Yogi Ramaiah belongs to the community of Reddiars and is a rich landed proprietor of Anna Reddipalayam, near Buchi Reddipalayam, Nellore District. He received hardly any education. Being the sole owner of his properties he had every inducement to pass his days merrily with his thoughtless companions, boys of his own age. But just at about the age of eighteen his thoughts took a serious turn and he gave up his former associates and took interest in religion.
A Brahmin Guru imparted to him the Rama Taraka mantram and asked him to repeat it five thousand times daily. "If the number is exceeded, what then?" asked the ardent youth.
"So much the better", was the Guru's reply. "If I repeat it always?" was the next query. The Guru was delighted at the keenness of the disciple's enthusiasm and expressed warm approval. Ramiah went on with his japam from morning till night whatever he might be doing. He also began to practise breath control. Meantime vairagya or disgust with his worldly surroundings waxed so high in his breast that he suddenly left home to go north and to perform his tapas in some holy places like Kasi etc.
On the way he met his former guru who asked him if he had obtained his mother's permission for the pilgrimage. When he admitted that there was no intimation or permission, the Guru sent him back to Annareddipalayam. "Go and do your tapas in the seclusion of your garden and I shall go down and see how you progress, later on", said the guru. Ramaiah returned and went on with his tapas. He developed both his breath regulation and mcditation without any one to help him. He was able to remain several hours in a blissful mood beholding the tip of his nose, ie breath being easily regulated and stilled. His mind was equally stilled and happy. Perfect continence, satvic food just barely enough to keep the body and mind working, and intense devotion through his japa to God (Rama) carried him soon to illumination in samadhi. He noted with surprise that God Rama as an external being vanished and gave place to the feeling of God in the Self. Again he noted [•] that though at the outset he retained the distinction between himself (the subject) and the objects he perceived or thought of, the distinction was lost as soon as he was lost in samadhi. Is there really no difference between subject and object? Could the two be after all identical?' was the thought that occurred to him. As it was a novel and puzzling experience, he did not feel sure of his conclusions and asked local pandits about it. Their replies did not satisfy him. So he came to Tiruvannamalai in 1925 and in Maharshi's presence asked Kavyakantha Ganapathi Sastri about it. "The subject is of course different from the object", was the pandit's reply. Ramiah was disappointed and looked up to Maharshi, who at once supplemented or corrected the pandit's reply. "Subject and object are distinct in the phenomenal world to the ordinary man. But in samadhi they merge and become one." Ramiah was very glad to note this corroboration from this eminent Swami. Thence forward he took Maharshi as his sole guide. He is still going on for years with his life of Yoga with mounam and tapas, as its support. He eats little, controls his breath and stays many hours at a stretch in blissful ecstasy - mostly in the cottage in his own garden, but also for a few months each year with Maharshi at Ramanasramam. He loves and is loved by Maharshi. As Yogi Ramiah does not know Tamil, Maharshi translated his Tamil poems Upadesa Saram and Ullathu Narpathu into Telugu. Yogi Ramiah has appreciably helped in repairing Palithirtam, in the construction of Asramam hall and the Asramam draw-well.
