"I said to the sages: `Drown and never rise again....'"
It was perhaps in December 1976. We arranged for U.G.'s stay in Bangalore in Sannidhi Street, across the street from the Mallikarjuna Swami Temple. That evening, Brahmachariji came to visit U.G. from his Ashram in Bannerghatta. It had by then become customary for U.G. to spend without fail two or three nights in Brahmachariji's Jnanasram whenever he came to Bangalore. It was from U.G.'s giving the first donation that Jnanasram came into existence.
In the Ashram, Brahmachariji had built not only a school, but also a Ganapati temple. He had just gotten the image of Ganapati installed and was deeply immersed in the construction activity of the temple. U.G. forced Brahmachariji to stay in Bangalore, without returning to the Ashram. Brahmachariji tried to excuse himself saying that he had to perform the worship of Ganapati, but U.G. said he could perform the worship in Bangalore.
It was a winter night. The cold wind outside was penetrating through the holes of the closed doors. We all listened to Brahmachariji's recitation of the Ganapati Upanishad. U.G. sat on a rug on the floor in the lotus posture. Brahmachariji sat facing him. The recitation went on for about twenty minutes. All that time U.G. sat motionless, with eyes closed, in his lotus position.
The things U.G. said after the recitation stunned everyone: "I feel as if the sounds of the mantras are coming out of myself. I had the experience of the sound going around in circles with a sort of rhythm and spreading throughout my consciousness." He demonstrated those circular movements with hand gestures. "Suddenly all that took the shape of Ganapati. In my consciousness my face became the face of Ganapati. My nose stretched and drooped down like an elephant trunk. Then, as though something snapped, the movement stopped. The form was erased. Perhaps there was some mistake in your recitation at that point."
Brahmachariji admitted that was true. He said that he forgot the mantra at a certain place, and repeated those portions of the mantra to the end without errors. "Now it's all correct. There are no gaps in the movement. Everything is quite rhythmical. Perhaps the sage who wrote that Upanishad must have been reflected here because of the sounds," said U.G.
U.G.'s words sounded astonishing. I felt that we could believe in those experiences because it was U.G. who was narrating them. The thought that the sage Ganaka, who wrote the Upanishads hundreds or thousands of years ago, took his own form and appeared in U.G.'s consciousness thrills me even now. How was this possible? U.G. explains this process in terms of modern physics. According to it, sound waves can be transformed into electromagnetic waves and those in turn into light waves. The light waves can again be transformed back into sound waves. But all that is achieved through scientific instruments. Perhaps in the case of U.G., all that is possible without the help of those instruments.
The sage's existence must somehow be embedded in the mantras created by him, in their sound. U.G. said, pointing to himself, "Because there is no division here, all those sounds, along with the form imbedded in them, have echoed in my consciousness."
Something similar was said to have happened when U.G. was once living in the Tirthagundi Coffee Estate. That town is in the Chikkamagaluru District of Karnataka. Around 1968, U.G. was in its guest house for almost four months.
One day, suddenly a scene presented itself to U.G. It wasn't quite a vision, nor was it a dream. It was as though it actually occurred in front of his eyes. Three sages in the middle of a big lake, with bushy beards, and submerged up to their necks, appeared in the scene. They stretched their arms toward U.G. and cried, "U.G., we are drowning, please rescue us."
"Who are you?" U.G. asked them.
"We are your ancestors. Hurry up and save us," they said. Then U.G. understood that they were his clan sages whose names were Atreyasa, Arjunasya and Syavasya.
"You deserve the punishment. Drown and never rise again," said U.G.to them. Then, helpless, they drowned and the scene disappeared. U.G. said that all the visions that started occurring after his Calamity ended with this.
How do all these strange events occur? This wasn't a fabricated story, nor was it magic. If, on the other hand, we think that U.G. somehow imagined them, we know that he never believes in such things. "If a miracle happened right in front of my eyes, I still won't believe it," says U.G.
Then how do we explain this? Why do such accidental events occur? Why do they happen only to someone like U.G.? While Brahmachariji was reciting the Ganapati Upanishad, we were all present. Why didn't that sage Ganaka appear in our consciousness? If we asked such questions, U.G. tries to evade them saying, "They are all mere experiences. Don't torture your heads with such questions." If we persist in our questioning, he throws us into some more confusion by talking about light and sound; he talks as if this is a very ordinary matter known even to a fifth grade kid. When I think about it, it appears to me that we should just observe such events and keep quiet, and that it is foolish to try to know about their true nature or understand them scientifically. We don't know anything. I am also certain that U.G. too does not know [about these things] in the way we try to know. We have no way of knowing at what level he knows. All we can do is gossip about strange events like this.
All the genteel folk in Bangalore came to know of that night's incident. U.G.'s ability to find errors in Brahmachariji's recitation surprised our friend Satyanarayana, who was utterly devoted to studying scriptures like the Vedas. He was even more interested in what U.G. had said about how he would know the original sounds from the movements [within himself] which recreate the mantras, regardless of any errors that might have rolled into the recitation, and regardless of the additions and modifications made to the original mantras of the rishi.
There is a belief that the Vedas were authorless revelations, and were handed down for thousands of years from generation to generation in accordance with tradition. There was always a possibility of additions and modifications seeping into them. Thus, Satyanarayana became keenly interested in selecting and memorizing, as much as it was possible for him, the portions of the Vedas composed originally by the rishis. For many years before that, he had already been studying the Vedas with a teacher.
Every year, when he came to Bangalore, U.G. used to stay for two or three months. Satyanarayana, along with his friend Sashidhar, started reciting the Vedas every Sunday, early in the morning, for two hours, in U.G.'s presence. Before they started, when they asked U.G.'s permission to recite the Vedas in his presence, U.G. responded, "Go ahead, by all means. As far as I am concerned, there is no difference between a dog's barking, a cat's mewing and Vedic sounds. Recite the Vedas and as for myself I will sit down and listen." That was how the sorting out of the Vedic mantras began.
