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Monday, November 18, 2013

Deepam and Rain

Once it happened that my father was away; the year was 1961. I had 
been in the Ashram for one year, and in the absence of my father, I had 
to take up the responsibility of the president in making decisions and 
arrangements. The annual, ten-day Karthikai festival was on. The climax 
of the festival was the lighting of the Karthikai Deepam, a huge flame, 
from a cauldron of ghee on the summit of the holy hill, Arunachala. 
During Bhagavan‘s lifetime, Bhagavan would be seated outside the hall 
from where the Deepam could be seen. The moment the Deepam was lit 
on the hill, a lamp of ghee would be lit in front of Bhagavan. After 
Bhagavan dropped the body, it was Ashram practice to keep a picture of 
Bhagavan and light the ghee lamp in front of it as soon as the Deepam on 
the hill was lit, a tradition that continues to this day. 
That year, it started raining torrentially. I was agitated because we could 
not keep the picture and light the lamp outside as it was traditionally 
done. Seeing this, Chadwick came to me and said, ―Do not be agitated. 
We can take the picture inside the dining hall and light the lamp there.‖ 
I expressed my concern. Though Bhagavan was seldom interested in rituals, 
he was very particular on witnessing the Karthikai Deepam. How 
could I deviate from the Ashram tradition? My father is not here, and I 
do not want to do something that breaks it. He reassured me that during 
Bhagavan‘s lifetime, one year it had rained just like this. Since he was 
keen on seeing the Deepam, Bhagavan suggested that we go into the 
dining hall and open the big door, through which one could see the hill‘s 
summit. (Now the new dining hall has blocked this view.) I was next to 
Bhagavan. I told him, ―Bhagavan, we will not be able to see the Deepam 
because it is raining torrentially.‖ Looking through his binoculars, 
Bhagavan exhorted, ―Watch! Watch!‖ At that moment, the Deepam was 
lit on the hill. I was watching eagerly. The rain stopped, the clouds 
dispersed for a few minutes, and we got a glimpse of the Deepam as it 
was lit. Immediately Bhagavan said, ―Now light the ghee lamp. The 
Deepam has been lit. So we too will follow suit.‖ I was a little skeptical 
because it was pouring. But I followed Chadwick‘s advice. Chadwick sat 
next to me and said, ―Watch!‖ And exactly the same thing happened. At 
the time of lighting the Deepam on the hill, the rain stopped. The clouds 
dispersed. And we lit the ghee lamp in front of Bhagavan‘s picture 
inside the dining hall just before the clouds gathered again and hid the 
Deepam from our view! 

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