Bhagavan mentioned earlier that spontaneous and uncontrollable weeping could occur in jnanis. He also sometimes said, as the following story by Devaraja Mudaliar reveals, that crying for God could be an effective sadhana:
… in the early days Bhagavan encouraged me whenever I was singing with deep feeling. He would have such a look on his face, with his radiant eyes directed towards me, that I would be held spellbound, and not infrequently, at some especially moving words in the songs, tears would come and I would be obliged to stop reciting for one or two minutes. Bhagavan told me that such weeping is good, quoting from Tiruvachakam, ‘By crying for You [God], one can get You’.
I recollect here that Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa once said, ‘If you will only cry for God with a tenth of the fervour with which you cry for your wife and children, you will see God in no time’. It was in connection with Mrs Eleanor Pauline Noye, an American devotee, that Bhagavan quoted to me the above line from Tiruvachakam. She had contributed an article on Bhagavan to The Golden Jubilee Souvenir published by the Asramam in 1946 in which she mentioned that, when after a stay of about two months with Bhagavan she had to return to America and was weeping inconsolably, Bhagavan was kind enough to assure her in so many words (a thing very unusual with him, from my fairly long contact with him) that she was not to grieve and that he would be with her wherever she might go. She writes in the Souvenir, 2nd edition, page 362, ‘Bhagavan said, “I will always be with you wherever you go”.’
It was a peculiarity with this devotee that she would often weep before Bhagavan when she was in the hall. Referring to this I told Bhagavan that Mrs Noye had captured Bhagavan by means of her tears. It was then that Bhagavan quoted the line from Tiruvachakam [given in the next quotation] and asked me if I did not know it. (My Recollections of Bhagavan Sri Ramana, pp. 49-50)
False am I; my heart too is false, and my love also is false.
Yet, bound by tainted karma,
I can win You by crying for You.
Honey! Nectar! Essence of the sugar cane!
Sweet Lord! Grant to me in grace, your devotee,
the path that leads to union with You! (‘Tirucatakam’, 9.10.)
In the summary of Manikkavachagar’s life that Bhagavan gave earlier, the final incident that was narrated was the disappearance of Siva. Bhagavan now describes what happened next:
Bhagavan: Fully convinced that He who had blessed him was no other than Iswara Himself, Manikkavachagar was stricken with unbearable grief and fell on the ground weeping and saying,
‘Oh, my Lord! Why did you go away leaving me here?’
The villagers were very much surprised at this and began a search for the person who was till then working in their village as a schoolteacher, but could not find him anywhere. Then they realised that it was the Lord’s leela. Some time later, Manikkavachagar got over his grief, decided to act according to the injunctions of Iswara, sent away his retinue to Madurai, spent all the gold with him on the temple and stayed there alone.
Hearing all that had happened, the king immediately sent an order to Manikkavachagar to return to Madurai. But how could he go to the king without the horses? If he wanted to purchase them then, where was the money? Not knowing what to do, he prayed to Lord Siva for help. That night Lord Siva appeared to him in a dream, gave him a priceless gem and said, ‘Give this to the king and tell him the horses will come on the day of the Moola star in the month of Sravana’.
Startled at that vision he opened his eyes but the Lord was not there. Manikkavachagar was however overjoyed at what had happened. He put on his official dress and went to Madurai. He gave the gem to the king, discussed the auspicious time when the horses would be arriving and then was anxiously waiting for the day. He did not however resume his official duties. Though his body was in Madurai, his mind was in Tirupperundurai. He was merely biding his time.
The Pandyan king, however, sent his spies to Perundurai and found out that there were no horses there meant for the king and that all the money meant for their purchase had been spent in the renovation of the temple. So he immediately put Manikkavachagar in prison, making him undergo all the trials and tribulations of jail life.
Meanwhile, as originally arranged, on the day of the Moola star, Iswara assumed the guise of a horseman, transformed the jackals of the jungle into horses, and brought them to the king. The king was astonished at this, took delivery of the horses and according to the advice of the keeper of the stables, had them tied up at the same place where all his other horses were kept. He thanked the horseman profusely, and after sending him away with several presents, released Manikkavachagar from jail with profuse apologies.
The same night the new horses changed into their real forms, killed all the horses in the stables, ate them, created similar havoc in the city, and fled. The king grew very angry, branded Manikkavachagar as a trickster and put him back in jail. Soon, in accordance with Iswara’s orders, the waters of the River Vaigai rose in floods and the whole of the city of Madurai was under water. Alarmed at that, the king assembled all the people and ordered them to raise the bunds of the river. For the purpose, he ordered that every citizen should do a certain amount of work with a threat of dire consequences should he fail to do his allotted work.
There was in Madurai an old woman by name Pittuvani Ammaiyar. She was a pious devotee of Lord Siva. She was living alone earning her livelihood by daily preparing and selling pittu [sweetened powdered rice pressed into conical shapes]. She had no one to do her allotted work on the river bund nor had she the money to hire a person to do it. She was therefore greatly worried and cried, ‘Iswara! What shall I do?’
Seeing her helplessness, Iswara came there in the guise of a cooly with a spade on his shoulder and called out, ‘Granny, granny, do you want a cooly?’
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘but I don’t have even a paise in my hand to pay you. What to do?’
He said, ‘I do not want any money and would be satisfied if you gave me some portion of pittu to eat. I shall then do the allotted work on the river bund.’
Pleased with that offer, she began making pittu but they did not come out in the full shape but were broken. Surprised at this she gave all the bits to the cooly. He ate as many of them as he could and went away, saying that he would attend to the bund-raising work. Surprisingly, the dough with the old woman remained intact [i.e. the same amount] even though she had prepared and given bits of the pittu to the cooly. The cooly went to the work spot but instead of doing the work, lay down there idly, standing in the way of others doing their work.
The king went round to inspect the progress of the work and found that the portion allotted to Ammaiyar remained unattended to. On enquiry, his servants told him all the pranks of that cooly.
The king got infuriated, called the cooly and said, ‘Instead of doing the allotted work, you are lying down and singing’.
So saying, he hit the cooly on the back with a cane he had in his hand. The blow recoiled not only on the king himself but on all living beings there and all of them suffered the pain on that account. The king immediately realised that the person hit by him was Parameswara himself in the guise of a cooly. The king stood aghast.
Parameswara vanished and soon a voice from the sky said, ‘O King! Manikkavachagar is my beloved devotee. I myself did all this to show you his greatness. Seek his protection.’
Soon after hearing that voice, the king went to see Manikkavachagar and on the way he stepped into the house of Pittuvani to see her. By that time she had already got into a vimanam [a heavenly chariot] and was on her way to Kailash. The king was greatly surprised and saluted her and from there he went straight to Manikkavachagar and fell at his feet. Manikkavachagar lifted him with great respect, and enquired of his welfare.
The king entreatingly said, ‘Please forgive me and rule this kingdom yourself’.
Manikkavachagar, looking at the king, said with kindness, ‘Appah! [a term of endearment]. As I have already agreed to serve the Lord, I cannot be bothered with the problems of ruling a kingdom. Please do not mistake me. Rule the kingdom, looking after the welfare of the people. Henceforth you will have nothing to worry about.’ So saying, with a smile, he put on the dress of a sannyasin, and went about visiting holy places, singing the praises of Siva. (Letters from and Recollections of Sri Ramanasramam, by Suri Nagamma, pp. 7-10)