Trip to India – 3


On the third day Sowmya, my wife and I went over to Ramachandra’s house and he accompanied us to visit Subraya Sharma. Ramachandra Iyer, a saintly swami with a persistent gentle smile in his face and of few words, is someone you can be quite at ease with in company, so unobstructive and unassuming  is he. Sowmya  (I was told) calls him ‘uncle’, even if there is no blood relationship between them. He has just turned 72 years of age and lives with his wife, one son and his wife, and two young  and sprightly grand-daughters.

At Subraya Sharma’s home (he is the one who took care of Swamiji for 16 years of the latter’s life) we were offered milk in a small glass and some granulated sugar (one was supposed to drink the milk and swallow the sugar after putting it in the palm of one’s hand and may be grind it between one’s teeth before swallowing – this is what I did).

Subraya Sharma was a gracious host and, after a short all round conversation, gave me a book written by himself as a gift. As I have mentioned before, conversation with those Bangalore swami-s was difficult on account of the spoken English at both ends of the conversation, which, if not in the category of what is usually called ‘broken English’, it is as if triturated or half-swallowed as it issues from the mouth of the speaker (Sowmya is not going to like this).

Both elderly swami-s had three transverse white stripes painted on their foreheads and upper arms, signifying that they are Shaivites, their body wrapped up in a loose white cloth. Sw. Subraya Sharma asked me how I found my way to Advaita Vedanta and the writings of Swamiji. I told him that mine was a long, protracted search, but that one is fortunate if he finds the intended goal or safe port during – or at the end – of one’s life.

Later, in the evening, Sowmya and I had a leisurely conversation before a small group of young Advaitists arrived to our ‘service-apartment’. During the conversation Einstein, Plato, and Advaita Vedanta were mentioned together with their similarities and differences. Most of those young Advaitists appeared to be well versed in Astrology, on which there was much talk. I remained mostly silent, except when asked some question. Unfortunately I could not have much of a meaningful conversation with a youngish woman in the group who teaches Sanskrit… too late for me to learn it. I said something about what we were planning to do in the next few days. My wife and I suspect that most of these people had never seen a European or white person before.

During the next three days I was practically house-bound due to the throat infection, duly diagnosed and treated by Sowmya. I drank my lassy warmed up during that time. That, and delicious curds sweetened with honey, were my main sustenance during that time. In the meantime, my wife was taken for rides by ‘our’ private chauffeur, a young, friendly, and very skilful driver called Ravi. He took her to visit a couple of temples. By that time she was beginning to be well acquainted with the neighbourhood and its innumerable small shops.