Sadhana and Achievement of Yogi Ramaiah
From boyhood I had great devotion (Bhakti) towards Sri Rama Namam. Till I was 19 years old I was generally of Rajasic temperament and was fearless. I used to listen attentively whenever elders recited stories of God or taught dharmas; and I used to make friendship with such elders. Once I heard of the life of Kabir from an old gentleman; and ever since I became sorrowful that I had wasted this life till then. 'How to get undiverted devotion (Ananya Bhakti)?' 'How can I become fit for God's mercy (Kripa)?' These were my desires. Though I was not a bhakta from childhood like Kabir, I got vairagyam and wanted to do penance (tapas) like Valmiki till this body is covered with ant hills. I then knew that penance meant meditating on Rama namam continuously like oil flow and to be in samadhi forgetting this body. Thus I acquired bfiakti and vairagyam. Subsequently love of the body (dehabhimanam) disappeared. Formerly I had many friends but the feeling of friendship for them left me. I couldn't leave the continuous dhyanam even for a minute. I used to feel sorry that the nights were being wasted in sleep. I used to feel that I was meditating even in my sleep. I used to be in meditation when I awoke. I used to get up at 3 0' clock in the morning, bathe, and sitting in a secluded place would meditate till 8 o' clock. From 8-11,1 would read Bhagavatam. After meals I would listen to Bhagavatam read by a Brahmin. In the evenings I would go outside the town and meditate sitting alone. Even if such a place be the pathway used by men and cattle I would neither know of nor hear anything during meditation. I used to offer puja imagining the form of Vishnu in my heart. When Brahmanantha Thirtha Swami was at Nellore I went to him and prayed to him to give me upadesa and teach me yoga to meditate upon Rama conquering the mind. He then gave me Rama tarakam and asked me to meditate on it observing pranayama at the time for a little while. He said that to practise pranayama vigorously, solitary living and food restrictions are necessary. I was then meditating focusing attention towards the middle of the eyes. In a short time Chitkalas began to appear in a variety of ways and they disappeared after some time. Thereafter a flame like the sun began to appear. This would appear even when meditating with eyes closed but there would be nothing when opening my eyes thinking that Surya Bhagavan was appearing. Knowing that the vision was from inside I began to practise vigorously. After some time the vision assumed a clearer form like the moon. Later on in the place of this moon a jyoti began to appear. While in this condition drik (subject) and drisyam (object) would disappear and I would feel that the atma was Poornam, the perfect survivor. At that time this condition would not last always but would recur from time to time. I then got extra vairagyam - I then left the house.
Without telling anybody I wanted to go to Dandaka Forest and do penance like Valmiki and the rishis. On my way at Bapada in the Guntur District there was my guru who gave me upadesam. I wanted to see him and go. I therefore got down from the train at Bapatla. As soon as he saw me he asked me whether I had left the house informing my people. I told him the truth. He then told me "You cannot stay there (Dandaka) and do penance. There are many difficulties there. Have an asramam in your village and do penance there I will be going and seeing there occasionally". So saying he sent me back to my village. When I first got vairagyam I started some 12 years ago a water pandal for distribution of water on Narasimhajayanti days. It is still going on. I started my own asramam and named it Rama asramam. Since then it is useful for meditation and also other purposes. Within two years there was a break in yoga. I felt very sorry for this break and with firm determination and giving up all things I joined this Rama Asramam about 1922. By constant meditation sitting on an asana I used to be fatigued. To get over this fatigue I used to dopranyama immediately. While doing like this and learning from books such Jnana Vasishtam, Baghavad Gita, Bhagavatam etc that yoga should be practised keeping the lakshyam at the tip of the nose I began to do likewise. Practising like this for some time and seeing nothing at the end of the nose I began to feel discouraged. Feeling reassured however by the firm belief that what is said in sastras will never become untrue, I gave up interest in food, in sleep and assumed a posture. I was always doing dhyana, dharana and pranayama. Gradually I achieved breath retention. Now and then I used to feel sushumna, subtle force, rise up. Since then a jyoti began to appear. In some months, there was no body sense and die Self was all pervading. Ahamkara disappeared. It was realized that it was not I that was meditating, the I was the witness ofthe ahamkara that I really am Atman and that this is my true form. External vision decreased by constant concentration of the Self.
There was no desire to eat anything. In spite of bodily difficulties the mind was always happy. I was thinking of Rama in saguna aspect and offering puja to Hari in my heart.