Every Sunday, early in the morning, Satyanarayana, Sashidhar, and sometimes their fellow student Chandrasekhar, would come to U.G.'s residence in the Anjaneya Temple Street, after their early morning oblations. U.G. got ready after his bath and sat on the mat in the hall before they arrived. By that time, I and a couple of other friends joined him to hear the Vedic recitation of Satyanarayana and company. Before they started, not heeding his attempts to stop them, they would prostrate before U.G. They excused themselves by saying, "This is our Vedic tradition, U.G. The Rudra Patha we are going to recite is full of salutations [to Shiva]. "But," U.G. complained, "when I keep saying that there is no power apart from you, why do you do me such honors?" When they countered, "Please excuse us, we have not grown into that state yet," U.G., being helpless, kept quiet. After finishing the recitation they would again prostrate in front of U.G., reciting, "na karmana na prajaya ...". We too followed suit. We weren't aware of it in our singlemindedness, but U.G. felt irked by such behavior on our part.
U.G. wore pajamas and jubba at the time of the recitation. It was bitter cold outside. Amidst those four walls we were all clad in dhotis and wore ashes on our foreheads. We would doze off every now and then, while watching U.G. from time to time. As for U.G., he would sit straight in the lotus posture with closed eyes. One day, as he sat, he removed his jubba and under-shirt, and remained there until the recitation was finished.
Mahesh too was in Bangalore with us then. Those were the days when Parveen was living with U.G. Learning that U.G. sat down removing his upper clothing, Mahesh teased U.G. saying, "Oh, I missed U.G.'s strip tease show!"
We sat there even after the Vedic recitation was all over. Sometimes, U.G. would mention what sort of movements of energy the Vedic recitation would cause within himself, where the recitation was flawed, and in what stages of the recitation there were breaks in the energy movements. All those details sounded marvelous to listen to. Satyanarayana kept a record of them.
One day, they were reciting `arunam'. U.G. was, as usual, sitting in his lotus posture. Nartaki was also with us then. After they finished the recitation U.G. said, "While you were reciting, I felt that suddenly I too joined my voice and recited with you for about fifteen minutes." When she heard this, Nartaki became excited and said, "That's very strange, U.G. I too clearly heard a third voice along with theirs. I was wondering whose voice that was and looked around."
Later, U.G. told us: while the two [Satyanarayana and Sashidhar] were reciting, they disappeared and in their place two dark and bulky sages appeared, reciting the Vedas. One had his hair knotted on top of his head, and the other had a big bushy beard. U.G. thought that the portions of the arunam that were being recited were authored by them and the remaining portions made place for themselves in the text [of the Vedas] in course of time.
Another time, the two scholars [mentioned above] were reciting Sikshavalli and Bhrguvalli in the Taittiriya Upanishad. After listening to it all U.G. said, "Those mantras all sound like the trashy lectures given by the vice-chancellors in the universities at the time of giving diplomas. They sound as if the writers of the Upanishads were repeating what they had learned, but the sounds do not express any experience." When we were listening to him, U.G. reported, the movement of energy in him was attempting to form circles, and was subsiding before it completed a circle -- like an aeroplane making futile attempts to lift off into the air from the ground.
I remember that when we were listening to the Mahanarayaniya Upanishad also, U.G. said similar things: "Those sages are ordinary aspirants; they are not wise men. Just like college professors, [they] debate with their pupils and teach them philosophy. Or, like today's scientists, they make speculations about the origins of the universe. That's all you see in them [the mantras]." But things were more interesting when we heard the Rudrakrama. U.G. said, "The sounds of the mantras you have been reciting have been producing divisions in this undivided consciousness." Satyanarayana responded to this saying that was the right effect: "The rishis all gathered together and recited the Rudra Krama with the intention of bringing Rudra, who was united with the unlimited consciousness, to their level. They created Rudram, Namakam and Chamakam -- all three with the same intention. Thus there came about a division in the one Lord, He became a family man and caused the birth of Kumaraswami," he said.
Then U.G. said,
The spine [spinal chord] is a very important part of the body. Most of the experiences we go through, our feelings and thoughts, have a basis in the spine. The spine takes care of them before it lets them reach the brain. Once, when I was listening to the Veda, my spine felt like it suddenly sprung up and stretched about three feet higher than my head.... Maybe because the movement of energy also took the form of circles, the Yogis talked about chakras. The energy of consciousness coils around like a snake, rises upward swiftly and goes out of the head. But the experience is never one of it descending; but always of spiraling upwards. All these are experienced only when I listen to the Vedic mantras, not when I listen to music or some other sound. What is the use of such experiences? None. From listening to the Vedic mantras and Upanishads divisions arise in that consciousness.
It is clear that it is by [listening to] the recitation of the same Rks [hymns], which all the sages recited with the aim of attaining the undivided consciousness, that divisions occur in the undivided consciousness of U.G.
This has no use for me either. It's not of any use to you at all. Three quarters of those Upanishads are [reflections] of the lamentations of those sages for that undivided state. Those were the verses. The remaining one quarter were descriptions of that state saying, "It is like that, it is like this." In some places, in some remote corner, we hear the essential truth, viz., "Whatever you do, you won't get it."
They say that by reciting the Upanishads, the nervous system will be purified. But no one has explained what that purification means. Even less, is there someone who can guarantee it? If we accept claims of this sort, orthodox people will force us, will provide sacred meanings to threads, tufts of hair and shaven heads. They will justify them, will rub ashes on us and make sit among the Bairagis [spiritual mendicants]. As if that's not enough, they even burn the incense of science to get us more intoxicated [with tradition].
Because U.G. is an arch enemy of such superstitions, he has been able
to avoid the many strategies devised by the followers of his religion to
fit him in their orthodox framework. U.G. says emphatically that no one
can attain any higher state by merely reciting the Upanishads, or by contemplating,
digesting and assimilating the truth in them. He says, "Those sages
too know that. That's why they claim that all will eventually burn down
and turn into ashes and they pray, "Tryambakam yajamahe [I worship
He did not utter a sentence to comfort her....
