Tea cup and saucer
Once Swami Sukhanandaji visited Madras Math. I was then a young brahmachari. I offered my pranams to him and started conversing. He was childlike in his behaviour. I asked him straight forward whether it was true that Sri Ramakrishna accepted whatever he offered. With a childlike simplicity he nodded his head in agreement. Then I asked, “What do you offer every day?” In a very casual manner, he replied, “Whatever we eat, the same thing is offered. Morning we take idly or dosa and it is offered to him. And in the noon rice and rasam. Night, a cup of milk.” His manner convinced me that he is speaking the truth and truth alone.
The next morning, when I met him, I said, “Maharaj I want to present you something. Please ask whatever you want. Of course, I don’t have money but Swami Kailasananda Maharaj, who is the head of the centre, will surely grant my request.” Sukhanandaji laughed and thought for a while and said, “Look Sankar, Swami Vireswarananda Maharaj, the head of our Order always drinks hot tea in a cup and saucer. If I have a tea set, I shall offer hot tea to Guru Maharaj.” I was taken aback for his simple, guileless mind. The cup and saucer used to cost just 25 paisa in those days. I went and reported everything to Kailasanandaji. He heartily laughed and said, “I shall arrange for it.” Next day he called me and gave a small box which contained six cups and saucers. He too came with me to Sukhanandaji’s room. When he received it, one cannot imagine the joy he expressed. He said. “Oh! Why did you spend so much money on this? It must be very costly.” Swami Kailasanandaji laughed and said, “Maharaj, you don’t understand the worldly matters. So, don’t bother about it.”
Sukhanandaji then became restless to return to Kanchipuram. Even though he was to stay for three more days, he excused himself and left the same day. We all could understand that he was very eager to prepare tea and offer it to Guru Maharaj in the new cup and saucer!
– Swami Raghaveshananda
The bite that cures
Swami Sukhanandaji was very humble and had a childlike simplicity of the kind Sri Ramakrishna describes. Once, when he came to Madras Math, we brahmacharis served him. One day he said, “Ay, we are all bitten by that cobra (he meant Sri Ramakrishna). We all will be saved, protected; his grace will be showered on us.” He said this with such conviction and in such a way that we all were stunned. It filled us with the strong faith that the grace of Sri Ramakrishna is flowing unbounded, and will protect us just like a mother protects her children.
— Swami Tanmayananda
The silent blessing
Swami Sukhanandaji, was then the head of the Ramakrishna Math in Kanchipuram. I had spent many happy days taking the bus from Madras in the morning on a Sunday and coming back at night. He was a person of few words and needed a lot of persuasion to talk at all. Once he did talk about his guru Swami Brahmananda. Here are his words:
“When I was in the high school, I came across Swamiji’s works and became very interested. My interest in studies waned. At that time, I met Tulasi Maharaj (Swami Nirmalananda) for the first time at Tiruvalla. He impressed me very much. I began to contact him often. At that time Prabuddha Keralam (the Malayalam magazine of the Order), was started. They wanted full time workers for the publication. I left home and joined the Mission, assisting the editor of Prabuddha Keralam, looking after subscriptions, accounts etc. In 1916, Swami Brahmanandaji came to Southern India. He came to Quilon accompanied by a big party. He went to Kanyakumari and stayed there for 12 days. Tulasi Maharaj was kind enough to take me along with the party.
What a personality Raja Maharaj was! He seldom spoke. At Kanyakumari, Maharaj would go to Mother’s temple daily morning and evening to offer worship. Swami Durgananda would sing for a while at that time. Once Tulasi Maharaj was conducting a question and answer session. Maharaj had gone out for a drive in Dr Tampi’s car. The Q & A session was going on as Maharaj returned. It was a three storeyed building, and Maharaj stayed on the 1st floor. Maharaj got down from the car and walked along the west of the verandah to the east where the stairs were located. In the east verandah was a raised platform where Tulasi Maharaj was sitting. The audience were seated on the ground within the building compound. As Maharaj passed by, Tulasi Maharaj stood up as a mark of respect. The audience became restless for Maharaj’s darshan. Tulasi Maharaj requested him to give darshan to the assembled devotees. Maharaj turned towards the devotees and stood still. Tulasi Maharaj had a chair brought there for Maharaj to sit. Maharaj sat on the chair. Ten minutes paused, Maharaj did not speak a word, he only smiled at the devotees. It looked as though everyone there was lifted to a different plane. Everyone felt that one’s heart was full of divine fervour for the time being. After that Maharaj got up and slowly went upstairs. This scene is fresh in my mind even now.”
— Sri Raghu Raman