HIS LIFE AND TEACHINGS
FROM COORG TO TRIVANDRUM
Soon after, the Swami went to Ponnampet in Coorg and selected the site for the Ashrama. He laid the foundation stone on Monday the 7th February 1927, and returned to Bangalore. He came back to Ponnampet on the 6th of June to see to the completion of the Ashrama building and the arrangements for the opening which came off on the 10th of June. He stayed there till the 12th idem. During these days he held many talks with Mr. Kalamaiyah, the foremost worker, and other gentlemen. Regarding the future work in Coorg he said: "Now, by the grace of Sri Gurumaharaj you have got an Ashrama. This will be the premier Ashrama in Coorg. Hereafter other small Ashramas may be started in other parts of the District. Thus the ideas of Sri Gurumaharaj must be spread. In course of time, every house must become a temple of His. I am old. I shall not live to see all that. But I see that is going to take place."
Referring to his own Presidential address Swamiji said to Mr. Kalamaiyah: "Perhaps your M. L. Cs. and others and you yourself are displeased at my not having thanked you. Am I benefited by the thanks-giving, or are they?" "They are to thank you, Swami," replied Mr. Kalamaiyah. "No, said Swamiji, 'they are to thank Sri Gurumaharaj. It is His grace that has brought this Ashram into being. Through His grace I have got an insight, a peculiar sense, whereby I can smell the places He likes. Did I not tell you when I first came here that this is going to have an Ashrama? It is involuntarily that I smell it, without any effort. If I make an effort, I may go wrong. It is not for my good that this Ashrama has been built. I may stay here for a day or not. It is not my work also. It is His. So the Ashrama will go on."
Here again he expressed the idea that it is not by means of lectures but by personal talks that ideas can be given and people influenced and instructed. 'Don't you see the life of Sri Gurumaharaj, he asked and added: "Read M's Gospel to see how he visited various persons. Even Swamiji could influence people only by personal contact * * So, meeting people and giving them ideas is the work needed in India."
Returning from Coorg via Malabar Swamiji reached Tellicherry on the l2th of June 1937. Here he was the guest of Mr. Gopala Menon. Ottapalam was reached on the 14th. Three days were spent at the Ashrama, Swamiji himself being engaged in extending the flower garden and other works. On the l7th he left for Trivandrum. When Swamiji got into the train at Ottapalam Railway Station a Nambudiri Brahmin who was in the train asked him what his caste was. 'Sanyasins have no caste,' replied Swamiji. 'What caste did you belong to in your Poorvaahrama,' pressed the Nambudiri. 'According to the Hindu Shastras it is wrong to ask a Sanyasin anything about his Poorvashrama' was the Swami's reply. This same question had been put to him by others also and he had given other answers. To one he said that he was born a Pariah. To another his answer was that he underwent training under his Brahmin father. The Nambudiri's pride of birth did not assert itrielf again. Rightly had the Swami said about the Ottapalam Ashrama that at Ottapalam he had made a breach in the Nambudiri fort.
In Trivandrum town, the Swami had a large number of women disciples and devotees. He advised them to meet regularly every week to exchange ideas, discuss religious subjects and compare notes. They used to meet in the houses of devotees by turns. Gradually they formed a Hindu Vanita Sangham. They invited the Swami to one of their meetings. On the evening of the 9th July they mustered strong in the Museum Lecture Hall. Swamiji arrived at 4-30 p.m. The meeting began with prayer and music and Swamiji delivered an inspiring address in English touching upon the various problems affecting the welfare of women in general and of the women in Travancore in particular. These meetings of the devotees in their own houses had salutary effects not only on themselves but also on the other members of their families, on their relations and the public generally. This was one of Swamiji's original methods oi training and uplifting women.