How he met Narayana Guru for the first time in his life:
A junior officer of the Indian Civil Service once recounted the following account of how he met Narayana Guru for the first time in his life:
“My privilege-leave was about to expire and I was travelling back to Salem in a mail train. I was seated in a second-class compartment. At about ten o’clock in the morning the train steamed up to the crowded platform of Calicut. A number of people, dressed in spotless white, were seen on the platform. In the centre of the group was seated on a chair an old gentleman dressed also in white, who was well-nigh sixty years old. He was tall, slender and erect The arrival of the train and the consequent bustle did not seem to produce any effect on the composed features of this person.
When the first bustle had subsided, the person slowly got up from his seat and walked into the very compartment in which I was seated. My curiosity to know who this revered person was, became aroused; and I began to watch him minutely. I soon guessed that he did not belong to the class of rich people, for h wore neither gold nor silver on him. His dress was of the simplest description, consisting merely of two pieces of white cloth. He wore no sort of head dress but, after the manner of the Hindu Sannyasi, had a clean-shaven head, which showed a sparse crown of silver hair. There was a sedate grandeur in his countenance, which was not suggestive on the one hand of the cold calculating nature of a man of wealth nor, on the other, of the sternness of a fighter Relaxed and restful, like the countenance of a child, it still revealed an undercurrent of seriousness which led the critical observer into the unfathomable depths of something inexplicable.
The supreme restfulness and leisureliness of his manners, unaffected by anything that was passing round him, the spotless purity of his personal attire the delicately artistic perfection of every one of his movements, even the manner in which the flowing dress clung round his person — half negligently, yet in a way that the artist would have the rumples adjusted — the silence and the gentleness of his ordinary behaviour made him carry with him, even in the busy atmosphere of a modern railway-station, a still halo of reverence.. When he talked, which was only now and then, his voice which, though not loud, had still a rich mellow in it, exercised a peculiar lulling effect which could be compared to the far-off chiming of temple bells or the noonday murmur of bumble-bees. As I was watching him, I could observe that tears filled to the point of overflowing the eyes of this great man, as one by one the devotees, that had gathered on the platform, measured their lengths in prostration before him. Each one of them touched the foot of the strange leader and placed an offering of fruits and flowers before retiring from his presence. Age had not robbed his features of that soft freshness, rich fulness, and restful relaxation so characteristic of the Indian Yogi. A pair of not at all large eyes, which seemed to be constantly gazing at some object in the far off fringe of the horizon, lips with the corners slightly turned down as if in open-eyed meditation, all these and many more little traits, revealed to me that the stranger was one of the Mahatmas or Holy men of India.
The train soon left the station, and, as we stopped at the next station, I could observe that the Sri Narayana Guru—for the stranger was none other than this revered leader of whom I had heard so much—was engaged in giving away one by one to some poor children who appeared at the carriage, all the fine oranges that he had received at the previous station,- till not one was left of the pile beside him. A householder, I thought, would have reserved some, at least, to be taken home. When I had observed him thus far in silence, I was overcome by desire to talk to him, but having adopted the customs of the Western nations I felt some difficulty in introducing myself. I struck upon a plan. I was then carrying with me some oranges of the finest quality plucked from the orange groves of the Wayanaad. I took out one of these and determined at last to break the silence. ‘Swamiji’, I said at last: ‘Would you mind, my offering you an orange?’ Those were the ‘fitting words’ with which I chose to break the silence; to which the saint replied rather pertinently, as I only realized later, ‘Have you failed to find that out in spite of having watched me all this time?’ Surely I had seen him receive a hundred oranges without any sort of protest, and felt for a moment how ridiculous a figure I cut in the presence of one whose manners belonged to the unalloyed past. This was how I met the Sri Narayana Gum the first time in my’ life.” To this effect, mainly, were the words of the officer. Coming from a perfect stranger to the - Swami this picture of him has its value in as much as it serves to show what the Swami appeared like to the eyes of a casual stranger.
There is another impression of the Swami which the writer of this narrative had occasion to hear— this time from one of the representatives of the poorer classes. Towards the small hours of the night it was—we were travelling together on the deck of a steam launch in the backwaters of Malabar. The first blush of day was just appearing at the corner of the horizon. The boat at this time passed a big church surrounded by palm trees which moved in front of us a we sat up in our beds, like, a silhouette picture against the brightening sky. The rough hands of the fellow-passenger and his dress, which were just beginning to be visible, revealed that he was a poor labourer. After -some preliminary questions about my destination and antecedents, this new friend began to narrate -, the following anecdote, after he had crossed himself most reverently as we passed the church. “Sir, I have seen the Guru,” he said :— “It was the year before last, that one day I heard that he had arrived at the house of a landlord in the village where I live. ‘I hid heard of him long ago and wished very much to meet him and lost no time in going to see him in that house When I saw him I could not resist the thought that he was like our Saviour Jesus Christ. He was surrounded by people who either wanted to be healed of sickness or came to seek his advice regarding some calamity that had befallen them. Some there were who were eager to take the dust of his feet and others were waiting for the water that had cleansed them. Surely this was the way in which, as we read in the Bible, Lord Jesus himself moved among the multitude. I am a poor man without learning or wealth. I had a secret desire to invite this great man to my humble dwelling-place in spite of its being very poor and dirty. I mustered strength to express my wish to him. What was my joy when he consented to come forthwith. Within a short while he had already started. As we were on the way the Swami asked me about all my affairs and my children and all the rest in a voice which was full of tender regard. When we were not far from my house, I excused myself and went ahead by a short cut in order to set things in order before the honoured guest arrived. I dressed my children up in their cleanest and spread a white cloth on an easy chair, had some incense sticks lighted, and with a brass vessel full of pure water awaited his arrival at the outer entrance. Like the morning beam of light carrying the message of peace, the holy man entered, Although at first he resisted my approach to wash his feet with my own hands, I had my own way, on which, while I was bending, he gently placed his hand on my head. That solacing touch at once carried its message of blessing to the innermost recesses of my being.” When this honest man came to that part of the narrative, the day had almost dawned and the sun made the backwaters full of orange crested waves, and in the day-light could be seen the features of my fellow-passenger showing visible signs of emotion. His voice cracked and his honest eyes grew dim. There was a pause for few minutes, after which he continued as follows: When the Guru had finally taken his seat, I called my son and asked him to take the dust of his feet which he did. The Guru asked him which class he was studying in and advised him to be a good and diligent boy. Turning to one of his men who was standing by, he then ordered a rupee to be given to the boy and told him that he was expected to return that rupee, when he became a grown-up man, back into the public funds. Turning to me, he told me in so many words that I was not to consider myself as one who belonged to a different creed or religion: ‘We are all one and the same’. His words are still echoing in my memory.”