Roda McIver, a Parsi from Bombay
I first heard about Bhagavan in 1940 from Mrs Taleyarkhan, a well-known devotee. She gave me some books and photos and told me that the Maharshi was a very great man. I could not understand the books but I was strongly moved by the photos. I felt an urge to go and see the Maharshi and as time passed the urge became stronger and stronger. There was no specific reason for this urge; my position in Bombay was good, both financially and socially, but somehow I was not satisfied. I felt restless, eager to break off, and anxious to move on. And I did so in 1942.
At the time I arrived in the ashram, the Maharshi had gone up the hill. I was told to wait on the footpath for his return. I was expecting to see a man walking down the hill, but when the Maharshi finally appeared, I couldn’t believe that I was watching a glorious sunrise unfold; a distant glimmering of light that, as it approached, became more and more radiant until the blazing sun itself was standing next to me. I was overawed and humbled by this display of utter magnificence. Standing in the glow of that radiant presence, something shifted inside me, some new awareness manifested that I had never had before. I was caught by him and his love, and in that moment my soul became his.
During the next two years I was visiting the ashram regularly. One day in 1944 when I went into the hall, Bhagavan was reading some papers. I sat down and looked at him. Suddenly he put away the papers and turned his luminous eyes on me. I could not stand the gaze, so I closed my eyes, tears streaming down my face. When I opened my eyes, he was still looking at me. My heart got flooded with joy and inner calmness!
Next morning, when I was in the hall someone asked Bhagavan what was the use of sitting before him if he doesn’t give initiation. Bhagavan replied that initiation can be given in three ways: by silence, by look, and by touch. When saying ‘by look,’ he looked at me. Then I had no doubt that I had received initiation from Bhagavan, my most revered Master!
After a month’s stay, after I had returned to Bombay, there was a complete change in my life. Worldly pleasures ceased to attract me, and I wanted to be alone as much as possible. I decided to leave Bombay and settle down at Tiruvannamalai, but I did not know where to stay. But I knew Bhagavan was guiding me and so I didn’t not worry much. And it so happened that two days before leaving Bombay I met my husband to be. He told me to go and stay in his house in Tiruvannamalai, and so I left happily. Soon after, with Bhagavan’s blessings, we got married at Sri Ramanasramam. Bhagavan showed visible interest in the proceedings.
From the beginning I had a strong desire to touch Bhagavan’s feet, but I knew this was not allowed by his attendants. I confided this desire to Mrs Taleyarkhan, thinking she would keep it a secret. But in the hall, in front of everyone, she told Bhagavan, ‘Roda has a strong desire to touch your feet’. I was so embarrassed. Bhagavan said nothing at the time, but after lunch that day he stopped near me, said something in Tamil to a nearby devotee ad asked him to translate it for me.
The devotee said, ‘Bhagavan says, why should she want to touch my feet? My feet are always on her head.’
I was overwhelmed with joy. Everyone around me congratulated me on my good fortune on getting a blessing like this. People who had been with Bhagavan for years and years said they had never heard him make a remark like this to anyone else.
One day I was feeling some mental agony while sitting in front of Sri Bhagavan. He took out an unburned charcoal from the urn and said, ‘Do not burn your mind. Keep your mind as fresh and clean as this coal.’ From that time onward I gave up worrying over any problem.
One day two visitors came to Bhagavan. One of them addressing Bhagavan said, ‘My friend has taken as his guru a man who is not even a sadhu. To show him what a sadguru should be, I have brought him here.’
Bhagavan replied sternly, ‘Who are you to say who is the right guru for him? By what power can you make out what a man really is? In fact, the guru I not as important as the disciple himself. If one worships with utmost devotion, even a stone would become the Supreme Lord.’