That was Friday, October 13, 1995 -- the day after U.G.'s arrival. We just received the bad news at 11 a.m. that Pramila [Suguna's niece] died. She was in the hospital in Madras for a month, suffering from cancer. I and Suguna went to see her a week ago. Meanwhile, this horrible news. Suguna couldn't bear to hear the news. Everyone in the Poornakutee was sorrow-stricken with the news of Pramila's death. "If you like, you and Suguna go [to Madras]," said U.G. We all decided to go with U.G. to Madras on the 15th and from there go to Kalpakam. That evening, U.G. took Suguna with him to the Bazaar with the pretext of buying something. We were out for about an hour. While I and the Major were going around the shops, Suguna was talking to U.G. about Pramila and her life. Apparently, U.G. listened quietly to what Suguna had to say, without himself saying anything. "Poor Shyamalamma [Suguna's elder sister] is in trouble," U.G. apparently said during the conversation. By talking to U.G. Suguna felt quite a bit relieved from her sorrow. I thought it was a great solace to have U.G. around us at times like this. He didn't have to comfort us with so many words. The awareness that he was there, sharing our sorrow, was enough to relieve our suffering.
I remember another incident, similar to this, from seven years ago. Sailaja's [an acquaintance of U.G., a school teacher and the daughter of the postmaster] brother, Papanna, lost his mind, while struggling with hypnotism, when he was studying for his B.A. in Psychology. There were times when he wouldn't leave the company of U.G. Once he suddenly disappeared from his home. About a month later his parents came to know that he died in some remote village with no one around to care for him. That year when U.G. came, I told him casually about the young man's death. U.G. said, at once, "Let's go and visit Sailaja's mother and see how she is doing." I knew how much U.G. liked that family. Still, I was surprised at U.G.'s readiness to go and visit them. That morning we went to Vagiswara Sastri's home in Tyagarayanagar. As soon as she saw U.G. at the door, she rushed out of the kitchen to receive him. She was about sixty years of age at that time. She was born and grew up in a middle class family and she had a huge family. It was a family of great musicians. She compiled thousands of folk songs she had learned from her grandmother in a Kannada volume called Sampradaya Hadugallu [Traditional Songs], for which she got an award from the Sahitya Akademi.
She was for a moment overwhelmed with the excitement of seeing U.G. unexpectedly at her doorstep. "Alas, if Papanna [her dead son] were alive today, how he would have been pleased to see you visiting us in our home!" her eyes were filled with tears. She related all the events from the time before Papanna ran away from home till the end of his life. [Apparently, Papanna told his mother that he had exactly the same sort of experiences as U.G. had. When she admonished him saying, "You crazy boy! Don't mind all those things. You just returned from the lunatic asylum. Don't compare what you have experienced with U.G.'s experiences." With that he stopped talking to his mother.]
She would contain her crying at times, and at other times cry out loud. She thus poured out all her maternal sorrow in U.G.'s presence. U.G. listened with full attention to all she had to say for an hour and a half. He didn't say a word to interrupt her, and did not utter a sentence to comfort her. All the time he sat like a statue. I must have said a couple of things to console her.
After she calmed down, U.G. got up to go saying, "Shall we go now?" as though he finished his business for which he had come. No matter how much she pressed him, U.G. turned down offers of food and drink.
"I blurted out something all this time. After I told you of all my sorrow, I feel relieved," she said wiping her tears off. U.G. didn't reply.
"Let's go now," he said and walked out.
It seemed as if U.G. removed all the mother's suffering as though he cast a spell on her.
* * *
Rajasekhara Reddy brought with him from Hyderabad the manuscript of his philosophy of U.G. He stayed in a hotel for a week and came to U.G.'s place to read everyday from his book. He read almost the whole of it. He had a special style. He made a study of all the events of U.G.'s life, and even created certain imaginary characters in the biography. He wrote the book in the fashion of a novel, with dramatizations.
While listening to the reading, U.G. recalled many events of his childhood. He never did like like to let people serve him. He wouldn't even let his servants do errands for him. He always had thought, "Why do I need these servants? Why can't I do things for myself?" He always found it strange that a man had to serve another man. He could not understand the hierarchical differences among men. He could not tolerate it when his grandmother fed him meals with firm yogurt and cream while she gave leftover food to the servants. He used to insist on eating with the servants and eating the same food as they ate. A servant used to sit on the verandah in the burning heat of the summer and draw a fan with a rope attached to it, so his grandfather could have his siesta in the cool breeze provided by that fan [made of vatti roots]. U.G. would sit by the servant's side and chat with him. Although there were a number of servants in the household, U.G. would wash his own clothes and do his own chores. Sometimes, his grandmother would be vexed with his behavior and remark, "It's as though the chief raised a dog as big as a horse, and yet when burglars came, the chief himself did the barking [a proverb in Telugu]."
At one time, U.G. gave away all his books to his fellow students at school. And there is no count of the pens and pencils he gave away. On his grandfather's account he bought copies of the Oxford Pocket Dictionary, shoes and textbooks and gave them away. At the end of the month, the owner of the store sent his grandfather a bill for the amount of the purchases. U.G.'s grandfather was shocked. Why did U.G. buy so many books and so many dictionaries? Why so many pairs of shoes for just his two feet? When he questioned U.G., U.G. revealed the truth of the matter. His grandfather then cancelled his account in the store. Then when he gave money to U.G. to pay for the school fees, U.G., instead, paid the fees of his poor friends with that money. When the school authorities reported to his grandfather, threatening to remove U.G.'s name from the school's rolls, his grandfather came to know of his grandson's generous deeds.
How did U.G. acquire such a tendency of sharing with his fellows what he had? Had he absorbed the communist mentality ever since his childhood, or had he absorbed the Vedanta philosophy that all living beings are one? U.G. says that it was none of that: "I could not understand why differences existed and how they came about. How did I happen to have so many things, beyond my need? How did I accumulate them?" It seems as if that questioning eventually led him to a state where he would not tolerate division even in his consciousness.
When Rajasekhara Reddy was reading out his book that day, U.G. revealed some other details about himself. When `astral travel' of J. Krishnamurti was mentioned in the reading, U.G. said, "I used to do astral travel, too. There was nothing so special about it." We were astounded. When? Where did he go? "Not just to the library of the Masters. When I was living in Madras, I could not find the right quotations that I needed for my talks. I used to lie down to sleep while thinking about them. In my dream it felt like I was going on astral travel. I used to go to the Connemera Library, take out a book I needed, and make a note of the quotations from it. Then, like a bird, I would fly back and land on the ground like an airplane. I would remember the notes very clearly. I would use them the next day in my speech," said U.G., as if that was a common occurrence.
