From ‘Letters from Ramanashram’ by Suri Nagamma : “Simple living”

Recently, owing to some maladjustment in diet, Bhagavan’s health has been somewhat indifferent. Noticing this, a rich devotee, by name Kamala Rani, sent a soup made of costly vegetables and sweet grapes to the Ashram one morning, with a request that it might be served to Bhagavan. As it was received just as Bhagavan was about to take his food, Bhagavan accepted it. Next day, she again prepared it in the same way and sent it to the Ashram. But this time, looking at his attendants, Bhagavan said, “Why this daily? Please tell her not to send it henceforth.” The lady, however, sent it the following day too.

220px-Ramana_3_sw“There!” said Bhagavan, “It has come again. She will not stop sending it. I should have said ‘No’ at the very beginning. It was my mistake to have accepted it.” A devotee said, “At present, Bhagavan is much run down. She is perhaps sending it because a liquid preparation with grapes might be good for Bhagavan’s health.” “Oho!” Bhagavan exclaimed, “Is that so? And have you authority to plead on her behalf?” “That is not it, Bhagavan. I am saying so because I thought that such preparations might be good for the health.” “May be so,” rejoined Bhagavan, “but such things are for rich people, not for us.” “That devotee says that she herself will prepare it and send it,” persisted the devotee. “That is all right,” replied Bhagavan, “and if so, please find out if she could supply the same thing for all the people who sit here.” “Why to all people?” asked the devotee. “Then why to me alone?” said Bhagavan. “It is possible to do it, if it is for Bhagavan alone, but would it be possible to prepare the same costly food for everyone?” said the devotee. “Yes, that is just it,” said Bhagavan, “everyone says the same thing, ‘We will do it for Bhagavan alone’. Yet, if it is good for Bhagavan, is it not good for all others? If, with the amount spent on this preparation, broken rice were brought and rice-gruel (kanji) prepared, a hundred people could partake of it. Why this expensive preparation for me alone?” 

“Our anxiety is that Bhagavan’s body should be healthy.” “That is all right,” Bhagavan rejoined, “but do you mean to say that health could be maintained only if soup prepared from grapes and costly vegetables is taken? If it were so, then rich people should all be enjoying good health. Why is it then that they are more unhealthy and sickly than the others? The satisfaction that poor people get by taking sour rice-gruel cannot be had from anything else. In olden days, when we were doing the cooking during summer, we used to have a pot into which we put all the cooked rice left over, fill it up with water, a little buttermilk, a little rice-gruel, dry ginger and lemon leaves, and set it aside. It would get sour, cool and clear. The liquid used to be drunk with a pinch of salt by all of us by the tumblerful, and we used to feel very happy. No one had any illness whatsoever. Even now, if I were to drink two tumblerfuls of such water, all my ailments would disappear. But then nobody prepares it for me. ‘Aye! Aye! How could we give sour milk gruel to Swami?’ they say. What is to be done? To prepare soup of this sort will cost a rupee. If, with that money, millet (ragi) were brought and ground into flour, it would last for about a month for preparing gruel from it which is very healthy and nutritive. The amount spent on a single meal could be utilized for the living of a person for a month. I took all those things while I was on the hill and I used to be very satisfied. Now, who will do that? Grape juice, tomato soup and the like are offered to me. Why do I require such things? Tell her not to send the soup from tomorrow.”

The thing stopped there. Bhagavan told us several times that while he was living on the hill he was eating bilva fruit (a sort of wood-apple) for some days and sustaining himself on it. Bhagavan does not like to eat any food without sharing it with the people around him.

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