The lives of genuine spiritual masters stand as teachings in themselves. Life lived in transparency to the truth of being is an expression of grace. As such, the actions, interactions, communications etc. of great teachers like Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi can inspire and guide us.
Bhagavan Sri Ramana’s life is exactly such a life. He treated all beings as equals and constantly, gently pointed out the contradictions in the behaviours of his students. For instance, whenever his students treated animals as less than humans he would show them through actions or gentle words that their actions did not match their aspirations.
Bhagavan Ramana, Lover of All Life
Bhagavan Ramana was a well known lover of all life.
He loved people. He taught and shared his message of self inquiry until the moment of his death. Also, he insisted that anyone who came to the ashram would be fed. He would, for example, wait until everyone else had eaten before taking food for himself.
Perhaps as much or more so, he loved animals.
There are countless stories of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi’s love for the animal kingdom. There is infact a book called ‘Bhagavan Ramana: The Friend of All Creation’. This book is exclusive about Sri Ramana’s relationship with animals.
Monkeys and Mangoes
Suri Nagamma writes in one of her letters about how the monkeys take only what they need.
This morning at 10 ‘O clock Dr. Ananthanaryana Rao and his wife Ramabai brought some good mangoes from their garden and while giving them to Bhagavan, said “The monkeys are taking away all the mangoes. So we hurriedly plucked these and have brought them here.” Bhagavan said smilingly, ‘Oh is that so. So the monkeys are going there also.” Then looking at all the others there. He said, ‘Yes, monkeys take the fruits one by one while people take them all in one lot. If asked why, they say it is their right. If what the monkeys do is petty thief, what people do is regular looting. Without realizing that, they drive away the monkeys.’
Extract taken from greatmasters.info
The Monkeys of Arunachala
Sri Ramana’s intimate association with the monkey tribes on and around Arunachala spanned from the early days of his arrival in Tiruvannamalai to the final days of his bodily existence. He was their friend, protector, arbitrator, guide and gracious benefactor.
From the cover of “Nondi and the monkeys of arunachala”
There were tribes of monkeys living on Arunachala mountain. One story recounts how Sri Ramana rescued a crippled baby monkey which had been exiled from its tribe. He nursed the monkey back to full health and it later returned to its tribe and became the leader.
There was a young monkey in the troop who had started to show some promise, and was gaining popularity within the tribe. The leader of the troop became envious and was very much displeased. Out of jealousy he attacked the young monkey, making him fall from a high tree. The fall badly injured a leg. The leader and the other monkeys abandoned him to his fate near the Virupaksha Cave. Barely conscious, the monkey eventually limped into Virupaksha Cave.
The all compassionate Bhagavan bandaged his leg and nursed him Back to health. In due course, the injuries were healed but he was left permanently crippled. Bhagavan named him Nondip paiyan, the little Hobbler. He was called Nondi as a pet name as he had to limp while walking or running.
He followed Bhagavan wherever He went, limping along. Even Bhagavan told him not to follow Him, he would follow with great effort. He developed a fondness for Bhagavan and was devoted to Him, looking up to Him as his Master. Under Bhagavan’s loving care, Nondi’s leg improved, and he regained his strength.
Five days later, the monkeys from Nondi’s former troop came to Virupaksha Cave. The asramites saw them coming and were scared that they might hurt Bhagavan. Bhagavan assured them that nothing would happen. The monkeys would not hurt anybody in Virupaksha Cave.
Nondi Rejoins His Monkey Tribe
As soon as Nondi saw his troop members, he went and climbed on to Bhagavan’s lap. One of the members of the troop came near them and looked at Nondi’s bandaged leg, Bhagavan told the monkey that He had applied medicine and bandaged it to cure the injured leg. The monkeys were sorry that they had hurt Nondi so badly. They gave a friendly growl and one of them came and pulled Nondi asking him to rejoin the troop. But Nondi did not want to leave Bhagavan. He looked at Bhagavan.
Bhagavan told Nondi, ‘Your troop has come to reclaim you. Go with them like a good boy. Do not forget us when you become a King.’ So saying, Bhagavan patted Nondi and sent him back with his relatives.
Nondi used to come to see Bhagavan even after Bhagavan and others moved to Skandasramam. He used to come with his troop and be with Bhagavan for some time. When Azhagammal once gave Nondi food in a separate plate, he refused to eat, preferring to share food with Bhagavan from His plate, helping himself by taking from the plate!
Story abridged from greatmaster.info
Cow Lakshmi and Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
Bhagavan said, “Even as a calf only some days old, Lakshmi behaved in an extraordinary way. She would daily come to me and place her head at my feet. On the day the foundation was laid for the goshala (cow-shed), she was so jubilant and came and took me for the function. Again on the day of grahapravesam she came straight to me at the time appointed and took me. In so many ways and on so many occasions, she behaved in such a sensible and extremely intelligent way that one cannot but regard it as an extraordinary cow. What are we to say about it?”
One of the most endearing stories tells of cow Lakshmi. She was brought to Ramana’s ashram as a donation. Initially, Ramana refused the offer because at the time the ashram could not afford to keep a cow.
However, following this first meeting, cow Lakshmi would routinely escape from her owner. She would walk across the local town back to the ashram, just to visit Ramana.
Eventually a deep love developed between Ramana and cow Lakshmi. She would come to him when upset, literally weeping on his shoulder, and he would console her.
A Story of Cow Lakshmi and Sri Ramana
Lakshmi the cow entered the hall hurriedly with her legs, body and tail full of mud, with blood oozing out of her nose and with a half-severed rope round her neck. She went straight to the sofa where Bhagavan sat.
The attendants began saying with some disgust that she had come in with mud on her body. Bhagavan, however, said with affection, “Let her come. Let her come. What does it matter how she comes?”
Addressing the cow, he said. “Come, my dear. Please come near.” So saying he passed his hand over the body lightly, patted her on the neck and looking at the face and said, “What is this? Some blood is oozing!” One of the attendants said, “Recently they had put a rope through her nose.”
“Oho! Is that the reason? That is why she has come here to complain to me about it. Is it not very painful for her? Unable to bear the pain, she has come here running to complain to me without even washing her body. What to do? Give her some iddli or something,” said Bhagavan, evincing great solicitude for her welfare.
The attendants gave her some plantains and thus managed to send her out. I went to the kitchen, brought some iddlies and gave them to her. She was satisfied and went away to her usual place.
Bhagavan Ramanas Compassionate Wisdom
After all of us returned to the hall and sat down, Bhagavan remarked, looking at the attendants, “Do not all of you come to me to relate your troubles? She too has done the same thing. Why then are you vexed with her for coming here with mud on her? When we have troubles, do we consider whether our clothes are all right or our hair is properly brushed?”
Story abridged from greatmaster.info
These stories and others provide a clear example of the life and teaching of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Most importantly, he did not discriminate between human and animal. Further, He embraced all beings with the same wisdom, love and understanding. Also, it is clear that he consistently encouraged his students to see life in the same way.
We can use these examples to reflect deeply on our own behaviors. For example, How do you relate to the world? To the beings in it? Moreover, Do you even have this level of love, care, compassion for the people you ‘love’?
Likely there is a lot we can learn about love and acceptance, first and foremost of ourselves. Later, we can learn to extend that love to others. Finally, hopefully one day we will extend that love and care to all of creation, just like Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.