The first time I saw Yogi Ramsuratkumar, I saw an old man in a large grey shawl walk into a small, unfinished building, wave both hands as if wildly swatting flies, madly pacing up and down the aisle for five minutes, and then take exit. I had heard that this local Yogi chain smoked and did not give teachings, but then again, many of the "masters" I had met who did not smoke and gave eloquent teachings had proven to be painfully less than hoped for. Thus I drew no conclusions.
Whereas I could not see even the smallest fraction of Yogi Ramsuratkumar's magnificence in the early weeks, once the first hint vision began to surface a majesty and magic we can only point to through words like "all encompassing." "broken heartedness," "bleeding compassion"- I ached for those who were not granted the perception of that beauty.
I witnessed miracle after miracle in those months, and although I will share a small taste of those here, the miracles of matter were minor compared to the miracle of the earthquake of love that continually erupted in his presence. As for the visible miracles, the fact that Yogi Ramsuratkumar was fully telepathic - reading the mind of the one he put his attention on word by word, in any language is undisputable in my experience. It became perfectly obvious, if not common place, that he could easily open and close doors at a distance, heal chronic wounds and diseases, engage in actual exchange with beings in the room that nobody but he could see, master and skillfully undermine the psychological dynamic of somebody in any culture, none of which he had visited.
One day early in my stay there, when I let him know I would be staying in Tiruvannamalai for the following six weeks, he informed me that I would not be staying for six weeks, but instead for six years! Yogi Ramsuratkumar left his body six years later, almost to the day. Although I did not stay physically by his side for those years, I would never have guessed the prophetic nature of his commentary.
Yogi Ramsuratkumar hardly slept. He lived in prayer; lie lived working. 1 never saw him doing anything that appeared to be other than working. His occupation was not the bliss of absorption in the Self, but what appeared to be a radical surrender to all of God's manifest and perhaps unmanifest, forms. That which is Yogi Ramsuratkumar could not do for himself. To those who could perceive him to even the smallest degree, it was tacitly apparent that there was literally no him" to do anything for-not even a shadow of who once remained. Thus he existed fully and only for the Other.
Short term visitors, in their idealizing projections, would
refer to him as a beneficent grandfather figure, and ask me how
it felt to bask daily in his warmth and regard. They did not know
that Yogi Ramsuratkumar was a ruthless taskmaster who wielded
a flaming sword. To be near him with sincerity was to experience
a literal internal fire that spared nothing in its path. The egoic
self that I mistakenly know myself to be suffered more intensely
and more consistently in his company than in any other circumstance
prior to, or since, that time. Yet so skillful was his capacity
for egoic undoing that my ego would be made to flail about as
if being scorched alive, while at the same time i would not know
that he had anything to do with the suffering i was enduring.
The light of His "Self "exposed my "self"
- unadorned and unbuffered. To receive the privilege of his Fire
of Love was to agree to have everything in its way burned to ash.
These are not metaphors - exaggerated words to describe an intense
emotional experience. Il is my repeated experience of living in
His close proximity.
The true miracle of Yogi Ramsuratkumar, for which all other miracles were simply symptomatic of, was the Miracle of Love. The other miracles were but reminders to the wary and wounded in order to entice them toward the real gold. Other saints and Yogis have been known to display telepathic powers, cure the sick, manifest objects from thin air, and still they have questionable track-records in other arenas of their lives. Yogi Ramsuratkumar was and is a Master of Love and a Master of Heartbreak. When people ask me if he was blissfully happy, I cannot say that is what I saw. What I witnessed day after week after month was an open heart that was bleeding compassion for the suffering of all humanity and conceivably the cosmos as well. He lived and left in service to all beings. That is who He was and is.
What I can say, from the most raw, unromantic, and unsentimental place within me, is that Yogi Ramsuratkumar was not ordinary in any way. Yogi Ramsuratkumar died to his guru, Swami Ramdas, fifty years before, and then he kept going further and further into Infinity. He was so far gone into the universe he called "My Father in Heaven',' that in many ways he was all but human. There are great teachers who appear to still experience ordinary human emotions and mechanical egoic conditioning, and this does not negate their mastery, but Yogi Ramsuratkumar was different in this respect He was so different that one day, six months into my stay there, it occurred to me that lie was, in some way, a man. Taken aback by my own insight, I sat up straight, looked closely at him, and remembered what I had heard; he had once been a mischievous young boy, he had married, had children taught school. He even had a man's body. Indeed, he was somehow a man. It may seem strange that the fact that he was a man was experienced as revelatory, for what else could he be? But more odd is that months had passed and this had never occurred to me. As slyly as he had led me into a vision of my own inner hell, he had also revealed a majesty that was so far beyond the beyond that it no longer resembled ordinary humanity.
His final gift of that particular trip was given at the Chennai
airport. I was passing through security, anxious to return to
my family and friends, when I was informed that I had not had
my foreign visa stamped by the local police, which was necessary
for a stay longer than six months in India, and that I must remain
in Madras until I was able to acquire the requisite stamp. It
was midnight, my body was exhausted, and my psyche so run down
by months in the company of the Divine Incinerator, that I began
to argue with the men at security... to no avail. Then I begged,
but found no mercy. Nor did my tears appeal to their kindness.
Desperate, I began to chant "Yogi Ramsuratkumar, Yogi Ramsuratkumar,
Yogi Ramsuratkumar Jaya Guru Raya." as I had so many thousands
of times in those months. I didn't chant silently, but in a soft
voice, and as I chanted softly I criticized myself for being so
egoic and arrogant that I couldn't just chant quietly to myself
and instead needed to be heard at " somebody spiritual".
The security guard returned an hour later, just as my plane was boarding and i was weeping in self-pity. "You know," he told me, "it so happens that I travelled to Tiruvannainalai last weekend to receive the darshan of the great saint Yogi Ramsuratkumar. And while I was there, there was a young western woman leading the chants. When I heard your chanting here at the security counter, I1 realized that you were the woman I had heard chanting. Yogi Rarnsuratkumar is a great, great saint, and I want you to know that it is for that reason alone that we will let you pass through security and board your plane tonight. Run along!"
As 1 have said, Yogi Ramsuratkumar was not extraordinary because of the daily miracles he was responsible. (Having experienced dozens of them myself, I can only imagine how many tens of thousands have arisen in conjunction with His name or in His presence). The miracles and delight of his personal company and form were like the foam on the waves of the ocean. The manifestation of his body was like the ocean itself. And if I had to imagine who He actually is, it would be something far, far grander. Something still, and perhaps, forever, unknown. They said of his spiritual Father, Swami Ramdas of Anandashram, "Ramdas plays football with the planets. " They meant it literally. I wonder what Yogi Ramsuratkumar played, and what he is playing now?