* * *
In his youth U.G. read a book called Two Acres and Freedom. He didn't remember the story of the book, but he remembered coming to the conclusion that there was no higher heaven than owning a couple of acres of land. He asked his grandfather to give him two acres of land. His grandfather smiling at his innocence said, "You fool. Why do you ask for two acres, when you have in your name forty acres of land?" and sent him off.
* * *
The book written on U.G. by the editor of Kannada Prabha, YNK, called U.G. Alla Guruji, was published in October, 1995. That book, along with three others, was released on the 22nd in the Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs by the former High Court Justice and senior savant, Honorable Nitturu Srinivasa Rao. He had spoken with U.G. many years ago. On the occasion of the release, he pointed the book to everyone in the assembly and said, "You need great courage to read this book. You need greater courage to meet and talk to this gentleman called U.G. Krishnamurti." A Kannada litterateur of the name Lakshmi Narayana Bhatta, as well as the head of the Psychology Department in Bangalore University, Prof. Timmappa, both spoke to the assembly introducing U.G. Timmappa described that as naturally as a caterpillar would be metamorphosed into a butterfly, U.G. too went through a bodily transformation and attained divinity. He explained that such transformation is acausal, and explained why U.G. emphasizes that it is useless to search for a way to attain it.
I showed U.G. the book written by YNK. U.G. held the book in his hand, looked at the back cover and returned it saying, "The get-up is nice." He didn't show the slightest interest in finding out what the author wrote in the book.
* * *
The body is like an animal....
It was Tuesday, October 24, 1995. A day of total solar eclipse. For a week before that day, newspapers, radio and TV -- all talked about the eclipse, and made a big hoopla about it saying that something remarkable was going to happen on the earth for the first time.
On February 16, 1980, it had also been a total solar eclipse, and U.G. had been in Bombay. That day, the sun became eclipsed in the shadow of the moon, and the day became dark. U.G. noticed that the sex glands in his body became active and energetic. He commented on the phenomenon to Mahesh who was standing with him in the balcony, "I have such a strong sexual desire that I could rape any woman that comes into my sight. If you wish, touch my organ." Mahesh hesitantly looked for it and the organ was stiff and erect. Mahesh was shocked. The next day, while the newspapers catalogued the effects of the eclipse, they mentioned how during the time of the total eclipse all the animals in the zoo had started copulating freely. "There is no difference between me and the animals. The body is like an animal. That may be why the sexual instinct was so active yesterday," said U.G.
It was revealed in the papers that this time, the total eclipse could only be observed in northern India. It was to start at 7:45 a.m. and last for an hour and a half. About 32 groups of scientists from different countries came to India and set up their instruments in order to make various researches on the corona of the sun for the one minute at the time of the eclipse that it would be visible. U.G. had no sympathy for all the exercises of these scientists. He said, "All this hoopla is a waste. What do they know? They are fools.... Man, who supposedly has achieved so much progress in the scientific field, cannot even predict precisely when an earthquake is going to occur. How can he know of the astronomical secrets occurring millions of miles away?" he argued. U.G. gets irritated with scientists who, in spite of their ignorance, claim that they know everything. "There is not the slightest difference between their theories and the superstitious beliefs of my grandmother. The contemporary astronomer's theories are just as ridiculous as the belief that Rahu [a dragon] swallowed the Sun, and the Sun emerged out of the throat of Rahu," he said. "Science supplies the technological know-how to the world. Our lives became easier and more comfortable because of it. Because of our faith in that technology, we believe implicitly whatever gains currency in the name of science. In fact, none of those theories are true; they are mere speculations," said U.G.
On the morning of the eclipse, U.G. took his bath after the eclipse had started. He ate his breakfast of idlis before the eclipse. He made us all eat idlis, too, saying, "Nothing will happen. Don't believe all the warnings and advice of the scientists published in the newspapers."
* * *
After Brahmachariji, Vedantam Satyanarayana is the gentleman who became the target of U.G.'s teasing on this trip . U.G. cut him off with his replies whenever Satyanarayana opened his mouth. The day before U.G. was leaving, Satyanarayana pleaded, "You are leaving without giving us anything...."
"Maybe I am not leaving anything for you. But what about you? You made sure that there is no one left behind to leave anything for. If you have had no children, in all these years, it must be that there is some defect in both of you. Nevertheless, you have accumulated property and hoarded money. For whom is that? And then, you talk about release and liberation?" Vedantam's head dropped.
Another question came out of Vedantam after a while: "How did I come into this world, U.G.?"
"Your father and mother went to bed together, performed some unmentionable act and produced you," U.G. replied. That silenced Vedantam. Decency prevents me from mentioning the name of that unmentionable deed, but U.G. says that without any hesitation. He looks around at everyone who gathered there that day and asks, "Why do you all crowd here? You just come here to spend your time. You can't watch dirty movies sitting in your own house. So, you come here for your entertainment. My going along with you and talking to you, answering your useless questions, only amounts to encouraging you. I know that my words are of no use to anyone. What should I do? Should I throw stones at you? Should I call the police and not let you in?" He then got up and said, "Don't come here tomorrow. I won't be here. I will have to go for shopping in the Commercial Street."
The interpretation which U.G. gave for the four Aims of Life [Purusharthas, addressing Brahmachariji: "Of the dharma [moral action], artha [monetary gain], kama [sensual desire] and moksha [release], the first and the last are plain lies. In the remaining, there is no use thinking about the second in old age. The only thing that remains is money. That's important for living. Try to practice that. That's the only aim of life."