As external vision decreased I wanted to go to experienced gurus with Brahma Nishta to tell them about my experiences and to find out what their experiences were. By enquiry I found out that there were many who had read books only without experiencing the Self and I could not find any with Brahma Nishtai. In my boyhood when I came on a pilgrimage to Arunagiri I saw Bhagavan since then at times, I used to think of him. Learning that Bhagavan knows Telugu, I went to him, offered my respects, sat in his presence and was looking at him. I found that he was introverted, his eyes were not moving, breath appeared to have stopped- no movement was visible in him, seeing that I also turned my vision inside. As I had acquired dharana siddhi at the tip of the nose I found it easy to turn my vision inside. When the vision is turned inside the drik (subject) drisya (objects) are not seen. Self was all pervading and perfect (purna). In this state I was sitting for 2 hours. I came to the conclusion that when the mind was subdued and the objects are not seen but the subject and object are Self and the Self is all pervading and perfect. And I questioned Ganapathi Sastri who had come there about this. The sastri replied that the subject and object are different. I couldn't agree with what he said. Bhagavan (Maharshi) immediately said that when the mind is subdued there is only one thing and that the subject and object are not different. I felt very happy on hearing this-I concluded with certainty that he was the guru and that he had realized the truth. I then told him about my eyes and he replied that they would get right after some time and that there was no danger. As it was Kartika Deepam time and as there was a big crowd of people Bhagavan said that if I went to see him in the night it would be convenient. I agreed and went away. When I went there in the night, the doors were closed and all were asleep. Thinking it would not be proper to disturb them in their sleep I lied down on the pial in the outside. As it was winter season the chill was severe, mosquitoes began to bite and there was no sleep. At about 3 in the morning Bhagavan came outside and saw me.
I prostrated. Bhagavan who was all kindness said that I had been put to much trouble and asked me to come inside and sleep by his side. That night I asked him some questions.
Q. What is Nirvikalpa Samadhi'?
A. That which has no sankalpam to Nirvikalpa.
Q. In Samadhi will there not be even the Brahma Bhava'?
A. If there is Bhava, it will not be Nirvikalpa.
Q. What is meant by Rama?
A. That in which everything takes its origin exists and disappears is Rama.
I then determined that all practices are only means to attain this final stage. I was giving up my former spiritual practices little by little. I felt immensely attracted to Bhagavan - I felt quite at I home in Ramanasrmam. Bhagavan was all love. Leaving Bhagavan I did not go to any other guru.
I read the life of Maharshi. A reading it one would acquire vyragyam, fortitude. Seeing him is upadesam. Sitting in his presence gives peace. This is my firm belief. After some time with Bhagavan's permission I went back to my native place. I would come twice every year to see him. I heard blessed words from him regarding his experiences.
The Swami himself was looking to my food arrangements. Just as a father would bring motherless children he was always filled with limitless kindness. As I have no strength to walk some distance I always stayed in my cottage or with the Maharshi and as speech may cause chitta chalanam I observed mounam.
Some time later I came to see Bhagavan and was in the Asramam for some days. One day I told him about my experience of the time. I told him that at the time of meditation only the whole thing would appear to be one and then at other times the subject and object appear to be different and asked him how this difference would disappear. He told me that there was still dehavasana, i.e., attachment to the body and asked me to carry on with my meditation till it disappeared entirely.
I then asked him to tell me how to concentrate. He then said: When a man dies the funeral pyre is prepared with fuel and the dead body would be laid on the pyre. The pyre would be lit. First the skin is burnt, then the flesh, and then the bones until the whole body is converted into ashes. What remains thereafter? Only the spirit. But by Self inquiry the spirit also disappears.
By this dehavasana goes ahamkara also vanishes and Self alone remains.
He had composed Upadesa Saram in Tamil. I prayed he might translate into Telugu. He rendered it in dwipada, couplets form in Telugu. I then stayed in the Asramam for some days, went abroad for some time, then in my Asramam for some time, gave up everything.
Some times I stayed in Mamarathu Guhai near Mulaipal Thirtham. When he had composed Ulladu Narpadu in Tamil, I prayed him to teach me that in Telegu. He rendered it into Telegu prose and taught me. Since then the mind was subdued and was dissolved in Self, nothing different from Self is seen.