Monday, April 12, 2010

The Temple of Wisdom

In 1870, Ramalinga Swami moved into a small hut in the hamlet of Mettukuppam, about three miles south of Vadalur. This hut has been preserved to this day and is known as "Siddhi Valaga Thirumaligai", "the sacred mansion of the miracle". In 1871, he requested his disciples to construct "a temple of wisdom" designed by him. They did it within six months. It was inaugurated on January 25, 1872, and is still standing to this day. It has a unique design which in its form explains symbolically the process of Self realization as experi¬enced by Ramalinga. Seven curtains representing human passion and ignorance conceal an eternal light and various inner spaces within. These curtains conceal successively: "the individual", "life itself', the "space of reality", the "space of the Lord Supreme", and various spiritual experiences. Beyond all these curtains stand a glass box, five feet high, representing the purity of the soul, and within it there burns an eternal flame, which represents the soul in its true splendor, merged with Supreme Grace light (Arul perunjyoti).

Ramalinga issued instructions to his disciples that except for the burning of camphor, no ritual be performed. Devotees should pray silently, filled with love for God, and enter into ecstasy.

"Into all the bodies of His creation..."

From the time of the laying of the foundation of the temple, Ramalinga Swami would alternate between periods of several days of seclusion in his hermitage and periods when he would give thrilling lectures on universal spiritual communion. Towards the end of 1873 he hoisted his Sanmarga flag as a token of achievement of the Supreme Grace Light. He entreated his listeners to meditate upon the Lord of Light seated in one's heart and to pray to the Supreme Grace Light. Towards the end of 1873, he placed outside the door of his room the oil lamp which he had been using inside. He asked his disciples to worship it and to keep it burning forever. He asked them to imagine the Supreme Grace Light manifested in it and to pray to Him for Grace.
But when his spiritual mission did not take as deep a root as it perhaps should have, Ramalinga expressed sorrow, saying:

"We disclosed the treasure. but no one was willing to have it. We close down. "
Earlier he remarked:

" You. my dear ones. you seem to have decided not to hear me. You may not hear me now. There are some enlightened persons in the far north. They will be coming over here. They will learn this philosophy and preach unto you. Then perhaps you may listen." Madame H.P. Blavatsky, co founder of the Theosophical Society, which led the western world's revival in interest in spirituality and esoteric studies in modern times, with international headquarters in Madras, declared that Ramalinga Swamigal was the forerunner of their movement. (July, 1882 edition of the Theosophist).

Forty years later Sri Aurobindo settled in nearby Pondicherry. Parallels between his experiences and those of Ramalinga are discussed in the next chapter.
After seeing that the masses did not hood his message, Ramalinga appealed to God:
"Oh Lord of Life. What is the use of repeating my humble desires when you know my mind? When will all the world, realizing the universal spiritual communion, enjoy eternal happiness devoid of miseries and death? When shall I. on seeing their joy, be happy?" (Canto 2, chapter 23, verse 10)

On the auspicious day of January 30, 1874, at the age of 50, Ramalinga wrote and released to his devotees the following statement:

"My beloved ones!" I have to be out of your sight for a time. Do not worry. Keep the Light of the lamp (Gnana Deepam) burning forever. Imagine that god is there and worship the light. You will be amply rewarded. I am in this body now and after awhile I shall enter into all the bodies of his creation. Close the door and lock it outside. The room, if ordered to be opened, will only be void. "

Ramalinga then shut himself up in his room in the Mettukuppam hut. Later that night, as the devotees outside the room were chanting "Arulperunjyoti. Arulperunjyoti. Tanniperunkarunai. Arulperun jyoti" (Supreme Grace Light, Supreme Grace Light, pour down upon us, Supreme Grace Light) suddenly a flash of violet light emanated from Ramalinga's room, signaling the merger of Ramalinga "into all the bodies of His creation". For, when the room was eventually opened it was found to be empty. Ramalinga had disappeared without a trace.

Upon receipt of a police report a few days later, the chief British administrative officer of South Arcot District, the Collector, a Mr. J.H. Garstin, of the Indian Colonial Service, ICS and Mr. George Banbury, ICS, the District Medical Officer, with the Tashildar, the chief of the local "Taluk" or sub district, Mr. Venkataraman lyer, rode quickly on horseback to Metukuppam to investigate the disappearance. They conducted an elaborate inquiry. All of the villagers were overcome with emotion, so great was their sorrow. The officers went around the hut carefully examining the entire area. Finding no evidence which would support any suspicion to the contrary, they concluded that Ramalinga was indeed a great soul who had vanished into thin air. The Collector enquired from the disciples what the Swan ii had asked them to do. They told him that he had instructed them to food the poor. Both British Officers gave twenty rupees for this purpose to the disciples and rode back to Cuddalore.

In 1878, the Manual of South Arcot District was published. In it, the Collector, Mr. J.H. Garstin, described the disappearance of Ramalinga Swami. He stated that "in 1874, Ramalinga Swami entered into a room at Mettukuppam and asked his devotees to lock it outside. He did not come out at all. His disciples believe that he has merged with God."

His passing reminds one of the way in which the four great Saivite saints of Tamil Nadu, the "Nayanars", left the physical plane. None of them dropped their bodies on earth nor was buried or burnt. They vanished into the other or into the Lord Divine. Tirugnanasambandar vanished into the divine light which appeared at the time of his marriage. Appar merged physically with the Absolute form of the Lord at Pugalur. Sundardr merged with Lord Shiva at Mount Kailas and Manickavasagar merged with the idol of Nataraja, the Cosmic Dancer, in the sanctam sanctorum of the Chidambaram temple (Sokkizhaar, 1985). Unlike them, however, Ramalinga did not keep deathlessness a secret. He proclaimed it openly and invited everyone to share in its Joy and Supreme Grace Light.

source: Babaji and the 18 Siddha Kriya Yoga Tradition


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