* * *
That morning of October 30, 1995. U.G. was sitting in the hall downstairs in Poornakutee. The hall was packed with friends: there was no room even to walk through. U.G. was sitting on the sofa next to the T.V., as usual, holding his head in his hands. People kept coming in. The ones that were sitting were making room for the newcomers. The Major said, getting up to go, "I am going upstairs; one of you can sit here." U.G. looked up at him once, but didn't say anything. Then another young man peeped into the hall from the doorway, "My name is Vinod. I phoned you earlier," he said to me aside. Then I suddenly remembered: he came from Hubli ten days ago and asked me the previous night at 10:30 on the phone if he could come to see U.G. Early next morning U.G. was leaving for Madras. Hearing this, the young man was disappointed. After he made sure that U.G. has arrived, he came today to Bangalore and phoned. "Come in, come in Vinod," I said. He didn't quite know how to come in from the door or make room for himself. After he tried some, he finally sat down in a small rattan chair near the door.
He picked up some unknown courage as soon as U.G. smiled at him. All his shyness disappeared from his face in the matter of a moment. He didn't notice anyone else in the room besides U.G. He looked into U.G.'s face, and got immersed in U.G.'s words forgetting where he was, and where he was sitting. He said he had read U.G.'s books in the Hubli public library. He had an M.A. or an M.Sc. degree.
"I had ambitions of doing many things in life: I wanted to become an important officer by passing the IAS [Indian Administrative Service]. After reading your books, all my enthusiasm has gone. All my ambitions have crumbled. Only despair and hopelessness have remained. Just eating, drinking and living. You are the reason why I have become like this," said the young man. Everyone laughed.
U.G. laughed, too, and said, "What did I do? I too hope that you would pass the IAS and become an important official. Don't read my books and don't come to me. You forget about everything and live happily." The young man said that was not possible any more.
He pulled out a copy of the Mystique he had just bought and said, "I just bought this book today. Please autograph it."
"Why did you waste your money buying that book? The book is not even useful to boil water to make coffee," said U.G.
"I didn't spend one hundred and twenty five rupees to boil water. You must sign this book," the boy said, getting up. "
"I don't know how to sign my name. I am an illiterate," said U.G. trying to avoid him. "I don't believe it. What's your problem? What will you lose by signing on this book?" Vinod insisted. Everyone was watching this amusement and laughing at their argument.
Finally, U.G. took the book and the pen and asked, "Tell me your name." As soon as he told his name, U.G. wrote it in big letters on the first page of the book.
Noticing that, Vinod started again, "Not my name, yours."
No matter how much U.G. tried to avoid signing the book, Vinod kept insisting. I tried to tell him that U.G. never puts his autograph in anyone's book, and begged him not to insist. We were all astonished at his aggressiveness. He held U.G.'s hand by sitting next to him and made him write `U.G.' by leading his hand. Then he bent down to pick up the pen that slipped and fell. U.G. thought that perhaps he was going to touch his feet and folded his legs into the sofa, admonishing him, "Hey, don't do such things!"
Then Vinod realized. "By mentioning that, you gave me the idea. I must touch your feet," he said trying to reach U.G.'s feet. He asked U.G., "Why do I have so much self-forgetfulness when I see you?"
U.G. replied, "Forget all that. Just go and do your IAS examinations." Vinod thus spent an hour and half with U.G. and left very reluctantly. He left making U.G. promise that he would let him see him again next February.
* * *
U.G. tries to keep himself away from people who want to get physically very close to him. Day in and day out, he takes care not to give any opportunity to people who come to see him either to touch his feet or to fall on him by forgetting themselves in their passion of devotion. Notwithstanding this, there have been occasions, although they have been rare, when some people caught in the intoxication of U.G.'s personal magnetism have forgotten themselves, and created problems for him. For instance, Jitendra Reshamwala, every time he saw U.G., no matter how much U.G. would try to stop him or prevent him, even try to run away to keep himself beyond reach, wouldn't let go of U.G. without hugging him with both his arms and showering his cheeks with kisses. He wouldn't stop with that. He would hold U.G.'s hands and squat down on the floor near U.G.'s feet. It is not by virtue of his age that he gained such liberty with U.G. He was no older than U.G. He was probably a bit over sixty years. When he came five years ago to see U.G. for the first time, he was renowned as a guru only among his Gujarati devotee groups in Hyderabad. In course of time, his fame spread not only in the rest of this country, but also abroad, and earned him many disciples. Although he has been struck with blood cancer for the last six years, he always looked jubilant like a young boy. Everyone addressed him as `Baba,' and he addressed everyone else as `Baba'. "I am still alive only because of U.G. Baba, or else the cancer would have got me a long time ago," he used to say.
That day, on October 29, I told U.G. that Jitendra Baba was on the phone. Jitendera would never hesitate to travel from Hyderabad to Bangalore. He had to see U.G., touch him and kiss him -- that was his only life-aim. "Where is my U.G. Baba?" he was asking me on the phone. U.G. was signing to me as if not to tell him.
"You want me to tell you the truth, Baba?" I asked.
He laughed loudly on the other end: "I know, U.G. Baba doesn't want you to tell me. He is afraid that I will come to Bangalore again. Tell him that I want to talk to him once." U.G. picked up the phone. I was listening to their conversation from another phone. "U.G. Baba, I would like to come and stay in your London flat," he said.
"You are most welcome. But I will be away. If you want, you can stay there alone," said U.G. abruptly.
Jitendra laughed aloud: "Baba, it's just your love for me that is keeping me alive. The cancer has become stable at a certain stage. Although the condition is not improving, it has not deteriorated," he said.
U.G. replied, "It is not because of my love. If it is from my love, it would have sent you to the grave by now. Cancer means living cells spreading without limit. And my touch will multiply their life and energy. It won't try to stop their spread and extend your life." I didn't feel like listening to their conversation anymore.
* * *
Vedantam was asking U.G., "What is your final message?" He was the last one to leave the hall.
U.G. replied emphasizing every syllable, "Drop dead!"
* * *
"Chandrasekhar, please come here," called U.G. leaning against the parapet wall on the terrace. I approached him quickly wondering what he might show me. U.G.'s attention was on the road. The branches of Valentine's tree spread widely above us like an open umbrella. "Can you see the space between those branches and the vehicles passing on the road?" asked U.G.
"Yes, why not? No matter how bent the branches are, the eyes can see the space between them and the road behind them," I replied.
