Pankajamma turns 87 tomorrow (30/May).

We called on her at her house in Tiruvannamalai today. Her home is not far from Sri Ramanashramam. A driveway led to the house built in the back, and two monkeys and two dogs welcomed us as we went in. One dog was a saint. He just sat in peace. The other was frisky and barked away in happiness. Its that sort of house. All are welcome.

Age is showing a bit in Pankajamma’s body. But not in her demenor. She welcomed us with a fullness of affection that can only come from that ‘otherness’ that is Ramana.

Here’s a picture I took of her today…

Here’s Pankajamma’s story in brief…

She comes from a traditional Tamizh family of Cuddalore. Her parents were drawn to Bhagavan sri Ramana Maharshi, the sage of Arunachala, and would visit him often. Thus, even as a very young girl, she grew up in that atmosphere of Bhakti, and was keen to go with her parents and see the sage. Maybe because she was young, or for whatever other reason, her parents never took her along, although she pleaded. And then one day, when she was twelve, they gave her Aksharamanamaalai – the Tamizh song composed by Ramana. “I learnt it by heart in two days”, she says. “And immediately after that I also learnt ‘Kanda Shashti Kavacam’. And from the age of 12, till today, it has been my blessing that I have been reciting both these prayers every single day”, she says, looking the very picture of peace.

On my request, she told me something about her association with Bhagavan Ramana.

She first met Ramana when she was sixteen. Her parents took her along this time. And she found the Maharshi in the Ashram, sitting near a well. Some ladies were sitting on one side, and gents on another. Bhagavan was sitting on a reclining chair…

Pankajamma says, “It was as if I was meeting an old acquaintence, a close relative, after a long time. Of course I was happy. Very happy. Like I am happy seeing you all now. Same way. It wasnt as if the happiness was different…And I felt so ‘related’ to Him, that I did not feel shy at all, and I simply felt like singing Aksharamanamalai…And so I started singing it…Bhagavan immediately seemed to stiffen, and I continued to sing…And then I came to the lines ‘Kaantam irumbupol kavarndenai vidaamal kalandenodiruppaai Arunaachalaa!'(Like a magnet does iron, attract me ceaselessly, hold me, Abide with me , O Arunachalaa!)…”

Pankajamma continues…”Now, Bhagavan was not the sort to point out small errors. This was not as if it was a scholarly discussion on Vedanta. Had it been that, and had some scholars been questioning Bhagavan, well, then, he would have patiently answered all their queries. But this was not such an occasion. I was a simple young girl, dressed in Paavadai-Melaakku. And I was singing Aksharamanamaalai. Having seen Bhagavan closely for many years, I know that normally He would have just been all attention, all silence, all love. He would have forgiven the small mistakes of pronunciations that the singer might commit. But not that time when I sang. And for that I am eternally grateful to Him! For the first time time in my life, and indeed the only time in my life, He spoke directly to me. I had pronounced the word Kaantham (magnet) as Gaantham. He immediately said “Oohum…” and looked directly at me. Into my eyes! That look! And gently told me, ‘Not Gaantham…Kaantham’…

That was it! From that day, That Kaantham (magnet) has taken me over completely. Nothing left here”, she said.

On our prodding, she told us of a few more ‘special’ moments of ‘divine’, in her life.

                                               …To be contd…



One Response to “Pankajamma”

  1. ramanamayi Says:

    Thank you so much for this! And please, continue on, in great detail … 🙂

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