By M. V. Ramaswami IyerIN the year 1907 I went to Tiruvannamalai to have darshan of Bhagavan. I climbed up to the Virupaksha cave. In order to safeguard Bhagavan from the intruding pilgrims of the Kartikai festival, one Krishnayya kept guard at the gate of the cave. So I had to wait outside till Bhagavan came out. He soon came out and went away without even glancing at me. I followed and overtook him. He stopped and looked at me. Words poured out of my mouth, "I am suffering, beset with many diseases. Have mercy on me". He replied, "I am neither a physician nor a magician. What can I do or tell you". Anguish welled up from the depths of my heart, and I said, "I came because I heard of your greatness. Will not my good luck be as great"? He looked at me for a long moment and said, "Go home, have courage. No harm will come to you". And he waved his hand in a peculiar way. Somehow it gave me hope.
Soon I settled at Tiruvannamalai and thus began my daily visits to Bhagavan, sometimes staying for the night with him. One day Bhagavan was sitting all alone in front of Virupaksha cave. A strange emotion got hold of me and I asked him in English, "My Lord, Jesus and other great souls have come down to earth to save sinners like me. Is there hope for me"? Bhagavan seemed moved by my cry of distress. He came closer and said in a quiet voice, "Yes, there is hope, there is hope."
When I returned home a song welled up in my mind and I wrote it down. Since then I wrote songs by Bhagavan's grace. When I brought my first song to Bhagavan and recited it before him, he gave me some instructions in prosody and illustrated them with examples from great Telugu poets. Since them I wrote songs and poems without much thought or effort all the years until Bhagavan's samadhi. Then the spring dried up, for it was not a gift I brought with me. It was all His grace.
My physical ailments tormented me so much that on a festival day I was plunged in deep dejection. When Echammal brought some special food in the evening, all except me went to the nearby waterfall to have their meal. Everything was pleasant and joyous but my mind was full of darkness and my body full of pain. Bhagavan sent Vasudeva Sastri to call me. I said that the rich food did not agree with me and that I had to stick to my diet. As I spoke my head turned towards Bhagavan as if impelled by some superior force and I saw him beckon to me. I went near and sat down. I was served various dishes. I had no courage to eat and was sitting gloomily when Bhagavan said, "Eat". All fear gone, I started eating and had my first hearty meal in many years. That night I had a sound sleep.
In the morning I felt strong and healthy. My dyspepsia had disappeared completely and my heart overflowed with gratitude. Bhagavan's grace continued to manifest in my life and helped me overcome all family problems. When I was transferred to Berhampore I was afflicted with boils on my legs. The pain was terrible and all medication failed. I had a fixed idea that only Arunachala could help me. One day I was surprised to find two Brahmins from Tiruvannamalai standing at my door. When I asked who knocked they replied, `Arunachala'. They were on their way to the North and had been asked by Bhagavan to break journey at Berhampore and meet me. When they saw my pitiable condition they made a paste of tamarind mixed with some fragrant gum and smeared my legs with it. The next day there was no trace of boils. It was then that I composed the song Saranagati in praise of the Holy Feet of Bhagavan, my only refuge. This famous song has often been sung by devotees for invoking the grace of Bhagavan.