"I cannot. All that seems like a two dimensional picture to me. My eyes can see everything in front, one thing after another, but they cannot see the space among them. There are no measurements such as length and breadth, let alone depth. I maintain that the physical eye cannot see the third dimension. Our minds interpret what we see as the third dimension, but the eyes don't tell us that there is space. When the present-day scientists talk about the fourth dimension on top of the three dimensions, I feel like breaking their teeth. Where is that fourth dimension? I say that even the third dimension is a lie. If Einstein were here right now, I could shut him up in one minute," U.G. said. With that my mouth closed shut.
* * *
This time after his arrival in Bangalore , U.G. became keen on looking for a farm house. The house had to be located on the outskirts of the city. There had to be a garden around the house. In the garden, there had to be a big tree, so that the Major could climb and sit on it. The house must, however, not be located within the city corporation limits. These were the prime qualifications for U.G. to move into a house. If there were cobras moving in or around the house, it was even more acceptable. Of course, nothing was more desirable that a house inhabited by ghosts or spirits. However, U.G.'s friends who were helping him hunt for a farmhouse couldn't quite understand what U. G. and the Major would do in a haunted house of that sort. Once every couple of days they would take him around and show him a different house. The house shown by Radhakishan qualified in every way except for the fact that there was a chicken coop next to it. The many `cocka-doodle-doo' sounds and the fragrance of the chickens prevented any possibility of our ears and eyes going on a strike in that house.
* * *
When we were in the middle of this house-hunting effort, one afternoon the telephone rang: The voice was of some stranger. "Whom do you want to talk to?" I asked.
"I need to talk to U.G. When can I do that?" someone asked in clear English.
"What's your name?" I asked mechanically, without knowing what to say.
"Hanif Mohammed," he said.
"You are the same Hanif who is studying Engineering?" I asked, wondering if he was one of the group of young men who once came to see U.G.
"No, no. I am a drop-out," he replied in a low voice. He repeated his request, "I need to talk to U.G. very much. When can I do that?" I asked him to come around 6:30 that evening. I did not notice him when he came in that evening and sat among the group. I didn't know him and he never met me. Around 8 O'clock in the evening, U.G. said he was closing shop and was asking everyone to leave. The `customers' who had spent a couple of hours there were moving close to the steps reluctantly. When U.G. was about to go into his room, that young man was murmuring something to himself looking at U.G. U.G. at once stopped and looked at him intently. The young man said, "I must talk to you alone for a little while." Then I figured that he was the one who talked to me on the phone. U.G. at once asked everyone to go downstairs. We were all surprised at U.G.'s complying with the stranger's request, as U.G. normally does not create such an opportunity even to those who know him well.
After about 15 minutes Hanif climbed down the stairs with faltering steps, looked at me, said "Goodbye," in a weak voice and left. He looked as though if someone had stirred him a bit he would have poured himself out. He was trembling from head to foot. We didn't know what transpired until U.G. came and told us about it.
"He moved close to me, and showing the knife he wore around his waist, he said, `Either you kill me or I will kill you. I can't go on living like this.' Then he started crying," said U.G. unperturbed. I had a shock of my lifetime listening to the story. I felt: "What would have happened if that crazy fellow did something ghastly?"
"How did you calm him down?"
"I didn't. I told him, `Why should I kill you? You kill me. I am always ready.' With that he calmed down," said U.G. "I then told him, `If I die, it's no loss to anybody. If you kill me, however, they will put you in jail. But I will write a letter so that the police won't bother you.'" U.G. concluded.
Incidents of this sort are not unusual to U.G., but when we listen to him, we feel as if we are going on a roller coaster. Is it the absence of any urge in U.G. to protect himself that really acts as an armor for him? We don't know. Whatever it may be, why is it that some people behave in that way with U.G.? We can understand their helplessness to some extent. When the very ground which they have trusted and stood upon crumbles under their feet, some cannot bear it and act as if they have gone crazy. U.G. does whatever it is that he does, and puts on an innocent face. That makes these people even more infuriated, and they feel like pulling their hair. They feel like drawing their swords at him, not being able to stand this ruthless compassion. Hanif's beliefs had been destroyed by U.G.'s books. His elders had been trying to force him to fast for Ramadan. When he refused, they said that he was possessed by a demon. Then they tried to confine him forcibly, at which point he ran away from them.
The way Hanif smiled at me upon leaving told me how many volcanoes had exploded in his heart. I understood how many heavy burdens were disturbing him so that he couldn't 't stay calm. There was a conflict between the commandments of his elders, who were hardened with religious zeal, and the human values aroused within him by U.G.'s words. All this was reflected in that feeble smile he smiled.
* * *
"You must come to our wedding tomorrow," Rangarajan invited U.G., saluting him with folded hands. By his side stood his prospective wife, Vijayalakshmi, standing in a curved posture and watching him innocently. She covered herself around her shoulders with her sari, and had her arms crossed. She was looking into U.G.'s face. What could U.G. say in reply?
He laughed: "I tried to skip attending my own wedding," Rangarajan too laughed at this.
"How is that possible, Sir, how could you have your own wedding without yourself being there?"
"To some sword, or as Rama did when he put a statue of Sita next to himself when he performed a sacrifice, I asked them to perform the wedding ceremony with only my picture there. But that didn't work. I didn't even attend my own children's weddings," U.G. said.
* * *
After a while, Rangarajan said that his wife knew palmistry. That was it! U.G. immediately sat up and made room for her on the sofa, holding out his palm, "Come, come, look at my palm," he said, inviting her. The young lady hesitantly sat on the sofa and held U.G.'s palm. "I don't know much. I taught myself by reading Cheiro's books and some other palmistry books in Telugu," she said and proceeded to study U.G.'s palm. "They say that if the heart line goes into the mount of Jupiter, one lives for a hundred years. Looking at the lines in your palm, we could say you will live for ten years beyond hundred," she said. She pointed to the line which took off of the life line into the index finger and said, "The science of palmistry says that if a line goes from the Mount of Jupiter and touches the index finger, that means the individual is a great person. And if it goes further up into the index finger, we can definitely say that the person is superior to Jnanis and Yogis."
