Sadhu Arunachala (Major A. W. Chadwick)- I found, when I had been in the Ashram a short time and was beginning to know my way about, that the best time to catch Bhagavan alone was at one o’clock in the afternoon when he came back from the Hill. Everybody who could would have slipped away for a siesta, except for one attendant whose duty it was to remain with Bhagavan in case he needed anything.
This was before the days of electricity, so a punkah had been hung just over Bhagavan’s couch and this would be kept in lazy motion by a sleepy attendant who was himself dying to run off and have a sleep. At times I would take his duty and let him go, at others I would sit up near the head of Bhagavan’s couch and talk to him.
It was during these hours that he instructed me, and those quiet hours spent with him then were the most valuable of all. He knew enough English to read the paper and to understand me if I spoke slowly and if a short answer or reference to some book was all that was necessary this he could deal with at the time.
But if the answer proved to be complicated he would wait until later in the day when he would call upon some English-speaking Tamil to interpret. In the early days of my stay I was living in a big room adjoining the Ashram store-room. Here Bhagavan often used to visit me, usually when he went out at about ten o’clock.
On coming into my room unexpectedly he would tell me not to disturb myself but to go on with whatever I was occupied at the time. It was correct for people to stand up directly he came into a room. I was ignorant of this and so would remain seated, carrying on with whatever I was doing at the time. I realize now that this was looked upon as terrible disrespect by the Indian devotees, but it had its reward.
If one put oneself out for Bhagavan or appeared in any way disturbed he just would
not come in future, he would disturb nobody, so considerate was he. But if one carried on with what one was doing then he would himself take a seat and talk quite naturally without the formality which usually surrounded him in the Hall.
I had no idea how lucky I was and how privileged, but certainly appreciated the visits. He might pick up my pocket-book and take everything out of it, a photograph, a membership card and any odds and ends it might contain, remark on each thing and ask some question about it. It might have been embarrassing but luckily there was nothing questionable in the wallet. Not that Bhagavan would have minded, for there could be nothing questionable or otherwise for him.