. His teachings give the clearest expression to that one – inexpressible, universal, spiritual experience, seeking which every earnest aspirant treads the path of inward spiritual development.
The Maharshi never dogmatised, he never sermonized, never gave any mantra, or expected people to follow any set mode of worship. What the Maharshi does for us cannot be conveyed by word of mouth. His invisible gaze, silently, unobstrusively transforms the lives of the men and women who, by virtue of their past good deeds, are gathered around him, waiting for his benign attention and paternal guidance. All his great work for the improvement and betterment of mankind is done invisibly and silently. His silence is more eloquent, more effective, more far- reaching than the sermons of any number of teachers put together. His grace is ever ready for us. All that we have to do is to qualify ourselves by our self-effort and self-purification to make ourselves worthy of his attention.
In March 1935, I read A Search in Secret India by Paul Brunton, and visited the Ashram in December of that year. I visited the Maharshi again in 1936. The year 1937 was the most momentous in my life. I had to stay in one of the rooms of the Ashram for over a month due to my serious illness. It was during those days that I realized vividly his greatness as a divine master endowed with all spiritual and human qualities. While I was lying ill with high fever the Maharshi was considerate enough to visit me three times and prepare upma for me with his own hands.
My eyesight was affected by high fever. When parting from him I took hold of his toes and touched my eyes with them. That was sufficient guarantee of the fact in my heart that my eyesight would not fail me. So it has not. I shall never forget his grace that he gave me during my serious illness. I had no idea of what it was till I returned to my place in North India and felt its purifying effect on my life. From 1943 onwards, I never missed a year when I did not visit him. His sense of humanity was as great as his sense of spirituality. The mere sight or tale of human suffering touched his heart.
All he expected of us was to closely and critically analyse the content of our own being, to discover what we really were, to see if there was anything in us which survived the decay of our bodily frame. His words went straight into our heart because he lived what he taught.
Contact with Ramana Maharshi can change our outlook and convince us not only of the reality but also of the immense utility of spiritual values. He does not believe in propaganda of any kind, nor does he lecture to any of his numerous admirers and devotees. Most of the time he sits silently transforming the hearts and minds of those who are privileged to be near him. By the living example of his intensely methodical and practical life he helps and reforms us. His plain, simple and unsophisticated philosophy vividly reflected in his day-do-day conduct serves as a key to unlock the mystery of life and solves in a practical way some of the complicated social, political and economic problems that confront us today.
He enjoins on us that there is only One Self, One Life which is vibrant in every atom, One Light which is vibrant in every creature, One Love that embraces all in Oneness. According to Sri Ramana, unless you realise purity and goodness in yourself, you cannot do anything really good to ‘others’.
The Sage of Arunachala is really a spiritual scientist, who has adopted the scientific method of approach to Truth by investigating the realm of the Unknown with the aid of his intuitive genius, which has assimilated reason. He has attained self-realization through his own self- effort and intensive introspection. He is the greatest of modern Sages of India.
1. For an interesting episode of Prof. Syed’s wife being insistent about Sri Ramana to have dinner at her place, refer pp.181-2.
Prof. Syed [No.23] and his wife were great devotees of Bhagavan. They used to stay in a rented house outside the Ashram. One day Mrs. Syed felt a strong desire to invite Bhagavan to their house for food. When he told Bhagavan about his wife’s desire, he merely smiled and kept quiet. One day, while Bhagavan was going up the hill, the couple stood before him and Prof. Syed told him her desire. Bhagavan just laughed and went up the hill.
The professor’s wife sat in meditation throughout the night. During the early hours of the morning she must have dozed, for Bhagavan appeared to her in a dream or vision and told her, “People from all over the world are coming here to see me and be with me. I have to attend to them and their food. How can I leave the Ashram and come to your house for food? Do this. Feed three of my devotees, and that would be the same as feeding me.” So said Bhagavan in her dream.
In her vision she saw three devotees. They were: Dr. G. S. Melkote, Swami Prabhuddhananda, and myself, Krishna Bhikshu. She gave full details of her vision to Prof. Syed, who promptly invited all the three for food to his house. Although we were delighted to represent Bhagavan at the feast, we were anxious because this would be a serious breach of Ashram convention.
We decided to go saying, “Well, Bhagavan will attend to the risks.”
The next day, when the bell for dinner was rung, we three went before Bhagavan and bowed. Bhagavan did not ask us the reason. He merely looked at us. Instead of going to the dining hall with the others, we marched out of the Ashram, passing before the Sarvadhikari, the Ashram manager, who, wonder of wonders, did not ask us why we were going out without eating any food.
The professor’s wife had lovingly prepared various dishes, suitable for the three of us.
When we returned to the Ashram, we were astonished that no body had enquired why we had not been present in the dining hall, or where we had gone. How wonderfully does Bhagavan protect all His sincere devotees!
Such was the narrative that Sri Krishna Bhikshu gave about his experiences with Ramana Maharshi relating to Prof. Syed Hafiz and his wife.