I thought at first she was a mere amateur in palmistry. But I was amazed at her analysis of the lines in U.G.'s palm, one after the other. "There are lotus lines in this gentleman's palm; also a fish line," she said suddenly. We all looked into U.G.'s palm with curiosity. Meanwhile, Vijayalakshmi traced all the lotus lines on U.G.'s palm. We were awestruck: there was an outline of an eight-petaled lotus and at the center of which there was another small lotus. As if that wasn't enough, she looked for other lotus lines and traced them all and filled the palm with them. "There is also a Swastika mark here," said she, pointing to the Venus Mount. "What good is it to have all those lines?" asked U.G.
* * *
Professor Gottfried Meyer and his wife Bodyl from Germany, were now residing in the North Wing of the cottage in Yercaud. It was February 1996. They came to Yercaud after traveling in the North of India for some days. U.G. the Major, Suguna and I were staying in the South Wing. U.G. took his previous room. In U.G.'s absence, the Major had been sleeping in that room for the past year. "I liked that room. It had good vibrations," U.G. said later to the Major on the way from Salem. Major shook his head as if he didn't believe U.G. and said, "Don't say that. Didn't you remark only the other day in Madras that my vibrations were horrible?"
Mr. Malladi Krishnamurti built a special room for U.G. on the second floor of his house. The Major apparently slept in that room for five days, spreading his bed on the carpet. No one had told U.G. about this. Nevertheless, when U.G. entered the room this time, he asked the Major, "Have you been sleeping here?" The Major was surprised. When he asked how U.G. had known that he was, U.G. replied, "Don't I know your vibrations?" Then the Major asked him curiously, "Were they good or bad?" "If they were good, there would be no need to talk about them," remarked U.G. sharply. "You know I don't say anything to please you. This time your vibrations here [in Yercaud] were truly pleasant," said U.G. smiling.
* * *
You also feel the `vibes' of the place....
No matter how convincingly he speaks, it is hard to tell whether U.G. is making fun of you or truly appreciating you. Especially this vibrations business -- I haven't been able to make head or tail out of it, although I have been observing it for the last twenty five years. What indeed are these `vibes'? Do they really bother him? U.G. says that just as you feel the humidity in the air or changes in the weather, you also feel the vibes in a place. What can you do even if you know the weather is bad? It's the same with vibes too. The fears and anxieties, the emotions and passions of the people who lived in a place before us, stay on in the surroundings like clouds. But why don't they bother everyone else? The others don't even know that they exist. When we talk about this matter seriously, U.G. says that the reason why they don't touch us is the armor of thought that we wear around ourselves shields us from them. He says that we never live in the present. We are always filled with either things that had already happened or things that might happen in the future. Is that why we are blind to all the subtle vibrations that surround us? If we somehow could break that thought armor, then could we understand all these things? U.G. ridicules us saying, "If only the thing called `you' exists." The thought armor is our existence. There is no separate thing called the `I' anywhere. This thought armor is the Emperor's Clothing that we weave around ourselves to protect our illusory existence. My God! I am going out of my mind! Do you understand all this? Don't ask me [if I do].
* * *
I am reminded of another incident narrated to me by Vedantam Satyanarayana. This happened about two years ago. It was the death anniversary of his father. When he heard that U.G. arrived in Bangalore from Yercaud, he felt strongly that he had to go visit and talk to him. Because of the anniversary ceremony, he was fasting [until the priests finished the ritual and were fed]. If he came to our house, Suguna would give him coffee without fail, and he would have to break his fast! He wondered what to do. So, he came to our house anyway, thinking that he would let U.G. decide what he should do.
As soon as he came, U.G. started making fun of Brahmachariji. "Yesterday was his mother's death anniversary. Without going to his home, he has been hanging around here. He quit his funerals and daily worship. Brahmachariji has become blasphemous," U.G. was saying.
During the conversation Suguna brought some coffee. Vedantam said, "It's my father's death anniversary. I cannot eat or drink anything."
But U.G. insisted, "Don't worry about it. I am telling you. Go ahead and drink it." Vedantam emptied the coffee cup without a second thought. The conversation continued for another forty five minutes. In the middle of the conversation, U.G. suddenly turned to Vedantam and said with a serious face, "Sir, because you drank the coffee, your father, your grandfather and his father -- all three of them are gratified. They are completely happy." Vedantam couldn't believe his ears. He automatically got up, saluted U.G. with folded hands and wiped his tears off without anyone noticing. Vedantam believed without a doubt that all his three ancestors appeared in their subtle bodies to U.G.
There have been many such incidents. If I write about all of them, this will be a huge volume. U.G. scorns me by saying, "Chandrasekhar is writing a Myth about all the miracles I have never performed."
* * *
It was February 15, 1996 -- the eleventh day of the lunar month. I got up early in the morning, finished washing and was sipping coffee sitting in a chair on the verandah. The noise of the fan of the heater inside was reminding me of the sound of `Om'. The Major was on the floor doing the exercises which his brother prescribed for him for his backache. Suguna had not gotten up yet. It was quiet all around. The occasional cries of a crow from the trees or bushes in the valley could be heard breaking through the silence of the morning. When I was telling myself how peaceful it was there, I recalled the conversation I had with U.G. the day before. I had asked him then in the verandah, "Don't you feel like living in a peaceful place like this, away from the city noises like in Madras or Bangalore?"
"You think it is city noise. It's all the same to me whether I am here or there. I don't find any difference," replied U.G.
"How about the noise of the vehicles passing in the city ...."
Even before I had finished my sentence, U.G. interrupted: "All that is your imagination. All sounds are the same. You like to avoid some of them, calling them noise. All of them are the same for the body."
"Then there is no truth in the doctors' opinion that if sounds are too harsh or loud they have a [detrimental] effect on the body's nervous system?"
"What do the scientists know? They won't be able to know the nature of the body's intelligence even in another hundred years. I have been saying this for twenty five years now -- that the importance of the brain in the human body is minimal. They are realizing that just recently in their experiments. They wrote in the New York Times that the scientists found out that the intelligence necessary for the digestive system exists in the stomach itself. That's why I have been saying for so long that the food you eat is not important for the body; that Yoga, health food or whatever you think is useful for the body are in fact harmful for it. You eat not food but ideas. What you wear are not clothes, but labels and names," said U.G., emphasizing each syllable.
