By Suma Varughese
Suma Varughese meets Rajini Menon, a 47-year-old jnani, who found herself enlightened one fine night, with no previous knowledge of spirituality
When the book, Face to Face with Reality, landed on my desk, I was intrigued by the author, Rajini Menon’s, story. Without any exposure to spirituality or a guru, she had attained self-realization on July 18th, 2008. As she describes it, one moment she was in intense pain, borne by an excruciating situation she had been embroiled in since 2000. (She declines elaborating on the nature of the circumstance, because she does not want to portray anyone in an unflattering light, but having been taken into her confidence, I can testify that it was a harrowing situation.) The next moment, as she closed her eyes, her attention was drawn to her heart centre and a single thought arose, ‘I am this atma, without name and form.’ Thereafter, the last traces of the mind dissolved, and she slipped into a vast expanse of silence. Bliss arose spontaneously and a sensation of lightness, as if she were floating.
However, further inquiry reveals that her enlightenment was no lucky fluke (is it ever?). From the time she was a youngster of eight or nine, she would engage in a process she calls righteous living. Every night, while in bed, she reviewed her thoughts, words and deeds, and coached herself to do better each time she erred, and appreciated herself each time she did right. Evidently her inner sadguru had awakened and was guiding her to live only in accord with her inner voice or conscience. It is astonishing to imagine that a nine-year-old could have been capable of this level of awareness and inner strength, but clearly Rajini was no ordinary mortal.
I met up with Rajini last December, during a vacation to Kerala. In person, she is a tall, stately figure with hair that reaches down almost to her ankle. She was dressed with care in an ochre handloom sari. Her smile was warm and embracing, and she spoke slowly and calmly. We spent almost four hours together, and after a delicious lunch, she was kind enough to drop me back home. Excerpts from the interview:
Would you like to share a little about your journey?
There was no journey as such. I had no idea that there was anything like self-realisation. There was just the life. And what was special about the life was that there was righteous living right through, which is definitely not easy. One day I found myself at the point that people call self-realisation.
What do you mean by righteous living?
Righteous living means listening to your inner voice. Your conscience. We can always hear the inner voice, even as a small child.
Would you like to give me some examples of righteous living?
It goes right back to my childhood since I was in the third standard. After I was put to bed, I would review my whole day. I would hold my ears if I did something wrong, and appreciate myself if I did something right. I would correct myself. Ok, that girl threw my eraser away. But why did I take her eraser and throw it away? What she did was wrong, but I should have done what was right from my point of view. Then perhaps next time, I would not throw her eraser, but I would think ill of her. So I would tell myself, it is good that you did not throw her eraser, but you did not think right.
Amazing to be so aware at this young age. Is it that your parents gave you strong values?
Yes, they have taught me many good values. But they also would ask me at times, where did you get all this from? Once I, my brother, sister and parents had all gone to a temple. After coming back, my father took me on his lap and asked, “What did you pray to God?” I said, “Give me good thoughts and give the strength to act on them.” He was amazed. I was in the 6th standard then. He asked, “Who taught you all this?”
What are some of the circumstances that arose out of righteous living?
By the time I was leaving school, righteous living had become spontaneous in me. My father had a transferable job and I was in Delhi for my 11th standard. I had joined my new school when I contracted dengue and had to take leave for one week. On the command of their leader, none of the girls would give me their notes when I rejoined. These things would not affect me at all. Soon after, this leader also fell ill with dengue. I took my notes to her and told her, “In case, you don’t understand, you can ask me, and if you don’t want my notes, then you can take from someone else.” It was my luck that she took it. And she then became my best friend, even in college.
At work, there was one person whose life was difficult and therefore he lost his temper easily. He used to shout and scream at me, I would not say anything. After my transformation, one day, I went to this person and told him, “Whatever you speak or do, I simply would never do anything against you. In fact I will pray for you and your family too. If I retort to you, the consequence of some of your actions will be nullified to some extent, but as I am not doing that, the impact will be fully on you. I also pray that nothing bad should happen to you because nature’s course will take its toll.” After some six months, I suddenly noticed that this person had totally changed towards me. Not fully towards others but towards me. It is now three or four years since then, but the change still remains.
