It is likely that this thirty-something bachelor had little to hold him beyond his work in the courts and that the murder trial provoked deep refl ections about life and death, reflections that intensifi ed his naturally spiritual turn of mind. Finally, he made the pivotal decision to seek a satguru and devote the remainder of his life to realization of God and service to his Hindu faith.
Speaking to others about his inclinations toward sannyasa, he came to know of the rishi in the tea shop. He was regaled with stories of this remarkable sage, stories that moved him deeply and led him to seek to meet that awakened being in person. The erstwhile High Court judge became a wandering sadhu, following the Indian roads on foot, in search of the rishi, walking from village to village, here and there, looking on the inside, looking on the outside for the man he increasingly knew beyond any doubt was his guru. This was no intellectual certainty, for they had never met. Rather it was a truth, a subsuperconscious knowing, that welled up from deep within him.
“I Will Not Sentence Him to Death”
One day, in High Court in Bangalore, Karnataka, a magistrate presided over a murder case. The verdict was never in doubt, and the jury was unanimous. When the time came to pronounce the mandatory death sentence, the judge stood up to address the court. His tall, imposing stature brought silence to the courtroom. Before he spoke, he removed his shastri’s shawl, his robes and ornaments. Looking around the courtroom for the last time, he announced, “God created this man. Who am I to decree his death?” Refusing to deliver the death sentence, he solemnly walked away from the bench and was never seen in that region again. Years later, he would be found in Northern Ceylon, a swami and spiritual force who deeply changed not only individual lives there, including the future satgurus of the Nandinatha Sampradaya, but the course of that nation’s history as well. What happened between these known events is vague, and stories don’t all agree. Here an attempt is made to intuit the most likely course of events, based on those oral histories and the cultural patterns of the time.
Meeting the Rishi
They finally met at Palani Hills Temple, the famed hilltop sanctuary where Lord Murugan presides as the loincloth-clad yogi. This had been the sacred site of the rishi’s initial vision of Murugan, the experience that took him north to the Himalayas and into a lifetime of sa dhana and divine realizations. He had returned to this place of his spiritual beginnings. Like the two men, their meeting was not ordinary. The sadhu was engaged in worship when the rishi came up from behind and motioned him to follow. It is said they were together for most of a year, wandering through the Tamil lands from temple to temple, shrine to shrine–at Chidambaram for several days, later at Tiruvannamalai, and as far north as Madras and Nellore. People long remembered seeing them, for they were an unusual sight, the rishi and his disciple. Wherever they went, people looked twice or stopped to stare. The rishi walked with long strides and kept his eyes on the way ahead. If people looked at him, he looked away, showing nothing of himself. His towering disciple, though, walked with a long, lumbering gait, one stride for the rishi’s two, his gaze fi xed between the clouds and treetops. They walked side by side, like old friends, staying each night wherever they happened to be at day’s end–in a village, at someone’s home, a temple or under a tree by the road. A typical day would find them meditating together in the pre-dawn darkness, having sat up most of the night.
Before the sun came up, they would bathe at a well or river and stretch a bit, then the rishi would sit down facing the east, his shishya nearby. The rishi talked to his disciple for several hours each morning, then sent him to beg the day’s meal. They would sleep through the hot hours, and in the afternoon move on, covering a few kilometers each day at a leisurely pace.
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