The couple who were the caretakers said goodbye to U.G. saying "U.G. da kadavul [U.G. is God]." Ever since U.G. had started renting this cottage in Yercaud, in all these four years, their family has improved quite a bit. The Major had been watching out for their needs and helping them monetarily, even more than U.G. had been.
U.G. had not given a penny for the marriage of Nagaratna's son. However, he had given enough money for the couple's cot and bed. Before six months were over, the daughter-in-law became pregnant. U.G. tried to persuade her, "Why do you need children? How are you going to raise them? Get an abortion. I will pay for it."
When Suguna saw U.G. giving her money, she couldn't help herself laughing. "Why shouldn't there be children, once they have been married? Besides, this is her first pregnancy. Why would she get an abortion?" asked Suguna.
The Major, too, could not understand why U.G. was asking her to get an abortion. He asked U.G., "Are you trying to prevent the birth of a deformed child? Why do you say she shouldn't have the child?"
"Not that, how should I know any of that? I am only saying this from a practical point of view. Economically, it's a big burden to give birth to and raise a child. I am only asking why you should give birth to a child if you cannot bear the expense," explained U.G. I felt that this truly was a matter everyone should think about. If we don't try to excuse ourselves by saying, "Could the tree be a burden to the mountain? Could the berry be a burden to the vine?", then we cannot but see the practicality in U.G.'s words.
U.G. was also insistent in a similar fashion once in Suguna's case: Our second daughter was more than a year old. U.G. came to know that Suguna missed her period again. I don't know how he gets to know about such things. There were times when he could tell that a woman was pregnant even when the woman herself didn't know that she had been missing her period. "That's all part of the body language: I can tell as soon as I see the person's face," says U.G., but I can't believe it. Whatever it is, ever since he came to know of Suguna's pregnancy, whenever an occasion arose, he kept dinning into my ears to get an abortion for Suguna. "Please listen to me. To play with and have fun you have two daughters. That's enough. Why do you need a third child? Don't you know in how many ways you have to face financial difficulties if you give birth to more children?" he tried to persuade me. But, Suguna longed for a male child. She hoped that this time around she would have a son. U.G.'s counter-question was, "What will you do if you will only give birth to a baby girl this time again?" He said, "Why do you need sons? Your two daughters will bring two sons-in-law. What else do you need?"
One day U.G. said to me, "May be you are afraid that you will get into hell [called Punnama] for not having a son. I guarantee you: such hells won't afflict you., O.K.? You persuade Suguna and make sure she gets an abortion before it's too late. Or else, you will regret it later very much." U.G. words did truly frighten me. I knew that unless there was a forcible reason, U.G. wouldn't insist so much.
Suguna, however, was not in favor of the idea. "Let's see what we will have this time. Later, if we want, I can get a hysterectomy, so that we won't have any more children."
Two months passed by quickly this way. The day neared when U.G. would leave the country. Before he left, he warned us both again seriously. Then I decided not to delay the matter any more. I persuaded Suguna to agree to toss a coin. She should pray to her favorite god and toss a coin. Head or tail, whatever the coin says, we must do that. We shouldn't hesitate. Suguna agreed to that.
Our elder daughter, Aruna, was four years old. We asked her to flip a rupee coin. I was thinking of U.G. in my mind. "The child must be aborted," was the verdict. In all three trials, every single time, it was the same verdict. With that Suguna's agitation subsided. In just a couple of days we did whatever was needed and I felt as if a big burden was lifted off of my heart.
Many years later, when we were consulting Suguna's astrological chart in Skanda Nadi, there was a mention of this matter in a certain context. That amazed us. In the Nadi, Parvati asks her son Kumaraswami: "Because of the previous life's merit of her husband, the native of the chart must have a son in this life. How come you say, then, that she only has two daughters?" Skanda replied to this, "It's true. But because of the defect stemming from her previous life, even if the native had a son, the son would have been born short-lived or deformed. But because of divine intervention, the native escaped such a horrible prospect." Suguna and I sometimes talk about what might have happened to us if U.G. had not thus insisted. Who else is that divinity except U.G.?
This story has no head or tail. Of what use is it for anyone? Maybe, it's useful to those who are curious to know more information and details about U.G. It seems unwise to try to understand U.G. any more than that.
In all my twenty-five years of acquaintance with U.G., I have realized that I cannot decipher him as such and such, nor cast what he says in a specific mold. He slips right through my fingers. Just the moment I think, "I understand it. I have an idea of what you are saying," I get another flash, I see another facet of him, something which is totally opposed to what I had previously understood. As I look at him and observe him, just as what he says sinks [into my head], the boundaries I fixed for myself in my mind keep expanding. "U.G. is so simple that he becomes alarmingly complicated," says Harindranath Chatopadhyaya in his radio talk reviewing U.G.'s book the Mystique of Enlightenment. U.G. says, "That book should not be called 'Mystique,' it should be called the Mistake of Enlightenment." "If I have a goal, it is to destroy all the ideas in my books one by one." When U.G. says this, I begin to understand how U.G. is opposed to any fixed ideas formed about him.
Yet, when someone, after reading his books, asks U.G., "Didn't you say such and such or do such and such?" I don't know whether to laugh or cry. We don't need great knowledge or scholarship to understand U.G.'s words. They are not only not necessary; they are a great obstacle. "To express what I want to say, I only need a vocabulary of two hundred words. Not even that. I only need one word: 'No, No, No.' Just that word is enough," says this 'No' Master!
* * *
After reading all this, if you ask me, "What would you say: that
U.G. is a great man or that he is an ordinary man?" I would say that
it depends on what you believe. When asked about reincarnation, U.G. says,
"There is reincarnation for those who believe in it, and there is
no reincarnation, for those who don't." Just the same way, he is great
to those who believe that he is great. To those who don't, he is an ordinary
If you ask me, "What is your estimate?" I say that U.G. is an extraordinary person, a unique man, a riddle that remains unsolved forever. It's difficult to say any more.
If you feel like meeting U.G. after reading this book, by all means do. Not just meet him, talk to him. If possible, go near him and observe him. You won't know what will happen next. U.G. doesn't know. I know even less.
Go to Excerpts from U.G.'s Dialogues