10 July 2008

Cow Lakshmi Day

On Friday, the fifth of Ani, in the Year Sarvadhari (June 18th, 1948), the twelfth day of the waxing moon, under the asterism Visakha, the cow Lakshmi attained mukti. This year Cow Lakshmi Aradhana will be celebrated at Sri Ramana Ashram on July 14th and will be, as always a lovely function (there will be photographs posted at that time).

In the meantime here is a short narrative about Cow Lakshmi and her life at Ramana Ashram.

“The most favoured of all the animal devotees of Bhagavan was the cow Lakshmi. She was brought to the Ashram as a young calf together with her mother in 1926 by one Arunachala Pillai and presented to Sri Bhagavan. A devotee offering to look after the cow and calf, kept them at his place in town for about a year and then one day came to have darshan of Sri Bhagavan and brought them with him on a visit.

The calf seems to have been irresistibly attracted to Sri Bhagavan and to have noted the way to the Ashram because she returned alone next day and from then on came every morning and returned to town only in the evening. Later, when she came to live in the Ashram, she would still come to Ramana, going straight up to him and taking no notice of anyone else, and he would always have bananas or some other delicacy for her. For a long time she would come to the hall daily at lunch-time to accompany him to the dining-hall, and so punctually that if he had been occupied by anything and sat beyond the hour he would look at he clock when she came in and find that it was time.

Ramana Maharshi with Lakshmi

She bore a number of calves, at least three of them on Bhagavan’s Jayanthi (birthday). When a stone cow-house was built in the Ashram it was decided that Lakshmi should be the first to enter it on the day of its inauguration, but when the time came she could not be found; she had gone to lie by Sri Bhagavan and would not budge until he came too, so that he entered first and she behind him.

Not only was she uncommonly devoted to Bhagavan, but the Grace and kindness he showed her was quite exceptional. In later years, there were a number of cows and bulls at the Ashram but no other that formed such an attachment or elicited such Grace. Lakshmi’s descendants are still there.

On June 17th, 1948, Lakshmi fell ill and on the morning of the 18th it seemed that her end was near. At ten o’clock Bhagavan went to her. “Amma (Mother),” he said, “you want me to be near you?” He sat down beside her and took her head on his lap. He gazed into her eyes and placed his hand on her head as though giving her diksha (initiation) and also over her heart. Holding his cheek against hers, he caressed her. Satisfied that her heart was free from all vasanas (latent tendencies), he took leave of her. Lakshmi was conscious up the end; her eyes were calm. At eleven-thirty she left her body, quite peacefully.

Lakshmi statue at her Samadhi

She was buried in the Ashram compound with full funeral rites, beside the graves of a deer, a crow and a dog which Bhagavan had also caused to be buried there. A square stone was placed over her grave surmounted by a likeness of her. On the stone was engraved an epitaph that Bhagavan had written stating that she had attained Mukti (liberation).”

[Abridged from Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge]

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