If you do what is right, irrespective of what the other does, it will slow down the mind. If you are working in an office and one or two are doing something against you, you will always be tense. Your sleep is destroyed. But if you have the policy that you will be thinking, speaking and doing only what is in accordance with your inner voice, irrespective of what others do or not, then how does it matter what the other does? You sleep well. And thoughts become less.
How did your transformation happen?
That particular evening I was so disturbed that I went into my room, closed my eyes and sat there. That was when everything dropped from me. The only thought that came to me was that I was the soul and my attention went to the heart region spontaneously. In a fraction of a second or so, I felt I was floating – a very light feeling. And bliss. And an unending expanse! It went on like this for hours but the change was instant. There were no questions. A no-question mind is so peaceful. As if everything was known to me. As though I was seeing everything through a crystal clear glass.
After this moment of transformation, everything changed. I would feel like a royal king moving around – as if everything was under my control. There were no changes outwardly, my circumstances were the same, but there was a total sea change inwardly. I would walk on the road with my no-mind; I would work in the kitchen with my no-mind. No thoughts whatsoever were coming. In the office, only where it was needed for me to think, such as when processing a file, would I think. Moreover, I suffered from many physical problems too for maybe a couple of years before, but all of them disappeared overnight never to return.
In no-mind, the range you can see is wide. I walk on the road, and see absolutely everything; at the same time, not looking at anything. Earlier, when I walked on the road, I would look at every shop window, attracted to so many things. With no-mind, nothing attracts me. And I have so much energy. I am never tired. All night I take a thin bed sheet, spread on the floor with a thin pillow and lie down in shavasan, close my eyes and lie there totally aware with absolutely no thoughts. I can hear even a pin. And it is more energising than even deep sleep. Because, there is no mental activity to drain away the energy.
When the body is relaxed physically, I can lie down all night totally aware without either the body or the mind moving even a bit. Otherwise, sleep comes for some time depending on how tired the body is.
Could you throw more light on your inner transformation?
The transformation, though overnight, was never an overnight process. In Chemistry classes we do the acid-base titration experiments. The final drop from the pipette changes the colour of the solution in the beaker. But were not the earlier drops significant? Similarly, righteous living all through life purified me and enabled the overnight transformation.
In 2000, my life crashed. After that I was in intense pain, which even led to depression. Of course, no one could make out. I was always well-dressed and cheerful. But my inner story was not like that. That agony continued till the time the change happened in 2008. The one thought when I came out of it was, I should share this with everyone. Everyone is in grief. It is such a simple thing. You just stop your thoughts.
So difficult …
I did not know that. When this happened, I just found that I was able to stop my thoughts as and when I wished. When people began to ask me how to do it, then only I realized it was difficult for others.
Just a couple of months before the transformation, in order to cope with my intolerable situation, I used to throw off Rajini. I would say, “I ask Rajini to turn about and stand there” and gave a kick. Then I let the inner Divine function instead. I correlate the Divine with many things like the river or a tree. Whoever comes to it, the river gives water, the tree gives shade, without discriminating. Similarly, the deity in a temple has its hands in the abhaya mudra. If a dacoit came and stood in front of the deity, the deity would not put its hands behind him. The Divine can do anything. It is only Rajini who cannot. So why have her here? Earlier, Rajini would do everything the inner conscience asked her to do; but when Rajini was unable to do this, as the situations were getting tougher and tougher for her, I threw her off and let the Divine take over.
What do you plan to do now?
I feel the only worthwhile thing for me to do is to guide sincere seekers. That gives me the greatest satisfaction. However, there are few sincere seekers. Janaka said after getting enlightened by Ashtavakra. “Why are there not more Ashtavakras?” Ashtavakra said, “The shortage is not of Ashtavakras but of Janakas.” In all these years, I have understood that. I used to think that even if a mad elephant was rushing towards me, I would answer the questions of a spiritual aspirant. But there are few true seekers.
Are you still in a state of no-mind?
Yes, once a permanent no-mind state is attained it does not vanish. Rather, when the mind vanishes, no-mind happens (laughs). In fact, the mind vanishes permanently and the ‘no-mind state’ does not leave you even while you are involved in activities.
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